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.
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…
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.
Zika 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.
So today I will try to send pictures. This computer is really slow at uploading photos though so I cannot send a lot.
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.
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.
Most of the people here do not know how to read, the roads are mud, and there are enough stray dogs to revolt against the human population. I have not taken any pictures of my area since I do not think it wise to take my camera (or anything of value) outside of the house.
Let me explain some funny things about the area. The village is São Marcos, but the city I’m in is called Embu das Artes. My goodness the politicians here would make Congress look on them with disgust. Every corner I turn there is the same face smiling at me, a candidate’s picture. When I first asked Elder Neeves who’s that guy, he simply replied “a robber”. What’s more there is a fleet of cars that drive around the city with giant speakers delivering messages about the “Gentleman of Gentlemen” the “Person of the City” advertising this person. I asked if it was an election year. Apparently they just had it and he just won, but the signs are all new and fresh. It made me think of a scripture 2 Timothy 3:1-7.
They also alternate their churches here. There’s the big Catholic Church at the top of the hill, São Marcos, but there are tons of churches all throughout the village. It goes something like this: you have an evangelical church, then a bar, then an Adventist church, then a bar, and then another bar. Some people we’ve talked to have even explicitly claimed the bar as their church.
We spend a lot of time in the fuvellas. They always smell like a sewer. There are rats running in the street and waste is thrown into the street. When I say street I mean the passageway between the “structures” which is really only wide enough for an Elder Neeves sized person to fit through. Good thing I have been losing weight. Actually when I was in the supermarket today a sister commented that my cheeks are getting a little thinner.
We get fed lunch everyday by members, which is usually rice and beans. Otherwise food is up to us.
I can’t send pictures I have taken yet, there is no sd card slot in this computer, I will have to borrow Elder Herbert’s adapter next week. I can send you these pictures though.