Monday, December 28, 2009

"...being there to help people, being put in their path (or vice-versa)."

So we all talked on the phone like three days ago, so I don't have a whole ton of information to pass on. But last week was Christmas! That was a party. We got to sleep in until 9:30, which felt weird. Then we went to lunch with Margarete at her house, which was good, but really not super fun. We left there and went to call you guys which was FANTASTIC!!! Limiro had his whole family over, so we hung out there for a while. That was pretty cool, they had a grandson there that was super cool. After that we were walking and someone yelled something that we didn't understand, and called us over. Then he told us that his family members were members of the church. So we went and talked to them. That was cool, they had moved in on Christmas Eve. So we told them where the church was and stuff and they went on Sunday. That was a cool example of being there to help people, being put in their path (or vice-versa).
Oh yeah, on Wednesday we had Christmas conference with all the missionaries in our mission!! That was super fun to see everyone. I saw Landen Mortensen from Logan, Jim, and all my friends from the MTC that arrived with me. Everyone has been to the dang hospital from my group!! I am very thankful for my excellent health. We got a microwave, a CD, and a photo, and a bunch of snacks from the mission for Christmas. We went to the cancer hospital too, and I ALMOST got on TV (I think) but no cigar. We got to talk to cancer people, who were a little incoherent but grateful for the visit. President and Sister Leal spoke to us also, that was nice! They had a lot of helpful things to say.
I loved the Christmas gifts!! Thank you all. I am going through the candy at good rate but still not finished!.
Aside from the festivities, we didn't have a very eventful week. We didn't teach much on Christmas Eve or Christmas or Conference Day or P-Day, but we still taught 19 lessons this week.  We only found one really cool family, but they are REALY cool. Daniala is getting baptized on Saturday at 7! That will be cool, she is super ready!!
Well that's about all I have this week, it was fun but mostly just relaxing.  For my birthday, I would like a Spanish Book of Mórmon from the distribution Center. That would be cool. Maybe like some brownie mix or something too.  But just send one of those small boxes that you sent me in the MTC. I don't need a lot of stuff, it's better to have just a little surprise than a festa em caixa . Thanks for all the support, I'll talk to you soon!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

"...if I want to see miracles every day."

On Tuesday we had a mini-zone conference and I received the excellent surprise of receiving the Christmas package! Logically I couldn’t wait until Christmas to open a few things (Only the ones that weren’t labeled “On Christmas” or “Christmas Eve”) and I quite enjoyed eating some good old peanut butter cups (Super good!), Sour Skittles and Lindt. I saved most of them for Christmas, but it was great to eat some solid American delicacies.
I'm stoked to play some Blink and win (of course) and it's gonna be great to practice my prophet knowledge with some Go Fish! The basketball hoop is great, but dang… I am TERRIBLE at basketball!! I'm excited to open the rest and see what other surprises await!
This week has been another very good week as far as the work goes. Genivaldo is kinda losing some of his desire, but Daniela is firm for baptism on the second of January! She is a friend of the returned missionary in the ward, and her testimony is really strong on all fronts. Me and Elder Thrapp are working a ton and teaching loads of lessons, its been so awesome. We have started working a lot with less-active members in the ward (there are a lot more of them than there are active members) so that’s been cool. Back in the time of Dad I think people got baptized for lesser reasons than a testimony of the truth. We found this lady that said she was baptized 20+ years ago because her friends were all members, so she never received a testimony. So basically she needs to get it in gear now of suffer the consequences!!
But they (menos ativos) ALWAYS have non-member family members, so we hope to activate many people and baptize others along the way. We are finding a lot of really awesome people, but not a ton of ready-to-go elects. I was thinking about that, and I received that I need to make more sacrifices and be more obedient if I want to see miracles every day. I have stopped lollygagging in the morning and I just get up, pray, iron, exercise, eat, shower, dress, and study. It is a lot better that way and already my study time is a lot more eye-opening and helpful in our teachings throughout the day.
Also I saw a dude get hit by a car on his bike the other day in front of our house, that was nuts. The dude who drove just kept on driving, I think that is actually the normal thing for people here to do. He was alright, but his bike broke.
Christmas here will be interesting! We will eat dinner at the house of Margarete, the member with no family, on Christmas Eve, then return for lunch on Christmas, so that will be pretty nice. President Leal said that we can stay out until 10:30 on Christmas Eve (WOOOOW!!!) but I don’t know if I will, I get so tired around 10:15. So we will probably just hang out a bit, visit families, and hopefully we can get some kind of dinner with the homeless organized.
Hopefully we can eat with our friend Adriano the homeless dude who we now know for sure deals drugs (he fulfilled a deal while we were talking to him on drug street in Tupi the other day) or something for dinner on Christmas. But I'm stoked for Christmas, it will be fun for sure. We will talk to you from Irmao Limiro´s house. I am still working on my Christmas project for you guys. It should arrive before Spencer´s birthday.
I finally found out what our mailing address is here. It is:
Elder Joseph Burt
Rua Pará 172
Cambé-PR 86181-240
That should make mailing letters and stuff a lot easier. Sorry it took me so long to get that figured out.
We have conferencia de Natal on Wednesday with ALL of the missionaries in our mission! It's gonna be so so so sick!! It will be cool to see all of my friends and stuff. We still don’t have a cell phone, and we have had several times when we really needed it. Hopefully we get a new one on Wednesday.
Well that’s pretty much all of the news I have. I hope everything is great with everyone there. The last four days have been super super hot here with no clouds, it's been tough. I love you all, and wish everyone a super merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Aside from getting robbed it's been a really great week."

