Monday, April 27, 2015

Vila Sônia - Week 13

I got a chance to weigh myself last P-day, and I weighed 66 kilos! Or something like that. Which is 145 for you Americans. So...nothing's really changed! I guess that's good news, because I always end up eating a ton at lunch. Mostly because Elder S. Reis likes to put a LOT of food on my plate when I ask for just a little more, so then I just end up eating it all. That, and the food is always really good. Yesterday, the daughter-in-law of the branch president made RIBS. That's right. With french fries and rice and salad. It was incredible. So yeah, I'm eating well here. Quality and quantity :) Also, my peanut butter is kinda almost gone, which is a sad thought. I guess I'll just have to start eating straight Nutella sandwiches :) Just kidding, I'll think of something else to have for dinner. Thank you so much for that by the way. It was a huge blessing to have some nice comforting peanut butter sandwiches after some long days. 

One kinda funny thing, I don't know if you know the P!nk song where she's singing that love song with the other guy (something with "we can learn to love again"). Anyways, we were walking one day, and we heard a Brazilian cover of that. I don't know, some Brazilian guy singing it (or singing something to the same tune, I'm not sure. I still haven't managed to understand songs that well) accompanied by Brazilian-sounding instruments. It was hilarious, and a LOT better than the original. Just thought you should know. Probably one of the better songs I've heard here, not counting the non-Brazilian music. 

Another thing, this past week I did the announcing thing on the Ônibus. Just stood in front of everyone and introduced who we were and what we had to share and then said we'd pass by each one of them and ask if they'd like to learn more. I didn't yell, I just talked loud. One of my strong points, you know :) It was pretty cool, I wasn't scared or anything. Just did it. So that was cool. 

Also, we've been teaching English class (really, a Brazilian from the branch teaches, and we just help to teach pronunciation) which has been cool. Also taught seminary again, but this time on zero notice. It was good though.

The other Elder with us two is Elder Ochoa, he's one of our zone leaders/district leaders. He's from Ecuador, and he's kinda short but muscly (sp? not even gonna try on that one) since he boxed a lot I guess. He's really funny.

And another story (not actually mine, but I'll tell it anyways), this week Elder Lindsey was dying some of his PJ's a different color (his scrubs, actually), and so they were sitting in this concrete sink outside where our washing machine also drains. So the sink was full of blue dye-water, and he had also put a load of his whites into the washing machine. ALL of his whites. And so, when the machine needed to drain, the sink was already full, and so I guess it sucked a fair bit of the blue water back into the machine, dying all of his whites a nice light blue :) Which was pretty shocking. Luckily, Irmã Barbara is a miracle worker, and she managed to get all of the whites back to normal. It was incredible. We think she did some magic or something, because they were just back to how they were, maybe even whiter. So that's another blessing that she has been to us, added on to the long list :) 

Also, the Brazilian Elders talked about a candy here called Kryptonita or something, which is apparently super sour and impossible to eat without making a face, blah blah blah :) I can't wait to get some, it'll be awesome. 

On Sunday, we had Rogério come to church, plus Diego and Iago (the son and grandson of Josefa, the "wife" of Gilson. I think I've already talked about them). They're really good kids, especially Iago. He's always talking to us whenever we're over that way, and he offers to get us water/juice from his family's little snack business they have going on. Elder Lindsey gave him a CTR ring, which he was thrilled about :) Just a really good kid. It'll be sad if they don't get baptized, eventually. 

As far as Valéria, we weren't able to give her a blessing. We actually haven't had a real lesson with them for almost two weeks, since they've been gone to São Paulo a lot and stuff. Hopefully that changes tonight, and I hope that it's only because they've been busy and not because they lost interest or anything.

And, last one, Saturday morning when we showed up at English class, on the intersection right by the church there was this burned-out car just sitting in the middle of the road, with a couple cops investigating (did you know they have 4-wheeler cops here?!). Apparently there are some vandals or something. So that's cool. Not too much else happened. And I guess that's the update again, I'm a little low on time here :) Thanks for everything from back home! Everything is going well here. 


Monday, April 20, 2015

Vila Sônia - Week 12

Unfortunately we only have a 1/2 hour on the PC today, so this is going to have to be the only e-mail I write, and it'll be short. Sorry :( But it's so weird that I have 4 months out here already. It kinda feels like it's been 4 months, but at the same time it doesn't feel like that at all.

As for transfers, the only person who got transferred in our house was Elder Zenger :( Which I was super sad about, he's an awesome guy. My piano practice buddy is gone :/ But I guess that will probably mean that I get more time to practice to myself, haha. That's terrible. But yeah, I won't have a pupil anymore. He went off to Ala 3, which is in São Vicente I think. It's a nicer area than here, so I hope he'll feel better about that and that he'll have more success than he had here. So Elder Lindsey and I are sticking it out for at least one more :) Another Brazilian Elder came in to replace Zenger, so that will be fun. He speaks more English than Elder S. Reis does, so maybe we'll actually be able to have conversations and stuff. I already knew him fairly well, (Elder de Oliveira), since he was in my zone my first transfer here. But yeah, so that's the transfer.

