Monday, July 29, 2013

McPheeian sends his love from Osternack!

Good morning, everyone!

Snow in Brasil. It was a jaw dropping experience for everyone here.   -3 C.   It was Elder Bastos' first time feeling the magical white stuff. He was running around on our neighbor's roof, he was so happy. Our neighbor´s roof is below us -- we can simply walk onto it. It is the perfect spot to gaze at the stars at night. You can see so many of them down here. One of my favorite things to do at night is just sit on the roof (our neighbor's) and read. When you are without your guitar and facebook to guide your day, you start to find other hobbies on the mission. Like star gazing. :)

Speaking of my lost hobby of playing the guitar. I had a guitar contact. Yeeeeeah. :) Thanks to our Founding Fathers and their diligent pursuit of many different kinds of freedom, we have been blessed with religious freedom. One thing led to another, and Joseph Smith restored the same church that Christ established when He ministered on the earth. Many years later, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was born and went on to win Grammys. There is a story my mother can tell you of when I was an infant and was instantly calmed when she was watching the taped recording of the Choir singing at General Conference (because my birth got in the way on October 1). Ever since my early days I have adored music, constantly trying to find new genres and new ways I can express myself through music. Thanks to my family, with a father who played a slick clarinet, a mother who is the queen of the organ, and three brothers that play several instruments, I grew up in a home where music was always on at least someone's mind. Usually on the mind of my Mom and my brother Eric when they would try to schedule around each other's piano and drum lessons:)  I discovered John Mayer at Jonathan's mission going-away party. I have a distinct image of Jeff Meise and Eric playing "daughters" and everyone singing along. I think this is when my desire to own a guitar was born. Christmas of 2010 my mother surprised me with a brand new guitar. At the time, I didn't know that the wooden phenomenon would become my new best friend/ girl friend. The nights when I had nothing to do I would just sit and play "Charlize" (my mom can explain the name). I started playing at school. I met two awesome brothers at college and even started a band! I left for a mission and had several opportunities to play primary song medleys with members in Ohio, but never with a complete Brasilian stranger. Then, two weeks ago, Elder Bastos and I were in contacting mode and Elder Bastos pointed out a man with a guitar across the street. At this moment I was really missing my guitar while feeling my not-so-calloused-anymore fingers. I immediately ran across the street, a Fiat had to slam its brakes, and started talking to the young man and asked for the guitar (kindly) and Elder Bastos and I explained the Restoration in song..... and we now have baptism marked for this young Brasilian fellow.  Music is grand. :)

2 things I miss from home that can't be sent to me on the mission because they will get ruined  in transit.

1. Wawa Hoagiefest. Nothing like that glorious month exists here.

2. Water Ice. ditto. 

More found hobbies in the mission. Teaching ENGLISH! We have an hour to study the mission language and Brazilians have a chance to learn English if they have an English speaking companion. We have recorded some hilarious videos that I will have to transfer onto CDs and send home. 

OK, almost out of time, but here is a list of people to pray for:


Pray for them.

Seding love  - stay sweet, everyone.

Elder Ian Forsyth

Monday, July 22, 2013

Diamond in the rough

Hello everyone!  Seja Bem-Vindo ao blogo de Elder Forsyth...

We just received our new rules from our new mission president and we only have 1 hour to email home. Alright, I will get to writing really quick.

A couple days ago, Elder Bastos, the Ward Mission leader and  I (in the spirit of member missionary work) decided to set up a meeting with all of the newly called ward missionaries. We got each of them a fresh Preach My Gospel beforehand. The ward missionary companionships here are generally all married couples. It was an awesome meeting and everyone was super excited to get to work. The role of the ward missionary is to teach the recent converts the five lessons over again. The Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Commandments, and Laws and Ordinances. The purpose of our meeting with the ward missionaries was to instruct them in basic teaching skills. Like, how to actually begin an official lesson, teaching with your companion in unity, asking questions, and listening. I was in charge of teaching "Asking questions" and "listening". Two things that are still a little difficult for me since I am not a native Brasilian. To say the least, I was pretty scared. I had a segment of 15 minutes. And I had to fill the whole time with worthwhile information guided by the spirit... in Portuguese. My first question to get things rolling no one understood except for the Bishop. The thought rolling through my head was, "oh, one understands me!"  But afterward something miraculous happened. I said a little prayer in my heart for help, that my tongue could be loosed and I could say something that would touch the hearts of the couples in my ward. After I prayed I received an extreme boost of self confidence and taught with all the power in my heart. This meeting was a turning point in my language skills because now I feel comfortable teaching principles of the gospel to several people not just one or two investigators. Afterward, I received a lot of kind words from the ward missionaries, which has given me new confidence. You can find these topics in chapter 10 of Preach My Gospel.

