Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My First Baptism

Hi family!

This week was super good! I had my first baptism on Saturday, her name was Kelly. She´d been coming to church for a while and asked me to baptize her.
 In answer to dad´s questions: 
My apartment isn't too good. haha We have a crappy washing machine. We have a small bathroom, living room, and 2 other rooms for both sets of companions. Elder Eskilsen was companions with Elder Moroni just before this;  I´ve met him a couple times. This past week we had zone conference with the whole zone. President came too! He´s so cool.  Ny companions full name is Regis Moroni Maxwell de Oliveira. He lives in Sao Paulo Interlagos. The baptism was soooo cool! the spirit was so strong. There are 300 ``members`` in our ward, but very few are active. 
I sent an SD card finally today, there are like 100 pictures or so on it, I think. We´re only allowed to take them on p day, but Cruz Alta is tiny and there´s nothing to see, so not a lot of pictures here. haha.  My companion speaks like a tiny bit of English.  He and the others all know rap music. Our district is about a 2 hour bus ride boundary around this city. We had to travel to another city for my companion to do a baptismal interview this past week, so that whole day we were walking, then on a bus, then walking. We are only allowed to use the bus and taxis when traveling to places like that. We walk everywhere else. Our chapel is like a mile away, but zone conference was in a chapel like 5 miles away. So lots of walking.
I´m finally losing weight haha. The ward I´m in is super small, but the people that actually show up are solid. We eat really well with the members. I have to speak Portuguese like 90 percent of the time. It´s surprising how many people know a little bit of English. I bought a basketball today with my money, so don´t worry when you see my statement down a little. I convinced president to let me and my companion play on p-days and in the mornings! He said we cannot play games that are competitive. So basically we shoot and play horse. You can still feel free to send lots of packages and letters haha :) 
The sports world sounds good, go celtics!!!!! There are kids everywhere in the streets playing soccer. they´d kick my butt. School here is only for 2 hours a day, and the kids don´t even go half the time. Here everyone is home for almoco - (lunch), not dinner. Lunch is like the biggest meal of the day. We have to pay for our own breakfast and dinner but half the time we are fed at dinner time by whoever we are teaching. I´m not in a big farming city, but there are farms all around it. It´s starting to get cold here, they said it gets to about 0 degrees Celsius, so like 30ish F, so not too bad. My companion is super cool, he is the DL so he´s always busy doing things on the phone. We have made a lot of good friends with investigators, so these up coming weeks should be solid. I´m in the lowest baptizing mission in the whole country of Brazil, so they´ll be sparse. My companion has been here for 10 months and has like 11. So i´m doing good so far haha. Everyone here drinks this weird tea stuff out of this weird cup. it´s called: Chimarrao. look it up on the internet. We are going to be moving into a new, super nice, apartment this week. so I'll take lots of pictures of that. The food is way better in here  than in the MTC.  
Tate´s graduation picture is really cute haha! ummm when are ya´ll going to Lake Powell? Send me pictures of it when you go!  There are 2 missionaries other than me, from Utah, in my zone, but I don´t remember their names. We have been teaching about 8 lessons a day, but have to walk SO far to do so. Last week we taught the most lessons in the whole mission haha. I have been teaching a lot of the restoration alone for practice. We have a solid family set up for baptism on the 10th of June. they will be great! 
That´s sweet Hailey made all stars! Tell her great job for me! And Tay will still be smaller than me when I get home cuz I do lots of sit ups ;) haha jk - he will kill me. Oh well. Have Tay really study his scriptures. Reading Preach My Gospel for FHM would be a great idea. It´ll help you get a lot more comfortable searching the scriptures. have Tay mark his for quick movement on his mission. We need to start our own co-ed team for softball when I get home cuz we need a team that is ACTUALLY good haha. Yeah we don
't get to play sports cuz President Costa made an announcement to all the missionaries cuz there were too many injuries.   
I miss all of you and love you so much! 
Elder Shepherd.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My First Area - Cruz Alta

Hey family!
 I just sent off letters. What´s up?
     Right now I´m in a city called Cruz Alta 84 miles north of Santa Maria. The keyboards here are even more messed up than in the last place. My companions name is Elder Moroni. He´s a native, from Sao Paulo. the language is coming along really well. I spent 2 nights at the mission home cuz my companion is a DL and he had meetings to go to.

