Tuesday, February 25, 2014

5 months in Brazil! 2/24/14

Yet another week in Paradise here in Itapetininga! I am loving it here as always and it is already almost March which just blows my mind! Also today is 5 months in Brasil! Which is just crazy, it feels like I just got here yesterday but it has already been almost half a year here! Also next week will be 8 months on the mission for me. So basically I am feeling "old". This week was really good, we are working hard and my companion´s feet are getting better which is really nice. I am enjoying that we can work harder now, haha I felt so bad for the poor guy with how many blisters he had on his feet, but they are pretty much healed over by now. This last week I also ran with one of the other elders who we live with, it was so so so so so so so so so so ssssssssssssss ooooooo nice. Haha and it hurt a lot. Basically I love running, but I remembered that it also hurts. It has been cooling down here in my area and almost every day we have had overcast weather which has been a true blessing after how crazy hot it was in January and most of February. It has rained  a couple times and that has been good.
The work here is progressing! We are finding some really really great new investigators and they are progressing well, unfortunately as always getting them to church is a struggle, but we are trying hard to enlist the help of members to get them involved. Our area is huge and so we have to really be smart in how we plan everything and get our appointments set up, but it also makes it hard to go and get the investigators and bring them to church if they live so far away. But we are working on that! The family of Matheus haven't really progressed, mainly because Matheus has been sick this last week and so couldn't really meet and it turns out Martha, the mom, had talked to some pastor from another church who told her some really false ideas of what we believe. Bless her heart she told him she needed to see proof and citations of these stories (Joseph Smith being a horse robber and going to jail before the First Vision...?) and we were able to answer a lot of her questions. So we are really trying to help her solve the doubts she has through the Book of Mormon and prayer, and it is good because they really do have desires to have a happy and united family.
We have also been working with some less actives here in the area, and it has been so good! One of the them, Danilo, who is 19, came to church! We were walking with one of the young men in our ward who is leaving for his mission in two weeks and he pointed out the house of this person, we had walked past there before but never known that a member lived there. So we visited him another day and he said that that same week he had been thinking and had the thought and feeling that he should go back to church this week! And then we find out about him and show up that same week! It was great and it was cool to see him back at church! We also have been working with this lady who has been investigating the church forever. Seriously so long. She has almost been baptized a bunch of times and we went to see what was holding her back. We also discovered that she talks a ton, and told us some very interesting stories from her past, it definitely was interesting, but we really feel like we can help her overcome her fear and receive the blessings of being baptized and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Her name is Sandra and we have enjoyed working with her.
We had some really great blessing this week in being at the right place at the right time, it was humbling to see little miracles happen as we prayed and asked for guidance and then were led to people who truly were prepared to receive us. One is a young couple named Fernando and Líla, they have a baby boy who is 1 years old, named Rafael. They are super great and just really genuine and kind people. We are going to go back there and teach them this week, they hopefully will pray and read and have the blessings of the gospel in their lives.
Overall, I am loving it here! We also had splits with the Elders we live with and it was good, I was able to see how they are doing and help them with the difficulties that they are having in their area. We also were able to teach seminary that night, they have some investigators from both areas that attend, and unfortunately Matheus didn't go because he is sick, but it was great, I really loved teaching! We taught the Restoration to them because of there being investigators there but it was really involved and all of them said it was their favorite lesson thus far! So that was fun and exciting! Overall I am doing very well! And I am getting good at killing cockroaches! And I saw a huge toad that secretes a substance on its back that blinds you if you get it in your eyes, and I saw and armadillo for the first time in my life. And pomegranate grows here everywhere. Basically I am living in a different world. I love it.
Love You!
Elder Carney

