Thursday, February 27, 2014

Transfers and New Companions...

On February 26, 2014 Elder Kamilos wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad,

So I have surprising news! I am once again in a new area: Valentina! It´s fairly close to Mangabeira actually, and it´s in the same zone. But needless to say, I was very very surprised. Not only that, but my new companion, Elder Castro (Brasilian. Yay!) and I are white-washing again! On top of that, we´re both still very young missionaries. He actually reported to the MTC in October, a month after me! So we have the same total amount of transfers, but he´s my senior companion, considering I can just barely communicate still, haha. But man, this Elder can cook! He made lunch for the whole house today, and he made bolo de cenoura (carrot-cake, but it´s different) which was awesome! I´m very excited to work here in Valentina! I was devastated to leave another area, but I had a thought: maybe the Lord plans on having me ouch the lives of as many people as possible. I have yet to stay in an area for more than a transfer, but I know the Lord knows what´s best.

Here´s how the mission has gone so far:
4 transfers
4 areas (in two countries/missions) Smithfield, UT; Hooper, UT;
Mangabeira 2, JP-PB; Valentina 2, JP-PB
5 houses/apartments
2 trainers/6 companions (if you include the two short-term trios)
Elder Trujillo (Trainer), Elder Jensen (Trio), Elder Richie, Elder
Patino (Trio), Elder Gilliam (Trainer), Elder Castro

Just when I thought I´d finally have a little bit of stability, the Lord has once again humbled me and set me in yet another place to serve, with new people and experiences. I can definitely say that my mission experience so far has been very unique!

I´m finally starting to get more comfortable with the language. Also, I know I´ll learn much faster now that I have a Brasilian companion and we live with another Brasilian/American companionship in our house (which is huge!). So it´s going to be hard, but I feel like this is going to be quite a growing phase in my mission. I´m excited to see what the Lord has in store for me!

I love you all so much! Keep doing well, and never forget that we have angels and the Hosts of Heaven working for us everyday, even when we can´t see them. I know that our Savior suffered all so that we don´t have to bear the burdens of mortality alone. I know this because I have gone through some of the hardest, most physically, mentally, and spiritually draining experiences of my life, and yet here I stand, getting stronger everyday as my testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ grows. Elder Gilliam shared a revelatory thought with me after we had a very dark experience a couple weeks ago. We realized that Satan is very organized. He probably has his followers organized into missions, zones, districts, etc. We have 80,000 full-time missionaries, but the adversary has a third of all of the hosts of the pre-mortal life. For every missionary on Earth today, doing the Lord´s work, Satan probably has entire districts of his followers working against us. This is why the Apostles in Christ´s time were commanded to cast out devils in the name of Christ. We cannot do this work alone. We MUST rely on divine assistance, and for this to happen, we must remain humble and receptive, and trust in God. With this in mind, I´m even more determined to fulfill the task that God has given me. I have witnessed miracles, and they always give me hope.

This work is true, and I know that with surety. I love our Savior, and I know He loves us!

Until Monday! I look forward to your next email!


Elder Kamilos

On February 17, 2014 Elder Kamilos wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad,

63 degrees Fahrenheit sounds soooooo nice! It´s almost always above 30 Celsius during the day (upper 80s, sometimes 90s). The humidity just makes it that much hotter, haha. But I´m getting used to it. The nights are pretty pleasant here, we just keep the windows open and a fan blowing.

This last week was... difficult. We had a baptism fall through, and we don´t have anyone marked for this week either. We´re in a finding stage again, but it´s okay, because we actually found a lot of new people yesterday! The work continues.

I really do feel like a child sometimes, haha. I have really good days, and then some not-so-good days with the language. Also, I find that I can keep a conversation going really well with the people that we visit more often. And then there are some people that I can´t understand a single word. But I´ve definitely discovered that my language skills are much better on the days that I do effective personal study. It´s amazing how much of a difference it makes.

Two weeks for letters sounds right, because I did receive your other letter this week. It was so nice to get a letter from the family! Thank you! I´ll be sending a letter home today, hopefully with some pictures if we can find a place to print them. Uploading pictures on these lanhouse computers is just asking for a virus on my camera, so I can´t really send any picks through email. An Elder we live with had all of his pictures on his SD card erased two weeks ago, so I learned vicariously NOT to do that.

Next week is transfer week, so you won´t hear from me until next Wednesday. I´m almost positive that I´ll stay in Mangabeira, because Elder Gilliam is leaving and we just white-washed the area this transfer. But anything is possible! We shall see. I´m hoping my next companion is Brasileiro, I´m ready for a little extra push with the language. I´m learning quickly, but with 4 Americans in our apartment, it´s way too easy to just revert to English. I feel like that would help me a lot. But needless to say, I´ve been very blessed to have
Elder Gilliam as my trainer! He´s an awesome guy, and a great missionary.

