Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Last days in the CTM

Holy moly. So by the time you get this letter, I'll already be in the field for one day. I haven't gotten the details yet, but I'll be leaving the MTC sometime on Tuesday morning. We had a health seminar on Thursday night about how to literally survive. Hahaha. It definitely scared me a little, hearing about all the weird bugs you can get. And I guess about 2 months ago, they discontinued these water bottle/water filters because they haven't been working and missionaries have been getting sick. So for the next couple months, I'm going to have to rely on store bought, boiled, and bleached water. I had no idea you could bleach water and still drink it. We also got an elastic workout band and a small book on some of the most ridiculous ways you can use the band. There is some of the weirdest stuff in there! Sadly enough, I'll probably end up using it to work out. A cool little statistic they gave in that seminar . . . If every missionary talked to ten people each day, which would be about 1 person every hour, about half a million people would hear the gospel each day in the world.

On Thursday we decided to play volleyball with the other district that we came out of Atlanta with. We haven't had the same gym time the entire time we've been here, so we thought it'd be fun to play against them. We knew it would kind of be competitive because we jokingly talked some trash before hand, but nothing too bad. We started playing and it started to get really bad. Long story short, I left that game extremely frustrated and it kind of ruined the spirit for me for the rest of the day. We wanted to play again on Saturday and do the same thing, but do it a lot more low key to make sure we don't have the same problem as last time. We started to play and it was going really well up until the end. A questionable call was made and everyone started to raise their voice and get extremely angry. Right as that happened, Elder Farr (another elder in my district) and I left immediately because we didn't want to be involved in that again. We decided to go lift instead, which was a super good choice. This was my little proud moment of the week for walking away from something like that instead of arguing and getting angry.
On Friday, we had seminars all day long and they were ALL in Portuguese. I guess it was no different from out normal classes because they're all in Portuguese too. I think the thing that made it really difficult was that we had to sit American, Brasilian, American, Brasilian, etc . . . They forced us to share with the Brasilian next to us about what was being discussed. So I literally think I went from lunch until bed time (not including dinner) speaking Portuguese only. In our normal classes, our teachers generally know enough English to help us out when we don't know something in Portuguese. It was definitely an eye opener on how the field is going to be like. There are some Brasilians here that love to help you with the language and are super patient, but then there are others who absolutely hate Americans. There are only a small handful, that I know of, who hate Americans. The rest either mostly love to help you or they don't have the patients to teach you something about the language right on the spot.
Today at church I was called on to give a talk. Right after the sacrament was over the conductor of the meeting stood up to say who was giving the talks that Sunday. I had no idea beforehand because they tell you you're speaking at the last minute. They called on me, Elder A, Elder H and Elder L. I was the first one to speak, which was awesome because I really didn't have time to be worried about speaking. I spoke on humility and it went really well. We're only asked to speak for 5 minutes, but in all Portuguese, so it wasn't that bad. I also was the conductor for music today as well. I totally killed it :).
I shed a small tear because today (Sunday) would be the last day that I would take a nap in the next two years. I've been told all about how Sundays will be the busiest day.
So we went proselyting today (Monday, Nov. 26). Not as successful as last week, but it was still awesome! We took public transportation to a place that literally looked like New York. There were blocks and blocks of huge skyscrapers. It wasn't as packed as New York, but SUPER cool non-the-less. We left late so when we got there, we only had 10 minutes to proselyte which really sucked, but we gave away two copies of the Book of Mormon in that amount of time. Do you remember that CRAZY car ride when we were in St. Thomas going to Sapphire Beach and we thought we were going to die? The huge buses here drive that exact way. But you're standing up on the bus, holding onto the railing for dear life. I felt like I was on a Disneyland ride. Super interesting :).
One of my teachers here served in Teresina, so she showed us pictures because it was our last day. It's actually extremely pretty in a different way. She told us that us "white people" are guaranteed to burn no matter what and poop ourselves (diarrhea) at least once. Hahahaha! I think I'm always going to have some extra panties on me for the first couple of months. Hahahaha!
I'm going to try my hardest and best to write back as much as I can, but I have no idea how it'll go the first couple of weeks. Here in the CTM I've actually been writing a lot when I'm not supposed to. I hardly get any free time here, so I don't know how it'll be out in the field. I love you so much and I'll try my hardest to write as much as I can.
I got your package thing last Wednesday! Thank you so much! I also got your letter today (Nov 26). I haven't had time to read it yet because of departure meetings and packing! So I leave the CTM at 4:20 am on Tuesday, Nov. 27 and I arrive in Teresina sometime around noon. It's been crazy today! I love you so much! I'm having another elder give this to Cheney's so hopefully you'll get it :).
Elder Steed

