Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Feliz Ano Novo

I don't know if I should tell you this, but I am sick :) which is cool. I've been getting a solid 8 hours every night, and I feel like I haven't slept for two days. I'm currently working on trying to find the meds you packed, I'll get to it sooner or later. Thank goodness for those handkerchiefs.  But yeah, it was a good week and the food seems familiar sometimes. We had feijoada the other day and it was similar, but better :)  no offense to mom.

On a side note, one of the shops we went into today had really nice notebooks, with awesome designs on the front (video games and cars) and they were only 10-12 reais. I was very tempted to get one, just to use when I get back home haha. Like AC4, D3, The Order 1886(? Can you ask jake about that one?) and other really cool stuff. So that made me homesick a little haha. The pricing just does not make sense to me.

So, I'll try to get you my schedule sometime soon, maybe this e-mail session, maybe not. I don't really know what else to update you on, everything is just normal now. Some new elders arrived today, one from Scotland (really heavy accent), one from New Zealand, and one from California. They seem pretty cool, they're in our zone but they're just a trio by themselves. My companion is starting to get the hang of the language more, so that's better in our lessons. And he said a massive thank you for the card you sent him :) None of them have gotten any snail mail yet. But yeah, everything is going fine. We're already in our third week at the CTM. The days are long, but the weeks go by fast. So I don't know how that works out. Um...there's really nothing else. We're up to two investigators a day, plus a recorded lesson on Mondays and Thursdays. Our first recorded one was this past Monday, it was pretty painful; we hadn't quite planned everything out, and I forgot to take my PME with me, so I didn't really have the vocab/frases to ad-lib stuff that well. But whatever, can't wait to do that again.

Time's up. Love you guys! It was really fun to talk to you, don't worry about me at all :) Oh, and I am Elder Batman to more than a few people :)  Feliz ano novo :)


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve

Hey, it's P Day :)  Actually, one Sister Hale just took our passports and documents. She runs the missionary help desk and some other stuff. So, I guess that'll get figured out sometime.

I spent 25 reais today, and I got a cool tie, a couple pounds of candy, and a tray of brigadeiros. So some stuff is super cheap here. You can get ties for 5$-7$ here, and they're super nice. The same stall had watches for 15-30 reais, which is ridiculous. But some stuff is way overpriced, it's weird.

The meals are amazing...there's a soda dispenser, and a juice dispenser, so we can have cashew, pineapple, mango, tangerine, orange, maracuja, and grape juice, or GUARANA (I try to limit myself to three cups per meal, and not on breakfast :) ) or Sukita (which is just orange soda apparently) or a Sprite type thing that I can't remember what the name of it is. But yeah, so I've had a ton of guarana recently :)

The meals are really good, there's all sorts of different things every day, and I don't know what any of them are usually. Like today was some smallish ribs and a chicken-y thing, with pineapple covered in this bread crumb-esque stuff. Weird, but good. And there's always a dessert, some sort of jello or pudding stuff. They've had maracuja pudding a couple times, it's really good. And there's always beans and rice, and some lettuce with no dressing, and other stuff, but usually just the main stuff is fine for me.

Today we spent an hour or so walking around the CTM just taking pictures of stuff, so I think we're set for that. But there's no way to hook my camera to the PC (as in we're not allowed) so any pictures may have to wait until February. I'll see.

And I can have a conversation in Portuguese now, they had us teach a lesson to an investigator (an actor) on Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday, and Monday :)  So they throw us right into the frying pan :)

But today we left the CTM around 8:45, and just walked around looking at everything. We went in a grocery store, which felt pretty familiar except for a lot of things being different. They have nutella though haha. I didn't get anything, but when the other elders (the other three in my district) got in line and got up to the cashier, she said something and pointed up, and lo and behold, there was a sign saying in Portuguese that that line was for pregnant women and the disabled. So that was pretty funny.

We also passed by a churrasceria (that's how it was spelled, I promise) and several pizza places? And some small restauranty things, that were all open and not very big at all. I saw one that sold X-burgers, and another had a rotisserie, and some other stuff. [editor's note - X is pronounced "sheez" in Portuguese]

And right across from the CTM there's a dessert place that sells cookies, milkshakes, brownies, all kinds of stuff. And they do a service that hopefully you'll find out about soon, if you haven't already. So they gave us a free cookie since it was our first p-day, and we finally got to take off the blue dots that they had on our nametags to label us as noobs. So I guess we're official now?

Also, tomorrow I'm calling you guys at 1:30-2:00 tomorrow, so be ready for that :)  Tonight, there's a first presidency devotional and a sorvete buffet or something, and tomorrow there's another sorvete buffet and movies (Mr. Kruger's Christmas and Meet the Mormons, to name a couple) and popcorn and ping pong and stuff. So it should be fun.

