The Brazil Fortaleza East Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
October 2, 2013-2015

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Week 16

Dear Family & Friends,
This week I had my first baptism in Brazil!!! Remember Mel? We baptized her on Saturday! It was so awesome!  That day was just full of great stories, so I'll start from the beginning....we went over to the church at about 8 that morning to clean out the font and fill it up. So we cleaned the font for about 40 minutes, then went to turn the water on, but it didn't turn on. After a few minutes of exploring, we found that NONE of the water in the building worked.  We panicked for a few minutes, BUT hope was not lost. There are a few emergency fire hose things in the church with water, so we went to hook the hose up and crank the water, but to our dismay, the metal ends on the hoses that hook the hose to the spout had been cut off and stolen. What the heck, who does that?! When I said something about it, Elder Etchichury said "Welcome to Brazil." So with that new development, we devised a plan. We found some buckets in the closet, and we proceeded to fill the buckets at the fire spigot, carry them to the font, and dump them in. I'll send some pictures.  That took us another hour to do, but we got it done!  We went to walk out of the church at about 11. BUT - there's more. For some reason, we only have a key to the door of the church and not the gate to the church grounds. Someone had unlocked the gate for us to let us in, but while we were inside working, someone walking by must have seen the unlocked gate and wanting to be helpful, snapped it shut. Little did they know, this locked us inside. So yeah. We were trapped inside the church grounds.  Elder Etchichury made a call and some members came and rescued us. We were able to leave in time for lunch!
The baptism was awesome, we had a LOT of members come to watch, despite the fact that we and Mel and her family were a half hour late.....but it all worked out well, and the best part is that I said the baptism prayer right the first time! My Portuguese is getting better and better, its great to see my progress. The hardest thing is still understanding people, but I understand so much more than I did when I first got here. I can actually contribute in conversations now. Anyway, this week was great, mostly because Mel was baptized. It's amazing to see the changes she's made in her life. I love my mission!!!
Elder Poulson
Brazil Fortaleza East Mission
Rua Republica de Armenia, 765
Agua Frio 60821-760
Fortaleza-CE  Brazil


Monday, January 20, 2014

Week 15

 Dear Family & Friends,

Before I start, I need to answer some questions that my Mom has asked:

  • We walk everywhere unless we need to go to the mission office or somewhere downtown. We've ended up on the bus once or twice a week.  At first sight, everyone thinks I'm Brazilian. I'm still pretty amazed by that, but that's what people think!
  • The apartment is pretty small, not too big of a deal. It's nicer than a lot of the houses I've been in here.  I'll send some pictures next week.
  • I don't recall any weird bugs, I mostly see flies, ants and mosquito's. I saw an iguana once, though!  There are horses and donkeys that people use, and I saw a sheep one time. 
  • For future reference, an American in the ward that used to serve here told me its a good idea to put the value of the package as less than it actually is, because if the value is high, they'll tax it out the wazoo and I'll have to pay a whole bunch of money just to pick it  up. He told me once he had to pay 82 reais (about 40 bucks) to get a package from the post office. 
  • The ward (congregation) meets in a church building.  It's kind of weird because there is no carpet at all.   There is an electric piano in the chapel. There's only one set of missionaries in the ward, but there are three wards in the building (our church starts at 4 and ends at 7) so we see other missionaries once in a while.
  • Most houses have just concrete on the floor with rugs. The nicer ones have tile floors, no carpet. The most modest home I've been in was about  15 feet by 15 feet with dirt floors and put together with whatever they could find. 
  • On prep day we study until 10, then we'll shop, email, nap, in whatever order we feel like, and then we sometimes go to members houses and visit. We played a Brazilian version of Risk a couple weeks ago with some members.
  • I feel safe!!!  There was one time when we went up a street looking for someone to invite to church and there was this guy up there that really gave both of us a bad feeling, so we just got out of there.  That has been the worst thing, and its not even bad.  The people are usually really nice here.  Kids are really funny, they'll run up to Elder Etchichury and yell "Fala Inglês!!!" because they think he's American (he's from Rio) and then he'll tell them he doesn't speak English, but that I do because I'm American and they don't believe him. It's really funny.
  • Grocery stores aren't that different, there's just Brazilian brands of food, and different fruit.
  •  Oh so mom, whenever I show people my pictures of the family, they're always like ohhh they're so beautiful! You have a beautiful family! Your mom is beautiful!  Yesterday, a family was looking at them, and the mom said that you look like an actress....a Mexican actress hahaha I'm pretty sure that's a compliment....anyway, I thought it was funny.
This week was definitely the best one so far in Brazil!
We had so much success with our work this week!  I'm at the point now where I can understand the conversation during our lessons (not really any other time....the Gift of Tongues at work) and so that means I have been able to take more of a role in the teaching, which has been awesome! Scary, but awesome! We taught so many good lessons and we had a lot of new investigators. We had nine investigators come to church yesterday!!! What we do is that about two hours before church, we go around to the houses of everyone who said they would come and we all walk to church together. We had a huge group yesterday! A miracle we saw yesterday was that this couple we started teaching this week, Marisio and Silvia came to church by themselves! When we stopped by their house, they said they would be there at about five, and they were! A lot of people will say "oh yeah, I'll come to church" just because they don't want to offend us, and then they won't show up or won't be home or say they can't go when we stop by their house.  But, Marisio and Silvia came, and I think they enjoyed it. I sat by them in Sacrament meeting, and Elder Etchichury sat by some other investigators. I tried to explain the stuff in the chapel to them in my limited Portuguese, but I think their questions were answered. It was funny because Marisio was just belting out the hymns, at his first time in church! I was loving it!