I love you all! Hopefully the weather stays nice! I´m just hoping it starts raining here more, because it´s a lot cooler when it does. And don´t everyone leave me so far behind in life!! Haha, love you all. Stay well!

Elder Kamilos

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Despite my lack of language skills, the Spirit touched her heart..."

Dear Mom and Dad,

Another week in João Pessoa a Missão Celestial!

I feel like this last week has been one of the hardest weeks yet, but I also feel like I´ve improved more rapidly than any other time on the mission. We seemed to do a lot of divisions this week with other missonary companionships, and most of the time I remained in Mangabeira when Elder Gilliam went out to others. I don´t know if I ever mentioned that he´s our District Leader, but that´s why we do a lot of divisions, haha. I feel like it´s a great opportunity for me though, because not only do I get to spend time with more brazilian missionaries, but being "senior" comp in my area helps me feel more responsible, and I feel like I´m a lot more pro-active in those circumstances.

We had a very special baptism this week! Her name is Mel, age 28. She was the VERY first person I ever contacted on the street alone. Let me just say, I feel extremely blessed that she progressed and was
baptized, because 99% of missionaries usually say their first contact was terrible, haha. But it just so happened that Heavenly Father placed an elect person who was very prepared to hear the gospel in front of me, and despite my lack of language skills, the Spirit touched her heart. We first met here on Friday the 17 of January, which was my third day in Brazil. She is so awesome! She even made us dinner on Saturday!

Thanks for the birthday wishes! And yes, I got the card you sent me!! Thank you!! I got it last Tuesday or Wednesday I can´t remember for sure. I don´t know when you sent it, but now you know roughly how long
it takes. I´m planning on sending a letter home this week, so i don´t know how long it´ll take to go the other way.

As for the answers to your questions in your email, yes. It´s VERY hot and VERY humid. Always, haha. But when it rains it feels really nice, and the nights are actually very pleasant. The description of Mangabeira you found sounds exactly right. Also the word Mangabeira means (I think) "next to the mango field" or something like that. It´s basically a word that means it´s near a place that produces mangos.

My shoes are holding up well, but I can tell that they´re really starting to wear down faster now. We aren´t allowed to wear sandals, but I wish we could! I don´t know if that will ever be a possibility, but who knows.

I´ve now met 4 people here who served in SP Interlagos, and 2 of them know Matt! I told Matt about it in my email last week, and I think one of them talked to him this last week. Small world, huh??

I hope the snow slows down up there in Arkansas! That´s just ridiculous! Also, my time is about up. But I love you all! I hope you all are doing great up there! I look forward to next week´s email!

Elder Kamilos

Monday, February 3, 2014

Life in Brazil

ON FEBRUARY 3, 2014 Elder Kamilos wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad,

More snow?? Sounds like a pretty harsh winter! It´ll be awhile til I see snow again, haha. We´ve been getting a little more rain lately. It rained quite a bit this morning, which was really nice because it cooled it down quite a bit. It really is extremely hot though. I already have a pretty good tan (i´ve been using sunscreen, don´t worry!), and I´m almost constantly sweating. I shower twice a day, at morning and night, just because I get so gross. The morning shower is usually just a rinse though.

I´m really loving the ward and the people here in Mangabeira. Also, I forgot to answer a question Matt asked me in his e-mail. The area I´m in (Mangabeira) is in the city of João Pessoa, but it´s not in the middle of the city, so it feels more like a small town. João Pessoa isn´t nearly as big as São Paulo, but it´s still a big city of about a million (a bit less I think). Also, I mentioned this to Matt as well, but I´ve met a lot of people that served in the Interlagos mission, and two of them said they remember Matt! They saw my nametag and
recognized Kamilos, haha.

We´re continuing to have quite a bit of success! We had another baptism yesterday for a sister named Rosa. She´s absolutely wonderful. Everytime we taught her, she accepted it and knew it was true. Every commandment we committed her to keep, she accepted without any doubt. She gave up smoking a pack of cigarettes a day in just 2 weeks, for real. She hasn´t smoked at all in the last week. The faith of this woman is astounding. And one time, when I was on a division with another american Elder who only has one transfer in Brasil (Elder Motley) we visited her and she asked us if we could give her a prayer with our hands on her head (a blessing, she just didn´t know what to call it). I was the one to be the voice, and although it was a very simple, very broken-worded blessing, when I closed and ended, she had tears in her eyes. She´s truly wonderful.

Anyway, my time is up! I love you all so much!



