Visiting Paranapiacaba

Hi Everyone,
There are a lot of cool things about my area (Rio Grande da Serra.) In the little road side shops you can usually find an assortment of dehydrated leaves, sculptures, fabric dolls, decorated boxes, ornaments, jewelry, paintings, and in general lots of cool and quirky things. The people here all know eachother becuase the town is small.

At the southeast side of the town there is a long road decorated with old destroyed cars, a chemical powerplant, a rock quarry and hundreds of train tracks. After about 20 minutes of travel by bus down this road, you arive at the village-city of Paranapiacaba. The town was founded when a British company built a railway line to export coffee beans from the area to the sea port at Santos beach. The village-city prospered for 30 years, until automated machinery replaced the need for the trains´s compliacted travel systems.

When the village’s population suddenly declined and many of its buildings were abandoned, the city was left untouched with a lot of cool history sites and camping areas… (see the end for photos, I visited Paranapiacaba today)

In order to preserve the heritage status of Paranapiacaba as a well preserved railway town, the government of Brazil decreed it to be a historic district and initiated further steps to preserve its heritage status and encourage its development as a suburb of São Paulo and to promote tourism. The objective of the project was to preserve the natural, cultural, and industrial heritage and ensure economic progress of the town in particular and the region as a whole.

(I learned all this from the assorted signs throughout the town)

As far as missionary work this week, I taught a ton of cool people and found two really good families that my companion and I are now preparing for baptism. The highlight of this week, though, was when I went to the temple and got to baptise my recent convert Julio for his deceased father and confirm him as well.


The assorted photos I attached are the cemetery,


Me jumping off of a rock bacause it looked cool,


Me sitting in the jungle rocks,


Me drinking water from a fountain at Paranapiacaba,


Me on a bridge


Me with elder McGary (who was another missionary from the Interlagos mission who I met in the mtc),


A church in my city,


and some water I found.



I think this upcoming week I’ll probably have a few baptisms as well!! 🙂

Godspeed and until next time,

Elder Westenhaver

Shopping and Subways

Hi Everybody,

I don’t have much time left so I summarize this week by saying:

We baptized Erick,
York Baptism Erick
Saw a floating cross outside a Catholic church,
York Floating Cross Brazil
Took a picture with some other missionaries and had fun in general.
York Ribero Pires Missionaries

We already have 4 baptisms confirmed for this month so I’m pretty stoked for these upcoming weeks.

This week was kind of difficult because I had a really bad stabbing pain in my foot, but yesterday it went away so that’s good.

In general in this area is pretty nice; it’s very rural so I get to be away from all the commotion that takes place in the city. The area where I am is really more of a county really because there isnt any city-ish area here. Its technically part of Sao Paulo but it’s the last stop on the farthest away train.

The people here work and do whatever normal Brazilian people do.  It has areas that look just like where we used to go camping in Texas and it has areas that look more or less like suburbs. There are a lot of little stores where we can buy food and toilet paper, etc. but there aren’t any Walmarts or anything like I had in my last couple of urban areas.

York Brazil Market
The architecture here is mostly the same as in the city but as a general rule the buildings are larger because there is more space. Air conditioning is relatively nonexistent.

The people often sit in bars and drink all day playing dominoes because the government gives money to the “underprivaledged.” Alhough that term proves a little ambiguous here since every social class here is underprivaledged when compared to the US.

I don’t take public transport very often here becuase its 4 reals (which is the currency here. It’s pronounced kind of like “HAY-eye”) so I can’t really afford it. But we did get to take the subway last week.
Sao Paulo Subway
Tomorow I´m going to the temple so I’m excited for that. Other that that nothing really happened this last week here.
Next week I promise to write more!
Love, West

Welcome to the Jungle (sort of)

This week was the first week in the “jungle.” As demonstrated by the pictures that I´ve sent you, its not really all that jungly all though there is a part my area that actually looks exectly my old scout camp (you know, dirt roads, and cattle, and donkeys, and LOTS of mosquitoes biting you and snakes and rats and stuff like that).

