Elder Matthew Wright Gagon - Brazil Curitiba Mission

Elder Michael David Gagon - Brazil Belo Horizonte Mission

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Michael: November 25, 2010

Dear Fam! Happy thanksgiving, I didnt even realize it, it came so fast. Nick, I hope the turkey bowl works out in the snow (it snowed right?) and fam, I hope you have a great day at Uncle Johns? hopefully you go there! AND tell Sarah I saw Elder Twiggs yesterday, she swam with him at PG.

So, this week has been a good one. My first night in the area, we visited some recent converts and members and then got to it knocking doors. In my new area there is a lot of dirt roads and trails that are just soo crappy theyve got to ruin every car that drives one em. This first night we are on one of these dirt roads and its a sketchier part of town. And I had already heard bad things about Riberao das trevas... so we knock my first door here, and a big guy comes, doesnt look too happy but lets us in. We go inside and there is a group of 5 guys playing guitar hero, about our age, teens/twenties, its hard to gauge age in brazil, but they didnt pay any attention to us. After a minute though they pause the game, let us sit down and talk... So we kinda start teaching, ask them to say a prayer and if we can ask something for them in the prayer, and one of them answered ´´ladies and money´´... So i was like whatever Ill ask god to bless you.... Soon in the lesson things just get out of control and they start going off about everything bad theyve ever heard about the church... everybody is rich......you all have 6 wives.....you guys are racist...... then they ask where we are from, we say the US, and they go off about us thinking we are better than them.... and at this time one of them is on the floor rollin a dooby... So we get up to leave and one of them shuts the door and stands in front of it with a machette. (this is when I get really scared) So they offer us a smoke and ask why we dont smoke and I noticed a camera filming like they are trying to catch us and will show the whole world 2 missionaries with marajuana... So I tried being calm and asking if we could just leave, ask what they want etc. And then my companion starts to laugh and it was all a joke on me. Ha it was pretty funny.
Dont worry Ma!

All is good here. Our church is beautiful!!! its 3 stories and on top of a huge hill.. It looks almost like a temple. You can see it from everywhere and its super convenient inviting people to church/making contacts.

We found a good family that went to stake conference with us and when we visited them monday they were already planning on going next sunday and had invited their parents to come too ha they said its the first church that theyd ever wanted to go back to. music to our ears. But I think if anyone had been to that stake conference they would want to come back for sure it was SO good. Mostly about how things of God are true happiness and more important, someone told this story of a multimillionaire that gives 90something percent of his money to charity. A way good meeting.

We had another 3 days of meetings, (thats why Im emailing today and not yesterday) its leadership training and I saw Elder Brown, Elder from my CTM group, and my old comps. Turns out the guy that was going to be baptised right when I got transfered had a problem with quesetion 4 in the baptismal interview.-- if he has had a homosexual relationship (usually a quick fix) participated in an abortion (also a quick fix usually) or committed a big crime. SO I can only wonder what he has done because they didnt mark a new date for him....

Ive never ridden a bus so crowded as I have these 3 days there and back to the meetings... So full that I had to stand one the first step where you get on the bus, leaning up against the door cause it was overflowing with people. CANDACE I got your letter, I read it one that bus ride and I dropped a page, and It was not easy or pretty bending down to pick it up.

We had a baptism here postponed cause it rained sunday and the dirt road where they live turns into a river and they couldnt leave their house.In a kinda related story we were walking down a steep trail late one night in the dark, taking real careful steps when I stepped into a tiger trap! just this huge whole up to my waste where it looked like there was grass. way funny if you were there.

This week I tried 2 crazy fruits that I wont try too hard to explain. One was a little fig type thing, really dry, and its inside a shell you crack open and its super tart. Yum. The other was a big squash kinda shaped one and you open it up and its all white and slimey inside but yummy.Then I had a lunch not so yummy. I think it was a pigs face chopped up in pieces, I saw the ears and it just tasted like pork fat

Well fam, I love you all. Im trunky, ha jk, but I miss you a lot. Im grateful for you and your love for me. Hope today starts a great Christmas season and we all think more on our savior. I got details on our christmas call... I just have to call before 5 oclock brazil time.... so in the morning or around noon there...
have a great week!