Its been a very awesome week in the mission!! As you know, Filadelfia went home on Tuesday and transfers were on Wednesday. So Monday was spent hanging out while Elder packed his stuff. I didn’t have to pack or anything because one missionary always stays in their area to have some fluidity in the work. So I already knew I would stay in Cambe for at least one more transfer. But we stayed Monday night at the house of some elders in Centro in Londrina, with like 6 other missionaries (I don’t know why they were all there, but it was fun!) Then he left in the morning at like 9 or so to do some seminars or something with Pres. Leal and have interviews and stuff. So I worked with Elder Alem on Tuesday. He is an old dude, 22 months or so on the mission already. But that was cool to work with another missionary and see how it is with other people and their teaching styles and stuff. His was slow and frequently interrupted by return trips to the house to use the bathroom. But it was a fun day.
I found out that day that my new comp would be arriving the next day at 6 AM and we needed to meet him at the bus terminal. So we woke up extra early the next day and collected my new comp, Elder C. Thrapp! He is an American from West Jordan! He is super rad. He was working in Cascavel before arriving here. He went to USU the year before me and is an Ambassador like Scott Laneri! We have been working like crazy in these first four or five days. We taught 25 lessons in our first 3.5 days, which is comparable to a very good week in most areas! Things are very good, he teaches with the spirit and I think we are really working well together. Americans and Brazilians are very different for sure. It’s awesome to be able to experience the two methods and mentalities.
Genivaldo has kinda stopped progressing. He has not started reading the Book of Mormon yet, which is a real stumbling block. Hopefully he gets himself in gear soon and gets himself a testimony! But we taught a lot of good people already. We found a couple of teens who are ill, Enzo and William. They are super cool really, and have an awesome desire to find God in the right way. Also, our returned missionary, Thiago, pretty much has this girl Daniela ready for baptism. She already has testimonies of the Book and of Joseph Smith… we will baptize her on the 26th! The work is going really well here, and its so easy to see the blessings of sacrifice and obedience when we really dedicate ourselves.
Im SOOO disappointed about the memory card! I was moronic enough not to back anything up on a DVD or anything, so now some jerk postal worker probably has all of the photos that I took for the first three months of my mission!! GREAT!! But we are used to getting robbed by now: we got held up yesterday on the way to lunch after church. This dude pulled up on a motorcycle and started asking us about our church and stuff. He was speaking poorly and had a helmet on, so I couldn’t really understand him. But he was chill until all of a sudden he said he had a gun under his shirt (he obviously didn’t, it was like a trash bag or something) and to pass him our cell phone. So Thrapp gave it to him and he left. That was pretty lame, but luckily he only took our 20 dollar phone. It sucks to not have our phone though, cause we need to talk with the zone leaders and stuff every day. Hopefully we get a new one soon. In the future I'm not gonna deal with fools stealing stuff from God. If someone pulls that crap just walking on the street, it’s a kick to the face; if he's on a motorcycle I'm gonna play the American card and say ´No entender` and hand him a Livro de Mormon or something.
Aside from getting robbed it's been a really great week. Next week I will talk to you guys on the phone!! That’s super rad huh!!! We are going to go to the chapel and talk to you from there. So we will get the phone number from the bishop and I'll send it to you next week. Elder Thrapp said its very difficult to find an international calling card here, so it's easier if you will call us. I think if you call at about 11 AM your time it will work out well. But I'm so stoked to talk to you all!! If you can't all be there at that hour let me know, we can change it. But that’s what we have planned.
I'm so sorry about all the photos! So dang crappy. Maybe it will show up. But meanwhile thanks for all the support, love and friendship! Stay in the faith and work it spiritually always. Moroni 8:3.
Love Joey

Monday, December 7, 2009

" I throw down doctrinally on them regularly!!"

This week was pretty good. We found a lot of people that are really cool, some of them are elect and ready to go, others need some big changes (MARRIAGE is a constant problem, nobody is married for real!!)
Genivaldo is really sick. He has no problems with the word of wisdom, sabbath, chastity, or anything. He is liking the messages a lot. He just needs to do his part and read the Book of Mormon. Others are comin along too, Emerson, Ana Paula, and Noemia are dong great. Really it's going so fast here it's hard to remember what happened this week and what was before that. But this is the last P-Day of my first transfer! It flew by holy dang! I have learned a ton of stuff, I'll list a bit of what I've learned in my highlights.
WOW I can speak now!! It has come so far since I arrived, I am able to teach so much more and converse casually too. It really is such a blessing that the Lord has given to me, because a lot of people really struggle with it. And I have only known the language for 3 months, so I have a lot of hope!!!
2. Courage
It is not uncommon for people to try to reject an invitation to church before we can give it. I am progressing now and have raised the courage to frequently ask people that say they have a religion “Why don't you want to learn more about Christ?” or “Are you afraid that our church is true?” And other such things that seemed nuts to me recently. Honestly I never spoke to strangers before the mission, and now I throw down doctrinally on them regularly!!
3. Patience
I already talked about this, but being with one person non-stop for 5 weeks requires a lot of patience. It's so so important to remember the big picture and that we are working for the same goal. Throughout this, things are a lot more simple and honestly more enjoyable. This needs to be applied in all parts of life: to look past tiny faults and find joy, good, and truth in all things.
4. Happiness
I'm so DANG stoked to be here!!! It has been marvelous so far!! I really hope so much that the memory card arrives soon. The photos are so fun for remembering the things that have happened already. I'm sorry I haven't sent any to you through email, I need my cable!! I'm trying to send a couple today if I can find a way.

It was great to hear from the whole family this week!! Everyone has such different writing styles and lives, it's ill to read how your lives are going! I love you all very much and hope the best for you!! Pray for the memory card!


Monday, November 30, 2009


Hello!!! Has my memory card arrived yet? It's a little concerning if not cause I just sent it like a normal letter. But I hope it arrives soon. This week hás been really great holy dang.
The thing that is the most notable is that we baptized Luciléia!!! She is a friend of a member and we taught her for about three weeks before baptizing her. She was really super ready and very excited. It almost didn't happen, because her parents were a little concerned about it being too soon. But we went and talked to them the day of the baptism and talked to them and they chilled. It's amazing how much easier missionary work is when the members help! It is definitely easier to get in and talk to people and for them to trust you IF their friend is a member and is helping us teach. So tell all your Young Women in particular to get in gear and get their friends on the path to salvation!
At times we under analyze the importance of baptisms and they become just a number or an event, but in reality NOBODY can be exalted in the kingdom of God without baptism.
We taught less lessons this week, we were mostly Just focused on preppin Luci for the baptism. But yesterday we found two absolutely golden houses/families. I think we can progress them quickly, they both have a lot of faith and great desire to learn what path God really hás for them, which is sick and really rare.
Things are going a ton better with my comp this week, less temper tantrums and stuff. He is trying to convince me to give him my ipod. I think I will decline his generous offer LoL. I am progressing a lot in the language. I think I have gotten to the point where it is tôo time consuming to translate things so I think words in Portuguese which is MARVELOUS!!! Dang it's Nice. There are certain words that are very hard to say in English, like missionary, Jesus Christ, God, also, planner, companion, among others. It's pretty boss for me, but it's gonna be a pain for you guys when I return haha.
I celebrated Thanksgiving with a nice lunch at a member's house, teaching all over the city, and some juice at night. I can't believe I have been in Brasil for three months already, so dang crazy!!!! And today I have been in Cambe for one month, also just nuts. Time flies cause I'm Just always doing stuff, I sleep less, but during the night instead of the morning like I used to, and immersing in the work of the Lord.
Dang the scriptures are NUTS to study, so much cool stuff that makes me want to just study all day. I started reading Jesus the Christ, so dang DOPE. Dang it's cool to learn this kind of stuff about the Savior. I think I'll be like a scholar by the time I get back with all the stuff I'm learning already. I know a few things for certain about when I get back; I Will start writing a lot basically about what I see in the world around me; I Will study Spanish and hopefully Hebrew; I Will keep making music but with like everybody. Spencer you gotta GO to Utah state or Utah or somewhere close so we can make a trumpet rap band. And seriously get ready for your mission, it needs to be a thought you keep with you always. The same can be said for any young man. I am excited for the day when I can dread my hair after returning home from a mission served honorably and with all the strength of my heart and soul.
Really I'm loving Cambé and my mission more every day. The people are so ill, the ward is great, the only thing I still haven't gotten used to is having freaking 90 degree weather and rain every day in the run-up to Christmas!! So so strange. Mom and Dad, you Will absolutely love serving your mission together, it will be fun for us children to write weekly emails tôo!!
Really I think the things about me here in the mission field (I didn't change much in the MTC) are that I am much more patient, I'm more tranquil and not so attracted to bagunça, and I have a lot more appreciation and Love for all of the people that have done so so so so much to help me get to the point where I AM today. Your words of wisdom were not all in vain, I am finally developing (mentally/emotionally) into a manchild that can do something with my life and with the world presented to me. Without your help I think I would probably be fat on the couch in some dismal apartment.
Thanks for the email, I would really like it IF each member of the family could hit me with an email each week talking about their activities, advice, thoughts, whatever (Dad, eu não esqueci o discurso de Elder Ballard em conferencia do sacerdócio sobre a gente). Much Love for all of you in the family, and some love for everyone else LoL!!!
<3 Elder Joey
Moroni 8:3

