Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Uma Semana Boa!

Here is Elder Olivier's latest email!  A little information about his mission first.....  He is not supposed to drink the tap water or it can lead to water borne diseases like dysentery and/or  parasites, such as tapeworms, etc.  Anyway, as you will read in his letter, they ran out of clean water this week and the temperatures are pretty hot and humid...in the 90's, so I'm glad they were finally blessed to get water!

Hi everybody!

I don´t know how much I have to talk about this week. We´ll see once I get to the end of this email.


This week was pretty awesome, as usual. It definitely had its ups and downs, like always, but overall it was a good week. We had the chance to baptize the mother of two of the youth in the ward this week. It was pretty cool. Lately we have been only working with part-member families, and it has been going pretty well.

I have an interesting story about water. This week we had some difficulties with buying water. Everyone here drinks water from those big water container things. They have a couple of companies that deliver water and gas via motorcycle to your house. Well, apparently our house is hard to find or something because we called and asked for water 3 or 4 times and no one came! adfljkdasfjkldfasjkldfa!  We had been only drinking water during the day in members´ houses and at lunch. But, finally, the water came! We were happy!

So here in the north of brazil they have this fruit called açaí that everybody always drinks/eats (it´s kind of an in betweener). It is super good, and my companion wants to drink a ton of it before he leaves for home this transfer. They also have this stuff called farinha. It is hard to describe. It is kind of like little potato pellet-looking things (except it´s not potato, it´s a vegetable that looks like a potato that also happens to not be a vegetable in north america). Anyway, farinha is stuff that people mix with rice and beans. To me, it honestly doesn´t make it taste any different. I eat it anyway, to be cool like all the brazilians. Anyway, long story short, the other day we were eating lunch at the bishop´s house and we ate/drank açaí with farinha. It was the most Manaus-ish thing I have seen so far! It totally blew my mind!

Scripture of the week! Alma 26:12: "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

This is an awesome scripture. The prophet Ammon in the Book of Mormon says this, and it really shows how humble he is. Ammon, a nephite, was a missionary to the lamanites, a people who hated the nephites. But he still ended up bring tons of people to a knowledge of Christ and to the gospel, including kings of the land. He did a bunch of crazy stuff and performed crazy miracles. But I love this scripture because he shows that he doesn´t boast of his own strength, but he boasts of the strength of his God, because God is the reason he was able to be such a powerful missionary. I´ve been thinking a lot about how I am like the worst missionary. Haha. I´m soooooo inadequate for this calling. I think of how Peter, James and John and all of the apostles of Jesus Christ had the same calling that I have, which is kind of like super intimidating. But, at the same time, it isn´t just the missionaries that are doing the work. God is truly helping us along. Everything just seems to kind of work out all the time, and I know that it is because Jesus Christ is truly leading this church and the missionary work throughout the entire world. The Church is true!

Until next week! Tchau! 

Elder Olivier
(written 11/23/2015)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Mais uma Semana da Alegria! (Another Week of Joy!)

Another awesome email from Elder Olivier!  Here it is:

Falaaaaa todo mundo!!!!

This week was super awesome, as usual. Lots of stuff happened this week.


First of all, week started this week off pretty strongly. We are teaching a couple of awesome families and are trying to help two young couples get married before Elder Figueiredo leaves para casa. They´re super excited and we´re super excited and everyone in the ward is super excited, I think. We just have to work a ton to make it all happen. We also are teaching a lot of other people who are super awesome too. The only problem with this week at the beginning was that we didn´t have anyone that could be baptized this week (Elder Figueiredo always says, "é uma regra na missão pra batizar semanalmente, Elder!!" Quick side note!----> he´s super funny because he always talks about how he´s super trunky and how he can´t wait to go home in december and ask his girlfriend to marry him on his first day home. But at the same time he always says, "eu vou morrer trabalhando! Vou trabalhar até o freaking pó!"----> and yes, all of the brazilian missionaries always say "freaking." They repeat a lot of stuff americans say, haha). But anyway, we didn´t have batismo for this week......until.......BOOM! Miracle! One night after an appointment fell through we decided to go visit a girl who is going to be baptized at the end of the month. We decided to go to the church building because she is always there. Well, she wasn´t there, but there were a ton of the young men and young women from church and from the neighborhood there playing soccer and hanging out after seminary, like usual (because seminary is at night here, not at 3 in the morning, like it should be). Anyway, the seminary teacher was there, and she introduced us to these two kids (one is ten, the other is eleven) who I already knew, who I thought were our neighbors´ kids the whole time. They are actually the kids from the house next to our neighbors´ house, which is crucial information, because that means that they weren´t members! They have been coming to church and to activities for a pretty long time and everyone except the seminary teacher thought they were members! So, kind of longish-medium and very unorganized story made into a shortish-medium-ish kind of story, we baptized them yesterday! They were both super excited and happy, because they hadn´t been baptized all this time! It was awesome. We got their mom to come to church and the baptism too, and we started teaching her too! It was way awesome!

