Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hey Familiy,
I´m not sure what all the pictures were.  My companion now is the tall one thats pointing at me.  We are both in sunday clothes.  The other pictures with other people are all in Oakland.  My companions name is Elder Hales.  He is way cool.  The picture with all the high rises in the background is the view from our appartment.  You can´t really see how ghetto it is because we are in the better area.  But you walk a minute or less and you are in the ghetto.  I´m going to take a picture from the church soon that really shows our area well. 
Its been hot here.  And i´m not used to it.  I haven´t heard of anyone that does get used to it.  Missionaries that have been here for almost 2 years still have trouble in it.  It´s just really hot.  I´m not a huge fan of the heat.  It really does make you appreciate seasons.  You just need to live somewhere where you never get snow and its depressing.  Oh well its not too bad here.  I like it actually...mostly.  Our area is Engelho FederaƧao.  Or something like that.  The church is on Cardial Da Silva.  Its one of the nicest in the mission so thats cool.  There are a lot of members here.  We just need them to all be active and then we´d have like 6 wards.  But we only have there are a lot of inactive members. 
It was a crazy week.  The house numbers here are retarded. They jump all over the place.  You´ll see 4, 6, 8, then 150  I´m not exagerating either.  It makes it really hard to find where people live.  We´ll ask people and they don´t even know and they live here.  Or we´ll go the the number of the house and the people will be like no they live in the alley behind us.  But it has the same number for like 5 houses.  Its dumb.  Makes things fun though i guess.  The holiday was terrible for work here.  Everyone was either drunk or gone.  Not much success happens when people are like that.  I´ve started to see a lot of sad things around here.  Besides the parents teaching their daughters to be whores when their are born which really bothers me there are a lot of kids that do drugs here.  We walked by some teenagers doing cocain on a car in the middle of the day.  I didn´t like seeing that.  One of the kids looked like it was his first time...or what i´d assume to be a first time.  He was way gone.  I dunno maybe you always look that way when you do cocain.  It was messed up.  I don´t know why people here don´t just stay in school and make something of their lives.  Its frustrating.  Everything is really expenisive here.  Especially things we take for electronics.  They are through the roof here.  And cars...don´t complain about them being expensive in the states.  A VW Gol is 33,000.  ITs so small.  The Jetta is 84,000!  Its unreal and the average person here only makes like 600 a month.  Thats Reaize too!  Wow I´m not going to complain about prices anymore.  They do have really good juice here though.  I love it.  The members usually make us juice for lunch.  We have real Bahian food for the holiday.  I don´t like it at all!  Its horrible.  I wish it was what Mark said steak and seafood.  But its not.  I don´t even know how to describe it but its no good.  I´ve had some weird stuff here already.  One day we had cow stomach.  I didn´t eat much it was so bad.  And another time we had liver.  I can eat liver but its not good either.  Mostly the food isn´t too bad though.  Beans and rice.  Can´t go wrong there.  The music here sucks.  Oh i hate it.  All it a crappy beat with a guy rapping the same 3 words the whole song. So dump!  It gets annoying.  All the brasilians say the music is bad here though so its just Bahia.  I guess Bahia is about as redneck as it gets in Brasil.  OH well.  Crazy things on sunday we were contacting on the street.  I was walking away from this lady that i had just contacted when this man walking towards me started talking to me in English.  The first time anyone has done that.  He was like be careful this is a dangerous street.  And then left.  So we left as well.  Too bad we have to go down that street because the bank is there.  I feel protected though so I think I´ll be fine.  Monday night was a little scary.  We were walking home around 9 and we started walking up these stairs.  At the top I look up and there are 10 military cops with guns out!  Not pointed at me though.  As I was moving over to the side to let them by because they were doing a drug raid or something a guy with a fully automatic rifle steps infront of me to come down the steps, I just moved out of the way.  I thought i was going to die for a little bit though.  Not just got my heart racing.  They do things here differently than in America.  I didn´t want to take the chance.  On a brighter note last night we started a bet with a member.  They are really cool.  They are sisters and both served missions. They have helped us a lot to find people and teach.  And I don´t like them because they are women...either.  They are just good missionary minded members.  But we have a bet with one of them.  She is going to do push up and we have to beat her number by 20.  If we do we get a pizza.  If not we buy her one.  We are holding the competition in 2 weeks.  I´m excitd.  We did pushups last night though. Im really glad we have 2 weeks to get into shape for it.  Oh so our power was turned off for almost 2 days because the bill hadn´t been paid in 3 months.  I guess the secretaries never found out that we had moved 3 months ago.  We got it turned on but we had to walk to the office which is a 25 minute walk one way to get the proof that it had been paid. Its all good now.  Adds to the excitment. 
Well i love you all and hope things continue to go well,
Oh we are going to the Baha today.  The huge elevator and the sights around it.  I´ll let you know how it was next week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The money was the mission money.  And the system was just down for a while there was another missionary that came the same time as me that didn´t have money on his card either.  They give us debit cards to use.  I haven´t used my personal card since i´ve been here in Brasil and I don´t plan on it unless i have too.  Also we only get 200 real so like 140ish US maybe depending on the exchange rate.  Things are really expensive here actually especially food but i think that it will be enough.  I have money now, so its good.
My rash is almost gone.  I stuck anti-fungal cream and that powder on it and its done a lot.  My blister...i dont know what happen there.  My skin just like separate from my foot in one spot.  And came off.  It still hurts but it seems to be fine other than that.  Too bad we walk everywhere here though. 
This past week was a lot better.  The language is hard and i´ve got little patience but ever elder that I talk to says that i´m speaking more than they did with 2 weeks under their belt.  So that is good news. I just want to be fluent right now, that is my biggest problem.  I know that this is good and this is how I will grow.  I keep having to remind myself that.  I wish that there were an easier way than this but there isn´t. 
Monday-Tuesday I was on exchanges with other elders.  It was ok.  On Monday I was with an Elder that only spoke Portugues.  I was surprised however at how much we understood each other.  We actually had conversations.  But it was still not comfortable to talk in Portugues.  Then on Tuesday I was with an American Elder. We had some crazy experiences.  About the money in Brasil.  Their is a huge difference from the rich and the poor.  Night and Day.  We went to see this less active member in a apartment complex that was gated.  Only the kid was there so we were leaving and met someone that wanted to learn more about the gospel. We taught the first lesson and then after we were invited to get some Juice and meet the rest of the family in her apartment.  It was so nice.  We were waiting in chairs that were like lazy boys when a servent brought us juice and cookies on a silver platter!  It was crazy.  They were all really nice.  After we left and went to the sister of one of the companions the  Elder I was with had.  Thats long and i hope it makes sense.  Anyways shes not a member and the old comp wanted us to go by and try to teach her.  She lives in the super rich area.  They actually had lawns.  It was awesome to see grass!  I haven´t seen grass in forever.  And her house was 3 stories.  She asked if we wanted something to drink so we said yes and she had a maid as well.  She brought us something to drink and cake on a silver platter!  On the plate with the cake there were cheese chunks around the edges.  It was crazy.  The rich live better than the rich in the States.  There is just a huge difference in living standards between the rich and poor.  That night we went back to the poor area.  And it they don´t have much but there still are a lot of happy people.  And the members are even happier and live better even in the flavela.  I have seen the blessings that the gospel brings to peoples lives when they live it.  It really does bring happiness.  Money doesn´t do it...its just short term. 
It was a better week.  I just need to remember that i wont learn the language in one or 2 weeks.  It will takes months.  My comp is way cool so that helps out tons.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hey Family,

