Monday, December 28, 2015

Week Twenty Four - A Christmas Baptism

Yeah we definitely skyped too long, but whatever. I'm back to normal and I'm not dying of trunkyness.  And yes, they have eggs here.  Eggs are super cheap too. 40 for 10 Reais, which is like  2 1/2 dollars.  But I'm happy to hear that everyone had a great Christmas.

The baptism was great. It helped me get refocused after talking with you guys on Christmas. Everything went well.  I guess I haven't talked about Cleitony very much.  He is 15 years old and he is the son of a member in the ward. He moved here recently from São Paolo. He was living with his dad and he came here to live with his mom. When we found him in their house we started teaching him. He was really open to all of our lessons. He kept all our commitments and he received an answer to his prayers and he was baptized.

I had to re-baptize him like 4 times. He is kind of tall and the font isn't very deep. It was not even up to my waist. He wouldn't keep his feet on the ground and his feet kept coming out of the water. But eventually I got him all the way under and everything was fine. I'm going to try and send pictures after I send the email.

There is also a chance that we will have another baptism this Saturday or maybe next. Liete is an investigator that has already been to church enough times to be baptized. The problem is that the first time she went to church she hated it. None of the members spoke with her, and to make it worse when the President went up to the pulpit to talk he just spoke a lot of garbage. He started talking about the temple ordinances and temple video. It was horrible and he said a lot of other crazy stuff as well. But she was there yesterday and had a better time. Also another problem with her is that her daughter smokes crack. Liete has a lot of concern for her and it impedes her time sometimes. Her daughter is 18 and super cool but she smokes a lot of cigarettes ... and ... well... crack. We started teaching the boyfriend of her daughter also. Her boyfriend is like a really good investigator. He asks really good questions.  And we had a really good lesson with him. It will be a problem to get him to stop using drugs and to go to church, but we will see.

I hope you all had a great Christmas and will have a great New Year.

Elder Batten

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Week Twenty Three - Rio Largo

First week in Rio Largo was great. I like my new area.  It's basically one big whole in the earth, but it's all good. My companion is great, probably my favorite companion until now. But we are working hard here. Rio Largo hasn't had a baptism in 6 months. The branch here is really small, less than 30 people. And there isn't a lot of help from the members in respect to missionary work. Since our mission has lost a lot of missionaries the mission president said that if we don't have a baptism this transfer he will shut the area. But we are going to have a baptism this Saturday. And we made a goal to have 8 baptisms in this transfer. On Saturday we put two tables in front of the church building with over a hundred Liahonas and some pamphlets. We gathered Fernanda, a girl in the ward who has 18 years, and Cleber who is a recent convert and Cleber's brother who we will baptize this Saturday. We made contacts in the street by the Church building for an hour or two. We gave out all of the Liahonas and did like 127 contacts. None went to church but maybe someone will call us.

My companion is kind of an idiot though. I love him but he can be kind of stupid. He is allergic to mango. And during the week he ate part of a mango that Cleber was eating. The next day he was sick and we weren't able to leave the house because he was feeling so bad. When he called the mission doctor she asked him "Você é idiota?" Which means are you an idiot? Because she knows he is allergic to mango. She just wrecked him on the phone and I almost died of laughter. That was the first day of the mission that I've stayed in the house the entire day. It was super weird. But the rest of the week we worked hard to make up for the lost day.

I'm excited to talk with you on Christmas. I will call you 2 hours here. That should be 9 in the morning there. Be ready to receive the call. It will be through Skype, remember that.

I tried to call one day this week, I don't remember which day it was. I called the home and Dad's cell phone. Mom's didn't go through. But no one answered. We have 5 minutes that we are allowed to talk with our families on the phone but no one answered so that time is lost now.

Have a good week and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Week Twenty Two - Transfer

So I'm getting transferred tomorrow for Rio Largo. My next companion will be Elder Ilg. I already know him and I'm pretty excited. It's gonna be awesome. Rio Largo has a lot of Grota and Ladeira which means a lot of lateral walking. But the town is small so it will be good. It's kind of sad to leave my first area but it will be good to see some change.

We had Conference of Christmas this week. It was pretty fun. The whole mission was there at the Farol. It was pretty awesome. We had a slide show of all the missionaries who sent pictures of special baptisms. A talent show which was almost entirely singing, and Christmas videos. So it was good.

I had plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas but I will pass Christmas in Rio Largo now so as of now I have no idea. But I do need Cole's skype to talk with you on Christmas. Also I received the second package that you sent with the stocking. Thanks for the package it was really nice to receive something.

Usually P Day consists of the normal wake up routine. Afterwards we clean the house and make something to eat. We go to the market, buy food and make lunch. Us 4. Oliveira cooks well and usually we eat good. Afterwards we go the the LAN house, return and sleep or do whatever we want for the rest of the day.

I see the ocean from certain places in my area now. I saw the ocean more when we were taking care of Beira Mar. The beach is only 25 or 30 minutes from  our house. When we had to go to Paripuera which is 1 hour by bus, we drove along the beach for the trip to there.

My personal study I've been reading the Book of Mormon in Portuguese. I actually finished reading this week. It took about 4 months to read it cover to cover in Portuguese. It was really cool and spiritual when I finished the last chapter of Moroni. Usually I spend most of my time doing that. Sometimes I'll study the Bible in English.  It's a little harder in Portuguese to read the Bible. I've re-read almost all of the New Testament and I started re-reading part of the Old Testament recently. Pretty much I just read the scriptures. I prefer it anyways.

