Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hey Mom and Dad,
    Yeah it was cold here the first few days, but then it heated up. It's not nearly as bad as Madureira, so I’m not complaining. But yeah, at night it cools way down, so that is nice. I'm doing fine mom, if you are referring to my health. I don't think I've ever been so healthy in my life. I haven’t ever really gotten sick here. Not even stuffy nose. At least nothing that was so big that I remember.

    Elder Mimary told me about that missionaries getting in fights, not being obedient, stuff like that. Cool stuff. I hope I don't have to deal with anything like that. My zone here seems pretty relaxed. The only problem is that there are like 6 closed areas in our zone, and so all references for these areas we are responsible for. So we travel a lot. But the Elders seem really good, rule keeping missionaries. And excited. Almost all of them are recently promoted to DL or Senior, so they are all excited and ready to work. That makes me happy.

   Yes I have given lots of blessings on the mission. The members don't even really ask the Elder's Quorum anymore, they just ask the missionaries lol. But it's cool. We gave a blessing actually the other day to a little boy who had hurt his foot playing soccer on gravel. He didn't want to go to the doctors, so for many days he just hopped around on one foot. The mom (a family of investigators) asked for a prayer for him, so we explained about blessings and gave him a blessing. We found out later that the doctor looked at his foot and said it was really serious, that he could lose his foot. He ordered him basically not to use it for a week, and to use gauze and this medicine. After the blessing he was fine after two days. He was already on the street playing soccer again. The mom said we had done a prayer really strong. This family says they know the Book of Mormon is true, and believe that the church is true. Then only thing that faults is marriage. But we are finding out a way that is cheaper and faster to marry people, even after just one day. I hope it works.

   This week was not too good for the zone. No one baptized. We are beating ourselves up for it. But we have a couple of baptisms lined up for this week now. We even had a family come to church yesterday (legally married|!) who have a date for the 24th. We are hoping all goes well there.

   Alright my time is being eaten quickly, so I’ll wrap this up. I can't remember if I responded to all of your questions. Sorry if not. Oh, we found like 8 new investigators this week. I'm really happy cuz my companion knows how to teach well, and loves doing contacts, so we are always finding new people. I love being a zone leader cuz all your companions are good missionaries lol. Alright I love you guys and hope you have a good week. I hope you liked Guarana!!!
Elder Baldwin

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hey Mom and Dad,
  Alright, so I have to say sorry for not responding until now. Like I told you guys last week, transfers were just a few days ago and the unexpected happened. I was transferred! I was really surprised cuz I was transferred in the middle of training. Anyways, because of the weirdness of transfers we had our P-Day changed to today, Wednesday. This will not be normal it's just for today.

   Anyways, I’ll try and wrap up what happened in Madureira. Fatima decided she did not want to hear more, and asked us to stop visiting her. She said she felt like she was betraying her church by learning about ours, and her life started becoming worse (as in money and time and stuff) and she feels like God is punishing her cuz she is receiving our visits. It was really sad to see someone give in to the tests that God puts us through to see if we really want this answer or not. But we put her in the Area Book and who knows, maybe one day she changes her mind. This week did not have many spiritual experiences. Carnaval comes up next week so literally everyone is going out of town to get away from all the craziness. But my new area is way better so I don't think we will have any problems out here.

   So my new area is a ward called Nova Era in the Juiz de Fora stake. If you look it up on a map dad, you might be a little confused. That's right, I’m no longer serving in Rio de Janerio. I'm in a different state called Minas Gerais. The Rio mission grabs just this city in this state and nothing else, so I’m on the edge of the map again. Any further, and I’m in a different Mission. Its way different here than my last area. It's way colder here for one, and rains almost every day. I actually like that part. It's more like a calm city in Nor Cal, with lots of trees and grass and mountains and hills. It's not completely infested with buildings and houses like Madureira was. So that's nice.