Wow things have been crazy here.  Brazil sure isn´t California.  Right now its stressful because i don´t understand anything.  Yesterday we had one good thing happen to us.  We had this lesson and I actually said some stuff and invited him to be baptised.  They have been teaching him for a while here and he´s had answers that the church is true many times before but he hasn´t wanted to commit.  But he said this time that he felt something that he has never felt when I asked him and that he´ll tell us tomorrow if he will be baptised or not.  I have a really good feeling that he will be.  Its crazy how the spirit works.  I think I experienced a little of the power of the gift of tongues because he understood me when I bore my testimony or at least he felt the spirit because he was crying a little.  The spirit is awesome.  I just need to rely on it more. I´m so used to being able to just talk to anyone and everyone if I want to but now I don´t understand 95% of what they are saying to me.  Oh will come some day.  I guess its normal.  Oh one other good thing happened yesterday the Mission President called and wished me a happy birthday.  That was really nice and appreciated.  But other than that yesterday was horrible.  All but the one lesson we had fell through.  It seemed like it was going to be a really good day but didn´t end that way.  And Brasil isn´t doing good things to me right now.  I have 3 blisters so it hurts to walk, this rash on my legs that is huge and burns and i´ve had the runs for the last 3 days.  I hope that things start to get better in those area´s. But from what i´ve heard these are all pretty normal things to happen.  Haha and state side missionaries think they have it hard.  Oh well. 
So P-day is on Wednesdays here.