Elder Michael

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Matt: November 24th, 2010 "Happy Thanksgiving"

Dearest family of mine,
So this week has been a great learning experience. A week of growing up. A week where you take the training wheels off and go straight for the triple black diamond (yeah you can bike down a ski run!). So that´s what we´ve been doing. Elder F Silva has been teaching me the Brasi ways, and I have been teaching him patience. ha ha for real I think he´s had a headache ever since he got here... Yeah this is definitely the transfer in the refiners fire. That is for certain. We´re working hard though, talking with pretty much everybody trying to get a lesson in here and there. I think this is what they meant when they said "Curitiba is like a European city in Brazil". To both Nate´s I apologize for comparing the difficulty of the Curitiba mission to that of one that´s actually in Europe, but I have had some Euro-esque experiences. Tell me if this sounds familiar-

"Excuse me ma'am, my name is Elder Matthew Wright Gegs Gagon I of Sandy, and I have a marvelous message about how God loves us so much he has reached out again to us in love by calling a prophet. Can I write down your address so we can pass by another day and share this great message?"
"Why not?"
"Cuz I don´t want to hear what you have to say."

.... Yeah that was a rough one. It´s ok though they´re just feelings; they´ll heal in time. We don´t let those things stop us though. We keep on trucking and doing our part. I find myself praying a lot. Like A LOT a lot. So I think God just wants to hear from me more or something.
What else? During morning study somebody was blasting the radio and the first song from Grease came on! "We take pressure and we throw away...Grease is the word" ha ha que benção! Other than that not a ton happened. I got letters from Michael and Candace which were like Christmas coming early. So thank you both. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!!! Oh my heck, they don´t have that here so tomorrow when you´re going around the table saying what you´re thankful for, somebody say "I´m thankful that we have thanksgiving." There is nothing I´d rather do than eat some good American cookin', watch football, and take a nap, but those things don´t exhist in Brasil so I´ll go do some contacts instead.

Mom/Dad/Nick/Michael- remember last year when we went to Uncle John´s and it was just the 8 of us and we had 2 turkeys and just SO much food? ha ha ha that was great.
Well that´s pretty much all I can think to write. It´s just been that kind of week. I love you all. Tchau

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Michael: November 17, 2010

4th transfer, 4th comp. 3rd area‏

Dear Fam, I was transfered today. My new companion is Elder Anderson from Riverton. He´s got about ten months on the mish. He´s another district leader. My new area is called Riberao das neves. ( big snow river.. maybe) but Ive heard it been called Riberao das trevas! haha funny for those who speak portuguese, maybe spanish/italian ( big river of darkness! ) It is a poorer area but the church here is really good. About an hour from Belo Horizonte. Our chapel is ´´the prettiest´´ in the whole state. Its on top of a hill and is pretty, I will take pictures. I started taking a lot of pictures this last week but I´ll have to look into developing them, its a little expensive, and my companion warned me not to send them over the internet cause some Elders have gotten viruses in their cameras here.

So let me try to remember some things that happened, Im without my notes like usual ha but it rained sooo hard this week that my umbrella was completely saturated and dripping water on me, rained right through it.
Saw a horse butt naked (not even shoes or socks) streaking down a 4 lane highway.... I was about 75 meters away or else I wouldve taken a picture, but I took a picture of it on the side of the freeway so that will have to do. I also saw a donkey painted like a Zebra, cause the local soccer team´s jerseys are white and black striped and they paint their animals (ive seen dogs too) to support their team.
I didnt know these existed but I bought 5 different kinds of mangos last week. They have little bity ones about the size of an apricot, and big old ones bigger than grape fruit. Green, orange, yellowish red... All yummy.
The work my last week in Floresta was good. We decided to wait and not baptise Bruno, we need to teach him more and he is still smoking a little bit. But He should be baptised Sunday. He´s awesome, so funny, he´s not too smart but he keeps saying how church is the best thing in the world, he cant stand his old life, his bad friends, he wants to serve a mission. When I told him I was being transfered he said the closing prayer and cried... so thankful for the gospel, anyway.... I also cried saying bye to the couple we were helping get married to baptise his wife...
Well I dunno what else to say. O ya, in this new area we have separate houses, but there is another companionship next door to us so this transfer should be fun, new stuff, Im excited.

