Wednesday, October 31, 2007

this was a very HARD week for all of us...

well, it sounds like all of you had pretty chaotic weeks- so let me share my own little piece of chaos with you guys - this really was the hardest week of my mission. what i don’t think i told you last week (because we had only been together one week, and i didn’t want you to worry), was that elder everton and I were having problems. BIG problems. i don’t think that i ought to give details, but let it suffice to say that the problems were about obedience; that he didn’t think some rules were important that i thought were vital. we had a few arguments at night. in truth, i was a little "chato" about it all, but believe me, it was a big deal. so last thursday we had zone conference (which was awesome), and i felt for a while at peace and hoped that maybe the spirit as well as the words of the president would change his attitude about the rules. the problem was that he is so "old and trunky" that he thinks that he knows everything about how to be a missionary. i hoped for something good to happen, but i spoke to sis. brinton just in case and asked her to have the president call me later (he was busy after conf.). so we got home that night, after zone conf. and proselyting, and i wanted to talk a bit about the things that we learned at conf. and some of the rules that we had broken that day. he got really mad, we argued about the rules and the way that we were acting for a long time. he got mad and went to bed. i was scared and didn’t know what to do. here i was, my comp wasn’t obedient and didn’t want to change. it was late so i didn’t call the pres, but i did pray. i prayed and prayed about what i should do. i was pretty shaken up, and scared about what would happen. then late that night as i read the scriptures looking for an answer, i felt this incredible peace. i knew that i would apologize to him about the fight in the morning, and then call the president. i was able to go to sleep and rest well. so in the morning, i apologized and then told him i would call the president. it was cool, because the "hours" for the president start at 8 am, and i decided to call at 8:30. at 8:30 i had the phone in my hand looking for his number when he called. sister brinton hadn’t even told him yet, and he called because he felt something was wrong. so i told him. everything. we talked for a long time; he said that he was really proud of me and he was glad that i had "called". he then talked to my comp for a long time. he set up an emergency transfer, that would make my comp a junior again in rio, but instead of transferring him he gave him one last chance. SO, i still have e. everton and things are still a little rough between us, (he is kind of mad that i called pres), but things are definitely better. he knows that if he breaks any more rules that he will get transferred or sent home. so, things are getting better. well, i gotta go, i will probably write a little more later today, but we have an appointment right now. i will send some pics later too.
love elder helland
ps. we are going to watch TMNT today. i don’t know if i told you, but we are allowed to watch movies on p-day, as long as it is in a church building and on the approved list by our president. so TMNT is our halloween party. there are TONS of approved movies.
(transformers is approved! maybe next week)

Part 2 – later in the day…
yah, i know that i made this last week sound really bad, sorry. i didn’t have enough time to write a whole bunch earlier. actually, a lot of really good things happened this last week, as well as several funny stories. i only wrote the BIG story of the week earlier, and hoped that i would get to tell the rest soon. i will be brief so i can send some pictures too.

yesterday we had splits and i was with e. sorenson, who only has one more transfer than me. we speak portuguese at about the same level, so it was an adventure. the next day we went to eat lunch in downtown petropolis and he cut his finger pretty bad on a handrail in the mall. we went to a pharmacy to buy band aids because we were a long bus ride from both our apartments. the problem when we got there is that we didn’t know any of the words for the things that we needed. we did this whole acting thing to signify band aids, tried describing neosporin, but nothing was working. finally the guy saw that he was bleeding and found the band aids for us. then e. sorenson wanted something to clean the cut with but didn’t know any good words to describe what he was looking for. he ended up asking for something to "sanctificar" his finger. SANCTIFY! like in the sacrament prayer. we both started laughing, it was so funny. anyway, the guy at the store ended up playing "doctor" for him, finding all the stuff and then bandaging it up for him too. then e. sorenson had to pay for all the supplies that he used. it was funny.

also, like i said, zone conf. was AWESOME; you just don’t find meetings that often where the spirit is so powerful.

well gotta go, maybe I’ll write more thru snail mail.

love elder helland.

ps. mom, we only watched TMNT. relax, this is an approved activity by our mission president. [I had sent him an e-mail in between letters today cautioning him about using his discretionary time watching MOVIES!!!! UGH! It’s my own soap box…!]

pps alyce that batman is gnarly! love ya

ppps dad, way to go with the cars! i often dream about my car when my feet hurt.

