Monday, June 24, 2013

Pictures and a few gray hairs

Elder Forsyth? What? Is that Portuguese?

Teofilo and his family at their baptism.

Baptism of Teófilo and his family!!  It was an amazing experience. The whole time I was so nervous about saying "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen" -- in Portuguese, but after I baptized Teófilo all I could think of was my father! It was a strange thought to appear in my head right after the ordinance was finished but I know that the reason I have the authority to baptize is because of Dad's example and the love he showed me when he was alive. I had a flood of memories from my baptism when I was 8. I have never been able to remember my baptism very well other than the cool paper airplane and other gifts I received, but I was able to remember Dad's smile afterward.

Elder Bastos baptized Marcilene and Marilene and I baptized Teófilo, the father. My first baptism was a whole family!! It was an honor to be apart of. All I can think about is their family in the future -- and the future family of Marilene! Her kids will have the gospel in their lives and be blessed forever! And the two little boys! When they turn eight they too can be baptized. This work is incredible.   

Osternack apartment - Coming in after a hard rainy day of work.

My laminated planner.  
Any resemblance?

Osternack apartment - Elder Bastos ready to serve.

Pictures of our apartment.  it rained for about 5 days straight last week and the glimpse of sun for two days was an incredible gift. A  pair of my shoes are still waterlogged. 

The other picture is of my planner with laminated pictures in it. Brigham is always watching.:-) The other picture is of Christ forgiving the adultress. It is my favorite story in all of the Bible because of the awesome charity Christ shows for her. It shows that we cannot condemn at the first glance. People need 2 chances and 3 chances and chances 70x7. Every time I feel like we should cut an investigator because they don't keep their commitments, I look at my planner and I try to see them as Christ would -- in their highest potential living with our Father again.

(Ed. note:  There are more pictures at the end.  I gave up trying to insert them where I wanted them to go...  The remaining comments are responses to questions Eric and I asked in our emails. Blast from the past and by way of explanation -- Ian and Casey would spend countless hours each summer crafting homemade movies with legos and GI Joes.)

Yes, keep the box of gi joes!  I need those for my hopefully awesome posterity.  Good call, Momma! I need my children to know that it isn't all in the special effect but in the practical effects with lighters and random things that explode. And blowing up legos.  I think about Casey all the time. And Joe and Ben and Kyle. Make sure they all know that I love them will all of my little heart.

 By the way I forgot to tell you, I left my English quad scriptures on Tam airlines. Woops.....I had a couple of seconds to clench my teeth and think of all of the studying and writing the the margins I had done ....but I realized someone needs those scriptures more than I do. They had pictures taped on of our family and of the Seguines. Also a picture of Casey and me playing a random violin I think at Lucy's house.  I am pretty sure it was in 3rd Nephi 18 or 17. The one of Casey and me. I will miss those scriptures dearly.  I got them when I was 12.  But now I have Portuguese ones and a paperback English Book of Mormon that I snagged from Ohio. At the time I was going to give that paper back to a person on the plane but for some odd reason I got the prompting not to. And in turn I left my huge awesome bible, book of mormon, doctrine and covenants, and pearl of great price for someone else to read. Now I know why I have a puny paperback version of the Book of Mormon in English. It is my only source of translation sometimes. 

To answer Eric's questions. The riots that have been flooding the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo are now in Curitiba. Don't worry, though. We are about an hour away from centro Curitiba and the people here, I am pretty sure, couldn't care less about the world cup and the expenses that it takes.

 As we are out clapping our hands outside of gates we hear the occasional yelp of joy after Brazil scores a goal. Elder Bastos always looks at me and give me a slick head nod and says something promoting the Brazilian soccer team. The other day we were outside of an investigator's house and we heard screams, shrieks and laughter coming out of the peachy colored house, then little kids came running outside jumping up and down in the puddles getting all muddy. They were the widest smiles I have ever seen.  Brasil beat Italy. It was a big deal for these little 6 year olds

More details on my trip here: Getting the flight from Atlanta to Sao Paulo is a story of its own. First off, I got on the wrong flight to Atlanta....There were two flights both going to Atlanta, both delayed and both leaving from the same gate. I didn't take the time to check the flight number. After a couple minutes of awkward silence they ushered me off the plane and basically asked why I got on the flight. I explained I was not a terrorist and it was all good. Then I got on my real Atlanta flight which was delayed even more. I had 10 minutes after landing in Atlanta to get on my plane to Sao Paulo. The Atlanta airport is massive and difficult to navigate. I had to run with two carry-ons and get on a train to arrive at terminal E. I was at B.. I made it just in time. I had to run really fast and I was all sweaty in my suit. Kinda gross.

