Monday, November 26, 2012

Awesome Baptism

Dear Family,
Thank you as always for you emails, letters, and support. This week
has been another rough week as far as teaching is concerned. A couple
weeks ago we were teaching close to 40 lessons per week and now we are
struggling to get 20. However we are still trying and I expect this
week will be better. The highlight of this week was the baptism of
Wanderley (18 years old). I don't have a whole lot of time to email
today. However things are still going well here in Vila Galvao. We
have a transfer coming up in about two weeks and I think that either
me or Elder Bangerter will get transferred out of Vila Galvao. I'm
not sure how I feel about it, I kind of want to get a brazilian
companion to improve my portuguese but I kind of want to stay with
Elder Bangerter too because we've been having so much success. We'll
see in a couple of weeks though. Here is the story of Wanderley's

The highlight was the baptism we had yesterday of Wanderley (18 years
old). We met Wanderley at church one day because he is dating the
Bishop's daughter and she brought him to church. From the very
beginning he was very interested in the lessons and was quick to
accept everything that we were teaching him. He didn't have any
problems with the commandments except for coffee which he dropped as
soon as we taught him the Word of Wisdom. When we taught him in his
house we found out that his Mom had already received all of the
lessons about 10 years ago from a pair of sister missionaries and that
she had been to our church several times but had never decided to be
baptized. He also lives with his Dad but his Dad has never been
baptized. On the day of his baptism his Mom, Dad, and little brother
came. The Spirit was very strong in the baptism and in the second
half of the meeting after the ordinance was done, Irma Kleber who was
conducting the meeting asked the Dad if he wanted to say a few words.
The Dad got up and was in tears, he said that while he was sitting
there watching his son enter the water God touched his heart and
that someday he will be doing the same thing that Wanderley is doing.
It was an awesome baptism and we have an appointment marked to teach
the Dad on Thursday.

That's all I've got time for this week! Thanks again for your emails!
Elder Caleb Anderson

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Death of Maria Lucia

Dear Family,
Thank you once again for your emails and letters. This week was a pretty slow week. There is a holiday going on right now so a lot of our investigators and members of our ward left town. We didn´t teach as many lessons as we usually do and spent a lot of time looking for new people to teach. One thing that happened this week though was the death of Maria Lucia. She was 73 years old and had been struggling with cancer for a while so I don´t think that her death came as a surprise to anyone but was still a sad event. She was the first baptism that I had here in the field and maybe the most significant to me. I know I already wrote about the story of her baptism but I want to write about it again this week.
Story of Maria Lucia: I arrived for my first day in the field on Tuesday, September 18th. That day we went over to the house of Lindo Mar because Elder Bangerter wanted to introduce me to them and they were interested to meet the new greenie. We went over to his house and when Lindo Mar answered the door he said ´´Elders will you baptize my mom?´´. We said we would be happy to teach her and went inside and taught her the first lesson. She was a little hesistant to accept it because she had been Catholic all 73 years of her life and wasn´t planning on changing that any time soon. However she said she would pray about the Book of Mormon and ask God if our church was true. She prayed and the next day she told us that she believed our church was true because after she prayed she slept the whole night through in peace and that she hadn´t slept that well in a long time. That Sunday she was baptized by her son Lindo Mar. At the baptism Lindo Mar said that even though his mom had been living at their house for a while, and even though the missionaries had passed by his house many times, he had never felt like he should ask him to teach his mom. However that day when he saw Elder Bangerter and I he said that he felt inspired to ask us to teach his mom. The Spirit was very strong at the baptismal service and afterwards she said that she felt different than before. She was confirmed a few weeks later in sacrament meeting. Last Tuesday we passed by the house of Lindo Mar and Maria Lucia was there, we asked her how she was feeling and she said that she was feeling very well. The next day we got a text message from Lindo Mar saying that she passed away in the hospital on Wednesday morning. She passed away less than two months after being baptized and confirmed.
Other than that this week was pretty slow and there´s not too much to write about. We had interviews with President Ferrin on Thursday. He said we are doing well and that my portuguese is good. I can´t believe its already November! Only a little more than a month until Christmas!
What kind of deserts are common in Brazil? They have a lot of stuff that the U.S. has. Ice-cream is pretty big and we get it pretty often. Chocolate cake is really common. Pie isn´t a common desert at all. They use a lot of fruits down here and one fruit that I really like is Maracujà. They don´t have it in the U.S. but it is yellow/orange on the inside and outside and the inside looks similar to a pomegranate because of all the seeds. They sometimes make ice cream with it or pudding and its really good. It seems like they eat a lot of pudding for deserts.
What is the weirdest thing I´ve eaten? So far I have been fortunate enough to not have a crazy response to this question. I ate grilled chicken hearts at a churrascaria before. And one time we were at a members house and they had a big pot with chicken soup stuff in the pot. While I was stirring the contents of the pot around a big chicken foot came to the surface and kind of made me loose my appetite haha. But other than that I haven´t eaten anything crazy.
Thanks again for all you emails and support!
Elder Caleb Anderson