If there was one word to describe the town of Osternack, I would immediately say rough. All in all, it is rough. People have rough life styles, the homes are rough, sometimes family situations are rough for the people. But we found a diamond. Yes, a diamond in the rough. This art has to bring a smile to anyone who passes it. It for sure did for me. Good thing I had my camera to document my happiness. Elder Bastos will send them to you because of my faulty computer. Spiderman, my childhood hero and hero still, is in Osternack.

I am out of time  so I will have to include my awesome story about my guitar contact next week.

Stay sweet, everyone.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Music, Love and Futebol

Good Morning friends, family and other people that are reading my blog. I consider you to also be my friend, :)

ED IS THE BISHOP!! (Ed Seguine was called as the new bishop of the Doylestown Ward.)  Tell him I send my regards:) By the way I forgot to include in my other emails that I recieved his dearelder letter 3 weeks ago. It made my day on the way back from zone conference. I read it on the ônibus since it is illegal for missionaries in Brazil to proselytize on public transportation. I received lots of comfort from it. I love Ed, Jen, Dallin, Taylor and of course Cami. I am so thankful for all of their awesome letters that they have sent me. Cami - continue to be awesome...okay?
I didn't have the time for a photo shoot this week...hahaha. Let it be said that taking pictures in Osternack with a nice digital Canon is not the smartest idea. So it might have to be in our apartment. With our electric blue walls. 

Our water situation for all of the worried mothers out there

Don't worry, only some of the water is not the cleanest. We BUY our water from a very established proprietor. It is the liquor store that is right next door to our house. Don't worry we are only there for their water supply. It's 9 reais and it comes in those big blue jugs. It is the highest quality water we can get. So far I have not received any signs that the water I have been drinking is bad for me. 

Tender mercy of the week

So this week I had, more or less, a sinus infection. I got it last Segunda-Feira (Monday) and it finally calmed down last night. Right now I feel good as new with a sniffle here and there. We were teaching a person we met on the street the past week and when I would teach a principle it was clear my voice was going out and I was sick. I continued to teach and my sickness continued to show. It was that way until a man who had a good taste in music drove by. I was able to hear the music because we were teaching the lady on her balcony. "Could you Be Loved" by Bob Marley was soaring through the air and my voice miraculously came back and I continued to teach with power and fervor. I know this sounds really does make the difference in my life. When we are walking down the streets there are 9-10 different FIATS playing different kinds of music and  they are all blasting at full volume. It's a little nauseating. The people in this town are really into buying super expensive speaker systems and hooking them up in their car. It is really strange. The cars are all decked out but the homes are made of wet cement thrown on top of very old wood.

A little more about Elder Bastos

Two nights ago we felt like we had taught a good amount of lessons and we needed to find more investigators for our upcoming week. So we hit the pavement contacting anyone we could find. In the in-between moments I would ask Elder Bastos about his life and the conversation eventually came to what is your favorite movie. It was really hard for Elder Bastos. He loves Americans films and he is like me -- it is one of his favorite things to do. After many minutes of analyzing it came down to Dance with Me and Notting Hill. Mom, I told him that you and he would be best friends. He is a big Hugh Jackman and Richard Gere fan. I was taken aback at first but I accepted it.

(In answer to questions about his district and zone)I don't know my zone very well. But we did have a conference with our new president. Our Zone Leaders are Elder Martínez and Elder Morales. Both are not from Brazil. Martinez is from Uruguay and Morales is from Chile. So when they are not teaching or having meetings with us they speak Spanish. Our district is awesome. We are all pretty far away from each other. Our District covers Osternack, Bairro Novo, Sito Cercado, and Jardim do Sol. I was instantaneously loved and my language improves every meeting we attend because everything is in Portuguese. I will have a picture of them next week. We have district meeting tomorrow so I'll take a photo. 

More Pictures of Osternack. I have to secretly take them. That is why the angles are all goofy. I am not trying to be a hipster, I swear.


