Elder Clay Green

Elder Clay Green

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 8 - Obidos! The best place in the WORLD!!!



 Clay on his hammock on the boat to Obidos!

 Clay and Elder Capello enjoying the boat ride to Obidos.

Clay said he couldn't resist getting a picture with these dancers at the airport!


Thanks everyone for the emails! I love being able to hear from you all. It makes me so happy! That's funny that Mom found quotes from blogs of other Belem missionaries that said Obidos is the best place in the mission! But it is so true. Óbidos is the BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD!! I love it here. The people are just amazing. Even though I can hardly understand a darn thing any of them are saying, they are very receptive and every day is a new adventure! It is a lot different here than in Belém. In Belém it rains every day. The day I was there it rained twice. But I have been here in Obidos for 2 solid weeks and haven't seen a drop of rain! I wish it would rain sometimes. Its fire hot here and we walk a bunch. But it really just feels like Alabama. The heat hasn't given me any problems. We drink lots of water so that helps! 

The Language is coming... I can understand people a lot better than I did at first. They have weird accents here so its difficult, but I am learning. Sometimes people say they don't understand me just because I am American. We have a goal that I get 6 contacts on the walk home every night. Its about a 15 minute walk and anyone will stop and listen so it is way easy to get contacts. I usually say the same things each time and most people understand me just fine and all is well. But occasionally that one person will look at me like I’m stupid and say they don't understand... I KNOW THEY CAN!!! It’s just an excuse not to listen to me. So that's a little frustrating.

We eat lunch with members everyday but this week we got cancelled on 2 days in a row! So we just had to go make something ourselves. Then our propane tank ran out of gas so we couldn't use our stove for dinner one night, but we have a supermarket right next door and they have lots of cereal so I was good! The fruit here is crazy! There are multiple fruits that are only grown in Pará (The state we are in). I don't even know how to say most of them but they are crazy good! They have all kinds of different fruit ice things that we don't have in America and I don't know what I will do when I leave here! I tried the famous Açai the other day. It is only in Pará and everyone in Sao Paulo was talking about how amazing it is! I wasn't a huge fan but I hear it takes some getting used to. You have to put tons of sugar to make it taste good. While I was pouring sugar on it I had a flashback to when me, Emily, and Andy were little and we would put tons of sugar in our Cheerios! It made me laugh. 

Elder Capello is great. He is the best missionary. He can make a contact with anyone and then convert and baptize them! I am watching how he does things so I can eventually be as good as him! 

Our investigators are good! We had an investigator class on Sunday and we had 9 people in there! And that's not counting the kids. I almost got emotional just looking at all of them! The kids here are awesome. We were supposed to baptize two boys on Saturday - 8 and 9 years old brothers. The date had been set for over a week but on Friday night their dad said they couldn't because he was having to go out of town and he wanted to see it. So we will have to wait! The boys were pretty sad, but their dad needs to be there and we can do it soon so its all good!

Mom asked what I wanted her to send for Christmas and I do have a couple of requests. A member here learned some English on his mission but forgot a lot of it. He wants an English Bible and Book of Mormon. Hope that isn't too much trouble. If possible could you also send me a new picture card? The one I got in Sao Paulo isn't very good and it keeps messing up. And if you have room in the package I wouldn't mind having an American football! Haha! You can throw some food in there as well. I eat good here but I sure could go for some American food!

Over the past 2 weeks I have really gained a testimony of the restoration. That is the first lesson we teach so I hear it 3 or 4 times a day. I talk about prophets, the great apostasy, I recite the first vision and invite them to pray and be baptized. As I have studied prophets a lot my appreciation for President Monson has grown dramatically. Prophets are so important and we can learn so much from them. I love the restoration. It is so powerful. I will quote Dad because I have found this is true for myself. I cannot read, teach, hear about or watch videos about the restoration without feeling the spirit. It is true. God loves us and knows us all individually. What was the first word Heavenly Father said to Joseph Smith in the sacred grove? Joseph. His name. He knows us. Whenever I feel like things are hard or I get frustrated with the language etc. I imagine the Lord saying, "Clay, everything is alright. Don´t worry. I will help you." Because He will. He loves all of us. I know this Church is true. I know it. The Book of Mormon is the most powerful conversion tool on the earth. I have no doubt. I love these people in Óbidos and I wouldn't mind serving here for the rest of my mission! I want them to have the same happiness that this gospel brings me. I love you all and I thank you for all the support. 