      I am emailing from an internet cafe in the city, it costs 2 rais for 1 hour, and that´s all we get. Letters [take too long], and I will only get them every 6 weeks during transfer time. There wasn´t any packages or letters waiting for me at the mission home. I gave my companion a blessing this morning cuz he was sicker than a dog. and it was all in Portuguese, so that was interesting.
     Oh ya, church yesterday was weird. there are supposedly 90 members in our ward area, but only like 30 people or so were at church. the church is really weak in the south. I had to give a talk which was totally on the spot during sacrament meeting, so that was an experience. I´ve constantly been writing in my journal about all the different experiences. I´ll write more experiences and stuff in letters cuz i cant remember all of them here. I get 120 rais every 15 days...which is like 65 bucks so not a lot of money. it´s for food, letters, and necessities.
      We eat every single meal with members, so that´s pretty good. a lot of rice and beans. and we get pop every lunch. Weird rules though, no Coke or Pepsi only Guarana and Fanta. So I´ll hate that when I'm home. The poverty in this city is crazy! You´ve got the super rich people, and the super poor people. They´re so so so generous though. They give us EVERYTHING that they have for lunch, and it´s rude not to eat it. I feel so bad. also, tons of stray dogs. I´ve been jumping into lessons as much as I can. They have a little different accent here than they did in Sao Paulo but not bad, I can still understand a lot more than I can say. The sports world looks good, how´s VHS  soccer? The roads here are all cobblestone, only the main street is pavement and we have to walk so far to appointments, which is hard cuz half the time the people aren´t even home. Let´s just say I´ll have some big legs when I get home.

Okay well I gotta go now! I love all of you!

Elder shepherd
PS> Also we can not play sports, it's a mission rule.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On His Way To Santa Maria

     Carson called home this morning,  6:30AM from the aiport in Sao Paulo.  Taylor was kind of awake, it took Hailey a little longer to respond. Carson was very up beat and excited,  "pumped",  he said "to get into the mission field in Santa Maria". He was traveling with 10 other missionaries headed to the same mission. They were going to board the plane in 5-6 minutes so we didn't have long. He indicated his Portuguese is about 90% understanding when the language is being spoken and he's at 60% when trying to speak it.  Pretty good for 6 weeks. "It will come much faster as I get into the field teaching" he pointed out. This is the test group of missionaries, part of the pilot program spending a total of 6 weeks in the MTC. The missionaries showing up at the MTC after will spend the normal 10 weeks in the MTC and then will be sent out.  They were jealous that Carson and the 10 others were shipping out before some that arrived earlier. : )

    Yesterday, Carson placed 4 Book of Mormons in an hour while working in the pouring rain. It was AWESOME!, he said.   Then he said, "Happy Mothers Day Mom!",  then he told Taylor to shape up his writing - apparently it has been difficult to decipher,  then to Hailey, keep up the dancing and soccer and softball!". [Carson wrote a letter to his little nephews, received yesterday,  encouraging scripture reading, prayer and preparation for missions;  it brought a tear to our eyes.]

      He asked about who was getting ready to go or who had received their calls. We told him Austin Phelps (Romania)  is being ordained an Elder Sunday,  he and Brian Nance (Capetown South Africa), Treavor Jensen and Katie Bodily have all spent time at the house. Elvonne Farrel's (Taiwan) farewell was Sunday. All of Carsons friends are  going to locations all over the globe!  Overall he is doing well, full of energy, and ready to work and teach. It was fun to hear his enthusiasm! 
                                    posted by Dad

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New Mailing Address - Santa Maria

Carsons mailing address has changed. He will be in Santa Maria on May 17! - see address in the right column!

A Few Pictures From the Sao Paulo MTC

Top picture:  The basketball court at the Sao Paulo MTC. Nice but the floors are cement.
2nd Pic: Me in front of the Sao  Paulo Temple. So nice!
3rd Pic:  Me and my companion buying guarana, 3 liters for only 2 rais!
4th Pic: Me and my roommates. So sweet!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Placed Six Books Of Mormon