My companion is way chill.  He is the only reason right now that im still alive.  I like him a lot and we get along really well.  He played hockey as well!  So we have a lot in common.  We are going to try and find the ice rink in the mall here and go skating.  I´m so stoked for that. 

I´m in Salvador.  Or really close to it.  They call them Bahio´s here which are basically suberbs.  Well its practically a flavela.  Its way ghetto but it has really made me realize the simple things that we as Americans take for grantite.  Like mirrors.  Who thought that a mirror was a luxery but they are really small and not very good here.  The members are really nice and I like them a lot but I wish I just could understand them more.  The mission here will be so much better once that day happens...when I can understand.  It was good to see Elder Ricker here. He was in my district in the MTC.  I really like that kid. 

Conference was great.  I love priesthood session the most.  It was really good.  You´ll have to look that session up there was a lot of great talks.  But overall it was awesome.  I´ve got a lot of really good notes.

Well I´m still alive and there is another week ahead.  Thanks for the letters.  I needed a boost.  Its nice here but I hard because I don´t understand anything.

Elder Parsons

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Finally in Brazil!

Hello family,
Well I finally made it to Brasil.  The flight from Atlanta was a pain.  They had too much fuel to take off so they were trying to burn it off but idling the plane.  Seemed like a waste of gas to me but oh well.  Then that didn´t work so we had to redock and they unloaded fuel.  We made it to Sao Paulo late and missed our flight to Salvador.  So we didn´t get to Salvador until around 8.  Wow Brasil isn´t america that´s for sure.  I thought i was going to die in the ride from the airport to the mission home.  There was a motorcyclist that ran into the back of a car next to us and we ran over the bike and i think the guys leg was under the bike and we just kept going.  The missionaries wanted the driver to stop, but i guess they do things different here.  It was messed up.  The mission President is really good.  I can´t use photobucket.  I´m bummed about that.  But oh well. 
Wow...i don´t understand the language as well.  It is really hard.  I´m so used to being able to take the lead and teach and now i can barely say anything.  Its going to be really hard for a while, hopefully it will start to come sooner than later though.  The area i´m in is pretty much a flavela.  It´s eye opening coming from America.  I thought our area was ghetto.  I guess american´s don´t know what ghetto is.  Oh will come. 
My companion seems like a really good elder.  He is willing to help and wants to.  That will make a huge difference.  Missions are all about patience i need to learn the language.  Prayer and patience.  Oh i forgot our house is above a bar.  That will be interesting.  Its all about the experience right?
It was really good to talk to you all in the airport.  I wish I could more often but its not possible.  I tried to call Grandma and Grandpa but they didn´t accept my call.  Tell them hi and i love them for me. 
The weather is ridiculous here.  I´m dying!  It is so hot.  I haven´t sweat this much in my life.  When you take a cold shower it feels like its warm water, even when its on the coldest setting.  I don´t think my shirts will stay very white this way.  I only need them for another year and a half anyways.
Well I hope all is going well.  I love and miss you all. 

Elder Parsons

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm going to Brasil!  I'm going to try and call you in the airport because i have a few layovers.  I'll talk to you all later.
Elder Parsons

Area Office: Please book GOL/TAM flight below and send confirmation to me and the Mission. Thanks!

