Email received December 29, 2014

Don´t have a lot of time this week everyone. So this one will be short. I don´t have the planner with me. So I will just talk about the last couple days.
Christmas Eve we spent the better part of the day doing service for a family in the branch. We were helping the Father put up a type of electric fence on the top of the brick wall that surrounds the house. We just put up metal pipe every so often and then put up metal wire connecting the poles. And they will run electricity through it when it´s all done. To keep people out. That was pretty much the entire day.
Christmas we went back to that families house and finished up the fence. After that we didn't do much. It was hard to work because no one was at home and if they were, they didn't want to talk with us. So it was a really hard day to do anything at all.

Friday the 26th we got back to work. We visited the amazing family we have been teaching in the morning and confirmed the plans for that afternoon. Then we went out and taught some other investigators and less actives. The District Leader went with Elder Medina to the house of that family to do the Baptismal Interview! I went with the DL´s comp and visited a couple people. The girl we were interviewing passed and was all ready to go for Saturday!
Saturday. We went and cleaned the Baptismal font and chapel for the service that evening. We spent the better part of the morning there because it was fairly dirty. But we got it all done and then went to lunch. When we got back from lunch, we checked on the progress of filling up the Baptismal Font. But! The water was far from clean... It had a brownish/rusty color to it. Not a tint, but a solid color... So we talked to the Branch President about it and we drained the font to see if it was just dirty water that was sitting in the pipes for a long time. So we started filling it again and discovered it wasn't. When we got back an hour or 2 later, it was the same color as before. So we just decided that's how it would have to be. So we took the usual pre-baptism pictures (my mom should post them) and started. It was a very good service! I was very nervous about getting the baptismal prayer right and making sure everything was in order and went smoothly. But it all went well and smooth! It was a really amazing moment and I hope neither the girl nor I never forget. Because it was the first step down the path in her life. So I hope she can always remember that day and those feelings.

Well I´m out of time. Will do better next week! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and will have a great new year! Have fun but don´t have too much fun!

Elder Gunnoe

Font before being cleaned

Cleaning crew

After being cleaned

Primeiro batismo de Elder Gunnoe (first baptism of Elder Gunnoe)