Monday, November 23, 2009

"...the gospel really is an amazing blessing in our lives..."

This week went SUPER well!! We had a lot of success as far as finding people and progressing goes. A word of caution, this space bar is the WORST so yeah a lot of miscues are on the way. I'll basically just start by talking about the investigators we have progressing right now. Basically the frontrunner is Lucileia. She is a good friend of a member so it is a lot easier to teach her. She is 16, has a 2 year old child, and works a freakin ton. So it's a little hard to schedule appointments with her but when we do she really likes them. Assuming she receives an answer that con certeza this church is true, she will be baptized on the 28th! SO BOSSSS!! At church on Sunday we had 10 investigators which is phenomenal!! Two families came: Izoni, Marlene and Jaine; and Luciano, Cristina, José, João Pedro, e Julio. I think we can progress with them pretty well. I'm liking the mission more and more and getting more used to working all the time. It's more fun now.
I shipped the memory card on Tuesday with a letter. Things have improved a lot as far as my attitude is concerned. I still have the same sentiments, but I have learned to control my emotions and work through problems. I find that it is much easier to get along with everyone when I am focused solely on spreading the joy and knowledge that can be found in the scriptures and in the gospel. It is so important to remember that the gospel really is an amazing blessing in our lives and we need to treasure it and share it with everyone. We were lunching at the house of a member and we were giving a spiritual thought. We were talking about missionary work and I had a thought; Imagine if every member of the church invited one person to church or another activity every day. We have what, 13 million members, so 13 MILLION convites every day!!! That would be absolutely phenomenal!! I like what Michelle said in that lesson, that's very true. Being an example is good, but we have been warned to warn our neighbors. So if we are truly living the gospel, we will have no problem inviting others all the time.
The food here is always the same but you know it's pretty good. I like rice a lot now, and I like beans now too. Geez dude Brazilians are picky and rude in comparison to American standards. Lots of chewing with mouths open and talking with food in the mouth. It's totally fine if the people do it, but I think as missionaries we should have a little more dignity and class, but JUST an opinion! It is so weird to be prepping for Christmas in 90+ degree weather. It's very different. My Portuguese has improved a lot in this last week, its a lot more fluid and sensible. I still need to expand my vocab a lot but I think it will just come with time. I have worked a lot on the ´LH´ sound, which I thought I was doing correctly but apparently was butchering. I guess we had some bribe from the mission president that if everyone baptized in November we could allgo to Foz de Iguazu para um conference ahhhh sorry mission conference. But that fell through so I guess maybe we will do it next month. I still think it's weird that we were bribed to baptize, but it's not my call lol so yeah. Well my comp is whining so I guess we gotta go. Much Love for all of you especially my family who I am sending this email to LoL!! (Didn't really make sense and was not funny. SORRY!!)



Monday, November 16, 2009

"...Spam that was more liquefied"

Hello family!!

Parabens that Charlotte didn't die!! Haha ringworm that sucks! Tell her to just live at the detox center. Sounds like you are all staying nice and busy! I got your missionties, that was nice thanks!! I am already receiving Philly's emails through his mom somehow, his first email was in my inbox today. I didn’t realize that I could continue using missionties, I had a revelation when I read that, Dad. I think maybe I will start making copies of my journal entries and mailing those to you! Its hard to write in my journal every day cause we are always on the move and we have very little time at night, but I still have an entry for every day so far.
Grandpa had pneumonia AGAIN!!?? Geez that’s rough. One of the elders who arrived with me, Elder Vogeler, had pneumonia also and couldn’t work for like a full week. We had a zone conference and Jim was there!! That was pretty ill to see him and converse with him in Portuguese. Basically we don’t eat dinner here cause dinner isn’t really big in Brasil. Lunch his usually very big then dinner is very small. So it's fine. The food we eat at lunch is usually very good but my companion likes some of the nastiest crap, like basically Spam that was more liquefied. We won't get that again LoL it was awful. We taught a lot of lessons with members this week, I think like 15. It helps a lot to have a member there. Things are about the same as far as investigators go, none are really close to baptism or progressing. We had two come to stake conference with us, but they are both pretty new. We have goals that don’t really make sense, like usually 7 new investigators a day. It's hard to teach people and help them progress if we are just teaching new people all the time. But hopefully we can find someone good soon and get a baptism this month!
The weather here is so different. Its either sunny or raining. The worst is after the rain cause it's as hot as normal sunny days but there is a ton of dang humidity so it feels like a sauna! Everyone here just wears flip flops all the time, it's weird. Babies, old people, rich, poor, everyone. I think I will buy a pair of Havainas, it's what everyone here wears. And they are like 6 reais, so that’s a pretty stellar deal. What do you guys want me to send for Natal? I have seen people selling hammocks a lot, I could send one of them. Its just a matter of shipping cost really cause that is pretty costly. If you could give me an estimate of how much you want spent I could get stuff together and ship it sooner. Speaking of sending stuff, I am FINALLY sending the memory card today!! Sorry it took so long, but I have been collecting photos. I withdrew some money from my personal account to develop photos to keep here with me that I like, so it's ready to go!
I tell everyone here that there is snow at my house right now and it's like the veil had been removed from their eyes. Nobody here has ever seen snow, its totally foreign to them. Portuguese is pretty rough, it's super frustrating not being able to say some stuff or understand like anything. I think I understand less every day, which is a little concerning but whatever. I guess I'll either learn it or go insane and be shipped home! I think the former is more likely than the latter. I'll keep working at it.
Hey some advice: In the past studying Isiah (I don’t know how to spell it in English; Isaias) or parts of it in 2 Nephi SUCKED but if you use the footnotes like crazy there is a lot to learn. But it also still doesn’t make sense at times, I spent like 20 minutes trying to figure out a verse today it was a nightmare!!
Anyways, I gotta go. I Love you all and hope you have a great week!!