Zone Conference

This week we had a zone conference, so our zone and a bunch of other zones went to the "Staff" (pronounced: "staffy," and also known as the mission office). The "staff" is right next to the Amazonas soccer stadium, which is cool. The zone conference was super cool. It took all day, and we had training with the assistentes and President and Sister Castro. The best part was talking with all of the missionaries. I always love talking with the americans because I can relate with them a lot more, but I also love talking with the brazilians. A lot of them think I´m "doido." My companion says (in english) "You crazy guy!" On the bus ride back from the zone conference our entire zone sang christmas songs the whole time. It was cool. Everyone either tried to ignore us or looked at us funny, probably because they are all super lame and aren´t into the christmas spirit yet! 

This week we encountered the rare guaraná fruit! My companion has a list of stuff he still wants to do before he leaves Manaus, and one of them was to see the guaraná fruit. They look like eyeballs. One sister in the ward told me that here there is indian folklore that says that when someone in an indian tribe dies, their eyes become the seeds of a guaraná plant. My first indian folklore story! Yes! But to be honest, we were super excited and we forgot to try the fruit, and it´s starting to go bad. Whoops.

Elder Olivier!

One last story! Yesterday, my companion demonstrated his great faith in my ability to kind of sort of speak in the language that most people refer to as portuguese. My companion, in the very hour of sacrament meeting, told me that I would be the one to confirm one of our recent baptisms a member of the church. So, I got to do some really fast/frantic portuguese memorization, then I got to struggle to give a blessing in front of the entire congregation. My companion said that I had to do it for the first time sometime. Haha.

Anyway, this week was awesome, as usual. This week I´ve been studying a lot about the plan of salvation. I really like 2 Nephi 2:25

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

This scripture is super simple. God has a plan for us, and our purpose in this plan is to have joy, both in this life and the life to come. We are here on earth so that we can have joy. It´s as simple as that. And the way we can have joy is by following the example of Jesus Christ, who is perfect and therefore is the perfect example. There are a lot of people here that say they believe in Christ, but know almost nothing about him. To me, this is really sad. Jesus Christ is important to us in so many ways: He organized His church here on the earth, which was restored exactly to its original form by way of a prophet and ministerings of angels (both of which we still 100% have today, just like in biblical times), he atoned for all of our sins, and he taught how we can return to the presence of our Heavenly Father and receive a fulness of joy: through having faith, repenting and working to constantly change ourselves to be better, being baptized by the same authority that John the Baptist, Christ, and the original twelve apostles and all of the original prophets had, since Adam and Eve, and through receiving the gift of the holy ghost. I know, now more than ever, that this is the gospel of Jesus Christ, that through this gospel we can have a fulness of joy. I know, now more than ever, that this is the only church with the same authority that Jesus Christ himself gave to His prophets. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and that he leads this church. And I know that anyone else can know this too, by way of reading the Book of Mormon and praying. It´s as simple as that. If you haven´t read the Book of Mormon, read it. If you have read the Book of Mormon, read it again. It changed the world, and it will change your life.

Anyway, I hope all of you guys have a super freaking awesome week! I love all of you guys so much! 

Até a próxima segunda-feira! Falou, abraço!

Elder Olivier

P.S. I forgot to say in this letter that it is really really hot here

(written 11/16/2015) 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Só Alegria! (Only Happiness!)

We just received an email and photos from Elder Olivier!  How I love Mondays!!  His email is below.


This week was pretty sweet! Every day we do the same thing but at the same time every day is so different. I´m starting to get pretty used to the area and all of the (random) street names and (beyond random) house numbers and all of the names and faces and callings of people in the ward. I wish I could also say I am getting used to the heat. 

This week we went on divisões (I forgot the word missionaries use in english...I think it´s divisions but I´m not sure and I don´t want to sound like an idiot here). I went with Elder Cosme, our district leader. He is from Fortaleza, and he´s a super good missionary. He is also a really good teacher, and I learned a ton from him as we taught people.

