Monday, December 28, 2015

Samambaia - Week 13

Hey Mom! So yeah, I wish we could have talked a lot longer too, it was the shortest hour of my entire life I think. What the heck...anyways, yeah it was awesome! :) It's so fun to see you guys. My Christmas was just beginning, hahaha.

I got 3 packages, plus some stuff from Elder Hesselgesser's mom. She sent me a tie (awesome) and some chocolates. I got the year package and the Xmas package, and one from Cindy Hopkins which I haven't gotten a picture of yet, unfortunately. But they were GREAT!!! I loved them so much! Currently I'm just working on the year package, getting the starbursts/sour bears out of the way. So tasty, good grief :) Anyways, thank you so so so so so much! It was so great, it really made it feel like Christmas. I'm trying to make this last though, although I do have a lot of stuff to get through before I have to move houses again hahaha. So maybe I'll end up getting sick, although it'd be so worth it. So thank you so much!

Christmas morning we went early to Santos for the conference. They fed us a tasty breakfast, then there was the conference part, where Sister and Presidente Cabral talked about some cool stuff, the Christmas symbols and all that. One of the symbols that she taught us was about the Christmas dinner, how it helps to remind us of the Atonement. Because before the dinner, there's all this craziness and mess going on, and everything goes wrong that could possibly go wrong, but then everyone sits down to eat and it's just all perfect, family being together, and all that. And nobody even remembers (too much :) ) about the craziness of the preparation. So that's how the Atonement works. In our lives there's a ton of wrong stuff that goes on and we make a lot of mistakes and such, but then looking back all that's left is the nice dinner with everyone being together and talking and laughing. It cuts out all the little bad details, and just leaves what really matters most.

And then we had lunch, which was incredible! It was darn tasty and super fancy. She spent a lot of money on it...rapaz [boy]...and then after lunch there was the Christmas show! Which various missionaries put together little skits or stuff like that. I would have done a solo, but Sister Cabral cut the show short to not keep us too late. :( Oh well, I accompanied an Elder who was going home on a vocal solo, and I also I participated in our zone's skit. I was a grumpy Christmas tree :) And my companion was the happy tree, always trying to get me to like christmas and stuff and i was always smacking his ornaments off him and talking trash about the Christmas music and stuff, it was pretty funny :D People liked it. And then we went home and opened presents and stuff :) It was pretty cool. Weird to think that it's almost 2016 now...what the heck...and it's the year that I'll be home...aghh. Too weird. But yeah, that was my Christmas!

Anyways, the best parts of Christmas were the Skype and the packages, they were so nice :) And now we're back to work. It's been super hot during the days, but then always rains at like 5ish. We actually went quite a few days without buying umbrellas, so we just always got soaked. But now we bought some super classy (and sturdy, I hope) umbrellas for just 25 reais. So it's better now. But yeah, it's been so stinkin hot. It's miserable most days :) But I'm doing okay! Nothing else major happened, hopefully nothing too crazy happens for New Year's here. Their Xmas fireworks were pathetic, and their idea of celebrating is just getting drunk and playing terrible music really loudly. But whatever, to each their own. I can't wait to have a cold American Christmas next year :)

But anyways, Happy New Year to y'all! :D

Monday, December 21, 2015

Samambaia - Week 12

Alright, I'll try to think of some interesting things to say [when we skype]...I might be speaking a lot of Portuglês, just so you know :) Did I really say wholes [instead of holes]? That's embarrassing...but don't judge me, they sound the same. That's probably something I mess up most on...the words that sound the same but are spelled different. 

Anyways. Jonathan didn't get baptized, he was working on the day that we had planned with him. So now we will probably help him to be a little more excited and do the baptism in the coming weeks, whatever's best for him/the Lord. It's the hardest part probably. You do all this planning for a person, have such high hopes/expectations, and then they just quit for stupid reasons. Probably how God feels a lot of the time, actually. Except He's got an eternal perspective, so He probably handles it a bit better :)

I made the salted caramel cookies for my 1 year, they were the BOMB! :) We didn't end up going to the churrascaria, because we wanted more time to practice piano/violin (we did an awesome thing for the stake choir presentation thing, I'll try to send a video next week or sometime soon), so we just bought pizza, ice cream (floresta negra, da hora! :) [black forest, oh yeah!]) and juice, and then practiced.