Have a good week. Love and miss you!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Week Twenty One - A little Honesty

Sorry if my letters are getting short. I'm gonna be really honest right now. The first few weeks of this transfer I was getting really homesick. I was thinking about home a lot and the weekends (Sunday and Monday) were getting really difficult for me. I was getting really trunky and was not enjoying anything we were doing to be honest. This week was a lot better. I've ben a lot more focused on the work, and I'm not thinking about home as much.  It's hard to explain, but for a missionary to stay thinking about home a lot is really bad. Right now I'm learning more how to be lost in the work. Probably only Dad will understand. But the emails are getting shorter because I'm more focused here. So Sorry. I will try to focus here and make this email longer.

The weather here is getting hot.  This week had a day that was 34 or 35 degrees. I don't know in Farenheight but the humidity is killer. 105 degrees in Oregon doesn't compare to 90 here. The humidity is horrid here. And everyone is saying that January and February will hit the maximum of heat that Maceio has. But this area is close to the beach so we have a lot of wind which helps kill the heat and sweat.

An interesting thing that happened this week. To be honest I don't know if this was this week or last week, but I learned that our neighbor Gleyce (who has called me pretty, beautiful, and other things...) used to be a man. He had a sex change and is now a woman. We had a lesson with her and afterwards went to talk with Evilazio who is our other neighbor (member of the church) and he started laughing and said "Elle corou seu pinto." He thought is was hilarious that we didn't know already.

Our closest investigator right now is Valdinesse. She is a reference of a less active member who is returning to the church right now. He served a mission and went less active after. He is returning right now and Valdinesse is his girlfriend. She has been going to church and wants to be baptized. They are living separate right now, and probably she will be baptized the 19th. We will have to wait and see. The problem is that her house is out of our area. And they don't plan to get married and live together. Also the ward they have been going to isn't ours Barlioche. He has work in the morning and they go to a different ward later in the day. So yeah that's a little complicated. She does plan to move here December or January so maybe she will be baptized here or maybe Jacentinho, If that actually does happen.

To be honest Brazilians here don't have many traditions, even for Christmas. Most of the people will play loud music and get drunk in the street, haha, yeah. Maybe some of the members have some but I don't know yet.

Sounds like your ward Christmas party was fun. And that's sick about cross country, and about Hannah's service project. Have fun at Santa Land.

Miss you all

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Week Twenty

Hey, hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. This week went well. We are working hard and getting new investigators everyday. We're building up about 6 or 7 new investigators every week, but that number needs to be bigger. Also we have a baptism marked for December 19th. I think it will go right, we will have to see. We've been pestering the members to pass references and we're receiving a little more right now.

I liked the photos of Cole's eagle project. Thanks for sending them. Looks like everything went well. I wish I could have been there.

We had interviews with the mission president this week. And on the 15th we're going to have Conference of Christmas. I'm pretty excited for that. Should be fun.

I don't have much to say about this week, sorry.

Also I made a Skype so that we can talk on Christmas.

Have a good week.
Elder Batten

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week Nineteen

Great to hear that everything is going well. And don't worry about the package. It's no big deal. Maybe it will come this month. And that picture you saw was probably on my facebook. It is of Me, Mariano, and Mike. We were drinking Guarina. It's cool to hear that Tyler got her permit and Cole finished his eagle project.

I actually lost all of my photos the last P-Day. I did something wrong and accidentally deleted them all. But Marquins (a member who lives close) was able to save them somehow using a program on his computer. So I sent the photos over email. But it's all good now.

Also, I totally lied when I said that I was feeling better last P-Day while emailing. I returned home and puked again two times later that night. But I was fine the next day. I don't know why but it just kind of happened.

We had Zone Conference this week which was good. President kind of burned all the missionaries a little but it was good. It was needed, our mission needs to get better right now.

Everything is going well with my new companion. He doesn't speak English really. No one I live with "speaks English." Elder Chave and Elder Oliveira are trying to learn English right now and I am helping them. Sometimes we read the Book of Mormon in English together to help them with pronunciation. I don't really like practicing English with them to be honest. I've completely switched to Portuguese except for writing. One investigator actually told me I speak better Portuguese than my companion. I talk more like a Nordestino than he does. Mosambique speaks Portuguese of Portugal. His accent is different and sometimes he uses words that people here don't use.

We are working hard but it's a little difficult right now. We have potential baptisms here close with dates but we have to wait and see what will happen. It's really frustrating when we do all that we can during the week and only 2 investigators are at church on Sunday. I'll be honest and say that I was in a pretty poor mood last Sunday, but this week is a new week.

One of our investigators, Josefa, It's her birthday today.  We are going to have a small family home evening/surprise birthday party for her today with her family (all members except Josefa). That should be fun.

I hope you all have a good Thanksgiving!

Elder Batten

Week Eighteen

Hey! This week went well. First week with my new companion Elder Chave. He's from Mosambique. But this week went well. We found some new investigators and are working hard. Kind of tough right now but it will get better. We're getting some more references right now which is helping.

I feel like I've got a good grip on the language now. I have trouble with obscure words and talking on the cellphone. Sometimes I can't make out what people are saying. But I'm speaking pretty well.

I'm kind of bummed about the package getting lost in the mail, but oh well. Maybe I will receive it at Zone Conference, which I am really excited for. But don't worry about it. Also I'm having trouble getting the pictures sent, so you are going to have to be patient. Sorry about that.

This day started off kind of rough. I was having a lot of stomach pain last night and I threw up this  morning. But I'm feeling better now.

The work is good. I'm feeling the blessings of the mission immensely.

Elder Batten

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week Seventeen - 2 Baptisms!

