Monday, January 30, 2012

Hello! From Goiânia Brazil!!!

Hi everyone! How is it going?? Hope all is well with you in America.I cant believe it is January 30th! I have been gone exactly two months today! I am here in Goiânia Brazil and it is REALLY HOT! Muito Quinte as they say here in Portuguese. It really is so hot. The other day, it rained, and you could see the steam rising off the asphalt cause it was so hot here. I cant believe how much hotter it is here than in São Paulo. But it is really cool. On Tuesday morning, the 24th of January, I woke up at 4:00am and traveled to the airport to fly here. I was excited to be moving on from the MTC, but because I left early, I didnt know anyone going to Goiânia with me. So it was sad to leave all my good friends behind. But I got their addresses, so I will be keeping in touch with them.

We flew into Goiania and arrived about 9am. The first thing I noticed was how Green it is! It is so pretty here. Trees everywhere. We went into the center of the city to the mission office which is in a skyscraper. There, we met my mission president, Pres. Prieto. He is reallynice and funny. But doesnt speak English at all. He actually reminds me a lot of Grandpa Norm, becuase he comments on everything and you can always hear him grumbling about something that annoyed him hahaha. It was cool. Goiânia is about as big as San Diego...but it is really concentrated with people in different areas. There´s the main city of Goiânia which is a lot wealthier...then there are different suburbs surrounding it. The city limits are about as big as the area between Las Vegas and Mesquite...which sounds huge, but because the people are so spread out, it doesnt look as big as São Paulo.

I am in an area called Ipiranga. It kinda reminds me of Lehi, Utah. It is a nice little area, but I wont be there for long...I am getting transferred tomorrow!! And oh yeah, this is kinda important...I had my FIRST TWO BAPTISMS!! I got here and my trainer, Elder Fralick, took me to meet a few families. We set one baptism date, and I helped teach a lesson for another who was already getting baptized! How cool is that! Ive been here for a week and it is crazy how receptive the people here are. So that was awesome! This work is so amazing and the Gospel is so true!

I am working on the language. I get discouraged a lot because...I can speak it pretty well...I just cant understand when people talk to me. I kinda know how you feel now mom, when people say something to you and you dont hear them. When people talk to me and I cant understand them I just ´smile cause I dont really know whats going on´. Hahaha. its true though. But I am working everyday. My trainer is helping me out a lot. There are 128 missionaries in this mission and I am one of only a few Americans. The rest are Brazilians. It is so crazy. The Brazilian people cant really say my last name, Eastwood, right. So they say either Weestwooo or Eschwoogee...hahaha :)

The people here are so nice. They love the missionaries. The members here just love to feed us. Sometimes, they save their money all month just to buy enough food to feed us. It is really humbling for me. Most of the houses are really small. just a kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. The bathrooms here are reallycrazy. You walk in and there is a small sink, a toilet, and right next to it is a drain and a shower head with some wires coming out of it. No shower door or anything! And, if you want hot water (which I rarely do), you have to turn it on and then be really careful, cause if you touch the showerhead, you will get electrocuted. It has happened to me!! I am fine though, no worries!! :)

So about this place....everyone loves soccer. There are two major rivals hereÇ the Palmeiras and the Corinthians. Everyone tells me to say that I like the opposite team that the people tell me to like. That way, they´ll give me jerseys and other stuff for me to collect. Ive already gotten a few soccer jerseys! Parker, I´ll have to send you one. There is also a team called the Flamingoes and theyre really popular...their colors! I want a Flamingoes jersey haha.

Yesterday, I ate the weirdest meal ever. It was at a church potluck thing (oh and the church building we get to meet in was just finished a month is the biggest chapel in our whole mission!). I was already not feeling very good and had had three 30 minute (unsuccessful) sessions on the toilet....then we had lunch. All these women made stroganoff...and they all made it differently. Then they just decided to pour them all into one giant pot and scoop it onto our plates! It tasted TERRIBLE! and looked like throw up. Also, one elder found a whole chicken foot in his. SICK!

But its been fun. We are not allowed to drink Coke and they dont even sell Diet Coke here in Brazil! But they have this one Guaraná drink called Mineiro and it is the best soda I have ever tasted! It is like in the States when they have Vanilla coke...they take regular Guaraná and put a flavoring in it. I dont know what it is. But it is amazing. It tastes sort of like dad´s Monster drink. They have tons of fruit here. The best mangoes ever! Pineapple is amazing (and cheap) here too! Also...I thought you would all like to know that I HAVE eaten cheese...and the verdict? I didn´t mind it. I could handle it. But I would still choose to not have it if I had the choice!!