P.S. When is thanksgiving? I want to buy some kind of meat or something haha!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cambe, Brasil!

Hello!! I am in the same area that I started out in with one of the same guys, Elder Filadélfia, as my companion!! I'm psyched!! We don't have an address for the house we are at right now, but we receive mail quickly cause we are pretty close to the mission home. The area is cool but there are a million hills everywhere!! I like the people here a lot but they are sometimes too stuck in their ways to go to church or pray about the message or to read the Book of Mormon. So that kinda sucks, but it's still way cool. We have a few people who are progressing really well, hopefully they will be baptized this month. We eat breakfast at our house, usually toast and milk. We study till 10:30, then we usually go out and invite people to church or get referrals for families. We pretty much are only looking to teach families and men for whatever reason, maybe there is a shortage of priesthood or something. But we have lunch at a member´s house every day at 12:30 or they give us money to buy lunch, which is nice. We generally teach 5-7 lessons per day, which is awesome. It is usually either the Restoration for new investigators or why prayer is important for those who we already taught but haven't prayed. It's super fun though. It's hard to wake up cause we are working hard all dang day! I hate planning and updating the area book, but aside from that it's not bad at all. We talked with this guy, we just call him jungle man cause he lives in the forest. He lives in a shack the size of the kids' bathroom upstairs, with dogs and a chicken. He is SOOOO stinky, holy cow. He has no teeth and even my comp can't really understand a lot of what he says. So I don't understand a thing. But I am getting to the point where I can pretty much respond to questions and convince people to understand things and stuff. Like debating with a dude about why he should come to our church and check it out. I'm getting pretty good at Portuguese, but I still have loooads of work to do. I'm finally getting the music from the CDs onto my ipod, so that's gonna be awesome! We usually don't really eat dinner per se, it's often like we split a liter of Ice Cream or we eat some bread or something. But yeah, we pretty much teach people all day. Our top investigators right now are probably Dagmar and Karen, and Paulo, Gregorio, and Brasilini. They have all been to church once so we need to get them to go again and teach them a few more things. It's sick to have them at sacrament meeting, it shows progress. I hope they keep learning and feeling tha spirit.
I am emailing in an internet cafe. We have about an hour, but our mission doesn't have a rule. It's just a matter of getting around to other things. After we email, we are going to watch a movie at a member´s house. She is really cool. I don't have an umbrella yet, I'll buy one in the next couple of days. We shared yesterday, it rained a ton!! It's weird to have a lot of rain but still be hot outside. I like the sun a lot more, which we have today!! For Christmas, I probably want uhhhhh I dunno... just whatever would taste good. I don't want a lot of stuff to carry around with me, I want to somehow fit everything into one suitcase, that would be RAD!!! Oh the name of the city I am is in Cambé. We live in downtown, right next to a little park with a big fountain in it. Maybe you can find it on google earth or something. Love you all stay safe!!
Love, Joey

Monday, November 2, 2009

In Londrina! November 2, 2009

Hello!! We got here on Friday morning at about 7:30 as planned. The mission pres, his wife, the AP´s, and some secretaries were there to greet us. We went to the mission home which is a really sick apartment. While there, we mostly slept, ate, and talked. We were all interviewed and we left for our areas. Unfortunately, transfers are not until today (Monday) so we didn't get trainers or a permanent area. Instead, E. Ghormley and I were dropped off in Cambé where two Brasilian elders were already working. So we moved in with them with three days work of gear and started working. My comp for the first day was Elder Costa, from São Paulo. He has been out for a year. We taught for most of the evening and had dinner at a member´s house. I mostly just testified and taught part of the lesson, and he answered most of the questions. It is still pretty dang hard to understand what people are saying all the time.
The next day we exchanged comps and I went with Elder Filadélfia, from Fortaleza. He has just one more transfer before he goes home. We taught all day, tons of walking and talking. To make things more strenuous, we were fasting and it is very very hot here. So I was thirsty, he was hungry, but we taught some cool people. I would definitely say that I have never been more tired in my life. Part of our job is to invite 30 people to church every day. It's pretty easy actually, it takes like 1 minute or less to talk to them. On Sunday, I was back with Elder Costa. We tried to pick up investigators up for church, but it didn't work. We went back for half of priesthood, which I fell asleep during rarra. During testimony meeting all of us bore our testimonies, which was definitely a great experience. We went to lunch at a member's house (we do this every day) where we ate a ton and, for whatever reason, watched Chicken Run. I fell asleep during that also. We contacted references for the rest of the day. At times, this can be very fruitful and amazing. For example, we were going to contact someone named Alan. He didn't live at the address we had, but Marcio did. He was actually really interested in the message. Pretty much, if we ask someone if we can share a message with them, they say yes. So the problem is not getting into people's homes, we teach 7-10 lessons a day easy. The problem is people keeping commitments. Obviously I can't really tell cause I have only been here for three days, but it seems like people are reluctant to even keep their first commitment, to pray about the message of the restoration. I don't know why. Most of the progressing investigators are hard to get to church. I hope I will be able to improve this once I enter my area.
Obviously today is P day. We got up, studied, and had a water balloon war!! I guess they had done it once before with just the two of them. But with all 4 of us it was fun bagunça! Then we went to the bank to get our allowance, picked up some ice cream (Dirt cheap and soooo good!) and now I am here emailing you! Cambé is pretty average as far as affluence goes. Some parts are quite wealthy and others are more poor. We do a lot more in the poor areas. We walk everywhere. Last night it took me and Costa 40 minutes to walk home from our last appointment!! But at least I will be strong and ready to start training for the speedwalking events in the Olympics so I can return here in a few years for free!! I sleep so solidly at night. Right now me and Ghorm are on mattresses on the floor, and I don't wake up at all from beginning to end. So that's pretty cool I guess. I wonder if I might stay in this area, Filadélfia is training someone here next transfer so maybe it is me, that would be pretty cool! I wonder how the other elders from our district are doing, it was kinda a weird way to leave everyone. We all piled into a van and they just started dropping people off. I know that Gibbons and Ingram are together, Parrott is by himself. Everyone else is a mystery, I think I will find out tonight. Our mission president, President Leal, is very, very cool. He seems humble and seems like he really is interested in what we are doing and wants us to be happy and to have fun. His wife is rad too, she is TINY (like she comes up to between my elbow and my shoulder. I hope you guys are mission presidents one day, that would be really cool!
Anyways, I have little time left. We leave here at 4 to Londrina, where we will get our trainers and assignments. I am so stoked to be fully engrossed in an area.
Tchau com muito amor por vocês!