So we have a baptism next week! It will be my first one in Brazil! Her name is Melione, but she goes by Mel. She's been awesome, she has quit coffee, smoking, and alcohol all at once!  So impressive.  She has some friends and relatives that have been in the house when we teach her, and a few of them are showing interest in the church as well, so hopefully we'll be able to baptize her family too.
So on a more secular note, I discovered a few new things here. One, is this weird Brazilian dessert which I think is called canjica.  It's kind of like pudding, but a little thicker, and the main ingredient is corn. So we were in this member's house, and she brings it out in these little bowls. I looked over at my companion, and he was digging in, so I took a bite....and almost spit it back out across the room. Not what I was expecting at all!!  I think if I was to eat a yellow kitchen sponge, it would be similar. All of the sudden, that little bowl was looking like Bryant Denny Stadium. I struggled through a few more bites, but I didn't know if I was going to make it. Apparently, I was a little more obvious than I thought I was with how I liked it, and the sister said, "Elder, if you don't like it, don't eat it." Music to my ears!  She was very gracious about it, which I appreciated. 

Not much else to report, but I hope you have a great week! A scripture I read this week and really liked is in Alma 32:21, look it up if you get a chance! 

Elder Poulson
A Capri sun...unique, i thought it was cool. Didn't taste any better but still, haha

 An awesome bug killer. I call it the racquet of death. its electric, so when it touches the bugs, ZAP and they're dead! best 14 R$ I have ever spent. 
This is pretty typical for a member lunch. Rice beans spaghetti and some meat, usually chicken. not whatever this was. I think it was a pork chop. and there's usually some kind of juice as well.

A kid from one of the families in the ward who wanted to try on my jacket. his name is Eduardo, but his nickname is do-do hahaha

We had to go to the doctor for my athletes foot last Friday, and he told me to wear flip flops for a few days. so I wore flip flops to church yesterday! I actually wasn't too out of place, haha

The tapioca car...the speaker on top blares this recording over and over again for tapioca for fifty centavos. Elder Etchichury knows the whole thing. it will do the advertisement, and then it plays this song with this woman singing about Jesus. completely random hahaha but that sums up Brazil....

