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The Field is Ripe

Our ward has two companionships. There are tons of kids in the ward, probably 40 or more kids from nursery age to Priest/ Laurel age. It’s always fun talking to the little kids and giving them high fives. They love us so much!

The Bishop in our ward here is super awesome. He’s in his late 20’s or early 30’s. He was baptized 11 years ago. Before the missionaries found him, he was a super crazy kid. He had super long hair, wore long chains around his neck, and had ear piercings. The day before his baptism, he married his wife, who he is now sealed to. They have two kids. I just thought his story is so awesome. It really shows what the gospel and atonement can do to someone in their life! It so important that we help share the gospel with others because it truly changes lives.

We are teaching an older lady right now. She knows the church is true and wants to go every Sunday, but she’s still nervous for baptism. I think within the next few weeks we’ll get her in the water! The language is still coming along slowly! I learn more and more everyday, but still have a long way from fluent. Elder M. says I am speaking better than most missionaries with the same amount of time as me, so that’s good! Everyone says it takes about 6 months to feel fluent and I’ve only been out 2 of the 6 months now. Last Tuesday was my 2-month anniversary! That means I’m a little more than 1/12 done with my mission!

We cleaned the baptismal font a few days ago. It was nice to get our feet in the water. We had the font filled up the other day and accidently left the heater on too long. We came back and it was hotter than a hot tub! It was tempting to take a soak but then not really, because its soooo hot outside. haha

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The picture of me next to the dog is outside of Bishops house. Here in Brazil you have to clap in front of houses because there is a fence between you and the door. But every time we clap at the Bishop’s house, his little dog runs over to the wall and pokes his head out. haha. It’s so funny every time!

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There are lots of farm animals everywhere out here. Another thing which there are a ton of is dogs. It’s sad how many homeless dogs there are everywhere. They’re all nice for the most part. Only the pet dogs can be vicious. It’s weird because you would think the opposite. Sometimes we become friends with the homeless dogs and they walk with us for a while! haha

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We knocked some goiaba down to eat! It’s a really delicious fruit. It has a harder outside with a juicy inside with seeds. Super good! They make lots of drinks with it.

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Love you all!

Elder Olsen

P.S. There is nothing that would be of more value to me in packages than food:)

olsen 2

1st Week in the Field

Wow! So much has happened in the past week! It’s a good thing I’m allowed 2.5 hours to email now! Ok, so I’ll start with the last Sunday in the MTC. It was fast Sunday, so we had mission conference with everyone in the MTC. I had to get up and bear my testimony in front of everyone. It went really well! Then after the conference, we split up into branches for our fast and testimony meetings.

I mentioned last email that two missionaries arrived from Congo, Africa. We didn’t really know anything about them, until now. One of them, Elder K., got up in fast and testimony meeting and explained how he came to be here with us. He was a convert to the church. After his father found out he was investigating the church, his father took all of his belongings and burned them. (His father is a pastor in a local church, there, and was really mad at him). He didn’t know what to do because he knew the church was true; but he also didn’t want to lose his father because he meant so much to him. After lots of praying and fasting, Elder K. knew he needed to be baptized. When he was baptized, his father disowned him and kicked him out of the house. The Bishop of his ward took him in. He knew he wanted to serve a mission, so he put in his papers and there he was.

His story hit us all so hard. He had a French translator standing up with him and she couldn’t even translate because she was crying. At this point, we were all crying, even the big Tongan guy from New Zealand, who looked like he had never cried in his life, was crying! After him, I went up and broke down in tears and so did everyone else who went up after me. Elder K. had given everything he loved so he could join the church and bring it to other people. His story just shows how little most of us gave up to go on a mission compared to him. And giving up 2 years is really nothing compared to what Jesus Christ did for us in the Atonement. It’s only a tiny fraction.

On Monday we had field orientation all day and then we left the MTC early Tuesday morning. The bus took us straight to the mission presidents’ house. (We were a group of about 8). The mission president lives in a super nice community in the middle of the city on a hill. His neighborhood is all grassy with lots of trees, which is unusual for the city. From his house you can see all of São Paulo. It was super cool! We had a little orientation and met his wife and one of his daughters. (His other kids were at school). We ate a delicious lunch and had interviews. I’m glad my mission president is from Utah so I could have a break from Portuguese and be interviewed in English. haha. He is super awesome! I love him. I wouldn’t want any other mission president. After we took some pictures, we went to the mission office. When we walked in, everyone was standing and cheering for us. haha. It was awesome! I found out I would be trained by Elder M. for the next 3 months. He’s super awesome! He’s from Oregon. We are in a super chill town that’s more rural and very green. We joined 2 other missionaries already serving here because missionary work is exploding in this area. The people here are so nice. Everyone we stop will talk to us.

