Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shivering in Brazil

From Nick:

Dear família,

HOLAAAAAAAA! Bom dia bom dia pessoal! This week has also been really rough for me in terms of weather! It gets down to the 50s sometimes. YIKES! Yesterday we worked in our suits! (actually I used that chique coat that I have, you know,so I was pretty bonito) But heck I was not prepared to shiver in Brasil EVER! Especially not in the centro este! But I survived. Also parabéns dad for being called to the High Council! Its good to hear that you will be raising heck in the Ann Arbor Stake. Now you are both bigwigs, haha. I was holding back tears when I read your email and listened to you singing The Holy City at the same time, it was sweet! Also mom I wanted to ask if you can send me my blue beanie in the next box! and there's one Brazilian who keeps asking for a $10 bill, apparently he collects $ notes and doesn't have 10, but if not I don't really care that much haha. Unfortunately no, there is not any member that is caring for me so sorry! Also mom don't worry about sending long emails because now that I've been out a while the only other emails I get are like 2 lines haha so feel free to write!

So this week I finally made brownies. Actually, I made them on Pday and also ate them all on Pday. Haha it was the only thing I ate that day but they turned out super good!

There is something really good here in Brasil called "calda de cana", its like they make a juice of sugar cane and its bom demais!! This week I realized that calda de cana is like boiled peanuts in the south, they have these old kind of farmer guys selling it on the side of the road. Haha so I bought some this week and it made me feel a little bit at home.

Saturday was like the worst day! It was even funny how many things went wrong. It started off that lunch was cancelled, but the Irmão didn't even give money to buy food so we were on our own. And also it was SUPER cold but we didn't have jackets. So we went to another members house in the hopes that they would give us food, but after hanging around for the hour of lunch they didn't and we left. And I decided to heck with it: lets go to the supermarket and I will buy us something with my personal debit card (which I normally don't use). BUT it was a holiday so everywhere was closed! Then our first appointment called, our only investigator with a baptismal date, to say that she couldn't meet with us and that she couldn't go to church tomorrow. So I was about ready to die haha, but I have grown a lot in patience being here so I just shoved it off.

But yesterday was better! Unfortunately we didn't have any investigators in church. BUT fortunately for almoço (lunch) we had cow tongue and cow heart and also cow stomach! So it got better..? I guess haha. Fortunately they had other regular meat too, but I ended up eating all of the others too. And it was really cold outside and one of the kids there at lunch said to me "oh my gosh its so cold out here... somebody throw some hot tomato sauce on me!!" Hahahaha and I was like what?

I liked that stuff from Elder Packer that you sent. One thing I found this week is that its necessary when sharing the gospel (at least here in Brasil) to be bold and not ashamed. Because a lot of people will say "a church doesn't save people" or"God is in all churches" or something like that,and sometimes I just say "mhmm mhmm" but you really can't be ashamed,you have to speak! That's why I was called here!

Unfortunately the work isn't going too well here, but we just have to press on. This week I am going to dedicate myself to a lot more prayer, try to get the Spirit more, be the missionary I want to be,not just someone that is dressed strangely and speaks with an accent. I think maybe that I am missing something. And so please pray for me só um pouquinho só! I hope you are caring for the Sister missionaries, but not too much because they have a car so they're already blessed haha.

Love you guys. Thanks for the support and the prayers!

Elder Nicholas Olsen

                                                           Interesting meats!
                    The day i made brownie batter but it wasn't enough to bake and I had nothing else to eat.


From Eric:

No time this week for a real email. I hate having only 1 hour it is not enough time. But tell me what Emily is doing! Tell her that I love her and think about her often and that I wish she was here because there are some crazy people that I wish she could meet so that we could laugh about her craziness! This is one of the hardest parts of being on a mission - I tell everyone how important family is - ps we are teaching 2 families now ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!! that is so good! - but I cant even talk to mine. I just want to have a conversation with her and with Phil too! I miss you all. 

I want to send more letters but its really hard here because to find a post office you have to go 30 minutes by omnibus so we only send letter like every two weeks! That's why they aren't coming. By the way if you think of any good recipes of something I could make here that is super easy and small--because I don't eat meals em casa, just a snack--hit me up! Also cake covering ideas haha. They don't seem to have powdered sugar here.
Nothing happened this week that is of note. Only that we are teaching 2 families and it rained a lot!
                                    This rooster always crows outside our window at 3 am.

                                                                    My ZL and me at the beach.

