Tuesday, September 30, 2008

bratwurst is hard to spell....

letter from 9-29-08

Well, good thing that I wrote a lot last week, b/c this week, I don’t fell like writing a bunch. I have a LOT to do. Yesterday I got a phone call from the president… and boy was that cool. He kindly let us know that MY zone is the WORST in the mission and that or mission is the WORST in Brazil (with reference to baptisms). I was like, “hmmm,… so you are trying to say that MY zone is one of the lowest baptizing in BRAZIL?!!” president is really great. He explained that he put me here to fix this; that it isn’t MY fault, but that it is MY responsibility to change this zone. So now we are all geared up to baptize. I call all of the missionaries everyday and talk baptism with them. The dumb thing is that a lot of them don’t realize the importance of them baptizing. It has been tough, but we are going to make a difference. BAPTISM, is the first word that we say in the morning and the last that we say at night. Think, eat, teach, walk, talk, sleep, study- all to BAPTIZE. That is what Christ says in 3n11:31-34, “ this is my doctrine… he who is baptized and endures to the end shall be saved. He who doesn’t get baptized is condemned.” THAT is the doctrine of Christ! = baptism.

You guys asked why I didn’t grab money out of MY account that day to catch a bus. Well, you see there is only one bank in brazil the does these transactions for me for free; HSBC. This is this other ATM called banco24hr. Where I was at there was no HSBC. There is a banco24hr. The problem is the banco24hr charges 8$ to grab some money and my account only had 10$ and 2$ only pays the fare for one of us… so we walked. [Oops, we forgot to add more $$ to his bank account - I guess it was Eric's fault that Adam had to walk 7 miles that day - ha-ha!]

MOM- [in regards to my comment how Satan does whatever he can to distract us from what we’re really here for!] we have made tons of changes in the mission to avoid distractions. Movies are out, pday activities for the most part, are out. Anything that distracts from baptism. Man is it cool to participate in all the changes with the new president.

Dad- man it must be cool to in a ward with so many active people. My ward here has a weekly frequency of maybe 60 to 70, with few men. It is tough to work with the leadership b/c there are so few. We are going to have to baptize 60 more I guess…

Alyce- I hope that you didn’t like the marriage thing all that much- you CAN’T be interested in getting married for at least 10 more months, and I am being generous. I got an idea- GO ON A MISSION! Yep, just plan on it. It is as ton of fun and a lot more work. You said something about the way to perfection. That is the title of an awesome book. “the way to perfection” I think that is by Joseph Fielding Smith. BUY IT. It is so cool, you don’t even know! But yeah, think about the mission thing. It would be cool.

Well, I got to cut it short.
Elder helland

P.S I like getting letters from people at zone conferences and stuff…hint, hint :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

wonderfully weird week of wildness

Letter from 9-22-08

Success is the ability to go from one failure to the next with no loss in enthusiasm-
wintson chuchhill

Have I got a lot to tell - this week was jam packed with excitement and awesome adventure, which is almost always accompanied with super miracles. I guess miracle number one is that I was able to get through all of this week, with tons of blessings too.

Let me see, I guess I will start with Monday, last week:

We got home from the internet and grocery store, and to our great surprise, our tanque broke. (tanquinha is like a tiny washing machine, that really has the same function as a plastic box. In other words, it keeps the clothes wet!). Anyway it broke and all of the water fell on our neighbors downstairs (again- this isn’t the first time) well they were understandably ticked and so they were yelling at us for some time and then we had to clean it all up. Water EVERYWHERE, including our house. So that was fun. Then we left the house and looked all over the place to find someone to teach. We found a guy that let us in, but he was kind of crazy. At the end of the first vision, right where we asked him to pray to know if it was true, he asked what we knew about the hunch back of Norte Dame. He said the he saw the movie on tv and he wanted to know if it was real too. I was kind of stumped and my companion started laughing. The day had been so frustrating, and this guy was asking wacky questions. So we said a prayer and left his house. I think that we taught some other people too that night, which was good, because the Lord was blessing us by letting us get into more houses to at least teach. Then that night, right before closing time, 10:30(we have to be in bed and sleeping at 10:30 ), so maybe at 10:25, I got a call from the assistants telling me that I had to buy/prepare breakfast for 3 zones the next day for zone conference. He told me that it had to be ready at 8 AM and that I had a cap of 150$ to spend, and I would be reimbursed. I told him that I had no more that 80$ and my companion had 10. He told me good luck and good night. I called one of my district leaders at 10:28 and told him and his companion to meet me at the chapel the next day at 7 AM with all the money that they had. I went to sleep that night with a feeling that I would be running around like crazy the next day.