Matt: November 17, 2010

Dearest family of mine,
Today we had transfers! I´m still ridin' dirty in Almirante Tamandaré but my saint of companion, angel of a trainer, and man among men missionary friend Elder Simper went zone leader in the jungliest part of our mission, and my brasi companion got transfered somewhere else, and now I'm with Elder F. Silva! He´s brasilian, and doesn't speak a lick of english so this is gonna be a transfer of learning fo sho. We have big shoes to fill, but if we work hard we can do it.
So not a ton happened this week. This family super active family that with cousins and great aunts in total makes up 1/4 of our ward FINALLY baptized their son, but since he´s 9 years old it counts as a missionary baptism (for those of you who are belt-knotchers). So that was great. However this week I was at a member´s house saying goodbye with E. Simper and the sister got out all these photos of missionaries that had served in our ward. I was checking out a picture of 2 elders at the zoo and I was like, "Nossa, that elder looks familiar." then I read the name tags and it was Elder Kyle Frogley of the CP3!!!!! ha ha ha talk about small world huh!?! So next sunday if you see Kyle Frogley or just his fam tell him I saw a picture of him in the house of Irmão Joaquim and Irmã Rosana and am serving in A.T.!
Rhett- AWESOME about the ducks and Auburn! always good to hear about REAL football.
Nick- Schroefph is awesome! But yeah melting pot, good grades, seminary, nice.
Can Can monkey man- dark hair, hmmmm.
Mom&Dad- it´s been a while, but I figure you´re still around. E. Simper asked for your email address and he should be emailing you today so check for that.
Just Dad- did I ever tell you about Elder Christensen from Fillmore that was in Tennesse with me who knew Aunt Kathy, Uncle Fred, Uncle Dan, and Uncle John?

I´ve been losing weight too, which is good. I had an epiphany this week while eating some beans and rice and macarrão (noodles). I was pounding the beans and rice like usual, when it came to me. I thought to myself, "Self, this isn´t even good. Why do I keep stuffing my face with this bagunça that isn´t even that tasty?" So I decided, I´m not going to eat that much, unless something is really good... I haven´t had breakfast either since I ran out of skittles 3 weeks ago, so if you want to send those Christmas packages pronto I´d appreciate it. As far as other Christmas stuff goes, just the stuff I already asked for: DEODORANT, my CDs!, maybe some house slippers, recipes (for barbecue sauce!), and other American candy. Brasilian candy is like woof city at best so yeah.
Well I love you all. Thanks for all the emails, letters, prayers, and stuff. I miss yallsies like crazy!

much love,
Elder Matthew Wright Gegs Gagon I of Curitiba

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MIchael: November 10th, 2010

Querido familia,This week was pretty good. Just trying everyday to work harder andbetter. We´re looking at one baptism here Sunday but this guy is a pothead so we´ll see.It rained a whole day this week and I learned although rain isexciting at first it sucks to work in!.... No its not so bad but I didnot take proper precautions. (an umbrella isnt enough) But I learned atrick to put your shoes behind the fridge to let them dry faster.. SOin this rain I saw what must´ve been the biggest work in BeloHorizonte, Ive seen snakes smaller than this guy... it was gross. Andkinda on this subject, its mango season and there are tons of mangoseverywhere, and I only have eaten one of the tree/ground but thensomeone warned me about worms that can get into them and Brazilianworms is the last thing I want so I have to resist picking up the fallen mangos.

I saw a old black guy with long white dreads haha so cool.BUT the real highlights of my week were

A- fast and testimony meeting... Here its so great, the brazilians are soo reverent duringthe sacrament it really makes it special, and during testimonymeetings there is always a huge line of people waiting to beartestimony. The choir seats on the stand get completely filled, I love it. I challenge you guys next time there is awkward silence in a fastand testimony meeting to get up and break it with just brief testimonyof Christ.

B- second highlight was reading a talk from a devotional at BYU in 1988 by Jeffery R Holland, then pres of BYU, called something likeSouls, Symbols, and Sacraments. Ai para carumba! so good about Chastity. All yalls are married except Nick but hey Im sure it would do you good to read. Nat you should use it in a lesson for the youngwomen No joke could change lives.Just makes me realize of the Endless sources we have in the church to learn from, I dont know where you can get old BYU devotionals but itwill be worth all the effort to find it. But Im doing well down herefam, i miss you guys, and love you, deff think about you erryday, sayyour prayers, read your scrips, go visiting and home teaching, livethe gospel and go to the temple!Com todo amorElder Michael

