Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Welcome to Piracicaba: Best Mission in the World

OPA Familia!
I´m writing you from a internet cafe right now called Warhouse, and I was going to put quotations marks around that but this brasilian keyboard is too weird, I can´t find it. Also it keeps telling me every word I type is wrong, silly brasilian computers. So, first off, freak. Who taught Squid how to give a talk? Dwight Schrute? That was xique cara (cool man), seriously, wayyy too good. My first week in Brasil has been beleza (beautiful). My plane ride here was 15 hours. Luckily, I´m a fantastic sleeper, so it didn´t feel that long. When we landed I met up with some other missionaries and we all took a van 2 hours to Piracicaba. When we arrived the driver dropped us off at this corner and we had NO idea what was going on. haha We looked around for a bit, and eventually some other missionaries came down from the building he dropped us off at and took us up to President Canuto´s apartement. There we had some beans and rice (that´s portugues for lunch) and then went to a different room to receive our trainers. It was so cool, we started singing a hymn in portuguese, and mid way through, all the trainers ran into the room and started singing along and making a ruckus. Then, all of a sudden we all broke into dance, and I thought didn´t know the moves, but they were in my heart all along, so it worked out. Ok, not really, but they really did run in and start singing haha it was awesome. Afterwords, President welcomed us to Piracicaba: The Best Mission in the World. 

Everyone stomped their feet and yelled as president called out who was  training who, and eventually I ended up meeting my trainer Elder Galleguillos! He´s the best. Seriously, he´s SO cool, we are so similar too. He´s chilean, so he looks brasilian, but he´s actually from Queen´s New York (where toast has served most of his mission, and his family speaks spanish, so there´s a 90% chance toast knows his family). First thing he said to me, or at least the first thing I understood was Don´t worry I´m american. hahaha We are assigned to the city of Araras. It´s gorgeous here I love it so much! Our roommates are both Brasilian. They are from the and so both of them have strange accents, and Elder Cabral talks super fast, so the first night I was there, I could not understand a  single thing they said. It was ridiculous haha. However, I understand them pretty well already, and we get a long great. 

My first night working (friday) we were out on the street, and decided to meet one of the potentials the other Elder´s left for us. We are white washing (or coming in as 2 brand new missionaries to the area) and so we don't know hardly anyone yet (by the btw Elder Gilly is the sole zone leader as well, it´s a really strange situation). So we met Gorete and her boyfriend Ze Luis. The two were pulling out of their driveway and we started talking with them. I understood a little, but apparently not much because all of a sudden we were in their car driving who knows where, and I had no idea what was going on. We ended up at the market, and started shopping with them which was pretty weird haha. When Gorete learned it was my second day in Brasil she got so excited and started telling everyone and showing me things they have in Brasil  that we dont in America, it was so funny. Then we got back to their house, and it turns out all the food was for us, she started making pancacas (pancakes) which are not pancakes at all but tortillas with meat and cheese rolled up like a taquito. They were super good. Then we had a lesson, and I don't know why but she LOVED us, and told us to come back whenever we want, and call if we want food, and whatever else.The whole time I was just thinking, Are all brasilians like this? haha They pretty much are. I love these people, they´re all so nice, and open, and loving. This place is legal (cool). 

So, this Sunday was fast and testimony meeting at church. Elder Gilly and I thought it was appropriate for us to get up and introduce ourselves to the ward and bear our testimonies. So we went and sat on the stand, and my heart started pounding, potentially the hardest it´s ever pounded in my life haha. It was probably the same feeling that guy had in Men in Black, just before a tiny alien popped out of his chest. So I prayed and tried to relax, and as I walked up to the stand, I felt pretty good. I just introduced myself, mentioned it was my second day in brasil and said I don't speak portuguese very well, but I speak the Spirit, and the Spirit tells me that the Church is true, that My Savior Jesus Christ lives, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is true. The ward loved it. haha Two members mentioned my testimony later in their own. The Spirit was really strong, and it was a great experience. I love this place so stinkin much! It´s so cool, it´s sunny, and vibrant, and and there are soccer fields everywhere. Which brings me to the saddest news of my life which is that missionaries can´t play soccer in ANY Brasil missions turns out, because way too many missionaries get hurt. But tudo bem (it's all good). Have a great week everyone!

Tchau Tchau,
Elder Nixon

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

You're Mormons?