So the other day I bought a CORITIBA FUTEBOL CLUB jersey. This came with a cool keychain that I attached to my backpack. First mistake. Soccer in Brasil is a religion and if you show your team outwardly it is like having a different interpretation of the Bible. Everyone has their views but in this case everyone has their team. The team that Elder Bastos supports is Santos. Many people like this team but there are so many teams that people would lay down their life for. So when people see my keychain they...first...immediately think I speak fluent Portuguese. Secondly...they start to contend or joke about how their team is better than my "team" or in my perspective my dinky keychain. Whenever people ask about it Elder Bastos has an involuntary response, "He's a santista...don't worry."(santista = follower of team Santos) I just go with it. I asked Elder Bastos which team is the worst in Brasil. The worst team in the nation is Corinthians. I say this now just to get people's attention. They look at me really funny. It's a hilarious face. For all those who are acquainted with the look Francesca, my sister-in-law, has coined "the Forsyth look," it is alot like that. Ask one of my brothers and they will demonstrate for you. I think Daniel has mastered it. Ask him

(I asked him about his efforts to love each companion and each potential investigator) This love has helped me so much. I have decided to stop everyone on the street. Especially the ones with a "Skol" (a really famous Brazilian beer) in their hands. There was one guy drinking away and was about to walk past us until I stopped him. He was taken back in shock. He said every religion he sees rejects him and he pointed to his beer and asked what we were doing stopping him. We told him who we were and how we can help. He was full of gratitude and cried a little. He doesn't live in Osternack but came down to have a couple of drinks with his friends. He will be meeting the missionaries of Bairro Novo soon, I hope. We gave him the information and how he can call for a free Book of Mormon. I'll admit not every drunk guy I can understand because of the language and the way they slur all of it together. But no matter who it is, they decided to come to earth and return to their Heavenly Father, right? I think beer is the least of our worries.

Stay sweet and don't leave the guy with the beer behind.

Elder Ian Forsyth

Monday, July 8, 2013

Work Monsters

Hi everyone!

Hard work is more important than intellect.
  Pres. Ezra Taft Benson once said:  "One of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work.  If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people, and he will be happy.  There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry.  That's the secret -- work, work, work.  There is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work." 

My mom sent me that quote this week. Whew, what a quote. It is so true. This last week Elder Bastos and I were work monsters. We taught 27 lessons and had 141 contacts on the street. There wasn't much time for worry. We were super happy the whole entire time also. There were not any down moments. And if our investigators were not following up with their commitments we just showed them more love. :) Another thing that has helped me stay extremely focused is an idea I think we should all consider. Never leaving our sacred grove. When was that time or times you were truly converted and decided to be a better servant of the Lord and live the gospel more fully in your life? For Joseph it was the first vision. What is yours? Afterward did you have a falling away? Even if it was for just a little. I know for sure I have had sacred grove experiences that have changed my life for the better but I still fall short of my goals to live the gospel more fully. The key: Don't leave your sacred grove. Always remember the tender mercies and the times when the gospel has changed your life and live it. Don't re-live them. Live them. In the mission field there are plenty of opportunities to not follow the rules, to give into temptation, to do something good when there is something else you can be doing that is better. Always seek to change your spiritual roots and not the branches. The branches are the by-products of our actions. Don't seek to change your actions but first seek to change your nature, then the branches will bear delicious fruit that people can see and partake of. 

And speaking of delicious, after we worked out this morning, we got some warm bread from the bakery -- a little Brazilian heaven to go with the avacado smoothies we made.

Portuguese lesson and language report

Pra is the Brasilian form of para. They shorten everything. and I mean everything. The word estava-- meaning I have done this (continually in the past) is always shortened to "tava'' and esta is just "ta."   Us Brasilian folk like to keep things short and relaxed. The people are the same: short and relaxed. ;)   They are super chill when you greet them on the street.  I am getting much, much better at the language because I am just talking to everyone. Short, tall, fat. smoking, smoking marijuana, eye-less, some people only have one leg. We had a legendary week with 53 addresses that we can follow up with. Of the total 141 contacts we made, Elder Bastos got 71 of those and I got 70. He had to one up me. I think the only reason they passed along their addresses to me is because they think I understand nothing and won't come back for a return visit.....muwhahahah they are wrong. I told Elder Bastos it is because of my suave Americano accent (sotaque). He thinks it's because I sound ridiculous. He is definitely right. 

primeira história pra vocês (first story for you all)

I forgot to include it in my last email home. então (so) Elder Bastos and I were strolling in the San Francisco-like fog on our way to church. Our church building perece super chique (looks super chic).  Super is a word used quite often. We always try to show up early and greet the members walking in before church starts. Church always starts 15 minutes late. It's a whole new Mormon Standard Time. Brasilian Mormon Standard Time. It was a high councilor Sunday so we met the high councilor and the other speaker. I was chatting with him and it came the point of the conversation where he asked where I was from. I said Philly and his eyes lit up. Você conhece Elder Pogatto? I didn't understand the name at first because it sounds like poe-goto. Then he said it in an American accent and I understood! He was companions with Ross in Santa Maria!!! How crazy is that! He name is Everson, so let Ross know I met up with him if Everson didn't already make contact over the facebook. Which I have no idea if we can use yet. Probably not. At least not in Osternack.