Elder Medina being attacked by the Guard Dog

Chicken that we had a few days ago

Family, friends and missionaries

Email received December 23, 2014

Bom dia meus amigos! (Good morning my friends!)
Tudo é ótimo aqui em Brasil! Estamos trabalhando até o pó e é muito bom! Eu amo está obra e este país!
Things are going very well here in Parnaíba! It was SUPER hot this last week! And the wind kind of died down for a few days. So we were baking in the sun! But it was a good week!
Quarta-feira foi bom de mais! (Wednesday was very good!) We taught a ton of lessons and talked with a lot of people! We had a very solid day of teaching and helping people!
Quinta-feira (Thursday) was a great day as well! But we talked with some of the people we teach and they were having some big problems. They were very sad and wanting help. So they became our priorities! We are going to be talking to them every other day and working hard with them to help them progress and to become better!
Sexta-feira (friday) was a very long day. We had zone choir practice in the morning from 8-11. And after that, we went to lunch in one of the conjuntos. But the sister that we had marked for lunch forgot... So it was mid-day and there was no wind, no shade, and more than enough sun. It must have been close to 100 degrees that day. And we were far from the apartment. So we went to the house of the mom of the sister that was supposed to have lunch, but she wasn´t there either. We decided at that point to go see a less-active sister who has a market there in the conjunto to buy a little frozen yogurt negocio for the 25 minute walk back to the house. And when we got there, she said she´d make us a little something really quick to eat. And it was super good! it was just rice with hot dog in some kind of sauce. not sure exactly what, but it was super good! She saved us that day! Then that evening, we had the District (too small for a stake here, so it´s a district) christmas activity. The missionaries in the zone did our choir part with a video and a couple people gave short talks. It was short, but good! Then after, it was 9:30 when we got to the corner to wait for the bus. So we sat down to wait like we always do. But the bus never came... So about 10:00, the Zone Leader walks by and asks why we are there. We tell him and he calls a taxi for us (we don´t have a celular). And 15 minutes later, the taxi gets there. So we got back home at 10:30. And 5 minutes later, a bus passes the house... -_-   So we paid 20 reyes for a taxi instead of 1.20 for a bus... But at least we got home! And the taxi was WAY better than the bus!
Sábado (saturday) We talked with a bunch of people! some investigators and less actives, but a lot of them were leaving to go places for christmas. We had a good visit with the family that we found last week. They are super awesome! All very funny and always joking, but also very interested and excited about the Gospel! They are super fun to be with! We talked with another investigator who is having family trouble. Satan is really working hard on some of these people to keep them from the church. But it´s funny because this particular mulher (woman) is feeling major lack of church and us because of these things. We didn´t see her all last week, and then all of this happened. But now she is super ready to learn and progress more! So joke´s on Satan! haha
Domingo (Sunday) was super good! We had that super awesome family and the mulher with family troubles all at church! And they LOVED it! Especially the family! The whole branch was muito animado (excited)! Everybody shaking their hands and hugging and laughing and just being so awesome! The branch loved them! And now the family is even more excited to continue going to church and more willing to be baptized! So amazing how the Lord works! After church, we had lunch in the farthest part of this whole area. It was a 30 minute walk there at mid-day under the sun. But it was super good! We had fish and rice and beans. Super good!
Segunda-feira (Monday) was a good p-day! We went to the house of one of the coolest families I have ever met! We hung out with them for a while and joked around with them and just had a good time! They fed us lunch too! And then after that, we went to Shopping! it´s the mall here in Parnaíba. It was pretty cool! Had a good time there. Then we came back and went to work! We had a noite familiar (FHE) with a family that is having some major problems. The dad almost left. But the Lord sent us there one day and things have been getting better slowly for them. So we will keep working with them!

All in all, it was a very good week! Had a lot of success, but it came with a lot of work! And we will continue to work hard so that we can help bless the lives of others. Especially this week since it´s Christmas! I hope that everyone is doing well and you are all bem animado for Christmas! But always remember the reason we celebrate this holiday. On December 25th, we celebrate not a day of material presents and cookies and worldly things. We celebrate on this day the birth of the greatest life this world has ever and will ever know. We celebrate because all of humanity received a gift of greater importance than most will ever know. We celebrate the life of the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of this world. And He gave us the ultimate present. One that lasts for all eternity and will never dull or break or rust or be lost. A gift of more worth than can be imagined. Christ gave His life so that we may gain ours. He gave His life so that we may gain an eternal life and happiness. Because without him, we would not be able to be saved. So when you wake up on the morning of December 25th, think of the true Gift that the whole world has. And always remember Him and His sacrifice.
I love you all! Have a wonderful Christmas and may the Lord bless you in all you do!

Elder Gunnoe

Santa picture in Brasil :)

One of the families Elder Gunnoe and Elder Medina are teaching

One of the conjuntos

Enjoying a milkshake (sorry - I couldn't get the picture to rotate)

Email received December 16, 2014

Elder Cole Gunnoe and I emailed back and forth during his email time today and unfortunately it caused him to not have enough time to write a longer, detailed blog email so I will include some of our email at the end of his blog post for today:

This was an awesome last week!
Monday not a lot happened after the emails. We had dinner with a member and then went to work. We visited an investigator and had an interesting visit. She really likes to just talk and joke around, but that wasn't the interesting part. She has a 1 year old son who is awesome, and very hungry. And it's pretty normal here in Brasil for a mom to feed her child when he's hungry right there in front of everyone. And it aint solid food! So she proceeded to feed this toddler 6 times during our visit... Kid starts whining and mom proceeds to give him some of her calcium right there in front of the missionaries and anyone else that happens to be there. But I figured out a way to know when it was going to happen, so at that moment, I would just so happen to look away or look at my companion! Just a coincidence! But it's going to take some getting used to for that...
Tuesday was a good day! We had a District meeting in the morning and then had some time to study. After lunch, we went and visited some members and investigators. Made a couple contacts and left a few pamphlets for people.
Wednesday We had a service project in the morning. Pictures should be on the blog and on facebook of that! We moved some bricks for a family and then proceeded to make a throne with them haha. We had a good time with that! After lunch we went to one of the Conjuntos (there will be a picture posted that explains what this is) where we work and had an awesome lesson with a lady who is super funny! Really good lesson!
Nothing really happened on Thursday.
Friday was awesome! We found a new family to teach! They are super open and so ready for the blessings of the gospel in their lives and family! We are very excited to teach them and feel that they will be blessed with the opportunity of baptism very soon!

Elder Cole Gunnoe

From our email this morning:
He wanted me to remind everyone that if a package is sent it cannot be valued at more than $50 on the customs form.  If it is then he has to pay additional money on his end to receive it or it will be returned to the states.

I asked him how he was doing and he said "I am great!!  Doing very well!"

How are all of your mosquito bites - "Most of the original ones are gone but I always have a few new ones.  It's a constant battle.  haha"

How is the food - "Food is still amazing!  Juice is still amazing!  I have been getting more than enough to eat.  The members always make big meals and just about all of the food is super delicious.  Lunch without fail thus far has had at least rice and beans.  Other foods range from chicken to beef to potatoes to lasagna once to pizza to fruit to almost anything you'd normally have for dinner in the states.  But here it has more spices and different flavors and styles of cooking.  So it's a variety and it's very good!  The only problem is that we almost always have soda at lunch...And the members usually have only that...So I have to drink that.  I have had more soda here than I have ever had in my whole life.  But when we have juice or water, I drink that."

How are your investigators - "The pesquisadores are progressing well!  We found 2 new families this week and a couple new individuals!  So we have a lot of people to teach now.  They are all very open and accepting and prepared for our message.  The Lord is Definitely working in the area!"

Any big bugs yet - "We saw what was either a millipede or a centipede the other night.  Some HUGE wasps.  Couple big lizards.  But nothing out of the ordinary really."

How was church and how is Portuguese coming along - "Church was great!  I really like it a lot.  Portuguese is getting better all the time!  Still a bit hard to understand people, but it is definitely getting better."

Do you eat out much - "We have fresh bought and baked bread for breakfast every morning.  But other than that, it's just snacks every now and again.  Members feed us lunch always.  And if someone doesn't feed us dinner (someone usually does) then we just buy some snacks before going home."

Do you find that you are taller than most people there - "I have only met 1 Brazilian that is taller than me.  And he's a missionary.  The people are pretty short generally.  Especially the women.  So short."

Elder Cole Gunnoe's apartment in Parnaiba (they live on the top floor)

Another angle of his apartment.

President Siedschlag, Elder Medina, Elder Cole Gunnoe

He didn't name the man on the right except by "grandpa", Elder Medina, Elder Cole Gunnoe.  "Both super awesome people"

Start of a service project this week.  Moving these bricks from the front of the house to the back.

End of the service project with the family minus the dad.  We took the bricks and built a throne.  haha

View from our house.

This is one of the areas that we work in.  It's called a Conjunto.  Basically just a tract of houses.  They are all exactly the same, quite small, and very plain.  And there are hundreds just in this one Conjunto!  We have 2 more that we work in just like it.  So hundreds of the same exact houses.

It's interesting here.  So many people have beat up and old cars, but they are driving around with this either behind, in, or on top of their cars...Don't quite understand that.

Another fine example of what I said in the last one... (he said they are speakers)

Email received December 8, 2014

Primeira semana no campo! (First week in the field!)