The weather has been scorching, it's miserable. Luckily, it rains fairly often, although sometimes that just makes it even more humid.

People celebrate Christmas here normally. I think. There are lights and (American) songs, and Santa and everything. Pretty standard, except it doesn't feel like Christmas because it's so hot.

So, the secretary (sp?) called this last week and said that the Correio nabbed one of my packages and is holding it ransom...for like 700 reais!!!! Which I think is 175 dollars, something like that. So...should I pick it up today? The price will get higher every day, and I have until the 8th of January to get it. Do you guys know which package this might be? is it worth paying 175 to get it? I just don't know, and I don't know what to do about it. If it's worth getting it, could you guys please put more money on my card? :) It can be from my account, I'm okay with using my own money, if it'll be worth it. If I don't get it, they'll send it back to the States I guess. Help! :)

Até Quinta-feira! [Until Thursday!] :D

Monday, December 14, 2015

Samambaia - Week 11

So with the transfer, me and Elder Hesselgesser stayed here! And Elder Medrano from my group is coming to replace Elder Chagas, so we'll be together for our 1 year! :) That's pretty much it though. Although, we are no longer the district leaders! Which is a huge relief. Only zone leaders, which I'm super happy for.

Yeah, thanks for the other shoes :) Yep, I switch shoes after church and then use the sturdy ones for the whole week. Actually, one pair of them has two little wholes in the leather, one where it meets with the rubber and one in the leather (or whatever it is). But it's okay, it's a missionary battle scar! I just can't walk in water any more :D And don't worry, there's plenty of shoe people (can't remember the name) to fix them if they actually start to come apart.

I already emailed Dad about the Skype...let me know! We have one more p-day to email too, so it'll be fine. SO EXCITED! :) Agh!

Alright...I'll try to explain the pics. One of them is SKITTLES! Which arrived in our lovely supermarket! So I've been kinda addicted. They're about 4 reais I think for a package that size, so...1 dollar. I think that's pretty cheap. I'm trying not to buy too many though, hahaha :)

The McDonald's was AMAZING! :) I had an Angus Bacon, and Murilo also bought us Flurries! So I had an M&M one. Everybody knew that I worked there, they asked if it was the same. And it is pretty much the same, except here they sell maracuja juice and grape and mango as well, which is cool. And some other stuff, the Flurries are better here.

And then to try and thank Murilo, I finally made the Snickerdoodles that Grandma/Grandpa sent! I did eat several before, though :) They turned out super tasty actually! I'll make the salted caramel ones soon. But yeah, I only burned about 6-7 of them, because of our stupid oven :( But a lot were left over. Anyways, darn tasty. And Joyce, Murilo's wife, LOVED them! :D Got to love good ol' American cookies. Nothing in this country compares... :)

I think that was really it though for this week. Ah, the assistants did a division with us actually. On Saturday. Which went okay. We were just in a trio. I don't think there was anything else though. So yeah, I'm doing great! I'm going to the Ponto da Motorista after LAN, which is a churrascaria [steak house] :) I'm super excited. So pics will be next week! Anyways, I think that's it for me! :)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Samambaia - Week 10

Just a heads up, this dumb LAN house doesn't let us use USB or anything, so it'll be another drought of pics. Although, you're probably used to that, haha :)

I always get your letters :) I think that I've become famous in the mission for getting so many letters...which is a good thing :) It just means that you're a loving mom! Maybe a little crazy, but that's okay :)

As far as supplies in general, I thought I'd give you an update...I switched to the other shoes (about a month ago, actually). And they're awesome! They're comfortable and super chique [chic] :) I like 'em a lot. Also, I washed my bag, cause it had gotten fairly fedorento [stinky] :) just in the washing machine actually, which happily didn't break anything.