Hot. Rain. Hot. Rain Feb. 17, 2014

Haha well this week was certainly interesting!!! One thing was the weather! Last Thursday a record was broken here in Itapêtininga! The hottest it has ever been recorded! It was 40°C here... which was 104°F. Haha and super humid. Basically I died. BUT, it was also a super good day and we are working super hard. This week was the most productive we have had of the transfer and we are teaching a lot more. I think a lot of it was due to Elder Noleto´s feet getting better. Poor guy, his feet have been seriously thrashed these last couple weeks, he basically didn't walk ever before his mission and now he is walking a ton. With an Elder who ran a ton before the mission and doesn't really understand super well that feeling of having feet demolished with blisters. But he is getting better and I am trying to be sensitive to the pain that he is going through.And prayers are being answered in him getting better and more accustomed to having to walk everywhere. Sister Martins was talking with me while my comp was in an interview with President and she said she would tell anyone that walking and getting in shape is just as important as preparing spiritually before the mission.  I know that is true! We cant teach if we don't have the Spirit with us but we also can't teach if we are stuck in one place not being able to walk! Haha so preparation is a good thing both spiritually and physically! We had really been praying for this one family who came to church last week, Marta, Alfonso, Matheus, and Julia, they are so great! Unfortunately they had a ton of questions about what we believe after coming to church and some members told them some things that aren't important or relevant to them right now. So we had to spend a lot of time answering questions and helping them with their doubts. They didn't come to church yesterday which killed me but Matheus did alone! He has attended seminary these last two weeks, loves it, but is now struggling because he doesn't want to continue alone. So we have a lesson tonight with him and I am praying so so hard that he will have the courage to continue and that his family will have their hearts touched by the Spirit. We can try as hard as we can to convince them to change and continue learning, but only God can change their hearts through the influence of the Holy Ghost. 
We also had splits this last week with our Zone Leaders, that was super fun , splits seriously bring miracles! We worked in an area that is really rich that day and usually it is kind of hard to work there, but we taught like crazy and found so many new potential investigators, it was a serious miracle. And it was super fun as well, splits are great, I was with Elder D Santos who is going home this transfer and has a lot of experience and I learned a lot of what I can now apply to help my comp and our district do what we want to do (baptize and help these people come unto Christ). 
Like I said we had interviews with President these last week, we have them every three months, and it went well! I learned a lot from him and it was good, haha like I said he is very similar to Mr Carpenter and so you have to be very very careful with how you say things and be very direct and clear in saying things to him, haha it was interesting but also very edifying and I learned a lot of how I can help my investigators with their specific challenges.
Oh and it actually rained this last week as well! So even though it was crazy hot it also rained a ton and then got hot and then rained a ton so I have been very very grateful for those little breaks! Now we are just focusing a lot on working through ex investigators, potential investigator lists, and less actives to find new investigators. We stopped teaching most of our investigators because they weren't progressing and so we had to start over from scratch, but we are seeing miracles happen. Including one less active who basically has a super crazy hard life now and decided that God doesn't exist or if so then he just wants to spite her. So that was hard to hear, but in the way we found her it was very much so from guidance from God and she recognizes now that we were sent from God to help her. Unfortunately we cannot help her with finances or raising her children alone, or selling her house, but we have focused so much that if she reads the Book of Mormon, prays and goes to church, she will receive more blessings than she can handle, most of them spiritual, which really are the ones that matter, but others that are temporal as well. It has been humbling to see her situation, and we actually found her on a day that had been really difficult and no one was listening, and so when we found her it was a blessing for us to realize that when we ask for help from God, he gives us opportunities to help other people which in turn is a blessing for us. She read the part we marked, first time she read in years, and after saying she would never read again, we were able to bear testimony and promise her specific blessings as representatives of Christ and she had a change of heart and said she would try to do those three things. It has been really good to see her make small changes in her life. Overall a great week!
Yes mom, I do get letters sometimes from friends which is so great!! I actually need to write a few to catch up, I got one package from Christmas with the small stockings, and my comps feet are doing better! And I am doing great! Love you all!
Elder Carney