Élder Green

 Clay and Elder Capello on their second day as companions.

 Clay with his first mission baptism.

 Clay eating cupuaçu.

 Clay and Elder Capello cooking!

 Random pictures of a horse wandering around Obidos...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 7 - Obidos!!!

Thanks everyone for all the emails! They were great!

So I'll start on last Tuesday. We left the CTM at about 3:45 am and went to the airport. The baggage thing wasn't an issue. I could bring 2 bags and there was no weight limit. So that was good. We had a six hour flight to Belém. Then we went to the mission home and ate lunch and just hung out for awhile. The assistants were there along with the secretaries and a couple of other elders. We had some training and then we were assigned trainers. I had been praying really hard that I would get a good trainer who loved to work hard and be obedient. I also wanted to be put in a pretty remote area so I could get used to the worst conditions and the language at the same time. There were 7 new missionaries and only 4 trainers were present at the mission home because some couldn't travel that far. So all the new missionaries got assigned an area and a trainer and I was the last one... and all the trainers were taken so I expected just to meet mine in the field. Then they announced my area and everyone went crazy! Óbidos is the 2nd farthest area and super poor and right on the Amazon River. So that was one answered prayer. Then Elder Capello's picture came up and everyone went even more crazy! It was a surprise thing. He has been an assistant for the past 5 transfers and now I will be his last companion. He said he loved being in the office but he just wanted to get back out and work. So all my prayers were answered! 

The next day we caught a 2-ish hour flight to Santarem. We met up with some elders in that area and then went to the zone leaders house. Travel was all walking and buses. One of the zone leaders is American. He was waiting for his visa for almost a year but served in a Portuguese-speaking mission in the US so he is fluent. He was so excited to be able to speak English! 

So that night we took a boat. It left at 8 pm and is a 7 hour ride so we just slept the night on there. One of the secretaries served in Óbidos so he gave me his hammock. The boat has 3 levels and tons of hooks! There were SOO many hammocks on there it was crazy! We were packed like sardines! I slept alright but I kept waking up because these stupid black bugs about the size of a quarter kept coming out of nowhere and crawling all over me! But that's alright. We got here Thursday morning and went to work. 

Its crazy here! All the roads are sand so that makes walking easier... its like walking 15 miles on a beach trying to keep up with Elder Capello whose normal walk is my dead out sprint. But its all good. A lot of the houses are literally 4 pieces of wood and a sheet of tin as the roof, with dirt floors, but the people have brand new smartphones and sometimes a really nice TV. And EVERYONE has these huge speaker systems. There are SOO many little beat up cars with a huge speaker on top just blaring music down the street.. tons of them! And they all listen to American music so I'm about fed up with Flo Rida and Jason Derulo... 

People here have lots of kids, and if they are younger than 5 you can bet they are butt naked. So that's funny! There are tons of dogs too - and most of them live on the street and they are either dead or look like they are about to die. So you know that's hard for me.

The food here is amazing. I feel like I've gained 50 pounds! We eat lunch with members every day and they make you eat tons. As long as I have enough rice I can eat anything. My first day during lunch I heard a lot of chirping. I thought it was outside but then the lady reached down and grabbed a little bitty bird that was sitting on the chair next to her and it ran around on the table for a while. HA! And on my second lesson ever, I was giving my part of the restoration and the lady just starts feeding her baby right in front of me. Portuguese is hard enough but that made it way more uncomfortable. But that has happened a few times since so now I'm used to it. 

I have had SOO many people just flat out laugh in my face when I start talking! Its crazy! They say its because they love my accent but whatever. It doesn't bother me. I have made so many friends already! I love these people! I wish I could serve in Òbidos for the whole 2 years! Water is never an issue because you can walk up to any house, clap a few times and they will bring you out some water. These people are so receptive and kind. Its like everyone is family. I am literally the only American here so I'm referred to as "The American"and all the little kids love me! 

