Monday, July 3, 2017

Reflections

These past two years just might have been the fastest two years of my life. I remember the moments before I left home like they happened yesterday. But looking back and reflecting on everything that has happened in these past 17 transfers, I am eternally grateful that I chose to serve a mission. It has been a life-changing experience. "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17)." Serving a mission has brought a rich, colorful meaning to those words. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and that he sent His son, Jesus Christ to pay the price for our wrongdoings, and that through faith, repentance and baptism we can be cleansed of them and can be worthy to feel the guidance of the Holy Ghost. I have never known that with as much certainty as I do now. 

On Sunday, July 16 at 11:00 AM I will be giving my homecoming talk to report on my mission. This will take place at 4100 St. Johns Lane Ellicott City, MD. All are invited to attend.

I want to thank everyone that supported me before and during my mission, and I hope that at least a couple of people will support me afterwards too. I love you all!


Love, 

Elder Olivier

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Almost Home

We received this email on June 26.

So this week was pretty monumental. The mission executive secretary called us up to talk about.......flight plans. I think my mind still hasn´t wrapped itself completely around the fact that in less than a month I will be back in the states. At the beginning of my mission two years seemed like such a long time. Now, looking back, it seems like hardly any time at all.  On July 14 I will arrive home. 

We also went on splits with the elders from Manacapuru this week, which is one of my old areas. I was kind of wondering how Manacapuru was going to be (will the people that I baptized still be active? Will everyone remember me?), but I was comforted to be able to see tons of people again that I had come to love, and was super comforted to see several of the people that I had baptized, even though we only stayed there for one day and our schedule didn´t allow much time for me to visit people. During the day we went to the english class that one of the members gives every day at the church (still!) and the first person that we saw there was a young woman that I had taught with Elder Fernandez over a year ago. That was such a happy moment. Actually, the whole day was a happy moment. 

Actually, my whole mission was a happy moment. I can´t believe it´s coming to a close. I don´t know if I should be happy that I´m coming home or sad that I won´t be here in Brazil anymore. 

This week President Castro goes home and Presidente Caetano will arrive. So for the last week of my mission I will have a new mission president. I´ll see how that goes.

If anyone wants to send me one last email, next Monday will be the last day that I will be able to see it!

Have a great week! Love u all!


Élder Olivier!





Father's Day

We received this email on June 19.

Happy Father´s Day, Dad! 

My week was good. The work in our area is pretty slow right now, but we should have some baptisms coming up. I haven´t looked for any athletic shoes yet, but maybe next week I´ll try to find some. Things have still been a little hectic because we still have to bring a bunch of stuff from our old house to our new house, but everyone we ask to help us seems to cancel on us.....But this week someone will help us for sure!

I got the package! There was lots of stuff in it! Easter candy, a BYU shirt, good-smell shoe balls, hair gel, sunscreen, peanut butter, oreos and some other stuff. Thanks so much! 

Congrats Zach on your eagle project! Looks like you´re been dying to get that over with! 

Have a great week! 

Love, 
Elder Olivier

P.S.
Here are some pictures of President Castro´s last mission council that the secretaries finally sent this week!




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Baptism Explanation and New Apartment

We received this email on June 12...


Last week was a very adventurous week. 

We baptized Elza (the more elderly lady) and Cagila (the young lady). We have been teaching Cagila ever since I arrived here in this area. It took a while for her to get baptized because she works all day every single day and at night takes college classes, so we could only ever teach her on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. She works on sundays a lot too, but when she isn´t working she always goes to church with her uncle, who is a member. She is super receptive and accepted baptism super easily, but her main obstacle was her schedule. But we finally got her into the water.

