Tuesday, December 29, 2009

James is on his way !!!

James called around 9:30 on the morning of Dec 29th with the great news that his visa has arrived. He flies out of SL International airport on December 30th at 11:00 a.m. He flies from SL to Atlanta, Georgia. From there he heads to Sao Paulo, then to Brazilia and on to Teresina. What a wonderful adventure awaits him. Thanks to everyone for your prayers in his behalf, and for your continued prayers.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

MTC photos

James finally sent some photos home from the MTC. This is his MTC District. They arrived the same day and are all going to Brazil. Three of them are going to Teresina with James. James said they had learned many things in the MTC, Including how to fly. and float
James enjoyed his turkey farm for Thanksgiving.
The district had fun after the big snowfall.
The snowman has James' nametag on.
James enjoyed the Christmas tree and the ornaments sent by the family.
He even got an ornament from Missy.

Christmas e-mail, December 26, 2009

We waited all day Christmas Day to get an e-mail from James. Friday is his normal prep day, so we expected one. We had to wait until the next morning to get the explanation as to why he was late. Read the letter. Merry Christmas (even though I am late) I was supposed to email yesterday but when I tried it said that it wasn't my p-day and it wouldn't let us so I was able to get some time today. Well Christmas in the MTC was good. On Thursday we had a Christmas eve Devotional that was amazing, it was by our MTC presidency, and they had musical numbers and all kinds of things. They even re-wrote the lyrics to the 12 days of Christmas to MTC style it. Then on Christmas Day we had a morning devotional and Elder L. Tom Perry showed up and spoke to us. He gave a good talk on Christ and the stories in the scriptures. Then we had our Christmas dinner which was turkey and potatoes and Broccolli and other good food. Then we had the first ever MTC talent show and that was amazing!Oh at the Christmas eve devo. Sister Elizabeth Smart played her harp amazingly. She is here in the MTC going to serve in France I think. Then last night we had another devo. and Greg Olsen came and spoke to us and brought pictures of some of his paintings and they were awesome. You should go and look at some of them if you can find them. Well this week has been kinda crazy, we got kicked out of our classroom and now we are in what they call a mega district. We got moved into the main building in one of the mini chapels for sacrament on Sunday. We don’t have like a set schedule with teachers and everything now, we basically have MDT all day except for the first 3 hours of the day. We get to study what we need to and we do have teachers come in and out and they are there to help you with stuff. Which I really like because it is more of a one on one with you and the teacher and it is really helpful. I am feeling really confident with my now 10 weeks of Portuguese and it is amazing how much you learn in here. We have been teaching straight Portuguese and I can actually do it. Something else that happened this week was some of the districts that have been here for 12 or 13 weeks that didn't receive their Visas got re-assignments. Some of them are going to Georgia and Tennessee and some are going to Salt Lake City until they receive their Visas. As for the visa news the travel office is expecting more visas to come through after the New Year. So hopefully mine is in the group that comes soon. I am really ready to get to the field and start working. I wrote a letter yesterday to you and it didn't go out until today so it talks a lot about all this same stuff. Question who sent me that Envelope with the 5 dollars in it? I would like their name so that I can send them a Thank you. Jessica as for the missionaries that received their visas that you were writing, you can still send them here to the MTC and they will forward them to them in the field or wherever they are at. The next letter that you receive from them though you will need to write down the address and then write to them at that one. Jessica also all those Elders that wrote you are expecting a letter and soon so you better get to writing them, I told them that you were in Cali, but they expect one by next week. Love you all and Merry Christmas Love Elder Crittenden

Friday, December 18, 2009

e-mail of December 18

Hey Everyone, This week has been crazy! First off it is my 9th week in the MTC so we are basically finishing off everything. Like we had our last SKYPE session but we can sign up for more if we want which we probably will. Also the last week in the TRC and we won't have teachers all of next week. If we don’t get our Visas by next week we will have to join a mega district, it is where they combine 2 districts into one room because they need our classroom. But going along with the visa thing, yes 31 came in yesterday and 5 people in my district got theirs yesterday. Three of them were going to Belo Horizante, and they left this morning at 6 a.m. we went and saw them off. The other 2 were my roommates and we are all going to Teresina, but they don’t leave until Monday. They are expecting a bunch more Visas to come in today but we haven't heard anything yet. If they don’t come in today then they will most likely come on Monday. It was so exciting to receive that many visas and then to hear that more would be coming in it is amazing. The past few weeks our Branch Presidency has been telling us to really start praying hard for our visas and the Lord has answered our prayers. I will ask you all to continue to pray for mine to come in because I am ready to go to Brazil. I have been getting stuff to send home that I wont need in Brazil, like my sweaters and what not. I will send some pictures also they finally got the machine fixed so I will send those. Well I am keeping you all in my prayers and I know that I am in yours but I will call you if I get my Visa because they give you 5 minutes to talk so be expecting one from me. I love you all Very Much and Have a Merry Christmas. Thank you dad for the political news and I would love to hear more about all the Obama stuff that is going on. Anyway I love you once again and my Christmas tree is amazing and missy's ornament is right in the middle you will see that in the pictures. Love Elder Crittenden

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good News from the MTC.