pppps received the package of jump ropes and stuff. note- the jolly ranchers melt- so please don’t send more. thx. i jumped rope this morning. i also got letters from pres hinton and shane this week. :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"it may not be on a mountain top..."

or then again it may be. yep, petropolis is a mountain city. it is literally built in the mountains so we spend all day walking up and down, and these mountains are high! like the city is built along the valley and we work on both sides. as a rule, we work in the mornings on the side that doesn’t have shade, and in the evenings on the other side, so we are always in the sun. BUT, it is a whole lot cooler here. it rains here a lot and the weather is great. also, there is floesta and mata everywhere. it is tão linda! next week i will send a picture of the city around here. the word of the week has been "tranquilo", (i’m guessing that you guys can figure out what it means) , for two reasons: this place it CAKE compared to taquara. it’s like comparing downtown chicago with smithfield utah. the cars obey the laws, the people are generally nice, no gun shots- ever, mostly entirely safe, and 8 baptisms in the last 3 months! elder everton is pretty cool. he is ALMOST as tall as me, and is from paraiba. everton is actually his first name, as his real last name is santos. (brazilians tend to switch their last names, if they are really common, during their missons) he is almost finished with his mission, he goes home in jan.; SO, he is pretty trunky. also, like i said, he doesn’t speak much english either, and has a hard time understanding english too. it is funny because every morning for comp study we sing a hymn in english, and he sings worse than dad! he is completely tone deaf, and ignorant of this fact. also, he has a hard time pronouncing the words in english, so he comes off as sounding retarded. it is really funny. some days it is all i can do to not fall apart laughing. but he is pretty cool. the only trick is that he isn’t much for following the rules EXACTLY, so i am working with him on that. right now we don’t have any investigators ready for baptism, but we have got a whole grip of "new- hopefuls"!

so, thanks for the letters. i have zone conference tomorrow, so i will hopefully get some more. i only got two at transfers - one from legrand and one from alyce – thanks! thanks also to tyson and kaitlyn for the email! it was great to hear from you all! there is this cool family here, and one of their daughters reminds me of ashley. the parents of the family aren’t married, but they want to be, they just don’t have the money to get the papers necessary. there are entirely active though, and so all of their children are members. they are awesome! i will send you the pictures the kids drew of me. anyway, i don’t have enough time today to send pictures, which is good, because i haven’t finished cleaning the apt yet. my comp doesn’t help much in that respect. so i spend a half hour every day cleaning and throwing away the garbage of all the missionaries that have left in this area. that is the problem when american missionaries go home- they leave everything!

mom- yep i was pretty close to cidade de dues [where the big police raids were last week– 12 people killed] back in taquara. one time on a bus back from the mission office, through cidade de deus, our bus got stopped by the police. police surrounded the bus, all of them had m-16 in hand, and then two of them searched the bus. i was like, great, here i am, an american, and i only have some of the papers i need with me, this could be bad, IF they were looking for americans. but, it was fine, for about ten minutes they searched the bus and then let us go. everyone on the bus was pretty scared.

they are building a new chapel in our ward, because right now we use a house. it will be done in january, so i hope i can stay here until then. alyce, the costume looked awesome, but one of the pics was blurry. mom and dad, good luck with thriller dance. tyson, i will send you a letter today.

anyway, gotta skoot.
love elder helland

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


so this week was transfer week, and guess what... i got transferred. i am still a little sad, but "I’ll get over it". :) i don’t have much time to write because i was transferred far away to petropolis and i don’t have much p-day left. i now have a new comp. - elder everton. i know that SOUNDS american, but he is brazilian and he speaks less ingles than e. rodrigues did. i miss taquara already, but i guess that correas (my new area) is pretty good too. it is "interior," but other than that i am not really sure where i am. we live in an apartment that is pretty big, but it is messy, i can already see that next p-day will be a cleaning day.

so you guys will need to give me some time to tell you about my new area, as i just got here. (how about a week?). SORRY no video, this computer doesn’t seem to like them, maybe next week. i only had time to load the pictures that i could while i read your letters. the pics are from last p-day.

