Monday, May 28, 2012

Week Twenty Four - Awkwardness.....

Tom and Elder Summerhayes in the MTC.

Tom and Elder Shaw in the MTC.

Tom and Elder Funk in the MTC.

Tom and Elder Kaufman in the MTC.
On May 13th, Tom hit the five month mark!  That is almost 1/4 of the way through!  It sounds like he is in the thick of things and is surviving, at least.  This letter cracked us up, especially the part about him tapping his feet.  He did that constantly at home and Em says it drove her crazy. He was always listening to music, either at the computer or with his head phones on and his feet were always tapping!  So glad to hear he hasn't changed! 

Hello Again!
    My week was okay. Tuesday wasn´t good, I woke up and my allergies hit me like a truck, and I was blowing snot out my nose all day, and they´ve been bugging me all week in the morning. But the pills are helping a lot. I think if I stay in this area for a while I will need more though, so maybe you can send some in the next package. We had another baptism this week, a 15 year old girl named Maria, but she looks like she´s 20. There´s a lot of girls here that look like they´re around 20 years old but they´re only 15, which is weird. But Maria thinks I`m weird too. Every time we taught her, I would start talking and she´d get a grin on her face and look at her boyfriend and laugh a little. Teaching her was awkward. We also met a woman, Teresinha, that we are teaching who has two daughters, and she likes us a lot. She gives us food when we visit and teach her. Her younger daughter calls us tio (uncle). And Teresinha even called us her sons, which was a little awkward. But she´s nice... Also, yesterday, we went with some of the youth and their leaders to visit less active youth, and apparently I tap my feet a lot. There was some music playing while we visited someone and I was tapping my feet the whole time, and the people that we went with thought I was going to burst into dance or something, so they made fun of me a little for that. They also pointed out that I wave good bye weird. First I hold up 2 fingers, then 4, 5, and a thumbs up at the end. I don´t do it on purpose, I just kinda copy what the people do that I´m waving to........ so yeah they laughed at me for that too. Sheesh what an awkward week. 
         So the pictures this week are of Elder Summerhays, Elder Shaw, Elder Funk, and Elder Kaufman on the last night of our stay at the MTC. Cool guys, not much else to say. Anyways, since my credit card can´t be uncancelled, what should I do with it? cut it and throw it away? I think you should still send a little more money, $27 I think. I don´t want to just keep 173 dollars in my wallet. But the problem is that I don´t think there are any banks in my area. So maybe I should just send the money back? I don´t know, tell me what to do.  "I am sure you are on the verge of having it all click for you!" HAH! yeah right... maybe some day. And the all the rest is good to hear too.
 1)Everyone wants to know what you had to eat at the nice restaurant that Klayton took you to. Some rice, spaghetti, chicken, beef, the usual stuff here in Brazil, but many times better than average.

2)Was all of your stuff ruined by sitting in the mud for a day? pretty much!

Any packages get there this past week?  Aunt Lisa and Grandma Marta both sent you birthday packages and are worried they haven’t gotten there, yet. No!

How is sacrament meeting in the new ward you are in – any better than the last? Better!

What have you been doing on your P-days lately with your new companion? Sleeping!

Did you get the camera card I sent and do you think you want to send your card home, yet? Yes, not yet!

What happened to the three missionaries that died that you mentioned in your last e-mail - very sad. I think 2 died in car crashes, another was  robbed and killed in Rio, but this was months ago, but kind of makes me nervous to go to Rio.

Anyways, that´s my week. Okay gotstago now. I love you and miss you all and I`m prying for yas. Have a good week and don´t worry about me too much.

Love, O Americano Estranho!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

2012 Senior Awards Banquet – Wow…. just WOW!

David receiving his awards.

David and his friend Tessa.

