Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Arrival in Santos!


We welcomed 5 new missionaries to the Brazil Santos Mission yesterday. They received training, were interviewed by President Cabral and had lunch at the Mission House. Transfers were the same day and the missionaries met their trainers and took a taxi out to their new areas. Elder Bratsman will be trained by Elder Richards. He has been assigned to serve in the Vila Sônia Branch of the Praia Grande Stake.
Sister Cabral, Missão Santos - Sempre Fiéis


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Last Letter from the CTM

So after I e-mailed last p-day, we went out and I got some chips (that were a weird cross between sour cream and onion and ramen noodles, somehow), some mint toffee thingies, and a mechanical pencil. We also went to Mr. Cheney's, a dessert place that sells gourmet cookies and (more importantly) milkshakes. I got a triple chocolate cookie shake, and then Elder Keller from my district got a shake. Nobody else got anything, so we still have 70ish reais left, to spend just today haha. They gave me 100 reais to start with, don't worry :) The shake was to die for, it was really good. Also, last Wednesday I finished memorizing D&C 4 in Portuguese. 

Then on Thursday, I wrote in my journal to update you guys that one of the districts that left a week ago left us a 3.3 liter bottle of Guarana :) So that's sitting in our room, and we have some occasionally when we're getting ready for bed. I had to take a cup from the cafeteria, and I put a logo on it. Batman, obviously, since that's who I am around here. I think I did a pretty good job:

And yes I am enjoying the CTM food, especially not having to make any of it haha. And there is AC, pretty much everywhere. Occasionally it doesn't work, but usually it's good. I'm just enjoying it while I have it. 

On Friday, our district got haircuts from the CTM barber. It took maybe 4 minutes, and he used clippers on the sides and used scissors on the top. It didn't actually look that weird. 

On Saturday, it was a normal day. Volleyball for physical activity, good food, and grammar. Except I finished the Jelly Beans, which was sad. I guess I should mention I'm getting fairly good at volleyball, the Brazilians are quite good so it's good practice actually playing as a team, bump set spike and all that. Even though we're not allowed to spike it. I'm definitely one of the tallest ones here, even among the English speakers, so that's fun.

On Sunday, I got randomly picked to talk in sacrament meeting. So I talked about diligence. I also was the pianist, which went pretty well. And there was a devotional recorded from Provo MTC, from Elder Nelson, which was neat. 

On Monday, we were joined by a solo sister, because her two companions were leaving. So now I'm in a trio, which is weird. Also, during physical activity, some of the guys in our zone (6 out of 7) did a plank/pushups session. 1 minute regular plank, 1 minute on just the left arm, 1 minute regular, 1 minute right arm, and 1 more regular. It's awful, and I'm probably going to be sore until I leave the CTM. Then on Tuesday, I played I Need Thee Every Hour in the devotional choir performance, just out of the hymn book. So that was cool. 

And then today we went to the Sao Paulo temple again, except we got back a lot earlier which is nice. So that was my week! 

Four more minutes I guess, he's letting us use a whole hour. Score!! Everything is just going pretty smoothly. Don't worry about me. :) I'm mostly missing music, I think. After you guys, of course. Missing music a lot. 

I've seen a few Brazilians going to Santos, that will be leaving when I do. We leave Tuesday, bright and early. Probably will take a van to Santos, about 2.5 hour drive. So we'll get there before lunch.

Thanks everybody for the letters/e-mails/thoughts/prayers. I am definitely feeling and appreciating them!

Last day in the CTM - with the President and his wife

The district and a couple who work in the office

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Small World

This is Elder Bratsman in the CTM
with Elder Rocha, from Gurupi Brazil

This is Elder Rocha's Branch President,Odirley Santos, in Gurupi

This is Odirley Santos on his baptism day in 1994, with Elder Bratsman!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

CTM - Week 4

So last Thursday, we went to the federal police station, which is like a huge 6-story building (so 7, for you Americans) a ways from the CTM. We went there to get fingerprinted so that we could get Brazilian ID and stay in the country, which would be cool. So when we got there, there was a line that went outside the building for at least a couple blocks, probably more, and there was more line all the way inside up to the fourth floor, which is I think where we went. So that took all morning.

