It was a Dark and Stormy Night…

It really was when the event occurred that is the highlight of this week’s letter. But more on that later.

If ever there was a missionary that could be more opposite than Elder Neves he has yet to be met, but Elder R. Santos is certainly opposite. He comes from the northern part of Brazil, his state is the equivalent of Texas and does not speak even a little English. He has six months in the mission and has been in this area for 3 transfers now. We get along fabulously! We have a house here and it is quite big. At one time it housed 7 elders, almost barrack-like, now there are only 4 of us. Good space for us.

Had a baptism, will send pictures. The older brother, a recent convert did the ordinance. I forgot my [SD]card at the house as I am far from the house now. I have to get my foot fixed finally.

Today I found that my companion and I are among the six companionships featured in the President’s weekly email for hitting the 3 standards of gold as they are called. These include lessons taught, progressing investigators, and at least one baptism every week. Excellent. Let’s do better next week.

For whatever reason I cannot seem to stop losing weight. It is getting annoying trying to keep my pants up as my belt is a little large now. I think I found the problem, I keep drinking the tap water. I realize this is maybe the cause, but darn it, I will not be limited. I will make my body used to this water!

I am now in 3 Nephi in the Portuguese copy of the Book of Mormon. I will finish it in the upcoming month!

Now onto the cool experience this week. It was Thursday, it was a rainy, stormy, Thursday. Tired and exhausted we made our way to our next appointment. Antonio was a street contact we made the day before. As house numbers here are garbage (you could have 456 next to 23 followed by 79, no joke) we were having some difficultly locating his house. Then we found it. We called. As he approached the gate he told us he was a bit busy and his house was a mess, so he was hesitant to admit us. But with some persistence he let us through the gate. Upon arriving at the house we saw what he was busy about. His door was broken into many pieces and the inside of his two room house was slightly flooded. As it was a concrete floor little problem. But there was also clothes thrown everywhere as well as broken dishes. So what happened? He had arrived home from work 2 hours before and found that someone had broken into his home and searched it for money, which he doesn’t have. As one could see all the food in his house is bean and rice, the cheapest food in Brazil. He was in the process of rebuilding his door, partially with the ruins of the old door and pieces of furniture he was tearing off from his chairs and the like. After about 2 hours of work the door was complete and the wind and rain was shut out of his house. Under the light of the single light bulb that lights his house, we shared with him the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is on date for baptism this week and you could see the light in his eyes as we visit this old maintenance worker far from any family.

What else could one say that would close a letter better than that? I love you all, and miss you all, but I know that this work here misses everyone involved. Investigators, me, and you my family.

An Elder without a Home

No one will get the reference I am making in this subject line, because nobody remembers random facts about literature from AP American History.

Okay so just as the subject line says I am yet again being transferred for my third area in less than two months in the field. I have not yet travelled to my new area, that is tomorrow, but I know my new area is Figueira Grande in the Guarapiranga zone. Elder Neves and I said good-bye today he flies home tomorrow. No baptism again this week. Got tough on us, but we found some really cool people who we could teach, and I now pass them on to Elder Malca who will take over our area. Roberto and his wife Ivone were a reference from a member, and they are really cool. They accepted the Book of Mormon quite readily. They don’t have a specific religion that they follow but they believe in a lot of things that normal investigators don’t understand yet. Roberto is pretty deep into Freemasonry, so it was odd talking with him.
All better and my appetite is back. Although my appetite is still not acceptable to my companion who tells everyone that I do not eat enough. I eat at least 2 helpings! Then I am full. Sigh. Oh well at least I’m not becoming fat. Walking a lot helps with that. Walking everywhere actually helps with that.
I have started my personal record of my mission money, now that the money system here is easy to remember for me as to the value of things. I forgot to say last week the most important thing you can buy with R$1, Salgados. Salgados are like meat and cheese pasties, and one coxinha (spelling?) usually murders my hunger sufficiently. They are also a great measure of the economic status of an area. The average price around São Paulo, or at least the areas I’ve worked in is R$1, but in Parque Luiza they were R$0.50 and in Santo Amaro, by the office they go for R$3. Excellent gauge of economic conditions. I have resolved to not buy any over R$1 because I can walk a few blocks in any direction and get into an area for R$1, it is actually one of the ways I help mentally map out areas.
I was essentially senior companion this past week because my companion was out a lot for preparing to leave, interviews, temple, etc. So I had a member with me during the day and I had to plan out our entire day and navigate the area. It was hard, because for the past few weeks when I asked how we did something the usual response was, “you don’t need to worry about that, I’ll take care of it”. Well I learn exceptionally well on the fly. It was kind of like when they told me at Sears that I would be manning the entire department alone on my second day in tools.
Always take an umbrella has been my lesson this week. It is the best way to make certain that it will not rain that day. Reading Portuguese easily now without problems, in the middle of Helaman right now in the Book of Mormon, and I can carry a conversation easily in Portuguese, so long as they don’t use slang. The problem is everyone uses slang.
The coolest thing I encountered is Book of Mormon names are common here in Brazil among non-members. For example, Elder Oliveira is a convert to the church, he joined the church when he was 18 and his parents did not know the church. His first name is Pahoran. When he read the Book of Mormon he asked his father where they got his name, they told him it was an indian name. Super cool.
Hope all is well at home. Love you all!