Farewell Sao Paulo--more photos to arrive soon!

Ninth (and last) week in Sao Paulo Mission Training Center October 27, 2009

So this is my last week! I'm stoked. We have covered a lot in this last week (at least I have) and we will pretty much just be reviewing from here on out. I can converse well with almost all of the Brazilians. They are very nice to talk to. The six Brazilians that are going to Londrina are all super cool! We had to sing in the Sunday devotional because it was our last week, and I acted as translator for the choir. I think this next week will be total Bagunca in our classes.
So Elder Scott came on Friday. He spoke on general missionary stuff. It was cool to have an apostle there, but his talk was not at all eye-opening. But still, we got to shake hands and the Spirit was definitely there super strongly. It's cool, as he was speaking he would like just pause and look down. I think that he was just listening for direction from the Spirit. I think that is a super cool thing. Something that I would like to have the sensitivity and spirituality to do some day. The guy who spoke earlier in the week, Elder Codoi from the area 70 or something, was much more helpful (at least for me) because he spoke a lot about the divinity of our calls. It was good for me. I gained a better understanding that my specific skill set can help certain people in certain situations. So that was a cool part of the week.
Castellanos and Ellis left early Friday morning for Porto Allegre. They both seemed really ready. Castellanos is a phenomenal teacher and is very good at Portuguese. I wonder how their trainers and stuff are. I will know what it's all about soon. Elder Vogeler joined our district. He came the same day as us, but he was in a district with only Rio de Janiero-bound elders. They left on Friday, so he joined up with us. He is half Peruvian, his mom is from Lima. He speaks pretty good Portuguese, between me and Castellanos. I talked to him about Peru, he was actually there at the same time as me! He said he has been to Maccu Piccu also, he also loved it.
Today (Monday) we had our exit meetings. One was just informational; we board the bus at 4:00 AM on Friday. Our flight leaves at 6:25 and we arrive in Londrina at 7:30. I think that it would be like a 6-10 hour drive; I think it would be much more cost-effective if we went over on a bus. But I'm psyched, we could easily have time to teach a lesson or do some street contacts that evening! I guess I'll meet my trainer that day, I don't know if an American or Brazilian would be better. I guess both would have their benefits. We also had a meeting with the MTC executive secretary (the president is out of town) and he pretty much just encouraged us to work hard and dedicate ourselves. Then we had a two hour health meeting that was VERY informative! We got a booklet on exercise, which I have not yet read. I hope to get good at pushups during my mission; 30 minutes a day should be pretty good for making me super ripped.
On Sunday, everyone from our district who had not yet spoken in sacrament meeting gave a talk. I decided to try it in Portuguese, and it went really well. I did a Lord of the Rings analogy in my talk on obedience, it was actually a good fit for the topic.
I went to the temple today for the last time for two years!! That is going to be kinda weird, I wish we had one in our mission. Maybe we will be able to go to Curitaba or something, but not likely.
Well, I am low on paper and lower on time. I love you all, the MTC has been great, but it's about to get greater! Eu sei que esta igreja e verdadeira. O Livro de Mormon foi traduzido por o autoridade de Deus por meio de Joseph Smith. Temos profetas hoje. Sei que podemos viver por eternidade com Deus e com nossas familias. Cristo vive. O trabalho do senho va continuar a todas pessoas.
Love always,

Eighth week in Sao Paulo Mission Training Center October 20, 2009

Agora, Somente 2 mais!
So just after I sent you my letter last week, I found out that we will be leaving on the 30th! So we will fly out a week from Friday! Elder Scott will be here on the 23rd. So we will get to hear from him, which is so cool and lucky. All the other missionaries that arrived at the same time as us, that are going to Rio, Forteleza, or Porto Allegre all leave the morning of the 23rd so they miss him by just a few hours, that would be such a disappointment. But they get to start teaching people sooner, so it's a pretty ok trade either way.
This week has been very good. We just did normal stuff up until Friday, when we proselyted. We went to a place called Patriarch's Square, or something, it was an awesome area. There were people running all over the place, an incredible amount. We got two Books of Mormon per companionship. I handed mine to a young girl, probably about 15. She seemed quite interested. Elder Titus gave his to a young family; Dad, Mom, and a baby girl. They seemed so interested! It's nuts how ready people are to listen. Elder Yuma and Ghomley had probably the coolest story. They were just walking and this kid skateboarded up to them. He said that he had to talk to them because there was something different about them. So they taught him and he was super excited. After they left, he started showing other people the book and teaching them! It was crazy to hear how ready he was. There are a TON of bums. We talked with this guy named Kevin who is British. He had been released the day before, where he was doing time for drug trafficking. He wanted to talk with us, mostly because he had been able to speak only Portuguese for two years. He was so crazy. He kept almost hitting me with is lit cigarette because he was waving his arms around so much. He said he was Islamic, but he wanted a Bible. I had a spare, so I gave it to him. He seemed super crazy. He told me to quit my mission and make $500,000 a week with him. But I said no thanks. It's funny that people love the Bible, but do stuff like running drugs. I guess it isn't specifically listed in the Bible, but you would think people would assume it was wrong. Oh well. Then I talked with this guy who was either handicapped or just like permafried from drugs. He wanted God's phone number. So I told him how to pray; that was not what he wanted. He was looking for actual digits! So I told him some random numbers, and he wrote them down! He was really excited. I told him God loves him, and he got super happy and gave me a hug. This guy was sooo stinky! But he probably needed the hug, so it worked out. When we got to the point where we were supposed to rendezvous with the van, the van was not there yet. So we had to wait for over an hour for the van to show up. Meanwhile, Elder Yuma and I played our first soccer with a soccer ball in Brasil!! A guy was playing with another street vendor. So we asked if we could join. They said yes. We were definitely better than them, people kept watching and commenting. The van still didn't come. This huge parade was keeping it out. Basically a ton of college-age people were having a moving Halloween-type party in the streets. So naturally, there was a large amount of promiscuity and drunkenness. We had to walk through it to get to the van, that was super crazy! Lots of weird looks and comments! Elder Fujimoto will see that all the time (Rio). Londrina will be more basic, but still so awesome.
Too bad Spencer got sick. Just remember, Spencer, that it's better to be sick at home than when you go to college or on a mission. Actually now that I think of it, I don't remember ever being sick during college. But people here that get sick are just miserable! They get stuck in their rooms, can't do anything but read and their comps suffer. Jensen and Fujimoto are dealing with it now, Jensen is very sick. So get sick as much as you can now! The doctor here, who is one of the three senior elders, had a heart attack like last Wednesday. But he was back here at the MTC working today! The whole time he was in the hospital, he diagnosed people over the phone. He is really nice, super awesome! So dad, don't have a heart attack.
Things are still great, Elders Ellis and Castellanos leave on Friday morning. So we might get a new District Leader on Thursday. A new elder, Elder Voegller, is joining our district on Thursday because his whole district leaves on Friday. I used the rest of my Cheney's money today on internet and a cookie, so it was the perfect amount! Thanks again for everything.
Love you all, Be Christlike!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seventh week in Sao Paulo Mission Training Center October 13, 2009