American Airlines Electronic ticket(s) issued. You can check in at the airport with Passport.
Each missionary is allowed 2 – 50lb bags with no fees. 
!!! Please watch for another email from me with flight confirmation and baggage waiver for flight leaving Sao Paulo to mission.

The missionary travel packet(s) should arrive tomorrow via FedEx.  This will include his itinerary, instructions and passport with visa inside.
If there are any questions, or it does not arrive please let me know immediately.

Thank you so much for your service in helping our missionaries while they wait to go to their assigned mission.

CHURCH TRAVEL CWT                          DATE 30MARCH11
TELEPHONE: 801 240-5111                    PARSONS/GARRETT WAR 207445-I
FAX      : 801-240-5115                    HURST/AUSTIN JUDD  208019-I

Sent March 28, 2011
Ola Familia!
I understand what you mean about the weather this last week.  It rained so hard here this past week.  It was flooding in spots. 
Oh i'm so stoked that my visa is in!  I hope that i'm there before conference or after because I don't want to miss it.  But I shouldn't get too excited I still need to work here until I leave.  I'm going to miss the Lao ward a lot and a good number of the people in the English ward. 
We had zone conference this week.  It was really good.  There was a lot of good learning and practicing that went on.  It was also really nice to see a lot of people from other areas.  Zone conference took up pretty much all of Friday.  So we just had to do stuff that evenening.  For some reason all of our evening appointments have been falling through.  It makes things really hard.  It would be nice to have a night where everything worked out for once.  But that's what makes a mission fun...right?  The trials.  Oh well its not that bad.
I went on companion exchanges with another elder on Wednesday.  It was really good.  It was nice to be back in my old appartment and with a Elder that was there when I was.  We had dinner with this really rich member.  Their house was on the water!  And they had a sail boat that was 70 ft long.  It was so nice!  He took us through it and showed us his shop where he makes parts for it.  He built the boat from scratch.  Designed it and built it all.  It was really cool.  Also that day we went over to a less active members house.  When we were talking they asked where I was from.  And they knew where I was from.  We talked about Cour D' Alene for a minute.  It was nice that someone else knew my home area.  We also had a good lesson with them.  They act like they are still active...they just don't go to church.  It was crazy.
The weather this week is suppose to be sunny!  I'm excited.  We haven't seen the sun in 2 weeks.  It has been miserable here lately.  The sun is a great way to start the week off.  We have a new investigator that we've been teaching.  He is an African American Jew.  And he meets with the Jehovah Witnesses as well as knows that Joseph Smith is a Prophet.  We will see if it goes anywhere.  He is a really good guy and asks good questions.  Hopefully he will feel the spirit and know that this is what he is looking for.
Well have a good week.  I hope that Moscow isn't too terribly cold for you.
I love you all,
Elder Parsons
Sent on March 21, 2011
Ola Familia!
Wow what a week its been for me.  It started out really rough.  Things were just hard.  But I had a nice talk with the mission President and I know that he is called of God.  He said and knew things about me that no one else knows or could know besides God that really grew my testimony of revelation.  But the week ended on a high note.  We had a baptism yesterday!  And it was great!  It was a very spiritual experience.  It was funny after the baptism Sis. Jones the one baptised found out that I was going to Brasil and was like oh my gosh i'm so glad that you hadn't left before teaching me.  I guess there was a reason I needed to be here.  But all yesterday pretty much every member I saw was like you're still here?  When are you going to Brasil?  After they always say we're glad that you are here still.  But man I realize i'm here enough without everyone else reminding me.  Oh well.  Good news about Visa.  An Elder that filled out his online application 1 week before my companion and left a week ago!  And your email just confirms that good things are happening with i'll most likely leave with the next batch of visa waiters!  So exciting.
Well the weather has been really bad here as well.  Its rained so much lately.  And we had a huge storm with hail, rain, wind and lighting the other day.  I heard that we've had over 6 inches of rain so far this month!  And we had over 7 inches last month.  Thats like how much rain we get in a year back home!  Oh well. 
The running didn't go too well this week for a couple of reasons. We played basketball last P-Day and i rolled my ankle so I wasn't well enough to run until Thursday and it was raining from Thursday on so we didn't go.  Hopefully this week will be better.