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Temple-super cool experience

Mom! Hi... :)

So I definitely had no idea that I got a Thanksgiving thing from Chenney's, but we're going out right after this, so I'll have to stop by and check! Thanks! When Sarah and you told me you were going to Utah for Thanksgiving this week it definitely made me a little homesick, but not too bad! I just liked going to Grandma's house and hanging with everyone. You need to get Steven to email me!

I heard that there's been been no school for the past couple days and I wish that was the same case here ;) We got to do something super cool this past Monday and so you'll get to read all about it when you get my letter from Chenney's!! And sorry I haven't been sending you more pictures. It's a real pain to do the whole process, but I'll definitely be sending more once I get out into the field because I'll be able to email them, so no worries!!

Today was the last time I'd be able to go to the temple for the next 22 months. It was a super cool experience. I spent a good 15 minutes praying in the celestial room about lots of stuff. It brought back memories of the first time we went to the temple together. It was definitely a good morning!

So I put this in my letter, but I really want you to watch a video with everyone when you get up to Utah. It's called "Cabo Verde. Land of Light". They speak portuguese in the video and I was able to understand most of it which was super awesome! I felt I could really relate to that video because that's almost EXACTLY how we talk here in Brasil. I feel Teresina will look pretty close to Cabo Verde (which makes the video even better). I think I've seen that video about 8ish times now. It gives me chills every time. Yeah, it's really hard to explain, but just watch it with everyone :)

Tell everyone I said I love them!! I miss you a ton Mom!
Love Elder Steed

Stuff got real!

Each week after church, we do a district meeting and it's where we meet up as a district, talk about goals, and have two people give about a 15 minute lesson each. I was asked by Elder A to give one of the lessons at the meeting, but he didn't ask me until Saturday afternoon. I was super sour after he asked me because he forgot to do his job and he only turned to me because I was his companion. And to top it all off, our Branch President came to sit in on the meeting at the last minute. Saturday night I prayed for a soft heart because I was so angry. It literally ruined the rest of Saturday night for me because he asked me to give the lesson. I didn't notice a huge change in how I felt after my prayer, but I did notice that I said to myself, "Eh . . . I was assigned to do the lesson and it won't get done by me complaining." This morning (Sunday) when I was preparing the lesson, my mind felt so open and all sorts of ideas of what to talk on came to me. We had to talk on a Christ-like attribute and I chose humility (haha . . . so fitting) for some reason. The lesson turned out amazing and I actually had more material prepared than I needed. The spirit was definitely present when I taught because I could feel it there. I'm in a lot better mood now thanks to a poor choice made by Elder A - hahahaha.