I had to work on my BYU app this week so I don't have much time to write, the library has a 2 hour limit and last week my time was UP so I had to send my letter real quick to even get it out. So anyway, this is my letter for the week, and I'm sending a bunch of pics to make up for it. All I have to say is that this week was awesome, a lot more comfortable and less exhausting than last week! haha I love every second of this. One experience I have to tell you briefly about is a few nights ago when Elder Stevens and I were doing some Faith tracting. We ran into this awesome lady first door we went to and she seemed interested. The intriguing part though, was a few doors later when we ran into the man who at first seemed nice, but ended up being this vulgar anti-mormon idiot. He started arguing at us (we don't participate in arguing haha), spewing some biblically misconceived nonsense that was supposed to confound us, and all of that was whatever until he kept saying Joseph Smith was a liar. I tried to walk away once and my comp kept standing there, so I walked back, listened to a bit more nonsense and stopped him. I told him that I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet,  I know he was called of God, and I know he saw God and Jesus Christ. We wished him a goodnight and walked away as he kept yelling whatever at us. I was pretty worked up the rest of the night, it did strengthen my testimony, and I prayed that night that I could grow even more in my testimony and especially my knowledge of the scriptures. I had no idea what I signed up for. 

The next day (yesterday (sunday (the day after saturday (parentheses)))) Elder Turley and I were tracting again (we seem to do that quite a bit) and we ran into a man who when we he saw us at the door, quickly said "You're Mormon's? I've got some questions for you, come in" It was just like when you watch a scary movie and the girl is about to open the door where the monster is and you keep thinking why would you ever do that run! what are you doing?!?! haha "It's a trap" as batman of madtv would say. So, as the girl always does, we went anyway haha. I have to clarify it's not like a had a real prompting like I shouldn't go in there, but I was just nervous and thought "here we go again" and trusted that my companion knew what he was doing haha. So what followed was actually a civil, hour discussion with this pastor of another faith on our beliefs, specifically on the Plan of Salvation got a hold of and proudly marked and took notes on every page haha. It was like a I was signed up for an hour long class on exactly what I prayed for. He claimed to not be arguing either, and asked a few questions he thought would confound us, but Elder Turley has such awesome Gospel knowledge, he was able to explain our beliefs, why we have them, and back them with scripture. It was terrifying, but I even answered a few questions, and we just had a nice talk. I learned SO much. I wish I could just replay the night over and over so I could internalize all of it, but overall I did learn some, and gained a stronger resolve to learn the doctrine better, and an even stronger testimony of the truth our message. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet,  I know he was called of God, and I know he saw God and Jesus Christ. Have a good week!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm in Washington!

The first week in the field is tough, but it's been great! So in between Monday (my last night at the MTC) and Tuesday (my first day in Washington) I got about 2 hours of sleep. It was intense. First off, I started out strong in the airport. My first time being in the real world for weeks haha and I met this nice guy Ben. We ended up talking about church and life for 15 minutes plus, and I gave him a pass a long card, he seemed really interested! It was a great kick off. When I landed in Seattle we had a nice lunch in the Mission President's home, then went to the Church where we had some orientation stuff, and interviews. After all the interviews we finally got assigned companions and areas. There is a tradition where the Trainers and Greenies sit at opposite ends of the chapel, and then when they find out who they are assigned to the y meet in the middle and give em a hug. I am in a quadpanionship since Elder Stevens and I are VISA waiters and either of us could any leaving any day. So I had 3 companions, I gave Elder Turley a hug, then Elder Stevens, then I was about to give Elder Stack a hug, and someone said "You don't want to do that Elder, He doesn't do hugs, we can explain later" hahaha it was a bit intimidating I guess. He apparently just doesn't like being touched hah, great 1st impression. Anyways five minutes later the meeting ended and we had to rush straight to our first teaching appointment! It was a bit scary, but it went really well. We are teaching this man named JT who is engaged to a member Amanda and he is awesome! He watched 6 hours of conference by himself on his iPad last weekend. It went great! 