Then on Friday, we went proselyting! So we walked from the CTM to a bus station with one of our instructors, took a bus to the big bus/metro station, and then gave out 4 Books of Mormon per companionship outside the station, since I guess we're not allowed to talk to people about church inside the station. Anyways, it was a pretty bad spot, since everyone was rushing around trying to catch busses and whatnot. It was easier to catch them when they were leaving. But we ran into an inactive member who talked to us for a while, and bought us Guaranas. Which was awesome. And he took a Book of Mormon to give to a friend. Another guy was sitting on the sidewalk, and he definitely looked like he did not want to talk to us. So that was pretty interesting. And then another guy talked to us for a good 25 minutes while we tried to convince him to take one; I'm reasonably sure he was saying that he didn't want to take one if somebody else could use it more and would actually pay for it (I'm not sure if he understood that they were free for anybody). Also, it was super hot the whole time, during actually proselyting and the two bus rides, so that was enjoyable. The whole experience was a little frustrating for me, since I couldn't really understand anyone that well on account of how quickly they talked. I could always say what I wanted to express, but a lot of the time I didn't know how to respond since I couldn't figure out what they were talking about. Oh well, we made it, and that's the only time we're doing it during our CTM stay.

On Saturday, our district committed to not use any English for the entire day (except for asking how to say something in English). It went really well, although the rest of my district was not a fan of it. They like telling jokes and talking to people, so they couldn't really do that too well in just Portuguese. But I liked it, I'll try to get them to do it a lot more. And on Saturday I finally noticed that whenever we were writing in our journals or getting ready for bed, at around 10:15, it's always a solid 86 F in our room. Which is also great. And that's with a fan going. So it goes without saying that I almost always just sleep on top of all the sheets and such.

Then on Sunday, Elder Keller (from the other companionship in our district) and I blessed the sacrament. It was pretty cool doing it in Portuguese. And I still haven't been randomly picked to give a talk in sacrament meeting, so I'm pretty sure it'll be me next week. Also on Sunday, the Guarana machines in the cafeteria ceased to function. So that was a traumatic experience :) Only the Brazilian version of Sprite (can't remember what it's called, sorry) for a whole 4 meals or something, which is 4 too many to not have Guarana with.

Then on Monday, it's worth mentioning that we had CHEESEBURGERS for dinner, with mayo and ketchup and tomatoes. And, during that same dinner, they had the Guarana working again. So that was amazing. But, the burgers still tasted very Brazilian somehow. I can't really explain it. So that was the only meal I've ever gone for seconds on.

Then on Tuesday, the big district in our zone left. They had the only four sisters in our zone, and one of those sisters played the piano for our sacrament meetings. So I guess that's me now. So we said goodbye to most of them Tuesday morning before breakfast. The ones that hadn't left at 4 in the morning anyways. It's pretty crazy to think about, that we've got two weeks left ourselves. I don't know how a month(ish) has gone by already.

And then we went to the temple again today, except it took longer for some reason so we'll have less time outside. But that's alright. I have an actual shopping list this week, and then we have to go to Mr. Cheney's for sure :)

So I said I'd give you my schedule last week, and I totally forgot. So the general schedule is: (I thought about giving it to you in Portuguese, but decided I'd be nice :) we get it in Portuguese)

6:30 - Wake up, shower, get ready, etc.
7:00 - Breakfast
7:30 - Personal study
8:30 - Language study
9:15 - Get ready for physical activity
9:25 - Physical activity (run 5 laps around this weirdly shaped track, and then volei or basquete)
10:10 - Shower and get ready, again
10:45 - TALL (technology assisted language learning), which helps you learn phrases/words/grammar for the missionary lessons
11:30 - Additional study
11:45 - Lunch
12:30 - Additional study
1:30 - Instructor time
4:30 - Dinner
5:20 - Additional study
6:00 - Instructor time
9:00 - Plan
9:30 - Snack
9:45 - Get ready for bed
10:00 - Quiet time, in the dorms
10:30 - Lights out

So I hope that's informative as to what I'm up to. Every Tuesday, there's a devotional, so everything is normal until after dinner, then there's choir practice and the devotional. And Wednesday is P-day, obviously. And I'm not going to bother with Sunday schedule, there's meetings until lunch (at 12:30ish, though) and then free-time, for the most part. And a devotional as well.

Some of the other elders in the other zone are really good at quoting Nacho Libre, so that's been pretty funny :)  And I'm getting in some basketball, so I feel like I'm kinda honoring Curt in a way. :)  Plus his tie, of course. I hope that doesn't make you cry.