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crazy Week

Dear Family,
This week was pretty hectic but it was good. The week started our
with a two day division where I was sent to work with Elder Corrêa
(one of the Zone Leaders) in Gopouva. The first day of the division
(Tuesday) I worked in a trio with Elder Corrêa and Elder de Mendonça
who is my district leader. It was a really long day but I think I
learned some valuable things. I think I learned some portuguese and
also learned some good teaching techniques. Also since Tuesday was
Elder Bangerter´s birthday, one of our good friends Marcelo (a member
of the Gopouva ward) took all three of us back to Vila Galvão and we
had a birthday party for Elder Bangerter. Marcelo had bought Elder
Bangerter a Corinthians soccer jersey and brought a cake and cheese
bread for him. It was fun and Marcelo surprised me and Elder
Cleveland with soccer jerseys too! Mine is a Corinthians one and
Elder Cleveland´s is a São Paulo one. I don´t know if I already told
you guys but a few weeks ago I officially chose Corinthians as my
soccer team, it was a hard decision but I feel more like a Brazilian
now that I have a team. Corinthians is the most popular team here in
the East part of São Paulo and frankly I wouldn´t feel very safe
walking around in a soccer jersey that was anything other than
Corinthians hahaha. So even if Corinthians isn´t the ``safest`` team
to support as far as soccer success goes, I think it´s the ``safest``
team to support as far as walking around on the street goes haha.
Anyways Marcelo got us soccer jerseys last night and then I went back
to Gopouva that night and the next day I was in a trio again with
Elder Corrêa and Elder Cleveland who are the zone leaders. On
Wednesday night I returned to Vila Galvão and Thursday morning we hadportuguese lessons. Marcelo (the member from Gopouva who gave me the
soccer jersey) is a successful english professor and gives people
english lessons for his living. However sometimes he also teaches
foreigners portuguese and so every Thursday he comes over and teaches
me, and any of the other missionaries who want to come, portuguese.
It´s really helpful and he said he really likes teaching me because I
am the first person he has ever taught who came straight from the U.S.
so he said he is learning a lot about how to teach the basics. He
also said that since he´s started giving the portuguese lessons to the
missionaries his salary has increased by 30 percent and that he won´t
let us stop taking them hahaha. I´m grateful to have him as a teacher
because it´s really helping me a lot.
We had two baptisms yesterday of two men, Carlos(22) and Denilson(19).
They are the first men that I´ve baptized and Elder Bangerter has
nine months on the mission and these were the first men that he has
baptized as well so yesterday was a big day for both of us. Both
Carlos and Denilson have girlfriends who are members of the church so
both of them randomly came to church one day. They were both really
excited to learn and they both accepted baptism on their first
lessons. Denilson was ready to be baptized about a month ago but
could never get a Sunday of work until yesterday so yesterday we
finally had the baptism. Carlos showed up to church three weeks ago
and we gave him a Book of Mormon after sacrament meeting. By the time
we had a first lesson with him on that Saturday he had already read 40
pages of the Book of Mormon, by his baptism he had already read 100
pages. At random times during the week Carlos would call us or send
us text messages with questions about verses that he read. It was
really awesome and his questions were really easy until he got into
the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi and then they got considerably harder
hahaha. However we were able to come up with answers for all of them.
Both Denilson and and Carlos commented after their baptisms that they
felt like they had more energy. It is always awesome to ask our
investigators how they feel right after baptism and to hear their
responses. They were both rock solid investigators and I really hope
that they will stay active in the chruch although I worry about
Denilson because he job requires him to work 2/3 of Sundays. However
I´ll pray for him and maybe we can work with him to try and help him
find a better job.
One spiritual story to wrap this email up. A few weeks ago we were at
a members house teaching an investigator. Another member (a 12 year
old boy with no family in the church) happened to be there at the
house. After the lesson he told us that his grandma lived close by
and that her arm was seamstress. However because she used a sowing
machine all day she had chronic pain in the arm. He asked us if we
could come give her a Priesthood blessing for her arm. We went to the house and taught the grandma and the grandpa the restauration and
afterwards gave the grandma a priesthood blessing. The Spirit was
very strong during the lesson and during the blessing and after
leaving I was sure that the grandma´s arm would be cured and that both
the grandparents would eventually be baptized. However this we still
have not been able to teach the grandparents again and it looks like
we might never be able to. However in the last fast and testimony
meeting the 12 year old boy got up and bore his testimony about how he
now knew the church was true. He said the reason that he knows the
church is true is because when the Elders were at his house they gave
his grandma a priesthood blessing and that he felt something different
while they were giving the blessing. He said he felt something
different and he knows it was the Holy Ghost, because of this he knows
the Church is true. It was then that I realized that the reason we
went to that house might not have been to bless/convert the
grandmother or the grandfather but the reason we were in that house
was to bless/convert the 12 old boy who was already a member. It was
a witness to me that God´s ways are higher than our ways and his
thoughts are higher than our thoughts.
Thanks you as always for all of the encouragement through your letters
and emails!
Hope you are all well! I can´t wait for Christmas when I get to skype home!