So...things are going well. I am still getting used to it here. I am a real missionary!! The language is hard. It really is discouraging when I cant understand people. I just have to try to stay positive. I know I will get it eventually, but I dont want to have to wait a long time! This past week felt like it took FOREVER! It was only 7 days, but it felt like 3 months. I have no idea how long 22 months is going to FEEL hahaha. But im glad that I am out here. I know that Heavenly Father is watching over me. I pray all the time for comfort and guidance and for His help in learning the language better. Some days are awesome, other days, I feel like crying. But I think it is all part of the mission experience.

I want you all to know I love you and that the Church is true! Thanks for your prayers in my behalf, and please keep them coming. I need them more than you know!!

Love, Elder Spencer Eastwood

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

IMPORTANT and AWESOME NEWS! January 17th, 2012

I have awesome news!! Last Tuesday, at like 8:30 PM, I got called into the MTC President´s office. he sat me down and told me that I will actually be leaving to Goiânia a whole week early!! I am leaving the MTC on January 24th! This is because, since I was scheduled to come here on the 23 of November, they scheduled me to leave to the field on January 24! My mission president called to confirm that I was coming and the MTC Pres. was planning on giving me the option of staying till the 30th or leaving on the 24th, but my mission pres. said that he needs me to come early because they are running low on American missionaries!! How cool!! so next tuesday, I probably wont be able to send emails, becuase it will be my first day in the mission field! Im really excited!
I talked to a couple Brazilians from Goiânia and they told me a lot about it. They said that it is easily one of the hottest places in Brazil. They said that the members are all so nice and that they will feed me a lot. The main city of Goiânia is really big and really new, so it is a lot cleaner than São Paulo (which is going to be a nice change, hahaha). They said that lots of people keep monkeys as pets, so you see the monkeys just running around the streets. The mission home is in a high-rise building and the mission president, Pres. Prieto is a really nice guy. They showed me some pictures and they said that the surrounding areas are pretty dusty, and it is a red dust (sort of like St George). So that is AWESOME! I am so excited!! So from this point on, start sending all your letters and stuff to my mission home address (which I hope is on the blog or I hope my parents have it, cause I dont have it on me right now!) :)
This week has been an exciting one! I´ve been very happy and learned a lot. Last Tuesday, I received a letter from one of my best friends and it made me SO HAPPY!! I love getting letters and it was so great to get this one. I went to the Policiá Federál on Thursday to get finger printed and basically declare that I am in Brazil. They also extended my visa there so I can be in the country for the whole two years :) It was a cool experience. It was the first time I really got to talk with Brazilians that were nowhere near the MTC. I talked to one guy about the church for almost a half hour and gave him a Book of Mormon too!
This week we got a new MTC President: Pres. Degn. He is from Utah (I cant remember where exactly). he is really nice. And so is his wife. It was sad to see Pres. and Sis. Clark leave, because they were two of the nicest and most amazing people I have ever met. Im glad I got to know them here! On Monday (yesterday) I got to go to Downtown São Paulo and have my first real experience with proselyting. We were given six copies of the Book of Mormon and were just turned loose to go out and try contacting people. My companion was a little shy and nervous about walking right up to people and talking to them, which is okay, because this gave me the opportunity to use my language skills! I would approach them, shake their hand, introduce us as missionaries, and get the conversation going. Then my companion would start talking about the Gospel and about the Book of Mormon. Then I would bear my testimony. At the end of the day, we were lucky to have been successful enough to give out all of our copies of the Book of Mormon!! So cool! It was a very spiritual experience, because, as we passed by people, I could very literally feel the Spirit telling me that I needed to talk to that person. And when I did, we found out that they were looking for more in life and we ended up givign them a Book of Mormon. It was a great experience.
We just found out today that Elder M Russel Ballard and Elder Neil L Anderson of the Quorum of the 12 will be coming to the MTC (along with Elder Jay E Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy) to speak to the missionaries on....January 25th! NOOOOO!! I miss them by ONE DAY! But it is okay because I will be in the mission field. Hopefully I will have an opportunity to hear from an apostle while in the field sometime :)
This week was good. I found out that I have lost about 10 pounds here....and mom, remember a few weeks ago when you asked how the mosquitos were and I said they hadnt really been bothering me? Well, I take that back. This past week I got destroyed by mosquitos. I counted today and I have a grand total of 32 mosquito bites, all over me. I dont even know when they got the chance to bite me!
I am a little nervous to get out to the field. I wont be able to talk to many people and it is a little scary and overwhelming. But on Sunday I was reading in the Doctrine and covenants and I found some comfort in Section 31. It felt like these verses were written specifically for me. I felt the Spirit comfort me when I read these words:
`Blessed are yuo because of your faith in my work...the hour of your mission has come...your tongue shall be loosed and you shall preach from this time forth...thrust in your sickle with all your soul...(You) will go from (your family and friends) for a little time and declare my word...I will prepare a place for them...I will open the hearts of the people of (Brazil) and they will receive you...You shall strengthen them...Go wherever I will and it shall be given you what you should do.. Pray faithful until the end....I am with you.´
That was some of the most powerful scripture I have ever read. It hit me so hard. I testify that this Church is true. I know it is. I am out here to teach the people of Brazil the gospel and to change their lives. I already love them and cant wait to share with them this wonderful message of happiness.
Thanks for all the prayers in my behalf.
Love, Elder Spencer David Eastwood