The graffiti is super cool here. Much better than the Americans. But the pizza in America is better. Represent for all the extraordinary pizza shops in Doylestown.

On our walk to find people to teach

I will share a miracle we had this week. We had several little ones but this one stood out to me. Elder Bastos and I were looking through our area book and found a name that was hard to read. We thought it was Luev. So we wrote down this person's address and started walking with the intention of why this person gave the missionaries their address. We found the correct house and clapped. A woman was power washing and didn't hear us until our third clap. She shut off her electrolux and walked over. We asked if she knew a Luev that lived here and she said no. We were disappointed but continued to talk with her. She finally came out and said that her name starts with the sound "Lu" but is not Luev. It is Luci. We decided it was probably her and asked if she had a little bit of time. She said no. We asked, how much time do you have? She said less that ten. Tudo bem podemos cortar nossa mensagem a cinco minutos. She let us in and we started with our speed version of the restoration of the gospel. This is where is started to go down hill. I told the story of Joseph Smith better than I had ever done before and finished the first vision. When I was about to testify, she interrupted me. I was thinking, oh no, she's gonna say something that I won't understand and will probably be mean. She said she was a Jehovah's Witness and this story with the exact words was in the book of Revelation and has not happened yet. Her point being, we were bearing a false message. She asked us to look up the chapter somewhere around Revelation 21:20 and we didn't see the words of the prophet Joseph. So we let her try and find it. Ten minutes later she said she had sworn she knew where it was but at this time couldn't find it. I told her we were not there to fight with her but to let her know what we know to be true. Because the message we have is very special and we are not here to lie to you, but bring you closer to our Savior. Elder Bastos continued and introduced The Book of Mormon and we explained exactly what is what in the introduction and what she can do to find out for herself. Not to take the word of an 18 and 19 year old. She started to applaud us for our work and continued to say how special it was. She kept rubbing the words on the cover "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" and kept pausing to say something but she couldn't finish her sentence. We gave her the invitation to read, ponder and pray. She immediately asked us when we could return. Elder Bastos and I look at each other and smiled because no one just says, "can you come back this week after I have prayed?" We walked away from that lesson with the same idea. The first vision was an echo. She had already heard those words, not on this earth, though. She swore she knew where to find it but couldn't. She wanted us to return ASAP. People are being prepared and we just have to look for the right names in the area book and be guided by the spirit. I find you usually don't know when the spirit is leading you to the best possible outcome. You just have to keep your heart open and be worthy for the spirit to dwell within you.

OK everyone.  Stay sweet and never leave your sacred grove.

Elder Ian Forsyth

Monday, July 1, 2013


(this week we were able to "chat" via email - this is some of the back-and-forth):

MOMMA!  It sounds like the branch activity (last meeting of the Susquehanna Branchwas a memorial of Dad and the legacy of the branch. I do remember all those hard times mostly involving Dad sweating over the the sacrament meeting bulletins. And the occasional late night interview with someone in the branch. But mostly, above everything else I remember the grand love he had for every single YSA (young single adult) in the branch. He worked so hard to bring them closer to Christ and I wish I was a better helper and supporter when he was having a hard time. 

Culture Update
Futebol - Last night Brasil beat Spain in the Confederations Cup 3-0 and Osternack went crazy. It was awesome! First, let it be said that whenever Brasil is playing anyone, whether it be a top team like Spain or a random team from Nepal, no one is outside. Stores close down and it seems like it is always raining cats and dogs. Last night after church, Elder Bastos and I went around to our progressing investigators to check up on them and to see if they were still keeping up with their commitments. We were able to teach 3 lessons and chat with a couple of people on the street but once the game started, Osternack turned into a ghost town with the occasional rebellious teenager skateboarding. Skateboarding is huge here.  Every time Brasil scored a goal, fireworks flew into the air, pots and pans were all that I heard, and little Fiats with massive speakers drove around blasting Brasilian pop music. Elder Bastos was so sad he was missing it and I was having the time of my life.