I had my first baptism Saturday. He's a 9 year old boy and he is super good. We are teaching his mom now and hope to baptize her soon. We had a special conference Sunday with Elder Toledo. It was really good. We had 14 investigators come! Not bad for 4 days! We literally walked past a family and said hey come to church with us we will come back in an hour to get you! They said ok but didn't look sure so we didn't know if they meant it. But when we walked past later the 2 little girls who were naked earlier were sitting on the porch with their little dresses on ready to go! It was hilarious. I can't take much credit because Elder Capello does 90 percent of the talking! But it was still great!

Elder Capello speaks good English but one of his old American companions taught him slang words so he uses those a lot! Its hilarious! The other night we were about a 15 minute walk from our house and we were about to be late. I usually make contacts on the way home and he told me to go ahead with that but I said we didn't have time because it was 9:25.. He looked panicked and said in English, "Oh fetch, we aren't gonna make it... we are going to lose blessings man!!!" Then he took off running! I took off too! It was hilarious! Then my watch ended up being a few minutes fast so we ran more than we needed to.. but it was still funny!
Well that's about it for this week! I absolutely love it here! Not much time but read Moroni 9:25-26. It's a letter from Mormon to his son and I loved those verses. 

25 My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.

26 And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen.

Sorry if I missed anything. I love y'all and can't wait to hear from you soon! Sorry I couldn't respond directly to everyone but I love your letters and emails.

Elder Green

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Clay has arrived in the Belem Mission!

We got a short email from Clay's mission president this morning. He arrived at the mission home in Belem on Tuesday and has been assigned to serve in Obidos with his trainer, Elder Capello. We were so thankful for this information and for the pictures. He looks healthy and happy! Obidos is on the far western edge of his mission and right on the Amazon River. To get there from Belem requires another plane ride and a 7 hour boat ride up the Amazon. We can't wait to hear Clay's descriptions of his adventures so far! He should email on his Pday next Monday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pictures from Clay's last days at the Brazil MTC

Note from Betsy - He's on his way to Belem!!!! Once he had WiFi at the Sao Paulo airport he was able to forward these from his camera directly to my email account. Sometimes I LOVE technology!!!

This last picture is of the Alabama boys - Clay and Elder Dunkin from Bessemer Stake, and Elder Vick from Montgomery Stake. They flew into the Sao Paulo MTC together and now are going their separate ways to different missions in Brazil. It looks like Elder Vick was the only one of them that managed to avoid the Over-Zealous Barber of Sao Paulo!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Week 6 - Last email from the Brazil MTC!!

Boa Tarde!!! Hope everyone is doing great! I love the pictures y'all sent me. It was great seeing all those cute little kids! I sure do miss them, but none of them like me anyway so its all good. Haha! 

So not much has happened this week. I am SOOO ready to leave the MTC on Tuesday! I feel like I am pretty well prepared and lets be honest, being in the same building for 6 weeks straight isn't the easiest thing. But I'm thankful for my time here. My district is the oldest one now, in terms of being in the MTC. I feel very comfortable here. I can go around and talk with Brazilians without even thinking about it now. There are tons of Hispanics here too! We are supposed to sit with natives at meals so we can practice language and it seems like I end up sitting with Spanish-speakers more than Brazilians! One day I sat next to some fresh Guatemalan missionaries and their Portuguese wasn't all that good so that was interesting. 

We had a really good devotional on Tuesday. The entire Brazil Area Presidency came and spoke so it was crazy good! It was broadcast to all of Brazil so there were cameras everywhere. They filmed us eating and walking up some stairs. I felt like a movie star! And one of the Sao Paulo missions came too so there were tons of missionaries! We all sang Called to Serve at the end so that was awesome! 

I got a haircut Wednesday and I don't know what I said to the man but it must have made him angry because he gave me a 3 cut. I look like a prisoner. Lets just say I've been made fun of quite a bit! 

It was Brazil independence day on Monday so the lunch ladies fixed up the cafeteria with flags and stuff hanging everywhere. President Swensen wore a Brazil hat so that was fun! Sunday was Fast Sunday so that was nice. We had a broadcast devotional by Elder Oaks and it was SOOOO good. So that's pretty much all things exciting for this week. 