I don't think I gave you a FHE idea last week, but I've got a really good one for this week. It's another video on called "Cabo Verde, Land of Light". ( It's about this small island off of the coast of Africa. It talks about how the church was started there. It's a newer video made by the church so it was really well done and the coolest part about the video is that the people there speak Portuguese. Even though there are subtitles, I was still able to understand what they were saying which was really awesome. The elder who showed us this video said it reminded him of how Teresina will be. The people in the video have a slight different accent than what we're speaking, but for the most part, listen to how they talk and that's pretty much how we sound. It definitely gave me chills after watching it.
So I hit 174 lbs a couple days ago and that's the most I've been.  It was right after I ate, so I'm a little less than that, but I was about 160 when I left. Haha.  16ish pounds while I've been here.  That's my goal though, I gotta put on some a healthy way.  I've been working out a little, so I hope I come back completely ripped...almost like a Greek god.  Bahaha, yeah I wish!  I'm sure I'll sweat it all off when I get out into the field in a week.
One of my teachers here is so crazy.  In a good way.  He's probably one of the funniest, most random person I've met.  He's a white ginger from Italy that speaks Portuguese and lives in Brasil.  I don't think I've learned one thing from him because all we do when he teaches us is mess around which kind of stinks, but he lightens up my day.  This past week we had a peanut butter party.  Our teacher makes his own peanut butter, which is the coolest thing.  So we bought the bread and some honey and spent some good bonding time eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches and chatting.  The peanut butter was super good!  It definitely beat anything you could buy at the store.
Oh dang!  So we went proselyting (don't know how to spell it) this past Monday and it was super awesome!  Each elder was given two copies of the Book of Mormon and so being in a triple, we had six with two extras from Elder A.  If I did my math right, that should be somewhere around eight copies of the Book of Mormon.  All the other companionships had only four copies.  At the beginning, we had a goal of handing out three copies.  We ended up handing out all eight.  The first man we approached was unloading bags from a car and we thought we could help him and then share a message.  As we awkwardly walked up to him, he rudely said "no".  We didn't really know what else to say, so we awkwardly walked away.  If I was watching from a distance, I would've probably laughed so hard because of how weird and awkward it was.  In the moment, I told myself, "crap...this is going to be a long day."  But looking back on it now, I'm laughing as well.  Probably no more than 8 minutes later, we gave our first Book of Mormon to a lady trying to jay-walk.  About ten minutes later, a business man who looked like a he was in a hurry approached us.  I was the one who started the conversation with him.  He said he was late to a meeting and so we asked if we could walk and talk with him, and he accepted.  He ended up being extremely interested in the Book of Mormon.  He said he's always seen the missionaries, churches, and temples before, but he's never bothered to talk to anyone about it.  He was so excited that we gave him the Book of Mormon for free and he said he would call the church if had questions while reading.  We then went about Sao Paulo (the same area/boundaries we have for P-Day) and talked to a few drunk people (they love to talk) and to this stubborn Chinese lady.  She was so committed on the bible that she didn't believe in another book.  We probably spent 20 minutes talking with her, but she still wouldn't take a Book of Mormon.
About this fourthish book we handed out was to this motorcyclist.  This was probably the coolest thing that happened this day.  So we were stopped on the sidewalk because we were writing the phone number people can call for questions about the church in the front cover.  As we were doing this, I noticed a guy on a motorcycle pull up about 15 yards away.  After we were done, I said, "let's go get that guy on the bike."  He had probably been there for a good five minutes before we approached him, just sitting on his motorcycle, as if he were waiting for us.  So we started talking to him about the Book of Mormon and a little about our purpose as missionaries.  I know for a fact that the Holy Ghost was testifying to him about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as we spoke to him.  I know for a fact that I saw the Light of Christ in his eyes.  I know for a fact that that man had no reason to stop, except to hear what we had to say to him and to be given the Book of Mormon.  I say this because right after we gave him the Book of Mormon and started walking away, we saw him put his helmet back on and ride away.  The smile he had on his face when we were talking to him gave me hope that maybe these next two years are possible.  That maybe I can speak Portuguese with only eight weeks of studying.  Stuff got real that day.  These are real people, not just members or other missionaries pretending to be investigators.
Elder Steed