Monday, February 10, 2014

His Christmas pkg got there! 2/10/14

Get better mom!!!!!! That is definitely not fun to be sick! I was starting to get sick as well this weekend, but with some medicine and lots of water I am already feeling a lot better! I had a really good week, we were able to have a great start to the week in that Wednesday we had a Multi Zone Conference! It was absolutely awesome, so much fun to see other missionaries that I know and are my friends, and wonderful to receive instruction from President and Sister Martins, they are truly inspired. It felt as if so many of the trainings that we received were exactly for our area and the situations that our investigators are in. We have been working hard here, unfortunately it was also a super hard week, it felt like no one was progressing and it was just difficult to even find people to teach at times. Plus my comp´s feet have been massacred, i feel bad for the guy, especially because our area is HUGE so we walk a lot here just to get to neighborhoods that we work in. But we take little breaks and he has some powders and other little things that are helping his feet. I am definitely grateful that I ran 60+ miles a week for a year before my mission, i had absolutely no problems with being sore or have blisters when I got to the mission, haha running really is great!
An interesting thing that we found out in our conference is that January was the hottest January that is on record in the State of São Paulo... haha but it makes me feel better that it will most likely only get better! It has truly been so so so so hot.And it hadn't rained here for such a long time, it was killing us. But then it rained yesterday which felt so wonderful. I can hardly wait until April and May for winter to start, it will truly be great! Sunday was a great day, why? Because we had a family come to church!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 Their names are Marta and Alfonso, and they have two kids, Matheus (16) and Julia (10). They are great. They are progressing well and I hope and think that they will be baptized. One cool thing is that Matheus is solid, he said he would come to church even if the rest of his family didn't and after church a kid from the branch was baptized and the rest of the family left but he decided to stay and watch! Then he got invited by a young man in our branch to go to seminary this week (they have it two times a week at like 7h30 pm) and he said he was for sure going to go! He is solid, so we are excited about that little family. And we had like three families of less actives who have now been to church 2 or 3 times each, so it is cool to see that they are coming back after we have been working with them. I am enjoying it here, it is really hot, but since this last week was difficult at times I was praying more and having to have so much more faith. Every little lesson we have and every time an investigator progresses it is such a blessing from my Heavenly Father. I really cant do anything in this work without Him. So grateful that he is there for us as missionaries. Oh also I got a nice surprise at the Zone Conference... my Christmas package!! Which was sent November 13th!!!!!! Haha it was so great, the crackers were even whole and the snickers were great! The sugar from te Sour Patch Kids had kind of been dispersed throughout the baggy and melted... but they were still super good! Haha and it was so nice that you sent a little stocking for Elder D Oliveira. Unfortunately he wasn't with me to get it, but he finished his mission this last transfer so I think he is doing fine! Love you so much, hope all of you are doing well!
Elder Carney

Broncos had a fan in Brazil! 2/3/2014

Well this week has been absolutely insane!! Starting last monday after emails we went all out and went to a Churrascaria, or Brazilian BBQ. Basically Tucanos but here in Brazil. And it was absolutely amazing, so so good! I loved it, it was only like 18 reais, or 9 dollars, and I loved it. Elder Agnelli was having his last P Day ever so we went there for him! Then we found out about transfers!!!!!! Elder F Oliveira was transferred to the Capitol and I am staying here in Itapê! And I found out I would be training! And I am a District Leader now! Basically I was super psyched, nervous, kind of wanted to throw up, lots of emotions! Haha it was good though, I felt very much so like this would be such a growing experience for me. Elder Ashford is also staying here in Itapê which made me psyched to continue living in the same house as him since he is awesome and actually likes to run in the mornings with me! So then the next day we spent walking around, teaching some people and saying bye to the members for Elder F Oliveira, and then he packed that night. That night the Elders from the zone farther away than ours came so they could sleep at our house and get picked up by the transfer van there the next morning at 5 AM. Then when they all left it was only 4 of us left, waiting for our comps to arrive that afternoon, and all four of us were Americans!!! Haha it was so weird, we spoke in English and Portuguese and it was this weird mix, and we couldn't use the correct sentence structure and it was fun! I loved it. Then my companion arrived!!! His name is Elder Noleto, he is Brazilian, and he is from the state of Tocantins, which is only 25 years old and is way north and way hot! He is a great missionary! He is very competent, motivated, teaches well, and likes to work hard. So basically it is already great!! Seriously, I feel like I am learning so much already, i have to think of a lot more things and be able to explain things in an easy way for him, because he has so much to learn right now and I have to be able to explain why we do certain things or what our investigators need. 
I was bummed to say bye to Elder F Oliveira, and Elder de Oliveira went home this transfer as well and Elder Agnelli as well! It was a bummer but it was good to see them go home and finish their missions well. This week has been really good so far, and we are just getting accustomed to teaching together and working in our area! I love it here in Itapê! 
Also I was wearing my Broncos tie yesterday!! But that´s ok about the loss, they can win in the future. But seriously, I was nervous walking to do emails today because I wanted to know so badly what happened! I love you all so much, this week we have a Multi-
Zone Conference so I am way psyched about that!! Love you all!
Elder Carney