Wednesday, October 22, 2008

hey there goonies...

Hey fam!

Sorry last week’s letter was lame. I think the problem was the fever and the meds. But i am good now. I ran a fever for a few more hours after and then i was good to go. The next day i was already chomping at the bit to find some people to baptize !! the biggest challenge this week was my comp. Let me tell you about him.

He is from são paulo, is 25 years old. He was baptized when he was 12 with a good friend of his. No one else in his family are members of the church. He is from a favela and loves to tell stories about his life before the mission :-) Believe you me, he had an interesting life, ... for an american mormon anyway it was interesting. Any way, these last weeks he has been pretty tough. I learned a lot from the other troubles that I have had with companions, and we are great friends, but he is passing through some tough times now. His mission ends in January, and he is not really wanting to work any more. I wrote an email to president today, and we have talked to pres a few times, and we’ll see if some thing gives.

I have a ton of pictures that i want to send you guys, but this lan house doesn’t let us download either. (today is a holiday, so almost all of the stores are closed.) This week is transfers. I have been in this area for 7 going on 8 months now, so it is probable that i will be moved this week. BUT, i have heard of missionaries that have stayed much longer in one area, so...

We are now working with different families. We stopped visiting a lot of the families that were getting ready to be baptized, for various reasons. This last week, we knocked a lot of doors. I mean a LOT. We found a lot of people that DONT want to here our message. It was funny. One time this lady was yelling at us that she already “knew” Jesus. I was out of patience for these people, so i asked her if she knew any one that “knew” Jesus and liked Him and would like to hear more about Him. She got angry and started talking about how she liked Jesus and a bunch of other stuff. She didn’t like that i implied that she didn’t like Jesus. It was funny. Another time, after a long day of having people yell mean stuff at us, we were knocking doors again. We came to this big gate and clapped our hands [that’s what they do in Brazil instead of knocking on the door, they clap their hands]. “who is it?” they yelled. And elder andré responded, “ the Mormons!” they didn’t answer or come to the door. :-)

Mom- sorry, didn’t carry all the Christmas stuff with me. I gave a lot of it to brazilian missionaries that think that that kind of stuff is really cool. As far as presents go, i am good. Whatever’s clever, you know.

Dad- whahoo, joe ferry. I remember visiting that guy. Holy smokes. That is awesome.

Alyce- i really like that idea about tolerance. I guess that God is intolerant of sin, but loves unconditionally, that is a tough attribute to acquire. Like Christ says, it is easy to love those that are like us and love us, it is HARD to love our enemies. I guess that we can be INTOLERANT of sin, but we have to FORGIVE all men. It is an interesting concept. I guess when i see all this stuff that i know makes our Savior sad, i just think about how i can teach them to repent. It is really hard to love those that don’t want to repent, that don’t want to do what is right. THAT is hard for me. Because i feel so sad knowing that they will not return to the presence of the father like that. There is nothing we can do about others free agency, it is after all “the most precious gift we have been give, next to life itself, the power to direct that life.. :-)”

Well, i got to go, until next week,
Elder helland

ps - this week i ate pigs feet for the first time. i always thought is was just a joke of mom’s. it was gross!!! my piece had little poky hairs pointing out of it. yeeeeaaaallkkkk!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

If I were king of the forest…

Letter 10-13-08 (oops, posted one week late!)

What I wanted to do was send a bunch of pictures to you guys, but this dumb internet café doesn’t allow it. I am not really feeling all that good right now, I have been sick with the flu these last couple of days. I woke up this morning with a pretty gnarly fever, so as you can imagine, I don’t really have the energy to write a whole bunch today. My head is really slow, kind of like an old telephone modem- and I am not really getting a good connection. “What king of chip you got in there, a Dorito? It’s all about the Pentiums, baby.”

On Saturday, we had a neat experience. We went to a neighborhood that doesn’t really get worked in a lot. The neighborhood is called “Colégio”, which means “school”. Anyway, it has this giant favela in the middle and I don’t really know the streets there all that good. We grabbed the area book the night before and the ward list and pulled out all of the addresses that we could find that were in that neighborhood. And then we spent the whole next day in that part of the area.
That day was pretty tough. We searched for all of the addresses that we had and no on wanted to hear a message. The worst ones were the in-active members that we looked for. Some of them yelled at us, others had moved or died. One lady, who was the sister of a member that is inactive, told us that hr sister had moved. So we asked for her new address, and the lady said she wouldn’t give it to us. So we asked for a telephone number. Again she said that she wouldn’t give it to us. Okay, well, could you tell her that we came here looking for her? ... No. And then the mean old lady started yelling at us saying that she was going to sue us and call the police and a bunch of other junk. Elder Andre told here to calm down and we left with her still yelling.