Matt: November 10th, 2010

Dearest most marvelous family,
What is up? This week was great. I got an amazing email from Jor (thanks Jor) and two great LETTERS from Nat/Nate and Rhett (thank you much) so yeah I am definitly riding the high times right now. Speaking of high times Michael- did that stoner get baptized? We had 3 baptisms this week and it was masterful! I was the only one of my tripanionship that didn´t get to enter the waters, but it´s ok. They´re just feelings, they´ll heal in time. Yeah so the 2 were the son and daughter of that lady who asked us when we could come back and gave us her cigarrettes. The other was this lady (can ladies be only 22 years old?) who we met my FIRST night here in Brasil who is dating a member. So that rocked. Batismos are always good. ok but I have a story that goes with it. Mom- do you remember how when I was little, when we would sing hymns during church, you would whisper the words of what we were about to sing really fast to me because I wanted to sing, but couldn´t read the words yet? And then I would sing the line you said to me. ha ha remember that? Well at the baptism Saturday I did that same thing for this investigator of ours! It was so great. This lady is like 47 years old, teeth like tree roots, and has had a harder life than any one person ever should have. She is like 4'4'' (no joke) and so when she sits down on the church pew her feet don´t touch the ground. Plus she has the same body type that mom had when I left on the mish (mom I hear you´ve been doing mountain climbers, and walking with dad everyday, and are looking right nice now. Parabens! keep it up!) And she can´t read at all, so I helped her the same way mom helped me, and the whole time I was having all these flashbacks and laughing, and it was just great.
Also I ate a mango the other day. The sister just handed me a mango and a knife, so I tried cutting it up the same way I would cut an avacado, but things weren´t working out and the sister saw me and was like, "Elder! What are you doing?!?!? No hand that over, and let me cut it." So yeah, I learned how to properly cut and eat a mango ha ha.
This week I saw a seven year old chugging a beer on the bus. I was flabbergasted to say the least and my only comforting thought was he isn´t even at the age of accountability yet so it doesn´t count for him ha ha. If you can count that as comfort.
I made a break through as far as speaking portuguese goes this week. My comps are always telling me how I need to speak more when we go to lunch with members, and on monday we went to this house where a bunch of teen/pre teen daughters live and one of them asked me, "Do you know the Jonas Brothers?" and I said "I know who they are, but I DO NOT like them." So for about an hour I shattered their world with talk about just how much the Jonas Bros. suck and why. Then we talked about how Justin Bieber is ok but she needs to listen to some good music... And then they sent my walls tumbling down with talk about how she doesn´t like Selena Gomez (Gagon) becuase she dated one of the Jonases (WOOF!) and then lied about it... or something like that. Anywho the point is the language is coming along right nice!
Que mais? Oh I saw Elder Marx (Sasquatch) yesterday! It was so great. He and I talked for hours about the mtc and this and that and I loved it. Gente boa. Also yesterday I received some great revelation concerning road trips to Arizona (or anywhere really) Next road trip you go on you should plug in The Book of Mormon on cd! Think about it, the young ones would be put to sleep, and everyone else that stayed awake would be spiritually edified. Just something to think about.
Well that´s pretty much it... I ate banana lasagna today which was amazing.
Al- that is super sad about Megan. I remember praying for her and Ryan and her baby in the mtc...so sad. Also Benie Mac and Grandad (I think) died of pneumonia so watch out!
Oh yeah we fasted for this kid in our ward who has leukemia also and from what I can gather something miraculous happened with some machine that was monitoring something in his blood and I wish I knew what actually happened, but pretty much things weren´t going so hot for him and then right in the late afternoon everything changed like that (imagine me snapping my fingers) so fasting works miracles. Maybe next week the family can fast for Abby to not be so crazy and threaten to cut people´s hands off and the like... Just an idea.
So yeah.. I think that´s all. Much love to all of you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Michael: November 3, 2010

Dear Family!!!

This last week was good. I am in the mission office, my comp went with a group to renew his visa and so I am spending P day here! So ya Im without my notes for the week. But what stands out was the visit of Elder Bednar.

SO we got there and the chapel was full of missionaries for the whole mission, and everyone had their spots reserved so we got the back row....but nobody was sitting on the side benches in the chapel cause the secretaries said we couldnt... But as more and more missionaries came and there wasnt room they let us sit on one side and reserved the other side... so I begged my companion so we could go sit on the front row on the far left bench sabe... and so we sat there for literally an hour anticipating his arrival. The whole time there were men coming in and out, doing a brazillion mic checks, and doing who knows what... and so it was super official and everytime they left and came back we thought he had come and the tention was just building....

Finally he came, and it was great... and first thing he did was have President explain that we would line up to shake his hand, FIRST WITH THE FRONT ROW, STARTING FROM THE LEFT.. So as soon as I understood I would be first to shake his hand I lost all control and started for the stand, before President had even finished explaining. (Luckily people followed right after me so it wasn´t too awkward). So I got up there, my feet going way too fast for my brain, shook Sister Bednar´s hand, nods and smiles, and then shake Elder Bednar´s. He looked me in the eyes, said ´´Como vai?´´ and I smiled, nodded, didnt answer him, and went back to my seat ha... que vergonha.

