Monday, September 28, 2015

Elder Olivier is in Manaus!

Elder Olivier flew to Manaus on Tuesday, September 22nd!  We received photos from the Mission President and his wife after he arrived!  It was so great to finally see a photo of him!  

Elder Olivier has been so used to not sending photos while in the Missionary Training Center, that he forgot to send photos today.  When he remembered, his computer time was we are hoping for more photos next week.

These are the missionaries that flew to Manaus with Elder Olivier.  Elder Olivier is top right.

Elder Olivier with President and Sister Castro.

Mondays are his new pday and we absolutely loved the letter we received from him today.  Elder Olivier is currently serving in the city on the east side of Manaus.  Here is his letter:

Hey everyone! It´s been more than a week since I last emailed! My new p-day is Monday, so I´ll be emailing on Mondays from now on. 

I´m not really in the jungle right now. Where I am, there is city as far as you can see.

We arrived in Manaus last tuesday. Me, two other americans, and a bunch of brazilians landed in Manaus and then we got bussed to the mission home, where we ate a ton of food (mostly some kind of GIANT fish). The mission president and his wife talked to us for a litte, then we drove to a church building right next to the soccer stadium here in Manaus. The assistants to the president talked to us for a long time. The other two americans and I understood somewhere around 0% of it all. After that, the mission president inverviewed us and we got assigned our companions. 

My companion is named Elder Galván. He is from Argentina, and, you guessed it, he only speaks spanish and portuguese. On top of that, his accent is wayyyyyy different from the accent here, so that is super challenging. The language right now is a game of accents. I can understand everything my companion says in his argentinan accent. Some people speak pretty clearly. Other people have really strong accents. Old people are by far the hardest people to understand. They sound like: shishashehshshshsieisaiashishiahsiehishiashsha.

It is very hot here. I sweat a lot. I think it´s usually around 40-45 degrees celcius outside.

The people here are so awesome! Everyone is super friendly. We can pretty much talk to anyone and they won´t think that we´re weirdos. Also, everyone already believes in Jesus so we can check that one off the list. Most people like talking about religion. Everyone goes to church. There are churches everywhere, in all kinds of different buildings and with all kinds of different names/people. Most of the other churches either have a rock band or a guy who yells a lot about Jesus. Sometimes both.

All of the members are so friendly! Elder Galván and I are in two areas (we walk a lot), so we have two wards. That means 6 hours of church on sundays. There are a couple of different things that people do when I tell them my name. Thing 1: They think it is pronounced "Oliver" (which happens a lot in the states too). Thing 2: They immediately recognize that it is french (which almost never happens in the states). Thing 3: They say "like Oliver Cowdery!" (you warned me, Uncle Jeff). Thing 4: They call me "Olivier Giroud" (the french soccer player). This is 80% of the conversation that I have with members. Haha. 

We are teaching a lot of people. Most of the people we teach are referrals from members. We do a lot of street contacting too. We can almost choose who we want our investigators to be. It´s weird. People here are so receptive. We have a couple of people with baptismal dates in the next two weeks, with a lot more on the way. We just have to do a lot of work. Which means a lot of walking. Up and down a lot of hills.

The entire city of Manaus has an open sewer system, but it doesn´t smell that bad. I haven´t seen any alligators yet. Or many other animals other than dogs and cats. They are everywhere. 

Animals I have seen so far:

Dogs - roughly 94847384595
Cats - roughly 374373
Ants - exactly 48483882837649
Lizards - 1
Cockroaches in our apartment - 3 or 4
Giant caterpillars - 1
Mosquitos - 0 (yeah, I know. It must be because it´s the dry season)
Monkeys - 0 (darn)
Giant spiders - 0 (thank goodness)

The coolest thing that we´ve eaten so far is jacaré (alligator. Ok, I lied, I saw an alligator). One of the members fed it to us. She said it was fish at first, but after we ate it she told us it was jacaré. We also ate tortoise this week. We´ve eaten a ton of different kinds of fruits. There are so many fruits here. There´s this fruit called cucuazul(?) and it´s sooo good.

This week has been so crazy. I´ve been thinking about Moroni 7:12-16. It says that all things that are good are of God, and we have the opportunity to choose for ourselves whenever we make decisions in life. When we choose good, we are blessed, and when we don´t, we aren´t guaranteed blessings. It´s as simple as that. We just need to live our lives and choose good continually, so that every day we become better and better people. Sometimes it´s really hard to try to be a little nicer, a little more patient, a little more obedient, or a little more loving. But just a little goes a long way, and I have definitely seen that so far on my mission.