well things are all new here, i don’t have much to say about current investigators, cause, i don’t know anything about them yet. so i will just tell a few short stories about this last week:

story #1: "Mate"- i would rather die
we went to a members house to pick up something and the old lady there offered us some mate. i didn’t know what it was, and elder rodrigues said that he didn’t really like it, but that he could try a little bit. so i said that i would try a little bit too. so then this sweet old lady that i can hardly understand, grabs what are, i am sure, the biggest glasses that she own and fills them with "mate" (pronounced like match). mate is this gross looking brown, coffee-like looking liquid. and the lady then asks if we want some sugar in it. YES please we respond. i still haven’t tasted at this point. then she stirs it and hands it to us. i take a little sip, and so does my comp. RIGHT then i knew i was going to have difficulty finishing the glass. i look at the glass and wonder how i was gonna do it, then i looked up at e. rodrigues, and that guy was chugging it while the old lady was looking at me to see if i liked it. i told her i liked it and then tried the e. rodrigues method and tried to guzzle it. it was TERRIBLE! imagine like cold, old coffee mixed with dirty water. that’s what it looked and tasted like. i managed to chug it, and the old lady thought that we liked it and wanted to give us more. we very carefully told her that it was delicious, but that we were full. by, what cannot be a coincidence, "mate" is also the command form of the verb "matar" = to kill. yep, it almost killed me.

one more little story then i gotta go, my comp is already done emailing: we had a noite familiar (family home evening) at a members house whose mom is investigating right now. that lesson was great and so were most of the desserts and brincadeiras (games- we always play games) but then my comp had a game he wanted to play, so he had me come outside to confer really fast. this is what we normally do, to let the other in on the secret of the game. so i go out with him thinking that that was what was going to happen, that he would tell me the secret to the next game. but all told me is that when he calls me in that i need to sit on the stool in the middle of the room and pretend that i am a monkey. i thought that this sounded strange, and so i tried to listen to what he was telling them inside before he called me in. i didn’t understand, but it didn’t feel right. i went in and sat down but i had stage fright, because i didn’t know what was going on. eventually i did act like a monkey, and everyone laughed. here is the kicker: apparently, he went in and told them i was going to act like i was going to the bathroom! i was pretty embarrassed because i didn’t know what was happening for a long time, and they kept on laughing. it was a bad night for me.

well got to jet------ ill tell you about my new area next week. times up...
well, love ya
elder helland

ps about the favela thing: WE DO TEACH IN FAVELAS. sure they are dangerous, but if you are smart and obey the rules, there is no problem. yes i know the difference between poor neighborhoods and favelas. favelas is an indicator of poverty and architecture- house poorly built all right on top of each other. i think that the rest of brasil is scared of the word favela, but mine were pretty safe. we DO have dangerous areas, w/ dangerous favelas like cidade de deus, ramos, and bangu. well, not to worry now, i am in the interior.
Pictures from last P-Day

dear fam,

(sent Thurs. October 11, 2007) – Sorry – I didn’t get this out last week – Alyce and I were in Calif. all week!

so first you need to know that i wrote a dang good email yesterday, but due to problems with the internet, lost it. my companion also lost his letter, so he called president brinton and asked if we could, to comply with the rule of writing home once a week, return and venture again today to write a letter home. sorry, i didn’t bring the camera again today, so you will get the picture of the pizza restaurant and the AWESOME beach next week.
now on with the show...

i will try and relate most of the stuff that i wrote yesterday, but i may write poorly because i am just "not in the groove" that attends all p-days. i want to get the basics out of the way: yesterday we went to the doctor for most of the morning, way in downtown, because my comp has been sick, like i told you. i didn’t tell about the tests yet though, oops! he had to do several tests this last week, blood tests and poop tests! ... e agora, bom noticias- the good news- after all the tests and doctor appointments- there is nothing wrong with him. he just has diarrhea every day:( i have talked with the doctor and sister brinton, and this is really more like bad news, because if it was just worms or something, he could just take some meds and be better. so we are trying other things like not drinking any water or juice outside the house, to try and improve the "situation".

enough with the toilet talk...some quick experiences this last week :-) we ran into some kids one night this week, and like all kids, they wanted to hear some english. only, they want my comp to speak english to them. i tried to tell them i was american, but they refused to believe that i was the american and he was the brazilian. i would speak english and everything and still they thought i was joking when i would say i was american. this one boy kept pushing me and laughing, saying NO, you’re brasilian, ... he REALLY thought it was the other way around, it was one of my few ego boosts in the midst of many people that just stare at me.