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Week 14

Dear Family and Friends-
Another week has gone by. It seems like they're going faster and faster! A couple exciting things happened this week. One, I weighed myself on the 8th, and I've lost nine pounds since I got here! And probably more since then! I went a notch smaller on my belt today too, so that is pretty exciting for me. Also, I had exchanges (or a division as its called here) with one of my zone leaders this week.  Basically how a mission is organized, is there is the mission president who is in charge of all the missionaries.  He chooses two elders (missionaries) to be assistants, and they help him run the mission.  Companionship's of zone leaders who oversee at least two districts, which have usually about 6 or 8 missionaries each, help the assistants.  Then there is one district leader per district. The missionaries in leadership positions go into the areas of other missionaries every once in a while to see how the area is progressing and help the other missionaries improve. I hope that made sense.  Anyway, I went with Elder J. Souza, one of my zone leaders into his area to work for a day.  He is from a town near São Paulo, and he doesn't speak much English like my companion, so I really had to use my Portuguese that day. It went really well, there was a loooot of walking, but I was able to sleep well that night! 
Something else that happened - Elder Etchichury, my companion, broke his finger.  We were exercising one morning at a park near our apartment with a member, and we had my football and were running around and throwing the ball. The member threw a pass to Elder Etchichury, and his finger went KERBLAM!!! So the next day, we spent pretty much all day downtown waiting in a clinic and then the hospital for an assessment, x-rays, and then treatment.  He has a little brace thing he has to wear on his finger for 6 weeks.  It's kind of funny because it's his middle finger that's broken on his right hand, so whenever he writes he is flipping off everyone in the general area (that particular gesture is still offensive in Brazil haha). So he has to explain what happened to basically everyone we talk to.
I started sleeping in a hammock this week! It's been pretty awesome, because my mattress that was in the apartment was totally destroying my back.  Hammocks are just fun to sleep in and a lot of people here use them. 
My Portuguese is coming along well, I am able to understand conversations more. Not everything, but it's improving.  Towards the end of the day, I have to really focus if I want to know what's going on. It gets really easy to zone out.  Some days by about 6 or 7 o'clock, I'm just absolutely sick of Portuguese! But, its coming along well.
My testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel grows every day, especially at the end of a really difficult day. I know what I'm doing is the Lord's work!
Have a blessed week!

Elder Poulson
The view from the zone leader's apartment of the Fortaleza airport!

This is a picture of a Brazilian version of risk, that has the whole united states separated into California and New York hahaha pretty funny!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Week 13

Dear Family & Friends,
Well, this week was kind of like a roller coaster for me! I had some pretty discouraging days, and some less discouraging days, but the last two were awesome, so it's getting better. What's been hard is just being completely immersed in Portuguese. For my first 5 or 6 days, I had NO IDEA what was happening around me, no idea what people were saying - unless they were talking about me! I knew when that was happening, but I still didn't know what they were saying! haha. But it's gotten way better! I see my Portuguese improving day by day. In fact, I'm actually learning two new is Portuguese, and the other is what Brazilians sound like when they try to say English words. My companion will ask me about movies or something like that with English titles, and it takes a few times before I know what he's saying haha. He told me its hard for Brazilians to learn English, because apparently we Americans don't open our mouths very wide when we speak English, and when Brazilians speak Portuguese they open their mouths really wide. That's what he says anyway!

I've seen some other interesting things too...I've seen more than a few people riding horses down the street! How cool is that?! Some people use donkeys to pull carts too. Also, I've heard so many American songs with a Portuguese version. They take an American song and re-record it with a Brazilian singing- Bruno Mars, Fun, etc. 

So everything else aside, the highlight of this week has actually been when I have the worst days. After a couple awful days, when I just felt completely inadequate and discouraged, I remembered that I have the ability to turn to the Savior for help. Kind of embarrassing that it took me that long to remember, especially as a missionary. But these last couple days, when I feel stressed out or discouraged, I have been able to find comfort in prayer. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He loves me and knows me personally. I know that our prayers will be answered if we pray in faith. That's why I'm here on a mission.
Thank you for your prayers, emails, letters, and packages!
Elder Poulson

Elder Etchichury and I commencing our New Years Eve feast of Chocotonne (Brazilian Christmas cake stuff) and ice cream. Pretty good stuff.