I love all of you guys so much! Stay awesome!


Elder Olivier

(written 9/28/2015)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Flying to Manaus!

Elder Olivier will be leaving the CTM in Sao Paulo, Brazil tomorrow and flying to his mission in Manaus, Brazil.  His flight to Manaus will be approximately 4 hours long.  The Manaus mission home is in the state of Amazonas.  Most of the state is a tropical jungle. Cities are clustered along navigable waterways and are accessible only by boat or plane. Every few months Elder Olivier will be transferred to another area and will many times have to take a small plane.  Manaus is the capital and largest city in Amazonas.  It is a modern city of 1.7 million people in the middle of the jungle on the Amazon River.

We are excited to hear about his next adventures.  We've heard that his district has been doing a fantastic job with their Portuguese and they are ready to serve!  Here is his latest email that we received last Friday.

Oi everyone!!!
This week has been super awesome, as usual. It´s our last week in the CTM!!! Our district leaves for the field on Tuesday!! I can´t wait!!! Our district has been doing a super good job of trying to speak portuguese as much as possible. I love my district so much! We always work super hard on trying to learn the language. It´s really hard sometimes to not just give up and speak english, but our district has been doing awesome.
Next week we leave for the field! Holy cow! Time has flown by! On wednesday this week a ton of new american missionaries (gringos) flew in and it reminded me of our first day here. Haha. It was so long ago. Also I think there are more americans than brazilians here right now, which is super weird.
Next week I´ll be able to send pictures!!!! Finally!!!!!
I can´t wait for Manaus!!! Everyone says it´s wayyyy different from São Paulo. Apparently they also have a way different accent than they do here, so that´s kind of scary. Also, one of the instructors told us her friend served in Manaus and some days it would get about 50 degrees celsius. That´s scary because when the AC says it´s 23 degrees in our classroom, it´s hot.
So the other elders in my district and I do this thing where we vocalize hymns when we walk down the stairs (because it sounds really cool) so that inspired us to sing for the sisters and the instructors in our district a few days ago. Then, one of our elders wanted to sing to Sister Hale, one of the senior couple missionaries here who is in charge of the CTM choir (aka all of the missionaries in the CTM). We sang for her, and long story short we´re singing on sunday for the devotional. We are singing Joseph Smith´s First Prayer to the tune of Come Thou Fount (it´s a long, random story how we chose that too). It´s a little different but it sounds so good.
I´ve been thinking a ton recently about going into the field next week and how hard it´s going to be (especially if I get a brazilian or a hispanic companion who doesn´t speak english). I´m also going to be in the middle of a city (or jungle, depending on what area I´ll be put in) that I´ve never been to, with a completely different culture. One of my favorite scriptures recently has been Jeremiah 1:4-9 in the bible:
The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, behold, I have put words in thy mouth.
We just had a devotional last week and one of the speakers was talking about how the calling of a missionary and the calling of an apostle are not very different. Both are representatives of Jesus Christ and are called to be a witness of Him to the nations. That is kind of intimidating sometimes, but I know that He is with us every step of the way, and that He is helping us and guiding us.
Anyway, I love all of you guys! Stay awesome!
Eu amo vocês!
Elder Olivier

(written 9/18/2015)

Sunday, September 13, 2015


We received this letter from Elder Olivier last Friday.  He only has nine more days and then he flies to Manaus!

Oi everyone!!!!!!
So first off, my CTM district has been having a fast from english all
week, so this is super weird typing in english. It´s pretty much been
the same thing this week, except we had a really cool devotional here
that will be broadcast to all of brasil.  Elder Claudio Costa spoke and it was really
good. He was mainly talking to the youth of brasil about serving
missions and doing missionary work. My main man Elder Ensign, who is
going to Manaus too, played the piano for like 3 hours straight for
all of the songs and the musical numbers. I wish the devotional was
being broadcast in the US too so everyone could see it (except it was
all in portuguese). It was so good!

