Monday, March 17, 2014

The Roller Coaster of Missionary Work

Alright so last P day was hectic, I felt like a headless chicken running around and I just had no idea what was going on, but it’s all good, tudo bem (too-doo ben).

My daily life as a missionary: I get up around 6:30am do some morning stuff, then Elder Fávero (FAH-ver-oh) and I do some exercise, this past week was the first week Elder Fávero had been running since the nine months he’s been out in the field so he was hurting, haha, it reminded me of running with Dad, good times. Anyway, then we come home take a shower, eat some breakfast, always an apple a banana and 2 pieces of bread with honey. Then we start our personal study (or we should) at 8:00am which is really relaxing for me just to read the scriptures in English and have a little Portuguese break. Then for 2 hours comes companion study where we sing a hymn and read from the rule book, go over what we learned prep for lessons we will have during the day and go through the training program which should be 12 weeks but I will be doing in it 10 because this next transfer is really weird and 2 weeks shorter- fun. Then about 11am we have Estudo do Idioma (eh-stoo-doo doh ih-dgee(hard d sound?)-oh-mah) where I try to practice conjugations and pronunciation etc. but that normally gets cut short because we have to walk to our lunch appointments which start at 12noon.

Lunch is almost always beans, rice, suco (soo-koh) juice, and something with a bit of meat. And after lunch we start our proselyting which we planned out visits the night before or already had appointments set up. And this part is essentially 10 hours of walking around the streets trying to find and teach the people we planned. But it never goes the way we planned especially because Elder Fávero has the tendency to talk with people really long... anyway around 9 to 9:30pm we head home, plan for the next day, maybe eat a snack, oh yea dinner isn’t a thing here- like ever (that took some getting used to), we plan for the next day, take a shower, write in my journal and go to bed- a lot to do in a little time.

So around the beginning of the week I spoke with Elder Fávero about my desires to you know work a bit more diligently and get to stuff on time etc. and that really helped and things are starting to pick up. I am so much happier when we are working, teaching lessons, making contacts, etc. But everything here is a roller coaster, one day I feel like we are doing awesome and lunch is really good, Wed. we had this lasagna that tasted almost exactly like our enchiladas yummm, and we teach some great lessons. Then the next day your companion sleeps through personal study and you’re late to everything and we don’t get stuff done and lunch... you just have to shovel down the bland beans, rice and oddly textured sausage thing and wash it all down with suco that has little ants floating all in it (that was Saturday) and just hope that it ends soon, haha. Anyway this week we have two investigators who are really exciting. Mateus is like a golden investigator, he was a reference from some other missionaries and he’s already been to church and he has such a strong desire to know for himself the things we are teaching- it’s awesome. And Cléia (CLEH-ee-uh) is super interested, she was another reference and this past Sunday we taught her and she had a friend over totally not planned but the friend who gave the reference and the spirit was so strong and I know the Lord answers prayers because the friend said things that were exactly what Cléia needed to hear and it was great so both of them have now have agreed that they want to be baptized yay! Oh also this week I've started singing hymns to our investigators, it is such an awesome way to invite the spirit. Like I will sing Joseph Smiths First Prayer during the restoration lesson and really the first time I did that here was the strongest I've felt the spirit out here.

Missionary work definitely is work and isn't all roses but it’s the moments where you see the gospel light up peoples eyes and feeling that spirit that make it all worth it.

Sorry I don’t have time to add more pictures this week or reply to all or your emails but I read them all and I will try to get back to you! Thank you all so much for your prayers and love!

Love Elder Pierce

Here’s a picture of me and my companion, till next week! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

CTM Pictures

Arriving in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Van to the CTM with Peruvian Elders
It's Official...Elder Pierce
My bed
"I'm HERE!!"
1st CTM companion
2nd CTM companion
Night view from my window
CTM cafeteria
Beautiful garden in the center of the CTM

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Here in Santa Maria!

Well this last day at the MTC was a big long orientation for the field which meant everything we've learned here in the past 6 weeks in really fast Portuguese. Then we spent the night packing and what not, got up at 4:30 in the morning, got on a bus and headed for the Campinas Airport. The airports here are different, you don't go through security until like 10 mins before your flight and so Elder Sargent and I were kind of stressed out but it turns out security is next to nothing, put your bag on the belt and walk through, that's it- super easy. So we had one flight to Porto Alegre about 3 hrs, waited for about an hour til we had our flight to  Santa Maria which was about an hour on this smaller plane. We arrived at this tiny rinkey dink airport, like super small, one building with a concrete strip. 

Anyway, the Parrelas where there and so we all got to meet them (there were 9 missionaries going to Santa Maria including me). Then we dropped off our bags at a hotel and went to the president's penthouse apartment in the city.  It was super nice, and we had dinner where Sister Parrela went on about how any food that isn't natural will make you sick and we aren't allowed to drink milk or soda or eat pizza or a ton of things like that and I am excited for this opportunity to exercise obedience, haha. But they are really nice and it came out that I studied music at BYU so I sang a hymn for everyone and Pres. Parrela said if we had an apostle visit he would get me to sing at the meeting haha

So next day we get our companions! My companion is Elder Fávero. He is from Brasilia (the capital) and he's got about 9 months on the mission and I am his first trainee. My area is here in the city of Santa Maria- if you look at a map the center southern most part, I think.  We are in the Urlândia ward.  Interesting though, something happened either with the past missionaries or in the ward itself, but the work in the ward is going really slow so Pres Parrela said that if we loved the members we would see miracles. But after these next two transfers if we still aren't happy and things aren't progressing, he will close the area, no pressure. 

