Monday, May 30, 2016

Into the Dark Heart of the Amazon

We didn't hear last week from Elder Olivier because he had a crazy travel schedule for transfers along with other missionaries from Rio Branco.  He didn't have time to write, but we received some photos from a kind parent.

We were very happy to receive this email from Elder Olivier today:

Yes, I did spent a long time thinking about the title for this email. haha.

So a ton of stuff has happened in the past two weeks. First off, I got transferred to a city called Manacapuru in the state of Amazonas. It is two hours away from Manaus by bus. The bus ride is super cool because it is like straight up through the middle of the jungle. Haha. 

So a funny thing that happened when a couple of other missionaries and I left Rio Branco was that we had to get on a connecting flight in Brasilia, which is super far away from the mission. What. The flight took forever but it was funny. 

The area here is super cool. The city is kind of like a tiny version of Manaus. The city is also right next to the Solimões river (aka the Amazon river). Below is a picture of my companion (Elder Fernandez) and I next to it. Below is also a picture of our church building, which is a huge upgrade from our small house back in Acre. It is one of the prettiest church buildings that I have seen! It has two stories and an elevator. Holy cow!

This week I arrived in the area and we started working immediately. Elder Fernandez is a super good missionary, and I think this transfer is going to be one of the best I´ve had on my mission! 

Anyway, I love you all and hope you have a great week! Abraço!

Élder Olivier!

Last baptism in Sena Madureira


Baptism in Manacapuru

Church Building

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Another Week!

We received the following email on May 16, 2016 (with smaller pictures). 

Hey everyone! It´s been awhile since I´ve written an email to everyone, so here is an email! This week was awesome! We did a ton of cool stuff. Today we actually did a service project. One of the church members´ house fell down a few weeks ago. Like just completely fell over. So today we helped him finally put a roof on his new house! He was super happy that the branch president and us could help him out. 

A drunk guy came into the church while I was teaching the gospel principles class with my companion and asked us how much the bible (the hymnbook) costs. We told him it didn´t cost anything. He held on to it and sat in the back of the class until almost the end, when he said that he was leaving. He took the hymnbook with him.

We had a pretty cool experience the other day. We were teaching an investigator we had met on the street for the first time and we taught him about the restoration. At the end, we invited him to prepare to be baptized when God gives him an answer about if Joseph Smith was a prophet. He told us, "missionaries, I don´t even have to have God touch my heart for me to know that. God already touched my heart the very first moment that you guys talked to me on the street." It is so cool to see how the spirit works with everyone we teach. I know that God exists, and that He allows us to receive personal revelation. Being a missionary is so interesting because you get to see how real God is, every single day. The church is true!

I hope you all have a great week! I love you all!

Élder Olivier!

Photos Only

On May 9, 2016, the P-day after Mother's Day we received the following brief email with a few photos.  Elder Olivier requested photos of his own baptism. 

Here are two pictures from this week. One is of an activity that the branch did with the young men. They played soccer.

Mother's Day Skype!!!

On May 8, 2016, Mother's Day, we had a great skype with Elder Olivier live from Sena Madureira, Acre, Brazil!   

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Quase o dia de mãe!!!!

We received this letter from Elder Olivier on May 2, the P-Day before Mother's Day... He only had time to send his immediate family a quick email, with some responses to our letters about skype, etc.   

Hi everyone! I won´t have time to write an email to everyone so here are some photos of the zone conference on friday....we actually have to go all the way back to rio branco today for the zone meeting tomorrow......we´ve been travelling so much recently.....haha

So I will be able to skype from the church computer on sunday at 2:30-3:00 acre time (whatever that is there)!

This week was good! Like most weeks, a lot of good stuff and a lot of disappointing stuff happened, but that´s ok! We are teaching a lady and would have baptized her last week and then this week but someone in her family got sick on BOTH sundays.....and she had to go with them to the hospital both times....doido. We did manage to confirm four people, which was awesome!

That´s great about the auctions and the mission calls and stuff! sounds like a good time!

The next time you drink açaí mix it with a bunch of condensed milk and then eat it with a bunch of condensed milk on top! Best thing ever!

That´s awesome about the band! I too was in a band once......the Howard High School Marching Band, haha. The ward looks great! Those pictures make me miss playing basketball! 

I love all you guys! I can´t wait to see you all next week! Love, Elder Olivier!

Zona Rio Branco

Back in Ac!

We received this letter from Elder Olivier on April 25th!

Hey everyone!  This week was super crazy, because I went to Manaus, chilled there in the mission office for a few days, and came back to Acre.  We also had the chance to go to the temple, which was awesome because I haven't gone there since I was last in Manaus.  Also some of the pictures are of me and some other missionaries in front of the Rio Negro, which was a sweet view.

