Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Goodbye Manaus...Hello Acre!

Elder Olivier has been transferred to Acre!  It's a state in Brazil that is very isolated and borders Peru and Bolivia.  He will be training another missionary there again.  He is taking a small airplane to get there since the area is so far away and remote!  We are excited to hear about his new adventures!!  Here is is letter below....a bit shorter this week, because he was so busy getting ready to leave.

Hi everyone!

So I don´t have much time to write today, because today I´m being transferred out of Manaus into the state of Acre! I´ve heard a bunch of crazy stuff about Acre. The joke here is that Acre doesn´t exist, or that no one lives there. It is like super super super super back country Brazil. I guess that makes it like the Wyoming of Brazil. So it must be super awesome there.  Apparently, it is "cold" in Acre (which means, it sometimes gets down to 15 degrees celcius). Most of the people here have never seen snow.

Here are some pictures!

Here is a picture of me with a chicken on my head.

Here is a picture of Elder De Castro and I doing a service project this week! We put a ceiling in this guy´s house. It turned out pretty awesome, no big deal.

I love you all! 


Elder Olivier!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Another week só filé

Elder Olivier had another baptism!  It sounds like the youth there are just really awesome!

Here is his letter:

Hey everyone!

So this week for sure had a lot of ups and downs, like always. We were teaching this guy that pretty much acted like a golden investigator until a couple of days before his baptism, when he tried to unleash his bible-bash fury on us (his bible-bash game was weak though). He brought out five different versions of the bible from different churches and said that our "bible" (the Book of Mormon) was wrong because it wasn´t even a bible. We tried to explain to him that we believe in the bible too, but for some reason he wouldn´t have any of it. Like, dude, we know it´s not a bible, we you didn´t need to collect as many bibles as you could find to show us that. Haha. 

The best part was that last sunday we got a call from our district leader and he said that he had a sweet referral for us. His name is Nal, and he had gone to church in our DL´s ward with some of his friends. So we went there to his house right after our church ended and got to know him. As it turns out, we had already met him once before at the church building during church ball (soccer). He was pretty much friends with all of the young men in the ward already, and he had already gone to church and had been taught by missionaries before. We went there and talked to him, and Elder De Castro felt he should invite him to be baptized the next week. Nal accepted, and we baptized him yesterday! The baptismal meeting was probably the most spiritual baptismal meeting that I have been to on my mission. It was so good, and we didn´t even get someone to make cake. Nal´s mom and grandma both went (they are both non members) and they were both super happy and excited. His mom took a bunch of pictures and kept saying "just one more" (@Mom). Plus, there were tons of young men from the stake there. Plus, we got one of Nal´s best friends, Caio, to baptize him. They youth in this stake continue to amaze me because they are all so involved in the missionary effort. It is the coolest thing.

So anyway, transfers are next week, and I´m just sort of waiting here wondering if I´m going to stay in the area or if I´m going to go. I will for sure be sad to leave the area but at the same time I feel that if I get transferred I´ll be ready to go. But wherever I go, I know that´s where the Lord needs me to be. Missionary work is for sure the hardest thing that I have ever done. Sometimes it gets frustrating. Sometimes we wonder why we are getting so little results. But, looking back on these past five months, I realize how much I have done and how far I have come since I first left home. Being a missionary is so hard, but it is so rewarding.

Have an awesome week!

Elder Olivier!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Still Chillin in Brazil

Elder Olivier's email that he sent on January 11th!  He is speaking Portuguese really well now!!

Hi everyone! 

So we have a new mission rule where we only have one hour of computer time per week instead of two soooooo....... I have to type faster! But anyway this week was an awesome week. We just worked super hard, as usual. Also, it´s been raining almost every day here, which is super nice because when it´s raining it´s not usually really hot! Also, we´ve been teaching some awesome people lately! Investigators have just been coming up through the woodwork. We´ve been focusing on getting referrals from members. This week we got a referral every single day at lunch with the members, which was awesome. 

Other than that, this week was a pretty normal week, I think. We killed a couple of huge spiders in our house. Also last week I managed to make cookies, and they actually turned out ok! Except brown sugar in brazil has a pretty weird smell. At least I think what I used was brown sugar. They tasted good though. 

The other day one of the sisters from church called about lunch the next day, and I couldn´t remember where her house was and she started to explain it to me through the phone, but then she said, "Oh, just give the phone to the american elder, he knows where we live." Dang. I have never felt more brazilian in my life than I did at that moment. It´s super weird still being in my first area because I pretty much learned all of what I know in portuguese here. I remember when I would think that most of the people were super hard to understand. It´s weird to look back and think, wow, I´m speaking a new language. The lady on the phone thought I was the brazilian companion, haha. 

