Elder Matthew Wright Gagon - Brazil Curitiba Mission

Elder Michael David Gagon - Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Matt: September 29, 2010

Dear Greatest Family in the world,

What is up? So I´ve been in Brasil for a week now and it is something else. There are dogs everywhere, kinda like in most 3rd world countries, but I saw a dog with a couple dreadlocks in its tail so that was kinda wild.

I´m not gonna lie the language is a struggle. I can understand about 65% of what people say, depending on speed of speech, but some people are really patient with me and repeat what they just said like 12 times at sloth-turtle speed and others say things like "Oh this guy doesn´t even know how to ask for rice and beans." that are hurtful, but ok at the same time cuz I speak english; the hardest language to learn in the world, so they can take a hike! Then there are the people that laugh in my face when I´m trying to tell them how important the gospel is, because they think my portuguese is so bad. It´s alright though they are just feelings, they´ll heal in time.

Sometimes it is a blessing though cuz there´s this proud man we are teaching (the one who said I couldn´t order rice and beans actually) who would just argue with my companion about authority and how you get it and who really is and isn´t a prophet. Then when I mustered up the courage to talk to this proud man he had to listen super close and try and understand my broken portuguese when I said "Proud man, I know you have doubts about Joseph Smith and our prophet and their true authority, but if you want some PROOF that he truly was called of God to be the one true prophet on earth that leads and guides His church you can have it" bust out O Livro de Mórmon "if you read this I know that you will come to know that Joseph Smith was God´s prophet... Now go take a hike while I give my feelings some time to heal." ha ha I didn´t say that last part, but I did say the other part, and the spirit was strong like ox. ha ha.

So yeah other than that things have been good.. My comp is a stud to the max! Elder Simper, remember the name. He teaches me lots of things. The work is way different here than in Tennessee. We set dates like crazy here, and in Tennessee we just...don´t ha ha. I think people in Brasil are either just more open to the gospel, or just more perceptive and willing to do what God wants them to do (get baptized, by proper authority) or else we have just been teaching better here, cuz I feel like we´ve made more progress in my one week here than the average week in Tennessee.

My comp is super bold which is awesome and helps a ton.... The food here is pretty ok. I didn´t think I was a food snob til I got here and my comp is always like "Oh this stuff is the BEST" and then I try it and am like ~Surely this can not be the best thing Brazil has to eat~ and then he says "It is the best, and stop calling me Shirley" ha ha but no we had lettuce juice one day at lunch (lettuce, water and sugar blended up) and it tasted pretty much exactly how you think it would taste lol. So yeah things are good.

So yeah that´s that about that. I love all of you, but right now I got to go.

Love, Matt

Michael: September 29, 2010

Dearest fam! especially JOR! Last p day was one of the best days on the mish, definately of this transfer which is almost over! This time next week I hope to be in a new Lan house somewhere else!!

But OK last sunday ten days ago a visitor came to our ward from out of town and asked my comp for us to teach her uncle, so we went there last Wednesday, and it was this cute twenty something year old girl (you can never tell the age in brazil) and we sat down and her uncle hadnt come home yet so we just started to talk and she asked our names, and I say Sou Elder Gagon, and she smiles and says Gagon, Did you have a sister that served a mission in Sao Paulo, and I say Ya! and she says Whats her name? (Maybe there are lots of SIster gagons in Sao Paulo) ANd I said JORDAN! and she smiled so big and said Mentira!!! (lie) like she couldnt believe it! and she got sooo happy and started to BAWL... and she left the room, and we just sat there the rest of us in silence kinda not knowing what to do, and she came back and was still crying but said, Sorry, Your sister Helped me soo much.

She served in our ward her last area on the mission and helped my mom and me and my family so much, I love her... etc. And so we talked a little more about Jordan but oh Jor, parabens, i hope you feel happy hearing this, I was so grateful to be there and felt so proud of you, and the spirit was so strong, and I just felt how great this work is. ANd to see fruits of your labors was a great experience.