The rest of the week was good, it's tough and is definitely a hard transition but I'm making the most of it. But, I HAVE to tell you about Sunday before I get off I only have a few minutes left. Weirdest Sunday of my life. Hahaha My area is pretty ghetto. Where I live is just a tooooon of apartment complexes, and it's pretty poor, and then the other half of the ward is pretty wealthy and lives next to a gorgeous view of the Puget Sound, so weird combo really. The First speaker in sacrament meeting was kinda wacko, like a bit harsh, and the 1st counselor had to tell him he was outta time cuz he just kept going haha. He actually did give a pretty good talk though, he made some cool points. Then we went to Gospel Doctrines class. I have never seen so many Hobos in church before, they were so faithful and some of them really neat people. I've also never smelt so much cigarette smoke in church haha, but I one of the apostles once said that's his favorite smell in church v=because that means there are investigators there! This one crazy guy Matthew kept making comments during class. They passed the role around, and he had it for like 2 or 3 minutes, so I peeked over his shoulder to see what was doing and he had written what, if it had been real letters and words, would've made two paragraphs, one on top of the other, on the wrong page. I think the teacher will know he was present when he takes a look at that haha. Then this sweet little Spanish sister, Sister Day gave this awesome prayer at the end, she kept saying "you are the one Lord, you are the one, we need you, we need you, the world needs you, " and it was interesting between those two in class, I gotta log off sorry bye!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Everett WA

So first off I got my reassignment to Everette Washington!! I couldn't be more excited! I know that that is where the Lord needs me, and there are people being prepared for me to teach there right now. I leave tonight at 4:30 am.. so technically tomorrow morning. I can't wait o campo ja esta branco para a ceifa (D&C 4 reference). As stoked as I was this week to receive my reassignment the crowning event of my week was Friday night! I'm so excited for you Squid! Anaheim will be amazing, even though you're learning nasty Spanish ;) haha jk I'm actually excited cuz then we can teach each other span/port when we get back! I still feel like the luckiest elder in the world I've had such an incredible week. When I Mom's dearelder tellin me about Caden's call I gave the letter to Sis. Padilla so I wouldn't be tempted to look at it all day (were not supposed to read them til the end of the day. That night our district decide to have a testimony meeting instead of our additional study. I have to tell you the Spirit was incredibly strong in that room. My hands were shaking a bit as I was moved by the beautiful witnesses of the Savior and His restored Church from my district whom I have grown to love so much. At the end, I asked Sis. Padilla to give me my letter to open, because I wanted to read it in that room while the Spirit was so apparent. I've only had water leak outta my eyes 3 or 4  times in the last few years, but when I read where Caden was going I lost it. ha I love him so much, and I know that Anaheim is exactly where God wants him to be! I'm so stoked for you Squid! My first thoughts were.... "Californiiiaaa, Califoorniiiaaaa, Here I coooooOOOOooOoOoOoOOOoooooooommmmeeeee.!!!" hahha soon enough you'll be "drivin down the one o one... down the fifth over to seventh, but then there'll be traffic so you'll take south instead of tree to beach, passed the traffic on the 304 to 511. jajaja  

So- For All you prospective missionaries who, like every prospective missionary, are wondering what the best thing to do to prepare for a mission- listen up. From my whole six weeks of experiences, here's my 95 cents #inflation. If you really wanna be a good missionary, STUDY the BOM, read PMG and really study it. Then, Go to chapter 6 and start studying and developing Christ like attributes! One of the most helpful things in the mission is charity. I talk about it so much but it's SO important. If we really love the people we are serving, we won't want to waste a second, we'll be more attentive the Holy Ghost to be guided to what we need to do. If we love God and Jesus Christ, we'll want to follow the mission rules, and then be blessed more because of that. If we love our companions we will work better together and be able to teach with greater power and clarity. So that is also part of some of what I've learned about charity this week. The most effective thing in my study, besides reading the BoM and specifically looking for examples of charity, is trying to apply the principle. I pray for it every night, and try to understand the people around me, why they do things, try to see them through God's eyes, and love them for who they are. I have been blessed with greater love for my awesome companion Elder Barrus, and for my entire district and teachers. It would also be great, in order to prepare for a mission, to go out with the missionaries now. Help teach someone, be a part of the lesson. Help someone get baptized, if you help them to that point, the missionaries will likely have YOU do it which would be such a cool experience!  Then, look for the chance to give priesthood blessings before you leave. It will be so good for you to have already experienced that so you're ready when someone asks you for one. Other than that you're on your own. haha Alright everyone I love and miss you all, if you need to send me packages, and love letters, and chickfila my new address will be 

Washington Everette Mission
16124 35th Ave SE
Mill Creek, WA 98012


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Dreams and Donuts

I'm so blessed!! Just one week til I'm in the field, less than 3 months til Christmas, and Elder Barrus and I are the Zone Leaders now! I discovered the Christmas hymns this week in my Portuguese hymn book. Silent Night is my fav- "Noite Feliz" literalmente happy night haha. Also my favorite words this week are sonho (s-own-y-oo), which means both dream, and donut.. those Brazilians are on to something  and xique (shee-key) which is really fun to say and means fancy. I talked with a native Brazilian this week over skype! It was so fun Elder Barrus and I were talking about where we were from, and he was like "I don't know the U.S. very well, but I really want to go to  Harry Potter World in Orlando" Ta SERIO?! I freaked out haha I was so excited it was hilarious. His name was Guilliherme, he is my age, baptized by some missionaries last year, and wants to serve a mission next year! What an inspiration. It was so cool I understood like 85- 90 percent of what he said. 