    My senior companion is an Elder named Elder Pimentel. He is a really great Elder, and is the Zone Leader Senior here in Juiz de Fora. He actually has not too much time on the mission, and so that shows his willingness to work and desire to work as well. He is really great. It's funny cuz he kinda looks like Zack Magleby a bit. He is Brazilian and from Rio Grande do Sul, the same state as the elder I trained so he has a sweet accent.

   But yes mom, that family who was with the family I baptized returned to full activity. It was actually just the husband who was inactive. The wife is now the Relief Society President, and he is the Ward Mission Leader. It's cool cuz I got to see another family I reactivated receive callings in the ward as well. It made me happy knowing I made a difference there. So with the ward in Madureira we were trying to have these meetings but the Bishop was running from us and his counselors were of no use. He just got a new counselor though, who is now running the show and is way hyped for the work, and we were working with all the organizations just before I left. But the ward is in a much better state than I left it so it made me happy.

  I love you all and hope you guys have a good week.
      Elder Baldwin

P.S. just in case you were curious, yes I am a Zone Leader as well now. Love You!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hey mom and dad,

The food here is actually not what you would expect. For one, they don't use corn as much as the Mexicans. That actually made me happy. They don't really know what a tortilla is, and fewer know a Taco lol. They don't use peppers or spicy things in their food. At least, here not too many people do. In Baia, a state in Brasil, they use really spicy peppers in their food, but here they don't. But it's all good. I've learned to like peppers and spicy food though. I've actually learned to like a lot of food that I did not like before. Like lasagna. Everyone here makes lots of lasagna. And chicken. Lots of chicken. But I already liked chicken.

   Alright, but I have tried something crazy. These past few weeks I ate cow tail and cow feet. It was actually really good and really tender meat. I got a piece of the bone and sucked the marrow out. Marrow is actually kinda like fat. And it tastes good lol. Tails actually have bones. I thought that was interesting. And they have lots of fat too. Not the bad kind of fat though, but the fat that is really tasty.
   Alright, right to the point. This week was difficult as well. We are starting to really try but the constant rain doesn't help and the fact that everyone is getting ready for carnaval as well. But putting aside the excuses it's just a tough point in the mission. The most I can do is all I can and prayer lol. Fatima didn't go to church this last Sunday because her family surprise visited her. That's another bad thing is family from out of town is always visiting our investigators cuz it's summer break here and no one is in school and even a lot of people take time off of work. It sucks but we are working through it. We have a new family to teach but they marked with us for tonight. It will be the first lesson. But it's a family of 5 people. Mom, dad, and three kids all of baptizing age. They are firm in the Methodist church though, so we will need lots of prayer.
    I won't ask you guys to put names on the prayer roll in the temple. But if you guys feel like you should I don't see a problem with that.

    The district as a whole is in a rut. No one brought any investigator to church these past two Sundays. It's been hard. Being district leader basically means I have less time. I'm on the phone for longer and the problems are bigger. But it's nice cuz I feel like I’m helping people. Though, because of the lack of time many times the journal gets pushed to last. Unfortunate but true. But I am trying to do it as much as I can.

    This week there were a few changes in the leadership of our ward and this made me happy. We are starting to work with the ward leaders to put everything back in order and get home teaching working again and everything. It's nice to see there is progress.

    A spiritual experience this week was with the family we baptized last month. They are still firm and everything in the gospel, but this last week we helped them really understand tithing and the importance of paying it. This next week they will begin paying a full tithe and the husband will be able to receive the priesthood. They have a little trouble understanding everything we teach because they are older and didn't have as much schooling experience, but they finally fully understood tithing and so it was a huge spiritual experience.
   My time is short unfortunately. I love you and thank you for the updates with everything that is going on. Alright I love you both and wish you a good week :)
Elder Baldwin

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hey Mom and Dad!
   Sounds like your guys' week was pretty good. That's really cool the 49ers are going to the Super Bowl. I'll rub it in a couple of American elders faces here lol. The Brazilians all argue about soccer and the Americans argue about football. But it's all good. That's good that San Francisco is doing good again. Maybe it can regain some of its former glory haha. Football and Baseball. Just need the Warriors to pick it up now.