Well fam all is good hear, this is the last week of the transfer, it rained here the past day and a half for the first time which was not so bad to work in, except I found out which of my shoes never to wear again in the rain, 14 hours of soaked feet is never good. I wanna ask for picture of Sasha! and Lake powell/snowbird, (i have a couple, Nat the ones you just sent) but things like that, that show a little where Im from, where Ive been, maybe a pic of Las Vegas... and I want recipes of Salad dressings, guacamole, and Banana bread... Nick or anyone if you could track down Brother Gunnel my old seminary teacher, who now is at Hillcrest, and get me his address I would be soo grateful!!! also The address of bishop christensen, schropher and ward leaders!!

Sunday I gave a talk in sacrament which in my late memory is the worst experience of my life! I just prepared too much material and didnt organize it too well.... SO I was jsut up there making a mess of the gospel and portuguese... But the worst part was half way through my talk I got slipped a note by the less active counselor in our bishopric that said my time had run out hahahaha. Cause it was only suppose to be 10 minutes. But that afternoon all was happy again when I saw monkeys!!! like a dozen of them in a members back yard eating bananas and jumping in the trees, I got about 5 feet from one ha it was cool.

Well I will wrap this up, I already talked to Al about it but if someone could also send me General Conference ASAP, I think we only get to watch 1 of the 5 sessions, and in portuguese sooo. Like a November Ensign or something STAT will be much appreciated. I love you all and pray for you. Miss you a whole heap. Thanks for your prayers and support. tchau! Elder Michael

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matt: September 22, 2010

Querido familia,

Oi what is up? I know I just wrote you all last night, but my companion Elder Simper from Las Vegas, Nevada didn~t get to email on his p day yesterday, so we are here in the LAN house and I will give you the updates. So I´m super jet lagged out from flying across the world for the last day and a half, plus I just ate lunch at this place that was pretty much Tucanos, but cheaper. So I am super tired from all the meat, and all the travel.

Things are definitely different here in Brasil. I think my area of Curitiba is what Oregon would be like if Oregon was owned by Mexico instead of the United States. It´s super green and hilly and there are trees everywhere, but at the same time nobody speaks english and the drivers are koo koo bananas and the streets/the city just feels like Mexico. Before I got here I heard Curitiba is the nicest, richest, cleanest city in Brasil, and has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. So naturally I had this mental image of Curitiba being like unto Tokyo where the homeless man sweeps the sidewalk and takes off his shoes before entering his cardboard house, ya know? And like light rails running all over the city, and everything being muito chique.... That´s not how it is. ha ha They have busses here, and those busses cover the surrounding 20 some odd square miles around the city, and you can easily get where you need to go if you know the bus routes. And Brasil is unkempt or dirty in the same way that Mexico is. I love it though. I can understand most of what people say when they aren´t talking to me, but as soon as they look at me and talk it just doesn´t make a lick of sense. But the language is coming slowly and surely.

I got to meet up with my friend Steve Hewett who I played football with and partied with in high school. He´s an AP here and goes home in like 2 weeks. He rocks. I also went contacting today with Elder Marx! Meu companheiro do CTM! So elder Sasquatch showed me how it was done and we talked about the mission and it was great. I haven´t taken many pictures cuz supposedly you´ll get robbed if you do, and I left my camera battery charger in Tennessee (woof!). So yeah, I´ll try emailing some of the pics on my memory card home. The one thing I wish I would´ve taken a picture of yesterday was this guy carrying a rickshaw type thing in downtown Curitiba, and his rickshaw was piled like almost 2 stories high with garbage!!!! ha ha ha it was so great.

Anywho everyone tells me how much this mission rocks, and when I got to Tennessee, President Hutchings said, "This is a Preach My Gospel mission, and an obedient mission." Last night president Cordon said, "This is a baptizing mission. Just be 100% obedient" So that was music to my ears. My trainer (who everyone tells me is bem legal de mais) says we have baptisms lined up for this saturday and next saturday, so I am PUMPED!!!

Well I love you all, and if you are reading this on the blog- good for you. Thanks for caring enough about me to read all this.

entou, ate proxima semana. tchau
Elder Matt Gagon

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Michael: September 22, 2010

Oi familia! I have a friend here that wants garments, soo thats about all he told me... I dont know what he wants me to do but maybe just tell me the price of garments, and cost to send them here, then convert that into Reais, and if you are willing to do that he will pay me?? In return I will send you guys a package!!!