                                                                                        A sewer.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 21

From Eric:

Dear family,

This week was a week of losing patience. I have always thought of myself as somewhat of a patient person, but this week was a little different. I think it is because I am reading Jesus the Christ - you can really tell that He had an attitude with the pharisees and scribes! - but I got in some Bible Bashes. Yikes... The good news is, we won! The bad news is, the people didn't get baptised. 

Something really interesting happened during a lesson this week! We were teaching about the Restoration, and the woman said - that is great, but I already am CERTAIN that my church is correct. And the Spirit brought something really weird to my remembrance - the ancient Greeks! They were CERTAIN that the world was flat - but is it? Claro que não. Unfortunately she still didn't want to ask our Eternal Creator for the truth, but you can't force people, right? It made me glad the I am a nerd and study a lot, and also that I had the Spirit to guide my thoughts and words.

Que bom que vocês estejam compartilhando o Evangelho! (Glad you are sharing the gospel!) Keep trying - this week we decided to just invite everyone to be baptized - crazy, I know. But 2 people accepted. The Lord is preparing people - you just have to share with everyone and anyone. Also, mom, I heard once that most people go through talking with like 8 sets of missionaries before being baptized - not all at the same time, but on and off, on and off. So they wont accept the first time!

Sorry I didn't talk about the world cup - literally nobody cared here. Except for a few people who - yep - had conspiracy theories! Everyone said that Neymar faked his injury? Sei lá. I don't think he would but who knows!

I wish I had more interesting stories but I think we just spent a lot of our time walking this week. Like.... probably 7 or 8 miles a day! Also I am next to the beach and took a picture, but this computer is halfway broken. So I will send them next week! 

Love you all and thanks for the testimonies and prayers. This week WE WILL BAPTIZE I HAVE FAITH!

Elder E. Olsen

And from Nick:

Dear family,
Wow it's good to hear that you guys are doing the same work that I am doing! And don't be discouraged that people aren't accepting every time (you guys always give this counsel, now its my turn haha!) but all we have to do is extend the invitation. Speaking of a family with the mom being an old member, in my first week in this area, we met a family really great, but only the dad and daughter. And we taught and conversed and everything, but the mom wasn't having it really. Then later we found out that she was already baptised, because it was before you had to go to church 2 times and she "just wanted to jump in the water"..? hahahaha. But yeah it is true that the elect will hear the voice of the gospel the first time, BUT does not mean that you can forget them. Because every person who already lived, is living, and will live accepted the plan of Heavenly Father and is a precious soul! 

So this week was a bit sad in our ward because one guy like 22 years old was killed. Bem perto de nossa casa também. (Very close to our house also). So there was somewhat of a shadow in our ward, but fortunately one of our investigators went to church and liked it a lot, and also someone brought friends that are interested! so things are looking up.

The other day my companion said "do you have 'Donkey shots' in English too?" And me:"..................what?" haha in the end he was saying Dom Quixote! but isn't that Spanish an should sound like Dom Kee-hoe-tay? I thought anyway haha.

I had an almoço really good, it was just chicken fried steak! And I got to thinking how good it would be to have some root beer, even biscuits and gravy and grits! not because they taste good or anything, just because of the idea of it.

Anyway, the week was a lot better in terms of work. Not easier, mind you, but better. We realized that nobody in the actual neighborhood of flamboyant is in our ward, so were working there a little bit. 

Mas eu só gostaria prestar meu testemunho a vocês em Português rapidinho, que eu sei que esta Igreja é a Igreja do Salvador Jesus Cristo. Uma coisa que eu já aprendi muito bem na missão é que Jesus Cristo vive. Ele é o ponto central de tudo. Ele é o nosso irmão, nosso advogado com O Pai, nosso Redentor e nosso Salvador. Através a fé Nele, nós possamos vencer todos os dificuldades, todos as provações, tudo em nossa vida, e, mais importante ainda, um dia voltar a viver com Ele e com nossas famílias para a eternidade. (But I would just like to bear my testimony to you in Portuguese quickly, I know that this Church is the Church of the Savior Jesus Christ. One thing I have learned very well on my mission is that Jesus Christ lives. He is central to everything. He is our brother, our advocate with the Father, our Redeemer and our Savior. Through faith in Him, we can overcome all difficulties, all the trials, in all our lives and, more importantly, one day return to live with Him and with our families for eternity

Eu vos amo! Obrigado pelos testemunhos e as noticias e tudo. ( I love you! Thanks for the testimonies and all the news).

Com amor,
Elder Nicholas Olsen 

there is a store called havan and it has the statue of liberty in the front, gives me a lot of vontade to conhecer nova iorque!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Eric is transferred and Nick is cold

From Elder Nick Olsen:

Well gente. BOA SEMANA!!!!!