   Anyway, this week was pretty good for me. It's raining almost every day here. I'm not complaining cuz January is usually the hottest month. I just hope it continues through February as well cuz February is pretty hot too. In other news, everyone is getting ready for carnaval again! So there are lots of festas and parties going on. Where I am serving now in Madureira is the Samba capital of Rio, and Rio is considered one of the Samba capitals of the world. So.... yeah. Samba is pretty big in my area. I think during carnaval we will be returning home early to not get caught in the drunken and often times naked parties and dances that happen on the street... in front of our house lol.

   So yeah I think September and October would be excellent months to go and visit Rio. School would still be in session, so we wouldn't have to worry about kids on the streets, and work as well. It will be entering the summer time so it won't be too hot but it will but nice and toasty. Also it's not a tourist time so I think we would be able to move around pretty easily without too much traffic and harassment. Oh, this week I talked with my president, and after talking with him I decided that I will stay until the end of my mission, and not return to go to school. This will make it easier to come back and visit after I get home, and spend some time with Tanner before he leaves. Just to let you know though.... once he has his call he is not allowed to leave the country. So i don't know how you guys are wanting to do that if he wants to come with us to Rio/Brazil. But I’ll let you guys worry about that. aight? ;)

    Fatima was not baptized this week. She worked late almost every day and we did not have time to prepare her. Thankfully she still accepted our visits and we will continue working with her, but I’m not sure when she will be baptized. Our family looks like they heard some things about the church that they didn't like, cuz they basically said they didn't want anything anymore. But we are continually looking for more families. This week we got a new Relief Society President, the wife of our ward mission leader. She doesn't work and has much more time and dedication than the last president, so we are going to work with her to find all the women in the ward whose husbands aren't members, and try and complete the family. This helps in reactivating the sisters and getting more priesthood in the ward. We are starting to get excited again for the work.

    Alright I don't have much time But I love you guys and thank you for everything and all the updates :)
Alright, love you lots!
Elder Baldwin

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hey Mom and Dad,
   Alright, sorry about the spacing in this letter, but the spacebar is pretty crappy on this computer I’m using today. Just to let you know.
   Sorry for not writing yesterday, I didn't really have P-Day yesterday. It actually kinda sucked lol. I had to go to the Mission Office, and then go the international airport where I renewed my Visa. So I’m all good and legal still here in Brazil, no worries. I also found out that sometimes the visa goes for a little bit after the end of my mission. I was thinking I could come back, get released, and we could all come back to Rio together 2 weeks or so after I get back. It's an idea.

   I talked with Elder Mimary this week and he said he probably will not make it to the United States until late September or October, and then he will probably just go straight to Utah. So we might just meet up there at school and he would come back with me to visit California and meet you guys. So that leaves me with the decision of whether or not I will come back early to go to school in September, or if I will stay and go later. This week I have an interview with the President and I will talk with him about this. Just letting you guys know what's new. So my ZL Elder Mimary probably will not come to California first, but to Utah first, and would stay with us during the breaks of BYU.

   So your prayers worked! Fatima went to church this week. It was kinda interesting, because this week the chapel lost power and we were without Air conditioning. Everyone was there with fans and papers and stuff fanning their faces, but Fatima said she didn't even feel hot. She really enjoyed church because it's so calm and loved the talks that they gave. She was not able to stay for all of church. But it was really good. We invited her to baptism last night. She became a little hesitant, based on the fact that she has visited the church only once, but she did not flat out say no. Please, pray for her. She will be praying to know if it is what she needs to do.