SO kinda cool this week I got ice cream at a place like Frogurt!! You grab the ice cream scoop, scoop your own flavors from the bin and weigh it haha I was so happy I told the lady I worked at a place just like this and then she said she wanted to be baptised, jk. But she was equally excited.

So Who already knew that Joseph Smith had a brother named Don Carlos hahaha. Not me! I saw a big spider which made me feel like Im somewhere exotic, Id say 3 inches long. One of our investigators was talking about a movie called (in portuguese) Our Home. Anyone seen it? About aliens I think but he said it simbolizes a lot of gospel stuff....

Natalie and Jor I got your letters yesterday! thanks! We had a leadership meeting, which are good, always motivating. Hopefully things will take a turn for the end of this transfer. Anyway this week is gonna be short cause not much is new and not much going on as far as work goes, and my partner is staring at everything Im writing which makes me nervous eventhough I dont think he understands what hes reading... Da liçensa! ha well Fam I love you and hope things are good, Id love to hear your news.

Love Elder Michael

Monday, September 20, 2010

Matt: September 20, 2010 VISA!!!!

Querido familha,

I GOT MY VISA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh my heck I got the call from Pres. Hutchings telling me I got it (actually my comp from President's phone doing a bad impersonation) Friday and I will be flying out this week! Legal de mais!!!! I'm getting super nervous/scared to go though, because I've lost quite a bit of my portuguese and nobody there speaks english ha ha. Plus just different contrasts in the work. So yeah that is super exciting. Brasil here I come!

Ok so this week I actually got a call to go on exchanges with the APs up in Brentwood. So I was getting super stoked for that thinking I was the chosen one or whatnot, because I had no clue why they would want me to serve with them. I was thinking maybe they received some kind of revelation that I could come serve with them and magically become a good missionary and go forth and be one of the Legends like Elder Carpenter (a fellow alta hawk/future apostle). So they come and get me and they say, "There's been a slight change of plans. Elder Pearson (one of the APs) is having hernia surgery tomorrow, and you are going to be his companion in the mission home while he recovers." So basically all tuesday and wednesday I sat on my keester in the mission home watching 'The Work and The Glory' and sleeping and lifting anything over 5 lbs. for my companion and writing letters. So for those of you that I was able to write, that's why the letters are so much longer than usual. So yeah, it was definitely humbling to go from being the 'chosen one' to the full time baby sitter. It was great though, I enjoyed it. Especially being as mom would say the 'lazy lumpa lardo' that I am, it was nice to kick back and just veg. It won't ever happen again, so I was glad I got to experience it when I did.

After that I came back to the 'Boro and my companion went up to a leadership conference, and left me and my companion, who's been out even less time than I have, by ourselves to run amuck in Murfreesboro. Once again, it sucked. Someday I will not suck at being a leader, but that time has not yet come to pass.

One of our less-actives came to church yesterday. She's no bishopric member, but it was so great to see her there, cuz she hadn't been to church the whole time I had been here and she was one of my most faves. I was glad to see her though.

That's pretty much it. Work is going along super slowly here in the Boro, but I'm skipping town this week so yeah. I don't know if I can say I left this area better than I found it, but I can honestly say I worked my hiney off, and perhaps even "planted some seeds". Hopefully Brasil won't be the mighty struggle that I envision it (possibly) being. I'm super excited though.

Mom- thanks for getting my patriarchal blessing to me. It got here just in time:)
Al- yeah screaming kids in restaurants can kinda ruin a meal ha ha

Amo todos voce^s
-Elder Matt Gagon

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Michael: September 15, 2010

Dear Family! This week is going alright. The work is OK, me and my companion dont teach a whole ton, not that we arent working but we are working not effectively, and we walk a lot without following our plan... but whats worse we cant get anyone to go to church, so no one can be baptized.. the lessons we teach are super long Which doesnt seem to be evil but this week I had maybe the best lesson so far, using the new missionary curriculum we found out this guy has addictions he wants to get over, his mom passed away recently, hes been waiting for a change of life, he said this is what hes been needing, he FREAKED out when we showed him James 1:5, hes like do other churchs know about this? ask of god? ha. and amos 8:11-12, the hunger for the words of god. and when christ says sheep of other folds, explaining the people in the book of mormon... he loved it. Everything made sense to him cause the spirit was there. Ill try to make things brief now but at the end of the lesson we asked him to be baptized and he said ´´I will, amen!´´ haha. Guy in his twenties, GOLDEN. but after the lesson my comp starts talking about his home, his dogs, his fam , and the spirit left. Now this guy never has time to meet with us.... its bad. and we walk a lot without following our plan... but whats worse we cant get anyone to go to church, so no one can be baptized.