So the next day was ridiculous. I woke up an hour early and ran like crazy to buy breakfast for everyone. In the end we spent about 140$ on food and plates and stuff. We got it all ready about 8 AM, and the only complaint that Sister Bezerra had for me was that I didn’t bring any table cloths. :-) In the end we had a great conference. These days the zone leaders don’t do much at zone conference, so we don’t have to do trainings there anymore. We learned about the importance of knowledge and using the scriptures. I really learned a bunch about how I can teach more effectively. That night we went to work. We taught a few people and some other people threw beer on us. Once again, we were so tired that we started laughing afterward.

We did a division with some missionaries on the other side of the zone (realengo). We spent literally ALL of our money the day before, so we searched the house for change and got together enough for the bus ride out there. We got our there and I stayed there with elder thiago. I didn’t have any money, so he had to buy me lunch. We worked there the whole day and had a good time learning one from another. But we sure walked a lot that day. By the time to go home, I was exhausted.

That morning I woke up and studied with elder thiago. He is the DL there in realengo. About 10am one of the missionaries in his district called him saying that he and his companion were fighting and he wanted to go home. Elder thiago didn’t know what to do so he handed the phone to me. I ended up talking with the elder for an hour, calming him down and reading scriptures with him. Then I talked with his companion to see how I could help. When I was down with them it was 11:30 and we were behind our schedule already. We left, and I called my companion and he told me that they were going to lunch in my area and to eat with them in realengo. But we didn’t have any money. No money for a bus OR a lunch. Turns out that elder thiago spent all of his money on lunch the day before. Elder andre and the other missionary didn’t have money either to come and get us so we ended up walking back to my area. We walked for about 2 hours, about 7 miles to my area. When we got there we un-traded companions, and I went back to work in my area. We couldn’t go back to my house for a while because there was a little war going on close to our house with the police fighting the drug gangs. Another wild day. By the end of the day I was TOTALLY beat, and we went to sleep listening to the little wars going on in the favelas on the other side of the mountain. I found out later that they killed one policeman, and several gangsters. It was pretty scary actually. Luckily, it didn’t happen in MY area. In happened in the ward on the other side of my area.

Was awesome, we started bringing in the blessings. Found some new families to teach, and met a lot of really neat people. The weird part about Friday was that it was a “pee-day” in other words, I don’t think that I have ever seen so many people peeing in public in one day. Men, women, and children. In really public places too. The side walk, public squares, train station and bus stops. To top it off, we were in the bank at night getting our allowance, when the old man at the ATM next to me peed his pants. I don’t know if he was drunk or high or just plain old, but it sure was weird. After a day full of public pee-ers this guy got pee on my shoes.

Another great day. The only funny thing happened at night, when we ran into a crazy guy that I had taught one time. He is really big and strong, but because he has some kind of mental problem, he is really slow, and doesn’t know his own strength. (think about that guy from ‘of mice and men’) anyway, he sees me and comes up to say hi. He grabbed my hand in a friendly hand shake and, you know how some times people pat your hand? Well, he slapped it. HARD. Then he looked to my new companion and grabbed me and said, “this is a good man” and then, you know how sometimes when people give a half hug and pat the other on the chest? He POUNDED me in the chest several times. Literally knocked the air out of me. Elder andré thought it was funny, because it is plain to see that the guy didn’t want to hurt me, but show that he liked me. We talked with him a minute or two, and then said good bye. I, instinctively, went to shake his hand again. You know what he did? That same thing again. Slapped my hand really hard and then pounded me on the chest saying that I was a good man. He tried to grab elder andre but elder andre ducked out of the slaps on the chest. It was really funny.

Boy was I thankful for Sunday, church was good, but some of our investigators didn’t go, so I was kind of sad. Actually, it rained that day so almost NO one went to church. And to top it off, it was ward conference. The bishop was kind of sad too I think that no one went to church. There were only like 55 people there when it is normally about 80 to 90. Sunday night was really good. We found a new investigator that was so excited about the book of mormon.

Alyce- good luck with the tests. I sure am glad I don’t have very many of those these days.

Mom-sorry, I can’t answer all of the questions today, BUT know that the spirit guides us EVERYDAY. Let’s try THIS address, or look on THAT, street, and then we find people to teach in those places. When I teach, the words, scriptures and questions flow out of my mouth with a kind of clarity that doesn’t come in the practices. In study, I find awesome scripture that answer my questions, the questions of my investigators, or let me feel my Father’s love for me. It is a great time to me a missionary. A time of harvest.

Dad- love yuh, keep busy, that is best.

Well that is about it. NOW I am out of time, OK?
Love elder helland

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

“Nossa senhora!!”

