Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Week in the Field!!!

Dear Family and Friends,
Thanks again for all you emails and letters! I am still working on writing some of you back. The first week in the field has been awesome!!! My Trainer is Elder Bangerter as I already said. He is from California/St. George Utah and is from a family of 5 boys. He played football and basketball in high school and played football at Dixie St. College before coming on the mission. He has been out for 6 months and his portuguese is really good. He´s a good missionary, we get along really well, and is willing to work so I´m glad he´s my trainer. I was really worried that I´d get a bad one. He looks exactly like Tom Cruise! Even more than Zach Leininger!!! It´s crazy that I´ve known two people who look exactly like Tom Cruise. He says he´s already had brazilians here come ask him for his autograph they can´t tell any difference. Also I´m really glad I got a companion who speaks english. I might not learn the language as fast with him as I would with a brazilian but it´s really nice to be able to just talk normally when we´re in the apartment. Also, Elder Bangerter and I baptized someone yesterday!!! Her name is Maria Lucia and is 73 years old. I will type up the story at the end of the email because it´s awesome. I have learned a lot of Portuguese in the last week. Hopefully I can keep learning at this pace. Whenever we teach I can understand almost everything but whenever we are just having normal conversations it´s really hard. Church on Sunday was difficult because we had a couple investigators there and I was trying to stay with them and show them where to go and stuff but I could barely talk to them.
The ward that I´m in is awesome. We have a lunch appointment every day this month (here they do lunch appointments every day instead of dinner). Usually we don´t eat dinner until we get back to the apartment around 9:30. Mostly because we want to be able to teach people during that time. The youth in our ward have helped us out a lot with finding people to teach. I feel like a lot of the adults don´t have a whole lot of trust in us. A lot of them really like us but I think they a cautious to give us references because this area has had kind of a rough past as far as missionaries go. But we do a lot of activities with the members and try to serve them to gain their trust. This past week the ward had ward activities every night of the week because this week was their ward conference. We went to all the activities to get to know the members. I was really grateful for that too because my feet were killing me the first couple days haha. We walked so much. A lot of our appointments fall through so the result is a lot of walking around and not a lot of teaching. It´s kind of annoying. In the States if you contact someone on the street and they aren´t interested I think they would normally just say no or slam a door in your face. Here they always say yes but will most of the time just give you a fake address or phone number. Or just not keep their appointments. So that is a little frustrating but we still had some really good lessons this week and some great experiences. Here are three miracles (not the only miracles but my favorite ones) that happened this week. This is copied from my letter to President Ferrin (who is really cool by the way).
Miracle number 1. When Elder Bangerter and I were on the bus coming back from the mission home on Tuesday we were sitting on the bus speaking in English to each other. A random guy came and asked us where we are from. He was Brazilian but spoke english well enough that we could communicate with him. We started asking him what he knew about our church and he said that he had been given a Book of Mormon by the missionaries once before and had already read it all the way through and was about halfway through reading it again when he lost it. We didn´t have one to give him with us but we did visit him once this week and gave him another one and have another appointment set this week to talk about the Plan of Salvation. To me this was a miracle that the first person I met in the field was someone who was so prepared and even spoke Enlish. 2. There is a woman in our area who has two daughters who are both members and ever since her daughters joined the church the missionaries have been trying to give her the lessons but she has always refused. This week Elder Bangerter and I were walking to an appointment when Elder Bangerter stopped and said he felt like we should go try and give her a lesson. We went to her house and she accepted to her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then afterwards we gave her a summary of all the other lessons we have to teach her. She said she was interested in the Plan of Salvation so we taught her that lesson to. We are going back this week to teach her more. I know Elder Bangerter´s decision was inspired and it was a small miracle that she finally accepted to here the lessons. 3. My first day in the mission field we went to visit a member family so that I could introduce myself to them. When we got there the father of the family asked us if we would baptize his mother who lives with them. She is 73 years old, has cancer, and is in very bad health. I think she weighs 70 lbs at most. She had already been to church 3 times with her son and so we taught her all the lessons this week and baptized her on Sunday. She was baptized by her son Lindo Mar (I was really glad he accepted to do it because honestly I didnt want to baptize someone that frale who is in such bad health). At the baptism her son said that even though his mother had been living with them for several weeks and the missionaries had passed through their house many times he never asked them to teach her. But when he saw us on Tuesday (my very first day in the field) he felt inspired to ask us to teach his mother. It was a sign to me that Vila Galvao is the area I am supposed to be in.
That´s about all I have for this week. I will probably send pictures of the baptism and me and my trainer tomorrow because we have to drop the pictures off to the famliy of Maria Lucia so I will probably send them here. Also whoever made ``The Best Two Years`` totally nailed it.
Love you all and hope you are all well,
Caleb Anderson