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


During Sacrament meeting today, Elder A leaned over to me and said that he's starting to get senioritis for the CTM. Haha. I'm starting to feel the same way. It's really cool to see all the smurfs (new missionaries) struggling with the language because I used to be in that same situation. I still struggle a lot, but I know a LOT more than I did when I first came in. We're one of the older groups here so it literally feels like being a senior in high school again, where you can joke with the teachers, mess around, and still get away with it. Hahaha. I'm starting to feel like a robot though. I was just about to get in the shower this morning and I started thinking about random things and all of a sudden I was walking back to my room. I was so confused and I told myself I needed to go back and take a shower, but I already had and I didn't realize it. It was seriously one of the weirdest things.
A super funny thing to do to the Brasilians here is to have them say "world, word, ward". They just look at you with the most lost expression on their face because to them, it sounds like the same exact word. Hahaha
So in my last letter, I mentioned that I was going to try to wake up early to study. Every day, except for the day we went to the temple, I woke up at 5:00 am to study my scriptures for an hour. I grabbed my scriptures and a chair, went out in the hallway, and started to study (not just read) under a dim light. Even though I was pretty tired throughout the day, it was worth it. My mind was clearer and I was able to study (during personal study time) the things that would help me the most. It was a huge sacrifice because as a missionary, you need all the sleep you can get, but I figured I could sleep as much as I want after these two years :).
Today at church, for some reason the AC wasn't working and it was ridiculously hot. We STILL had to have our suits on. They opened a window and turned on a fan, but that hardly did anything. Someone then told me that this will be nothing compared to what it is like in Teresina.
I had TRC this week and we were investigators. I had to be the main investigators in one of the rooms and I was kind of nervous because I didn't think my Portuguese was good enough. I ended up doing a really great job and the elders teaching me did a really great job as well. There was this funny TRC this week. Some elders in 39-B (the other half of us that came out of Atlanta together) played a super funny harmless prank on these two weekers. Right when it started, and they all sat down, the investigators (my friends from 39-B) offered the two elders some cracker type thing. They put it on the table and said in Portuguese, "if you eat this, you will die." Having no idea what they said, the two elders said, "Oh, thank you!" and started to eat them. Just how smooth and perfect it went, made it that much funnier. We were all laughing so hard because these guys were so clueless. The guys from 39-B went up to the two elders afterwards and told them what they did and they started laughing because they thought it was the funniest thing as well.
Dad, so about the mission prep class you're doing . . . something that I thought was really helpful is knowing when to transition between each elder so the lesson flows real nicely. Have them learn the first lesson about the restoration and then get them to plan out who will say what and so forth. And then have them flip the roles, so each elder will get a chance to teach the other side of the lesson they didn't get to the first time. They need to know BOTH sides of the lesson, because here in the CTM, they stress the point of "teaching people, not lessons". Yeah, sure, it's awesome if they can teach a planned lesson, but sometimes they'll need to teach about something they didn't plan before hand.
Another thing we do is a simple mock investigator session. One companion teaches another elder that becomes an investigator. That one elder, who is the investigator, thinks of a friend back home and becomes that friend or person he knows. We usually try to pick a friend that has some sort of problem or questions about the church. The companionship then teaches this investigator as if it was the first visit. So all they're trying to do is figure out the problem, get to know what the person knows about the gospel, and then go from there. We usually don't teach a full-on lesson. It's just the first visit, so maybe also have them quickly introduce the Book of Mormon and invite the investigator to read and pray about it.
Another fun thing that I think you guys would get a kick out of would be doing something like TRC where you teach a lesson while being recorded. A good situation for that would be that it's just a follow-up visit to see how the investigator is doing. The investigator has already been taught the first lesson or so. It turns out that the investigator hasn't been reading the Book of Mormon or praying because they don't have enough time. The companionship then has to teach why the Book of Mormon is so important, the importance of prayer, and then maybe teach how to pray. This would be good practice for the young men to stay on their toes. We've done this situation so many times here so it's just natural for us. It would also be good for them to see body language, posture, and how they looked when they reacted to certain situations.
I hope that helped. It's not a whole lot, but it's some super basic things that'll have them be ahead of the game when they serve a mission. Oh! Another thing - teach them some "confusing" scriptures. I'm sure you can talk to some super scriptorian about more scriptures in detail, but there are some scriptures out there that are confusing (and I'm sure you already know this). For example . . The Lord's Prayer in Luke 11:2-4. The Lord says that when you pray, always use this prayer. You can counter this with the first sentence in 3 Nephi 13:7. Another one is John 17:20-23 and Mosiah 15:2-5 where it talks about the trinity and how Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one. Dang, so I don't have my scriptures on me right now, but you could use the scriptures where Christ is being baptized. Anyways . . . I hope you get my point with this.
So real quick, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke to us today, Elder Costa. It was really awesome.
Love you!
Elder Steed

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Minha Familia (My Family)!

Minha Familia (My Family)!

These weeks are starting to go by faster and faster. It's weird to think that I'll be out in the field in a couple of weeks.

Getting enough sleep each night is rough. I'm grateful I've got good Brasilian roommates who want to go to bed on time, but sometimes they're not so great when they wakeup. The Brasilians have their P-day on Thursday and the bus for the temple leaves early in the morning, so they wake up before us. They are SOOO LOUD! It's funny because it's as if Elder A, Elder H and I don't exist. This past Thursday they even turned on the light and started messing around. Luckily I was already up by then, but the other two were still trying to sleep. Other than this, my Brasilian roommates are awesome. I don't think I've had one night here where I've slept through the entire night. It's either too cold (surprisingly), too hot, someone wakes up to go to the bathroom, or someone starts talking in their sleep. I always wake up in the middle of the night. I'm also waking up with little tiny red bumps on me and we're pretty sure they're bug bites. I've only got a couple so I'm not really worried. Although, I do have one on my right butt cheek. How this happened . . . I have no idea.