We just finished the end of this transfer yesterday Also I made 4 months. Time is flying by. Elder Mariano will be transferred to Arapiraca tomorrow and I'm going to receive a new companion. So that's going to be interesting. I don't know my new companion, but he is from Africa. Probably Mosambique or Cape Verde. But I don't know, I've never met him. And he's pretty new in the mission. He only has one more transfer than me.

Saturday was awesome. Janiel got married which was great. After the wedding, Janiel, and Andre were baptized. We had asked Andre on Tuesday night if he wanted to be baptized Saturday and he accepted. He was already pretty well prepared but we went there every day to prepare him. So we had 2 baptisms. I baptized Andre and Mariano baptized Janiel. It was pretty awesome. Afterwards we had a party to celebrate the wedding and also the baptisms which was awesome. We had cake and soda. So that was probably the best day of my mission until now.

But it's really starting to warm up here. We had some really hot days this week. But I'm getting used to it.

Have a good week.
Elder Batten

Friday, November 6, 2015

Week Sixteen - Halloween

Hey, another good week again. P Day is today because yesterday was a holiday. Everything was closed so President Gomes switched P Day for today.

Halloween was this week. No one here celebrates Halloween, but I carved a pumpkin and gave it to one of our investigators. She liked it a lot. A lot of people who passed by her house were looking at it. So that was pretty cool.

We had splits and zone meeting this week. Both went well. Zone meeting was a little intense because President Gomez was there and he burned our zone a little bit. But he did that for the entire mission this past week. The numbers of the mission are low. Our zone had bad numbers in everything except baptisms which I thought was strange. Our zone had more that 15 this month. But it was good. It helped me realize that I can be doing a lot more. We should be making a lot more contacts than we are doing right now.

Janiel is going to be married and baptized this Saturday. He bore his testimony during church this past Sunday. It was awesome. Saturday is gonna be sick. We may be having 2 baptisms. Andre has been going to church for more than a month already but he lives in a different area. He is planning on getting married here to a member and moving here within the ward. And he wants to be baptized here. So we started teaching him and we marked his baptism for this Saturday. He's already been doing a lot of studying in the Book of Moron and he had shown a desire to be baptized a couple of times. So we will probably have 2 baptisms this Saturday. It's gonna be great.

This is the last week of the transferencia. So I'll finish my training this Sunday. My companion may be transferred because this is his 4th  here in Bariloche. I could be transferred as well. You never know. But I'm doing really well. I'm happy here. The language is improving more everyday.

Love and miss you all,

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Week Fifteen - Missionary Choir and a Halloween Party

This week went by quickly, again. But it was a good week. We also had Stake Conference Saturday and Sunday. The missionaries in the Stake were part of choir which was ... "fun". The chorister asked President Gomez for our help, and the President and his wife came to all the sessions and spoke which was good. During the Priesthood Session we sang Elders of Israel. The last part we were supposed to sing "precisamos cumprir" again, but slowly. But there were a lot of people who thought it was "Sagrada missao precisamos cumprir" so when everyone started singing different parts it just died and sounded like "prreeuuhhhhmmm" and blank faces. So yeah there's that. The other sessions went better.

We made 2 new investigators this week. Venilson and Jessica. Venilson was like perfect. He already had a good firm knowledge in the bible and he was also very open minded. Like almost all of his family are already members. He was keeping our commitments, and really wanted to believe what we were teaching. Then on Thursday he moved to a different area.  So that kinda sucked. But we planted a seed and passed on the reference for the other missionaries where he is moving to.

One day this week we were at Melena and Genillson's house. We had already finished our lesson, and the mom and brother of Melena showed up and we talked a bit because the brother is a member of a different stake. We ended up talking about Halloween because Melina thinks that it is a pretty holiday. That kids get to go and ask for candy. And she was explaining it, and played a video on youtube for her mother to understand. The music of the video was Thriller by Michael Jackson. Genillson put a blacklight in the electric socket, turned off the light, and put this strobe light that he built and put it on the ceiling. For like 2 minutes we had a pretty banging Halloween party.

Still excited for November 7th. But right now we need to continue to find new people. We have one reference that we are waiting on right now. A member wants to have family home evening with them, and have us there. But we have a few that are close, they just have a few small hang ups, and we have a lot that are difficult to find, because they are never in their house when we show up. But that's the next 2 years of my life haha. Less than 2 now but you know what I mean.

I hope everyone is doing well! I love you and miss you all.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Week Fourteen - investigators

Hey, this week passed by really fast. I don't know what happened but it feels like I just had P-Day yesterday. But this was a good week. We went to the cartorio with Janiel and Marisa to finalize their marriage. And we were able to finish everything. He is going to be married and baptized on November 7th. So I'm really excited for that. He's pretty excited as well I should add. It's relieving that we are going to have a baptism this transfer. So that was really awesome. Now we need to find new people to teach. That's always a need, but right now we really do need more.

We had zone meeting this week on Tuesday. That was fun. I learned a lot and heard a lot of good ideas on how to better our work. We need to be having Ward Council more often but our Bishop here doesn't think it's necessary to have the missionaries. So we kind of don't know what to do there. Eventually I think we are going to tell him that this needs to change or call the Mission President. Because the Bishopric needs to be more involved with our investigators.

Still waiting on Sergio and Andressa to finalize their marriage as well. They said they don't need any help, but they have been putting it off a little bit. Josefa as well. We had some hot days this week not going to lie.

Also we have new missionaries in our apartment now. Jacentino was re-opened. They put Elder Olievera and Mateus (Matthew) there. Matthew is a missionary from Corta Praza. Corta Praza is basically members that are waiting for their mission calls to come. It's a calling to do everything that a missionary does, but in the mission they live in. He lives like an hour or two from here and he will stay until December I think. But they are both doing well. It will be hard because the older missionaries that were there were dead and left 0 investigators for them to teach. But they are working hard.