I'm sorry you guys got sick, that's not fun :( I've been pretty healthy actually. There's a thing on the mission...when you work, you don't get sick. If you get sick, it's cause you're not working :) Because the Lord protects us from that kind of thing. So I've been good :)

The biggest blessing this week...I'm not sure. There's been a lot of stuff. I guess it wasn't a super good week, some difficult stuff happened. But we got a rapaz [boy] ready for baptism on Sunday, but he wanted his mom to be there so he'll wait until Saturday. But yeah, in general, it was okay. I guess the biggest blessing would be that. And in general, being with Elder Hesselgesser :) I guess one thing is that I've been sleeping super well. Which is always nice :)

So for Skype, I know that it will either happen on Christmas Eve or the 26th, I'm not sure which. Maybe we have a send me your preference! Because Christmas Day we have a mission conference. So yeah, one day before or after. I'll go to a member's house again, but I'm not sure who. I think there'll be a transfer next week, so I'm hoping I don't get transferred! That'd be lame. But yeah, I'll keep you guys updated on that. I'm so excited :D Only two more weeks! Ish.

So, cool stuff that happened this week...I'm not sure. It was kinda a normal week actually, which was nice. Just more zone leader duties...I opened the pickles and almost died from sheer joy :) Um...not sure what else hahaha. Really nothing of note happened. Sorry haha. We'll have a baptism this week. We're teaching Jonathan, who will get baptized, he was taught by missionaries and almost baptized in Pernambuco, but he moved to good ol' PG right before, so now we get to baptize him! Also, we're teaching Vanderlei, who is an awesome guy. He's an ex-drug-trafficker, but he really wants to change and he's super humble. He's just struggling with Word of Wisdom a little bit. And I think that's pretty much it. We're teaching a lot of people. So yeah, that's my week update.

I had one thing that I wanted to ask the next package, whenever it is. ASAP!!! :) No, just kidding. The sooner, the better though :D I've been doing some cubing, and I've got it down to 35ish seconds on a good run, and sub-30 on a really good one. So I would really like a super nice speed cube :) Also, I would really like it if you could put together all (if possible, I'm not sure) of the MoTab songs where they're singing just the normal hymns from the hymnal. I miss them a lot, and it would be super awesome! I don't know if they're free or anything, but that would be so awesome. Thanks :) Sorry I'm being needy this week, but...what can I say. The Christmas spirit :) Anyways, thank you so much for everything!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Samambaia - Week 9

Sorry I don't have a lot of time today, President had an emergency meeting at 9 in the office this morning, so we got back kinda late. But, for lunch, we ate SUBWAY! Which made everything so much better. I had a subway melt, it was...incredible. Just so good. And also a really good milkshake. So yeah, that was my day today :)

My Thanksgiving was kinda simpler...we bought two tapiocas* from this place close to our house. With pineapple and chocolate, which was pretty good. So we pigged out on that, and that was pretty much it :) Kinda sad, but it was really tasty at least. So yeah, Brazilian Thanksgiving. :)

My Thanksgiving dinner
I had a pretty good week though, not too much happened. We're finding a lot of new people and working hard to train the other missionaries on how to do all the important new stuff. 

But yeah, that's pretty much it!

Me and Elder Hesselgesser, with our matching ties, in front of the church

* like...I'm not sure. They come salty or sweet, so some have chicken or whatever (I got a cheese one the other day), but also with fruits, condensed milk, etc. It's kinda like...a quesadilla...except that it's got a different texture, sorta rubbery almost because it sticks together and it's...I don't know, it's hard to explain. What, Dad didn't know? :) It's good though. I looked it up, and it's a starch extracted from cassava root, whatever that is. So yeah, it's kinda starchy now that I think about it.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Samambaia - Week 8

An adventure this week... let's see... probably just this new way of doing things/new companion who works a lot harder. I feel a lot better and we're getting a lot more done. So that has been both an adventure and a blessing.

Elder Hesselgesser is half Brazilian. His mom is from São Paulo. So that's pretty cool, he pulls off a much better Brazilian look than I do. Although it was super funny, last night we were walking down a street and some teenagers stopped us and started asking us questions. And we both convinced them that we were Brazilians! :D It was so awesome! Definitely a milestone, as far as the language goes. So until today, a small group of teenage girls thinks that I am from the south of Brazil :D Hahahaha, it was great.