Somente dois mais! Tal Vez...Ola novamente! I only have one more after this one gets sent, it's hard to believe! It has gone by so incredibly fast. It's still hard to believe that I'm even here, and now I am leaving! So crazy. I leave on the 23rd I believe. UPDATE: So on Wednesday we were told that Richard G. Scott might/may very likely make an appearance here at the CTM on Sunday the 25th, so we were all heartbroken BUT this afternoon (Friday) we were informed that the Porto Alegre missionaries will leave on the 21st, and we will leave to Londrina on the 27th! So, Elder Scott will be in Sao Paulo for a conference with the mission presidents the weekend of the 25th. So there is a good chance that he will stop and address us here at the CTM! (It would seem criminal not to!) And we will be able to see him! Everyone is stoked about it!
A bunch of Londrina-bound Brazilians (I think six) arrived on Thursday. They all seem like really nice dudes. I'm excited to get to know them a little more. So if there are six of them, we will be sending 17 missionaries to Londrina on our transfer! That will be so cool.
I have been working on my fitness so I don't add weight. I usually run either one or two miles per day. It actually is alright running, it is very good for releasing stress/pressure. Our track is 115 meters 14 laps is a mile. I'm so excited for Kenny! Russia...I bet he will do an excellent job. If it is possible, tell him congratulations from me.
Mom, I'm glad you wrote in Hungarian. The Hungarian elders were getting sad with nothing to translate haha. That blog idea sounds great! How the heck did the Olympic Committee say no to Oprah!? If she and Obama can't, no one can. It seems strange to give Brazil the Olympics two years after the World Cup. They should share the wealth of world events! Oh well, with any luck, America will be hosting in 2022. At which time I could easily have children who hate soccer! I would just disown them and adopt Brasilians, they like it a bit more.
Everyone's Portuguese is improving a ton. I can now talk with the Brazilians about more than just futebol, it's nice.
So our departure date is actually completely up in the air. The MTC President doesn't know, the guy who coordinates it all is just like never around. So we don't know when we leave. We might leave the 21st which would make this our last P-day. I hope this is false, because the next week will be very important and eventful. We are going proselyting in the city, like downtown, on Friday. I'm so excited for that! So I leave here in two weeks at the latest, eight days at the soonest.
Sounds like Charlotte is doing so much good at the orphanage, it would really be a shame if she got thrown in prison. But that would make for quite the experience!
Evan left this morning at 3 am so we talked a lot and made our last freestyle song/rap of the MTC. It is so funny. Our band is either Hard Boys, Ladrao de Coracao, or Heartless Moms. I think the last one is the most funny because all of our friends have very nice, loving mothers.
I get so excited when I think about my group of friends all being on missions, it's so cool! Spencer, I know it still seems like forever away, but I'm already so excited to find out where you are going. Just always have it in the back of your mind to be preparing for your mission.
Matisyahu has become quite the sensation on our floor, he will have at least 10 more fans when we return. I got a haircut, it is very short but I like it. I hope my hair still looks fantastic long when I get back or I will be so dang sad. I am writing this while balancing on one foot in my room with my friends. Elder Jensen and I were seeing who could balance on their left leg for the longest time. We both lasted about seven minutes.
Anyways, thanks for the letters. Love you all, thanks so much for all your love and support!
Ate lugo,
PS I just finished my pastel, it was phenomenal! Dad, you should make Doce de Leite for mom and Spencer. Mom, I hope your birthday is special, even with only one child to celebrate with! But me and Char will be partying in our hearts. Dad, make good frosting!
Muito Amor

Sixth week in Sao Paulo Mission Training Center October 6, 2009

Boa Tarde familia!
It's been a more eventful week, so I think this letter might be a little long lol. I hope you don't mind LOL!
So most of the week was spent preparing for proselytizing on Friday. We did like 50 practice lessons and crammed info for three or so days. We also had to learn how to approach people on the street and stuff. I found that the best way is just to ask them if they believe in God, then move it from there. So then Friday was proselytizing. We had class in the morning, had lunch, then got ready to go. Each companionship received only two books to give out, so that was pretty disappointing. But it still was a little nerve-wracking to go out there. So we prayed as a group then headed out. Then me and Titus prayed that we could know what direction to go. So then we headed out and started searching. I was super scared at first but then we were walking up this hill and I saw this guy leaning up against/sitting on a wall. So I was like “JACKPOT!”- so I went up and was like “Ola Senhor, como vai?” He said muito bem. I said, “voce acredita em Deus?”
“Certo, muito”
“Entao acredita em Jesus e sua Expiacao?”
“Sim, certo”
“Jesus Cristo foi um profeta durante sen ministerio na terra”
“Sim. Deus Sempre da profetas para ensinar as coisas que as pessoas precisam em cada tempo. Depues de Jesus Cristo e seus apostolos morreram, o autoridade para ensinar e falar com deus foi tirada da terra. Mas, porque Deus nos ama muito, O Evangelho verdadeiro foi restaurado a terra novamente.”
“Verdade! O Evangelho de Cristo foi restorado atraves de um reapaz nos Estados Unidos. Ele traduziu, com revelacao de Deus, O Livro de Mormon.”
“Que e isso?”
“O Livro de Mormon e um otro testemunho de Cristo. Depues da morte de Jesus, ele foi ressurretado. Na Biblia, diz que Ele teve otras pessoas a visitar. Estas pessoas foram os Americanos. Ele foi as Americas para ensinar as pessoas aqui.”
“Serio! Este e um presente de graca. Eu sei que quando voce lera e orara com fe, voce podera recibar respostas a suas perguntas.”
“E eu sei que esto livro e verdadeiro proque eu li o livro, e eu orei para saber a verdade destas coisas. Eu recibi um resposta atraves do esparito santo, que da um testemunha de paz, amor, e felizidade. Eu sei que pode recibar estas coisas tambem, para voce e sua familia. E um grande abencoe.”
“Voce ira ler e orar?”
“Si, eu vou.”
“Marvelhoso! Aqui em 3 Nefi 11 e o capitulo sobre o ministerio de Cristo nas Americas.”
“Muito bom. Obrigado!”
“Obrigado! Meu coracao e muito feliz para voce.”
“Obrigado. Boa tarde.”
I hope he really reads it, I think he probably will. We kept walking around for about 20 minutes before Titus found someone to teach. He did pretty well too, he talked a lot about the restoration. Most people were done around the same time as us. I was amazed at how willing people were to listen to us and accept the books. Very cool stuff.
Then we had conference. I learned a lot. It was weird to start watching the first session after having 1 hour of personal study, 3 hours of class, breakfast, and lunch. At home you usually had to wake me up for it. Holland is like the hero of the month here. Session 1 started at 1 o'clock, 2 stared at 5 o'clock, and priesthood was Sunday morning at 9. It was strange to break the ages-old tradition of eating after priesthood, enjoy that while you can!
I can't believe how fast time has gone by! We have like 2.5 weeks left in the CTM, it's unbelievable! We have a ton of stuff we still need to learn, but I think I will be fine. There is a widespread idea in our district that we will really learn the lessons and language in the field. We will learn a lot there, but honestly we have a TRAINING center for a reason, so we can be useful and prepared to teach when we arrive in our mission. They say, “Eat, drink, and be merry for in the field we will learn these things.” I think some might be in for a rough time.
We went to the temple again today, it was very nice. I think today will be a pretty relaxing P-day. Our Brazilian roommates left this morning for Recife. I'm pretty much out of information and time. This week will probably be a ton of studying, yipee! My goal is to have all of the lessons learned so it's just practice after this week.
Love you all, take care!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fifth week in Sao Paulo Mission Training Center September 29, 2009