But I'm doing well. I have more to learn in respect to the language but I'm working hard.

I miss everyone,

Monday, October 12, 2015

Week Thirteen - hugs and prayers

This week was great. We had some pretty warm days but it was fine. It went by pretty quickly. We've been working on some new investigators this week so that was nice. We made plans with Janiel this week to go and get the documents for his marriage so that this can happen within the next few weeks. Also, we're going to go with Juliana to get Josefa's documents so she can get married and baptized as well. (Juliana is the daughter of Josefa who is a member). But I'm pretty excited for that. Should go well I hope. We need to continue to find new investigators though.

This week we stopped by Gysettes's house. We're going to go there for a family home evening today. She is a less active that we are working with. She had a bunch of family over and someone asked me if I could offer a prayer in English. So I did. It was awful. I messed up so many times. I kept trying to say e and com for and and with. And I couldn't remember that Irmá is sister in English. And I've been trying to think completely in Portuguese so it was difficult for form the sentences in English. So yeah, I guess that's both a good thing and a bad thing.

Oh, one more thing. Some 16 year old girl hugged me earlier this week. She's a friend of a recent convert who is 17. We were just talking outside of his house and when we went to leave she just said "abraco, elder". And I couldn't formulate the words quick enough to say I can't hug people, so it just kind of happened. Elder Mariano and Mikey were laughing hysterically when we turned to leave. So yeah, sorry I don't have much to say this week. I'll try to think of more next week.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Week Twelve - "Davi and Golliath"

Hey, conference weekend was good. We had a mission tour this week on Friday, Elder Fernandes who is a member of the 70 came to talk to us. It was really fun. All of the missionaries in Maceió were there. Sergipe had theirs the day before. So I finally go to see more missionaries. But there are still 1/2 of our mission that I have to wait until Christmas to see. But it was really fun. Elder Fernandes gave a really good talk. I learned a lot. Part way through his talk he asked for the tallest and the shortest missionaries to come to the front. I wasn't the shortest, there are a few that are shorter than me but I knew immediately that I would have to go up. Elders Lima,  Rossa, Pedro and Mariano all yelled my name and I ended up having to go up. He then compared us to David and Goliath and started talking about how we need to have the faith and strength of David and also to know that we were called specifically of God just like David was. Well "Goliath" left to sit down after Fernandes was done with him. Fernandes put his arm around me and kept talking for a few more minutes. So there was that. He called me Davi whenever he saw me after that.

Conference was good. I could understand whenever I listened, but I had trouble focusing on the voice overs. But there were a few good talks that I caught from beginning to end. I don't know what it is but voice overs are really hard to focus on.

Since Jacentino was shut down its weird having a big apartment to ourselves. We have separate bathrooms so that's cool. Some areas have 4 missionaries to one bathroom. So that's been nice.

We are still waiting on our investigators to get married. It's been tough but we have 4 that are progressing really well. They are all ready to get baptized but only need to be married. All four are working on it, but I'm only impatient because I want to be here when they get baptized. Janielle is progressing remarkably. It's been really great to see him grow. He and his spouse who was inactive before are doing really great. It's been great to watch them grow.

I heard about Emily's mission call, she sent me an email. That's really cool. Barcelona is going to be sick. I was happy to hear about that.

I wanted to see the eclipse but the full eclipse was at midnight and I was too tired to stay up so I went to bed. That camera can zoom pretty well.

Have a good week!

Full Moon over Maceió

Luke's companion, Elder Mariano

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week Eleven - "Eu vou ser batizado"

That birthday celebration picture was funny, Enjoyed that. Also Happy Birthday Tyler! And I will try and send more pictures. It all depends on how good the wifi is at the church. We are going to watch conference in our building. Also, this week we have a mission tour, a member of the 70 will be coming. That should be good. And I have a bed cover, I just don't have a blanket to sleep with. Not a big deal.

Yesterday was the last day of my first transfer and I will be staying here. But they are closing down the Jacintino ward so we will have a 4 person apartment to ourselves. Lima and Sorrenson will be transferred. That is going to be a little weird.

This week went well. Sergio was able to get divorced. Now he and Andressa are going to be married and baptized within this next transfer. They have been waiting a really long time for this to happen, so that will be really great to see. I'm looking forward to it. Also Janielle said that "Eu vou ser batizado" I will be baptized at the beginning of our lesson on Saturday. He and his spouse who is a member have been studying and praying together and he has been going to church regularly. He needs to be married first which they will try to do within this month or the next. And then he will be baptized. So I'm really excited about that. He has a strong hold in the Church, friends, and his wife. And he has a firm desire so I think he will remain active when we leave. Having baptisms that go inactive is a fear of mine, but I don't feel that with him. It's going to be great.

But yeah, I'm still learning the language but I feel like I'm getting closer and closer every day. My companion and the other Elders in our District say that my Portuguese is good. A lot better than a lot of other missionaries with more time than me. And also that my accent is visible but not as strong as some other American missionaries. So that is reaffirming.

I don't have too much else to say. The days are slow, but it feels like I just had a P day yesterday. It's super weird. Also writing these emails is getting harder. My mind has transitioned into thinking in Portuguese so writing in English can be a little hard. I don't know.


Thank you Drew Wilson for this photo. The girl in the picture served her mission with Drew and now she is home in Macieó in the ward where Luke is serving. They are teaching her sister the discussions.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week Ten - I'm 20 now

Well, I'm 20 now, pretty wild. It feels like time just kind of pauses here in the mission even though it doesn't. It's hard to explain. I don't know when I'm going to be able to receive the package. I don't think that I can until zone meeting. But I can wait. Writing these letters is a little difficult because the weeks are all starting to blend together. This week I had some interesting experiences.