Yeah, the Goodmans spoiled me...goodness. I am not doing that well with opening things slowly...hahahaha :) Is that a surprise? The Slim Jims went quick, as did...let's see what else...lifesaver gummies, the skittles are about done, the candy canes (sour, SUPER GOOD btw), and saltwater taffy (which has an excuse because the humidity absolutely slaughters it here). Also, I opened the tie that they sent me, which is AWESOME!!! I wore it to church on Sunday, but forgot to get a picture of it. It's sooo cool though. Really Brazilian Christmasy kinda :) 

Sorry to be kinda short on time. Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope we have some good lunches this week to make up for it, hahaha. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Samambaia - Week 7

Well to start off, I don't have a lot of time. Yesterday was a leadership council, so we didn't get a P-day. Meeting from 9-6:30 at night...goodness. So we didn't get a chance to do anything yesterday, except that I got Grandma Goodman's package. Your guys' package didn't get here yet, but I think that Sister Cabral will actually hide it when it gets here, because she keeps them all until Natal. Er Christmas.

The most important thing I learned at the council was to focus more on the people. It's super easy to get focused in on the little things we do each day and to forget why we do them.

Elder Hesselgesser is from Utah, and I'm loving being his companion! It was super hard for the last 6 months or something to be around missionaries that didn't have super good standards, and so this transfer is a breath of fresh air. We're going to accomplish a lot as zone leaders here, and in general I'm super excited and happy for once :) He's a great Elder. But yeah, in general it's just been awesome. They're changing a lot of stuff in the mission, which will be good também [also]

 But anyways, until next week! I love you guys!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Samambaia - Week 6

First of all, the didn't come through until this morning, which was kinda strange. And it was weird being a leader this time, and having to report it to all the other missionaries. But, all the sisters in the zone stayed in their areas. Since Élder Gouveia went home today (what?!), Élder Santos de Oliveira will come over here to be the companion of Élder Chagas. He's from Brasília, from what I remember. And Élder Carlos got transferred! Which is pretty sad. He's going to Parque das Bandeiras, super close to where I was in Samaritá/Rio Branco. I don't know his companion, so I don't have anything to say about that. He seems pretty...sad for leaving. And Élder Hesselgesser is coming over here to be my fellow LZ! He's obviously an American, which will be a nice change. This transfer should bring lots of changes, anyways! So yeah, that's the transfer! I'm super happy that I'll be in this awesome area for at least my 11-month mark, AND my 1 year mark!! And maybe Christmas too, who knows?? So that'll be awesome, there's so many cool members here.

It was Élder Chagas' birthday yesterday, and so one of the members here, Murilo and his wife Joyce, put together an awesome little party thing for him. So we went over to their house and ate...PANCAKES WITH MAPLE SYRUP!!! It was super awesome, super tasty. Senti muitas saudades :) [I've missed pancakes a lot]

Murilo is a giant, see for yourself. He's huge. Especially for Brazilians. He's so cool though. 

I'm not sure if I've already said this, but all us missionaries are participating in the choir, getting ready for the Christmas presentation or whatever. So I'm playing piano obviously. And yesterday I played piano in the ward. Shall the Youth of Zion Falter? is such a hard song, hahaha :) Or whatever the name is, I'm not sure. Deve Sião Fugir a Luta, hahaha :) But yeah, Jake...get ready...haha :)

This whole week was rainy, and I think it probably rained for about a week and a half probably, but I can't even remember the last sunny day we had here. Today, it's not raining, but still cloudy, so I dunno what'll happen. It's nice though, because it's not scorching hot.

So some cool things that happened this week...first, Layssa got baptized yesterday!!! It was super cool, she was nervous before but then she said afterward that she had just the best feeling in the world, like she was super light and didn't have any weights at all. How cool is that? I got to baptize her, which was super cool. So yeah, it was an awesome experience!

Also, last Wednesday we did a service project with Murilo, the giant. We basically went there to break a bunch of stuff in his house, because he's re-doing it. So I spent the whole morning using a hammer and chisel-thing to break a bunch of tiles from his kitchen and outside area, it was super fun! Kinda nice to have a break and do some physical labor for once. I got cut up in the legs pretty bad from all the flying tiles, but it was awesome! :) Not pretty bad, just minorly actually :)

What else...a lot of this week was just getting Layssa ready for the baptism, and then all the festivities with Élder Gouveia's departure and Élder Chagas'/Sister Anderson's birthdays! Lots of members here had little parties and stuff to celebrate, we had a hard time getting to all of them :) One of them was a surprise party from the seminary kids at the church, there was a huge chocolate cake that was super good, and I challenged Élder Carlos to an eating contest. I managed to eat 6 pieces I think, before I had to stop, and he ate 4, I think. It was super hard to go work after that, I almost died, but it was awesome! :)

Hahaha, I'm not sure if I've gained weight since I got here in paradise :) but I'll try to find out soon. I probably have, we hardly ever go hungry here. And by that, I mean never. There's always something to eat, that the members give us. Super awesome.