On Tuesday, May 22nd, we attended David’s senior awards banquet at Little America Hotel in SLC.  Talk about impressive!  Not talking about the location, the food or even the company (at our table, anyway), but the caliber of kids at this banquet was mind blowing!  I think that older generations tend to shake their heads and worry about our youth.  We hear far too many negative things about kids getting into trouble, having no motivation, staying dependant for far too long, etc..  All I can say is my mind was forever changed last night!  The students at this awards banquet were exceptional in every way.  I can’t imagine how there’s enough hours in the day to accomplish all that they do.  These were students in the top 10% of their class, generally, which means they were all probably within a point or two of a 4.0 GPA, with many attaining a 4.0 GPA.  The majority had received scholarships and all of them had been accepted to a university or college.  Besides achieving outstanding academic success, these students participated in and more often than not, were leaders in service work, clubs, student body offices, athletics, theater, music, dance, art…. it just went on and on!  They are smart, talented and ambitious and I am truly in awe of their accomplishments. 

David was recognized for receiving scholarship offers from UVU, Westminster, Utah State and SUU.  He is also eligible to receive the Utah Regents Scholarship.  He received an academic letter in both 10th and 12th grade, is in the top 10% of his class academically, and he also lettered in baseball his Freshman, Sophomore and Junior years.  When he graduates on June 1st, he will receive the Diploma of Merit, which is a diploma where higher academic standards are achieved through all four years of high school.  We couldn’t be more proud of David!  He has worked so hard to achieve these goals, put in hours upon hours of work in class, at home and on the baseball field.  He is well prepared to go on to college and will face new challenges with all of the skills and knowledge he has obtained at Cottonwood High School.  I so look forward to seeing him and his amazing friends achieve what their goals and dreams hold for them!  Like I said… wow, just wow!  Congratulations Cottonwood High School Class of 2012!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week Twenty Three - Lost and Found

Tom and Sister Jardim, one of his MTC instructors.

Tom and Elder Fox, after a hard day at the MTC!

Tom and Elder Hoch.
On Saturday morning, we received an e-mail from Tom asking us to cancel his credit card, it was lost and he would explain in his e-mail on Monday.  So, I cancelled it immediately.  He didn't have any strange charges, so that was good.  Then, we get the rest of the story today!  How lucky can you be to lose a bunch of stuff on the street, including money and credit cards and then find them where you lost them the next day?!  Weird but happy he found his stuff, although he is without a credit card until I get a new one sent down to him.  Poor kid - rough day last Friday.  Oh man, I miss this kid!  

Ola! Minha Familia Amada!
          I hope everyone had a good week, and that Mom and David enjoyed their birthdays, and that it wasn´t too different without me! So this week had some ups and downs! We had our last zone conference with President Campos, who ends his mission next month I think. My first zone conference was the day after I arrived to the mission field, and I understood nothing. But this last one was good. I understood about 1000 times better. We also had a baptism on Sunday, right before sacrament meeting, which was a little weird. I baptized a boy who just turned 8 this month, named Francisco, but his full name is sooo long. He has six names in his.... name... Mom´s birthday, for me, wasn´t too great. First, we get on the bus to go to lunch, and as I´m trying to pay to get on the bus, the bus driver stops really hard and I fall down. OUCH! Later we´re walking along a road, I step on the curb of the sidewalk and slip, because it was muddy, and everything in my shirt pocket falls out, into the mud, and I don´t notice it >.< My pen, my Portuguese verb conjugation cheat sheet, and my missionary guide book, which had 2 credit cards in it and about 40 reais (money). GAH! that was frustrating. But the next day, my companion and I pass by the area, I ask if we can look for my things, and I found them in the mud. So I have my credit cards and my money now. You can go ahead and uncancel my credit card and forget about sending me a new one. And that´s about my week. Pretty good, huh? Also, I heard about 3 missionaries, that served in the Brazil Belém mission a few years ago, that died. :/ sad.
        A little more about my area: there´s actually gated communities here. I´ve been in two, the first one was okay. It´s a little better than the average house outside of the gated communities. But the second one, holy moly, was nice. We had lunch with a member who lives in the super nice gated community. His names Klayton, he served in the Provo Utah Mission, and said at the time, the mission went from Salt Lake City to St. George. I didn´t know missions were that big in the states. Anyways, he took us out to lunch at a super nice restaurant, which is really cool. Mmmmm that was a good lunch.
        So the pictures this week are: two with my district and Irmã Jardim. I think in the back left corner, they are tickling each other, which is why they look a little goofy. And my companion has the goofiest face ever, again. The next is just me and Irmã Jardim. She was really cool. I think my district was the first that she taught in the MTC. After that is me and meu companheiro, Elder Fox. Do you want to know what he did with the last package you guys sent me? He wrote "com amor, elder Fox" (with love). How dare he! How dare you Elder Fox!!! And the last is Elder Hoch and I. He was our district leader. He´s super dedicated and works really hard. He´s probably a zone leader right now, or an assistant to the president.
        Anyways, thanks for sending me more stuff, I´m sure the other elders in the zone will be very jealous! mwahahah! I´m glad to hear that your birthdays were good, and the week was too. Congratulations David! on the seminary graduation, I hope you enjoyed seminary... and high school.
Good to hear about all that other stuff too. Anyways, that´s about all for this week. I love and miss you all. I hope you have a good week and enjoy the special events.
         Love Elder Williams.