   Your prayers also helped find new investigators! This week we found 9 new investigators, including a family that understands really well all that we teach. They lost their trust in churches in general after seeing what the padres do in the Catholic Church and what other churches here in Brazil do as well, but after we taught the Restoration he became interested (The husband). His name is Flavio, and his wife is Katia. He said he has always wondered about a True Church and he became really interested with the Book of Mormon. He called it the American Bible cuz it was written here in the Americas, and he said he has heard always of "their bible" written in the Middle East, and now he wants to know about "our bible" meaning the bible of the Americas. It was really funny. But he understood that it was a book of sacred scripture and he needs to pray to know if it is true. Really, an awesome family.

   I'm still training Elder Leal. He is a good missionary, and a hard worker, we just have conflicting personalities at times, and different ideas. He is pretty humble, but there is room for improvement in everyone. But I enjoy being his companion and he especially helps a lot in perfecting my Portuguese, something that few other companions helped me do. Like fix all the little technical things that I say wrong. So that's good. We didn't teach very many lessons this week, just 11, but we found our 9 new investigators in these. That is good. What we are trying to do now is work a lot more with the ward to resuscitate it. We need to get back the home teaching program because it doesn't exist. I've really learned a lot about the importance of home teaching here on the mission and how much it really does for the ward and for the people that you visit. I am convinced that the key to retention and reactivation in a ward is home teaching. I challenge you dad to (if you’re not already doing it) not only do your home teaching visits every month, but also remember the birthday of everyone you are responsible for. Make a small cake and take it to them. Also, every Sunday you realize they didn't go give them a call and tell them how much they were missed and how much everyone would love to see them on Sunday. I have met too many less actives that have apostatized from the church simply because when they didn't go one Sunday no one called, and no one visited.

   So the work continues, and your guys' prayers are working for us. Thank you for everything, and I'm glad you had a good birthday Dad. Lobster Tail, makes my mouth water haha. (this time I wrote an haha and not an lol ;) Tell Tanner congrats for me, or I’ll tell him in the letter I write right now, and tell Rachel to hang in there! :) I love you both.
Elder Baldwin
P.S. I got really trunky going to the airport and seeing the big international planes lol ( this time it was an lol ;)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hey Mom and Dad,
   I've been good. This week had some rain and that cooled down some, so it wasn't too hot. The only thing is, when it rains here in the summer... it rains. There were some areas of Rio that flooded so high that people lost their houses entirely and the water level was up to the top of the doors. The areas that sit lower than the rest. The sewer system is a joke here in Rio, so it happens a lot.
   Haha, that's a shame the missionaries didn't teach so well. Maybe like you said they were intimidated. Our ward does have a lot of High Priests. But also, like a barber shop, he who cuts hair well, practices lots right? It's the same thing with teaching. He who teaches well is he who teaches lots. Maybe they are just out of practice if they haven't been teaching lessons a lot lately. That's why we have to do practices every day during comp study. The practice helps get out the bad turn.
   Happy Birthday Dad! That's cool that you'll go on a boat for your birthday. Will they have lots of seafood there? I miss seafood. Everybody here just makes lots of chicken lol. You'd think it would be different, right? Cuz this is a bay city. But its cuz the sewer system dumps into the bay, and it’s really polluted, so the fish there aren't good. All fish is imported from other states and so it's expensive. Ah well. I hope you have a good time there.

   Alright, so I'll tell you about our new years. We went to a recently baptized family’s house to celebrate the new year. Don't worry we didn't stay until the new year lol. We went back to our zone leader’s house and watched the fireworks from there. Oh My Gosh. That was an experience. Here, fireworks are liberated and every one would buy them illegally anyway. But the big fireworks are all lit on the street. So there were some dumb dumbs on our street who brought a ton! On the other side of the street they started lighting them off. But the first one they did wrong (probably drunk) and the holder of about 40 fell on the street! They started exploding everywhere. I filmed it all exploding on the street, but then they started falling into our house!! haha, we all ran downstairs after to wait it out, just in case one fell and blew up in our face. The idiots then decide to do it again. This time they did it right though. So I have lots of videos of really cool fireworks really close up. So close up, that when they exploded all the little bits and pieces would fall on our roof and one of them even got me. It was pretty funny. Thankfully it wasn't hot.
   So yeah, definitely a memorable new years. Sounds like your guys' wasn't exactly the same lol. That's alright. At least you got to sleep. The neighbors played really loud horrible music until 6:30 in the morning!  Literally, when the alarm went off and we woke up is when they turned off the music. It sucked. Hardly anyone slept.

