Elder Matthew Nielsen

"You are assigned to labor in the Brazil Fortaleza East mission"

Daniel and Elaine Get Married and Baptized!

Hello Family and Friends!

We had the marriage and baptisms of Daniel and Elaine this week! What an incredible journey we have had working with them for the last 3 ½  months. They are not without their problems, but are earnestly striving to be the best people they can be and remain on the path that will bring them happiness. I feel strongly that we were put in this area by inspiration from our Mission President.

I thought I’d share some facts about my area, Mission President, companion, and the other missionary companionship living with us.

My area is about 2 hours from the beach and is called Acaracuzinho for a reason, because this area is smelly from time to time because of an incineration plant (which burns trash and anything else you can imagine) located conveniently above our little town. When the wind blows in our direction, the smell is absolutely terrible!

My Mission President has served for about 1 year and 8 months.  Mission Presidents usually serve for 3 years, which means that I will get a new President toward the end of my mission. He is an incredible man and very spiritual. He had a very successful business, which he sold so he could serve a mission. He brought his wife and two of his daughters (both teenagers) with him. My companion says he is very different from the last mission president who was very relaxed and easy going. To me, my mission president has the personality and drive of someone like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland who voices strong opinions and ideas and is such a powerful influence to so many.

My companion joined the church when he was 15 years old. He and his brother were the only ones to accept the gospel in their family. He grew up in a little town 5 hours from the city of Sao Paulo. His mother passed away just a few months before he left and that was very hard for him. He has only one tranfer left (6 weeks for each transfer) until he returns home. I have been extremely blessed to have had a trainer and companion like him. He is a big jokester and is always found with a huge smile on his face. He has taught me how to be happy even when things are not going as planned.

We have another companionship that is living with us. Their names are: Elder Gomes and Elder Lehanrd. Elder Gomes grew up in the Northwest region of Brazil, not far from here. His state is really famous for producing the drink Garana Jesus. And here’s a little fact about him, he has only taken a hot shower 2 times IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE, both were in the MTC in Sao Paulo. He actually prefers having cold showers. Elder Lehanrd lives in Missouri but went to school at BYU-Idaho. He served a mission in Idaho for 1 year and 2 months before he finally received his VISA to come to Brazil. The transition between both missions was really, really tough for him. But he is doing much better.

Impressions of Brazil:

  1. Each house has a big container of water that is situated above the bathroom. This water has to last the month or you will have no water. You make monthly payments to the water company and they will replace the water.
  2. Speaking of showers, I have not taken one hot shower since I entered Brazil. In fact, if you want a “hot shower”, you have to buy an attachment that connects to the electricity that converts the cold water into lukewarm water. This is known as the death shower to many (I’m sure you can guess why).
  3. Tattoos are extremely popular. Literally I have not found one woman who doesn’t have at least one tattoo (even members because almost all of them are converts). It is also very common for men to have tattoos, but it is more popular among the women. There’s a new one!

I don’t have a lot of time. I just want to thank all of you for all of the encouraging messages in your emails, for all of the packages I have received from you, and for the good influence every one of you have had on me over the years. Your love and concern can be so impactful to others. I know it has been for me.

Have a great week!

Elder Nielsen

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