2012 Seminary Graduation

The boys, Landon, Nick and David (I stole this awesome picture from my friend Joan)
Landon, Nick, Carolyn and David
David receiving his diploma from Bishop Wonnacott.
On Sunday, May 20th, David graduated from Seminary with a three year certificate.  We are really proud of his accomplishment!  He graduated with his friends from the 5th ward, Landon Watkins, Carolyn Burggraaf and Nick Foster.  They had a nice ceremony and we even got to go outside in the middle of it to see the solar eclipse!  It was fun to see people from the other wards in the stake that we hadn't seen for a while.  Another milestone in David's life..... there sure are a lot of those lately!

Cottonwood Men's Choir - Last Performance

On Monday night, May 14th, the Cottonwood High School choirs performed their last concert for the year.  It was very good and all of the songs were African themed, or about Africa.  They also had a solo competition in between choir numbers, which were all really good!  David had a wonderful experience during the two years he was in the Men's Choir.  They always looked like they were having a lot of fun performing and he would always tell us about the fun that they had in class.  Mr. Sullivan, or Sully as he was known to the kids, is a great choir instructor and made the experience unforgettable for all of the students.  I will miss going to see them perform and I am hoping that David will try to get in a choir at UVU, since he enjoys singing so much!  Until then, I'll just enjoy it when he sings around the house and in the shower!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Week Twenty Two- Mother's Day Call Home

Kind of a short e-mail this week and he forgot his camera, so no pictures. We spoke to Tom for an hour on Sunday and he sounded great! He even asked me to send him some more pants, a size bigger! He thinks he has gained weight and said a couple pairs of pants he has are falling apart. That was good news for us. I think he is probably eating better than he did at home and all that walking and the workouts he gets trying to stand up on the moving buses has helped him gain some muscle! He is working hard and he said it was harder than anything he has ever done. I think I detect a tiny bit of home sickness in this e-mail, but I am sure that's totally normal. It was just great to hear his voice and we can't wait for the next call! It was an emotional day for all of us and extremely hard for us to end the call and say goodbye to him, again.  We are so proud of him, though, and that's what makes it all worth it!

Bom Dia! I hope everyone had a good week and a good Mother´s Day. I don´t have a whole lot to say this week, not a lot happened, and I already said a lot on the phone yesterday, so this e-mail will probably be a little shorter. And I forgot to bring my camera with me, so no pictures this week, sorry :( The week here was okay, kind of. We thought we were going to have some baptisms this week, but the investigators weren´t ready. There´s one person that we can only teach on weekends, but he went to sacrament meeting last week. We told him to pray and ask God if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church. A few days later, my companion calls him to see how he´s doing and if he feels he got an answer to his prayer. He told my companion he felt that this is the true church, and we just say "awesome!" A few days later my companion calls him again, asks if he is still praying and still feels the church is true, and he says God told him all churches are true (which is impossible) so that was a little frustrating. After he hung up, my companion told me his is "doido" which is kind of like idiot. Hah, he calls just about everyone doido, and I think he´s pretty easily annoyed. Anyways, Mother´s Day was okay... well talking to you at home was, the rest of the day was just kinda meh. Gave my first talk in Portuguese, walked a lot, taught 2 people, and talked to you guys. The missionary guide book says that Sundays and holidays are good days to teach because people are at home with their families, but I think here is the exception because everyone is away from home, partying and drinking, and that´s not a good environment to teach in. So, that annoyed my companion too. 

