Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Dear Family,
You guys bought a camper?! Awesome! I can't wait to see it when I get back! It sounds like a very nice one, lots of creature comforts.
I'm sending a pretty detailed letter about the CTM snail mail, so I hope you can wait for a couple weeks for it to get there. I tried to add as much detail as I can, and I'll send it off later today.
When I read about Skeelee in the box of dirt, I groaned inside and laughed. That's just like her! She's super smart when she really wants to be. Maybe she just plays dumb for us. :)
All my stuff is in the hand written letter, so I'll let you get the whole experience when it gets there.
I love you all, I pray for you every day. May the Lord watch over and protect all of you.

~Elder Wille

P.S. Dad, I just remembered that I didn't get around to cancelling my credit card. When you have some time, would you be willing to help me with that? The card itself is on one of the middle shelves of the set that you made in my closet. It's the Platinum visa card.

Handwritten Letter

All I can say right now is wow. I'm about halfway through the CTM today, more or less. Time has been flying by! 1/24 is almost over, how crazy is that?? I've really liked it though. They feed us really well, I have to be careful to not gain a ton of food babies. The rest of my district has some odd eating preferences. They have frijoada (bean and pork stew, for anyone wondering) and nobody likes it, except for me. I love it, even with the pieces of bone floating around. They had flan too, or pudim de leite, as the Brasileiros call it. I finished it off for 3 or 4 other Elders in my district. It wasn't even burnt, I thought they were crazy.

I bunk with four other Elders, two in my district, and two in another. And my companion, of course. His name is Elder Meeks, and he's from the suburbs of Chicago, IL. He's pretty cool, but we don't have a lot in common. He's met a handful of people that he knew before, and I haven't met anyone I know yet. The closest is Elder Blair in my district, who went on a date with one of Alicia's friends. He knows a lot of people who know Kelsey and Terra and them, but no close friends in common. Oh well.

We have gym almost every day, and yet another Elder in my district has this workout that is crazy. It's a deck of cards numbered 1-10, 4 sets of those plus eight more 10's. He picks five exercises such as lunges, pull ups, push ups, etc, and we turn a random card over to do that many reps. Next exercise, flip the card, do that many reps, and so on until gym is over or the deck runs out. Or you puke and quit, but luckily that hasn't happened to me. The Elder's name is Elder Eliason, great guy. He's in the Army, as a combat diver. 

It's pretty insane what these guys do. Most are already highly trained soldiers, like Rangers (A-Team Mom!) or Green Berets. They don't stop for pretty much anything. The stories are intense. They're kind of like Navy Seals, but with combat experience and less regard (or even no regard) to physical needs. I say no thanks for me, but map props to those who do it.

So, we're teaching this guy, Alexandre, and we've almost got him baptized. We're sooo close! He's really an instructor posing as a pesquisador (investigator) and he's really funny. I love him to death. He knows when to be serious and work, and that makes him all the better.

Mom and Dad, I heard from a couple people that if you look up my mission on and if it's a pouch mission, postage is free or something like that. Would you be willing to look into that? I think it's something worth checking out. Thanks for all the favors you guys do for me, I really appreciate it!

Today is P-Day, one of the few days that isn't the same routine as the others. We go to the temple and do endowments for the deceased and then we eat lunch when we get back and do the things we need to for the week. Laundry, send e-mails, letters, buy cookies, and whatever else. We usually have from around 1:30 or 2 until 5:00 to get everything done. Mom, that dryer trick for white shirts is so useful, thank you for showing me. It saves so much time.

Other than Sundays, every day is pretty much the same. Breakfast, study for 3 hours, lunch, classes and teaching for 3 hours, dinner, classes and teaching for 3 hours, plan, snack, and bedtime.

We walked around the boundary today to explore a little and try to find this park we heard about. It has chess boards and lots of open space. We found it, and this part of the letter is being written at the park :) We have only been out to eat once, when Irmão Costa took us to the Churrascaria. The CTM asks us to not eat at the local places. I hope to eat at a few more places before I go. Supposedly, São Paulo makes some of the best pizza anywhere, even people from Italy love it, but the places only open at night D: Maybe I'll come back with Dr Pugh and get a chance to try it.

Well, I think that's about it, my life isn't terribly exciting right now. At five we go back in and learn some more, teach Irmão Costa/Alexandre. On the way in, I'll stop at Cheney's across the street, eat a cookie, and mail this letter off. Oh, the Mission Ties place is in the cookie store, Mr. Cheney's Cookies. It's "The Place" to hang out for missionaries. Some Elders' parents buy them stuff from Cheney's. It's kind of funny sometimes all the other Elders oggling a big place of pancakes or a cinnamon roll. I don't have anything more to write, I've exhausted all my experiences. I hope you guys are doing well, everything sounds like it's going just great. I'll leave you with a definition.

Missionary: someone who leaves their family for two years so that others can be with theirs for eternity.

I love and miss you all, and pray for you often.

