Returning With Honor

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Apparently I look Brazilian? (Week 1)

Hello from Brazil!

Sao Paulo, LDS Temple
I am having a great time here learning and experiencing wonderful things here in Sao Paulo. I can’t believe that one week has passed by so quickly. The second week seems to look promising as I look ahead at all we will be doing. First, I must say that the food here at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) is beyond amazing! I do not know what I am eating half the time because it is native Brazilian food, but I love it! My companion is Elder Peterson. He is from Dallas, Texas. He is an awesome guy who is super funny and overall just a great guy. I have been enjoying my district. I sadly never get to see Logan because we are in different districts but I love my district. We all have good laughs and help each other out all the time. We are like a mini familia! It is amazing to see how much I learn and how fast I am learning the language. The language is very similar to Spanish so I understand it very well. My teacher kind of doesn’t call on me to read to answer questions and I am okay with that, but I just feel bad because I understand the most and have the easiest time speaking along with a few others in my district, so we will do our best to help those struggling a bit. It is not easy to learn it even though I know Spanish. It helps that I know another Latin language, but I am shocked that I understand and respond to native speakers and the coolest part is that they understand me! Also, they keep thinking I am Brazilian and people start talking to me very fast (which is a bit overwhelming) but so cool! I also got to go to the temple today, and I had a great experience! It is definitely a beautiful temple out here in Sao Paulo. I also have seen all types of insects and bugs here! They are definitely interesting bugs! Missionary work is definitely tough, but so worth it. Some missionaries are getting homesick and are having a tough time, including my companion Elder Peterson. A lot of missionaries here with me have asked me if I am sad or miss home, and I honestly felt like I was soulless when I told them that I don’t really miss home; I just know that I will see you all in two years! Lately, I have been doing my best to inspire Elder Peterson to keep pushing through because he misses his family and I’ve mainly keep things positive. Now, I am not saying it is easy but I feel like I know what I am doing and why I am doing it, and it is to serve the lord and honestly I feel nothing but happiness! I am really thankful for all my parents have done to prepare me for this journey. I am so grateful. Oh! Also, Elder Bushman, Elder Mercado, and the rest of my district says hello and that they love you guys (they are all in my district and I showed them photos of you all) haha.
Overall, I am loving every minute out here and am enjoying my time here. I clearly am still alive and doing amazingly! Feel free to share this with whoever you would like. I love emailing you all so have everyone email me if they want to! I’d love to hear from anyone and everyoneJ I’ll make sure to send pictures once I am out of the MTC since they do not let anyone send photos while in the MTC. So I am going to have to wait until I get out of the MTC to send you all the nice photos I have. Until next week.
-LOVE,

ELDER AREVALO

Missionary Training Center Group Picture

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Watch Out Brazil...Elder Arevalo is Officially in Sao Paulo! (Traveling Week)

Wow! It's been a crazy week. So much has happened to me this past week. I have no idea where to begin. I guess the easiest way will be to start at the very beginning.

Farewell Party
Friends and Family 

On Saturday, September 12, 2015 my family prepared a giant farewell party for me. We invited every person we could think of. We invited family and friends from all over Illinois. It was a great time, especially because we had a taco stand in our backyard. It was pretty awesome because I was able to get an unlimited amount of tacos, and see friends and family that I haven't seen in a long time. I also had a really cool cake that someone made for me that looked like a missionary with my name tag on it! I also had the wonderful Payne family make me the coolest cake pops that looked like mini missionaries. I was not expecting to have any of the cool things I received, and I was definitely not expecting to see all the people I did that day. I was very overwhelmed to see how many people actually took the time to see me. It was great.

Getting Set Apart

Kevin and Logan
On Monday, September 14, 2015 I was officially set apart as a Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 7:00 pm at the Joliet Stake Center in Illinois. I was accompanied by my family members, a few close family friends, and the Stake President, who is President Guymon. He gave such a wonderful talk beforehand to all of us about the importance of my decision to serve a mission, and how blessed my family and I will be because of my choice to serve a mission. My set apart blessing was given by the Stake President himself, along with and accompanied by 11 other special men in my life. As I heard President Guymon speak I was overjoyed and fill with the spirit. I knew that I was making the right choice, and I knew that this was my time to serve the lord. It is definitely a day I will never forget. 