Some more things about the area: planes are constantly flying over us. I guess the airport isn´t too far from us, so planes that just got off the ground are always flying by, and I look up at almost every single one and just think to myself "I kinda wish I was on that plane." So that's a distraction. Also, my companion has some Christmas music that makes me want to come home, especially the song "I´ll be home for Christmas." Hrmmm, lots of distractions. But things are still good and I won´t be home until December of 2013... so get over it Elder Williams! sheesh! So you´re e-mail; thank you for the love and support, and it was fantastic to be able to talk to you by phone, I can´t wait to do it again, hopefully time flies by. My companion said that the time goes fast if you just don´t think about it, so I´ll try that. 

I forgot to get the address of my apartment, sorry :/ So far, though, there hasn´t been a day where lunch with a member fell, which is cool. Ah, the benefit of being Norte Americano. Thanks for the sewing tips, maybe I´ll try to sew the button back on one day. The birthday present was great, good choices on the ties, the candy and snacks were delicious, but the next time you send food, if you send beef jerky, can it be peppered instead of teriyaki (or however you spell it), I think I like that a little more. Cool news about Jeff, and I guess not so cool about Brad. :/ Hope you enjoy it or make lots of money, or both. Good Toby/Sherm story... And thank you for Elder Schoen´s address! 

Okay, as I said I forgot my camera today, sorry. I hope you all have a good, safe week. I will finish the letters to David and Mom today and try to send them, so you can expect them in a few weeks. Anyways, i love you all and miss you. Don´t worry about me too much because I am doing well, and I will give another update next week. 

Love, Elder Williams

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Last Dance - Spring Fling 2012

Bria and David headed to the dance.

Bria and David.

David and friends.
     The last dance of David's high school years has come and gone.  He was asked to Spring Fling by Bria Hobbs.  Two girls surprised David Saturday morning by sneaking into his room at 6:00am and blindfolding him.  They had him put on a robe and then they took him to someone's house for breakfast.  Then, they went for a hike up to Doughnut Falls.  After that, they went to CPK for dinner, the dance and then swimming at a friend's house.  What a day!  When I asked him if it was a long day, he said yes, a long day WITHOUT a nap!  

   David has been lucky to have so much fun over the past three years.  He has gone to pretty much all of the dances, football games, basketball games and any other activities the school was having.  We always told our kids that if you want to have good high school memories, you have to participate in the fun stuff!  He is lucky to have so many wonderful friends to do these things with.  I think he can pretty much look back on these last three years and not have any regrets!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Week Twenty One - Happy Birthday, Tommy!

Tom and Elder Peterson in Sao Paulo.

Tom and Elder Wensel in Sao Paulo.

Tom and Elder Fox, his companion in the MTC.  I really want to meet this guy!
Well, we made it through Tom's first birthday with him being away in Brazil.  I was a little bit sad all day and really longed to see him and hug him and kiss him on his birthday - like I usually get to do!  I thought a lot about what I was doing 20 years ago and wondering how it all flew by so fast!  Hoping all day that he was having a good birthday and everyone was going to be nice to him and I was relieved that he did get his birthday packages, so that was good news.  I am so looking forward to this Sunday to get to talk to him and we'll find out how his day really went!  