Hi family! 
     Not a lot of time this week so it's gonna be short. Sorry. We have a random fireside, so hopefully it's an apostle or something. I leave the MTC next Tuesday, not sure what time yet. I found out that we fly to Porto Alegre, then take a 5 hour bus ride to Santa Maria.  Time has gone by soooo fast! it seriously feels like it's flying. I dream half the time in Portuguese now, it's so weird. 
     We went out into the streets yesterday to place Books of Mormon. I placed 6 and have a good feeling about most of them. I can understand the majority of what's going on, speaking is a little more difficult. I won't be able to email next week, so probably expect an email two weeks from today. My companion and I get along really well too. Time all feels like it's meshing together. I feel like I'm living Bill Murray's Groundhog Day!!! haha. The MTC is fun and all, but I need to go out and do some real work! I'm so pumped! So ya make sure you don't send packages or letters here anymore, I won't get them. You can sign up for that Mission Ties thing if you want. if you didn't get my little letter about it then look it up. it explains it all online. 
     We go out placing more Books of Mormon next Monday, then take off on Tuesday. I went out to eat at a burger joint today with my district, it was so good. I'm stoked to get my care package when I get out to the field! I'm gonna send off a SD card next week if I get a chance.... I have some pictures on it - but we can only use our cameras inside the MTC and only on p days. 
     The Temple here is amazing! I love doing endowment sessions. I only have a cough now, so that's good - . one week left! So stoked!!! I'll keep writing you when I can, keep writing me each week! 
I love and miss everyone!
       Elder shepherd

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Letter 4-16-12

Hey Family,

So yes, we did celebrate Easter here to answer moms question. Every Sunday we have church from 9-12 noon. It feels like every other day of the week though, other than P-day. Sorry my emails are short. We don't get enough time on the computers, and the keyboard here are not the same. My testimony is getting stronger here.  I'm growing more close to the Lord and His gospel. Taylor, you need to get really comfortable with your scriptures! That's one thing I definitely regret not doing. I've had such a change of heart and mind here, and I love the work.  The language is coming surprisingly easy to this point.  I can't wait to get out into the field. The food isn't too bad, the fruit is really good.. and vegetables are still bad.... weird. We eat 3 meals per day but dinner is at 4:30PM which is too early.
     Our MTC rooms have 3 double closets and 3 sets of bunk beds. Its hard because all of the beds are exactly 6 foot 1 inch and I'm 6' 2".  So I can't ever get really comfy.  Also it's sooooo hot in my room. The clock Val gave me has a thermostat on it and guess how hot it is,  80.4 degrees on a good night. So I sweat all night every night. Luckily I have the top bunk under a fan so it is a little better.  The MTC is actually called the CTM here (pronounced see - tee- emee).  P-Day is so fun! WE have a large area around that we are allowed to go to, including a little shop that is totally black market.  I got a soccer jersey and a Ferrari watch for several rais [brazilian money currently 1.75 rais = $1.00 dollar]  I downloaded church music before I left and the Brazilians love it. 
     Thanks for supporting me going on a mission.  I'll try to figure out how to send pictures cuz we're not supposed to on these old computers. And we can only use our camera's on P-Day.  That is SWEET that Konor [Frey] is going to Singapore! 
     I gave both Books of Mormon away on the airplanes. One guy was a dentist who spoke little English. I just told him who I was and showed him the Book and challenged him to read it.  The other was a younger guy who sat by me in the airport , he was amazed that I was leaving everything behind for 2 years.

Your Son,

Elder Shepherd

Dad comment:
[Carsons dad challenged him to give away two Books of Mormon by the time he reached Brazil, but the catch was he had to testify of the book and  then tell them why he was on a mission and then challenge them to read it.  Nice job Carson!]

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Back On His Feet!

Hey family!
     So I'm feelin better, just a cough now, it lasted about 5 days. I think I got a bug from the food here. The MTC is getting way boring and repetitive. Start sending ALL letters to my mission address. You can send them this week, as well as packages....send lots of those haha.  We take a super nice bus to the temple, it's about an hour drive cuz the traffic here is crazy. That's sweet that Chris [Keddington] got his call in high school. I haven't got any cookies from Mr. Cheney's cuz they're way too expensive. The area around here is cool, and if you buy anything Brazilian made, it's cheap. There are super cheesy Nike shoes up the street for 350 Rais. 
     The exchange rate right now between Dollars to Rais is about 1.75. So I made a lot of money coming here haha. not really. That's too bad Taylor didn't find his iPod.... I got the picture from Tate, it's SO cute.
My testimony is growing a ton here, and it's a blessing to have grown up in the gospel. It's amazing how everything I learned in primary is coming back to me haha. Everything being sent to my mission needs to be sent to the mission home. letters, packages...everything. I also want you to send stickers with my mission address on them so i don't have to write it out for every letter! Time is going by fast, so I'm looking forward to gettin out in the field and workin my butt off,  I'll be home before you know it! No big injuries right now for anyone at home so that's good! How's grandma? I miss you guys. 
I'll see ya'll soon!

Elder Shepherd........... and yes, I dream half the time in Portuguese now and mess up on letters a lot!