That's about it from me this week, I guess a lot of stuff happened actually. Everything's going well for me, though! Love you guys! And thank you for the gift card again, we're going to go blow 50 reais at Cheney's after this :)


Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Well this week has been full of interesting things, I think. I actually brought my journal with me into the computer lab, so hopefully I'll actually be able to remember some stuff. 

We went to the Sao Paulo temple today, so we just got back and had lunch and now we're e-mailing. It felt like home, which was nice, and it didn't even take up too much of our p-day. We had to have headphones to get English, but they had a script for us to read, which was much easier. I got pictures of outside, but inside it looks pretty similar to Phoenix I guess? (Lots of dark wood, just not the agave motif everywhere. More vines.) Oh, and they have a distribution center by the temple, so I got a mini Pregar Meu Evangelho which I'm super stoked for, and a mini Hino book, which is also cool. I used my card for the first time, I haven't really seen anywhere else to use it (or trusted the people there to use it). 

 São Paulo Temple, with Elder Greener (CTM companion)

So I guess it's 2015 now. The night of New Year's was pretty interesting, it was a little more difficult to sleep than usual on account of the fireworks. 

And I can confirm that that Tide To Go pen does work, I managed to get a little grape juice on one of my shirts and it got it off easy. I also got blue pen on two of my shirts, it got the pen out of one of them but not quite out of the other yet, so I'll have to keep working on that. I'm only coughing now, so I feel pretty much better as far as sickness goes. 

And in other news, I've almost got the Brazilian snap-thing down, just not 100% and it's not very loud :) But it's progress. Also, is there any way you guys can send pickles and chips and salsa? For some reason, I've been craving those like crazy this week :) One meal, they had thinly sliced cucumbers as one of the options, so I got a big bowlful and poured vinegar and salt on them, which worked pretty well, but it's not the same. We're going to go shopping this afternoon, so I'll see what I can find anyways. Don't actually try to send those :) Apparently the grocery store has a tube of 10-12 oreos for like 2 reais, which is definitely going to have to happen.

My piano performance for the MTC Conference went really well, I only made the normal amount of mistakes and a few people complimented me on it; I also got a note from the President's wife thanking me for sharing my talent, so that was pretty cool. I think my district is relieved that I don't have to practice piano so much, I feel like it was kinda bothering them haha. Testimony meeting with just our zone was really cool. Most of the district bearing their testimonies in Portuguese or English, it was really neat. And there's lots of spiritual activities.

And I found out this week that one of the elders in our zone, Elder Summers, was born in Cottonwood Hospital too! So that's muito legal. And the other zone is getting ready to leave next week, so somehow it happened that some of the sisters were looking through the wallet pictures you sent with me, and they said that you, Mom, look like a model :) And you're not allowed to cut that out of the blog, that has to go on there. They said that Dad looked young too, just not quite a model :)

The CTM is really empty, all the native Brazilians left on Tuesday (including our cool roommate) and not really many people have come in. Maybe four? So I think we'll probably get more today, but it's weird. In one week, we'll be top dogs here...which is insane. But legal also haha. We have lots of fun, Elder Chastain is super funny. So there's lots to laugh about.

My favorite thing about being on a mission is probably learning the language, I just love thinking that three weeks ago I had no idea what anything meant and now I can teach 4 lessons to investigators in one day, and I can survive on streets and stuff. I just really like learning the language, probably since it comes more easily to me. Or it comes more easily because I really like learning language, not sure which one.

All the missionary-type work is going really well, I memorized the Missionary purpose, the baptismal invitation, and the 1st vision last week, plus our lessons are starting to get a bit less note-based, mostly because I'm sick of writing them out. So we just prepare a little bit and then wing it. Which is okay, because we're up to 3-4 lessons a day now. And we're going proselyting on Friday, out to a bus station or something. Which should be fun. 

And thank you for the packages from Mr. Cheney's, I haven't picked it up yet but I'm excited :) Also, can you guys check and see if my Xbox music subscription is cancelled? I feel like it isn't, so I guess I forgot to do that haha. Whoops. And did Jake ever hear back from McDonald's??

It'll be one more week before you know it, it's going by really fast. For me anyways, not sure about for you. Love you guys!