And besides from that, I'm not really sure what else happened. This next week should bring lots of exciting stuff. So yeah, thank you guys for everything! Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Samambaia - Week 5

My Halloween was...very fanfare-less. They don't celebrate Halloween here. The only thing is Day of the Dead, which was yesterday, which is why I didn't e-mail yesterday. We had a zone meeting in Vila Sônia and then we spent the whole day at the cemetery there, talking to people about the Plan of Salvation. It was super intimidating, because almost ALL the other churches were there too (giving blessings to people, expulsing demons, etc. normal Igreja Universal stuff), including macumba [black magic]. There was this super big guy from the macumba, with their super sweet white outfits. Pretty freaky, but awesome at the same time. So yeah, it was kind of an interesting day. Just a bunch of churches fighting to have the attention of all the poor people coming to see their loved ones... And then us, trying to leave a message of comfort and teaching the REAL plan of God.  Most of the people were so sick of all the other churches that they didn't give us any attention, but that's how it is here.

We're teaching a pesquisadora [researcher/investigator], Layssa, who's changing a ton of stuff in her life because of what we've taught her, although she's a little afraid of getting baptized. But, she's super cool. Other than that, it's been kinda rough.

And on a side note, I've been speaking a lot of English with Elder Carlos, because he understands super well (he went on an exchange program in the States), and I am having a TON of trouble switching fully to English, I keep adding in a bunch of Portuguese. Which will be pretty funny when I get back/in the Christmas call I think. :)

So yeah, that was pretty much my week! Beijos e abraços! :) [Kisses and hugs!]

Editor's note:  Here is a video that was posted on Facebook - they are saying how great it is to be a missionary.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Samambaia - Week 4

Hm...what happened this thing was, we had a zone conference last Friday. And it was here in Samambaia (thank goodness), so I got to conduct! My first meeting!! It went fine, President just took all of the time and taught some cool stuff and then did interviews with every single one of the missionaries, and then because we were late to a far-away lunch he took us in his sweet car! Which was pretty cool.

We did visit Camilla last week, she's super cool. It's sad that she stopped going to church, nobody was visiting her and when she went, everyone looked at her like she was an alien, just because she uses a wheelchair. But she's super cool, I hope she comes back. general, I'm liking this area a lot. Lots of times we just call members and ask if we can have lunch at their house (which we did today, on p-day), or we go at night to have a cake or something like that. It's awesome.

As far as people we're teaching, there's not too much out of the ordinary. Just normal missionary work for now. Maybe it's just become normal to me, I don't know :) Nothing seems like news anymore. The occasional interview/frantic scramble to have a baptism that week. Which is one bit of news actually, there's been 3 weeks straight where there's been a baptism planned but it fell through, of the other duplas in my district, so that's something we're working on. Aside from that, I don't think anything has been going on.

Since I've been teaching everyone to do the Cube, there's been lots of times that they've gotten right down to the very last part, only like 3 cubelets in the wrong spots (and it took them a good 10 minutes to get to that spot, if they're lucky), and then they mess everything up. And then everyone shouts "Errou!!!!" rolling the R [Missed!!!]. I don't know, maybe it's kinda an inside joke, but it's super funny. Errrrrrrrrrou!!! :D I've also taught them how to play Speed and they love it.

Anyways, I think that's pretty much it for me. Have a stupendous semana!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Samambaia - Week 3

I'll just tell one story kinda quick. This weekend we did divisions with the assistants, Elder Timmons and Elder Maughan. And it was really refreshing, it helped us to fix a lot of stuff that had been needing to get fixed. I had been praying for help recently, and then God sent 2 angels to help us improve :) So it was a huge blessing, now I'm just trying to help everyone to apply the things that they taught, although it seems like everyone else in the house is being Lamans and Lemuels about it :/ But it's a good experience, as always. Anyways, I think that is pretty much it from me! Kinda a standard week, besides that. 