BATISMOOOOO!!! Sort of haha. So a while ago we met a guy in the street named Saymom (pronounced like Simon but Simon in Port is Simão) and taught him the first lesson. It turned out that his girlfriend is a member, and that he was already taught a little bit in Brasília where she is studying. But he is in the Air Force, so between a lot of time on the base and at his girlfriend's house (she lives in the other ward), he didnt have time to meet with us. But he did have time to meet with the sisters in his girlfriends house! So haha I dont really count it as my first baptism, BUT fortunately I got to participate in the ordinance which was an awesome experience. And really really cold!

Speaking of cold, it gets to like 60 degrees at night here so I am pretty much freezing to death! Ever since I arrived in São Paulo I dont use a blanket, but ever since I arrived in Anápolis I have had to use one!

So I was not transferred, but we do have a new District Leader from Belém, and he's super animado. Also 2 new zone leaders and they are too. One day the ZLs called me and said "do you like american football? remember that super bowl last year? the 49rs were losing and then the lights went out, and they almost came back to win. right now, the lights just went out, so now lets work hard!" or something. And right after my DL called and said "what did Jesus do after he died? he preached the gospel in the spirit world and worked right? So we have 3 days before Sunday, lets work!" or something like that! and I was like, what is this, the day of analogies? haha but it was good, at least they're excited.

In respect to the World Cup, haha you wont believe it. People were mad, mad, mad. But everyone and their mom immediately turned to conspiracy theories! I had from "because Brasil already has a lot and so everyone would get mad if they won again" to "If Germany didn't win it would start world war 3, so FIFA gave it to them." Seriously.

I stayed in the Sacrament Meeting of the other ward this week to see our friend get confirmed, and realized that there are Americans there! One guy said he is studying at the U of U, I didn't get the chance to ask why he is here (although i know he's married to a brasileira and has kids) but he doesn't speak any Portuguese haha. Also a family in which the mom served a mission at Temple Square and the dad in Colorado, and they invited us to have dinner with them today! so that will be exciting.

I am a little bit discouraged this week, but in good spirits anyway. I just feel like maybe there is something I'm not getting, so please pray for me to discover what I need to change or do differently. Sometimes the Lord leaves us sozinho to let us learn something, and so I am trying to figure out what I have to learn in this moment.

Thank you for your prayers and your testimonies, it is good to know that you are so strong in the faith, and it strengthens my faith too.

Elder Nicholas Olsen

From Elder Eric Olsen: 

Caro família,

Minha nova área se chama Terra Vermelha - e eu tenho Terra Vermelha cobrindo todas minhas calças!  (My new are is called Red Earth and I have red earth covering my pants!) It it super muddy here!

So I am back in Vila Velha - before I left Colatina I received 3 colognes as presents from members! Haha and 2 were women's perfumes,.. oh well, they are presents so I will use them anyway! Apparently I am the first white American in this area for over a year - something about the last American here was threatened by a drug dealer? ........But no worries! 

MY new companion is Elder Cervantes - he is from California, but his parents are Mexican. He baptized com força the last transfer - but we are still working a lot to strengthen the recent converts. They are not very firm in the church yet...

But as soon as I got here, we started teaching a group of youth. They are super receptive - and two are twins! So we have a special bond haha - Gustavo and Guillerme. Three of them came to church with us. During sacrament meeting, I didn't have a hymnbook, so I was kind of fake-singing-mouthing the words to the hymns in English, and one of the twins ran over from his seat and gave me the book he was using. It was super cute! I felt like he really loves and respects me. Unfortunately, the parents aren't very receptive and won't let them be baptized, so I will be praying for the Lord to soften their hearts.

Also something really funny happened yesterday - it was basically a commerical, but real life. We were walking past these men working consrtuction on a house,  and one of them yelled - STOP STOP EVERBODY STOP. And everyone stopped. He went inside the house and came back out with beer and cups - everybody started cheering - haha we couldn't stop laughing! At least they have their priorities straight!

I love you all very much. Thanks for the support and prayers.

Elder E Olsen

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 7th

Here is an e-mail from Elder Nick Olsen!

Well well well, another week passed by. The days drag on forever in the hot Sahara sun but the weeks fly. Oh wait, I'm in Brasil, ehh whatever!

This week I had the opportunity... actually the obligation to get really trunky because of the 4th of July. Not that we did anything to celebrate, but I just got to thinking what I great country the USA is, and singing "Its America" by Rodney Atkins in my head, stuff like that.