Just a little venting right there, dont mind it. I kinda feel part of a failing marriage, my second. But I fasted for unity for us and found out what we have in common -the church! ha no but I feel like my fast was answered cause my comp started talking about his theory that the 3 wise men are Nephi and Lehi (sons of Helaman, not the originals) and Samuel the Lamanite. Cause one is always black, samuel, and they disappear from the book of mormon, and nobody knows where they came from... It makes sense, he explained it pretty good. And today he was talking about the errors in the bible, like when Moses calls God to repentance in Exodus 33, in Acts 9:9 or something the conversion of Saul, says that the people with him heard the voice but didnt see anybody, and Acts 22 I think when he retells it, says that they saw the light but heard not the voice. SO anyway, thats what brings us together, and some more stuff along the lines of false doctrine.

So last week we had the 3 day long training, why I didnt email on wednesday, and monday and tuesday night, the missionaries that came from far for the meeting were assigned another pair to stay the night with. So we had 2 nights of sleep overs with another couple. and we did divisions, so 2 nights my companion was Elder Clites from Boston, who was Elder Browns companion in the CTM who do not like eachother. Elder brown is a yankee, and clites a red sox, No but its more than that, they dont get along, and I realized how much pride and gossip is in the mission. I dont think Elder Brown is well favored by the missionaries but it just bugged me hearing all the trash talk. BUT something you guys might care about... that night on divisions 2 notable experiences happened in the same visit, 1 I ate THE BEST cake, it was like a coconut tres leches. It was someones birthday, so there were like 15 people in the little room, standing cause there arent enough chairs. And we asked the aunt or grandma to say the opening prayer, mistake... and She went OFF, probably 4 minutes, OH MY JESUS, HALLELUJAH! over and over, with her hands in the air, stomping. Prophesying for her sister not to get in the car with her husband tomorrow, but she also thanked us and said our prayer healed her husband, (the previous visit we gave him a blessing cause he was rolling on the couch in pain, haha kinda crazy), But this prayer was LOCO and lasted a long time, and I was trying not to laugh, finally after a while I peek wondering if this was going to end, and EVERYONE has their eyes open, looking at me, probably thinking im rude laughing. Maybe you had to be there.

what else: It rained for the first time, I think it was the first time, cause it was during the night which made me realize it couldve rained before, but I dont think so.. but the streets were wet when we left that morning. and my Comp takes forever long showers, basically uses the whole morning in the bathroom, Ive had to pee in a bottle a few times, and he also doesnt wash any dishes. So one morning I used our waffle iron/george forman, the only clean thing to make my eggs haha I took a picture but forgot to bring my camera today.

The second counselor in our bishopric is on the inactive list, I think he travels a lot for work but... who knows, and the first counselor, this old guy, went on a division with my comp and my comp said in one of the lessons he told the investigators that he thinks all churchs are good and everyone will be saved ha... and our bishop is just goofy, he´s got mop hair, like harry potter, but hes a good guy. Thats our bishopric.

Today I got PUMPED on the bible dictionary. I discovered Gospels, the harmony of.... If you dont know what that is, I didnt, look at it its awesome. and also Quotes, in the bible dictionary, where it compares similar scriptures. SO COOL. Find out that Luke wrote the book of Acts... Also, they dont have King James version or the Bible dictionary in portuguese so Use it and be grateful for it.