Hello Everyone!
      I hope you had a good week without a lot of problems, and that you are all doing good. This past week was okay, but not a lot happened. So my new area is called Castanheira, in Icoaraci, just outside of Belém, which I think I already told you, but its pretty cool here. There´s actually grass and trees, and people have yards, kind of. But our area is big. Right now, all the people we are teaching live on the opposite side of the area that we live. At least the church is closer, so it´s now a 5 minute walk instead of 25. My companion is pretty cool too. His names Elder Inácio, he´s from Forteleza. He´s helped quite a bit, and probably will help more than my trainer did, but that's okay. My new apartment is smaller. It´s only one room. The washing machine doesn´t work, so I will have to wash all my clothes by hand. We sleep on mattresses(?) on the floor, and we have no roomates, so its just him and I, here. My companion keeps telling people I´m from... Marengains or something like that, which is like the most poor place in Brazil. Anyways my mind is blank right now, I will let you know more when I remember. But one thing, my old companion, Elder Reis, asked for a CTR ring and I promised him I´d get you to send one to him... can you do that? If you can just send it to Elder Darlan Reis with same mission address that you use to send me things. And that´s my week!
       In response to your e-mail, thank you for the birthday wishes, it is hard to believe I am 20 years old, I feel like I should still be in high school :). I did receive the birthday package, with 4 letters, from Sister Petersen, G&G Williams and Pratt, and from Dad. I already opened the letters but decided to wait until tomorrow to open the package. So thank you for the letters and whatever is in the package! it means a lot to me. Anyways, the transition to the new area wasn´t too difficult, but I don´t really feel like this is my area. I feel like I am just on a companion exchange. Anyways, its kind of funny, in this area, my companion said that lunches aren´t really carried out by the members much, and almost 3 times every week, with his old companion, lunch with members would fall. But he told some people that he was getting an American companion, and they promised lunch wouldn´t fall again. Norte Americano, ftw! hehe. Anyways, don´t really care much for the jazz, they never get far, but thanks for the update. Good to here David is getting ready for college, I hope your last year of high school was great and you are getting excited for your mission!
         Mother´s day, okay, here´s what my companion says. Saturday, I will call you, and tell you what you number you need to call. I will only have like a minute to talk on Saturday, so it needs to be quick. And I think Sunday night (here) you will call me. My companion says maybe around 6 o´clock here, which is about 2 there? I can´t remember. Anyways that's the deal for mother´s day, I hope everything goes well. By the way, the language isn´t getting much easier. I feel like i´ve hit a wall. I´ve almost got 3 months in the field now, which is about a month less than the average time the missionaries here say it took until they could understand. Hopefully it starts to pick up now.
           Pictures!  The first is a picture of the group going to Belém, except for the guy on the far right, he´s from Belém. I think the next one is of me and Elder Peterson. He´s really cool, friendly, and easy to get along with. Elder Wensel is next. He´s cool too, and always willing to help. And i forget what the last one is, I cant see it right now.
           Anyways that's my week. I love you and miss you and can´t wait to talk on mother´s day. Have a good week! Tchau!
     Love, Elder Williams

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Week Twenty - First Transfer!

The boys headed to Belem.
Tom and Elder Barton.

Tom and Elder De La Cruz (both Spongebob fans??!!)

Tom and Elder Taylor.

 Wow!  Can it actually be twenty weeks that Tom's been gone?!  Sounds like he had a good week, other than injuring himself.  And he gets transferred already - wow!  That seems like big news to me.  I miss him immensely, we all do and we got letters from him, that I think he wrote in the MTC, this past week that made us cry.  He has made friends in the MTC that he loves and will hopefully be in his life forever.  We are so proud of him and of how he is just taking everything in stride - that's my Tommy!   