I am already cherishing my time here at the mtc, it is such a special place. Some missionaries complain about it being secluded, but I know it's so that we can be as close as we can to God and have no distractions. I love it for that because I have felt so close to God this week especially, and I've been able to learn so fast and so well. I've never felt so edified and spiritually enlightened. I'm understanding things I couldn't understand before, and I know it's because of the special spirit here, and my sacred calling as a missionary that I can understand it. 

I've received a lot of personal revelation through the Spirit here, especially as I've watched talks by Elder Bednar, he is my favorite. I watched another this Sunday about Doctrine, Principles, and Applications. He understands so well how to really teach through the Spirit, and Christ's Character, and love for us.  I have been really interested in charity lately, and as Elder Bednar suggested in his "Character of Christ" talk I got a fresh Book of Mormon this week that I am dedicating to the study of Charity. I'm starting at the introduction page tomorrow, and reading all the way through focusing my annotations and study journal notes on Charity. I invite you all to join me, and start reading again with a cheap BoM so you can mark it up (if you don't have one, the missionaries can give you one), and really study whatever topic you want, maybe you want to learn about faith, or repentance, or whatever. Write me what you learn, and I'll update you all next week on what I've learned about The pure love of Christ- charity. I know that we will be blessed with understanding and enlightenment as we do this, and we can really change our lives. "Actions and behavior don't change actions and behavior", Doctrine (gospel truths- the "why" we do things), when understood and taken to heart change actions and behavior. If we really want to change our lives we can do so by learning about Christ's Doctrine, this is a great way to do that! 

So the other cool thing I have to point out this week is that I get my reassignment (my VISA has still not come) on Thursday, which is the same day squid gets his call, and it is the weekend of conference, and I opened my original call the weekend of April conference, SO cool! I'm actually really stoked to serve in the US for a while, i hope I get called somewhere with a Chickfila! haha or the east coast cuz I've never been there or somewhere where one of my friends is serving! I love you all, have a great week! 

Wouldn't it be awesome?

HAHAHAHAA OK first thing first. So, today I got to go to the real world! I had to pick up my nasal spray from the pharmacy at the BYU student health center so I got to walk a block down from the MTC campus! It was so exciting, I was like "Elder Barrus, I didn't realize how close my siblings were, they are somewhere around here, we are so close, yet so far away!!" and then I was like "and my grandparents live just up the street! Man wouldn't it be awesome if we saw my family right now?!!" Then on the way back to campus, we were crossing the street to get to the front gate, and a silver honda pulled in front of us turning right on green. I thought, "hey look there's my grandpa" then I realized "GRANPA!!!!!! HEY!!!!" and I started waving my arms, and yelling, but he was in the middle of turning and he didn't notice. hahahaha I was so sad, but excited at the same time. Next time you drive by the MTC pay attention grandpa! So, they finally switched up the district leader this week. it was supposed to be after 3 weeks, but I got 4! Elder Lott is our new DL. Elder Hamilton wrote me the nicest letter thanking me for being a good example and DL. 

Also, yesterday I was bummed that I didn't get any mail cuz I hadn't for a few days and the whole district surprised me with a card at the end of the day, because I didn't get any mail, and to thank me for being a good DL. It was so kind I wanted to hug them all, but we're not allowed to hug girls haha (my district is 5 elders and 8 sisters by the btw it's crazy! we have more sisters than any other district I know). They said the nicest things about me, and it made me feel so good about being here, and my efforts thus far. It made me wish I truly dedicated ALL my time focusing on others so I could feel worthy of such kind remarks, I want to work towards that. So this week was Elder Murray's Bday (from our neighboring district). At night we brought in all the food from all our rooms, put it in the middle of his room and had a party. It was crazy! (for a bunch of missionaries keeping the missionary standards at least haha) He opened his presents (recess cups, twix, a brush, and the big one- a camera, all from his family) and we were goin crazy. He had a bottle of Martinellis and told us all to have some. I asked if any one was sick (given my history, it's best that I do in these situations) and of course no one said anything. Then he told me to chug an entire mountain dew for his bday. 7 seconds. I never turn down a challenge, especially food related- you know me. It burnnnnned haha and it was also 5 minutes before bed so i couldn't sleep for like 2 hours past bedtime. Anyway, the next day guess what happened?? Yep. and I'm just getting over it today. Luckily I only missed 1 class. I was sick like Thursday morning til today. Curse you pathetic "dying baby with aids immune system" (that's a direct quote about me from the one and only ryan oldroyd hahah). So it's still going great here, I love this work. I only have TWO WEEKS left and then if (when) I still don't have my VISA I will be reassigned somewhere in the states for a bit. 