Gray hairs. Many more than usual.  Probably from learning the language.

I love Osternack.

Look up Brazilian hand gestures. There is one they do whenever anything cool happens or they hear of something incredible --  they slap their index finger to their middle digit. I have learned it, it is fun, loud, and you kinda look dumb but it's kinda cool. 

We eat lunch with the members and  we have rice and beans everyday. We only cook on p-day....TODAY! Okay, I need to go!

Monday, June 17, 2013

An Americano in Osternackistan

Hello everyone and welcome to Osternack! e ai! (what up!) pronounced: E eye E

It is the most southern area in the Curitiba South Mission and it is nothing like you have ever seen. Well, maybe you have seen stuff like this in movies or if you have visited the Favelas of Brasil but this area is wild! There are parts that are slightly affluent, but all of the homes are connected to each other and are built with a copper pipe and cement with some fiberglass on top. It is also the area with the highest number of assaults on missionaries. Generally Americans. I love it. My lack of Portuguese knowledge shows but I do know how to keep a very simple conversation going and to testify of Jesus Christ. That's about it other than the Brazillian Portuguese I learn from my companion, Elder Bastos. He hails from the far away land of Sao Paulo,  4 hours away from Curitiba. He speaks very little English so our conversations are always ending in laughter because I usually can´t understand him...well at the beginning of the week it was a nightmare because I had little to no idea of what he was saying. Now I understand so much more. We can actually communicate with one another and I learn so many new words and phrases everyday. Sometimes I have to ask over and over what words mean and after the 4th time I get it, but so far I have been a pretty decent sponge. I am learning how to be patient reallllllly fast. Everyone should look up Patience in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel (Christlike attributes). It explains patience really well. Heavenly Father has trusted me to preach the gospel in Brasil and in his own time I will learn the language. I just need patience and the knowledge that His will is much better than mine. I have much learning to do and growing as a person. I am so grateful I have this opportunity to struggle a little bit.... alot. I have already see my patience level increase as I struggle with the language and a new way of life.

Oh yeah, my first day in Curitiba we got to the Onibus (bustop) and the incoming bus rammed into the bus station. It was a nice surprise for a fresh Americano. It took some significant damage. We all had to leave the bus station and walk what seemed like several miles to another bus stop.  With my 2 bags. 

And another thing! There are dogs covering the streets. They really are covering the streets. But they are nice unlike the Peruvian dogs. I am pretty sure they all breed with one another. because they all look slightly different but all have the same stubby short legs. and sleep in abandoned tires.  These are pictures from my apartment:

Every meal is rice and beans with other various foods and the trusty guarana. Holy mother it is good!  Members and non-members always ask me to say the prayer over the food or before the lesson because it's ''easy''. Even though it is easy my grammar still is atrocious. I guess I don't give myself enough credit. From my point of view I sound like an idiot but the members give me lots of comfort and support when I try. I don't know if they are being nice or not but they say my Portuguese is very good for a first week Americano. The key is to get out of my comfort zone and talk to random people on the street about our message and if there is another day we can share our message in their house. It's kinda scary that most of the time people say "yes." They are too nice. I think it is because of how humble they truly are. They know what it is like to live in the slums and feel like life can go no-where. It brings so much happiness to my soul when their faces light up when they hear how special our message truly is. It's like it's an echo of a testimony they once had? I definitely think so. They all came to this earth to work toward and return to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father. I may not speak the language very well but I have been able to connect with people by telling them that I love them and so does their elder brother, Jesus Christ.  I love locking eyes with them and showing them the pure love of Christ. The only way this is possible is through the spirit. The language of the spirit never changes when one goes from English to Portuguese. Everyone has the light of Christ in them, we just need to let them know they can recognize it through the love that our Heavenly Father has for all of His children. Some people even cry because they are so grateful for someone to come down from the United States and help them specifically. This is truly an amazing work and I feel so blessed  to be apart of it for 2 short years. 