This past week, we've been giving an elder a taste of his own medicine. It's seriously been the highlight of my week. This is about the one elder that I was struggling with at the beginning of my time here at the CTM. For some reason he loves to steal and hide everyone's stuff. Multiple times he's taken my pen, scriptures, and books when I haven't been looking. And it's not just me, he's done this to everyone in my district. A couple of elders in the next district thought it'd be funny if they hid his bag. So they took it and placed it on the ledge just outside of our window so it couldn't be seen unless you leaned out of the window. Once this elder realized his bag was gone, he snapped and it was probably one of the funniest things I've seen. He started to go off on elders in our district and blaming it on them, even though we had no idea who did it. He threatened us multiple times, with things if he didn't get his bag. Elder R and I were busting a gut because of the way he reacted. To top it off, he said, "It's one of my biggest pet peeves when people touch my things and especially when they hide it from me." After crying about the whole thing, he went and got a teacher to talk to us about it, but we had no idea who did it. We didn't know who did it until after the bag was given to him. You really had to be there! :)

Thank you SOOOO much for that candy loot you gave me :). It definitely made my day! Even though we didn't do anything different for Halloween here in Brasil, I still felt like a little kid while digging through all the candy to see what I got. Too bad I don't have Parker here to pawn off all my gross candy on for better stuff :). No worries though, I went through all that candy to make sure I didn't get any of those orange prescription bottles with animal crackers in it. (Background info - Several years ago a woman took her old prescription bottles and filled them with animal crackers and gave them to the children at the church trunk-or-treat. Thankfully the parents discarded them before the kids ate the contaminated crackers.) Oh the weird stuff you get at Trunk-or-Treats. I guess the lady at Chenney's is using my picture to advertise for that special package thing, so you should try to look for that.

FHE idea of the week: There are three videos on the website that are about three minutes each. It's with Elder Bednar and they're about the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. I'm pretty sure they're one of the newer videos on there, so they shouldn't be too hard to find. I was very impressed at how well the church made these videos. I hope you haven't already seen them! 

Here are the videos Connor referred to:

We just found the most horrible thing in the scriptures. The word "burnt offerings" in the Portuguese scriptures is "holocaustos". That translates to holocaust. Terrible :(.

So this past week (only Monday and Tuesday so far) I've been waking up at 5:15 am so that I can get more personal study time. I wake up, roll out of bed, grab the chair from my room, and go out in the hall to read my scriptures for a good 45 minutes before I have to start getting ready. I've actually started to notice a difference by doing this. First off, I hit a huge wall, get super tired, and eventually fall asleep at around 2ish. But it's only about a 5 minute power nap and then I'm good to go again. Second, I really do think waking up earlier has helped me throughout the day. For some reason I'm more willing to open my books when everyone else is messing around. I've also found that I've had better/more effective study sessions. Coincidentally my morning study sessions match up with what I'm taught in the afternoon by my teachers, so I get a super helpful review, along with help if I didn't understand something I studied that morning. I thought it was super awesome! Awhile ago when I was up at school, I wrote a quote in my scriptures. "Put your trust on the altar of God and quietly walk away." I'm honestly trying my hardest to do my part to study the language and to gain a stronger testimony. I'm trusting in God that by taking that blind step and waking up earlier, I'll be blessed with help in the language.

For any potential missionaries who are going to Brasil, please read this. I guarantee it will help. I wish I would've known this before I got into the CTM, but for studying . . . Make a goal each week to memorize a column of irregular verbs on the yellow verb conjugation card they give you when you get here. Also, during your language study time, start in the green book with the world on it. Even if the topic doesn't make sense, study it anyways and do the questions that come along with that topic. If something doesn't make sense or is really confusing, ask your teacher in the next class that you have with them. Good Luck!

We had devotional last night and they played a video of Elder Bednar when he spoke at the Provo MTC a couple of weeks back. It was an amazing talk. He spoke on the pattern of teaching effectively. Sounds kinda weird, but it was super good. He asked us to go through the General Conference Ensign and highlight the doctrine taught, the invitations sent, and the promised blessings if we do those invitations. I really want to do that, but they only have Portuguese Liahonas at the Distribution Center. I don't know how this would work, but if you could figure out a way for me to get one , that'd be really awesome!

So about washing my clothes - I do it like any normal washer and dryer.  They have a machine here that automatically pumps the detergent. They have four washers and four dryers for each floor. The dryers are a little too powerful so I think I'm going to start hang drying my pants. Everything else is fine, but they chewed up Elder A's pants a little bit a couple of weeks ago.

Love You!!
Elder Steed