we saw these guys unloading a pineapple truck, and for some reason two of them got in a fight about something. one of them was in the truck and the other on the ground. they were yelling and stuff and then one of them threw a pineapple. it missed. but the guy in the truck was angry, grabbed a pineapple and hurled it at the other guy. hard. there was this solid thud as it hit the guy. it became a pineapple fight, and the guy on the ground got pounded. 5or 6 pineapples were thrown, and i thought that those were pretty vicious projectiles. it was funny and at the same time sad because they wasted many good pineapples that i would have eaten.

yesterday i sent a story of this cool guy that we have. he is, as we call him, our best progressing non-investigator. i will send it next week, but by then i hope that we can call him an investigator. it is a COOL story.

we only have a little time today, so i will have to write a letter next week about conference. suffice it to say that i LOVED it like i don’t think i ever have before. i have always loved conference, but this was the BEST ever, and it went by so fast. i learned more in any given minute there than you can find on the back of a cereal box. (the best comparison i could think up on the fly)
right, got to go...
by the way, got the letters from jay (both for me and my comp) , gma jones and mom. thx. sorry, p-day was a mess, no letters sent.
got to go
love elder helland

Some of his Mission Ties letter from 10/30/07:

We are teaching some wonderful people right now. It is great to see people gain a testimony and make huge changes in their lives as a result. One guy, Carlos, has given up drinking, smoking, and now coffee! We are so proud of him. He is engaged too and had committed to “wait” until they get married. The only problem is that he works on Sunday and it is hard for him to come to church, but he is trying. Many people work on Sundays and it is hard to believe people are ready for baptism if they can’t come to church. Yesterday we found 4 new investigators and I am hopeful (But an investigator is anyone who sets a return appointment, so they aren’t necessarily STRONG investigators).

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Oatmeal and Milk

so i said, why not respond in like fashion? [alyce titled her last letter to Adam, "Bagels and Cream Cheese"] my diet lately has improved to that of oatmeal for breakfast. i love it. i eat it most every day (i bought a bag of sugar because we had none, and you know how i like sugar. ). so i sent some pics of us and our house and a short video clip from like a month ago, but it is never too late, right? there were some more "culture shock" stories this week, you know, things that i think are funny:

last week was this day that is like halloween (i forgot the name) , and all the kids got candy and stuff. we were walking to an appointment and we stopped and talked to this group of girls and they found out, as everybody does, that i am american. then they started the “test” that usually comes along with that - a thousand questions about american pop culture. one of the girls was way into avril laveen and spoke some english. it was a funny conversation that we had. in the end, the girl took a picture with us on her cell phone.

SAME DAY... something really sad happened. we were teaching in a padaria (bakery) and a little girl ran out into the street to get candy and got hit by a car and died. i didn’t see it happen. i saw her a minute or so before i heard the screams from the people. she only ran about 100 ft down the street when she was hit. we heard the screams and looked out down the street. i was pretty much sad the rest of the day.

on monday we had splits and i was in a different area with our district leader (elder meireles, who is awesome) and we had a very interesting experience. we taught these two kids -wallace and brenda. they were pretty deep in the favela, and we found them at night. they were NOT ready to hear our message. they started laughing during the opening prayer. wallace is 16 and VERY gay. he was making vulgar signs and really weirding me out. Brenda was 14, and kept asking if missionaries could date and kiss and do other bad things. i was appalled at the things that she said, SHE IS 14! SO... elder meireles was smart and immediately after the opening prayer we gave them pass-along cards and said a closing prayer. then brenda started like flirting with me and playing with my tie. i was so scared i just stood up and we left and told them to call when they were REALLY interested in hearing our MESSAGE. it was a bad lesson, but at the same time, as we reflected on it later that night, we learned a lot from the experience.

love you guys
elder helland

PS i will send more pis next week, it is time consuming so i need to find a happy medium between typing and attaching…
My comp - Elder Rodrigues and Me
My comp :-)
Our Apartment
My Superman Sheets
More of our apartment
Our Kitchen
My Favorite Appliance!
Super Elder?
pic of a cockroach- there was a good story about this one that i will surmise in one sentence: my comp screamed like a little girl, we spent 45 min to bring this picture about, and made a complete mess of our house. it was worth it. (ok, 2 sentences)