Dinkin' Flicka
Elder Nixon

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Who Can Understand?

I've had such a fantastic week. Last Tuesday for devotional choir we sang "Where Can I Turn for Peace". As we practiced, the conductor had us really think about the words, and told us that we will have investigators in the not so distance future who are asking themselves these same questions. "Where is the quiet hand, to calm my anguish, who, who can understand?" When we finally sang in devotional the Spirit was so strong, and it was so beautiful. Grandmas were crying, hearts were breaking, you know the shtuff, the Conductor told us it was the best performance in his 13 years of conducting the MTC choir. Then, on Wednesday I was able to give Sis. Davis in my district a blessing. She had been sick and was having migraines, and so I gave her a blessing, and again the Spirit was so strong I could feel God's love for her as I was blessing her, and I knew exactly what she needed to know. She has been feeling much better since, and was so grateful:)! My District is so close, they are some really neat people. Our branch presidency always comments on how close we are. 

Oh! So I finally found a scale this week and I weigh 161, so like the same as when I left. I try and do push ups/sit ups every night, and run during gym time. I also have been playing volleyball during gym. Everyone ... well to be honest they suck, so they think I'm a volleyball god haha it's fun.. sometimes. Sis. Sargent played volleyball too so it was really fun when she played with me one day cuz I got some decent sets, some kid on the other team was going real hard and tried to block me once, and I drilled him in the face with the ball hahha I felt really bad, the ball went all the way to the next court over and passed the endline. oops. I really miss listening to music, Elder Spangler and I  were remembering all the songs we like the other day and it was so fun but so sad too because we're already starting to forget them all. Oh by the btw, by some obscure powerful force of evil, I got sick last week, which is sooooo insane because i have like suuuuuuch a good immune system. "My body is fine tuned like a microchip, one grain of sand could LITerally shut down the entire system." However, I prayed for strength that I would still be able to function and go to all my classes, and I did! I wasn't a pathetic little newborn baby in solitary confinement like I was out at school, right byuh boys? right. they made fun of me all the time. 

This past Sunday Elder Barrus and I devised this evil plan to go to bed early (10 instead of 1030), and then since we get to sleep in on Sundays (6:30 instead of 6) we would get an extra hour of sleep!!! We were so stoked. So much is wrong with that statement I won't even explain it. So each week in branch sacrament meeting, the Pres. selects one random Elder and Sister to give a talk.. in Portuguese.  I had thought about the topic, but not written much down, so I wrote a few notes at the beginning of the meeting so my mind wouldn't go blank if I got called, which is probably the reason they called me haha. Anyway, at the start of the meeting Pres. looked at me and I just knew. So when it was time he announced that I would be speaking and I went up there, and it actually went really well. I talked for about 5 minutes in Portuguese about Baptism, then bore my testimony and sat down. Spangler asked me how the heck I speak Portuguese so well after I finished, which made me feel really good, and Elder Jackson (he lives a few streets away from gma and gpa, he knows them and Cathy) told me I spoke really well, and conjugated properly, and I just mixed up a few gender rules. That night I watched a talk by Pres. Bednar about becoming a missionary. The idea was to not just "go on a mission" but to "become a missionary" it was so profound! He is probably my favorite speaker now, he's so enlightening! Yesterday Sis Tantillo brought in a bunch of sour candy her mom sent her that she doesn't like. It was awesome. I ate 3 warheads at the same time and then immediately after like 15 shockers. Nothing could have been more satisfying but chickenfila. I then proceeded to map out all of Hogwarts during the 3rd movie on our whiteboard. Good times. Anyways, everything's going great. I hope you all had a fantastic week. I can't wait to hear about Caden's mission call, you better send me a dearelder so I can hear about it right away! 

Portuguese word: tenro (tender)
tenrooooooooooo (tj detweiler style)