We were in Cruz das Almas for lunch. (Here you have lunch with the ward members, not dinner. It's a culture thing here.) But we received a call from a member in one of our wards. He is an interesting person. He needed a blessing because he wasn't feeling well so we went and gave him one. After he was pretty grateful and wanted to make us juice. We said that we had to teach a lesson to a person who lives in his building two floors down and he said he wanted to come with us. Our investigator wasn't home but we ended up teaching the grandmother of our investigator. Pretty early on with talking to her the ward member started talking about the endowment and proceeded to pull down his shirt so he could show her his garment top. I almost died. He would pull unrelated scriptures out of the Book of Mormon to share while we were having the first discussion about the restoration. It was pretty funny I have to admit but it was really hard to teach. Especially since the sister was resistant to the Book of Mormon already. But at the end of the lessons he asked her if her apartment had been dedicated. She didn't know what that meant so he explained it. She said that she doesn't need it because her house is already a place where the spirit resides and it would be unecessary. But he was like no. You need to have your house dedicated. I will do it, I will do it ("Eu vou, Eu vou"). And then he dedicated her apartment... It was really difficult for me and my companion to not bust out laughing during some points of the lesson, but whatever. I know he means well. He's just a little strange.

I have tons of mosquito bites all over my legs, I don't know how. And it's almost impossible not to scratch them, they itch so bad. I'm accustomed to the food and everything now. I'm not throwing up and my stomach sits well pretty much every time I eat. So that's good. Also it's starting to heat up a bit. Around 11-2 it's really hot, but 5-9 is really nice when the sun goes down. I'll try to send more pictures soon. I keep forgetting to take some.

The language is going really well. I'm understanding almost all the time now. I still hear words that I don't understand but I can figure out the meaning of things much easier. And the tense that people are talking (past, present, future) I can understand really well. I just need to learn more words as of right now. But I just need to have patience.

Well as for our investigators.  We have a couple that the husband needs to get divorced so they can be married, and baptised. He's still working on that. And we lost one of our investigators this week. Roben said that he's done with going to church and seminary. That was frustrating because he's been to church numerous times. He was basically almost a member. And we put a lot of time into him and now it's done. But we have an investigator named Janielle who is doing great. We teach him on Saturdays and he went to church this Sunday. He's been before. He is a friend of a member named Bruno who I like a lot.  He's been helping him with doctrines and stuff like that during other times. But he could be baptised this coming month I think.

Well, until next week.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Week Nine - Zika

I don't have too much to say about this week. It was really hot this week and my companion got Zika. Zika is something that pretty much everyone in Maceió has had at some point. It's a virus that you get from mosquitos. It lasts anywhere from a few days to a week.  Your skin turns red and you get a headache, and feel nauseous. Apparently it's not very fun in the heat. But he is better now.

This week was a little tough. Only one of our investigators went to church yesterday. It was a little frustrating. We have so many that are close but they have the smallest hang ups sometimes. But this week we are going to work hard, so all is well.

I'm doing well though. The language is still hard sometimes but I'm getting closer and closer every day. Also I forgot to mention the first week that I arrived we had a change of bishopric in Bari Loche. This past Sunday we had a change in Beir Mar as well. Which is good because they didn't have a bishop. Also, more people attended that ward yesterday which was good to see.  Anyways, I don't have much else to say, until next week.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Week Eight - Splits

Sorry I didn't send an email yesterday, all the LAN houses were closed and it was going to take forever to wait so we got permission to send emails today. Also we had plans to play soccer at the church. But everything is fine.

This week was a little rough. Adjusting to the food here hasn't been bad until early last week. I woke up at 4am and vomited pretty horrendously and woke up my companion. He wasn't that upset considering that I was throwing up. The day after I was pretty tired the entire day but it's all over now, and I'm doing alright now.

We had splits this week. First with the zone leaders. They came to our area to split with me and Mariano and Sorrenson and Lima (Sorrenson and Lima are the other missionaries living in our apartment). It was fun. Good to have a change of scenery. That was Wednesday I think. And on Friday we had splits with the District leaders. I went with Elder Pedro to the Canada ward which is like a 15 minute walk. That was fun as well. We spend the day with Jailson who is a member of the ward there. He lives alone and needs some help sometimes. Mainly just company, so the missionaries visit him often. He expected me to play the piano for him on his electronic keyboard and thought I was lying when I said I didn't know how to play. Also he forced me to sing hymns for him. That was fun. That was actually the night that I threw up.

But besides the splits this week went well. We have many prospective baptisms close. Sergio is close to finishing his divorce so that he can get married and he and Andressa can be baptised. Also we have two really good investigators that have a lot of potential. We have one who agreed to be baptised on the 27th. But all of this is circumstantial. I really need to focus on their needs right now and the baptisms will come. But setting dates for their baptisms helps them to work towards goals.

I'm doing great. I'm happy here, the language is hard and some days are better than others but I am learning every day. My tan lines on my neck are pretty bad. And I think I'm going to buzz my hair next week because it's so hot here. But that's pretty much all I got. I also bought a smaller bag because the black Nike bag I brought was too big. All I need is my Book of Mormon, Bible, and pamphlets really. And sometimes Pregar Meu Evangelho. So I bought a small bag for 20 Reais, which is like $6 so not a big deal,  But yeah, until next week!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Week Seven - Pictures!

Happy Birthday to Dad and Hannah!

My companion is from São Paulo.  He has almost 4 months in the mission. So not much more time than me really, but he didn't spend a month and a half in the MTC so he has a lot more experience than me, which is normal and good.