Anyway, this week was super hectic but now it is back to normal. My new companion is named Elder H. Souza, and he is from Bahia. He is already the third missionary I have trained, which is pretty crazy. He is also the second missionary that I have trained that is from Bahia, which is very super pretty crazy. I can tell so far that he is a missionary with a lot of vision and a willingness to work hard. This transfer is going to be awesome!

We had a pretty cool experience this week. We are teaching a girl named Jaína and her mom, and we have been bringing them to church for a couple of weeks. We have been working super hard to baptize them both, but Jaína had built a very strong friendship with Elder Castelli, and she actually cried when he got transferred. After my companion and I got back from Manaus, we visited them again, but Jaína had started having some doubts about her baptism. She had prayed before about the Book of Mormon and had already felt that she had received an answer from God about it, so we invited her to pray again, and ask God if she should be baptized. During sunday morning at church, she told us that she prayed and felt that she needs to be baptized. We are helping her and her mom to prepare to be baptized next week. For me it was a really simple spiritual experience, because it showed that God really does answer prayers, but we have to ask Him first. I know that God exists, and that He answers prayers! 

Have an awesome week! I love you all! Abração!

Elder Olivier

 At the Manaus Temple with assistants, new missionaries and their trainers.

Overlooking Rio Negro! 

 Elder Olivier with his new companion, Elder H. Souza

Back in Manaus! (for a little)

Elder Olivier flew back to Manaus from Rio Branco for transfers to pick up a new companion!  

First, we sent a package with Sister Huisken's parents thinking it would get to Elder Olivier eventually....  but we received a surprise photo confirming receipt of package!  Many thanks to the Huisken's!  

Then, we received the following letter the same day (April 18, 2016)...

Hi everyone! So right now I just flew back to Manaus with a bunch of other missionaries. Most everyone is getting transferred, but I am here just to pick up my new companion, who will arrive from the MTC. Then I will go all the way back to my area in the jungle. So that is exciting. I´m super pumped for the next transfer.

This week was awesome! We ended up with a baptism (which btw I don´t think I ever said, happens in a large bucket of water that we have in the back of church, haha), and it was super awesome because it was Elder Castelli´s last day in the area. He is getting transferred to an area in Amazonas and to get there he has to go on a 10 hour boat ride. He was sad to leave his first area but he was also super excited to go to a new area!

That´s about all I can think of right now. I just got done riding a plane all night and sleeping for 0 hours. But other than that it´s all good in the hood here. I´m just super tired.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great week! Até mais!

Élder Olivier!

Air Conditioning!

Letter received from Elder Olivier on April 11, 2016...

Hey everybody! Great news! We got air conditioning in one of the rooms in our apartment! Heck yeah! It is pretty much the best news ever! haha.

This week was super sweet. We worked a ton. Last week we received the depressing news that there is no longer enough money in the branch budget to pay for a truck to bring people to church on sunday who live far from the "chapel" (the house). Every week we had the luxury of promising everyone that a car would pick them up to bring them to church. But we no longer have that luxury. Que droga. But, this week we worked a ton (and got super stressed out) and we managed to have an OK attendance in church! 31 people came to our branch, which was better than we thought it would be.  We also had two baptisms! It was awesome. We baptized the younger sister of the girl that we baptized last week, because they have been coming to church for a while now and she turned 8 this week. We also baptized a woman named Vania, who we met by talking to her on the street. She was super ready to receive the gospel. It was such a cool experience helping her to be baptized.

Elder Castelli and I have been working super hard recently, and it has really been paying off. The standard of excellence here in the Brazil Manaus Mission is 2 baptisms per week, and our mission president says that if we don´t have at least one baptism per week, we are not working as well as week should be. That´s a lot of pressure. But working with Elder Castelli the past two transfers has been the most rewarding part of my mission so far. When I went on exchanges with one of the zone leaders a few weeks ago, I learned a ton. One of the things he always said was that if we don´t baptize every week, we aren´t doing what the mission president asks of us, and thus, we are not doing what Jesus Christ asks of us, and thus, we are in transgression. That was super humbling for me, because it really made me think how much better I can be as a missionary. It made me think of how all of us need repentance, and that through real repentance we can become better people every single day. Every day we have the opportunity to become more like Jesus Christ, but it is up to us to change. And change is always hard. But looking back on the past few weeks, I can tell how rewarding change can be. If you can, read 3 Nephi 12:48.  I know that Jesus Christ lives. And that through him, we can be more perfect every day.

I love all of you guys and hope you have an awesome week!


Elder Olivier!