A little Brazilian lesson about the subject title:
Nossa Senhora is a saint for the catholic church- a picture of mary undoing knots. i think that it has some connetion to voodoo, but i dont really care.

"nossa senhora!" (-our lady) as an expression is like saying "holy cow!"
variations include: "minha nossa"- mine our
"menina do ceu"- girl from heaven
and just "nossa" - our

Wowzers, this has been a wild week. Let me fill you in on the big details- elder Sidney went home, and I stayed in this area again. My new companion is elder andré. He is a big guy from São Paulo. He was my district leader in juiz de fora my first transfer there. I don’t have a picture of him now, but I probably sent one already. Tomorrow is zone conference, and I am excited. This week we are working hard to find some more people to teach. A lot of praying and fasting. We had several funny experiences too, but none that translate real well into writing…

Mom- whoa! A politician- cool. That sounds like some heavy stuff. I know that you can do it!! But is this like a church campaign? What kind of consequences if it doesn’t pass?
How is shane doing? I sent him a letter, but haven’t heard anything in a few months.
And yep, go ahead and vote on mccain for me. Go for it- pioneers rock mom! But it is kind of weird to read that I will be there in july… hmm…

Dad- hey dad, that’s COOL these days. Water bottle and book… he probably learned form his dad.

Police- you, my dear lady, know how to drives the boys crazy. You just think that you are little miss hard to get, huh!! J keep it up!! And Hey!!, I still recognize SOME quotes, even if I can’t remember them anymore. The other week I did a division with an American and he asked me what were my favorite bands. I couldn’t remember much more that the aqua bats and the beach boys… o dear. Every once in a while I hear a cool song hear that I liked back then, but now those songs just get stuck in my head and distract me…o-well.

I feel bad bc I always say this but, I am out of time. Literally. We pay 2 reais an hour, and… I don’t have anymore reais OR hours… plus I am starving!!

I am going to eat, talks to you guys next week.
Love elder helland

Friday, September 12, 2008

Transfer week...

Letter from 9-8-08 - I'm behind so I'm posting his last two letters today. :-)

This week is transfers; which is to say that elder sidney goes home in 2 days... i am really not sure how transfers are going to work out this week, but i am sure that is will be exciting. so on thursday i will have a new companion or be in a new area, i guess you will hear all about it this next week.

i am in a internet cafe shop that i have never used before, and this place stinks- i have no credits here, so i can’t write all that much, also there are a bunch of punk teenagers here yelling and each other and making a bunch of noise.. it is hard to think. (actually, i think that i always had a hard time thinking- it was never really one of my strong points :) )

this last week was so awesome, we had a bunch of really neat experiences as well as some that were pretty funny. yesterday we taught a lesson to this lady and her neighbor. they loved it and accepted all of the commitments that we left. She was a little weird, but i won’t complain as long as she goes to church. it was funny because for all of the prayers she wanted us to all stand up and hold hands to form a "chain of peace and love". we declined and told her that she could pray sitting down with out touching anyone. :) she was cool, but she liked to talk as much as we did, which usually causes problems. about halfway through that lesson she asked where i was from. i told her, and after that she treated me different. she would only talk to elder sidney and asked him to translate for me. the first couple of times elder sidney actually did, to make me laugh i think. she would say something to him and tell him to tell it to me. he doesn’t speak english, so he just would say it again in portuguese. she seemed satisfied with this, but i thought that it was ridiculous. i told her that i had been here more that a year and that i understood everything that she said. i think that she started to figure out that i was annoyed with her treating me like that, so she started saying stuff to me. but she would talk like a cave man to me. her talk like this me. it bad. hard understand. i no like. but was funny. ... it was really funny to tell the truth. but she was nice. {smile} when she found out that i was american she formally welcomed me to brasil. she stood up and took my hand and gave a speech about peace and our countries and everything. i was dying, it was so funny and weird.

on saturday we did a service project with our ward painting a school. at the same place as last time. i did a division with some missionaries in our zone and got to work in some other areas with them. i was great to be able to get to know them.

MOM- don’t worry mom, one day i will tell the story to you guys. the lady that we baptized was Irene, which was here with elder rhodes. she is strong in the church. we helped her get a job working in the house of president bezerra, and now she does EVERYTHING in the mission that has to do with food. if there is a zone conference and there is lunch after- she makes and organizes it. if missionaries get here or are going home- she makes the food. if a seventy comes to visit- she makes the food. which is cool because she as met a bunch of general authorities like that and what is more important- she loves us, and especially me bc i helped baptize her, right!? :) she cleans the presidents house so she "sees" things. for example, she always knows who my next companion will be, if i will be transferred and where, like the week before anyone else knows. it is funny. when elder rhodes was transferred, she had told us a few days before that we were both going to stay... i guess sometimes she is wrong too. so we don’t trust TOO much in her insider tips.