Twice the Pride, Double the Fall

Yes I made the Subject of this week’s email a quote from a Sith Lord (Count Dooku to be exact, although he wasn’t all that bad when you take everything into consideration, but I digress)

So we had multi-zone training this week. We were given some information about the Zika Virus. It is big in Recife Brazil, which is about the distance from Manassas to the middle of Nebraska, from us. It also is especially dangerous to pregnant women. It is carried by mosquitoes, and there are actually hardly any mosquitoes here in the city because the military wages an active campaign against them (it is quite hilarious, almost like the Great Emu War the British Empire fought in Austrailia). All this in mind I proudly claimed that I was “immune to all diseases”.
Well Brazil just had to prove me wrong.
The day afterwards I became super sick. As did essentially half the mission. We are not quite sure what it was, although my bets are down on the chili. Elder Neves, vegetarian that he is, did not eat the chili, so he didn’t get sick. So we did divisions with members.  A member stayed in the house with me Friday and Saturday  while I tried to sleep. Another made visits with Elder Neves.
It was really hard. I hated being in bed, unable to eat or drink anything and keep it in my body. Saturday evening my body finally allowed me to eat one orange and one carrot. I still haven’t returned to full eating capacity yet though. No longer sick, but I do believe my stomach has shrunk. You would have never believed that eating enough at meals would be a problem with me but Elder Neves says I don’t eat a lot. Even though I leave every meal full.
While I was lying in bed I was wondering why I got sick. I thought that if I had enough faith I would not get sick. I had received a blessing, I was a missionary of the Lord, I was working my best and being obedient. Why did this happen. I got super discouraged and the temptation to want to return home was so strong.
Saturday afternoon, when I could sleep no more, I was studying about faith in the book Drawing on the Powers of Heaven by Grant Von Harrison. President Dalton gave us all this book. I was reading a chapter about how our faith will be tested and tried before miracles occur. And it gave me a little more insight on my predicament. I am a soldier of the Lord, so of course the adversary will use every weapon to try and stop me, yes even bad chili. But the purposes of our trials are to prove that we are strong in our committments, to purge us of all uncleaniliness (Humour for Dad: I certainly am now), and to strengthen our faith.
I am glad for this opportunity to learn. Unfortunately a lot of other missionaries are still sick, but I know they will get better.
Got to confirm Caio this week. Here are pictures from his Baptism. His sister is standing next to him.
SAM_0162
We had no baptisms yesterday due to some adversity, but I will work harder to overcome them.
I love you guys and I hope everything is well with you guys.
Tim sent me an email today subject line “Snow” with just a picture of the backyard. It was great. I sent him replies. He has yet to respond. Audrey should write me more emails as I love receiving them and try to write back. I’ve been trying to send this letter for her for forever, but it is really hard when we don’t have a post office nearby. Whenever I have a meeting in Santo Amaro we either have an appointment right after, or in the case of this week, it was closed…

Be well!

QUESTION: why do you wear your name tag on the right lapel? It seems as though it should be on your left lapel. Is that a mission thing? Lots of missions make a big deal of it being  on the left lapel.