We don't have to teach lessons today or tomorrow, and we didn't do one yesterday, so our next one is Friday, and we're getting another investigator. So we'll have two...which is fun. But yeah, for teaching the lessons, we go to a room on the ground floor, and knock on a door and everything, and a guy answers it and we go in and have a little conversation, and then pray, and then teach him and answer his questions, and then pray again, and set our next appointment, and then leave. All in Portuguese. It's pretty intense, but it's coming pretty easily. In the lessons anyways, not out in the hallways or whatever. The gift of tongues is real, for sure. It's hard to have conversations with other Brazilians, but in the lessons I understand everything a lot better. It's weird.

Um...a ton has happened but it's hard to think of it all. Basically, it's going well. We did laundry on Monday and that went okay, and I haven't had to iron anything yet. It's crazy how sleeping from 10:30 to 6:30 genuinely isn't enough, we're always super tired when we get up. But yeah, everything is going swimmingly.

Oh, normally on P-days we would go to the temple, and get up an hour earlier and stuff, but it was closed obviously so we didn't go. Which was okay, because we wouldn't have gotten to go to any shops in the afternoon seeing as they're all closed. So it worked out. I still have ten minutes left, they were a little more generous with the time today. Not much though. So I'll talk to you tomorrow, please pick up the phone!
Elder Bratsman

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

First Contact from Brazil

Hi, I made it :)  So the flights weren't bad. On the second flight it was a 767, so when I was in seat 23D, that actually meant that I was in the middle, because it was 2 seats, aisle, 3 seats, aisle, 2 seats. So that was fun. And it wouldn't have been so bad if I was allowed to watch movies; there were a ton of free and recent movies to watch. But oh well. I kinda just sat there and nodded off occasionally. So I'm pretty tired today. 

Also, as a side note, they're trying to set up a system through Provo for us to call you guys :D  So that would happen on Christmas Day, from 1:30-2:00 my time. So 10:30-11:00 for you guys. They said they hope it works. 

My companion is Elder Greener, from Australia. So he had an 11-hour flight to Dubai, and then a 15-hour flight to here. So I feel less sorry for myself. And sorry this is such a wall of text, there's literally a red countdown staring me in the face as I write this.  Today, we got half an hour to e-mail, I think normally it's an hour.

Um...not sure what else there is to say. I'm dreading getting repacked. There's two other missionaries in our dorm room, but they only gave us three bags of bedding at first. So I think I might have to ask about that, or just use my own. Not sure. 

I felt a ton better after I started walking on the jetway to get on the plane to Atlanta. And it's really cool here in Brazil, there's a lot of motorcycles splitting lanes at high speeds and tapping on the sides of vehicles they pass by, or just constantly honking. I bet Dad misses it. The airport was pretty straightforward, there were eight other elders and one sister on my flight, so we all went together through customs and the immigration stuff, which was pretty fast since there weren't hardly any other non-Brazilians, and they segregated us off. 

13 minutes left :/  Can you believe we get to talk on Christmas (fingers crossed)? And then after we went through customs, people exchanged money at a booth, and I think that the commission they took was pretty big since they wouldn't exchange 15 USD, because they wouldn't be able to give the elder back anything. But people were exchanging 200 USD, or around there, so I don't really know if I have enough. I hung on to that $20, since I figured I'd only get 10 reales or something. If that's how you spell it. 

With our group of elders, there's a few that got delayed on their visas, so I think one guy's been out already for 10 months or something? And stuff like that. Which is a little intimidating because one of the elders can already hold a conversation, and he's supposed to be new -.-  But whatever. 

As far as unpacking, I'm kinda just leaving my shirts in those eBags? Because there's no hangers, so the two that you packed were a good idea. At least I can hang my suits and suit pants up. Although I can't really find my second navy suit pants, I figure they're in the bundle, which I haven't undone. I just stuck it in a drawer. 

8 minutes. Also, these computers are pretty ancient. They're XP, and it seems like we're pretty locked down as to where we can go as far as websites. So I don't know if OneDrive is going to be an option, I guess it will be when I get out of the CTM. But maybe just e-mailing pictures for now. I haven't taken any yet, so you have to wait on that. 

But the center seems really nice, lots of tile everywhere and it's clean. Anyways, I think that's it for me for now, 5 minutes left and counting. I wonder if you'll cut this up into recognizable paragraphs to put on the blog, or just splurge it on there? I'll probably be able to organize it better when I have more time, sorry. 

So...I'll let you know how I'm doing soon. But don't worry about me, I'm doing just fine. It seems like they'll take pretty good care of us here. And yes, both the planes had delays. So that was fun.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

And he's off

Everything but the kitchen sink in three little bags

Our last family photo in front of the airport Christmas tree

He didn't even look back!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Official

Michael was officially set apart today as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We had a nice talk with the stake president, and he gave Michael a beautiful blessing with many great promises for his future.