We began to hear good news from the MTC in Provo today, 31 visas came in. The elders will be flying out on December 21st. No word yet on a visa for James, but they were hoping more would come in tomorrow. We learned last week that there are close to 300 missionaries stacked up in the MTC in Provo, waiting for visas. In addition to all of the new Portuguese teachers they had to hire, they created two new branches. We also learned that the person in San Francisco who is in charge of signing the visas was mad at the church because of their stand on prop. 8 in California, so he has been sitting on the visa applications, rather than sign them and move them along. Perhaps the Lord has softened his heart and the work can now move forward.

Brazil Teresina Mission stories

The following are clips e-mails sent by the mothers of some of the Elders serving in the Teresina mission. They give us a small look at the adventures and blessings that await James in the mission field. Andrew started out in Imperatriz. When the President sent him there his question was "How do you like camping? The city is southwest of Teresina on a tributary of the Amazon, the Tocantins river. He had many fun adventures there. During the rainy season, when it is impossible to maintain the roads, the bus service is very interesting. They had to ride the bus a 12 hour trip to get to Sao Lous for zone conferences. At about 2 am into the trip, the bus stopped they told them all to get out with all of their stuff and walk a mile through the washed out road and another bus would pick them up on the other side. Andrew thought it was so interesting that everyone just accepted it as the way it is. In America they'd go another route or demand their money back but in Brazil, that's just the way it is. It was a place where the church has been there for awhile. He liked the exoticness of Teresina, the river, new flora and fauna that was cool, the tropical fruits that somehow compensated for the rice and beans and beans and rice and rice and beans that he eats everyday. The members feed them and that's what they can afford. After 7 months there [they teased him that he was serving in the Imperatriz mission instead of the Teresina since he'd never served anywhere else since arriving from the CTM] He only mentioned the heat and humidity once. He decided not to complain about it so he could cope with it better and it worked for him. He was transferred to Teresina last month. It is so incredibly hot there. And October and November are the hottest months. The best thing so far about being in Teresina, is the attention the president is able to give them, living so close. He called them one night and told them to open the door cause he was coming in. He stayed for 4 hours, teaching them and helping them plan their program. When he promised me that he would care for Andrew as his son, he wasn't kidding. Elder Carter’s mother, serving in A├žailandia: He seems to like Acailandia and the members there. He said his trainer, Elder Iglesia is great...they just have a hard time communicating due to the language barrier. He ate lunch at a members home where they make cotton candy for a living. They have 3 teenagers. They are very poor. The teenagers sat at the feet of the elders while they ate lunch. It was humbling for Mason. He said he didn't realize what a luxurious life he lived in the USA. He is learning as much from the people in Brazil as they are from him right now. He got "hissed" at by girls for the first time....that is how they flirt I guess. They call those girls "snakes". About the hissing. In South America, you don't get someone's attention by yelling "Hey you" like they do here. They hiss through their teeth. Friends even do it to each other. So that is why the girls and creepy men in the street do it to the missionaries, they are trying to get their attention, and yes flirt. We always ignored it. Sometimes members would chase us down the street and ask why we didn't respond when they were trying to talk to us. But we learned to not even look when we heard hissing. Written by Elder Blackham’s mother: during transfers some missionaries would ride a bus for 12 hours, some times the bus would make it and some times it would break down and then they would be stranded, some times over night until a relief bus arrived. She also said that some would travel by boat during transfers and sleep in hammocks, where they would sleep next to and above people they didn't know. To fill some of the fonts for baptisms the Elders would make bucket brigades to fill them, working in their white shirts and ties the whole time. Some Baptisms would take place in the river where members would stand by keeping the piranhas and other creatures away, while the baptisms take place. They told of the members faithfulness: traveling long distances, and in floods and mud to attend meetings, When members want to attend the Temple they save their money and take a 2 day bus ride from Belem to Recife. They told of one man who made a 6 hour canoe trip to church, one way, to fulfill his calling each Sunday