 The weather here in this area is really really hot and humid so that’s a major bummer.  My new ward is a lot bigger than my others with around 200 active members. It’s probably going to split. My area here is the second biggest in the mission so we´ve been doing a LOT of walking.

I have currently about 100 mosquito bites, at about 1000 I think that that statistics are going to start working against me for contracting dengue or yellow fever or something. Luckily I bought the brazilian equivalent of OFF deep woods so I should be fine, I think.
This week I taught a few good people who are preparing to be baptized. Saul and Samuel are two young boys whose father is causing their baptisms to take forever. He’s a returned missionary but he hasn’t been to church in years. He keeps telling us that he want the baptisms to happen next month or next week–some time in the future. Of course he doesn’t really have a reason to delay the baptisms, he’s just bieng a burden so it’s annoying.
Also we have a young boy that were teaching who’s really receptive and I think were probably going to baptise him this upcoming week if everything goes well. Unfortunately he lives really REALLY far away.
This week our house started raining water when when I arrived one night. It was really sketchy because the whole stairway looked like a waterslide and we had to climb up it to get to our rooms to see what the problem was. Turns out the buoy in the water tank reserve above our house broke and the refill mechanism went haywire and overfilled the tank.

Anyway, its all good since the houses are made of brick not wood so there’s no water damage or anything. I attached some pictures of my house and my area and of my new companion. And one of the train station that’s in my area that I used to arrive here in Rio Grande da Serra.
I almost got robbed this week because someone told us to give them our money when we were wandering around late at night. I just walked around them and told them in really bad portuguese “I dont understand you, I dont speak portuguese.” and they didn’t follow us or anything. Must have been some angels protecting us!
Thanks you guys for reading and godspeed,
E. Westenhaver

Humbling Myself

So I loved watching General Conference. It was cool because I got to watch it in English as well. My favorite talk was the one by Elder Oaks in the last session. I don’t know why but everything he said was exactly what I wanted and needed to hear.

I’m being tranferred today to the most jungle-ish part of my mission which everyone says is really cold. I’m being put with somebody named Elder C. which means Elder Butcher in English. But everyone says he’s cool so hopefully we’ll get along.
This conference when President Uchtdorf  talked in the Priesthood session, he said that as you grow older you begin to appreciate the work that your parents did more every day. Nothing has proven truer to me over these past 7 months of the mission.
I never really thought until recently what it must have been like to be in you guys´s positions. I almost have 20 years under my belt and in 5 more I bet I´ll already probably have a kid. Its wierd to think that the parenting era of my life is almost here. I feel extremely overwhelmed already.
Thinking of the stress and all of the work that you must have put into raising us kids in truly incredible. Often times when I was younger I remember running up to my room and fuming to myself about how I thought you guys were bieng unfair and how I was always right… now I understand that you were just doing what you thought was best.
Becuase of the past emotional, spiritual, physical, mental and age disparities between you and me I never really understood you all that well. (adults in general for that matter) But now that I am almost 20 years old and am finally living on my own I’ve begin to truly realize the value of the teachings and help that you´ve left me with.
In particular I remember how you were always so supportive to me in all that I ever wanted to do. You went to all of my shows and sports things. You helped me do my projects for school and pushed me to do my school work. My only regret is that I didnt embrace the advice you gave me to always work hard, especially in high school.
Because of my slacking off and laziness during those 4 years of high school I will not have a scholarship at college and that makes me mad that I didn’t just listen to what you were telling me that whole time. Luckily I plan on applying for scholarships like crazy when I get back so that you guys dont have to break the bank because of my lack of foresight.
Love you!