ON JANUARY 27, 2014 Elder Kamilos wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well! This has been a buuuuusy busy week. But we had a lot of success! We had another baptism on Saturday for a young man named Markos (the older brother of Nawanna, the girl that was baptized last weekend). They both got confirmed yesterday in church! And Elder Gilliam asked me if I wanted to do one of the confirmations, and I was hesitant at first... but I did it! It was a verrry simple confirmation, but I could really feel the Spirit working, and that brought me comfort and courage to do this confirmation in front of the whole congregation. Not only that, but I also got to do the Sacrament prayer for the blessing of the water. So in the past two weeks, I´ve had a lot of opportunities to take part in our Sacrament services (last week I said the closing prayer). And it´s because I have an awesome companion/trainer! I´ve grown to love him so much in the last week. He´s really pushing me hard, almost beyond my limits, but he´s so helpful and understanding and I´m really learning fast under his leadership and guidance.

As for the water, we don´t have any hot water. It´s just plain water, haha. But it´s good that way, because
it´s so hot here that a cool shower feels really nice at the end of the day.

I´m glad the package got to you!! I actually left that in the care of Elder Richie and Elder Patino (the trio comps I had in Hooper). I left them $20 to send it back, and they said they´d cover whatever was rest, so I'm glad they took care of that!

It sounds like Tom and Lacey are doing well! It´s an exciting thought to think about having a nephew when I get home! And I´m sure Matt is doing really well with the internship! That´s cool that he´s out in the field and getting to experience being on the job.

The diet here is mostly rice and beans (of course), pasta, and lots of couscous. And then there are a lot of different sucos (juice), which is really awesome! My favorites are maracujá (passionfruit) and abacaxi (pineapple). I´ve had a looot of fresh pineapple here, and it´s the bessst. My health has been very good as well! I haven´t gotten even slightly sick since I´ve been on my mission. It´s a real blessing, especially when
I´ve seen plenty of other missionaries get way sick. I hope I´ll continue to be blessed with such good health.
The only thing that slows me down sometimes is that I´m aaalways tired, haha. But that just comes with being a full-time missionary I think.

It sounds like things are going real well at home! Until next week!


ON JANUARY 20, 2014 Elder Kamilos wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad,

Well, it´s easy to say that this has been one of the hardest, most physically, emotionally, and mentally draining weeks of my life. It´s also easy to say that it´s been one of the most rewarding. Sure, my Português is pretty rusty, but my learning rate is so rapid that I know it´ll come with a lot of work, practice, and hardship. We do aLOOOT of contacts on the street, and many times Elder Gilliam will be talking, and then he´ll stop and just look at me and smile, haha...I´m not going to say that I always seem to know what to say, or that the right thing always just happens to come out, because that isn´t true. Sometimes it does go very well, and I´m actually able to communicate! But many times I´ll freeze up, or I´ll make a mistake, or I´ll just get completely lost and then I get confused, the person we´re contacting gets confused, and we walk away and I honestly want to cry (I actually did once). But it´s all okay! Because that´s how it works. There are trials and opposition in all things so that we can learn from it and grow. I´m growing so much in every way because I
face so many trials every day. But the Work. Pays. Off. We had a baptism yesterday, and we have a few others marked for baptism in the coming weeks (one more for this week!).

It´s such a blessing to see people change and leave behind past problems and become truly clean. And believe me. People here have some reeeaaal problems. I mean with everything. We´ve encountered people
who have problems with financial issues, every part of the word of wisdom, chastity, homosexuality, self-inflicted injuries and suicidal thoughts and just about everything. To see people rise up from a pit of despair; overcome these trials and turn towards Christ is a miracle.

Now I´ll tell you about the actually city and our living conditions! So our apartment is actually pretty nice. In fact, it´s just about as good as any other place I lived in Utah. The only main difference is the lack of AC and American food, haha. We actually have a washing machine though! We dry our clothes by hanging, of course. Also, the showers are different. The shower is just part of the bathroom, and all the water just goes on the floor and drains in the corner. Also, the sun rises at like 5 AM, so I almost always wake up without an
alarm at about 5:30 or so, and it´s hard to fall back asleep because there´s a ton of buses across the street from us. The city is SOOO GREEN! There are trees everywhere (except for in the main part where it´s just tall buildings). Our area is one of the outer parts of the city called Mangabeira, and it´s pretty poor. I love it here though! It´s always hot, I´m always sweating, but I´m loving the work! The people here are so humble, and the ward members are so faithful.

Before I forget! Here´s the address that´ll work!

Elder Kamilos
Rua Deputado Jose Mariz #515, Tambauzinho
Joao Pessoa, PB Brasil

I love you all and I look forward to next week!

Elder Kamilos