   Eesh, tell Rachel she needs to keep her room really well cleaned. That's what we have to do here if we don't want cockroaches. But even well cleaned, she will probably see more than a few.
   In terms of the work this week was less successful. We are teaching a woman named Fátima but she is really firm in the Baptist church and that is giving her lots of doubts. She wasn't able to go to church yesterday, but she promised next week. She said she thinks she will only be able to receive her answer after going to church. We are helping qualify her to be able to receive that answer this next Sunday. There are a few others but no one progressing as much as her. Pray that we will be able to do lots of finding this week, cuz we need some new investigators.
   Alright, well have fun this week. I hope you guys another happy new year. This year has lots of good stuff waiting to happen! I'm excited. I love you guys and I'll talk to you guys next week :)
Elder Baldwin

Monday, December 31, 2012

Hey Mom and Dad,
   Sorry this week I spent a bit more time on the site of the mission so I don't have too much time to write you guys but I’ll try and be fast.
This week we were all happy and siked to have a baptism of a woman that has been being taught for 3 years in Bolívia. We invited her for baptism this Sunday and she accepted! It was such a spiritual lesson, and the spirit was so strong it was obvious she would say yes. Unfortunately, she had some problems not wanting to live all of the commandments, and fell not wanting to be baptized. She returns to Bolívia this week, and she is against being baptized anytime soon. We became very sad after this. It's always hard when people exercise their free agency in the wrong ways.

   The training is going good. Other than our sad week also, the district is doing well. We had the most successful district this month in the entire mission. Our district alone had 10 baptisms, baptized 2 families, and reactivated 2 families. I was very happy to see this, and we will be doing all we can to have a similar January.

   It was really good to see you all on Christmas, and I did get a bit trunky but it went away after I went home and went to bed ;) I'm glad to hear that Rachel's plane landed safely and everything is good there. Thanks for the Christmas letter, it was really nice to read about all you guys. I can't believe that Amy Lambert already got back! She left just a bit before I did! That's scary. And I had no idea that Teerah applied to go on a mission! And Italy! That's incredible. Tell her congratulations for me!

   Yes I opened the rest of my presents and gave my companion his. He liked it a lot Mom, and he says thank you. He thinks it's weird though that you sent us both the same tie, lol, and he doesn't want to wear them at the same time. Ah well. No worries ;) He liked it.

   Thank you mom and dad, for everything. I was needing the pants and the shirt and everything, so it was all received well. :) I love you both and hope you have a good new years! I will probably do the same thing I did for Christmas, hang out with the ZL's. Tchau!
Elder Baldwin

Monday, December 24, 2013

Hey everyone!
   The training is going good. My new comp, Elder Leal, is from the south part of Brazil, right on the tip between Argentina and Brazil, so he speaks a bit of Spanish as well. This is good because we just started teaching a Spanish speaking family this week, and while I can understand pretty good (I was really surprised!) I am not perfect, so he is helping. It was really cool though, she said she thought I was Brazilian because I had almost no accent. That made me feel really good :) lol. Anyways, I enjoy my comp a lot. He is pretty humble and does everything I ask of him. He is really motivated, because he came on the mission with his own will, and no one forced him. His mom, even though not a member, supports him completely. It's really cool.

   Yeah I am trying to teach him good finding habits and all that. But this week was a little bad because we focused a lot on an investigator named José. He was needing lots of help this week to be baptized. We had to firm him up because he was really not firm, but he was baptized!! I was so happy, first Sunday and already my kid (so to speak) got a baptism! I was joking with him he probably has more baptisms than anyone else in his group right now ;) lol.