First Day in the Field

Dear Family,
I made it to the field!!! This morning I left the CTM at 530 am at went to the mission home with 10 other elders. 5 were american. Right now I am in a members home sending a quick email just to say that I made it alright and everything is going well. My trainers name is Elder Bangerter. he is an American from California/St. George Utah. Before the mission he played football at Dixie State College. He is a great guy and I think we will have a lot of success. Out area seems great. Everyone that Ive met so far has been really nice. I got my stuff dropped off at the apartment and we already taught our first lesson. The members whose home we are at right now have a mother/grandmother living in the house and they want her to be baptized so today we taught the restoration. We are about to eat dinner soon. Sorry for the punctuation but I am using a brazilian keyboard and its a little bit different. I am really excited to finally be in the field and have the opportunity to teach people. I^ve got to go now.
Elder Caleb Anderson

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Last MTC Email!

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was packed full of stuff so I might have trouble getting it all into this email. Last Friday was Brazil's independance day so the food was really good here at the CTM and there was even an Ice Cream Buffet! It's the first time since I left that I've had ice cream and it was pretty good. The flavors of ice cream were really good but not nearly as strong as normal ice cream. I don't know if it is a Brazil thing or a CTM thing. Although I heard that ice cream isn't very big here in Brazil. Sunday was great, the Spirit was really strong all day long. It's kind of weird but with the exception of P-days Sundays are my favorite days of the week here at the CTM. Also another really cool thing about Sunday was that the evening devotional was given by President Ferrin who is the president of my mission. He spoke on the importance of hard work if you want to have success. His whole talk was in portuguese and he refused to let it be translated. Every other speaker that has come here has had their talks translated so that everyone can understand but he refused to have his translated. Fortunately I was able to understand pretty much everything he said so I didn't really care but I think some of the other Americans who haven't been here as long were a little upset. After his talk me and the rest of the Sao Paulo East guys went and met him and talked to him a little while. We didn't talk to him for too long though, I think he was glad to meet us but didn't really feel like talking for to long since we'll all be heading for the field in less than a week. Probably the coolest part of the week was on Monday when our district got to go outside the CTM and do street contacts. Every person in our district was given two Book of Mormons to try and place. It was really intimidating at first but Elder jensen and I prayed beforehand for the Spirit and the Gift of Tongues to help us. When we first got out of the CTM we started walking down the street and there were three Brazilian kids walking behind us who all were about 16 or 17 years old. We decided to talk to them and first we talked to thing about normal stuff like why we were here in Brazil, how long we've been here, and how long we are staying. Then we started talking about the Gospel and one of them seemed really interested and the other two were mildly interested. We taught them for almost 25 minutes about the Book of Mormon. We gave the Book of Mormon to the kid who seemed most interested and he said he would read the introduction and then call the missionaries after if he had more questions. The rest of the time we spent just walking around talking to random people. We placed all 4 Book of Mormons. i could feel the Spirit helping me understand what the people were saying and giving me questions to ask them. I was able to speak much faster and more fluently than ever before and could understand most of what people were saying to me. I don't know if anything will come out of the Book of Mormons that we placed but it was really encouraging to have this experience before leaving for the field. I can't wait to get out there and start teaching more real people. Next week we get to go do street contacts again but this time we get to go downtown instead of right next to the CTM.
Got to Go!
Elder Caleb Anderson      

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Yes, I'm still in the MTC...