So our area is really big and we walk a lot! It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the chapel from our house and then about another 45 minutes to walk to the farthest part of our area, which we did this past Sunday for lunch.  Then we walked all the way back. If you want to prepare for a mission, go walk in your suit and Sunday shoes for a couple miles on gravel and cobble stone streets... haha... I expect calves of glory! Also, after the first day of walking I started using my wool socks like hiking socks and that solved the blister problem. Thank goodness I've got those so i wear like 3 pairs of socks, wool then black over top so it's appropriate, haha  It's hot but it's worth it! So we share our apartment (which is decent compared to the others I've heard about) with 2 other elders Elder McCutheon from Utah and Elder P Santos another new missionary with me from Sao Paulo. 

Ummm so yea, I've been walking around trying to teach lessons in Portuguese, which is actually going pretty well.  Everyone here is surprised to find out this is my first area because I don't sound like it from my Portuguese, which is really nice to hear, haha,  Oh yeah, and really cool- we have some deaf members in our ward so we are authorized to teach in Brazilian sign language, crazy right!  I already know the alphabet and a couple gospel words... cool cool cool. There are definitely cultural differences between me and my companion, mostly in timing like 20 minutes late for study or I want to be out and doing stuff but he is still putting on his tie or shoes or talking with a member for a little too long or getting back to the apartment 15 minutes late. No contention or anything but it's a goal for us now to be more punctual and using our time wisely, haha

I love you all so much, thank you for all of the prayers! Things will get better here, with time, and as I continue to adjust to the schedule of crazy missionary life.
I'm going to try to send pictures now, till next week!

Elder Pierce

**Check out the next blog post for the first batch of pics from Elder Pierce!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

4 Days 'til the Field!!!

Campinas Brazil Temple
Well we are all out of "normal" days here, 4 days til the field!!! Our last day of normal type stuff was on Friday and even then, not really because Sis. T. (the newer sister) got her new companion who is in the same situation/week at Provo, and then getting thrown into a district 2 weeks ahead, so we had that crazy move around. Also some cool news: the church just got Visas for like 200 missionaries who have been Visa waiting in the states and we got the first shipment of 20 of them this week. It's weird because all of them have been in the field for 8 - 12 months so they all have field stories and stuff which is cool, but they only stay here for 12 days in like a refresher Portuguese course- pretty cool. 

So last p-day when we went out on the town I finally got a border tie, which you get from this one little shop on the street and they are pretty sweet, and you have to get one if your here! haha. Also, we got these churros filled with dolce de lete from this street cart. Elder Si. and I savored our first bites together, santa vaca that was delicious! Anyway, so Sunday church stuff: we are all split up into branches by language and based on the date when we got here.  We have sacrament  where all missionaries prepare a 5 min talk in Portuguese and they randomly call whoever when the meeting starts to speak.  I dodged the bullet though and next week is fast Sunday so like only half of our district spoke.  Then we split into priesthood and relief society then come back together with all the English speakers to have a doctrine class taught by CTM Pres. Swenson, which is always great and powerful. Then, we have some free time and there's normally a church movie in Portuguese.  At night there is a devotional with all the CTM. 

After last Sunday's devotional Sis Swenson comes up to me and said, "hey we aren't having a choir at this Tuesday's devotional, would you like to prepare something?" (meaning only Monday and Tuesday mornings to practice) So I was like, "sure!" and headed straight down to the music office. I was flipping through their solo selections when I found that one song from 17 miracles "Savior Redeemer of My Soul" and it was totally in my range and so I was super excited. Sis S. in our district plays the piano really well and so she accompanied me and we practiced and ran though the song like 3 times and it was all good. So I sang that Tuesday night and it went amazing, really grateful for that opportunity. Oh and also I got a hair cut that morning so I enjoyed looking squirrley in my new hair cut while singing. haha It's actually totally fine and I look like when I first got here again. 

Campinas Brazil Temple
Funny story:  we do service here every week and Elder Si. and I were folding fitted sheets in the industrial laundry room here like bosses and he started singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music... AH Ah ah ah..." in this hilarious old lady cracking voice so of course I joined in and we had a bunch of fun laughing and singing while folding laundry. And today, our last p day here in the CTM, we got an awesome surprise! Something about the São Paulo temple being closed because of Carnival (which officially starts the day we leave- great...) but anyway all of the American missionaries were going to go to the Campinas Temple, and... it was in English! The Campinas Temple is beautiful and not having to deal with fuzzy translations was so nice! 

Back to other questions though: (where are the others in your district serving?) Elders R., M., Si. and Sister S. are all going to Santos Mission (one of the new 58 whenever that was) Sister M.'s mission is Salvador, Elder St. and Sister D. are going to São Paulo East, then Sister Sh., Elder Sa. and myself are going to Santa Maria. So we will be headed on a plane for somewhere between 2 and 3 hours down there this Tuesday at some point! (what does it mean to be Brazilian?  What are they like?) As for what the Brazilians are like I'm sure Ill be able to answer that much better in a week in my first email from the field!
I love you all so much hope you feel better continue with the work!
Élder Pierce