DAD- good luck with the vampire books. i am reading the D&C. WHOA that stuff is heavy!!! have you ever heard of the book "the doctrine and covenants of the future"? i know that is sounds like apostasy, but it is AWESOME!! it is like a doctrinal exposition of the scripture and what they could imply!!! i have read a few articles. it is really interesting and not at all apostasy. see it you guys can get it, it is fun. another one that is cool is The Great Apostasy by talmage. obviously i can’t read these books right now, but i CAN read printed our clips and chapters. i happen to have a "source " in the mission that supplies me with sweet talks from all kinds of cool people.

alyce-- you are a party animal!! anything to have fun and not work- man you are cool :) just so you know whenever other missionaries or families that we teach see pictures of you they say, " man, your girlfriend is beautiful." to which i inevitably respond, "uhh. you mean my sister?..." [insert awkward silence] take it easy skater-college-girl!!

until next week, wonder where i will be... hmm

love elder helland

White has got to be my new favorite color!

letter from 9-1-08 - Yep, I'm behind...again! :-)

WOW- Behold the super awesome pictures!

(I am taking a picture of you, so that you can send it to me!)
This is the “door” that enters into the “way” or “path”, you know that one that Nephi talks about in 2n31, that leads to eternal life. Man is it cool to be here, and have this thing full of water. The rules say that missionaries can't swim, and have to stay away from water and stuff, but this… this kind of swimming is encouraged! :-)
The lady that is pictured here with me is Nilza. Also pictured is her husband, André, her daughter Rafaela, and her mother in law selma. Selma gives us lunch every Thursday. André is a member that is returning now, and rafaela is really shy around us. One time I asked her how her day was and if she liked to play with her dolls. She just says yes to everything, so she was like, “yes. Yes. Yes.” And then these cute little tears started coming out of her eyes. I guess she got scared because she started crying. Not like screaming crying, but she kept on answering our questions while these little tears kept on falling. She is really cute. (3 years old I think) .
So that was pretty much it. I took a lot of other pictures, but mostly of the baptism. I will write another email with more words. Love elder helland

(brushing my teeth during personal study,... elder Sidney thinks that is funny, so he took a picture.)
FYI - We sent him a "singing toothbrush" - you're supposed to keep brushing until the music stops playing. I guess he's having fun with that! :-)

the view from our window...

...really isn’t anything spectacular. But hey, I call it home.

Actually one day something cool/scary happened right here, but I think that is a story that I will tell after the mission… :-) (or at least after I am transferred…:-))

Well, let’s see, where to start… I have got a lot to tell, and little time/money to be able to tell it. Let me start with the baptism. It was totally awesome. Nilza is way afraid of water, plus the water was SUPER cold (there isn’t a water heater in the font). I was even a little nervous to get in that water, bc it was really cold. Baptisms, as always, are really great experiences. The spirit is felt by all. We had another family that kind of showed up by surprise to watch. I could tell that they were touched and the feeling and spirit in that room. … I’ll see if there is time to tell more later…

…BECAUSE… something else really cool happened this week. Elder Didier, the first quorum of the seventy, and the president of the Area Brasil, came and toured our mission. He did three conferences with the missionaries in different parts of the mission. I went to the first one that he did… it was really great. He came with his wife and mother-in-law. They all speak French, being that they are from France, but the wife also speaks good English and President Didier speaks English and Portuguese. Anyway, he talked about knowledge and the 5 kinds of knowledge that every missionary needs to have. As part of the conference he wanted to do a demonstration. So he said, “I need a missionary to help me with this…” and then he pointed to me and called me up. So I went up there in front of everyone and he told me to pretend that he was an investigator and then he asked me some questions. I tried to answer them the best I could, BUT, elder Didier is tough. (se ele for um pesquisador de verdade, eu teria queimado ele por ser tão duro comigo, mas... sendo que ele é um autoridade geral, eu tentei responder de uma forma calma e educado... foi engraçado.) He asked a bunch of tough questions and didn’t seem to like any of the answers. Then at the end i guess he felt that he had made his point and let me sit down and told me that i did a good job. I am STILL not really sure what the point was, but he did it to 2 other missionaries too. Whatever it was, it was cool to try to teach him and to be able to talk with him a little.

Well, I am out of time. I am loving every minute that I have here to serve the Lord. I am also loving brasil more and more everyday. For example, this last week I developed two more addictions- caldo de cana and água de coco. (in other words juice of sugar cane, and coconut milk.) man that stuff is good!!

I gotta go!, love you guys.
Elder Helland