Oi tudo mundo! Tudo bem??  (we think this translates to something like...Hi all world!  It's all right?)
It has finally come! My first area! It's a city called Parnaíba in Piaui. It's such an amazing place! But to get here was quite the adventure...
So I found out last Monday when I was leaving the CTM in Sao Paulo. 3:40am on Tuesday morning... It was so so so early! But I didn't complain because it meant i could get into the field that much sooner! The flight went smoothly, no problems. Then when we finally landed in Teresina, I was so excited!! And then I walked off the plane and I thought I had walked into a fire!!!!! The sun was super strong and the heat was so intense! It was crazy hot! Then we waited a little for the cars to get there to take us all back to the mission president's house. He is a really awesome guy! President Siedschlag and his wife are awesome! So we went to their house and had lunch there. it was tough. I have never eaten so much food that I didn't like. But I ate it! And then we got ice cream!!! So that was sweet! Then the waiting started. He took some elders and the sisters to do interviews at his office at around 2ish. So the rest of us stuck around. Sister Siedschlag said we could nap, so we did! And then we woke up and it was 6:30. so we thought, okay, we should be going any time now. It was about 8:45 before we ever left the house. Then we went to the mission office for interviews. It went pretty well. So after that we went to the place that we'd be staying at until we go to our areas. There are normally 6 elders in the one apartment. That night, we had a little less than 30.... So needless to say, it was crowded. And hot!!!!! So hot everywhere! But I slept pretty well just because I was so tired.
So the following day, Wednesday, we got to me our trainers and find out where we would be going. It was a big meeting and orientation for both the new elders and the trainers. We were at the stake center from 8am-8pm. Just sitting and listening. But anyways, my trainer is Elder Medina!! (Pronounced MeGina) He's from Peru! Super amazing elder and trainer! Just a stud! Our area is Parnaíba in the state of Piaui. We are serving in the Parnaíba 4th branch. Super amazing branch! The members are all amazing people and are solid members! They are so friendly and so helpful! I guess in the recent past, they have had missionaries that didn't work very hard and just didn't do much, but every person that Elder Medina and I have visited, we tell them that we are here to help and serve them. So the members are gaining confidence in the missionaries again. We are going to work super hard on that! Back to tuesday! So after all that waiting and anticipation, I found out that i was staying in Teresina for at least a day to get my Brazilian ID. Oi. So we went back to the same apartment and slept there again.
Thursday brought some more waiting and anticipation. Didn't really do much of anything. We just did some stuff to prepare the paperwork for my ID. My comp and I got to go out in the streets around the mission office and do some contacting! That was super awesome! First we talked to 2 guys. One had been in a moto accident recently. (moto is just a motorcycle) And the other was missing his left leg from the knee down. They were pretty open and receptive to our message. Then we talked to an amazing guy! We were walking away from the first contact and talking about how it went. This guy was sitting on the step of a business with his head down. so we turned around and went to talk to him. He was from a different area, but he was there becuase his mom is sick and in the hospital. So we talked with him about families and about the plan of salvation. He was really touched by the spirit. We left him a pamphlet and a Book of Mormon. He said that when he saw the missionaries in his town, that he would talk to them. And before we left, we ended with a prayer. It was super amazing! The next contact was with two ladies sitting on a street corner. They were also really open and talkative with us! We left them both a pamphlet and got their addresses for other missionaries to go back and visit them. Then we talked with a family of 13 people! Such a big family! They were awesome! The father was very interested in the Book of Mormon and how it is like the Bible and how it testifies of Christ. So we left one with them too! That's about all that happened that day.
Friday was the big day! Woke up and knew that we would be leaving that day! So we went to a couple different places to get the paperwork all done, drove around  for that and went back to the mission office. Waited, sat around. Then everything was finished and ready to go with my ID! We had a bus trip booked for 6:30 to come here. So my comp and I went to the shopping center so he could get some cash. But it took forever!!! We didn't get out of there until around 4:30ish. Then we quickly went to the mission office to call a cab to go to the apartment to get my bags and go to the bus station. But the cab took about an hour and a half to get there to the office! We finally made it back to the apartment and got my bags and went to the bus station. But by the time we got there, it was 7:05. There were 3 buses leaving at 630, 645, and 7. We missed them all.... So one of the other elders going to Parnaíba got our tickets changed to go on the 9pm bus. So we waited. 9pm comes and no bus. 930, no bus. 10, no bus, 10:30, no bus. 11, no bus. It finally showed up at 11:20pm! FINALLY! We got on and went to sleep. It's a 6 hour ride from Teresina to Parnaíba. We got to the bus station here are around 5am. and got to our apartment at 5:30am. The sun was up at that point! So Elder Medina and I slept for a couple hours. We got up at around 8:30am on Saturday.
