Monday, January 27, 2014

LOTS OF RAIN!!

Hey family! I hope everybody is happy, healthy, and excited about life!

I haven't gotten anything from Jon and Brooke yet...but that's really nice of them to send something! I'm used to mail working slowly here, so I'll wait patiently but happily! 

The same thing for the first package that you guys sent. I'm very surprised it hasn't gotten here yet! But I'm sure it will get here eventually. Thank you so much for being willing to send me packages!

I am very happy to get to play the piano so often. I will also play the violin next week at church. I'm not able to play all the notes for the hymns, but I've developed a knack for staying with the choir and generally not playing too many wrong notes. The members appreciate everything that I am able to play, I'm sure :D.

Austin: FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF THIS DOCTOR. DON'T CUT YOUR TOENAILS TOO SHORT. Just a friendly word of wisdom! My ingrown toenail actually has not yet healed completely and I will go to the doctor again sometime in the next couple weeks. Maybe I will get a pedicure as well!

The questions about our teaching are interesting ones. Actually I don't think I've taught an active Catholic yet. There are Catholics here, but they almost never go to church and only call themselves Catholic. 

Generally, what I've found here is that most people already believe a majority of the doctrine that we teach. Or if they don't believe it, they are willing to accept it. Every once in a while we will come across a person that actually has beliefs that clash with ours, and almost always that belief is that every church is true. I think our doctrine that there is only one true church is an idea very alien to people here. 

Almost everybody frequents churches like Assembly of God, Universal, God is Love, or Quadrangular. But usually people will just go to whatever church is closest. 

Elder J. Santos said it best when he told me, "People here don't want to know which church is true. They want to feel good at a church"

So doctrine is hardly ever a problem here. Everybody knows the role of prophets, that Christ established a church on the earth, and generally people are willing to accept that Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth. But they don't want to change because of it. People generally don't understand that if there is only one church on the earth that has authority of God, you should probably go to it!

It's that coordination between belief and action that we have to overcome here as missionaries. It's frustrating at times, but much less frustrating than having Bible Bashes with every person we met in South Carolina. Actually, sometimes I like Bible Bashes (not that I do that as a missionary ;D) because it's amazing how the Bible supports our teachings as missionaries! Generally I use the Bible a ton everyday. I actually need to work on using the Book of Mormon more. 

One other thing that's a bit different and difficult here is that hardly anyone is married. It's a bit strange, because everybody believes it's a commandment of God to be married, but nobody follows it. We always get excited if we hear during a contact that a person is married, because it is much easier to help them. Elder Nores has already married 5 couples on his mission, so he has some experience with that sort of thing.  

This last Thursday, we had a split with one of the assistants. Elder Nores and I stayed with Elder Peterson, from Wyoming. He's pretty cool, and only has a little over 1 year on the mission, which is unusual for an AP. We were teaching a lesson to Vanessa, a 20 year old woman that is living with her father. We had been talking to her about a baptism date for the 8th of February, because she had never attended church. We finished teaching the lesson (Restoration), and Elder Peterson challenged her to be baptized the next Saturday if she prayed and was answered. She accepted. 

We returned the next day, and she hadn't read or prayed. I personally determined that she was not ready to be baptized the next day without ever going to church or living the Word of Wisdom. And yesterday, she proved that she was not ready by sleeping in until 2PM and missing church.  We'll continue to work with her and help her become a solid member. Personally, I am not here to baptize less-actives.

Yesterday we had quite an experience trying to get people to church. We searched for, talked with, and called everybody we could think of, and it seemed like everybody had an excuse. We were just about to give up and go to church (church had already started), when we remembered a contact we had made that we could visit on the way to the church. She was an elderly woman named B. We walked up to her door, and she was sitting down, waiting for us. She asked why we had taken so long to pick her up for church. 