Saturday, December 12, 2009

e-mail of December 11, 2009

Hey Everyone, How is everyone? Thanks for the christmas tree and all of the ornaments, but I could still use some more for my tree. They finally fixed the picture printer so I just printed off some pictures today and I should get them tomorrow so I will hopefully be sending some home by next week. To tell you how my week has been going, last Saturday in the TRC I called a guy and talked to him about life and it was really cool because he opened up to me and he told me all this stuff that has been hard in his life. For instance he just got divorced and he has been really struggling with that. I am really excited because I sent the missionaries over to his house with a BOM and I get to call him back tomorrow and see if he got it and has read out of it. I found out some other things, we will be here for christmas and so I wont be calling home. We turned in our background check papers but haven't heard anything about our VISAS. We did find out though if our visas are not here by the 21st which is when we are supposed to leave, they will only keep us for 2 weeks after that which would be 4th of January and then they would send us somewhere else, most likely stateside. We are doing just fine in the winter weather considering that we dont have anything for winter but yeah it gets cold. We had our first SKYPE session this past Tuesday and it was awesome we taught her the first lesson in Portuguese and she is basically a continueing investigator for us, we get to teach her this next week where we left off. As far as the language goes, it is really fun because there are quite a few spanish speaking elders in our building and they come and talk to us in spanish and we can pick up most of what they are saying, but when we talk back to them in Portuguese they dont understand anything and they have to have us translate. So we have fun messing around with them. I think that I only need a few things for christmas. I definitely could use more ties, I am getting sick of the same ones already. But I would love some christmas treats, like some homemade caramel, or toffee, But I would really LOVE some of your cheesecake MOM, that is one thing that I miss already. I don't know how you would send it but that would be awesome. But if you do make some for me, make enough for 14 people in my district if not more. That is all if you would like to send me more christmas treats that you can think of like peanut butter bars or stuff like that, it would be awesome. I love you all so very much and keep the letters coming and may the Lord Bless you all. I will keep praying for all of you. Talk to you next week. Love Elder Crittenden P.S. Dad could you send me some news paper clippings or tell me about all of the stuff that has been happening in the world of politics. Like what has been going on the Glenn Beck show. If you could let me know I would love to hear. Thanks love you all!!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

e-mail on December 4th.

Hey Everyone Thankyou for all of your letters and everything that I have been recieving, it is very appreciated. To answer some of the questions that I have gotten this week, The first one about my Visa. On Wednesday we got a new form that we had to fill out for our Visa apparently, it was a police record thing saying that they could get a police record on you. Really ridiculous,but anyway, we haven't heard anything else about them other than that. Four people got their visas here this last week but that is all that has gotten them. One of the sisters that got hers has been here like 11 weeks so she deserved it. Something that we found out that is new for all of us Brazilian missionaries is that since we are all here and not in Sao Paulo, all the teachers down there have not been doing hardly anything, so on Monday night we had a meeting talking about how we can be better missionaries, and then at the end they announced that each companionship would get a hour long session with a teacher in Brazil using SKYPE. I am so excited about this because we have two teachers for our district and both of them speak Continental Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese is very different from Portugal/continental in the way you prounounce certain things. But they are doing a good job at trying to change. I am learning the language quite quickly we have taught two lessons in the TRC in only portuguese and we did really well. I am even starting to forget how to spell some words in English because I want to spell them like they are spelled in Portuguese. For example, Christ is spelled like this Cristo and I always want to leave out the H now, its crazy. We are only talking in portuguese all the time unless we dont know how to say it but its amazing. So this last week has been exciting because of the SKYPE thing and also on Wednesday our district was chosen to be Hosts, and DRAG the new missionaries from their families and their cars and show them where their rooms and classroom was. It was awesome and it made me think back to my first day of being dragged away from the car. So I am glad that Jessica got here letters and tell her that she needs to write me back and also all of the Elders that wrote her, she needs to respond to them personally. Its funny that Elder Ashtons mom got ahold of you because he is in my District and we actually sleep in the same room he is one out of 4 in our District going to Teresina. Have mom sign up or whatever it is that she needs to do and have her keep in touch with his mom so I can find out what goes on elsewhere. This last Sunday during my missionary directed time I went to the RC and got to speak with some amazing people. I talked to this one lady from Georgia that of course had a very strong southern accent but I talked to her about all kinds of things in our church. She called in to request a free bible and then it went from there. I sent her the missionaries with a BOM and a Bible, I wanted to keep talking to her and sharing stuff with her but I had to go to dinner and I talked with her on the phone for about 25 minutes it was amazing. Thank you for the pictures everyone and keep sending them I almost have my wall covered I will try and send some pictures home of my turkey farm and all the other pictures but I cant hook my camera up to these computers so I will try to print some off if the machine isn't broken. I will keep you all in my prayers and I love you all so much! Love Elder Crittenden