Well guys I love you, Im well, excited for General conference (kinda not, portuguese translations, woof) But Im not sure Ive mentioned yet, David A Bednar is coming here in October too. I hope all is well, things are kinda quiet there it seems like ha. But I miss you and pray for you. Elder Michael

Monday, September 13, 2010

Matt: Sep. 13th 2010

Dearest family,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY (tomorrow) DAD!!!!!! Gosh where has the past 2 centuries gone so fast? ha ha jk you're only like 89
So this week has been pretty good. I asked this pretty much golden investigator if he would be baptized and he said yes. So that was AWESOME! We didn't set a date though, cuz he has a crazy work schedule that includes flying around the country and being gone for like a month. But he rocks and he will get baptized. Other than that not a lot happened.
Remember those hives I was telling you about? Well it turns out that they are either caused by the laundry detergent I use (which is made by a member from scratch...hey it's free) reacting with my sensitive skin; OR it is in fact bug bites, caused by bed bugs. So yeah. I honestly don't know which one it is though, cuz the elders that slept in that bed before me haven't ever had bed bugs, and I've been using this detergent for 7 weeks, and I've only had hives for 2....So yeah. Plus I found a bug in my bed, that kinda fits the description of a bed bug, but I was told if it was in fact bed bugs they'd be all over and it wouldn't just be the one. So I don't know what the deal is. I could have leprosy or the plague for all I know, but I just know I itch like crazy.
So those ribs that the hot sauce store owner smoked me were right nice! We were on bikes that week so I had to carry this super hot tin foil pan thing with 2 giant racks of ribs (covered up of course) in one hand while I steered my bike with the other for like 1/2 mile crossing the street twice to get back to our apartment. Boy was it worth it though! I went to pick the slab up by the bones and they just came right out. ha ha ha it was awesome. They were super tender and fatty and greasy and they mostly tasted like smoke, but I loved having some real southern bbq.
As far as the work goes, things are alright. Elder Smith went on exchanges with the zone leaders (one of whom is an Alta High alumni) leaving me and Elder Barnes/Grayson Brogdon 2.0 to fend for ourselves for a day and a half. It was terrible! We taught like 2 lessons in that time and just biked for years and hardly talked to anybody (cuz as the acting senior comp I REFUSED to go tracting) and it was hot and awful and my tire blew out, so yeah it just sucked. But once Elder Smith got back he just started working us hard cuz that elder from alta is like the best missionary to ever serve 2 years, and he inspired Elder Smith to get us back on track so that's what we've been trying to do lately.
What else? Thank you Nate, Nick, Candace, Devin, Jordan, and Rhett for the letters. They rocked. I'll try and get back to you all in paper format, but it might be a while, so don't hold your breath.
Al- Holy cow, Abby in kindergarten! Caramba. You have a lettter coming your way so get excited! Did that make anybody else cry? Maybe just me.
Well that's pretty much all I've got. Make sure you go home teaching and visiting teaching, and don't get divorced, and don't smoke, and don't stop going to church.

Oh yeah I almost forgot... This week we went to WORLD OUTREACH!!!! ha ha ha it was a party. The violin player Charlie Daniels wasn't there, but it was saturday night and Tennessee and Alabama were both playing so it was pretty empty. Freak, this place (meaning the central tennessee area/South) shuts down on saturdays. The streets are deserted, if people answer the door, they're usually pissed, or they make you wait til commercials...Thou shalt have no other Gods before me ha ha

com muito amor, Elder Matt Gagon

Friday, September 10, 2010

Michael: September 9, 2010

Hey fam, a day late, we had training yesterday and monday and tuesday on this new simplified curriculum for missionaries, its good it focuses a lot on the investigators and how we help them more as individuals and not just show up - teach a lesson and ask them to be baptized, but to help them with their problems, get to know them a little, and testify how the gospel can help their lives. Its great! kinda vague what I just said but its cool. I dunno if any of you read church news of if its mentioned anything about missionary or mtc curriculum but thats that... so far after one day its helped the work a lot, weve marked people for baptisms, now just gotta make sure they make it all the way, unlike the 2 ladies we interviewed for baptisms that never happened.

But uh, things are good here, I noticed that the shopping carts at the supermarket we go to have breaks! something the US could work on. it was funny though cause the next day I saw 2 guys going down a mountain of a hill - in a shopping cart. We taught a guy named Helder, silent H. I have to give a talk in church in 2 weeks! Scary. I dont have time but next week Ill talk more about a division we made and this crazy ladies prayer.