So we escorted this 84 year old woman down the street in the direction of the church. Then we remembered that there was a huge highway in between the church and our location, and that she would not be able to cross with her poor health. So we waited for an omnibus to pick us up...and waited...and waited. Still I don't know why it took so long. Finally, after 2 hours of waiting, we got a hold of a member to come and pick her up for church. She made it in time for sacrament meeting. It will be interesting to see if we continue working with her. 

As for other missionaries in my district who have made it here, only three of us have actually gotten our visas. Elder McCrea, Elder Worley, and I are serving here in Brazil. Elder Blackner, Packer, Hayes, and Klodnicki are still waiting in the US to come here. I feel so blessed to be serving here in Brazil. I know that I have a purpose here and I am fulfilling it. 

Last minute thought--I titled this email "Lots of Rain" because it is raining hard right now, yesterday, and throughout the whole week. I'm getting used to being soaked :D 

I love you all! Boa sorte para tudo mundo! 

Elder Gale

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Q & A

Here are some pictures of recent P-Day fun!!!
 My companion and I walking. Cute!
We found a bowling alley here in Belém!
This was a while ago when I was with Elder J. Santos.
We played with Sister Costa and Sister Moura in our area.




Today we went to the zoo! Actually, it wasn't really a zoo.
It was more of a park that had some wildlife in it.
There wasn't really anything too exotic, 
but it was a lot of fun to hang out with the other missionaries.







  Our entire zone went.













You get the idea of the general craziness 
of missionary whatever-ness :D


















Sorry I wasn't able to respond to the questions you sent last week!  Here are the answers:




1. Do you get to play the piano very often?

I do get to play the piano! Every week since I've arrived in Brazil I play the piano for the congregation. I actually play more piano than I do violin! I certainly don´t play perfectly, but I´m capable enough to where I can make my way through any hymn without stopping or messing up too much. I really like to play and the congregations like to have a pianist.





Photo 17 is with Elder Godoi. 


2. We've heard that every missionary worldwide will get an iPad mini by the end of 2014.  Have you heard about that?

I think there is about 0% chance that I will get an iPad on my mission!  If it´s true that they´re looking at giving every missionary an iPad, than our mission would be the last one that would receive it.







3 .I read on the Missionary Moms email group that your mission has a rule that you have to take 2 showers a day in freezing cold water.
True?

True. Unfortunately. This was one of the rules/differences that I had to get used to. It is reeeeeaaaaalllly cold. It's actually funny, because the Brazilians/ Hispanics are already used to it and generally they love taking showers. Americans are used to taking 1 shower per day in hot water, and it's a bit of a change for them (us). :D.





4. I recently read about a missionary who was sent home after his companion hit him, even though he didn't hit back.  Any missionaries who get in fights result in both getting sent home.
Moral of the story, don't hit your comp!

Snap...I hit him yesterday. See you guys in a week!






5. Have you heard of MissionTies.com?  
I wonder if we would like to try it to write to one another.

I haven't heard of anyone using that system. I'm not sure if it would work here, mainly because I'm fairly certain it's against the rules to use our actual address. We have to send things to our mission address. I can ask if its allowed, but I'm pretty sure the mission office is the only way to go.









Me with pretty animal life. 


8. We'd like to google where you are...
do you know your actual address?

Good question. I know that I live in Bairro Tapana close to Castanheira in Belém. I think the easiest way to find my area would be to look up the chapel in Castanheira Ward or look up the Shopping Center "Parque Shopping". Either of these things will guide you to my area.







8. Have you received either of the packages we sent to you?

I received a package this week! It was awesome to feel the love and warmth from home that can come in a brown box. I think it was the 3rd package you've mailed to me, and the 2nd hasn't arrived yet.









I thought your snowball fight in Brasil thing was hilarious!  We're having some crazy snowball fights here in Brasil.   Elder Cedraz said it is the closest thing to snow he has ever seen.

But the best thing that I got was the pictures! I loved seeing you all happy and safe. I felt like I was a part of all the fun things you guys are doing as a family. And with the letters too, it really made my day to receive that package.

Thank you so much for sending me these packages! It means so much to know that you are thinking about me and spending time on me back
in Missouri.