Elza is the mother of a member from Itacoatiara (iiiitaaaaacooooaaaachyyyaaarrraa)named Joel. Itacoatiara is a city close to Manaus. Now Joel is living in our ward boundaries. One day we were knocking doors and no one was letting us in all day (ALL DAY) when we finally found someone really interested who..............lives in a different area. So we passed her address to the AP´s so they could pass it along to the other elders. So we were kind of discouraged that day because we only found one interested person but she lives in a different ward. I mean, that´s a good thing but....we want to baptize people in our ward too! But then, thirty minutes later Joel called us and asked if we were the elders from Colonia. Heck yes we are! He said that he is a member from Itacoatiara and he wanted us to visit his mom that same day. So we got the address and we went to it. It turns out that Elza´s husband had passed away that same week, and it looks like they had already been taking the missionary discussions before, except they weren´t actually married yet. They had also gone to church a ton of times already. But we got there and Joel had already explained a bunch of stuff to her, telling her that she could be baptized and in one year she could do the temple work for her husband so he could be baptized too. We taught her a little about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and she actually asked if she could be baptized that saturday. Elder Marcolino and I looked at each other and then looked at her again like, heck yes you can! After we made some phone calls to the bishopric to plan the baptismal meeting, and we planned to teach her the rest of the lessons (Joel had already taught her a lot, about coffee and stuff). So that was the story of how the worst day ever became the best day ever. Lots of prayers answered. 

The bottom part of my shoe was coming off, so I panicked and went to the "Casa da Butina" aka Brazilian Boot Barn to buy something to wear on my feet. Luckily they had dress shoes/boot things. I bought the  most conservative ones I could find for cheap-ish. I asked the guy if they would last 3 months, and he looked kind of offended and said that they would last six years! .......we´ll see about that. You´re talking to a guy that burned through two pairs of eccoes in 20 months!

Our new apartment is way better than the old one! The move was interesting because it was difficult to find people to help us. Most people here don´t have cars, and even less have trucks. So finding someone with a truck was a challenge. We managed to move all the big stuff (fridge, beds, dressers, stove, table, washing machine) and we still have to get some of the small stuff (books, chairs, microwave). It was a challenge to get the stuff into our new house because we live on the second story and our spiral staircase is super narrow. So there is a random door on the side of our house that is there for the purpose of getting furniture in and out. We had to lift all of the stuff to the door and I had to grab the stuff and pull it into the house. It was super lucky that I didn´t fall and die while doing this. It all worked out in the end. 


Love, Elder Olivier

 Our new house

The most obese baptism clothing I have ever seen!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Exciting Week!

We received this email on June 5.

This week was President Castro´s last leadership council. We had it at the mission home instead of at the mission office. It was really cool. We ate lots of food and learned lots of stuff. The new mission president will give the next training. It´s getting to that point where it´s starting to be the last of everything. Last area, last mission council with President Castro.....Believe it or not two years doesn´t last forever. 


This week we worked a lot, like always. Today we are moving apartments today (finally!) so we won´t have to walk for almost an hour to get to church. Exciting stuff. That also means that I don´t have much time to write this email.  Until next week!


Love,

Élder Olivier!

Group from leadership council that goes home with Elder Olivier

Elders from leadership council

Baptism!

Happy Memorial Day!!!

We received this email on May 29, Memorial Day.

Our week this week was good! I´m not sick anymore and now I feel way better! This week we found a bunch of new people and hopefully we´ll be having some baptisms in the next couple of weeks.... This week was transfers and I´ll be staying here with Elder Marcolino! So we´re still wondering if we´re both going to end our missions here in the same area at the same time or not. This is President Castro´s last transfer. In the middle of this transfer we´ll be getting a new mission president, which will be weird because I will go home one transfer after he arrives. I haven´t gotten my flight information yet, but I should be getting it in the next couple of weeks.  It seems like everyone that arrived the same time as me is going home earlier! Everyone from my MTC group goes home in July, except us here in Manaus. 

We haven´t moved apartments. We´re still waiting for the pres to approve our new house.

My sd card got a virus! I don´t think I´ll use it anymore in this internet cafe in our area. I´m trying to recover the lost photos. Maybe I´ll just wait until I get home to show you guys all of my pictures? I´ve gotten viruses before on my sd card but this one is a little different, so I don´t know if I´ll be able to get the pictures back.