   Yeah I’m still District Leader. It's a bit tough doing both but I’m getting through it for now. My mission President? Yeah he is a very motivated man. Really focused on finding, baptizing, completing, and reactivating families. He is also very perceptive. He is able to see when missionaries use excuses, and how to counteract them. He just taught us about the importance of planning, especially weekly planning. I learned lots of stuff about planning with him this last conference, it was really good.

   Yes I loved my Christmas packages. I still haven't opened everything in them yet, but I'm getting there. Thank you for everything. Oh, and tomorrow I will be able to use Skype at 6 in the afternoon my time, so 12 noon your time roughly. Is that alright with you guys? That gives you guys time to open presents and eat and stuff before I call. oh... and a couple of rules. We can't pass 40 min in the call, and there is a new rule now. The call is only for parents. So basically what I will ask you guys to do is leave the camera so I can't see you guys during the conversation. You guys can pass it to say goodbye at the end so I can see you all. But you guys can stay there to see me and hear me converse with the parents. Sorry it has to be this way. But in not too much time I’ll be coming home again. No worries :)
  I've been the senior comp for awhile now. Ever since i got here to Madureira. Being a trainer means simply that I got a companion who is new on the mission (greeney!) and I have to teach him how to be a good missionary.
   I love you all and thank you for the emails you sent me. Let me see what else I can tell you about my week...

Oh yeah! So this week The Zone Leaders in my district baptized a big family, and I had to go and interview this family of 6. Only 4 were baptized, two of the daughters didn't want to be baptized cuz they thought it was too soon, but they will probably be baptized next week. But it was really cool, the mom of this family named Leda I guess really liked me. She likes all missionaries but when I went to watch the baptism (cuz we had brought José to watch it) she surprised me asking me to baptize her! I had then 10 min to get ready and baptize her. I walked around with wet garments the rest of the day, but I didn't care. It made me happy :) Then she invited us to eat Christmas Eve lunch with them, so we are going there after we use the computers today. It's really an awesome family.

       Alright, well I’ll let you guys go now. I hope you guys can receive my call at noon tomorrow, cuz about this time I will call. I love you all and can't wait to see you!!
Elder Baldwin

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hey Mom and Dad,
   So you are probably wondering about the transfers. Surprisingly, I was not transferred. My companion was. Another huge surprise is that I am a trainer!! Because of Christmas, the transfers were funky, that is why I am writing you on Tuesday. But I am now training Elder Leal here in Madureira. I will be with him the next 2 transfers. I am very happy because I have always wanted to be a trainer since the mission began. He is from Rio Grande Do Sul, right next to Argentina. He has a crazy cool accent from there as well. He is a convert to the church and his parents aren't members, but they support him in everything he does in the church. His mom wants to be baptized but needs to marry her husband first. But he is really cool and humble, and it will be great training him.

   I got both of my packages intact, thank you for sending them, also I got my package from the Relief Society in the ward!! Please tell them thank you, mom, for sending me that package. It was great receiving it. I have not opened the packages yet but I probably will today.

   This week was a bit tougher but we were able to find a man named José who went to church. We will work with him this week to try and baptize him, but he has some doubts. Nothing the Book of Mormon can’t help though. Vera and Luiz were confirmed and were so happy for their confirmations, and our two families that came back to church last week came this week as well. It was such a good Sunday. It was funny because they said that Saturday they would call all the trainers and let them know if they were training. I did not get a call so I didn't think anything of it. Then on Sunday, my zone leader calls me and tells me that I'm a trainer. It was such a surprise I almost started hyperventilating. It was funny.

Alright, well I love you guys and hope you have a good week relaxing for Christmas. And it is true mom, next Christmas I’ll be there ;) trunky.
Elder Baldwin