28 March 2016

So as far as I know they dont have any Easter parades here in brazil. The only type of parade they have here are riots against Dilma, the current President. Last week there were 12 million people at the Paulista rioting the Paulista is kind of the central business district in downtown Sao Paulo). Her approval rating is 6 percent right now…
But as far as Easter,
My Easter was literally featureless. I honestly forgot that it was Easter until the bishop said “happy Easter” at the pulpit. I ate eggs on Easter morning, so that’s kind of Eastery. But I ate eggs every day this week so that makes for a relatively insignificant breakfast on Easter. They don’t have any traditions really here.
Ive been working out again this whole week because we have a pullup bar in our house. So I´m sore as crap… but I gained a pound so maybe I can gain the other 16 pounds back.
Work is going well here. We recieved a reference from someone who wants a Book of Mormon in English… so well see how that goes.
We had high goals for this week but because a few different problems we only baptized one person this week. Dang coffee… But I’m hopeful that they´ll be baptised later on this upcoming month so the momentary delay isnt too frustrating.
York baptism March 2016
This week, the Brazilian equivalent of the FBI killed some drug dealers here in my area so once again… death happened here right on my doorstep.
My companion and the other Brazilians in my house are constantly assuring me that these types of things are very unlikely and that Brazil isnt as rife with murder as it appears. I’m the only common denominator with all these shootings so maybe I just have bad luck…
We have tranfers next week so maybe I´ll leave this area. I guess we´ll have to wait to see what happens. I think its pretty crazy that I have already finished more than a forth of my mission!!
I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite scriptures… Job 28:12-28
 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.  The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It isnot with me.  It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.  It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.
The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold. Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?
Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof. For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:
Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”
Anyway love you and happy Easter!
Elder West

March 21

This week was very rushed, We spent the week preparing our 3 babtisms that are going to happen Easter Sunday. Based on our group of people were teaching I think were probably going to have a lot of baptisms next month.

Yesterday night at about 10 pm we heard a few gunshots down the street and a bunch of people screaming followed by a car speeding away. A few minutes later the person who was shot was rushed to the hospital. (I dont know if they passed away or not)
That makes it the 3rd time that someone has been shot or killed within one mile of my house here on the mission. Luckily we’re missionaries so nobody wants to kill us. But it is kind of sketchy when someone gets shot down the street from your house.
This week I felt really sick and had to return to my house and sleep after lunch all day. it was really awful because when I woke up after 4 hours I felt better but when we got back to the house after we left again I couldnt sleep because I wasn’t tired anymore.
Anyway I’ve offically lost 17 pounds since I arrived on my mission and I’m thinking I should start eating more. We just recieved the money for this week so maybe I’ll go buy something nice.
Love you all and have a great week!!
West ❤

New Area and Vomiting

This week I switched areas and entered the area of Birajara in Piratininga (still part of the Sao Paulo metropolitan area). It’s right next to India’s mission. I can see this famous racetrack that’s in her mission from my zone. My area is much larger than it was in Silvina and there are a lot more sketchy areas (the weed-smoke and poop-smell type of favela) here as well. I found a GOLDEN investgator this week here on my first day. Or rather, he found us through the church website. We went to his house and after the second visit he’d already read more than a third of the Book of Mormon and watched a ton of videos on the church site.

We invited him to be baptized and he said that he wants to learn more, but that every time we teach him it becomes more and more obvious to him that this church is the true one of God.
Also lunch fell through 4 times this week which was annoying but its ok because we managed to find someone else to give us lunch instead 3 of the 4 times. There’s this road in my city that has a ton of trash on it and my first day we were walking there I actually, for the first time in my life, vomited because something smelled so bad. It was like the worst rotting meat ever, mixed with crap and a bid of orchid smell as well (because orchids are truly horrible smelling, I learned that in a members house this week).
My new companion and I worked like crazy and I did more contacts this week than I’ve every done before on the mission. But unfortunately in our zone, we’ve only got rich areas (which are much more to difficult to find people in) and a deep, dark favela (which is a one way ticket to baptizing inactive people) so we’ve had to kick to the curb almost all of the investigators that we found this week.
Wish me luck and godspeed!!