Looks like you guys had a blast at Hershey park! No, I´ve never been to Hershey park before. That would be cool to go there when I get back! If you guys are all right with going there for a second time. Did you guys eat lots of chocolate?


Love,

Elder Olivier

Monday, May 22, 2017

Not Sick Anymore!

Elder Olivier sent this email today!

Working here in Manaus is definitely a lot different than working in my last area. I´m in a different state so almost everything is different- the people, the culture, the food. It´s crazy how within the same mission areas can be so different. 


I´m still adapting to being in Manaus. Manaus is wayyyy hot. This week I actually got a little sick with dengue, so I had to rest for a couple of days until the effects passed. Now I´m 100% better! 

This week we had zone conference, which was actually combined with another zone. The zones separated and we gave a short training to our zone, then they combined again and President Castro, Sister Castro, and the assistants gave training. Good stuff. 

A thing that Sister Castro challenged the mission to do is to read the Book of Mormon, underlining the names and titles of deity. It is amazing to see how much the Book of Mormon talks about the Savior. Joseph Smith once said that through reading and pondering the Book of Mormon, a man can get closer to God than he can through any other book. I know that to be true. 


Have a great week!

Love, 

Élder Olivier




Zone Conference (Elder Olivier is front row, third from left.  His Companion is front row, second from left)

Leadership Training Meeting (Elder Olivier is second row, third from left)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mother's Day Skype!

We received this email from Elder Olivier on May 15, the day after Mother's Day where we were able to Skype with him for about an hour. He had let us know he wasn't feeling too good and naturally we were concerned. 


Today I am feeling a lot better! Last night my companion gave me a blessing and I woke up today feeling way better. I don´t even have a headache anymore and my eyes went back to normal. I haven´t gone to the hospital but I´ve been drinking tons of water. Thank you so much for the concerns and the prayers. 

Sounds like you all had a great week and a great mother´s day. I don´t really know what else to say because we already talked yesterday, haha. Hope you guys have a great week!

Here is a picture of my companion and I! By the Black River! 



Friday, May 12, 2017

Chillin in Manaus

We received this e-mail on May 8.

This week Elder Marcolino and I spent the whole week hunting down three investigators that usually are easy to find at home but for some reason all three of them decided to dissapear for an entire week. We were joking that every new person that we teach gets put into a facebook group called "Elder Olivier and Elder Marcolinos´ investigators," where all of our investigators collectively decided to not talk to us for certain periods of time. Sounds crazy but it just might actually be real. Haha. Sometimes missionary work is like that. Miraculously, we managed to talk to all three of them on saturday

This week everyone in our district got check-ups from some doctor guy. He came to our district meeting. He asked me if I feel any pain and I said "no," but he said that my knee looks kind of crooked, wrote on his paper that I need to do a knee- exam (he didn´t even ask me to do some kind of movement with my knee- he just looked at it). Luckily my companion was actually having knee pain because if not, I wouldn´t have even gone to the doctor. They put me inside of a giant machine that scanned my knee. 

Something I´ve been pondering about a lot lately is about reading the scriptures. Our mission president and his wife challenged us to read the Book of Mormon and underline every time one of the members of deity is mentioned, by name or title. It is amazing how every time I read the Book of Mormon again I understand tons of new things. I am coming to learn that when we read the scriptures every single day, we can really feel the spirit more throughout the day and we can really learn how to follow the Savior. I love the Book of Mormon and I know it is true. 

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


Love,

Élder Olivier

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Happy May Day!

We received this letter from Elder Olivier on May 1.

Hi everyone! 

Right now I´m in two wards in Manaus (the third time I´m in two wards- that´s a lot of wards) called Lagoa Verde (Green Lake) and Colônia Oliveira Machado (Olivier Axe Farm). It´s really close to downtown Manaus, so it is actually way different from my first area. My companion´s name is Elder Marcolino and he´s from Rio de Janeiro (January river). I´m a zone leader again. And it turns out that President Castro moved some of the zones around and he pretty much put me in the same exact zone as I was in when I was in Manacapuru, which is cool because I'll probably be able to do exchanges there in my old area. And because I´m already pretty familiar with all of the areas here, except a couple. 