And about the Chick-fil-A frozen lemonade...that's not fair :( There literally could not be a more perfect drink for Brazil, and they don't have it. But, I bought some frozen lime pulp stuff, so I'll be having some of that this week. Not the same though :(

My shoes are holding up very well. Last P-day, I had time to shine and put mink oil on one pair, so they are looking awesome. I hadn't done that before, to my normal walking shoes anyways. Kinda funny though, after I put the mink oil on and we were walking to our commitments, my shoes attracted sand like nothing I've ever seen before :) It was kinda funny, I don't know if I did it right or not. Polish first and then mink oil? And for the oil, just use the same brush as the polish? Don't get mad at me for not knowing, I was not prepared in that aspect :) But it's kinda funny anyways. They look good still though. Everything is also holding up well, as far as I know.

Valéria's family has been doing better. We haven't visited them since we had dinner with them last Tuesday (which was awesome, by the way :) ) and as far as we've heard their son, João, has been causing a few troubles. He got expelled from school apparently (which I didn't know could happen in Brazil) and so Valéria has been drinking and smoking more I guess. So...hopefully we get to talk to them today, and we can give her a blessing to help.

Rogério is doing awesome. He's had a little trouble getting a testimony, because he's very intellectual and he says he's never really been able to think emotionally. But he's reading and praying, so it's just a matter of time. I wish I had more investigators to talk about, but it's been a little rough this past week. Lots of stuff fell, and so we didn't accomplish as much as we wanted. One interesting fact, since we've started doing contacts every day we contacted 450 people this last transfer, in the last 4 weeks. Which is pretty cool.

Thank you for everything Mom. By the way, your card made Irmã Barbara cry a little bit. I didn't actually see her cry, but she stopped talking and then we left before I saw her really cry. But she cried :) She said that it was moments like that that made everything worth it, and that it was priceless. And thank you so much for the other cards, they always make my day. Which is usually a Tuesday :) The IMPACT card was sweet, I'm excited for the next ones :)

Also, one interesting thing I learned this week is that you can get skinnier by eating dark chocolate, if you eat 6g (one squareish) per day, for breakfast or lunch. Thought you might like to know that.

Um...I think that's all I have time for, sorry it was so rushed. I'll have more of everything next week. Don't worry about me, I bought more Nutella today so I've been having some awesome PB Nutella sandwiches, and Granny Smith apples (8 reais a kilo, but it's so worth it) and some other stuff, so I'm doing just fine :)


Monday, April 13, 2015

Vila Sônia - Week 11

Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of time for an update. But this week was good, I did divisions with Elder Zenger yesterday which was super fun (he's awesome).

Valéria's family didn't make it to church, so they'll have to wait until next week, but Rogério (a 17-year old, really intelligent kid we're teaching) did come to sacrament! So he'll probably get baptized this Saturday, unless something ridiculous happens and he can't. He's progressing well. Who knows, he could even serve a mission still! And Valéria's family is progressing nicely too, they ask a ton of questions and are always interested to know more. So it's actually fun to teach them, haha. Not that teaching other people isn't fun...but sometimes, it just isn't :)

We're contacting a lot of new people and so we're trying to find the time to go visit them all. We did 152 contacts this past week, with the little Easter pass-along cards advertising the video. And 56 new addresses out of that, so that should give you some idea of the state we're in. Even though those numbers aren't really that big.

It's always pretty easy to talk to people about Jesus here, haha. Everybody loves that. And then as soon as you pull out a commitment on them, they usually say they'll do it and then never do it (the appropriate word for that would be "mentira!"), or they get cold feet and cite their other religion or whatever. It's always fun here in Brazil, that's for sure! :)

As for cow stomach, she told us the other day that she'd make it one day, but I didn't really recognize it when we had it, only when she told us afterward. It literally just tasted like fat though. Just imagine saving up a ton of the parts you cut off of your guys' steaks, and then having another meal where you just have rice and the pieces of fat :) There was a sauce with it too, but not much.

I didn't share my M&M's during conference, we had other chocolate. I shared some with Elder Lindsey the other day during weekly planning, but I still probably have half the bag left. I've gotten very miser-y with American candy :)

It wasn't actually our baptism last week, it was one from the zone leaders, in a place called Cidade Ocian. We were just there, I forget why. Vicente's baptism, and Eduarda's, was just in this big concrete box just inside the gates of the church :) It's pretty ghetto, so it felt a lot better having a baptism in an actual chapel, with nice stuff. We haven't baptized anyone since Eduarda, but we should have at least one this next week, and then another before April ends. Although, the transfer happens before then, so who knows if I'll even be here to see it? I'm kinda dreading transfer day, I really don't want to leave here.