The town of Osternack is right next to the jungle and we can see MONKEYS! I never saw one in the wild of Doylestown. I'm surprised it has taken me this long to spot one;) But really....monkeys, everyone. Monkeys are flying above my head as we walk with purpose to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel legit all the time. There are wooden bridges crossing over streams full of trash, tires and gasoline. There is graffiti sprayed everywhere. Including the outside walls surrounding the Church. Nuts. People are smoking pot in broad daylight and there are random broken down cars all over the streets. This sounds like a Hollywood set but I am not exaggerating. There are parts like unto the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro.  Women feeding their babies in broad daylight while talking to 7 of their friends... everything is exposed. Shield your eyes Elder Forsyth. Osternackistan (Osternackistão). I haven't witnessed a murder but I have heard gunshots. 

Walking by random soccer games is fun too! Why do they all have to be so legit at this sport? Soccer Gods. Oh yeah, and everyone is so pumped for the world cup in 2014. Everytime we walk into people's homes soccer is on. Brasil just beat Japan in a conference cup or something like that. I need a jersey and a team to root for because everyone asks me what club i support. Elder Bastos is a Santos fan (A club in Sao Paulo) so I will roll with that answer for a little while until I know the language well enough to talk soccer. I can't even do that in English. Someday I will be able to, I hope.
We have a family of 5, and 3 will be baptized after the father has an interview with the Mission President over past transgressions! We are so excited for them! They read The Book of Mormon every week and are so excited to finally get to be baptized. His name is Teófilo and his wife and daughter are going to be baptized too! They also have two little boys Gilermi and Lucas who are so cute but they are under 8 years old. I got to sit next to them in church yesterday. It was heaven. They rock and say the funniest things in their cute little boy Brasilian accents! We also have another baptism set up for the upcoming weeks. It is strange to have baptisms, quote unquote, lined up. These people are so humble and ready for the gospel to change their lives. 
I love you all and stay strong in the US. Let me know what's going on because all I hear are strange Brasilian covers of Jason Mraz songs. no joke.
Elder Forsyth
p.s. stay sweet ...and I just realized that this letter might stir some worry in you for my well being in Osternackistan. Especially my mother. Don't worry, I am very safe;) and the Lord will protect me as I stay obedient. I love Osternack. Look it up on google and tell me what it says.

Ed. note:  I did and the pictures were similar to this one in the Wiki definition of a favela. Should I really not be worried???
(from Wikipedia):  A favela (Portuguese pronunciation: [faˈvɛlɐ]) is the term for a shanty town in Brazil, most often within urban areas. The first favelas appeared in the late 19th century and were built by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Some of the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighbourhoods). This was the place where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived. Over the years, many former black slaves moved in.
Even before the first favela came into being, poor citizens were pushed away from the city and forced to live in the far suburbs. However, most modern favelas appeared in the 1970s due to rural exodus, when many people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Unable to find a place to live, many people ended up in a favela.

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10, Part 2: Dear America

This is Chris Taylor!  He is a stud and his testimony is so strong.  I love just speaking with him and feeling the light he has. :-)

Dear America,

I'm feels extremely strange. Well as many of you know and for those who do not know...I GOT MY VISA and I am leaving today!! I have to keep this one short though because today is not our p-day since it is transfer weekend.

Things I am scared about:
-a four hour layover in Sao Paulo. visa picture looks like i am a Russian spy once again. I swear I am a really happy person except for when I am taking passport pictures. I just really want to be jason bourne, okay?! The picture really does look un-trustworthy. I don't think the Brasilians will mind, though.
- crazy Brasilian food.
- Portuguese as a whole.
I have finally felt comfortable with English, now I have to switch over to Portuguese again. Here we go!

GOOD NEWS! Linda who I spoke about before is on date for baptism on June 30th! It was truly a miracle how we were able to be in the right place at the right time. Everything has lined up. She has spoken with the bishop, graduated from a year of seminary, has attended church several times and has friends in the ward! We we extended the baptismal invitation, she told us she was so ready and it was something that she had wanted for a while. She also told us that she has felt the blessings of happiness as she has been on the path towards coming closer to Christ. So great! The Garricks invited her over for dinner and the whole time we were in their home whether it was eating, joking, or teaching, the spirit told all three of us companions that Linda has been waiting to be baptized for a verrrry long time and she is ready to make the commitment with our Heavenly Father. Before we went to dinner, Elder Twogood, Culler and I sat down on a park bench, read our scriptures and prayed for inspiration on what Linda needed to hear. We came up with a Restoration/ Prophet -emphasized hybrid lesson plan. It sounds kinda nuts but it really worked! Linda was really excited that an apostle of the Lord who is set apart as a prophet was coming to our stake for a special stake conference. The funny part is, we were walking home on a barren road and offered up a prayer of gratitude to the Lord for guiding us to her. As we finished our prayer we got off our knees and there was Linda driving past us in her white Honda pilot smiling at us. It was probably a strange sight to see three well dressed young men kneeling in the dirt but I think she knew why we were doing it.