So one of the people we are teaching is a woman named Adelia. We first met her when she went to church all by herself. We have been teaching her and she has committed to a baptismal date. But she has always been super different than most of our investigators, because she pretty much told us at the very beginning that she knew that the church was true because of how she felt when she went there the first time. She always tells us the long list of churches that she has visited (there are so many churches in Manaus that it is beyond comprehension), but she says that in this church she feels a peace that she has felt in no other church. I have been thinking recently about how I got my testimony of the church. I don´t really know how I got it. I just kind of came to know the church was true very very gradually. I thought once this week that I just feel super peaceful in church, that I feel the same feeling that I felt when I was in primary singing primary songs. And I even feel the same peaceful feeling in church here deep inside the city inside the jungle of brazil, in a place that I have never been, with people I have never met and with a language that I have never spoken.  That continues to amaze me, how the church is the same no matter where you go. 

I hope you all have a great week! 


Elder Olivier

Elder Olivier's Cookies:)

O Começo do Novo Ano!

Below is Elder Olivier's letter he sent on January 4th:

Hi everyone!

I feel like I´m starting to say the same things over and over again in every single email, so I´m sorry! But we do pretty much the same thing every day. It´s weird though, because every day we do the same thing but every day is also so different. Some days are super spiritual, some days are funny, some days are sad, and some days are weird. All days are hot. And during this part of the year, all days are really rainy. Which is awesome because when it´s raining it´s not that hot!

So, finally the holidays are over, and everyone isn´t visiting/travelling/drunk/sleeping (actually, people are always sleeping here. We´ll go to someone´s house at any time of the day and someone there will be like, "that person is sleeping." I think it´s because there are so many hammocks here). 

Also, this week Elder De Castro and I will start teaching an english class! It´s going to be sweet! Literally everyone here is interested in learning english. Also, fun fact: Dora the explorer here speaks portuguese and teaches english (yum yum yum yum yum. Delicious!). I always blow peoples´ minds by telling them that Dora knows spanish too. Who knew?

So, with all the confusion with the holiday season, this week has been pretty interesting. And we have only a few investigators who are progressing. But, this week is going to be sweet for sure because we have a ton of new people to teach. 

So, my mom (thanks Mom!) sent me a really awesome quote by Jeffrey R. Holland (actually, almost everything Jeffrey R. Holland says is a really awesome quote) about the importance of the Book of Mormon, and how it is almost obvious that the Book of Mormon is true to those who take the time to read and study it. And because the Book of Mormon is true, Jesus is the Christ, God is our Heavenly Father, Joseph Smith actually restored the church of Jesus Christ on the earth, and the priesthood is actually the authority on earth to serve and act in the name of Jesus Christ. Here is the quote:

"I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work—and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times—until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages—especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers—if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” 11 a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.” 12

I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my “last days,” but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days.

Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” 15 —and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you. Of this I earnestly testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

I have never known more in my life the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. If you haven´t read it, read it. If you have read it, read it again. It is true.

I hope you all have a great week! I love all of you so much!

Elder Olivier

Elder Olivier and his companion, Elder De Castro, in front of the Manaus Temple!

Happy New Year!!!

Elder Oliver didn't write us on his normal p-day, because they switched p-day from Monday to Wednesday...so Wednesday was p-day, but they spent most of the day at the temple and had 30 minutes of computer time to read emails and send a quick email.

I was really worried when I didn't hear from him on his normal p-day......

Here is his email written on December 30th:

Hi family! Today is our pday because we are going to the temple today, and we don´t have much time to write because we have to eat lunch still and ride the bus for a long time. I heard from a couple of people that you (Mom) messaged them on facebook because I didn´t write on monday.....haha. Actually, I think my companion´s mom messaged even more people, haha. Anyway, I won´t write an email to everyone because I don´t have time. But this week was pretty much just a super hard week because of Christmas. No one was home, and the people that were home were all drunk. Soooo......... I hope this week is better! We´re struggling a little to find people to baptize, but we are teaching a couple of people that should get baptized next week! The mission president sent us all a new revised "Standard of Excellence" for the mission, and now the standard of excellence is 12 baptisms per transfer, which is 2 per week! So, that´s a lot. But hopefully that means we (and the whole mission) will be able to baptize more people! We just have to work a lot harder, haha. 

Oh, and dad about sending the missionaries to my friends´houses, you guys definitely can! If you can find the addresses somehow... And all of them have college, so I don´t know how much time they all spend at home.... I think you guys know where Finn lives, so maybe you could send them there. Haha.

Anyway, tell everyone that I love them for me!



Christmas Day Skype with Elder Olivier!!

It was so wonderful to talk with Elder Olivier on Skype!  

We got to hear his voice and see his face!!!  

He also bore his testimony to us in Portuguese!!  

So awesome!!

Our family photo on Christmas Day. 

...with Elder Olivier on Skype....all the way from Brazil:)