More culture

chimarrão - is a drink. It is a Brasilian thing. It is green and always is transported in a really cool chalice with designs on it. At first it tasted like Brasilian vegetation.  Strange Brasilian vegetation.  It is definitely an acquired taste. They pass it around and you have to drink the whole thing when it is your turn to indulge, because the green...stuff... gets hard if you let it sit for too long. The first time i had it was on splits with Elder Fernandez  (Bairro Novo -- right next to Osternack).  I'll have to get a pic of him and me. Funny guy. He doesn't speak any English so the fact that I know he is funny is a step in the right direction. I can somewhat understand Brasilian humor. gol.  Gol is the same as goal and you hear it loud and clear when Brasil scores one. 
Like so....GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. I think they just yell it as long as possible to make the other team feel pathetic. 

This past week it rained everyday and I had to switch between my brown boots and my black shoes every other day. They are a little damp everyday. My jacket is holding up quite nicely. When it gets really cold I wear a sweater, my Columbia fleece with my blue north face rain jacket over it. The weather here is pretty crazy and in the morning it reminds me of the San Francisco fog. 

We had to get my visa verified by the federal police this past week and it took us 2 hours by onibus to get there. It was at the very tip of the Curitiba North mission. The mission hadn't split at the time so we were all good. They took pictures and asked me to be serious for the picture. All in all the picture turned out as usual. An angry Ian. I don't know why these federal pictures always make me look like I work for the mafia. I think it is because I am smiling, then they take the picture right as I am going into serious mode. The bus ride was fun because I got a nice tour of the city and the parts that I will never see on my mission. I saw a couple of people from my zone in the MTC which was really nice. :-) The Central part of Curitiba looks a lot like San Francisco with the steep hills and homes that look like Grandfather's. 

 I am sorry that I don't have a picture but the food here is incredible and the same everyday. One would think the repetition of rice, beans, some form of meat, guarana, noodles, and pudding everyday would get a little boring....but no, the flavor makes up the difference. On the other hand, these past few days were strange because I didn't have a single spoonful of rice and beans. It was just rice.

Also, the fruits are super good. They live up to the reputation. The food here is really cheap. Last week we left the super mercado with bags full of food for only 32 reals. That's around 16 bucks for a couple of lunches/ dinners, 2 litre of guarana, tea, and snacks. 

That's another thing. Cha (tea) is really big here. Whenever you walk into someone's home they immediately offer you some tea with hot milk. It is so good. The hot milk at first threw me off, but it is good. Sometimes I cannot understand what people are offering me so I usually just say yes. I have eaten so many different strange foods because of this strategy and my stomach has been able to handle it. "Claro. Eu vou comer qualquer comida...sem problemas. Beleza?" 
(" I will eat any food without problems. Beautiful?")   Brazilian conversation is hilarious because it always starts with tudo bem (it's all good? ) and sometimes people respond with beleza (beautiful) or  belza can also be used as a question. ''Beleza" takes the part of a question, like so: "Is that alright with you if I do this certain action?" aka "beleza?"   Also, the word "later!" shortened from "see you later," is "falou" meaning "you said it."  I dig the lingo here.  It's fun to say beleza and tud bem for just about everything

(my friend Carolyn shared this scripture w/ Ian):
Phillipians 3:2  "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."  (concision = mutilation or cutting up or off.  Nice!)

I like that scripture. Elder Bastos was almost eaten by a very small dog the other day. Small and slightly shaved on one side. I don't know if it was natural or accidental.  What I do know is that the dog was upset with humans in general.

The Mission

The missionary broadcast really was incredible! It was all translated into Portuguese so I only got some of it. I loved the videos that were made for the broadcast. They created a good profile for what missionary work is and is becoming. Be the best member missionary you can because it really does make the difference. Working with members is great but working with members who want to share what they have with those who don't know about the gospel of Jesus Christ is even better. The work is quicker and more effective when members are on the same wave length.

We meet with the new mission president next week and he might be coming around today to introduce himself. That is the rumor on the missionary street. Yeah, I heard from Sienna! I was astonished.  I think that is so cool! I didn't guess Brasil at all. (Sienna was called to the Brazil Juiz de Fora mission, beginning Nov. 20!)    I was thinking more along the lines of French speaking because of her prior knowledge. I was think Paris all the way. Did I really just write astonished?  The word just went through my hands onto the keyboard to the monitor. I think it is from all my Book of Mormon reading.

I am growing up, Momma. I find myself doing things differently. I don't know if that makes sense, but in a more mature manner. I say things differently and have a different outlook on life. I think it's because I have a new perspective on my purpose here on earth. Alma 34:32. I  just feel old. But at the same time when I see a little boy playing with hot wheels I cannot help myself and turn my leg into a giant ramp and let him fly his miniature ford mustang off my knee. I then in turn need a try;) But I think a lot about my purpose and the kind of father that I want to be after the mission. The mission is a great opportunity to shape myself to be the father I want to be.