We eat a lot of rice, beans, noodles, beef and chicken.  Pretty normal stuff. A lot of different types of juice as well. People drink a lot of juice, Coca Cola and Guarana. Nothing very strange yet. Also the sheet are not a big deal.  It's kind of warm anyway and I'm not having any problems sleeping without them, so that;s all good.

A sister missionary returned from Vitoria on Monday or Tuesday I think. She lives in one of the wards that I cover. She knows Drew and they returned the same day. She wants to go out with us for lessons this week which will be good help for us because we are currently teaching her sister the lessons.

This week was good. We had good days and bad days. One day was some sort of local holiday, so almost every lesson after 3 hours fell through.  But the day after went really well so I can't complain.

The language feels really good at times and really horrible at others. I am slowly learning which is to be expected but when people get excited and talk really fast I can only catch a few words. During lessons I'm fine but when discussions get off topic it can be difficult. But I'm practicing every day so I will get it soon enough.


MTC President and Sister Swensen

Campinas Brazil Temple

São Paulo Brazil Temple

MTC companion Elder Baker

In Maceió

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week Six - In the Mission Field

So I'm actually in the field now.  I have a companion and I'm living in an apartment, teaching lessons and walking everywhere. I'm in a place called Alagoas. Me and my companion Elder Mariano cover two wards: Bariloche and Beira Mar. Bariloche is great and has tons of members and gives lots of referrals and lessons. Beira Mar needs a lot of help. It is extremely inactive, doesn't have a Bishop or first counselor at the moment. Part of the problem is because Beira Mar covers the grota (basically the favela). But we're working hard on both wards.

On Thursday it rained the entire day. It was nuts. We walked around for our appointments for a couple hours, and they kept falling through because people weren't home. Eventually later in the day we knocked out 3 or 4 lessons with investigators so it got a lot better. But I was basically soaked the entire day. The other days were hot. Temperature wise it doesn't feel unbearable. But because we are walking in pants, and it's extremely humid I sweat the entire day. But I'm getting tan so that's cool. I can see the beach in the distance sometimes from certain areas and I really want to go for a swim when it's hot.

We have a good amount of investigators. It's hard to remember all of their names. Not all are progressing, but we have about five that are doing very well. Here it's a problem to get people to get married. A lot of couples live together and want to be baptised but don't want to get married. It's a little difficult. Also a few people have troubles with getting divorced here so they can't actually get re-married at the time. But we have one investigator named Hobby, he's a rapaz who lives in the grota and he's been to church numerous times but only needs the desire to get baptised. It think he will be ready within a few weeks but we will see. We visit lots of inactives here as well. If a lesson falls through we just kind of walk to the nearest inactive members house and clap at their gate hoping someone is home. It surprisingly works out pretty well. Although I really wish people here had doors we could knock on or doorbells. But all is well.

I've seen some very humbling homes here. I think it's a good reminder to be grateful for what I have. I don't have a right to complain about the blisters on my feet, or the heat, or the fact that I forgot sheets or that missionary work is at all hard. And missionary work is hard, but living in the grota or in any other homes of the people I visit would be a lot harder.

A lot of the Brazilians notice me in certain areas because I kind of stick out being white. (Side note: preto the word for black in Portuguese is offensive to call a person, and people use the word negro to refer to skin color). It's pretty funny because a lot of the kids will yell out "what's your name?" which is like the only thing they know how to say in English. I'll either say "Elder" or "Eu ná posso entendo Inglés." But when I say that they know I speak English because I have a bad accent.

I'll admit that Portuguese is a lot harder now. Understanding people is really difficult and it's extremely hard to focus when I don't know what people are saying. I have a lot of work to do but I'm working hard and learning more everyday. I don't speak a lot during lessons. I will if I have something to say and if I've been pretty on point with understanding the investigator, but if I'm a little confused by their questions I can't really say anything sometimes. But I plan on being fluent in three months. We will see.

Until next week

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

At the Mission Home

Hey, I'm typing this from the mission home! I just arrived about two hours ago. We had some lunch and are going to go meet our companions in a little bit. I'm pretty excited. Maceió is really pretty and the weather here feels really great today. I don't have a lot of time to email and I'm sending this from an ipad so I won't be able to say much. The flight wasn't bad, but it was weird to finally leave the MTC. It didn't feel like I was there for 6 weeks. But I don't have too much to say except that I'm doing well. I hope that you are all doing well.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Week Five

We just got back from Campinas, super fun. Crazy story: Last night my companion woke me up at 2:30am and said "our roommate Elder Silva just fell off his bed (top bunk of the bunkbed) and split his head open, I think he has a concussion and we need to go find a security guard." I was half asleep and I couldn't really take him seriously and I thought he was lying and told him to go back to bed. Well I got up, got dressed and wandered downstairs to find the security guard by the gate. He called Brother Hale and we went back up stairs to wait for him. Elder Hughes was in the bathroom taking care of Elder Silva. He had a gash in his forehead which had stopped bleeding but was really swollen. We gave him a blessing and Elder Hale took him to get help. I was so woken up by that, it took me over an hour to fall back asleep. But I made up for it on the bus ride over to Campinas. I feel bad because I was kind of laughing at the fact that he fell off his bed. I don't know why, but it was 2:30 in the morning and he is going to be ok I think.