SO then during the intro of the opening hymn, Elder Bednar whispers to Pres Parrella, and Pres Parrella pointed to me and my companion in the front row and motioned us to to come up to sit on the stand. So as nervous as I´ve ever been we go up there and try to catch our breath to sing Josephs Smiths First Prayer/ Que Manha Maravilhosa, not knowing what we were going to have to do but lacking all confidence in the world. And it was like this for over an hour, we sat there listening to him, until he started the question and answer part of the meeting. After one question he turned to Elder Godoy, of the quorum of the 70 to answer, and then turned to us and asked if one of us could translate. (Elder Bednar doesnt speak portuguese) I thought he was joking so I just gave a courtesy laugh. I was way confused cause he had his translator translating everything he said into portuguese, I just didnt understand that Elder Godoy was going to speak portuguese and Elder Bednar just needed someone to translate in his ear, being the only one who doesnt speak.) So my companion tried doing it for him, haha, got like 2 words out.... the next time Elder Godoy talked Elder Bednar asked Pres to translate for him haha.

So that was our purpose up on the stand, that didnt work out so hot anyway, so we jsut spent the four hours looking at the back of Elder Bednars head. But it wasnt all so bad.
One cool thing he said was ´´the hardest lesson to learn in this life is to learn to do God´s will and not ours´´.

So other than that meeting, the work is going good.
Our investigators fiance who is trying to get back into the church has a friend that wants to change his life of drugs for a better life, so we went to teach him, only problem is he was high (we are pretty sure) so I dunno if it counts that we marked a date with him. But Im continuing to learn, love, and grow. I do miss you all. Rhett I got your letter! Yippee yai yay!

Matt: November 3, 2010

Querido familia maravilhosa,

This week was pretty good. Not a ton of stuff happened that is worth telling, but we have 3 baptisms this Saturday! Hopefully they all pass the interview, but it should be no prob. I don´t think I´ll go into the waters, but maybe; keep your fingers crossed! So you guys remember that lady that asked us when we could come back? She is the best, and we are baptising her son and daughter. She and her boyfriend are working on getting married/establishing a stronger marriage and also the word of wisdom. She smokes and drinks coffee, but we went over there after (my companions) put her through the wringer about giving up smoking and drinking coffee. Anywho so we go over there for family night with that crazy Brasilian aunt Kathy lady with some soda and a cake so we could have some kind of refreshments, and it turns out it was our investigator´s BIRTHDAY! So this was awesome. Definitely inspiration to buy the cake instead of salgados (salty snack sandwich thingys) that I wanted to get.. We (my comps) taught a sweet message about families and at the end of the lesson Edna (sed investigator) busts out a pack of cigarrettes and says "Here you go elders. I don´t need this anymore." WWAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! It was awesome, and she is the best, and Irmã Rosalia (crazy relief society president lady) was there which made things even better/funnier.

So other than that nothing great happened this week. I did however think of something else I would like for Christmas... DEODORANT!!! My faithful speed stick ran out on me, and I remember Jordan telling me "Don´t pack things like deodorant cuz they have that down there in brasil." However what Jor didn´t mention is the deodorant down here is really just scented alcohol that you roll onto your arm pits and hope lasts you all day (it never does). So yeah if you could send me some deod so I can go from being "the stinky fat missionary that can´t speak portuguese" to just "the fat missionary that can´t speak portuguese" that would be OTIMO!

Umm so Halloween was this week. The only way you would know it was halloween though was if you saw me wearing my black and orange tie at church. They don´t celebrate it here, but what did you all do to celebrate? What were your costumes? Mom, remember that halloween when you went outside, put on that purple wizard hat, knelt down and trick or treated our own house? And Jor you answered the door and you SCREAMED when you saw mom? ha ha ha that was awesome.... OH and Can (and also Jor) remember when I put on my wolf costume and got in your bed and waited for you little red riding hood style, and when you came in you screamed SO LOUD!!!!!! ha ha ha that was the best. Man Halloween is great in America.

Well that´s kinda all I´ve got for this week. Nate Michel, how is the hunt going? You should come to Brazil and hunt street dogs, you would have great success.... Michael. Elder Bednar. NICE! You should have asked him what´s up with no shorts at BYU Idaho?

te amo demais