ANSWER: In the CTM they told us to wear it on the Right lapel so that when we shake hands our name tag is forward. But I get 50/50 comments on it. So I switch each time.

QUESTION: How was Carnival?
ANSWER: Carnival was quiet here too. Although that might have something to do with a police presence that would make the locusts of egypt jealous. It was Beautiful.
QUESTION: What does the money look like?
ANSWER: Here are some coins we use each day. Elder Neves thinks Americans are crazy for collecting coins.SAM_0173
SAM_0176 SAM_0174 SAM_0172

What’s a Zika Virus?

ZikaVirusZika virus? What is that? This is the first time I’m hearing about it. Well not true, it is graffitied on some walls, but I thought  it was a name, or a gang. So no I have not heard anything about the Zika virus.

Meat. Ha! The meat in the restaurants in the states is SOOOOO expensive. It’s rice and beans every day here. I’ve taken to preparing pasta for myself, but it is very simple no tomato sauce, just a light olive oil dressing. When we do get meat, it is either chicken, or if they really want to treat us, sausage. This area is still poor, and much bigger than the last area. But instead of a ton of bars they have an even bigger number of beauty salons.

The area is safer because there is a much bigger police presence here. And the police do not mess around here. Elder Neves doesn’t like or trust the police. The civil police are not as heavily armed, but it is the military police that are the big boys, and there are tons of them. The other day I saw a group of the military police patrolling the train station just carrying their assault rifles out and around. Last night, I saw something that would never happen in the states. We were waiting at a bus stop and two guys walked past us. When they got about 15 feet away a military police vehicle (they all drive at least SUVs here) pulled up alongside them and a police man pointed his gun at them from inside the car and told them to get up against the wall. All four police in the vehicle exited and proceeded to search them, two kept a watch out with assault rifles.

Speaking of the States, thank you for the update. I’ve taken to singing all three verses of the Star Spangled Banner each morning to remind me that I am an American. Elder Neves and the other Brazilians don’t understand patriotism.

Had a baptism this week! Caio! I will send pictures next week; my adaptor for some reason is not working. It was great though, and he’s helping us teach others now and prepare them for baptism. He will be a good missionary.

Funny you should mention me speaking with natives. My first week here I met a Brazilian who spoke really good English. He explained to me that he lived in Virginia when he was younger and started talking about his genealogy. He claims descendance from the Linton Family and could describe the cemetery to me very well. He was happy when I told him about my Eagle project. It was so cool!

My Portuguese is really good. My accent is still very strong though. Most people I can understand unless they are from the South, they speak Portuguese with a German accent.

All is well. We’re looking at a successful week ahead and we just keep going. Jacob is doing well in the CTM and is very happy.

Love you all do not worry and be happy!

Something about Vegetarianism

 

Happy P-Day,

So today I will try to send pictures. This computer is really slow at uploading photos though so I cannot send a lot.

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Much more settled this week. We had torrential rain that turned the roads into waist high rivers. I made sure to wash my feet a lot after that. My week has been good, lots of work. We taught a lot and have two people on date for baptism this week. We brought six investigators to the chapel this Sunday and they were wonderfully received.

As for allowance… that is an interesting topic for you to bring up. We receive R$ 160 every 15 days. And for two weeks I have been averaging R$20 for groceries for two weeks.  I have been eating vegetarian for the last week (it is horrifying). The members have not been able to receive us for meals and have instead just been giving us money.  I think I need to buy myself some meat today, even if it is only spam. So I have been eating well, but I will eat better this week. I am eating healthy though, I have actually lost a ton of weight since I got here, that and I drink 10-12 liters of water each day.

On the matter of my feet. They don’t really blister anymore, I noticed two days ago they have become leathery and hard. My shoes are still going strong, really I haven’t noticed much wear on them yet (knock on wood).

Oh what else can I say? I can now read the Book of Mormon in Portuguese with little problem. But when I speak people can tell right away I am not Brazilian. Apparently I have an accent.
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I hope all is well with you guys at home. The checkerboard house was our last house in São Marcos. The view is from our temporary apartment here in Campo de Fora. And the other is to show how much I’ve tanned in 3 weeks.

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Love you all. Thanks for the picture.