This week has been pretty awesome! I'll start on Saturday then work back and forth.
We had TRC on Saturday, which is where we get recorded teaching an “investigator” family who are actually members. It went very well. I got the “mom” to cry because of the restoration. It was cool.
It was a tumultuous week for the district. A few elders have been struggling with the rules and obedience. Our leaders talked to us, then we were interviewed individually about problems within the district. It is possible that we might get comp changes on Monday to help out those who are struggling.
As you know, this Sunday was Fast Sunday. It was awesome. Nine of the 12 members of our district bore our testimonies, it was great.
We went to the temple in Sao Paulo today, it was wicked ill. It's in a kinda crappy neighborhood, but the inside was sooo awesome.
There is one huge problem in the mission; we are not allowed to play soccer! So my two years in Brazil will be free of the only reason I knew about this country! GREAT!!! Well, maybe our mission president that is coming in July will change that rule. But, even if not, I can't do more than throw down my classic coping strategy: ok whatever.
Spencer, keep paying attention in seminary, and keep learning hymns. The people you serve will love you if you can play!
I'm on the bus on the way back from the temple and our driver took a scenic route so we could see some more variety. We drove through a more wealthy area and it was so cool. We proselytize on on Friday! I'm so so so so psyched for it! A little nervous, but less than most. I hope we can plant some seeds.
Most Brazilians speak little or no English, but some speak very well. The ones we teach have not spoken any English. The one I was talking soccer with was talking pretty fast, but clearly. I still claim USA as my team, it makes them crazy lol.
Anyways, glad things are going well. Obrigado por todas coisas! En Amo voces!
Elder Burt

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fourth week in Sao Paulo Mission Training Center Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We got two Brazilian roommates on Thursday! One, Elder Rodriguez is from Curitiba. The other, Elder M. Santos, is from the Amazon region. They are really quiet, but nice.
This week, week four, is considered the most difficult. We learned like three new verb conjunctions and got the first lesson down in Portuguese with questions and scriptures and stuff. It's pretty cool to teach in Portuguese, it flows pretty well now.
Knowing about soccer is soo nice! I can talk to almost any Brazilian. We have something we both know about. After we practiced teaching with a Brazilian district, I talked with the elders we were working with about world soccer for about 15 minutes. (Quite an achievement, speaking Portuguese for that long and not about the gospel) I gave Elder Titus recognized the importance of my knowledge, so I gave him a little lesson on soccer around the world. It really will be helpful.
We went to the Federal Police Station on Wednesday to become legal. We got fingerprinted and filled out forms. It was not super fun, but interesting to see.
I'm starting to pick words up and add them to my vocabulary subconsciously. So I can string sentences together pretty quickly without having to translate a lot in my head. As I use Spanish here and there, I notice the same thing; I don't know how I learned so much from so little formal training. I think the same happens for most people once they leave the MTC.
I hope I get a Brazilian trainer when I got to Londrina. I think there would be nothing better for learning quickly.
I was thinking the other day, and I can't even visualize using a phone anymore. I thought it would be tough to get used to not having one, but I didn't even think about it till yesterday! So crazy how things change here.
The gift certificate at Cheney's has been DELICIOUS, thank you muito!
Spencer, pay close attention in seminary. Really try to master Scripture Mastery, it's probably the most important part of seminary.
Everything is good, hope all is well there too.
Love you all

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Third week in Sao Paulo at the Mission Training Center Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Things have basically been the same here. We still go to class and study all the time. We can now teach the first lesson in Portuguese for about 15 minutes. Well, me and Elder Titus can.
I got sick on Wednesday with the same cold that gets everyone. I still have a pretty congested nose and I cough, but it's going away slowly. The doctor here has like one remedy for everything! We are instructed to snort salt water up our nose til we gag. I tried it once, then never again because it did not even work.
My Portuguese is starting to fit together better now. Our class time seems super inefficient, but everyone still seems to be learning, so that's good.
I am getting pretty good at volleyball, it's kinda hard not to be good with so much practice. I never imagined that one one of the few things I would miss from the United States is soccer. I still can't believe they don't even have a ball.
The food here is still fine. I have not had any kind of indigestion from it, so that is a plus. I have now lost two pounds since my arrival, that's pretty dang exciting I guess. But really I just think is is my muscles gelatinousizing lol.
This week 63 new Americans are coming in and 17 Brazilians. It's going to be be so crowded at meals and stuff. Most people get to move in with the Brazilians about this stage of their MTC stay. I really, really hope I get to move in with some. That would be so prime for learning. All of the Brazilians that arrived a day after us are leaving this week. I made friends with a couple on our floor, they were definitely cool.
The guys in my district all get along really well. No arguments or anything. Anyways, just keep doing right.
Love you all.
Elder Joey

Second week in Sao Paulo at the Mission Training Center Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our second week was just as action-packed as the first. We are in class for about 10 hours per day, sometimes more! It gets so hard to sit still. Most elders fall asleep a lot, but I have only fallen asleep once during instruction.
Fasting here is so militant! They disconnect all of the drinking fountains and shut down the cafeteria, so you really can't not fast. But Sunday is nice and relaxing. We get to hear from good speakers and testimony meeting is nice. I am starting to adjust to the schedule here a lot better. I go to sleep on time and I wake up on time, and it makes for much more productive days.
One of the elders in our district left the MTC today. It was a pretty big shock and blow to all of us. But I really think he will come back.
One of the elders in our district has been struggling with his faith, so I gave him a blessing tonight. It was a super spiritual experience. Today was a pretty intense roller coaster.
Things have pretty much stayed the same as last week, just a lot of learning. The food is still good. Today was Independence Day, so we had the national dish of Brasil. I thought it was good but as usual nobody else did.
Our mission apparently got split! Londrina no longer has the northern part that would have all the wildlife in it, so most of us are pretty bummed about that, but we don't know any concrete details.
The letters have been pouring in from across the globe. NOT! Just the one from you guys, thank you!
The weather here is crazy. It is hot from about 1 p.m. to bedtime. The air conditioning does not work, so we rely on fans and windows all the time. It has rained a couple times. When it rains here it really comes down hard! On the way home from the temple, the street flooded and our bus was like the only car that could make it.
You should all listen to the Brasilian national anthem. It is super cool. We sing it every week (or attempt to). Brasilieros are bad singers, but they really love to sing with force!
I am getting a lot better at scripture study. I am excited about the things in the Book of Mormon. It is hard to learn chapter by chapter like I used to read, but reading for an hour at a time is the best.
It is very safe here, I love you all, talk to you soon!
Elder Joey Burt

