December 14, 2015 (week 9)

This week was good! Definitely some frusterating parts but I have a lot of hope for the future and am excited to be here 🙂 Thank you guys for the birthday wishes! 🙂 I kind of forgot it was coming up haha because it will just be a normal day, but I appreciate it 🙂 Sorry if I forget your birthdays, I dont have fb and twitter to remind me! And I am not the greatest when it comes it remembering things!

During the week I was telling a story to my companion and I said the word “voz” (voice) and he didn’t understand, but I knew it was the right word so I repeated it like 10 times and then he was like “ohhhhhh voz!” I wish I could use emojis because the emoji with the straight face describes perfectly how I felt. I swear he said it the same way I did!! (obviously not, but it sounded like it to me) In the mtc our instructors were suuuuppppper good at understanding our Portuguese, but here, they aren’t used to someone speaking Portuguese incorrectly and so people don’t always understand what I’m trying to say, even when I do know the right words. Hopefully I will get better at pronouncing words soon!

People here (during lunch) ask what food we normally eat in America, and I have no clue how to answer! Because here they eat rice and beans every meal (besides breakfast I think.. well actually I have no idea what they normally eat for breakfast) and so they what to know what the American “rice and beans” is but the problem is we don’t have anything like that! And besides, I dont know the names of many foods, especially American foods, so I just normally say that we don’t have certain food that we eat every day. I’m not sure they really understand always because that is a weird concept for them.

Yesterday we ate lunch with a member and they were playing Christmas music, and their house was decorated!! They even had a Christmas tree. It was awesome, and a great reminder that Christmas is soon! It doesn’t really feel like Christmas here because there’s no snow and people don’t really do decorations and lights like they do in the States. I couldn’t stop smiling during lunch because 3 of the songs were in English. Chestnuts roasting on the open fire, frosty the snowman, and I can’t remember the other. But it was so so so so nice! One, to actually understand all the words and two, it reminded me of home and Christmas there 🙂 Christmas time is my favorite season!

Well, I think my name is going to be Elder “Lah-ren-cy” for the next 2ish years. haha when people ask me what my name is I say “Elder Lawrence and show them my nametag and then they look at it funny and say “Elder Lahrency?” at first I would say, almost! and then repeat my name, but Lahrency is kind of growing on me and so now I just say, “perfect!”

Well, the transition to thinking in Portuguese is not how I thought it was going to be. I don’t know why, but I kind of just imagined that one day I would start thinking in Portuguese, but it doesn’t work like that! At least for me. It’s weird, so some words (that I use a lot) I don’t translate them to Portuguese they are just words. Does that make sense? So if you asked me who our Heavenly Father is, there’s two answers, Deus and God. They’re different, but the same. Okay.. I know this is making no sense, but I don’t know how to explain it. hmmmm.. it’s like with some words I don’t think about the words, so if I want to speak in english I say the english word, I dont think it in portuguese then translate it, but if I want to say it in portuguese I just say it in portuguese I don’t think it in english then translate it. Well, hopefully that made some sense. I’m sure it will be a lonnng time before I’m actually thinking in Portuguese but I am excited to see it to slowly start happening!

During our companionship prayer at the end of one day this week, my companion was praying and I swear he said “that I can be a better missionary than my companion” I’m sure that’s not what he said, but after the prayer I couldn’t stop laughing hahah I didn’t tell him why either, I’m laughing now just thinking about it.

This week I’ve been studying a lot about faith. My mission president said if I want to speak Portuguese I need to have more faith. But faith is a hard thing to practice, you know? So I decided to read every scripture I can find on faith! (theres a lot! Definitely more than I thought). I started two weeks ago, and I’m not done yet, but it has been awesome, Ive learned a lot about faith and want to share a little bit 🙂

In alma 32 it says “Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.” sometimes I think that I what a knowledge without first having faith. Faith isnt a substitute for knowledge, but a pathway to it! Faith comes first, then knowledge.
The other thing that I found in a lot of the passages about faith, is that the power of God works through faith. Ether 12 says “and neither at any time hath any wrought miracles until after their faith; wherefore they first believed in the Son of God” All things are possible through God, but he words through our faith! So, for me, I need to have faith that God will help me learn Portuguese and be a good missionary and then act on that faith!

Well that’s all for this week 🙂 sorry that it got a little long. I hope all is well with you guys and that youre enjoying the Christmas season! Drink some hot chocolate for me!