Elder Figueiredo's birthday

This week we were super focused on teaching and helping all of our investigators with dates for baptism. Yesterday we had two baptisms, a rapaz (teenage boy) and a moça (teenage girl). It was sweet. It was also my companion´s birthday yesterday, so he was super pumped. He turned 20 (I know, he doesn´t look like it). Everyone new that we meet still thinks I´m older than him.


The rapaz that we baptized was a friend of 4 or 5 of the young men in the ward. Most of them were with us for most of our lessons with him. It was so awesome to hear them bear their testimonies to him. His baptism was so awesome because of the support and the love and the testimonies of all of his friends. Needless to say, the youth in our wards here are super freaking awesome. It is awesome to see how animated everyone here is about missionary work. 

A scripture I really like that I read this week is in the Book of Mormon in Words of Mormon chapter 1 (the only chapter) verse 7. It says: 

"And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will."

We don´t know all things. I think about that a lot, and I realize how essential this attitude is more and more every day, especially out here in a foreign country. It seems like there is hardly anything that I actually know. But the Lord knows all things, and when we show our faith and rely on what He and his prophets say, everything will end up good, and we will be blessed and we will bless others. I have such a strong testimony of this. When we obey commandments and follow the promptings of the spirit, we will be blessed and we will help others to be blessed too.

I love all of you guys! Have an awesome week! Boa semana para vocês! Abraço!

Élder Olivier

A sweet picture of Elder Figueiredo and I last week/BATISMO!!!/E. Figueiredo with his birthday cake that one of the sisters in the ward made

(written 11/09/2015)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

New Missionaries in Manaus

We finally heard from Elder Olivier on Wednesday because they had a holiday in Brazil on Monday.  The holiday is kind of like our memorial day, but it's called 'All Souls Day.'  It's a commemoration of the faithful departed.   

Elder Olivier sent us more pictures this week too!  Here is his email that we got today:

Hi everyone!

This week we had a holiday on Monday so I´m emailing today! Elder Figueiredo and I had an awesome week this week! We worked a ton! We´ve been a lot on finding families to teach and working with all of the members to get our investigators to progress. Missionary work is so awesome. It´s awesome to see how much influence the members of our two wards can have on others. A little really goes a long way. Elder Figueiredo is awesome because he´s not afraid to ask every single member for references, and a lot of the time members have references to give right away and they´re just waiting for us to ask. We´ve been trying to get a lot of the members excited about doing member missionary work. It´s so sweet, because most of the time members are a lot better at being missionaries than the actual missionaries. We started teaching a bunch of awesome new families this week, just from asking members for a couple of references.

This week was also really hot. And plus, we got lost for a couple of hours a few times because of me. Haha. I´m learning the area the hard way right now.

Elder Olivier's Zone

So our new zone has 6 americans now instead of 2. It´s funny to talk to americans. It´s kind of weird though, because I never know whether to speak portuguese or english. I think I´m at the point where I sound like an idiot whether I speak portuguese or whether I speak english. Haha. Mas tranquilo.

Today was sweet. We woke up super early to ride the bus to the temple. The missionaries in the city get to go to the temple once per transfer. After that we went to the "Shopping" to eat lunch. The "Shopping" means "the mall." Haha. Sometimes there will be a random word for something that is straight up english. I think they use some english words for things here to be fancy. Anyway, we went to the shopping, where we ate Subway. Subway here is freaking expensive. Tu é doido. But it was still good. We had milkshakes too. For 45 minutes it felt like I was in America again.  

The temple here is at a place called "Ponta Negra," which is like the nicest, touristiest part of Manaus. They have a little beach on the bank of the Rio Negro. People have to swim in the roped off area or else they will probably get eaten by the alligators. The "shopping" here is super nice and they even had a giant christmas tree with a place to take pictures with Santa (Papai Noel). He wasn´t there.... :(

Anyway, this week has been super awesome. We have a bunch of people set for baptismal dates and we found some awesome new families. It is crazy how much I have learned in just the past couple of months. Brazil is awesome. I have been thinking and studying a lot lately about charity, and how to genuinely love others. Something that is really hard as a missionary is to genuinely love people that you barely know. A scripture I like is Alma 7:24
"And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works"
As we strive to have faith and hope in the gospel and as we strive to have charity, or to truly love other people, we will be able to do good things and to help those that truly need our help. I really like the promise of this scripture. It´s so simple, that if we try to love people, we will do good things.

Anyway, until next week! I love you all! Abraço!

Elder Olivier

(written 11/04/2015)

Eating fish...with the head still on:)

A spider after Elder Olivier stepped on it.