Gotta go love you all! Elder Michael

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Matt: September 7, 2010

Since when do we have holidays? ha ha I know this is a day late (a buck short, I'm writing the report) but every computer in the greater Murfreesboro area was closed yesterday for Labor Day. Anywho here's the latest:

So remember the hundreds and dozens of mosquito bites that I had (have) all over my body? Well it turns out they aren't mosquito bites, they're hives! So yeah I'm no longer worried about getting west nile, but I am a little worried about Hives cuz I don't know what it means, or what they do besides itch like crazy. The lady who diagnosed me is the same lady who mis-predicted my visa coming 3 weeks ago and she said they are caused by stress. So when she asked me "Are you stressed out about something?" I could only say "Umm he-YEEAAHHUH, I'm on a mission!" and my companions and she were all worried about me wondering what they could do to relieve my stress. So now I get to sleep in until 10 in the morning. HA HA just kidding! I wish though. So yeah I've just been scratching.

Ok so this sunday was fast sunday and I bore my testimony! Holy smokes it only took me 21 years of going to fast and testimony meeting but I finally did it. Mom you would've cried. Rhett you would've too (ha ha jk, I'm sorry that was a low blow) It was a great experience; more for me than the congregation but it was still great. Anywho we knew we would have our investigator there, who's got like 3 PhD's ('for when they are learned they think they are wise') and is out to find (I guess) PURE christianity. So the conducting bishopric counselor before the meeting said "If you'd like to come up and share a Christ based testimony the time is now yours." And that's how fast and testimony meeting should be anyway, but man was the spirit STRONG in that one! Holy moley I would have to say, even though I got up and ranted on about what I knew about Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith for one minute and 54 seconds, it was probably the best fast & testimony meeting I've ever been to.

In other news, BYU went independant in football. WHAAA!!??!! That is sweet! Last Thursday I asked this guy who owns a hot sauce store, that we go to every now and then, where the best place to get bbq was in the surrounding area... Long story short he has been smoking me and my companions a couple slabs of ribs since yesterday which we will have for dinner tonight. So there's some light in the old missionary tunnel. Nick I heard Alta is 0-3. I'm sorry bro that is rough. At least you didn't get cut from the team.

Can- I got your letter. Thank you!
Rhett- I got your letter. Thank you!
Alison- I got your package and letter. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Well that's pretty much all. We might be on the verge of some success... We have to be!
I love all of you, and implore you to do your home and visiting teaching. Orem por meu visto tambem!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Michael: Sep. 1st 2010 "16%"

Oi familia! Estou bem, things are good, my new comp is good, not as hard of a worker as Elder Brown, and actually kinda lazy so its up to me to kick him in the butt now. Portuguese is only a barrier to our friendship really, I feel like we dont have much in common, we probably dont. But the lingo is good, we had a meeting with some people after church, and I remembered my first meeting my first sunday in the field where I could only catch words here and there, and I see the progress. Its good. But man is it tough for someone to hear someone say they dont understand you...

Well, This is gonna be short too, just cause Its tough to think of news, like Matt I'm not full of spiritual experiences, and kinda whining today, our baptisms for sunday didnt show up and are kinda running from us, my companion is just doing his own thing....and doing it lazily. I dont think he trusts me cause I'm a) so new, and b) got us lossed the day of transfers. I was deep into my letters that I got, Jor I got yours, and long story short I kept saying no were not there yet when we had passed our house, but man I tell you its not easy to find your way around these streets. luckily we got a map now.

But ya, uh not CRAZY stuff but mission experiences, Moms pulling out their breasts to feed their 18 month old son during a lesson, check. And there was a dead cat on the grass in front of our church for about a week, until my companion decided to throw it away ourselves... It was pretty funny I wish I got a picture, for a couple days (we passed by it everyday) there was a beer bottle on the ground in its paw, and the cat was dead lying on its back, so it looked like the cat was drunk and passed out. Another thing I hadnt seen before is a real man too drunk to stand, at one in the afternoon. But ya the mission is good, I feel the spirit strong, and I just want you guys to live the gospel! live it! I love you all and miss you!
Elder Michael

PS here are a bunch of pictures of some recent converts/familys/friends.