Haha so this week unfortunately I dont have a ton of news. I will explain it like this: in the numbers that we keep track of, there is one category called "contatadas". So this is when we already received a reference, and either teach a lesson to them for the first time or visit them enough times and they're not there and we mark out their name OR visit and they don't want to receive us more. And the standard of excellence for contatadas (the standard is always really high, like 3 baptisms per week or something) is 30. And this week we had (drumroll!) FIFTY CONTATADAS!! So basically it was just walking in the hot hot sun to a billion houses that had nobody in them. Needless to say I got a little bit depressed. No, not so much depressed as exhausted. I just had the urge to sit, and not get up until a robot missionary had been invented to carry me or something. 

And then I went to church on Sunday, and after 4 people confirming that they would go the day before, we didn't have any investigators there. And after a semana like that, where you just work your legs off, without any results, it gives vontade to give up. I was even thinking to myself "darn it, I don't have any good spiritual experiences to share with my family." Fortunately, the Lord knew my needs in that moment. It was testimony meeting, but I've never had a really great experience in testimony meeting here. But 95% of the testimonies brought the strongest spirit to me in that sacrament meeting. It wasn't that the speakers were very eloquent, that they spoke with power, or even that they spoke with animation. One lady spoke just like a robot haha. But the spirit that was there was unmistakable, accompanying simple testimonies of Jesus Christ and of God's plan. 

Also I liked what you included in your email. Sometimes as missionaries we get caught up in the baptisms or the leadership, but to me,as long as I am doing my part and working diligently and have the desire to help others, I am successful. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself... haHA!

But I love you! Sorry that I dont have a ton of exciting news today but thats life! I wasnt transferred and Elder Vicente will stay here with me one more transfer. Thank you for always giving a testimony and an encoraging word. 

Elder Olsen

During the Brasil game

                                                          A beautiful sky showing God's love for us

Here is one from Elder Eric Olsen:

I am overloaded with Brazil. Not only because this week was the 4th of July -so I was already craving America - or that there was a Brazil futebol jogo, but because we had 2 Brazilian zone leaders in our house for 4 DAYS! So much brazileiro, so much futebol talk, but I love it!

This week we spent most of our time trying to get baptismal interviews with the people that we have been teaching, and the people that the Sisters in our district have been teaching too. So,.. we didn't do much teaching, and we didn't do much of anything but walk/jog from one side of the area to the other.
AND none of our investigators got baptized. Fortunately, 2 of the Sisters´ investigators got baptized! So there are two more than can be exalted on high :)

I feel like the Lord showed me a tender mercy this week, too. When the sisters were all happy conversing with their recently baptized people, and my companion was off on official business, I was feeling like I haven't done anything of note or made any impression on anyone during my time here. I entered a room in the church where two women were talking. They asked me a question about the gospel, and I replied. At my reply, they both smiled at me and one said - This boy is just made of gold. Everything he says is perfect - a great missionary. I'm not trying to brag, seriously, but to show that as we act in the way that the Savior would, as this sister did, we can really touch the lives of others. I went away happy!

Yes, I watched the Brazil jogo this week. and yes, my ZL asked me to make brownies for him, and I happily complied.

We had a few people that almost get baptized, but I am just happy that they are progressing. Also there is this couple that really wants to join the church - it is cool to see that some people are just actually prepared and ready aand EXCITED! Unfortunately they still have to get married, and it will take another month and a half,.. but as long as they come unto Christ in the end, I am happy.

Also, I will be transferred Wednesday. I don't know where or with who. SO its a cliff hanger! Next week I'll let ya know how its going with my new companion!

Thanks for everything and love you all. You are always in my prayers.

Elder E Olsen

The editor is adding a sweet tribute to Elder Olsen from a friend in Colatina. He has been transferred to Vitória.

Hoje vai embora um grande amigo..... Elder olsen grande missionário....jovem doce e com o desejo de levar o evagelho de Cristo a todos. ... amamos vc obrigada por seu trabalho ak em Colatina
... ate mais
 — with Elder Eric Olsen.
Today leaves a great friend ... Elder Olsen a great missionary ...young sweet and with the desire to bring the Gospel of Christ to all. We loved you thanks for your work in Colatina... (Translated by Bing)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The World Cup continues

From Eric:
This week I have been studying the talks from this past general conference of the church. I especially appreciated the talk that Elder Ballard gave, about - you guessed it! - MISSIONARY WORK! He talked about how parents and family members of missionaries should study  Preach My Gospel, and share what they learned with their missionaries! So DO THIS! Any light or truth that you could pull from this inspired book would be greatly appreciated in my life.