Dear all,
Thanks again for you emails and letters. This will probably be a short letter since the past week has been somewhat uneventful. This week we got a new teacher for our morning classes instead of Irmao Viana and this new guy is really, really strict. I think he's supposed to whip us in to shape for the field. He is a really big guy and doesn't put up with anything. At first it was a little bit annoying but I actually kind of like him now because we learn a lot more with him teaching us and I think he will prepare us for the field a lot better. I did like Irmao viana a lot though so it's too bad that he's gone. Also another set of Brazilian roommates has been sent to the field so right now it's just the four Americans in my room until tomorrrow when new Brazilians arrive. I don't think I'm going to miss this set of roommates a whole lot. They both had really weird sleeping schedules and would usually wake the rest of us up really early in the morning. Anyhow I think they will both do well in the field and wished them the best before they left. This morning we went to the Sao Paulo Temple again except this morning we had so many Elders going that we weren't all going to fit in one session. They asked if there was anyone who would volunteer to do sealings so me and a couple other Elders in my district volunteered. It was a good experience and my portuguese is good enough to understand pretty much everything that was going on. Not a whole lot else happened this week so I think I'll just use the rest of the email time to answer some questions that have been asked.
How is my Portuguese coming? I'm pleased with my progress with portuguese. I'm definitely nowhere near fluent yet but I've come a long way since I arrived. I remember when I was on the flight over here and I couldn't understand a word anyone was saying. Now I feel like I can say a few things and could at least communicate with people. The main problem is that the vocabulary we learn here at the CTM has a lot to do with church stuff so when I try to talk to the Brazilians about non-church stuff it is really difficult. Also I think it's frustrating for the Brazilians because they have to speak really slowly and explain a lot of words. But every week we have teaching workshops where 2 or 3 Americans team up with 2 or 3 Brazilians and we all teach a fake investigator. My first week I couldn't understand a single word but this last week I was contributing quite a bit to the lessons and even talked more than some of the Brazilians. I still don't understand every word but I understand to piece together what they're trying to say.
Am I still playing basketball? Lately I've started playing a lot more volleyball and I like it a lot. I'm getting a lot better and it's really fun when you actually play volleyball with/against people who know how to play. It would be fun to take a class at BYU and learn how to play really well. But yes I still play basketball every once in a while. Most of the Brazilians are awful and basketball but there was a new one that came in this week who is pretty good. It was pretty funny because the hoops here at the CTM aren't too great and the other day this Brazilian dunked the ball and brought the rim down! Hahaha it was great.
Have I had any spiritual experiences yet? Yes I feel ver close to the spirit and have had some spiritual experiences. One memorable one was when we watched Elder Holland speaking at the Provo MTC and he talked about missionary work and how this mission is more for us than anything else. One quote that I really liked was he said "in order for your mission to be a success you need to have a least one convert, and that convert had better be you". It was a really powerful talk and I felt the Spirit very strongly. Also fast Sundays here are really awesome. We fast from Lunch on Saturday to Lunch on Sunday and the Spirit in the CTM is really strong, especially during the fast and testimony meetings. My testimony has really grown since I got here and I attribute a lot of that to fast Sundays. Another cool spiritual experience was when Elder Jensen sprained his ankle and it got really black and blue and swollen. That night me and my other american roommates gave him a priesthood blessing, I don't remember a lot about the blessing but I remember blessing him that the injury would not slow him down at all and that he would be able to continue his studies as normal. Throughout the rest of the week his ankle and the rest of his foot was huge and was one of the worst sprains I've seen but he was able to walk on it just fine. In fact during gym time he was still able to play volleyball and spike the ball on people! He said it hurt him during lunch and free time but when he started studying the pain would always go away. Maybe it was a miracle maybe not but I believe that the Priesthood blessing definitely helped.
Well that's all I have time for.
Love you all and thanks again for you letters,
Elder Caleb Anderson