Saturday was a good day! We didn't do much in the morning. But for lunch, we went to a member's house and had chicken, beef, rice and beans. It was super good! The foods here have a lot of spices in them so it's a really good flavor without any kind of sauce or anything! Then we went WAY out into the farthest area of our area to talk to people out there. We went to a school where a bunch of kids practice break dancing! It was really cool! And just before we left, Elder Medina did a little dancing! He was a break dancer back home in Peru. So he used that to make a connection with them! We got 14 contacts out of it! So that was super cool! Then  we went to talk with some other members of the branch at their houses. They are all so cool!! They are helping me with my portuguese too!
Sunday was great! We had church at 9am.The chapel is just a house converted to be a small church building. But it's really cool! We had lunch at a branch presidency member's house. He is super young! Can't be more than 24 years old! We had rice and beans, beef, sausage, potatoes and juice! All of it was really really good! Then I gave the message on the spot. It went pretty well, only tripped up a few times. Then we went to talk to a family that other elders contacted a while ago. They are super amazing too! They are really friendly and love talking with us and laughing and making jokes. They are living together right now with 2 daughters. But they both want to be baptized. So the elders before me have been working really hard to get them married and baptized, but haven't had any luck. So we were talking with them yesterday about baptism and how Christ was baptized. Elder Medina asked them what was keeping them from getting married so that we could help them. They said nothing was holding them back and that they want to be married and baptized!!! So amazing! Now we need to work with them to set dates for both of these. They also  need financial help with the wedding, so we are going to find out how much they need and then talk to the branch about it. But still!!! So amazing!!! One problem with that. There are 4 elders here in Parnaíba Ramo (branch) 4. And this family is in the other companionship's area... so Elder Medina talked with one of the other elders about it and he said he would "pray about it". But I really doubt we will get to teach and work with this family. These other 2 elders are difficult. They are always in the apartment and never do a whole lot of work, they are teaching people in our area, they don't follow the rules, and they are selfish. It's just difficult. One is in his last transfer so he is super lazy, and the other one feeds off of it. They are setting a horrible example. As I am typing this, the elder in the other companionship is on youtube watching some anime show. And earlier he was watching My Little Pony on youtube. Which is flat weird. He also has 2 my little pony ponies in our apartment.... And it's not a joke. I walked into the apartment last night, and he was coming its hair........... I am quite worried about him. I don't really know what to make of it. But anyways, like I said, I doubt we will get to teach that family that we talked to and that Elder Medina has been talking to for a while now. So that is really sad.
Today has been a great first P-Day in the field! We had a zone choir practice this morning! We are singing at some point soon, but I don't know when. After that, we just came back to our area and had lunch and talked with another family in the branch. Awesome people as well! Everyone here is awesome! haha
People here in Brasil are very friendly and open. You can go up to anyone and just start talking to them. A ton of people sit outside one the sidewalks or in chairs wherever there is shade. Especially at night and in the evening. So it's really easy to contact and talk to people here.
I love it so much here! It's pretty hot but here in Parnaíba we get a pretty constant wind, so it helps a lot. the Mosquitos here love me. If I counted right, I've got 33 bites..... I itch so bad! But it's all good!
I am super excited to finally be here in the field and working with these amazing people! I am sending a few pictures to my parents to put on the blog and facebook. This email is already super big, so I don't want to try attaching any pictures... But they will still be sent!
I hope everyone has a good week and is doing well!
Love you all!

Elder Gunnoe

Elder Cole Gunnoe and his companion Elder Medina from Peru