Church on Sunday was great. It’s a ward of about 80 people. The mission president and his family came because they were giving talks! I had to get up and introduce myself and bare my testimony. I’m glad I already had a chance to practice in the MTC!

So we were walking down by the lake on Friday and a drunk guy stopped us. He said he was baptized when he was eight, but hadn’t gone to church in the past ten years. He told us he wanted to come to church! I wasn’t sure if he was serious or not, but we still invited him. He said right before we walked by, his friend asked him about the church and why he didn’t go anymore. He told his friend he wanted to go back, but was waiting for someone to help him back into the church. And one minute after that is when we walked by! And he showed up to church on Sunday all by himself! After church, he said he knew everything was true and he was never going to miss church again. He said he was also going to get his girlfriend to come next week. We went and met with him last night and he said he already gave up drinking and started reading the Book of Mormon again. We have an appointment tonight to go back and teach both of them. We need to focus on getting them married so we can baptize his girlfriend. He said no matter what, he knows the church is true and will even break up with his girlfriend if she doesn’t want to live the gospel. What a miracle! Before we left the MTC, we were promised we would see many miracles in our mission. I didn’t think it would be the first week though! haha.

We live with Elder M. and Elder F. They are both Brazilian and are super nice and funny! Its really fun teaching them English. haha. They are also both converts.  About 75% of Brazilian missionaries are converts. Most of them have only been converts of 2 or 3 years, but their testimonies are SUPER Strong! Most of us have it easy being born into the church.

Elder F. has a funny conversion story. So his member friend from school hid a Book of Mormon in his backpack. When he got home he had no idea where it came from, but he picked it up and read the first 200 pages in 2 days! That’s really impressive. (I don’t think I could’ve done that!) He said he knew it was true and he wanted to find out where the church was that the book belonged to. He found the church and went early Sunday morning so he wouldn’t miss it. He waited over an hour until someone came to open up the gate for 9 o’clock church. It was the second Sunday of the month, so it was just a normal meeting. But, Elder F. noticed people were getting up from the pews to give talks, so he figured anyone could! In between speakers, he quickly got up before the other speaker could get up. (Remember this wasn’t a fast and testimony meeting haha.) When he got up to the microphone, he held up the Book of Mormon in his hand for everyone to see and said, “THIS BOOK IS TRUE! I READ 200 PAGES IN 2 DAYS AND I KNOW ITS TRUE!” He continued talking for a few more minutes and then sat down. He said while he was talking, people were looking around at each other because they didn’t know who this kid was. No one talked to him for three weeks after that time because they thought he was already a member. hahahaha. He got baptized and here he is a year and three months later. Incredible! Sometimes I wish I had a cool conversion story to be able to tell like all these missionaries do. haha.

There is still so much more I could say, but wouldn’t have enough time to say it all. Thanks for everything.

I love you all!

Elder Olsen

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My Zone in the MTC

Last P-day in the CTM!

Hey Everyone!

So this week, the Brazil MTC received some Elders from Congo, Africa. They only spoke French and a little English when they got here. They are the first non-English, non-Spanish, or non-Portuguese speakers the MTC has brought in. They were put in our class for a little bit, while they were waiting for their new instructor. I tried to teach them some Portuguese and actually helped out a bit–while learning some French at the same time! They are super energetic Elders who love hanging out with us Americans.

So, there are only 5 Americans left in the MTC; when we got here, there were like 50. It’s crazy! Apparently there are tons of visa waiters at Provo that haven’t gotten visas, yet. They said it might be because Brazil is processing Carnival visas now and they care more about those than missionaries’ visas! haha

Every Sunday we have awesome devotionals, usually broadcasted from Provo. So, we get to hear General Authorities. This past Sunday, we heard M. Russell Ballard. It’s always so good to hear them speak. You go to bed on Sunday night with a spiritual high. I saw my buddy from USU singing in the crowd. haha.  And, literally half of the MTC [in Provo] is Sister missionaries. It’s a cool sight to see. This Sunday I have to get up in front of the entire MTC and bear my testimony in Portuguese. I’m scared. haha. I’ve been practicing a lot, though, so I’ll be good.

Scripture masteries are really helpful to know. I wish I paid more attention in seminary to memorize where they were. haha.  I remember lots of the Book of Mormon ones, though, because I actually paid attention that year. haha

Each week we get to go to the temple; of course, the temple is air-conditioned! I don’t think Heavenly Father would allow us to have to suffer from the heat and humidity to go to the temple. haha.  Every week we also get the opportunity to perform service at the temple, usually just folding laundry, so far; but I hear we may do cleaning or gardening as well, sometime.

After we finish emailing, we’re going to a Churrasco BBQ with our instructor! We went a few weeks ago, too. It was sooo good!  Keep in mind I probably won’t be emailing until two Mondays from now because I think P-day in the field will be on Monday.

I love you guys!!

Elder Olsen