Elder Lawrence

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December 7, 2015 (week 8)

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Elder Lawrence and Elder Sena

Elder Lawrence and Elder Sena

Hey everyone! I hope you guys all had great weeks! Well first of all (this is mostly for my mom) but sorry I didn’t send any pictures last week! I tried to, but then when I plugged in my camera all the pictures just vanished… it was weird. So I’m a little salty about that cause I actually had some pictures that I wanted, but oh well! This week I’ll try again! But I only have a picture of a picture so the quality isn’t good, and one with my campanion!]

So I’m more or less on a steady diet of mangos, bananas and waffers. The mangos are sooooo cheap here, and sooooo good. Same with the waffers, you can get 20 or so for like 30 cents. Although I should probably cut back on the waffers if I’m honest.

While we were walking in the street this week I saw a kid get nutmegged (kids are always playing soccer in the street) and the reactions of the other kids were the equivilent of a dunk cam, it was awesome and definitely a highlight of that day!

The language is coming.. sllloooooowwwwwly, but surely! I was told the it will come slower than you want it to, but faster than you think it will. I hope that’s true! It’s starting to get a little easier to understand what people are saying, but I’m still lost most of the time. I realized that I usually recognize, or know, most (maybe 70%, could be way off, just a guess) of the words they use, but I just can’t put it all together fast enough to keep up with how fast they talk. So hopefully I get faster at understanding!

Our lessons are going good.. at least I think. The people we teach (usually) seem really interested and like they want to know. But then this week no one came to church! Like what.. if you want to know you have to act! There’s a scripture (don’t know where, sorry! but its a scripture mastery I think) that says we have to do His will if we want to know His doctrine. Knowledge doesn’t come until after we act in faith! Hopefully we will be able to teach a little better this week and help our investsigators.

Some of the sisters from our district were teaching a lady this past week and they invited her to pray to see if the message was true and the Book of Mormon is the word of God. (we always invite people to pray about what we teach, because we want them to know it is true because they received and answer from God and not because we know it’s true) and so the lady prays later that night and receives an answer. All good right? Nope, the lady doesn’t want to meet with them anymore because she thinks the sisters are witches because she got an answer. I know I probably shouldnt laugh, but I was dying.
Elder Lawrence 🙂

November 30, 2015 (week 7)

Well this letter will probably be all over the place, so sorry for that now! This letter is going to be long, so don’t feel bad deleting it if you don’t have time! We have twice the amount of time to write as we did in the mtc and I thought since this is my first letter from my area I’d describe it. Future letter will probably be a lot shorter! Also sorry for spelling mistakes.. my spelling is bad as is and the computer underlines almost every word since it’s Portuguese, and learning Portuguese is not helping my English spelling! So this week I wrote down stuff that I wanted to say so there will be a lot of little things this week 🙂

Well we left the MTC this week! It honestly feels like ages ago that I was in the MTC but it was actually less than a week, it’s actually a little scary haha. So leaving the MTC meant saying bye to everyone, but honestly it wasn’t really hard to say bye to the other missionaries, it was hardest to say goodbye to our instructors! I’m going to miss them. I honestly think we had the two best instructors in the MTC. I will send a picture with them if I can! They were so patient with us and were so so so helpful! You really grow to love someone when they help you as much as our instructors helped us. They were always energetic and never got frusterated! I hope I get to see Imrã Araujo and Irmão Alonso again someday! Actually, Irmã Araujo is going to do a masters at byu so maybe I will see her in a few years. I think she would die laughing hearing me speak real Portuguese, since my Portuguese in the mtc (and now) is suspect at best.

My new companion is Elder Sena! From São Paulo! And he knows zero english.. literally none! Well that´s not entirely true, he does know the word church haha. It’s hard because when I don’t know how to say something I can’t ask him in english cause he doesn’t know. But you would be surprised how much you can explain with pictures and hand motions. I know I won’t be fluent in Portuguese by the end of this transfer, but I might be fluent in sign language ahaha. I feel bad for him though, he has only been here 6 weeks! Typically missionaries are supposed to be “trained” for 12 weeks in their area. That just means they are with someone who has been in the mission field for a while and so they can show the other missionary how missionary work works. So he didn’t even get to finish his training and now he has to teach me! During the lessons he does most of the talking.. it is sooo hard to understand people. They speak so quickly and a lot of people don’t annunciate their words. So most of the time I am lost during teaching. But he does an amazing job and hopefully I can start helping him out a little more soon!