Goodbye at the Airport 
O'Hare Airport Chicago Illinois

Today it is Tuesday, September 15, 2015, and I will be flying out to Brazil today! My first flight is at 2:00 pm to Atlanta, Georgia. I will be flying with a good friend who will also be going to Brazil. His name is Logan. We will not be in the same missions, but we will at least get to be in the MTC at the same time, which is pretty cool. After we fly to Atlanta we will be going on a 9 hour international flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil! I am so excited! You have no idea! I will make sure to say my goodbyes, but I am more than ready to serve the lord with all my mind, might, and strength! 

First E-mail from Sao Paul MTC

Hi Everyone, 
I do not have a lot of time to write today, but I made it to the MTC just fine. I am having a great time. My MTC companion is Elder Peterson. He is from Dallas, Texas. I also sent you a photo of all the missionaries through one of the mothers phones. She was a mom who lived in Atlanta, Georgia and was kind enough to send a photo of ALL OF US at the airport to ALL the parents out there. It was cool to see her ask all the missionaries their mom/dads numbers. Oh by the way my p-day will officially be on Wednesdays, and I will be sending you emails on that day. I have all my luggage, and I am learning Portuguese with one of my roommates who only speaks it. Again, I am having a great time. I love you all. Also, I don't know if I will have time to send a photo but I will do my best! Also, please send me your emails. I will try to send this to everyone but I can't find my contacts on this computer. Thanks so much. I'll talk to you next week. 
-Elder Arevalo
Group of Missionaries in Atlanta Georgia headed to Sao Paulo

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Week in the Be-UTAH-ful Salt Lake City

I came to Utah this past week to not only prepare myself for my mission, but also to prepare myself for when I go to college at the University of Utah when I get back from Brazil.

While I was in Utah I got to stay with my sister who is currently attending the University of Utah. My wonderful sister Amy helped me go from store to store to find exactly what I needed for my mission. We were looking for last minute items that are a bit difficult to find in Illinois or online. One of the items I was searching for were white button up shirts, good quality shoes, and a white suit for my temple duties as a temple worker. We ended up asking around and found this great store that is located in Orem, UT. It is called the “Missionary Mall”. They really had anything and everything you could think of for a missionary! All the workers were very helpful in helping me choose exactly what would best fit for the weather and area of my mission since all the workers were returned missionaries. 
I also got the fun opportunity to experience college classes while I was in Utah. It was Amy’s first week of school and she asked if I wanted to see what it was like. I’m not even sure if it was allowed, but we figured it was the first week, and that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal because each one of her classes had hundreds of people in each class. Amy and I went to her very difficult medical classes. I was so lost and was constantly wondering what was going on most of the time. Either way, I still enjoyed the experience, and even got a cool t-shirt from the University for free! Needless to say college is a whole other level of school and I am excited for the challenge when I get back. 
Another great experience I had was being able to go the Salt Lake City Temple of the LDS Church. It was an AMAZING experience, I loved it! I had the wonderful blessing of having two returned missionaries join me at the temple. They both recently returned from their own missions, and one just got back from Brazil. He knows our family very well and offered to spend the day with me at the temple, and answer any questions I may have about the country and culture. I even got the chance to meet someone who also is going to Brazil on September 16th! We took a picture together at a friends house. It was really cool to meet someone who I will also be seeing at the MTC in Brazil at the same time as me, even though we aren't going to the exact same mission in Brazil it is still really cool to have that special bond with someone going through the same process as I am. 

I am very happy I was able to take this trip to Utah. In my mind, it was like a pre-mission experience since I was in a new location without my parents, and experiencing new things every day! I survived without my mom and dad! This experience reassured me to know that I will be able to survive alone in Brazil. I am very happy I got to spend such precious time with my sister and have so much fun out here. Thanks for reading everyone.
-Kevin
Salt Lake City, Utah Temple

Kevin with Returned Missionaries

Kevin in front of the Salt Lake City Temple
Kevin met someone also going to Brazil at the same time as him