The next house was another inactive member. We found the address and as we got closer I saw that they were having some kind of party. I said this to elder Andre, who kindly informed me that that was no birthday party. It was a macumba party. The house where it was happening was the neighbor house to the house that we were looking for. They were beating drums and shouting and stuff, so we had to clap out hands really loud to and shout “Jefferson” (the was the man’s name that we were looking for.) well, I guess that we were interfering with their satanic ritual, because thy all stopped and looked at us. The man in the middle of the circle, that was all dressed funny, started screaming. It was pretty scary. All of the people cheered when he screamed. Then this dinosaur lady saw us, I think she was the one directing the spirit ceremony. She was dressed funny too, and had two big swords in her hands. She started coming towards us and asked us why we were there. (She had this really deep raspy voice) we said that we were looking for Jefferson; she said that no Jefferson lived there now; we took her word for it and took off. It is so weird that here, there is a giant and popular religion that claims to believe in Jesus Christ that has ceremonies to posses people with evil spirits. I guess that the evil spirit that was in that man didn’t like being so close to priesthood power, because he was screaming like crazy. :-)

So, that whole day was tough like this, running into all kinds of opposition. I was thinking the whole time that this must be that trial of our faith and that soon we would be blessed with something great. And we were. At night we found a new family to teach. They live close to a few members and were excited to learn more about the restored gospel. Turns out that opposition is an important principle and that when things are tough, that Lord is just waiting to see if we will hang in there to get the blessing at that end.

Mom- I got a letter from grandma jones. It is the only one that I got this last transfer. You can tell her that she made my day! Don’t worry about being short and sweet next time. The problem is usually that I don’t really feel like writing a lot, and time is just a good excuse. It is a hard transition to try and think about you guys after a week with out really, well, thinking about you guys. I mean, I pray for you guys and stuff, but writing is tricky if you aren’t in the mood. I am usually still thinking about the problems I have with my missionaries and my investigators, and that kind of stuff doesn’t translate real well into a letter home. I think that THIS letter wasn’t all that good, but my excuse it that my head is all fuzzy today and that is really all that comes to mind.

Dad- man, you got to watch out for those cigar stealers, they are slippery! I thought that there was a camera there, filming the bad guys? Have fun with those pavers.

Alyce- “My little wild one. I know who I can find when I need a wild time…” sounds like you got beat up at that concert. The only thing that I can say about teaching is: learn how to ask good questions. Not just asking question, but good questions. Questions make people think and feel. Luckily for me, I teach pretty much the same lesson everyday, so I have a pretty good list of “good questions” to ask. But I am also always planning trainings and other lessons and talks and stuff, and I have to say, that is the key to take the lesson to the heart of people. Of course, the scriptures, the spirit, environment, and testimony are also important, but learning how to ask effective questions is a tough skill to learn.

I am totally beat. I am going to grab a snack and then sleep the rest of p-day.

Love you guys-
Elder Helland

Thursday, October 9, 2008

what a weekend!

letter from 10-6-08

Yep, conference was awesome here too. I think that my favorite thing about conference is … man there are so many favorites. I guess it is cool for me to teach people every day about prophets and what they do, then to finally see and here one is… “it is like a paleontologist that has studied dinosaurs his whole life and finally has that opportunity to meet one.” (Movie quote?- I know it is a little fuzzy, but cut me some slack b/c I haven’t seen this movie in forever). I guess that I liked all of the talks, but sis allred did awesome talking about baptism and missionary work. Later in the priesthood session there was this awesome MTC choir. I thought about all of those missionaries starting just now and how much they will learn in the coming months, how much good they will do in the next two years. Elder Holland, always a favorite, talked about angels. One of the scriptures that he, and many others for that matter, used was “ I will go before you and be on your right hand and on you left and mine angels round about you to bare you up.” (Rough quotation) I was also reminded of where the BoM says that angels are preparing the hearts of men to receive the gospel truth. I also liked elder uchtdorf’s; ‘lift where you are’. I learned a lot about just how far hard work and team effort will help us here. I also liked this talk by Lawrence Corbridge (?). It was kind of different, but I really liked the feeling of it. The focus on the Savior really helped me realize that THAT is the focus of my life and work too. He is the only way for me or anyone else to be saved.

I guess I felt a little funny when I found out that you guys fasted. It was sweet, but I read that missionary manual A LOT so that I am 100% obedient and to answer that questions of other missionaries too. AND there is one little part that that says not to ask people at home to fast for stuff here. I know I didn’t ask, so I thought that is was really cool for you guys to do that. This week our zone baptized 4 people. We were going to baptize too, BUT one of her children got the chicken pox. Her name is Daniele. She and her daughter Juliana (8 years old) were going to get baptized this week. They hadn’t even gone to church yet. They are pretty special. I will tell you more next week.

Wait, you mean to say that you didn’t sleep this year in the priesthood session? J man you are doing better with out me there….And holy smokes!, the dentist took out some of your bone!!!??!! B careful, your brain could fall our now. Here, when they do normal dental work you get 0 numbing stuff. You would be out of luck if you lived here.

pó cara,nem tou ligado mais na giria aí, maluca! mas vanilla ice ainda é doido pra caraca. tu fale com jay pra apostar na parada, manê. (That is my rad ability to speak in slang in Portuguese.) My companion must be like that guy. he says "pó cara" every other sentence. Way to go swinging an "a" in college. You’re like a nerd now.
(one more lesson in Brazilian slang: You can actually say "nerd" here and everyone will understand that you are talking about those losers that like to get good grades. :) but another on that i think is funny is calling someone a "C.D.F."- which is to say- "cabeça de ferro"- being translated is "head of iron". It is how they call nerds here. I guess that makes you a C.D.F.! ha ha :)

Well, I had better get going.
love – elder helland.