On a spiritual note, we learned a lot about how important it is to always have the spirit with you AND how to make that happen. Having the spirit affects your thoughts, words, and actions. So Elder Oaks talked a lot about how important it was and then told us how we can make sure we have the spirit and that we keep it with us. He said the answer is to take the sacrament! That caught me off guard a little because it seemed so simple. Then I thought about it and in the sacrament prayer the Lord promises that we will ALWAYS have His spirit with us. So I started studying and thinking more about the sacrament and I learned more about how important it is. It means a lot more to me now. 

Mom asked about my travel plans for Belem. We have a big meeting all day on Monday where I'll get my flight plans and what not. I'm not sure if we get to email from the mission home or not. It might be the next Monday before I get to email you again.

I heard about Alabama! That's great! Elder Vick has his pday on Wednesday so he found out then and told me we won!

Well that's just about all I got for this week. I love you all and I love hearing from you all.      

Elder Green

Pictures from Area Conference

Note from Betsy - These pictures were taken after he got his 'prisoner-style' haircut. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Week 5 - Brazil MTC

Hello!! All is well here in the CTM! We did get the letter thing worked out. So all this time we had the wrong mailbox key and we've been checking the wrong one!! But we got the right one this week and it was like Christmas! There was tons of letters in there! I got all the ones from the Mr. Cheneys place and all your hand written ones so its all good! I really enjoyed it! 

So last week I must have slept wrong or something cause I woke up and I had a crazy sore neck! And it got way worse throughout the day! It was awful. I was walking around with my head at a 45 degree angle all day cause I couldn't straighten it out... It got better after a few days but I just thought that was funny! *Note from Betsy - I emailed him back and reminded him that he had Ibuprofen and Tylenol that he could take if this happens again. His response -Yeah I took some of that... it didn't really help. But don't worry I sleep a lot more still now! 

We have a devotional every Sunday and Tuesday and those are always SO good! We have choir practice beforehand and I love it! I love singing in Portuguese. My companions are going to hate me! But anyway we usually just straight up sing the song but sometimes we get a little fancy, and Tuesday we got real fancy! They split the sisters and elders up into groups (I sang tenor of course) and we sounded super good! The spirit seems extra strong through music. 

Yes our Brazilian roommates did leave on Tuesday. It was really sad cause I loved those guys! Elder Souza spoke a little English but Elder Costa didn't speak any! They were so awesome. We used to mess with them all the time and I would get them to help me with my Portuguese at night. So that's sad. These new ones are alright though. One knows Portugal Portuguese but lives in England so he has a thick English accent and speaks perfect English. The other one has only said like 2 words so I don't know... 

The food is great still. I've been trying new stuff. At first I gained a little weight but now I lost about 6 pounds. I dont know how but I'll try to eat more! We get gym time every night so that is fun. They have a lot of basketball goals so we can show our skills!

The language is coming along. I'm learning lots but I still have a looonnng way to go. I've got a pretty good study plan that I hope helps me. 

We went to the Sao Paulo temple again today. Irmã Scaduto took us so that was super fun. She is the best instructor EVER! It's such an awesome temple. 

So I called the people about my debit card and she said it is set up as international. She saw the first transaction from my first week but she said it doesn't even show that I tried to use it again...  She said Wells Fargo isn't getting the transaction or something. It might be something wrong with their system, but it worked the first week and I tried it at the exact same place the next week and it didn't so I don't know what the problem is. I'm gonna try it when we go out today and see if its just the Church's system that's the problem. I think I'm pretty good on cash. I don't know for sure. I spend money like a madman out here. I forgot how much you said the boots are that I have to buy in Belem but I have over $100. I'll try to be conservative today in case the debit card still doesn't work. 

I really like Alma 34:41 "But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions." I've had to learn a LOT of patience since I've been here and I've gotten a lot better about it the more I have the Spirit with me. During the devotional the guy shared a verse in D&C 93:1 "Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am." So if we take upon ourselves the name of Christ and forget our sins and keep His commandments, we can see His face! The guy said he takes that verse very literal - which I thought was pretty cool. So I'm gonna try to do a lot better!! 

That's it for today. I love y'all and hope to hear from all of you.    

Elder Green