First week in Sao Paulo at the Mission Training Center Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hello family!
Today is my first P-day, and its been a dooope week. We got here on Wednesday after a two hour delay to our flight. We spent that day getting unpacked and stuff, settling into our rooms. We ate and relaxed mostly. On the second day, we started class in the afternoon after orientation lectures all morning. Portugues is coming pretty easily for me, not so for most of my district. Having Spanish for a while really helped a ton.
My teachers' names are Irma Elias and Irma Aline. Elias doesn't speak a ton of English, but Aline does. My companion is the coolest one in the group. His name is Elder Titus and he is from Seattle. Had he skipped the mission, he would have become a professional Cyclist! He is quiet, but he is cool.
Some of our neighbors are ill. They tell me a lot of good advice, as well as some interesting activities for P-Day. Such as the light game and removing the wood that holds up the mattresses up on the beds. The Brasileiros tend to like me because I can understand them pretty well compared to most fifth day students. Soccer is banned here!! No soccer balls are even available to juggle. We played just a little with a volleyball, but its not the same at all. We saw like 15 soccer fields and courts on the way from the airport though, so i am sure I'll get my chance.
We went to the temple in Campinas this morning, then we came back and walked around a bit. Of course we all bought some interesting candies and drinks to keep in our rooms. I gained three pounds in the first four days here, so me and Titus are cutting back at meals. It's weird to not have music and internet and tv around all the time, but it's nice. It gives everyone a chance to actually focus and think about important things. All of my supplies have been working very well so far. I am used to wearing a shirt and tie now, but I still don't like it.
We start on our goal accomplishment milestones tomorrow in class. We have to pray and testify from memory in Portugues. It should be fairly easy. Pronunciations in this dang language are such a joke!!! Whoever decided to make the D make a GEE sound should be hung.
The females here are generally very good looking. But nothing worth moving here or dropping out of the mission for lol.
I was expecting to have like 1000 letters by now, but have only gotten 500 :( jaja, kidding I have zero. One of the elders in our district, Elder Castillanos, is fluent in Spanish, so he is the top dogg in Portugues, but I am most def number two. I just need to pound the lessons at this point. Spencer, the most important thing you can do before you leave is to learn chapter three of PMG backwards and front. If you do that you will be soooo far ahead and won't have to learn the lessons as much as the language of the lessons. Then you can focus on the intricacies of the language.
I need to head out now, we have companionship study. I love you guys, don't do anything silly!
Elder Joseph P Burt

First day and first letter home -- Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yooo! It's the first night here, it's super cool! Our flight from Dallas to Sao Paulo got delayed about two hours, it was super boring. But most of the elders were pretty cool. Thirteen of us flew out of Salt Lake. Then we met up with a bunch more in Dallas. I think out total was 29. It was a pretty cool sight. We got to the CTM around noon. We went straight to lunch, which was pretty good. We learned a bit about the MTC. We got our immunizations checked, then we walked around the area a little bit. It's a little bit weird. It's just like Peru was but a little cleaner, but I can't talk to anyone yet! If only I can get them to switch to Spanish...
My comp is Elder Titus. He is from Seattle. He is pretty quiet but he is also cool. He could have become a professional cyclist or gone on a mission, so he decided on the mish.
We start classes tomorrow after walking up at 6:30! Sao Paulo is beautiful, we have a killer view. Love you guys, don't die or anything. Pray and read! Joey

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Flying to Brazil! Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oh my! This was sure a wonderful and emotional day! At 6:30 am Joey (and family) met with one of our local church leaders (Stake President) and Joey was set apart as a full time missionary of the LDS church. It was a sweet and spiritual way to start the day.
We then drove from our home in Logan to the Salt Lake City airport, where Joey would fly to Dallas and then to Brazil.

Joey (Elder Burt) and his brother, Spencer, heading into the airport terminal from the parking structure. Spencer will be 18 and a high school graduate when they see each other again.

Joey putting on his official missionary name badge. He will be wearing this all of the time from here on out. It says his name (Elder Burt) and the name of our church in Portuguese.

Ready to go! Boarding pass in hand, Passport and visa in pocket, Yellow Fever immunization in body, Scriptures and essentials in backpack, Proud family (including tearful mom) standing nearby.

A final wave from the other side of security. See you in two years! We love you!

Joey's farewell talk and luncheon Sunday, August 16, 2009

The missionaries in our church speak in their congregations on a Sunday before they leave. Often, the families host a little get-together after so that friends and family can visit, say goodbye, and give their best wishes to the missionary.

Joey's Aunt Darci took this photo of him sitting in the rostrum area in our chapel. This was before church had started--still--it was a very bold move on her part! He spoke for about 20-25 minutes and did a fantastic job and seemed ready and prepared to serve the Lord. (Totally biased here!)

We were so fortunate that the weather cooperated and we could hold the luncheon in our backyard. Thanks to so many family members (bottom photo) and friends who pitched in, we enjoyed some yummy tacos, salads, salsa, cupcakes, and Turner slush.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The mission call arrives! Thursday, April 30, 2009

It came! Joey was living in the dorms and I (mom) checked the mail on Wednesday--the day these usually arrive--and found...nothing! Joey's sister was here from Salt Lake for the big opening but had to go to work on Thursday. So, even a day later than we expected it to arrive, and with his sister listening on the phone instead of being with us, it was thrilling to open the mailbox and see this big envelope. It was actually a little overwhelming knowing that once opened, everything in our family would change. Good change, but still change.

The missionaries in our church do not get to choose where they serve their missions. It is not until this big white envelope arrives in the mail that the future missionary finds out where they will be living, teaching, and what language they will be speaking for two years. It is a very exciting time!

Each missionary receives a letter from the president of our church, President Thomas S. Monson "Dear Elder Burt: You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Brazil Londrina Mission...You should report to the Brazil Mission Training Center on Wednesday, August 26, 2009. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Portuguese language."
In addition to the assignment, the mission call letter contains some wonderful advice and encouragement and some clear direction, "Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ..."