Which of these kids is doing his own thing?



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Samambaia - Week 2

First off, sorry I didn't write this yesterday. It was Children's Day here in Brazil, which is actually a special holiday. So all the LAN Houses were closed. But, it's here now!

Haha, yeah the electricity got turned back on.  Hot showers are incredible.

Good news is, that I DID get your package! :D  It was so funny and made me smile for the whole night. Everything was just so perfect, the Jelly Beans (that's a good way to send over soda ;)  and also other foods that don't exist here, haha) and Poptarts and maple extract and everything was just so perfect. The candy corn went quickly, because I lost my self-control :)  But I'm trying to do better and enjoy it for longer. The other Elders liked the jelly bellies a lot, except for the blueberry flavor. Not sure why they didn't like it, but there you go :)  The Cube is AMAZING! I wasn't sure if it was in Japanese or whatever on purpose, because you guys wanted to give me a rough time, but I made it! That same night, actually, I figured it out :)  It's so fun. The instructions are fairly straightforward, after all :D  I was having a kinda rough day the day that I got it actually, so it made everything a lot brighter.

The hardest thing this week...was going to Santos on Friday to get materials for the zone. Just because it was super hot and we had to bring back 3 boxes (1, I won't complain, because it was for me, but the other 2 were Books of Mormon, super heavy, and other materials). I had to take a cold shower when we got home, because it was so debilitating. But then your package was the biggest blessing :)  It made everything amazing and so much happier. By the way, the Brazilians are addicted to the York patties. They're saying that it's the food of the gods and stuff like that, which is super funny :)

So, stuff that happened this week...nothing much really. We've had two district meetings since the last e-mail, which went fine. Santos on Friday, as I was a pretty normal week though. Saturday my district was supposed to have a bunch of baptisms, but every single one of them ended up falling through, which was kinda sad. Thankfully, the sisters had made a super awesome cake which made up for it :)

Also, Rómulo gave me a job opportunity when I get home.  He's going to do online videos teaching people in English and Portuguese how to do all sorts of things, and he wanted me to help him teach something. He'll just make money from YouTube and ads and stuff like that. Which is tempting, :)  He was super serious though.

But I think that's pretty much it really. I'm getting used to all my responsibilities and all that sort of thing. I hope you didn't have a heart attack when I didn't write yesterday! But next week will be normal, I promise.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Samambaia - Week 1

It's been quite a week. I feel very much older now. Interestingly, a much bigger difference than I felt when I actually turned 19 :) I realized that there's nothing else that I could do in the mission, unless I was an assistant. I'm a zone leader, district leader (because my district is only 3 companionships, including mine and so there's not another one), trainer, and I'm opening an area! Good grief. Something hard that I've had to do in my new roles...probably the interviews. They're only hard depending on the person really. A blessing that I've received is just in general, the ability to actually do all this stuff :)

The move went pretty well with the luggage. I did a little bit better of a job packing/discarding stuff, so with the connector thingy it was pretty easy to move around. And the taxi helped, too :) It was a pretty long way to Samambaia though.

Samambaia has the reputation of one of the best areas of the mission. It has good food, and a really awesome ward. Which is all coming true so far!

The church building in Samambaia

It's been raining lightly/heavily, with a few breaks in between, since I got in this area. Which is pretty nice. I haven't seen the sun in about a week, which is just right for me :) Another thing that I've gotten used to this week was...being without power! Apparently, past Elders hadn't paid a bill from April, and so our electricity got cut on Wednesday. And we have been unsuccessfully trying to get the power company to come and turn it back on, since the mission office paid the bill. But they don't seem to want to do it. Maybe because we have to be home for them to do it, but I don't know. So yeah. There's a lot of things you can't do without power. Can't iron your clothes (luckily my shirts are awesome and No Iron), can't make smoothies, can't reasonably do any planning/writing in diary since it gets dark at 6ish, can't have a hot shower (probably one of the saddest/hardest things about the whole thing, especially since even the sun isn't here to heat the water even the teeniest bit), can't charge the all-important cellphone, and lots of other important things that you don't really think about. So it's probably been about 5 days that we've been without power. I've pretty much figured out the technique to making a cold shower more bearable, which involves a sort of series of small hops and shimmies :D So I'm learning a lot here!