I don´t know about skype yet. My companion is also pretty new in this area so we´ll hunt down someone that has skype this week. 

You guys will be great trek parents! Just be cool and chill and don´t beat your children.

I don´t have too much time this week to send emails, nor do I have any fotos (sorry!). Next week I´ll have some for sure! I love you all!


Love, 

Elder Olivier

Monday, April 24, 2017

Transfers!

We received this email today...

It´s that time of the transfer again and this time I´m packing my bags! I´m going to an area in Manaus, where I will probably end my mission. Goodbye, Acre! 

I will miss all of the amazing people that I have met in Acre a ton! But changes happen. I thought I was never going to return to Manaus again! I´ll see how it goes. Everyone that got transferred and I will arrive there tonight

I don´t have too much time to write, so here are some pictures to look at! (I´m pretty sure most people just look at the pictures anyway)


Love, 

Élder Olivier! 

BTW that is actually a picture of fettuccini alfredo that the bishop´s wife made for me because I was leaving! I almost cried tears of joy when I ate it! It turned out exactly  right!





Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Páscoa

We received this email April 17.

This week we could remember a little more about the meaning behind Easter. This Sunday my companion and I had a unique opportunity to teach Gospel Principles and to give talks in both of our wards. We were just about losing our voices afterwards. But it was a cool experience to reflect a little about the Savior and his atonement and resurrection. The bishop in one of our wards asked us to talk about the inportance of general conference, where we hear the voice of the Savior´s chosen prophet and his twelve apostles. Christ resurrected on the third day and today He lives! He literally guides us through modern-day prophets, and general conference is where we have a chance to learn from their teachings. I know that Christ lives and that he calls prophets to guide us. 

The work is going great here. Progress comes slow and steady at times, but when we work hard it always comes. 


Have a great week! 

Love,


Élder Olivier!



Some photos:

The best pizza in Acre- chocolate/coconut pizza, doritos pizza (it doesn´t get any more american than that) and classic brazilian cheese

Elder Castro eating xarutos (rice and meat wrapped in this one kind of brazilian leaf/thing)

Chillin on pday



Banana trees and other great things

We received this email on April 10.

Strange how fast time flies. I feel like I blinked and suddenly I was a year and 8 months into my mission. Every day is a new adventure. 

This week we mainly focused on finding new people to teach, which is always a challenge. We invited all of the members at lunch to think of people that we can teach, and we even went to the seminary class one night (yes, night- not to be confused with 5:45 AM) to challenge the students to invite friends to come to church. We´ll see where that goes. 

I´ve been thinking a lot lately about the General Conference that we had two weeks ago. Tons of inspired speakers. President Monson talked about the importance of having charity, which is Christ-like love for others. Love is one of the main attributes of God, and to really come to know who God is we must love as he loves. The best way to know who God is is by living as He and and his Son do. That´s a challenge but through the power of the atonement it´s possible!


Boa semana para todos! Amo vocês!

Élder Olivier




Thursday, March 30, 2017

Super Amazing Incredible Week

We received this email on Tuesday, March 28...


Hey everyone! 

I´m owing you all some photos for the past couple of weeks, so here is a selection of some of the finest I have to offer. Elder Castro with a frog, our fancy new shower, a really special baptismal meeting.....

This week was super hectic because we did tons of stuff. We went around inspecting all of the missionaries´ houses in our zone with one of president Castro´s counselors, we worked a ton, and we had zone conference (zone conf was yesterday- that´s why I´m emailing on tuesday this week). Working with Elder Castro has been great so far. He used to be the mission executive secretary so he knows all sorts of stuff about the mission. He´s also really hard working and super funny. 

On Saturday we baptized Michele and her baptism-aged kids. She was already friends with more than a few of the members of the ward, so it was a really special baptism. Over the past couple of weeks we have really grown to love their whole family as we helped them to overcome some dificulties..... The answer to every problem that ever existed is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am a first-hand witness of that.


Love you all!