This week was a week of the priesthood for me. At least, more so than other weeks in the mission. I studied about the priesthood in the conference talks, in Jesus the Christ, and about how the keys of the priesthood are again on the earth. I was also blessed with the opportunity to give some blessings by its power. I will always be baffled by it. The power of God is just so magnificent. In any case, I am super grateful that we can use its power according to our faith. I love the Savior's reminder in the scriptures - as He healed the sick, He always said - According to thy faith, be it unto thee. 

Yesterday we had 4 people in the church. We received a call from one of the women that went to church later in the day. She said - I am not sure that I should be baptized into your church yet, but can I continue going to the meetings anyway? I feel more tranquility there than in any other place i have been in my life. Although the work is slow, it is always neat to see the Spirit working in someone's life.

At the beginning of this transfer, we worked a little bit in every area of the city. Now, we have 4 or 5 individuals that are really progressing - the only problem is, they live on different sides of our area! One lives next to the river, one lives at the top of the mountain, one lives almost in the country.... Needless to say, our lives consist of a lot of running around, and a lot of missing appointments!

This week during the world cup when Brazil was playing, I studied while my companion watched. Honestly, I watched the penalties - it was too exciting to stay away! But yeah, the people here flip out when someone scores, or when someone doesn't score, or when someone trips, or gets dirt on their shirt!  Its fun to be here and see the craziness.

Study the scriptures, say your prayers, go to church. My words of wisdom for the week! Oh, also - What would Jesus do? Always look to the Master! Love you all!

Elder Eric Olsen

ps tell Emily and my grandparents that I have been thinking about them!

From Nick:

Nossa só coisas loucas esta semana, riem? 

BOM DIA irmãos e irmãs, coloque um copo de água em cima da televisão, mais um episódio com Pastor Demais Cedo. Haha, my last companion always said that, making fun of a TV pastor. But this week was crazy! Mainly because I worked and worked até o pó! The work was much better this week, we almost doubled our amount of lessons! We had 20 new investigators during the semana! Unfortunately, only 2 went to church. It was one of those times, had a bunch of families who bailed at the last minute because they were "going to the farm on Domingo". But it happens. In my mind, you have to count the little miracles before you have a right to see the big ones, so this week was a miracle!

My District Leader recently watched "The Other Side of Heaven", about the missionary who serves in Tonga. In Tonga, they all call him Kolipoki, which means "white man with weak stomach", and so he has taken to calling me Kolipoki! hahaha but I definitely don't have a weak stomach, in fact I have to find a solution fast because... I'm gettin chubby!

EU RECEBI UMA CAIXA FINALMENTE!!! (I finally received a box!) Thank you guys so much, even the socks and stuff it felt like Christmas! Haha. I see from the things in the box that you are concerned with my dental health, I can assure you that I'm brushing and flossing todos os dias. I especially liked the picture of me and Eric with the snowman, a great memory! And all the new ones of you guys too. 

If you want to listen to a musica that plays here a lot, use these lyrics: 
"foi bonito foi, foi intenso foi verdadeiro, mas sincero
sei que foi capaz, fiz até demais te amei"
I think its called fui fiel. Its one of the better "brasilian country" songs, but rest assured have a lot worse haha.

Yeah Mom, I think that the work in the whole world is slowing down too. Except Manaus, haha, everyone gets baptised there. But really that's why the members are so important. There's one section in weekly planning that talks about planning on contacting your references, from membros, from service, and also from your próprio esforço. Like personal work is the last one! But for me personal work is the only way to get references! Share the gospel with people, I know its weird because I was there 5 months ago, but its the only way that this work will continue to grow.

For me, during the World Cup we went back to our house but had to leave again after the game. It was a horrible day haha, todo mundo OU bêbado, OU festando, OU fora de casa (all the world drunk or partying or not at home). So we didn't really accomplish much. But its so weird to be here during the game. I was sitting in the hammock, and all of the sudden: "GOL! GOOOOOOL!!" And then there was screeaming in the whole bairro, and fireworks BOOM BOOM its like a war zone haha!

I am learning a lot of patience. You know, just supporting difficulties and knowing that in the end, if we are faithful, everything will turn out alright. Thank you for being so loving, I wouldn't be the same without you. Dad, I think I laughed a minute straight at that picture you sent. Thank you for your testimonies and encouragement. I love you.

Elder Nicholas Olsen

                                                           freshly shined shoes!
                                                                     strange fruit called graviola