If there is ever a day that I can bring you guys to visit here, 
this is where we would go.
It is right next to the sea, beautiful, 

and smells like freedom.


9. How is life right now?

I’m doing a lot better. I'm still having some problems with motivation right now, mostly due to our area.















After about 3 days, I grew to love my new companion Elder Nores a ton. He is always smiling and making jokes. He teaches very well, and I’m really enjoying having him as a companion. He is a convert of about 5 years, and the only one in his family who is a member. His parents are only half-supportive of him going on a mission, so I feel so blessed to have a family who understands why I'm here and supports me! We're growing to be great friends here in Castanheira.






I'm a bit disappointed that I've only had 3 baptisms so far. I had 0 in Chapin, 0 in Barcarena, and 3 in Castanheira. I'm trying to figure out why I’m having so little visible success. When Elder Ramos had my same time on the mission, he already baptized 27 people. Elder J. Santos already baptized 14. Elder Nores already baptized 20. Why have I only baptized 3 people?








To be completely truthful, I don't know what happened after I left Chapin. But I know that after I left Barcarena, Elder Ramos baptized 5 of our former investigators. That was right after I left, so maybe I should get some credit too? :D It was some of the people in the families that needed to be married.








So maybe the effect I’m leaving after I leave an area is bigger than I thought, but I’m still disappointed that I'm not able to see many visible results. Every one of my companions have said that I'm doing the right things. I'm working hard, I'm teaching well, I'm not that ugly...why am I not baptizing?








That’s one of my struggles right now. But overall I’m very happy! Sorry I couldn’t respond to everyone personally. I’ll make sure to write next week or die trying.










I love you all so much!!!!

Called to serve,  

Elder Gale



Monday, January 13, 2014

MY NEW COMP FROM PERU!

Hello Family! 

I loved getting so many letters today! I like this maneira of writing emails much better-it feels much more personal and I feel closer to all of you. Sorry if parts of this letter don't make sense, I'm really tired and my computer is really slow. English is getting a bit harder for me recently.

I wont be able to respond to everyone’s letters individually today for lack of time. But I loved hearing about family news and it sounds like you all are doing great.

We are going through a bit of a hard time right now, I think it's just because of the weather. It set a record for Belém yesterday in rainfall. It rained the whole day and only lightened a bit at times before coming in at full force. We went to try to find investigators before church despite the rain and got soaked. We didn't end up finding anyone willing to go in the rain. A ton of the members didn't come to church because of the rain and also because of a temple caravan that is taking people from our stake to Recife. So we had hardly anyone at church. It was a bit miserable.

Elder Nores, my new companion, is the senior companion, as well as Leader of the District. And he actually has 1 transfer more than me here in Belém. He is cool, and we're definitely still getting used to each other. He is a bit hard to understand because he says a lot of things in Spanish mixed with Portugues. I will learn quite a bit of Spanish with him.

I'm hoping to turn Senior and maybe train next transfer. Our Zone leader stayed with us for a couple of days at the beginning of the transfer and saw that I know how to teach, find, and whatever else. We'll see...it's not that big of a deal. Usually Americanos take a bit longer to turn senior because they don't speak the language. It usually takes 4-8 transfers in Brazil before anything happens, but I know people that have done it in less.

We don't have anybody that can be baptized next week, which means we aren't living our full potential. We'll do better next week!

Sorry I'm not pumped up excited missionary of the year Elder Gale today. I'm almost falling asleep at the computer.

Love you all!  Called to serve,  

Elder Gale

Monday, January 6, 2014

BAPTISMS & TRANSFERS!

Hello from Brasil! It sounds like everybody had a lot of fun over New Year's. My New Year's Eve was a little less exciting. We had to return home a bit early because of the parties and whatever else that happen here. So we bought soda and food and hung out. I ended up going to bed around 9:30 because I´m the life of the party. Always.

I still haven´t received any packages besides the first Christmas one.   I’m not sure what´s going on with that.