I'm starting to get used to the Lao ward.  I'm going to miss a couple of families quite a bit when I leave.  It is crazy how kind they have been to us.  I really wish that I could communicate better with them.  But they are still really nice.  I always feel bad though because a lot of them don't have too much money and they want us to eat with them.  Then they are always saying eat more and i just eat more so that they don't get offended.  And when we leave then send us home with food.  It really ruins my diet when I have meals with Lao families.  But i've really come to love them because of their kindness.  It is really really amazing how much charity they have.  We actually have a Lao investigator!  Its a 9 year old that hasn't been baptised. His family is active so its almost cheating but its still an investigator.  We are teaching a Lao recent convert English now as well. 
This week we will be looking for more investigators. Our current investigators aren't very good.  They aren't progessing or keeping commitments.  But hopefully that will change this week.  We have zone conference this Friday that should be good.  It usually is. 
We went to JcPenny's last week and found 5 dollor ties!  They were on super discount and they were nice.  That is the best type of shopping. 
I love you all. I hope all is well,
Elder Parsons
Sent March 14, 2011
Transfers were Tuesday.  So Elder Peralta went to San Francisco.  He wasn't too excited about leaving.  I don't know why because he didn't seem to like it here.  He's a special individual.  I was able to see another one of the Elders that came out with me that's waiting for a visa.  It was really good to talk to him.  Another Elder from my district got his Visa just last week.  Thats a good sign.  He did his online paper probably a week or so before mine.  So maybe I'll leave soon.  That would be nice. 
We are trying to build up the area.  We have very few investigators.  I'm burnt out on California.  I really just want to leave.  Its been a huge struggle to stay positive and keep going.  But maybe thats just what a mission is.  Hopefully things change and get better soon.
We went around with a Lao member one day this week.  It was really helpful.  He was able to translate for us and take us to people we didn't know about.  We are going to be teaching a 8 year old girl now that wants to be baptised because of it.  There was a Lao birthday party this Sunday that our ward mission leader wanted us to go to and get in contact with less active Lao members.  We went and right when we stepped in the door we were going to leave.  It was at a community center.  They have huge birthday parties.  There was like 100 people there.  We would of left right away but the releif society councilor pulled us over to her table and was like get food.  It wasn't a good missionary place.  We left as soon as we could get out.
We heard about the Japan earthquake and tsunami.  It sounds like it did tons of damage!  I'm glad it didn't happen here.  I guess the waves weren't that big here.  They only did a little damage.  But nothing too big.  But its crazy how many disasters have been happening and how frequently they are happening.  Its a sign.
We have a baptism planned for this coming Sunday.  It looks like everything will work out. Hopefully it does and its a successful week.  It would be even more successful if I left for Brasil.
Elder Parsons

Sent March 7, 2011
So tranfer day is tomorrow.  I'm staying with Elder Christensen and Elder Peralta the sick one is leaving for San Fran!  Thats a little weird...hopefully President didn't receive revelation that i'm going to be staying for a long time.  I'm doing my best to stay patient and try and realize that i'm here for a reason.  It is just hard at times for me since i've been out for 5 months already.  It's time to get to Brasil.  It will be nice in a way that he is leaving because then we wont have to worry about his health problems anymore...and we are going to start running!  I'm stoked about that.   I've wanted to go running for so long and we couldn't because of his health.  So I'll be able to get back into shape again!  Finally!
This week was ok.  Some days were better than others.  But last night was really good.  We were able to take an investigator to a baptism and then to the VC and watch God's plan for Us.  It was such a good experience.  We set another baptismal date with her!  We have 2 weeks to get her completely will work out i feel.  She really wants to be baptised...she just has a couple doubts nothing big though.   We have started receiving a lot more referals lately.  That is a really nice new experience.  So much more productive and nicer than knocking doors.  
Overall things are going pretty well.  Progress is being made.  I just need to remember to have patience and look on the bright side and the days go a lot better.  Well I hope all is well.
Elder Parsons