Portuguese has been coming along really well. This was another week of only Portuguese within our district. Our goals are pretty ambitious. But Arnold Schwarzenegger once said: "If your goals don't scare you, then you don't have very good goals." Or maybe it was like you're not going to achieve anything. IDK you guys can look it up. But yeah I'm excited to go into the field this week. We leave Tuesday morning, I'm not sure what time yet. I do know that I will be taking a plane because that's what Elder Harden did. (missionary who served in St. George for 10 months who came with us to the MTC for a two week refresher. And he's going to Maceió. Super good missionary, I hope to be companions with him at some point). Anyways, I'm really excited to leave. I don't know all the things that I need to, but I want to leave anyways. Hopefully I can hit the ground running on Tuesday.

We got to watch a talk by Elder Nelson this week for devotional. It was a talk he gave to the Provo missionaries a week prior. He said that we as missionaries are living epistles, which I really liked. I thought about it. The purpose of epistles in the bible are to testify of Jesus Christ. And individually we can't physically testify that we have seen Christ perform miracles, or preach during his ministry, but we can testify of the ways that  Jesus Christ and the atonement have effected us. There is a video I really like called "A Expiacáo é a obra missionario".  In it Jeffry R Holland says "Missionary work is not easy because Salvation was not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy... We are all standing shoulder to shoulder with the best life this world has ever seen. We have every reason to stand tall."

Eu sei que esta Igreja é o somente Igreja verdadeiro. Eu sei que ele vive. Eu sei que está obra Eu vou fazer é verdadeiro. Eu estou animado para servo os pessoas na Maceió. Jesus Cristo suffrio para nos, e por meio a Expiacáo de Jesus Cristo nos podemos ser limpido. Eu amo vocés.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Week Four

So there is a cookie shop accross the street and you can send a picture from there to home. I'll go send one after emailing while I'm out. It's a service that they do and you can buy cookies for your missionaries in the MTC which they pick up on P-Day. I will send one but I don't need any cookies. We eat way too much here and I've gained like 8 pounds. Not a joke or exaggeration.

Cool to hear about trek, sounds like it will be really fun. I'm not surprised that Hannah is taking 65 hours to paint a bowl. That sounds about right. Also, I kept remembering after sending emails that I forgot to wish Cole a happy birthday. So two weeks later "Happy Birthday." Yeah pretty crappy, I know.

My companion is great, we get along well. We teach well together and our lessons are pretty good. We taught a really good lesson yesterday about the Book of Mormon during TRC. TRC is a lesson we do twice a week with a "member" (actually an instructor) and we help them with things that they need, and also teach them pre-assigned subjects. They are 30 minutes long and are recorded so we watch them the day after we do them.

Language has been booming this week. My district made a goal to speak only Portuguese Monday through Thursday. It was annoying and frustrating at times but our speaking abilities got a lot better this week. And it's a lot easier to memorize words that way. So that's going really well.

I'm getting really anxious to go out to the field. My language isn't quite ready, but being in the same building for a month straight gets a little claustrophobic sometines. Super wierd that I've been here for a month already. It doesn't feel like it at all. I really want to see Maceió and start meeting Brazilheros.

Drew's story is about how they had a baptism to go to and their investigator lived far from the church. They (and I think their investigator, it's hard to tell) were waiting for a bus to pick them up. The bus never came and they were going to be really late, like over an hour.  But a member "luckily" drove by and gave them a ride to the church. The experience helped to strengthen his testimony that God always knows where we are and what we need. I'm pretty sure at least.

(I had forwarded Luke a portion of Elder Drew Wilson's letter this week which he had written in Portuguese. I did not ask him to translate, but I thought it would be fun for him to read.)

Until next week,
Luke, Elder Batten

(Later Luke went to the cookie shop across the street and sent these pictures.)

 Luke and his companion Elder Baker

Friday, July 31, 2015

Week Three

I just got back from the São Paulo temple. There is one 30 minutes away in São Paulo and one in Campinas about an hour and a half away. It was fun. We usually do endowment sessions after service in the morning at São Paulo because of the shorter drive. Campinas we go straight into a session.

This week my district went out proselyting. Everyone has to go out with three Books of Mormon and hand them out.  We took a bus on Wednesday, went to a separate part of the city and we walked around this park outside of the train/bus station and talked to people. It went pretty well. Me and Elder Baker would take turns introducing ourselves, and talking about the book, challenging them to read it. The second guy we got to talked to us for about 20 minutes. He kept going on about work, and his wife, and a lot of really random things, he was really genuine though. Probably an ideal investigator. I understood about 60% of what he was saying but when he would speak quickly I was unable to catch it all. I couldn't really respond to a lot of it though. I was surprised at how easy it was to talk to people. People here are very accepting, and love to talk about Jesus Christ so that was great.

This experience has made me more anxious to go to Maceió now. I really want to see what it is like there, and what the people are like. One of the Irma's here is from Maceió, she said it is very Lindu and that the people are tranquill, and that it is a peaceful place. People there have a different accent than the people in São Paulo. They pronounce their R's and S's differently. My language is definitely not ready to leave though. I am getting much better at teaching lessons with our "investigators" but I am still unable to express certain feelings, and explain things in depth.

Time is a very strange thing here. The saying is days feel like weeks, weeks feel like days. The days are long, but the weeks go by really fast. I haven't been here for very long, but it feels like I've been her for 2 months, but it hasn't dragged. I think it's because of the amount of work we do with learning a new language. I've learned so much about an entirely different culture and their language which is why it feels that way. If that even made any sense.

Until next week,

Friday, July 24, 2015

Week Two

It doesn't seem like it has been a week since I wrote my last email. Time has gone much faster this past week. I got to go to the São Paulo temple today for P Day, it was pretty cool to see more of the city. Last week after I sent my email I got to walk around outside the MTC which was super fun, actually. São Paulo is pretty cool, and it is much different being outside the United States. I'll get to do that again after I am done with sending emails.