Élder Olivier




Thursday, March 23, 2017

Changes

We received this email on March 20...

These past couple of weeks have been really crazy, because there were a lot of transitions (we went to Manaus and back, I changed companions, etc). Lots of riding on planes, buses, and taxis. And killing spiders. The Brazil Manaus mission must be the most expensive mission in the world because of all the travel. My new companion is Elder Castro (wait - is everyone in Brazil named "Castro?"), and so far it looks like we´re going to put in some great work together here in Rio Branco. He is a little newer in the mission than I am, and he´s super excited to get working. I´m going to miss my old companion but changes are normal. Unfortunately I have no pictures this week :( (lame, I know.....). But I just want to remind you all that I love you all and have an incredible week! 



Love, 

Élder Olivier!

We found these few pictures...

Baptism

Leadership Council

Thursday, March 9, 2017

March Madness

We received this email on March 6.

This week was super special. 

We finally had the baptism of Flavia, who we´ve been teaching for a little more than a month. Her boyfriend (who has been returning to church after spending quite a long time less-active) actually invited her to come to church with him one week, and we met her and set up a teaching appointment. She really just ate up everything we taught her. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon and she nearly finished 1 and 2 Nephi in one week. Though there were some dificulties (and plenty of people to talk bad about the church to her) it was a very spiritual experience to see her in the waters of baptism. No one who reads the Book of Mormon daily in the spirit of prayer and in humility can deny that it is true. This was one of the many incredible things that happened this week. Zone Conference was killer too. 


I love you all! 


Love,

Élder Olivier


Sunday, March 5, 2017

This Week

We received this email from Elder Olivier on February 27. Excerpts are as follows:

Looks like you all had a great week! My week was pretty good too. Yes, it is raining a lot here. A lot. We´re in the rainy season, so it rains every single day, and sometimes it rains for like most of the day. No more drying clothes on the clothes hangers that aren´t under a roof. 

Our health has been great! No more sickness! 

Mostly we just see big spiders and cockroaches. The cockroaches can get really big, like maybe four inches long. We started spraying our house with TONS of bug spray every p-day so that everything that finds its way into our house dies, except humans. 

When you guys said that the bishop said to pray for all of the missionaries in the ward by name because this week was going to be really hard, I told my companion and we thought that our area was going to flood this week. Everyone has been talking about annual river flooding and how usually at this time of year it happens. When it happens everyone that lives in our area has to leave and go live somewhere else for a couple of weeks. That´s because apparently in this area they weren´t supposed to build stuff because the river floods here, but people built stuff anyway. But luckily nothing has happened.....yet. 

The bishop´s inlaws are doing great! 


Love, 

Elder Olivier 




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Miracles

Elder Olivier had an amazing week!  We were so happy to hear about this baptism!!!  Miracles do happen.  Here is his email:


Wow. Busy week. 

This week we went to Manaus (again, for the 1,000,000th time!) to go on exchanges with the assistants. It was good, but my companion got sick again. The only difference is that this time he passed his sickness to me too! haha. But now we´re 100% again. We stayed in Manaus just for a day, then we came back. The only flights are in the middle of the night, so we got 0 sleep. Got some sweet night-time aerial view pics of Manaus though. 

So this week was finally the week we have been waiting soooo long for. When I got here in the area about 4 months ago, we went to the bishop´s house to see if he knew anyone we could teach. We talked to the bishop´s wife. She said that at that moment she didn´t have anyone in mind, so we asked her if she knew anyone that was less-active that we could visit. She said we could visit her nieces, who lived next door with her parents. 

"And are your parents members?"

"No. But it´s not worth it to try and teach them. Lots of elders have already tried. They´ll never accept." 

Long story short, Saturday was their baptism. 

At the baptism, the bishop´s wife gave the opening prayer. She spent like 10 minutes trying to talk, but she couldn´t hold back tears. Lots of ward and family members got really emotional. Everything happens in the Lord´s time. 

Miracles happen. I know that God lives, and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. 


Have an awesome week!


Love,

Élder Olivier!



Elder Olivier calls this the dream team:)