Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Feliz Natal

Hey everyone!
I´m doing great and working hard.  Me and my companion are meeting more of our goals (except baptisms -- working on that).  We have been teaching lessons like crazy.  This last week we had a meeting in Belém for Christmas.  All the missionaries from the state Pará were there and it was cool to talk to other missionaries.  I got to talk to some Americans, and that was nice.  I don't get to speak English here and when members or investigators ask me to speak in English, I don't know what to say (they don't understand anyway so I feel kind of weird doing it).  It's funny how much thinking it takes now to speak English.  The language is coming along, and I can communicate with people a lot better.  But people still get hung up on my accent from time to time.  I'll say something and they won't understand.  My companion will repeat what I said (I hear the same sounds) and they will understand.  A bit frustrating, but it's getting better with time.  
Right now all the mangoes are turning ripe so I'm getting pretty excited to pick more in the street. Speaking of adventures food-wise: as of today I have eaten alligator, shark, and what I understood when it was described to me (after I ate it ) as a R.O.U.S. (Rodent of Unusual Size).   
Transfers are coming up soon and that's kind of scary for me because it is more than likely that my comp will be moved (he has been in this area for 5 months) and I will have to carry a lot more weight in the companionship with planning and remembering names and all that stuff.  But that's all right.  It will be an adventure. 
So I'm out of time but it was great to talk to you guys (family) on Sunday and I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday!
Elder Clark

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Good Week

Today has been crazy. The internet wasn't working this morning so this is the second attempt. First of all Happy b-day Mom! and Emma happy Birthday early!

This past week has been good. I have really started to build a friendship with Elder Silva.  It's tons better and it wasn´t fast, but I guess some things just take time. 

We didnt have any baptisms this week.  I feel like we are doing much better though we are meeting more
and more of our goals each week and we have a few good looking baptismal dates (with investigators). Unfortunately we have 4 investigators that have problems with getting permission from their parents.  We have been praying and fasting but I want to do more.  I really want to show the families that our church is not super wierd, we are not devil worshipers, we are christians, and the goal of everything we do is to bring families eternal happiness. 

The only bad part about this past week was the dvisions we did.  I went to Barcarena and worked for a day with Elder Miranda, an elder from São Paulo who is a bit chubby (he is very particular about his food).  It
was fun but I didnt know what I could eat over there in the other elders' apartment and didn't really want to ask so I didnt really eat unless something was offered (that wasnt much).  The funny thing was I had bought a bunch of really good food and it was just waiting for me back at my apartment.  And when I got back my district leader had eaten half of my loaf of bread and opened my mild and doce de leite.  Grrrr.  but I got over it.  There are tons of mangos here they are all green and some are turning yellow.  I've been walking under them for a few weeks now willing them to turn yellow so i can eat some. 

Well I'm super excited for Christmas but also not.  It won't really be the same and after Christmas we can't teach any lessons with Mundo Feliz  (joy to the world video).

Oh I went running with Elder Silva again and it was better.  I still have to teach him about building endurance. I think we went about 4 km but I'm not sure it's hard to tell.  He apparently has a week cardiovascular system because of all the painting he did before his mission (he worked as a car painter).  I'll try to get him up to par by the next transfer.  Oh, and running at sea level is worlds easier.  We also don't have sidewalks here.  It's all random without any rules so I make running into somesort of obstacle race, I like to think of it as urban trail

Well, that's my week.  I hope everything is going great!

Merry Christmas!

