Hey everyone! It's going great here in Vila Sônia.
We live with Elder Zenger, who was Chris' companion in the MTC (crazy!) and his companion Elder S. Reis, who is from Manaus. [Editor's note: he's talking about Chris Bratsman, his cousin, who is also on a mission in Brazil - small world!] They're cool guys, Elder Zenger did some DJing and plays the piano a bit, and S. Reis played Dota competitively, plus some WoW :) So I can at least talk to him about that a little haha.
[For emailing home] there's these places called LAN Houses, so there's just a bunch of computers and we pay a little bit to use them for a couple hours. Lots of kids are usually in them, playing video games and such.
So on Tuesday, nothing much out of the ordinary happened, except that we had a zone meeting and the zone shirts came in!
On Thursday, it was weekly planning. After our lunch appointment, the father drove us to our house because it was raining. Which was amazing. I have a whole new respect for cars. It was so much quicker to get home, and we didn't get drenched! Technology these days. :)
On Friday, we taught a new investigator named Emerson, who says that he's curious about the church. So that's a good sign. We're finding a lot of people to teach, which I never thought would happen. It still doesn't really make sense to me how people can hear our preliminary message and then say that yeah, you guys can come to my house sometime to teach my family. It always kinda takes me by surprise.
On Saturday, we had another English class, more fun with Brazilians learning English :) And then another promising (spelling? or does that only look weird to me?) lesson with a couple, Jamil and Claudia. They said that they would get baptized if they received an answer about the Book of Mormon and such, so they have a date set for the 21st! Which makes three so far, since our other investigator, Antonio, wasn't able to attend church yesterday and so we have to push his date back. That lesson was mostly just kinda funny because how often Jamil would interrupt us to go on some long-winded tangent. I've really noticed that whenever we get to the end of the lesson, with our testimonies, or when I'm trying to recount the First Vision, every distraction possible happens. It's kinda interesting and frustrating at the same time. Cell phones, or crying kids, or dogs, or the people themselves interrupting, whatever.
Also, I have discovered something amazing out here. It's called chup-chup, and it's basically otter pops except in the fruit flavors that are common here. And they're usually natural and homemade kinda things, so they're really good on hot days. Or rainy days. They're just good. And cheap too.
And then on Sunday, there were a ton of people at church, which is awesome to see. 93 people, and 25 men. So there were some visitors, but a lot of people from the branch area too. Our branch is really good, the leadership has a lot of faith in me and Elder Richards, from what they've seen of our work. So they've been helping us a lot. And our LMA (ward mission leader) is really cool too. The branch is just missing like 2 or 3 priesthood holders to become a ward, so that's our challenge for this transfer. And we've already got enough lined up, so that's cool :) And another lesson we had was with a guy, standing at his gate, after he said that he didn't want us to get mad but he wasn't really interested in learning about anything other than the Bible. And then at the end he accepted a Restoration pamphlet and a Book of Mormon.
Now, I'll do a section of the random things I wrote down during the week to tell you guys about. So one thing is that there's this really good talk that Elder Holland gave in the Brazil MTC, October 28, 2000, called "The Miracle of a Mission". Apparently, it's kinda hard to find online (or it was) but it's really good.
Also, there's these cars here that go around, driving kinda slow, with the trunks open and a big speaker on top. And they go around advertising...eggs! You can get 45 eggs for 10 reais, or 60 for 15 reais, those are the usual deals. It's just weird, and annoying. Like our ice cream trucks, but eggs instead haha. They play music and everything.
Also, people in the ward are definitely starting to call me Batman, and my companion is Robin. (Hobin, haha) So I guess that'll be a thing for sure.
Also, I just wanted to say again that the laser surgery was an awesome thing. It's so nice just having that one less thing to worry about. Plus I feel like I'd freak out about touching my eyes that much, what with the general state of cleanliness here. So thank you for that :)
And finally, one interesting phenomenon here is the difficulty of telling the bars and the churches apart, if you only hear music. We've genuinely guessed wrong at times. We thought music was coming from a bar, we turn the corner, and it was a church! So that's something different.
As for the beverages, it's usually always juice at the member's houses (cashew [iffy at best, maybe an acquired taste], pineapple, orange, limão are the big ones, sometimes guava). So it's pretty good, although there's never enough. And at home, it's water or we get these frozen packets of natural juice stuff, so we just blend that up with some water and sugar and drink that. It's pretty good, I usually get abacaxi or limão. But they come in 1 kilo bags, so we always have that.
I've been using my umbrella, it's super awesome. I might try the rain jacket when it gets a lot worse, I'm not sure. My shoes and such dry out pretty well, I never have problems with that. As for laundry...we have a washing machine! And even better, Elder Zenger said that EVERY house has a washing machine! Hooray! :) So we just do that, and then there's loads of clotheslines that we hang stuff up on. It's pretty great.
I haven't really been using a lot of sunscreen, just because it rains pretty frequently. There's been...3 hot days probably, and I'm not really burning. Except for the first day, but we won't talk about that :) I'm already getting a pretty noticeable white spot where my watch sits haha.
That's all the really interesting stuff from this week. Lots of walking as usual. But yes, Happy Valentine's Day! And Carneval haha. Apparently it starts this Saturday, for four days or so. So that'll be interesting. And Happy Birthday to you, Mom, one week early. Also, I didn't forget about Dad's birthday, I wrote it on the letter I wrote at the Cabral's house my first day here. I don't know if that got there yet, or how that worked out. But Feliz Aniversario to Dad too :)
Thanks to everyone for the prayers and support. Everything is going great over here, and the time is already starting to go a lot faster.