Aló! Como voces estão? Bem? Eu tambem! Bacana! I´m glad to hear that this week was better for ya´s and you enjoyed it. My week was pretty good too. It had some ups and downs but i can say it was good. My companion´s birthday was on Wednesday. We went to a place that I forget the name of, but its kinda like a park that's got a really cool view over the river and some cool animals there too. I got about 100 cool pictures, mostly of animals and my companion, and a few of me. Also, 2 people invited us to their house for cake, and my companion received a camera from one of our recent converts! Wow, lucky guy! We also had two baptisms this week. One, was of a girl named Sara who lives with her cousins now, who are members, and another of a boy named Jonatas, whose family was inactive until we spoke to them about returning to the church and had an activity in their house with a bunch of members. They said that they will never stop going to church again. I also personally baptized someone for the first time. I messed up a little the first time so I had to do it twice, but tudo bem! As I said, I also had some down moments. One, I hit my head on a horizontal bar sticking out of the weird telephone booths they have here. That hurt... You have to watch your head and your feet at the same time here. There's a bunch of stuff sticking out of the sides of walls and the sidewalks are like... really bad, crooked teeth.... with lots of food stuck in it. Also, the fact that my companion was pretty much going to be transferred, without a doubt, and that I would stay here, stressed me out a little, because if he goes and I stay, I would pretty much have to be the senior missionary, at least until my new companion knows the area and everybody here, and I am not ready for that. But! I have goad/bad news! I´m being transferred! Isn´t that terrixciting?!1 I´ve got some mixed emotions about it right now. I really liked all the people here and this area, but I don´t have the same relationship with them that my companion had, and things probably wouldn´t be exactly the same if I stayed while he left. And starting in a new area with a new companion makes me a little nervous. But Elder Reis said he knows my new companion and he is really cool. So my new area is called... Castanheira, I think, and is about an hour and 30 minute drive from where I am now. So... the skyping thingy probably won´t happen, sorry :/ Also, I don´t think its a good idea to send a bunch of packages at the same time. All the mail goes to the zone leader of the area, and he brings it to the zone meeting that is held every week in the church building. So, having to walk back to the house with a bunch of packages, won´t be fun. I´m hoping that I don´t get a bunch of mail at the same time... so don´t send a bunch of mail at the same time... por favor! Muito obrigado! Anyways, I am the pictures today are with the members of my district. The first one is with Elder Barton, he´s from Utah, and he´s a cool guy. I might´ve said this in the letter I sent home, but on the last night of our stay in the MTC, when we all said goodbye, he cried... and he didn´t even cry when he said goodbye to his family. Strong relationship, we had, in the MTC... The next is with Elder De la Cruz. He´s from Washington, and he´s a Spongebob fanatic. We are smiling like that because on the last day of the MTC, another Elder was trying to get my picture, and I just said "what the heck..." and gave the biggest smile I could, (even though the day wasn´t great because of the awful proselyting experience elder Fox and I had that morning) and a few other Elders noticed... and it almost turned into a photo shoot.... Awkward! I hate photo shoots, they´re fresco! Anyways, Elder De la Cruz said he wanted a picture with me, with just the biggest smiles ever. I think in the next photo, Elder Taylor, from Utah also, wanted to do the same thing, but I didn´t get the memo. And the last photo is all of us, almost, that went to Belém. Okay, I will respond to your email rapidamente, now! The sister missionaries I have seen all where skirts that go a little below the knees, with short sleeve shirts... that's about the best description I can give. I don´t remember anyone named Wholston, but maybe if you give me his first name and the area he is serving I will remember. Also, its unfortunate to hear he was hit by a car. I hope he will be okay. I don´t expect the jazz to go anywhere, as usual, but thanks for the update. Good to hear about all the good times you are having. Also, Elder Shaw says he thinks he heard that Adele died. Care to shed some light on the matter? 

1)Has the weather still been the same - hot, humid and rainy? I wouldn´t want it any other way :) 
2)Do you think you can still Skype on Mother's Day? I am going to buy a web cam so we are ready! I will talk with my new companion about it after I am transferred tomorrow, but my guess is no. 
3)Do you need me to send you more snacks? Gold fish, pistachios, ....let me know what you want, although there's a couple of packages on their way that might take care of some of those things.... Nope, I am great here with what I´ve got, thanks though! 
4)Did you get any packages last week? Letters? The zone leader said he forgot the letter for me last week at their place, so I should get something this week. 
5)How are your white shirts looking? I hear they get kind of dingy looking after a while and I may need to send you some new ones or maybe you can buy them down there. Just let me know... I think my shirts are fine for now. They look a little brown in some spots but its not really noticeable. 
6)Are your allergies bothering you at all? If they are, do you need me to send some allergy pills? I have not had any problems with allergies here, thanks for asking though. 

Okay, that's all, out of time, gotta go. I love you all and can´t wait to hear fromsyas again next week. 

Tchau! Love Elder Williams