Bye Bye, Silvina

York Azevedo Brazilian Family

This week was my last week in Silvina in Sao Bernardo. Its definately a bitter-sweet departure. My ward here is incredible and we baptized a family here this week that I would really love to help progress in these upcoming weeks. But President’s change of my location is inspired so I’m certain the new missionary soon to arrive here will be an incredible help to Cicilia and her family. The story of how we found them was kind of cool…

Three weeks ago when my companion and I were walking to a lesson, my companion stopped to help a lady carry a heavy grocery bag. We found out as we walked to her house with her that she had spoken with the missionaries 3 years ago and that she really appreciated their message. Unfortunately, do to her drunk, abusive husband the missionaries 3 years ago got cold feet and after 6 weeks of teaching the family they left.
Howevery, Cicilia, the mother of the family, never forgot the message that those two elders taught her. Recently, Cicilia serarated from her husband and when we aided her to carry her bag that day she informed us that she was in the legal process with her lawyer of ending her marriage and that she was in search of a new life.
Over the following 2 weeks we helped her understand God’s love for each of her children and for her as well. She and her son Gustavo completed and lived every “compromisso” we gave them. One day while we were teaching them however, something scary, albeit a little bit funny happened: her 6 year old son jumped out of the window of their aparment during the lesson. (they live on the second floor so it was a 20 foot drop). Miraculously he was unhurt (except for bruises on his feet).
 This last week we prepared them for baptism but they both said they felt unready to be baptized because of past sin and sentiments of inadequacy. Up until the day of their baptisms they said they felt inadequate. But when the moment arrived to put on the white clothes and enter God’s fold arrived, they accepted the invitation and were baptized.
My companion, my zone leaders and I baptised 8 people yesterday and thus I feel that my last week here was great (even if one of our baptisms had to be re-done 5 times because her foot kept coming up).
Anyway this week was solid. I’m looking forward to going to Biraja Piratininga (my new area), also part of Sao Paulo.
God speed and remember to give thanks for the things you have,
Elder West
Ps: the photos are some of the members in my ward in silvina that im leaving and also of the baptisms we had.

York Boy Silvina


York Silvina Ward

18 January 2016


Lunchtime with members!

Hey everyone!

This week was really hard and annoying… that huge family we found heard some false information about the church and now they don’t want anything to do with us. It’s really frustrating but I know that my work will only do a part of the job. When it comes down to it they have to accept the truth as well.
This week I watched a 30 person street fight which was funny and interesting. And funnier still was the fact that probably 25 of the participants were 14 year old girls.
I also remembered that when I was at the hospital with another elder last week (for him not me–don’t worry!), the doctor dropped the tool he was probing the Elder’s mouth with on the floor. Immediately afterward he picked it up and said in portuguese the equivalent of “5 second rule” and kept using the tool to probe the elder’s mouth. lol gross.
Also I sing a lot of opera in my house because I can and it’s free.
This week we did actually have 1 baptism, though. which was cool. A woman got baptised after we tought her the plan of salvation. She said she loved the enphasis on family in Mormonism. Also this upcoming week I have a worldwide broadcast I have to attend which is fun. Also I bought a can of water chestnuts and ate them raw… it was awesome.
I found hazelnut Kit-Kats and I found a Cadbury egg here as well. I bought both even though I dont like Cadbury eggs. It was like re-living family Easter.  Also I’ve learned about 6 or seven Adele songs on the piano on the piano over the past 3 months by chiping away figuring them out on the church piano every p-day (don’t worry, they’re her old songs!) I’m also learning some hymns too.
Anyway I know this weeks report isnt very substantive or fullfilling.
But thats ok, Godspeed and have an incredible day!!
York west

11 January 2016

York Julio Baptism


This week was really lucky, we found a family of 27 (At least I think its 27, maybe 26) people and all of them want to be baptised. only 22 of them are more than 8 years old. We have 8 of them planning on being baptized this upcoming week.

I made a bet with Elder B. in my zone that I can gain more muscle this transfer than he can lose fat (I’m trying to help him lose some weight) so that should be interesting. Today were going to weigh ourselves so we can start it all tomorrow.
Anyway I’m doing well here in brazil and I feel like im making a difference.
Godspeed and love,