No, I haven't dry-cleaned my suits yet. I've been super careful to take care of them, because you can definitely tell the difference with the missionaries that have been out here a while. I don't even know if there's a dry-cleaning place around here, though. Or how to say dry-cleaning in Portuguese, hahaha :) They still look good though.

Anyways, that's pretty much it. until next week. Love you!
Elder Bratsman

Monday, April 6, 2015

Vila Sônia - Week 10

So last Tuesday, we had a mission conference for Easter. The thing that President Cabral talked a ton about was the necessity of being excellent, not just good. There are three scriptures he shared that I can't remember now, but there's one in Daniel, Hebrews and then Ether 12:11. I think about having a more excellent spirit, giving a more excellent sacrifice and walking a more excellent path. Heavenly Father doesn't want us to be "good". He wants us to be excellent. They also gave us little cards advertising the Church's Easter video for us to give out to people, so now I've finally started doing 10 contacts a day like we've been asked. I hope you have all seen the Because He Lives video. It's incredible. The Church even kinda bought YouTube yesterday to show it, so that every single person on the face of this earth who got on to Youtube yesterday saw a 15 second clip of it. Our Church is so awesome. :)

On Wednesday, we taught seminary to the youth in our branch, about D&C 18:17-47, about taking the name of Christ upon us. We also taught aNOTHER person who doesn't really have any idea how to read, so that's a challenge I hadn't thought about.

On Thursday, Irmã Barbara fed us cow stomach for lunch AND dinner! Because we couldn't get enough of it for lunch, haha! (that was a little bit sarcastic, I'm sorry) It just kinda tasted like we were eating fat. So it wasn't super weird, unless you think eating fat with rice is super weird.

On Friday, we were fed again by Barbara, and while she was getting it ready I was just kinda kicking around a soccer ball with her two kids. And every time I maneuvered around Jared, the youngest of the two, he just kicked me in the leg as hard as he could instead :) Which was really funny, because it obviously hurt him a lot more than it hurt me :) But it was a lot of fun, it reminded me of the days when Jake and I used to play soccer in the front living room of our Florida house, with the door and the entrance to the other rooms as the goals.

And then General Conference Saturday! It was incredible. At first, I wasn't ridiculously excited for it (as were Elders Zenger and Lindsey) but then once it started I couldn't get enough. I got so much more out of it than I ever have before, it was crazy. There was so much good stuff and so many good counsels to write down. There were so many talks about the family and marriage, it's obvious that we need to get working on fixing the situation in society. And also, there will probably be a lot more attacks on the family in the near future. Us missionaries were joking around that we would call President Cabral and tell him we needed to go home, because we couldn't let anything get in the way of getting married and having a family :) But it was honestly just a joke, none of us feel ready for getting married yet haha. I'm perfectly happy to take advantage of this time I have to prepare a little bit first. Also, as a side note, I finally opened the white chocolate peppermint M&Ms to snack on during General Conference. So thank you very much for those, Mom :) I almost forgot I had them. But I still have most of them left, don't worry.

Anyways, that was my week! We did have a baptismal service between the two Sunday sessions of conference (it's weird how much nicer the service felt when it was in a real-life chapel, haha) but Valéria's family didn't make it to conference I guess, and we didn't manage to teach them enough anyways. So that should be two weeks from now, because they'll have to go to church this Sunday and then get baptized the next. But that gives us a lot of time to prepare them really well, they're an awesome family.

Not too much else happened, we're finding a lot of people and we're just working on contacting all of them now, there's a big list. Once we get that started this week, we'll have a lot of new people to teach.

One of the things we're doing now to contact more people is that on the Ônibus, we're getting up in front of everybody (like standing at the front of the bus) and announcing who we are, and that we have a message about living prophets and eternal families, and that we'll be asking each one of them if they'd be interested to know more, and then we go through and talk to everyone and hopefully get addresses and phone numbers from them. Is it pretty crazy to imagine me doing that? :) Not going to lie, I haven't actually been the one to get up in front of everybody and do the first announcement, but I think it's going to be my turn here in a little bit, maybe on the way to our zone meeting tomorrow. But it's nice, because then you can use the rest of the bus ride to just relax, because you know that you've literally told every single person inside the bus about the gospel, and you've given them a chance to learn more. But we're talking to a ton of people now, at least 10 different people per missionary per day. So it's 20 people per day for our companionship. I think it's easier to do it in Portuguese than it would be to do it in English though. Maybe, who knows.

I got a picture of our bathroom finally (because I finally felt like it was in an acceptable state after some major cleaning done on it by the incredible Elder Lindsey):

and pictures of a frog we found in our little patio area (I guess that's what you could call it) that Elder Zenger and I had way too much fun with (sorry in advance for the scary tan line hahaha):

and a caterpillar we found outside our house one morning:

Anyways, that's my update for this week. Thanks to all of you for your support!

Elder Bratsman