So I have 11 days until I leave for Manaus! A bunch of brasileiros
just arrived to the CTM that are going to Manaus too, so the other 2
americans and I will fly out with them. It´s coming up so fast! I
can´t believe that I have spent an entire month inside the same
building! Also, in two weeks I can finally send pictures!!!!! I

Random announcement: 105 dias até natal!!!! Just reminding you all!!!!
Anyway, everything is still going super awesome here. I love the CTM.
I have learned so much here, about portuguese and about the gospel.
The church is 1837457% true, and the Book of Mormon is 384757829203%
true. I know it. If you haven´t read the Book of Mormon, read it. If
you haven´t been taught by the missionaries, find them and ask them to
teach you. It will change your life. It is the reason that I am here
in brasil. The gospel blesses lives.

Eu amo vocês!!!!!!
Elder Olivier

PS thanks so much to everyone that has sent me letters and emails! I
hardly have any time to email every week so it´s super hard to reply
to them! I still love you guys!

(written 9/11/2015)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Elder Olivier Handed Out 8 Livros de Mormon!

We look forward to Elder Olivier's emails each week!  Before we know it he will be headed to Manaus, leaving behind the CTM in Brazil, but taking with him the precious knowledge he has gained there.  We are so glad that his VISA came before his mission.  He has had such wonderful opportunities to learn Portuguese while living in Brazil amongst the people and becoming immersed in the culture.  He is loving his current adventure and looking forward to Manaus!

He has also enjoyed all the the letters and emails he has received!  They are like gold to him!  Thanks so much to everyone!

So this week has been awesome! We got to go out proselyting in São
Paulo! It was sweet. Elder Wong and I gave out 8 Livros de Mórmon in
about an hour and a half and we also got ton of contacts! We had to
ride this crazy bus for a while to get to this square place where a
ton of people were walking. It was super herky jerky. We stood up most
of the time so other people could sit down, and it was super crowded.
It was a great place to talk to a ton of people though. People are so
receptive to hearing about the church here. Almost everyone is
religious (most people are Catholic) or they seem to be interested in
religion. And not to mention how crazy it is that Elder Wong and I can
(sort of) have conversations with people in portuguese. We talked to
this one guy who was out talking pictures of the city. He said he
wasn´t super interested, but his mom would be, so we got him to take a
Book of Mormon to his mom. He then asked us where we were from and we
told him we are from the Estados Unidos, and we´ve been here for three
weeks. He then started speaking perfect English and said "So you guys
took some kind of portuguese class before you came here?" We told him
no, we just started learning three weeks ago. He was SUPER surprised
and he said our portuguese was ridiculous for three weeks. I thought
that was funny because ten minutes before this guy was saying
something really fast to us about coffee and laughing at our
portuguese. Haha.

This week two a bunch of people came from the Provo MTC. They moved
two of the elders out of our district who are going to Riberão Preto
to a new district with more people from their mission. It was kind of
sad because we´ve all become super good friends, but we still see them
at meals sometimes. Oh, and by the way, everyone that comes from Provo
talks about how much better the CTM is than Provo. They always
complain about the food at Provo. The food is SOOOOOOO good here, even
though half the time I don´t know what the heck it is.

Today we went to the Sâo Paulo temple again. Every Friday we go to the
temple and then we get to walk around in the city. There is this place
around the corner that sells ties to the missionaries for R$10, which
is about $3 USD. And they´re still nice ties. One of the other
missionaries in my district, Elder Lantz (he´s going to Manaus too)
and I are going to snag tons of fresh ties today.

I´ve been thinking of the scripture Ether 12:27 a lot for the past
week. It´s about how we are given weaknesses that we may be humble,
and how when we are humble we can turn weaknesses into strengths. I´ve
definitely seen that firsthand here. It´s super humbling to try to
speak portuguese to brasileiros and you know that you sound like an
idiot. But our whole district has come sooooooo far with the language
and with teaching skills, and I know that it´s not just because we are
working crazy hard every day. It´s because we are being guided and
helped so that we can do the Lord´s work. I took spanish in school for
5 years, and in three weeks I can speak better portuguese than I could
speak spanish. There is no way that is just from studying and sitting
in a classroom.

I only have three more weeks of the CTM, so after that I´ll start
having cooler stories. We´ve heard some crazy stuff about Manaus from
other missionaries and instructors. CRAZY stuff, about canoes and
machetes and spiders and tapeworms. The main thing people say when we
say we´re going to Manaus is, "Manus? Quente!" I can´t wait to get out
into the field! It´s going to be so awesome!

Eu amo vocês!!!!!
Elder Olivier

(written 9/04/2015)