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

All Is NOT Quiet on New Year's Day (U2)

Como vai everyone!!! How is everybody doing this week? I have had a
really enjoyable week. New Year´s was crazy (more about that later)
and the temple this morning was incredible. I am truly growing to love
Brazil. The food is good - yes, its meat and beans and rice everyday,
but it has grown on me! Fruit is awesome as always (I had the greatest
mango and pineapple this morning). I am truly loving my mission. The
blessings I can feel every day grow more stronger as I learn to focus
on the work. That is one thing I struggled with the first few weeks. I
was worrying about other things. I have now learned to focus on the
Lord, focus on helping others, and it all comes in it´s own time.

That scripture,
´When you are in the service of your fellow men, you are in the
service of your God´ is completely true. A sister in our district was
having a difficult time the other day and I felt prompted that I
should write her a letter of encouragement. I shared several
scriptures with her and delivered it to her. She started crying as she
came up to me to shake my hand and say to me, ´Thank you so much,
Elder Eastwood. You dont know how much I needed that.´ I have noticed
that when I am more focused on other people, the Lord is more focused
on me. The Spirit is with me more. I have taken to asking everyone in
my district how they are doing each day and I am always willing to sit
down and talk with them if they are struggling. It has been a real
blessing to do this. It helps me learn to love EVERYONE. It has helped
me to learn more about how Heavenly Father feels about each and
everyone of us.

New Years was fun! We had a MTC talent show. I didnt
participate, just watched, but after that the MTC President gave out
some ´awards´. I won ´Best Hair In The MTC´, ´Happiest Laugh In The
MTC´, and I was in second place to win ´Best Dressed at the MTC´
(everyone loves my gray suit and all my ties), but I lost to some
elder who brough a cumberbund on his mission!! One of my friends,
Elder Shafer, brought some cardigans and sweatervests and he and I
both wore them and had ourselves a ´Classy New Years Eve´. It was
really nice! That night, when it got dark about 8:00, the fireworks
started. They went all night long. At midnight, you could hear the
crowds of people outside shouting the countdown!!! Then the HUGE
fireworks show started. The sky was lit up and you could hear all the
sounds. It sounded like warzone. So cool! I got some sweet pictures.
It was a cool experience. Mom and dad, how was New Years in NYC?

I got my first
haircut by someone other than my mom last week. It was....weird. The
barber only speaks Portuguese, but luckily I knew enough to not get
all my hair shaved off! But the haircut turned out just fine. I look
as classy as ever. But it did make me miss my dear mom and all of her
incredible haircuts. Thanks mom! Im so grateful for you!

São Paulo is really
cool. Sometimes at night, people on motorcycles just race up and down
our street. Its so much fun to watch! And during the day, live bands
get up on the rooftops and play. It reminds me of U2´s Where The
Streets Have No Name music video. Im glad I have a few friends here
who are big U2 fans, cause I can sing the songs with them! One of my
teachers actually went to the U2 360 concert here in São Paulo in May
and showed me some of her pictures! cool!

Things are going good here. Im loving the
work! I only have three more p-days in the MTC! Then its off to
Goiânia to get the real work started. Speaking of that, I leave the
MTC on January 30th...they are telling us to tell everyone that if you
have letters to send to me at the MTC, keep doing it till about two
weeks before Jan. 30. At two weeks before that date, send them all to
my mission home address, which is hopefully on my blog!

Love you all! Have
faith and trust in the Lord. Jesus Christ can be your greatest comfort
and strength. Love, Elder Spencer Eastwood. Ether 12:27