Elder Caleb Anderson

Monday, November 5, 2012

Elder Bangerter and I both stayed in Vila Galvão!

Dear Family,
Thank you all for your emails and letters! This week has been a good one. This past week was really awesome because we baptized a really great kid named Fabio and also received packages! We got the news on Monday night that Elder Bangerter and I would both be staying in Vila Galvão so we were both really excited about that. So we´ve got at least 6 more weeks together in this area. One Tuesday we went to the mission office with the Zone Leaders and picked up our packages and more Book of Mormons and pamphlets. I got the package and photos from Mom, and the package from Ariel. I can honestly say that out of all the days of my mission, the day I got those packages was in the top 5. It was so good to get some American candy/snacks!!! I didn´t realize how much I missed that stuff but man it was awesome to receive. Elder Bangerter got a lot os candy too so we´ve been giving out starburst and jolly ranchers to a lot of our investigators. They all think Starburst are the best! so the pst week we´ve basically been living off of those packages. This past week we worked a lot and were blessed with some really good investigators. We are teaching a lot of men right now which is good. President Ferrin thinks its really important to try and baptize men who are 18 or older. Also tomorrow is Elder Bangerter´s birthday! I think one of our investigators has something planned for him but unfortunately I won´t be there for it because I am giong to Gopouva tonight on an exchange with the Brazilian zone leader.  Other than that and Fabio´s baptism there´s not too much news this week. I hope everyone is well and thanks again for your emails and letters! Here is the story of Fabio´s baptism.
This week was very rewarding and was another confirmation that Vila Galvão is the area that I am supposed to be in. Yesterday we baptized a 16 year old boy named Fabio. Fabio has been attending church, seminary, and mutual for a year and a half but has never wanted to be baptized. He said he mostly just goes to seminary and church because he has friends that are members, however he never wanted to be a member himself. Just about every missionary that has passed through this area in the last year and a half has tried to baptize Fabio but he never felt like it was right for him. When I first got here to this area Elder Bangerter and I tried to teach him 3 or 4 times, and our lessons were always about the importance of baptism. However every time we started talking about baptism he would close up. He would start giving us one-word answers and would always insist that he needed to KNOW the church was true before joining it. He said he had prayed many times about the church and the Book of Mormon but had never received a response. I was convinced that the reason he wasn´t receiving a response was because he didn´t really want one, and I was just about ready to give up trying to baptize him. However one day he came to the church for seminary and we decided to teach him one more time. This lesson was different, started out just talking to him about normal stuff and asking him about his life. All of a sudden he came out and told us about his situation with his family at home. He talked about how his family is divided between different religions and how his parents fight about the subject a lot. He said he had tried other religions but felt that they were all trying to deceive him. He told us that he really liked our church and felt that it was different but never wanted to join because he was afraid of being deceived again. We started reading him the story of Joseph Smith and how Joseph Smith was in almost the exact same situation. Afterwards we started applying it to his situation and before long he was in tears. The Spirit was very strong and he said he would come to church on Sunday, take the sacrament (something he had never done before), and make his decision about baptism at church. We promised him that he would feel the same Spirit on Sunday at church. That Sunday he told us that he felt the Spirit very strongly and decided to be baptized. His baptism was awesome and afterwards he said that he felt a different feeling that he had never felt before. I am sure that the reason our early attempts (and the attempts of all the other missionaries) didn´t work because all we ever did was talk about the importance of baptism instead of actually addressing the investigators real problem. It was a very significant baptism for us and showed me that when we look at our investigators as people, instead of numbers, we are going to have the help of the Spirit and will have a lot more success.