A cute and fat bunny at one of the members houses.
It tried to nibble on my pants. Very very fat.
Speaking of change, it's transfer time! I've enjoyed my time with Elder J. Santos, but it´s coming to a close. Elder J. Santos was transferred to...Macapá! The farthest area away from the mission. It's super hot there, so I´m glad it was him that was transferred. He's super excited, because he will be with his mission father, who is a zone leader there. There is a chance he will be district leader. I´m going to miss my 3rd mission father.

I will stay here in Castanheira with...Elder Nores! I haven´t met him yet, but I’ve heard he's pretty cool. He is from Lima, Peru. Isn't that where Hannah is going? He is also very young on the mission. Actually, I think we have the same time on the mission exactly, because he stayed 6 weeks in the MTC to learn Portuguese. I´m hoping to improve on my Spanish while he's here, but we´ll see how that goes.

He is actually my brother on the mission, because Elder Ramos was his first companion. Elder Ramos didn't say much about him, so I don´t know much about how the first transfer went. I´m excited to meet him.

Elder Cedraz will also stay here. Elder Gonzalez will go to Macapá and be a zone leader there. He´s super excited.  The new companion of Elder Cedraz will be Elder Romero, an Argentinian. He is almost done with his mission, only 2 more transfers left. We will be a very multicultural house! Peru, Argentina, Estados Unidos, and Brasil! Hollah!

Baptism of Y. What a spunky guy!
We did have 1 baptism before the transfer´s over. Y, a spunky rapaz of 18 years, was baptized on the 4th of January. We´re trying to get him to go on a mission after a year. I think Austin would like him a lot. He´s going to be a super solid member.

The other young man, A, that was supposed to be baptized ended up falling through. Everything was great until 1 hour before the baptism when we showed up to pick him up. At the last moment, his dad said he wouldn't let him be baptized. It was heart wrenching. We plead with him for 30 minutes or so, but he wouldn't budge. We´ll keep trying, but I think we´re going to have to lose that family. That was a really hard moment to watch his desire to follow Christ be shut down. And I think his dad may have been drunk. Not sure.
We have these crazy little monkeys with
long black hair and christmas hats
that climb on your arms if you let them.
Admire the exotic creatures here in Brazil!
 But we´ll continue working here in Castanheira. We ended up cutting a ton of our investigators, so we need to work on finding new ones. That´s something fun about missionary life, is that you get to find new investigators and talk to new people every day. Its a mission standard of excellence to find 10 new investigators with a Baptism date every week. We need to adhere to this standard to have weekly baptisms.

We had a difficult experience with church too. We only had 2 investigators attend, and I don´t think they´re really progressing. Our baptism hope for next week was a young girl named M, but she stepped on a nail and wasn't able to come yesterday. We would have to get Elder Romero to authorize her baptism with only one attendance at church. And Í don´t want to baptize someone until they are really ready.

Did you know that here in Brazil the rules on Baptism are a bit more lax? It´s fairly common to baptize someone with only 1 time attending church, and they only have to stop drinking coffee 3 days before baptism. And tea isn´t against the word of wisdom here because it´s different. I had some but didn't like it. So generally the only problem people have is coffee, but we also have a thing that is almost exactly like coffee but a bit different that everybody drinks called cevada. So we just ask people to switch to cevada. Some of these differences were a bit hard for me to get used to. I think it might be a reason that so many people go inactive here in Brazil.





I talked a lot about Açai in my letters, 
but I've never seen the actual tree that grows Açai. 


Until now! 








One of the members has a tree 
and they´re very accustomed 
to picking the fruit.

I didn´t try because of my foot, but he let Elders Cedraz and J. Santos try to climb up a little ways 
to see if they could do it. 
Neither of them could. 

He showed us and made it look easy. 
The Açai tree is very tall and skinny. 
They use a red cloth-like thing 
to attach to your feet to help climb. 


But anyways, love you all!


Called to Serve,   Elder Gale