Elder Clark

Friday, December 16, 2011

Working with Investigators in Abaetetuba

Dear Family,
Well, this week was pretty good.  Still no baptisms and 0 progressing investigators.  We have a problem here and I'm not sure exactly what it is.  It's been hard to get our investigators to come to church and keep their commitments.  It's actually a bit funny because the investigators that come don't want to get baptized and the ones that seem really promising in lessons either can't come or don't get around to it.  But, we do have some really cool investigators even though they are not progressing.  We have been teaching a 42 year old man named VanHilson.  He was in a really severe motor cycle accident a few years ago and had to have part of his skull reconstructed and a bunch of other surgeries done.  The doctors told his family that he wouldn´t recover (wouldn´t walk, talk, remember...) but he did recover and now he seems pretty normal to me.  He has a bit of a problem remembering stuff (he tries to show us the x-rays and CAT scans of his brain almost every visit).  But with repetition he retains the important things from our lessons about the Word of Wisdom,and he reads and prays (sometimes he forgets).  Well I hope we can baptize him.  He has a really cool past -- really good musician... well was, now I don't really know.
I went running with Elder R. Silva the other morning.  It was pretty funny for me to watch.  He is pretty tall with super long legs and when he runs its kind of like road runner -- really straight-looking legs with super long strides.  He runs pretty fast but doesn't have much stamina.  We ran about 2 miles maybe and he had to stop about 5 times.  I think I'll tell him to run my speed and then it won't hurt as much.  (Not much formal athletic training).
Well I found honey here ("mel") and its really different.  A liter is about $3.50.  The honey is really dark but good.  I have been experimenting with smoothies.  I make a pretty mean avocado smoothy.  Health-wise I'm doing pretty good --  a little bit of a runny nose, but its getting better.  And mom, you wouldn´t believe how hard it is to get a lot of vegetables.  Members don't prepare them much.
I hope the ward switches are working out from the little bit of your letters that I read, it sounded like they are pretty good.
Dear Mom & Dad:
Hey, can you tell Ricki Martin thanks for her letter, it was great.  And if you talk to Uncle Dan [Clark] tell him the letter was great and that I want to go ice climbing with him when I get back.
So, I had some thoughts this week about faith.  Some of our investigators had questions about Adam and Eve and how their kids had to marry each other and they wanted to know how this worked because that's breaking the law of chastity.  Well, when i was talking about this with Elder R Silva, I brought up evolution and how I think there is a lot about the story of Adam and Eve that we don't know.  God gave us this story to teach us about the plan of salvation, and choices, good and evil, and a bunch of other stuff.  This story is true, however it does not tell us how God created man or the earth or a bunch of other sciency things.  This is where faith comes in.  We need to understand that the world is bigger than some magical event where God snaps his fingers and things happen.  There are eternal laws that govern God and man.
Well that's about it.
Love you guys and ill try to send another letter today!
Love you and thanks for being great parents.
your son,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This week was a lot better

Hey everyone,
I was really excited to hear about the new callings and stuff.  I really don't have time, but I think about you guys all the time -- probably a little too much.  But the family is my motivation for my work here and I'm trying to channel that into baptisms and strengthening the church here and the members.  Please tell Aunt Lauren thanks and that it's a lot harder than you would think not to eat poop here!  I got the test result back and I don't have a parasite, but if something comes up again the doctor told me to come back.  I feel pretty good health-wise but really weak fitness-wise.  It's hard to workout and stay awake during study and lessons, so I'm trying to find a balance.
This week was a lot better than they have been for a while.  I am not sick anymore, all my stomach problems are gone (but I'm still afraid to eat açai which I think was giving me some problems).  I´m getting along with Elder R. Silva much better and I've decided it's all about attitude.  So, I decided to jump in and it's getting a lot better --  not all at once, little by little. 
Big events.  We had a meetinghouse dedication in Vila Descobanos last week that was pretty cool.   The whole district was there helping out, giving tours, and contacting people on the street.  I contacted all day in the sun and got pretty red (but not burned really bad).  I went and talked to a guy walking down the street and introduced myself and invited him to the dedication that night.  And when I asked him his name, after a mumbled response he said he didn't know and walked off.  I think he had mental problems.  The funny thing is its hard for me to tell here because I don't know Portuguese very well, and it's easy for me to miss changes in speech patterns and stuff.  I have a super hard time identifing drunks (that's a story for another time.)
We have a bunch of investigators but we have a super hard time getting them to progress or even finding them to teach.  This last week was pretty sad: 12 lessons total and 0 progressing.  We had a lot of zeros this week, but we are hopeful for this month.  Our goal for baptisms is 12, yeah, thats right, 12.  That's a lot of work.  We are going to have to study and focus really hard on helping our investigators. 
We did service last week cleaning out what may be an apartment for another set of missionaries in Abaete. 
I lost my voice and have the craziest runny nose you can imagine. But, I think it's getting a bit better.
Well, I got a ton of letters this week and the flat package for Natal!  Thanks, everyone, for sending letters!
Love you all.  I'm really sending 2 letters today.  I got letters up to 23 of November.  Well, out of time.
Elder Clark