Portuguese has been coming quicker and quicker. I can teach lessons pretty well without taking in tons of notes. All I need is bullet points and scriptures written down. So I can talk freely giving lessons, but the lessons will be much harder in the field when people ask more in depth questions. My conversational skills are still lacking, but I can understand most of what people are trying to tell me.

This week for Tuesday devotional the head of all international MTC's (not Provo) gave a pretty good talk.  He showed us a picture of a missionary from the Phillipines (I think) who was 7'8. When they saw him the MTC President said they would have to pull two beds together for him to be able to sleep. His response was "Oh President, don't worry, I don't remember the last time I slept on a bed. All I need is a blanket, pillow and a space on the floor." That missionary came to the MTC without shoes. He was a size 23 and they didn't have shoes that size where he lived, and they said they could get him some. His response was "Oh president, don't worry, I can't remember the last time I wore shoes." He served his entire mission without a pair of shoes. The talk was pretty good and very humbling.

See you next week,

Friday, July 17, 2015

Week One

So I just got done going to the temple.  We drove out to Campinas which was like an hour and a half drive. We had to get up extra early but I took a small nap on the bus so it wasn't too bad. The Campinas temple was pretty cool, there were huge palm trees ( I think) outside of the temple. I took a few pictures, but I won't be able to send them until I am out of the MTC. Right now I have 45 minutes for emails, and then we get to go walk around Sao Paulo for a little while.  I'm super excited. This city is bigger than anything I've ever seen in my life. From my window we can't see anything but buildings for miles, it's ridiculous. We went to the Federal Police Station to get fingerprinted on Tuesday and accepted as citizens, so I'm now a Brazilian. But I got to see more of this huge city. I'm super excited to go walk around.

The first few days in the MTC were pretty rough and long. From Thursday on, in all our classes the instructors spoke strictly in Portuguese.  A lot of the stuff they were trying to tell us I wasn't understanding. After a few days though I started to understand more and more. Sunday there was more English though and that was pretty relaxing. On Monday we got our daily schedule which is: personal study in the morning, breakfast, lessons/additional study w/ instructor, lunch, lesson with instructor, additional study, language study, dinner, language study, TALL, physical activity, planning, snack and bed. We eat SO MUCH here and the food is good but I am never hungry.

We have to prepare lessons for fake investigators in Portuguese, and get them to progress towards baptism. The first lesson we taught I think was last Friday. I pretty much read straight from the stuff I wrote down in my notebook. I've started getting better at speaking though and can now give lessons off mostly bullet points and scriptures. Speaking can be kind of hard because I don't have words to expound into depth, but I can cover a lot of basic stuff.

The Brazilians and Native speakers here are awesome. They are always helping the Americans speak during lunch and in the hallways. We can get out basic conversations, have fun during meals, and things like that with them. I am finding however that I can understand a lot more Portuguese than I can really speak. But I have 5 more weeks to work on my speech so I'm not super worried. A lot of the missionaries who went to Provo said that you learn significantly faster here, because you become immersed in the language where as in Provo you don't. So that is a blessing.

Whenever I tell people here where my mission is they always say Quente (kee-nch). Which means hot, and they say that it is very pretty there.

It's good to hear about Sam and Seth leaving, that is awesome. One of the missionaries who came out with me had been serving in St. George for 8 months, and he said he had gotten to the point where he didn't want to leave, but he speaks really good Portuguese and is excited to be here as well.

Well I don't have much else to say, so I will talk to you again next week.

Elder Batten

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A message from the MTC President

Dear Parents,

Sister Swensen and I are very happy to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil Missionary Training Center.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they begin their missionary experiences with us.  We will surely take good care of your missionary.

The missionaries now have companions and are settled into their rooms. They are assigned to a district with capable and caring instructors for language and lesson study.  Their branch presidents and wives will meet with them this Sunday.  These wonderful couples are richly blessed as they work with, motivate, and interview the missionaries assigned to their branch.

The MTC has a full-time live-in physician to care for their health needs.  He is assisted by his capable wife who is a nurse.  We are also very happy to report that the cafeteria food is plentiful, healthy and very good.

Your missionary will be able to e-mail home on Preparation Day after a morning at the Temple. This will be either Wednesday or Friday, depending on individual assignments.

Your missionary is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of many others.  President Loranzo Snow said: "There is not mortal man that is as interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the Gospel as is the Lord who sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord's children." We love these missionaries as if they were our own.  We will watch over them carefully to ensure they are ready for a wonderful missionary experience after the rewarding time they will have in the MTC.

We thank you for preparing such a wonderful representative of the Lord.

President Robert Swensen and Sister Julie Swensen

In the MTC

Hey its Luke,
I made it to the MTC safely. The trip was long but it went smoothly and without any problems. On the flight to Brazil I met some other missionaries there waiting before I got on and talked to them for a while. There were lots of little Brazilian kids on the plane and some of the ones behind me kept poking me and asking me questions. They were pretty funny, and the most entertaining thing on the flight. The lady sitting next to me didn't speak any english and she tried talking to me in Portugese. I didn't understand what she was saying, but I spoke to her with my crappy High School Spanish, which she understood a little. She told me it's hot in Maceió and asked me if I had any sunscreen. She said I'm gonna burn since I'm white. Sao Paolo is a huge city. Whey I got here they fed us and let us unpack, bathe and take a nap. We were given companions, and my companion is Elder Baker who happens to be the Banton's cousin which is pretty cool. I have a few other meetings to go to later today and my next P-day will either be next Wednesday or Friday.

Love, Luke

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

He's Off!

Elder Batten is on his way to the MTC in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  I can't wait to hear all about his adventures as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.