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you! Elder L. Tom Perry set up a surprise stake conference 2 weeks ago and yesterday we had the opportunity to listen to his words and feel of the love that he has for us. He served his mission in Columbus and ever since has had a very special place for The Ohio in his heart. He is so funny, too! He is seriously a giant and is a goofy, hilarious man. The best part was we got to shake his hand and meet him. You could tell he was so tired from all of the traveling but man he was sharp when he spoke. I love our apostles and am so excited now for next General Conference...which I will be watching in Brasil...woah.

Alright, I am off to Brasil. The land of guadana (mom you are going to need to spell check that), (Hikari thanks for this!:  I believe the word Ian was going for is Guarana. It is pronounced the way he spelled it though. ( It's a berry, but it pretty much one of the most popular drinks in Brasil. Since drinking the water isn't recommended, missionaries drank a lot of soda. And by soda, I mean A LOT of Guarana. It's delicious!, 

soccer-aholics, funny people, catholics, and sometimes naked people. Maybe not in Curitiba but I guess I'll see...well not look but you know what I mean....find out. Well this is awkward, but I what I want you to know is that I really do appreciate your prayers and I have learned so much here in Ohio. I am so grateful for the members here and my two fine companions. Viva la Brasil!

Love, Elder Forsyth

p.s. stay sweet

June 10, Part One: From an Ohio Mom

(Ed. note: I received this nice email from Nikki Garrick yesterday, complete with pictures! You may have to scroll to the left and right to see the whole picture. Part 2 will be Elder Forsyth's email received today.  Thank you so much, Nikki!)

It was quite exciting that Linda accepted challenge to be baptized.  She will be only the 2nd convert baptism in the nearly 4 year history of this ward. She has been attending Early Morning Seminary at our house all school year as a friend of my daughter and another girl in the ward.  Anyhow, apparently someone just needed to ask her the question! They did and she said yes! Baptism date is set for June 30th.  Sadly your son will be off on a whole new adventure by then.  (We joked that he should call and ask for his flight to be rescheduled until then or at least so he can get to the Mormon Tab Choir concert!)

Our lesson with them and Linda this week was about the Plan of Salvation.  I was very touched by the story of Elder Forsyth's father passing away.  His absolute knowledge of the Plan came through and the Spirit bore testimony of the truth of his words. So grateful that tender mercies come out of tragedies to bring comfort. My husbands father passed away 18 years ago while serving as Stake President and we understand the comfort only the gospel can bring. 

As much of the Spirit these Elders bring, they also bring a lot of fun and laughter!  Fun/ cool missionaries sure make serving a mission look fun to my kids (especially to my 2 boys!) and I appreciate that as a mom!  My teenage daughters were so happy to find musical theater fans in your son and Elder Twogood. Lots of fun at the dinner table talking about everyone's passion for music and musicals! :).

By the way- fabulous Sunday today with Elder L. Tom Perry in town and choosing our stake for a special stake conference!  We all got to shake his hand. :). 

Ok, if I keep this up, your son will have no new news to share if he calls during his layover tomorrow! :). I'll include the picture of the 3 Elders with Linda (16) and one with my daughters Jillie (16, in shorts) and Reagan (15, in orange pants).  Sorry they were taken in the garage... It was raining outside.

Take care! 

Jillie, Elder Twogood, Linda, Elder Forsyth, Elder Culler, Reagan

Monday, June 3, 2013

VISA! And other blessings

Note from the "Momma" - I got a call a couple of hours ago from a nice member of the ward there where Elder Forsyth is serving.  He called at Ian's request to give me the very good news that his visa arrived!  He will be flying out to Curitiba, Brazil, a week from today.  Since Mondays seem to be the universal Preparation Day, there will likely be no letter next Monday, but with any luck he will be able to call home from the airport.  I will share news from his call here on the blog.  I will also post his address as soon as I get that information.  Thank you all SOOO much for your continued prayers and letters and support.