Love, Elder Wille

P.S. The streets and stores are very much like the ones in Mexico. Graffiti, bright paint, cracked sidewalks, etc. Plus crazy drivers. One last thing. Could you ask Alisha to check her e-mail? Thanks!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Hi Family!
Well, the days are starting to go by really fast now. They're a bit monotonous, and I'm about to the point where I look forward to P-Days and Sundays to keep my sanity. Almost, not quite. :) It's hard to believe I'm 1/3 to 1/2 the way through the training! I've enjoyed it very much. :)
Mom, you asked about how to say the President and his wife's name, it sounds like Dane, or Great Dane. ;) They're really good people, everyone loves them.
I just got over being a little sick, there's a nasty respiratory virus being passed around. Sore throat, cough, etc. It was a challenge to get to sleep, but it's passing now, thank goodness.
We've been teaching some investigators (it's really just instructors acting as ones) and this past week it was so cool. I felt the Spirit even while speaking my rocky Portuguese, and it was so strong! The guys name is Alexandre, played by Irmão Costa, and he's said he'd like to be baptized, but is pretty hesitant.
Already I've had experience with the Gift of Tongues after praying for it, and it was amazing! Things just pop into your head, and you know what you're supposed to say. I love it!
We started getting taught our Portuguese from Day 1, but it was basic stuff that I knew or almost knew, and all I had to do was un-plug the every day language and plug in the Gospel terms. We're about to where I can speak now, but the other Elders haven't had the practice and discipline of a college class and High school years, so they still struggle and look up stuff. It's hard for me as well, especially with my new Brazilian roommates. They talk so fast, and when asked if they could "Fala devagar" (speak slower) he says that he can't. :S It's getting better though, talking with native speakers helps so much.
I hope all is well, I know the Lord is with you guys, I think about you every day. I'll send more detailed letters in Mission Ties where I have all week instead of a half hour. I love all of you!

~Elder Wille

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

One more thing

Hi Family!
Wow, time is starting to get going faster for me! The first few days were super slow, each one really felt like a week. Now they're going about normal speed. :)
We went to the Temple in Campinas today instead of the one in São Paulo. It's a very beautiful and magnificent building, and it was such a neat experience!
Thank you for all your letters! I really enjoy reading them all. Someone says that letters are missionary fuel. :) I have to agree with them.
I found out from someone that in Fortaleza, they don't have black beans, only pinto beans. I'm a little put out about that, but food is food. :) Another guy, Elder Cetraro, says that my Mission President is really laid back and completely awesome. On P-Days, to keep us busy, he lets the missionaries watch Disney movies! I'm so stoked to be out there and work to bring others to Christ. :)
So about Mission Ties, if you could sign up for that, I would really appreciate it. I'm not supposed to email friends, so snail mail is the only other option other than Mission Ties. I can send hand-written letters and specify the email address, and that's super nice. If that's okay with you, would you sign up? Thanks. :)
One more small request, would you be willing to look up Alex Richey's mission address on facebook for me? I'd like to write him now and again. :)
I have to be going now, but let everyone know that I love and miss them, and think about them every night!

~Elder Wille

Temple Visit - Brazil MTC

Dear Family,

We are pleased to be able to send you a picture of your missionary´s recent visit to the Campinas temple.  The morning they enter as a group is a very sacred experience for them, and it is an experience that is always anticipated with much excitement. We know they will treasure this remembrance. 
It is a great honor to serve with each of these fine young people and to watch their growth as they learn more about their sacred calling of a missionary.  We have a great love and respect for each one of them.
Thank you for your support for them.  They love to receive emails and letters from you, and feel of your love.  We know that your family will feel the blessings of their service.


President and Sister Degn

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Handwritten Letter

Photo from

First P-Day

Hi everyone!

So I got a few emails asking for my mission address, I guess that hasn't come yet. They had us write a small letter with information about letters and packages and stuff. I can't remember the address myself, but there is this other great way to write me. It's the Mission Ties thing, and it does cost some money, but I think it's worth is. It's about $1.15 to send a letter from here. :( Dad, could you forward my emails to the family and such?

I'm doing just great, and I'm so glad you guys are already recieving blessings from my serving a mission. I feel blessed because they feed us really well down here. I love most of the CTM's food, and they give you a lot. Do you remember the Guarana soda from Braza Express? They have a fountain drink machine with that in it. :)

I only have 30 minutes in the lab to write, so I have to be fast. Today was my first P-Day, and it was great! We went with one of our instructors to a Churrascoria, the real Tucanos in Brazil. :D it was fabulous, but they didn't have the grilled pineapple.
My companion is from Illinios, and he's a great guy. We have our rough areas, but I think everyone does. He's doing very well on the language. Nobody in my district knew any Portuguese when we first came down, and only a couple took any Spanish. The class I took was a great investment. I also had Brazilian Roommates that left for their areas this morning. They're great guys, all of them were super funny. I got pictures of most of them, plus a few neighbors. :) I'll send them as soon as I can. They won't let me send pictures through here, but Mission Ties will let me, with a package that is not the most basic one, or something like that.

I was wondering if you could do me a favor. Terra gave me a letter and didn't have any of her information. Could you email me her address and email address so I can write to her? Thanks.

Well, that's about it. I'm using my Portuguese a lot, and I can understand most Americans who speak it. Brazilians are a whole different story. I hope you guys are doing okay without me, and I'm sorry I can't reply to each of your emails, but I really appreciate them. I have to go now, but I want you to know that I love you guys very much! I'll be back in no time with a sweet accent. :)

~Elder Wille

P.S. What is the CTM's elevation?