From my almost 1 week in the mission field, I am convinced of two things: 1, that Brazillians are the nicest people in the world and 2, that they are the best drivers in the world! They are always so welcoming and friendly! It is an awesome country to be in. The people don’t have much.. especially in my area right now, but they always give us so much food. I honestly feel bad cause I know it’s a sacrifice and usually they give me more than I want. But the people are so genuine and just sincerely nice, its awesome! And the driving… hahahah it’s honestly a free for all. From what I can tell, the only law on the road is to honk!! But it’s not like honking in America, where we honk if someone cuts us off or something. Its more of a “don’t move any closer to the road cause if you do you are going to get ran over” in a polite way! It’s awesome how they drive, but I have no clue how they don’t crash all the time, it’s actually super impressive.

We didn’t have running water for two days, but it was back this morning! It actually wasn’t that bad. There was a hose in the floor below us so we just filled up a bucket and used that. It really made me grateful for running water when we do have it! I never really realized how much I used it. On the plus side, it actually made showering better! Because the water wasn’t as cold as the water that comes from the shower head! (there’s no hot water in our house, its all cold).

Brazillians never want to say my name! Its actually pretty funny, my companion is practicing but can’t say it right yet. When people meet us they will be like “good to meet you elder Sena and elder….” then kind of shake their head and not say my name. My companion loves to ask people to say my name but they usually just laugh and don’t try. I’m sure it’s what I sound like trying to speak Portugeuse to them!

So Elder Sena was about to share a scripture from Amos with this one guy, and the guy tried to tell us Amos wasn’t in the bible!! He even went to go get his bible to show us. So he comes back out and flips open his bible to his bookmarked page, and it turns out that his bookmark was at the first page of Amos!! I’m not going to lie, it took a decent amount of effort to not laugh.

One lunch we weren’t served beans (we eat lunch with church members every day) and my companion said it was the first time he ate lunch without beans!! I don’t know if he meant the first time in his life of during the mission but still! That seems crazy to me. I was worried about beans and rice every day coming here… cause I don’t like either very much. But it’s not the same as in the States! The beans are actually good here 🙂

It’s kind of funny talking to the american missionaries here, their english is bad! They talk weird and forget words. They always say that it’s hard to speak english and sometimes they accidently start speaking Portuguese while trying to speak english! It seems like I’ll never get to that point, but I hope I do!

My companion has a collar tan line! Its soo funny. theres literally a line of lighter skin cause his neck tans and then he tans through his shirt but not where his collar is! I probably shouldnt laugh though, cause I think I will have some pretty nasty tan lines in a couple of weeks. It is so hot and humid here! But honestly, no hotter than MN, it’s just that there is also no AC so there’s no escaping the heat, except for fans, which are super nice!

People put super big sound systems in their cars here, and they play music super loud from their houses, so the streets are literally always bumping. Also, their concept of a house is different than ours, they call any place where you live a house so its not a house in the same sense that we think.

I don’t know why, but I can understand American’s Portuguese but just not Brazillian’s! My companion speaks slow with me, so I can understand, but for some reason when I’m talking on the phone with Americans I can understand when they speak as fast as Brazillians normally do. I think maybe it is just cause I’m used to hearing Americans speak.. I’m not sure, but I hope I get better at understanding Brazillians soon!

Well since I’m on a mission I want to end on a spiritual note, the Holy Ghost testifies of truth! During my first day in the field, right before I met my companion and left for my area, we watched a video from Elder Holland. It was part of a talk he gave about obedience and repentance. I think it was the “staying in the lines” one but I don’t quite remember now. It was in Portuguese so I didnt understand much, but I remembered the talk so I could understand a little bit of it. In part of it he said that once we repent we are forgiven! Jesus Christ paid the price of our sins and we don’t have to carry them anymore. I think sometimes we, at least me, feel guilty for a sin, even after repenting. But once we repent it isn’t our sin to carry. When Elder Holland was talking about that I felt the Spirit testify of that truth to me. I know it will be important to help investigators understand that they can be forgiven of any sin and after repenting they are clean again! What a wonderful message I have the priviledge of sharing 🙂

Elder Lawrence 🙂