It sounds like these elders are too tired/busy to take pictures.  I'm hoping for some from Brazil soon!  For those of you checking this from Facebook, there are pictures on the post prior to this one.

Hi Mom!! Family!! and Friends!!
The mission field is a blast. Sometimes we feel like a private moving or landscaping company but I really do enjoy it. This past week has been a week full of service. Moving people out. Moving people in. Mulching and more mulching. And after all the work is done you can almost always guarantee yourself a pizza. I can't tell you how many slices of pizza I have had this week just from the amount of service. It's funny actually. A lot of the times when a dinner appointment is canceled due to sickness or out of town reasons, the family brings over pizza. And it seems like the next meal after that from another family is pizza. It just works out like that. The good thing is the mix  of a gourmet Italian dinner at someone's house or the random occasion when a non-member gives you a 50 dollar gift card to Chipotle. Yeah. That was awesome. Chipotle is probably the second biggest thing that people obsess over here. No wait....I'd probably said third. First being Ohio State. and second being when people tell me I forgot the "the" at the beginning of the university's name. Then we have Chipotle. hmmmm priorities. :-)
We had the great privilege to be a part of one of the best fast and testimony meetings ever. So many truths were covered including the importance of seminary, how to find out The Book of Mormon is true, the Atonement, finding faith in Christ, and inviting people to go to ward functions or meetings. So many members were able to bear testimony of what they know to be true and the non-members there were able to feel of the Spirit so strongly. A family in our ward is really good friends with a girl named Linda (she's a non-member). She is Vietnamese and her parents are still in Vietnam. She has been attending seminary so much that she received a certificate in sacrament meeting. She had the biggest grin on her face. It was truly a testament to the importance of seminary. I really wish I payed more attention in seminary and wasn't so crabby about waking up. I'm sorry for being a nuisance momma! Please forgive me! 

There are a bunch of youth in our ward and almost every single one 14 and older went up to shake the Bishop's hand to receive one of the several seminary awards. After the meeting was over, our member family asked Linda how she felt about all of the testimonies given during sacrament meeting. Linda said she was about to cry 5 times and she said that she knew those feelings came from the Holy Ghost. The best part is....drum roll....we are teaching them tonight with Linda there and they are all very excited because last time, which was only 3 days ago, we had a blast talking about how to build your testimony of Jesus Christ and the divinity of The Book of Mormon. We had so much fun and we heard from the mom that Linda is excited to be there tonight. I'll have to give you the update on how it goes. Even though today is p-day I have a lot of scripture reading to do because Bishop Torgeson challenged the Young Men and us to finish The Book of Mormon in 3 weeks. It will be good preparation to teach Linda, too, so we can find what she needs as we prepare throughout our day to teach her.
Missionary work rocks! The blessings of happiness that I receive from just inviting others to follow Christ are indescribable. All I can say is it brings me great joy everyday knowing that this is what the Lord wants me and needs me to do as a priesthood holder.
So Juan will be leaving us today. In other words our car is being re-poed. Sad face.  They need it for the new missionaries that will be coming in this next transfer. Many mission areas are being split and there are going to be a bunch of tri-companionships. We were able to abuse, i mean utilize, Juan a lot though. We were able to visit several less-actives on the outskirts of the ward boundaries and invite them to church. It was a serious blessing for us since we could travel outside of our bike riding bubble and teach many more people in one day.  Plus listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the car was sweet.
I got your letters Eric and Jamie! And I also received your "Lone Wolf" Sierra Card. Someday I might need it to harness its powers like you said. Tell Henry that I hope he gets better too. Poor kid. At least he didn't get hit in the head by an oil drum like Jonathan. Is that what happened?  I can't remember. Oh and Eric, I have already told the Shredded Wheat story to a member in our ward. I think it was because their baby was on the larger side. I'm not exactly sure how it came up but I hope you are okay with it;)
Something that would be very helpful in furthering the Lord's work would be prayers for mental stamina and more patience. I am doing a lot better with the patience because I know that many things are just not in my control and as long as I try my best and put in the amount of work needed I will be blessed. But I would ask for prayers for those two things specifically. Thank you so much.
Elder Forsyth