Me in the dark with a candle, to record our epic week-long power outage

So...Monday night, I spent at the office house, with probably like 15 other elders. A bit of a nightmare, especially since my suitcases stayed at the office, and so I had to borrow some pajamas and I did most of my getting-ready in the office bathroom :) Kinda a funny experience.

And then Tuesday was the normal training experience at President's house and at the office. The desserts at President Cabral's house were flippin' sweet. She even gave us another one to take home with us. And then there were chocolate/cookiecrumb-covered grapes on the table too...goodness. I do love training for that reason. :)  So Elder Carlos is from Maceió, which is pretty cool. I'm not sure what ward he's from or anything. But he says that an Elder Bratsman passed close to his ward or something, so maybe he's seen Chris before.

New companion: Elder Carlos

"Mom, I saw this and thought of you."

The view from the mission home

We took a taxi to Samambaia and got there about 6:30, so we put our luggage in the house and went out to work.

So then Wednesday was the mission conference. I had to play 2 normal hymns, the baptism hymn (which made me mad because everyone sang it inappropriately fast and wrongly, which made it sound like I didn't know what I was doing), the mission hymn, which went pretty well actually, and then a special musical number about the Holy Ghost. Which all went pretty well except for Baptism. So yeah, I don't know what Jake's plan is, but if he's going to fess up to being able to play piano on his mission he'd better do some serious practice sight-reading. Like, for real. And that was a really cool mission conference, with an awesome lunch.

"I wasn't bored at the conference, I was concentrating!"

Also, I got Grandma and Grandpa Goodman's box on Wednesday, which was super awesome! I had completely forgotten about circus peanuts! So needless to say, they didn't last long :) I was super happy when I saw the pickles! I have only eaten one so far, I'm trying to ration it out as best I can. It was...breathtaking :)  I tried to even drink a little of the juice, but it was actually too powerful for my unaccustomed taste buds :/ Super salty, hahaha. So good. All the Brazilians almost died from eating little parts :)

Then on Thursday it was planning, which was interesting because we don't know anybody here. And a meeting with the ward mission leader, whose name is Lohan. Kinda like Riders of Rohan, but Lohan :) He's pretty cool.

And then on Friday, it was a normal day. Except for at about 6, the Sisters in my district needed 2 interviews with baptismal candidates. So the first was actually 2 little boys, 9 and 11. Their family is going to get baptized too, but it will be them first. They were super cute, already reading the Book of Mormon and everything. And then the second was a guy named João Batista, or...John the Baptist. Kinda funny. So then after that there was a ward activity where we watched the Testaments with popcorn.

And then on Saturday, Conference! We were able to watch pretty much all of Conference. When we first got to the chapel Saturday afternoon (the sessions are 1-3, 5-7 here), the power was out as well. Which was kind of cruel, considering we left our house hoping to be able to use the chapel to charge our cellphones. But it came back on a little less than an hour in, and so I think I only missed the 1st two talks. And I was able to watch all of it in English, which was really good. There's one American sister in my district, Sister Anderson, from Kentucky. And we're the only Americans in our zone. Luckily, another American Elder from a nearby area came over to our chapel to watch conference, so we were able to do English. I love English! And I love singing with a congregation in English! Haven't gotten to watch the priesthood session yet, because it started at 9 at night, and so I'm not sure when I will. And of COURSE I'm going to start ponderizing! Would you guys want to share the scripture? As in we all do the same one for the week? I think that'd be cool.

And then after the two sessions, I had ANOTHER interview with another guy, Sérgio. And this was the difficult part of my week. He has an incredible love for his own voice, unmatched in any other person that I have ever met in my entire life. If you don't forcefully interrupt him and stop him from talking, he will talk over you and talk until the Second Coming, at that. And you know that I'm super good at pushing my way in and interrupting other people. So the first time I did his interview, I only got up until the 2nd question in an hour and 15 minutes. And then Sunday, he came back and I did another interview with him in between the sessions. Luckily, I was a little more prepared this time, so I did the whole interview in just 45 minutes or something like that.

And then Sunday in the break, we had the baptism of Sérgio, and Rómulo, who was the guy that came up to us and wanted to be baptized. So that was pretty cool.

 So anyways, that was my week!