Monday, May 25, 2015

Rio Branco

You can see Vila Sônia near the bottom - Rio Branco isn't too far away

The Rio [pronounced hee-oh] Branco chapel

Vila Sônia - Week 17 - Transfer Day

I got transferred! So...yeah! I'm pretty nervous. I haven't left Vila Sônia yet, so I don't have any news on the new area/companion, but it's called Rio Branco. I know it's a branch (except the "chapel" is even smaller), and it's the area that my first companion, Elder Richards, spent a lot of time in (and the area to which he went after he was in Vila Sônia!).

So...I already have my bags packed, and we're kinda waiting here for the other companionship to get here before I leave, so that Elder Lindsey won't be left alone. The other two Brazilians that were in our house got moved too, so only he is staying. He will be training an Elder fresh from the CTM! So he'll actually get his companion on Tuesday. in a few hours I'll take a bus (or a couple. I think it's a couple) to Rio Branco, with my 3 ginormous suitcases. I don't know where I got so much stuff! I'll definitely have to work on down-sizing some. So anyways, packing was kinda a miserable experience. I got everything to fit, I just left some books that I got in the CTM, that I will never use. But yeah, I'm not looking forward to moving. It'll be okay once I get there and get settled, but until then...ugh. And, I'll be a...senior companion! What?! It's crazy! I don't know how President thought that was a good idea, but it's going to happen, haha. So I kinda really don't feel ready for that either. I think my companion is Brazilian, so that'll be interesting too. Luckily I was able to learn Portuguese with Americans, so now I should be fine, haha :) But yeah. It was kinda expected, but still. I'll be sad to leave Vila Sônia, Irmã Barbara (she fed us coxinha again last night, for my last supper :)), and all our pesquisadores [people we are teaching]

But luckily, we were able to baptize Irmã Cristiane, and Naiara (a friend of Cristiane's daughter) this week! It was super cool. We made programs for the baptism all nice and fancy (we used a picture of them two together, which I had to "photoshop" in MS Paint to get rid of the background. So that was fun), and I played my Baptism Hymn from the Jon Schmidt book. I messed up quite a few times, since I wasn't quite as prepared as I would have liked to have been, but it happened, and it was nice :) So Elder Lindsey baptized Cristiane, and I baptized Naiara. It was pretty cool, a neat experience for sure. Cristiane bought us these motorcycle alarm clocks, since she knew we like motorcycles, which was really nice of her. And she also made these dolphin keychains out of beads, which are pretty slick. So I guess I was just supposed to stay here until Cristiane got baptized? She said that she wouldn't get baptized with any other Elders, so I guess it was good we stayed until now :) But Elder Lindsey will be able to keep up with her. 

Irmã Cristiane, with her kids

My scriptures did get here! It was like Christmas! Everything all new and smelling like the São Paulo Temple distribution center. It was nice. I've been reading a little bit of Das Buch Mormon (holy heck, German's hard), and I've been thinking about getting the audio of the German to help me out even more. Also, I found out that we are allowed to use headphones, as long as it's only one ear. Per Sister Cabral. So I bought some funny LEGO headphones for 10 reais, that seem like they'll be okay. Anyways, it's really interesting reading the German. There's a few things that I understand, a few things that I think I understand and then find out that I don't, and then a ton of stuff that just doesn't make sense at all. I can kinda get a gist of what it's saying, but that might just be because it's scriptures, I dunno. It's a very different language. But it's cool, I used my new Portuguese Book of Mormon to have side by side with the German, to help me figure out what the German means. Which is super weird when I think about it. I don't have any problems reading the scriptures in Portuguese whatsoever, so I guess I'm 2.5-lingual! :) or 2.15, or something. But very cool anyways. The new scriptures are great, now I'm just trying to take care of them better than I did the last ones, mostly to keep the gold leafing on, haha :) 

Something that is normal to me now would be...always wearing shoes/slides inside, even in the shower. How do you guys like your carpet, and clean floors? :) Only a few houses like us to take our shoes off before we go in, which is nice. Speaking of that, my left slide is coming apart a little bit. But I'll just get some super glue, and pronto [ready]! :) It made me sad though, I really like the slides. I hope they last my whole mission. And um...going to the bathroom is pretty different. You know, the whole can't-put-toilet-paper-in-the-toilet thing. Which is still weird. It's either that, or sometimes that we don't have toilet paper. So, hahahaha :) I hope I answered your question, Jake. :)

A funny thing happened yesterday in church. The 1st counselor in the branch presidency gave a talk, because he's moving to Maceió I think (I already told him about Chris), but it was kinda more of a vent than a talk, haha. It was funny. But one part that was not funny, was that he talked more about me being a prophet. He actually named me and his son (Helamã (Helaman), cool right?) as some of the last prophets of this dispensation. So we were just like "APOSTASY!!!" He actually made me stand up in sacrament meeting so that everyone could see who the prophet was going to be in 60 years or whatever -.- it was not cool. Everyone understood (almost everyone) that he was just giving a compliment, but he kinda went about it in the wrong way. We had to explain to the sweet little old lady that kisses everybody's hands, as well as Cristiane, how revelation works and how prophets are chosen. So that was kinda fun. And then everybody for the rest of the day was referring to me as prophet, least they were joking. The 1st counselor was actually greeting me something like this: "Tudo bom, profeta?" Which is not right. It's probably an okay thing that I'm leaving before everyone can make too many jokes about it. 

Wish me luck in Rio Branco! I'll need it! And wish me luck on the Ônibus with my 3 super heavy suitcases! :) I'll be fine, don't worry about me. Just stay nice and comfy at home :) I'll talk to you next week!

My starfruit breakfast (I hope they have the markets in Rio Branco)

Me and some LEGIT suco de maracuja [passion fruit juice] that I made! I bought two maracuja this Friday for 3 reais and then I blended them up with some water and sugar! It was really strong (I didn't put a lot of water, haha, only like half a liter), so it was really good.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Vila Sônia - Week 16

I bought a pocket knife at one of the markets - it'll be convenient to have

Made Grandma's salsa, but there are no tortilla chips here!

Jared, the little son of Irmã Barbara, took my Bible during one lunch and took my plaque [name tag] and copied this in there. It was very cute :)

my Venum shirt

Bananas and nutella for breakfast

Monday, May 11, 2015

Vila Sônia - Week 15

This dessert is chocolate cake, and Elder Lindsey melted down an entire bar of Hershey's cookies and cream chocolate to make the "frosting" :) hahaha, not the healthiest thing ever, but you know. They actually do have decent Hershey's chocolate here, that's one good thing. But Elder Lindsey did all of that dessert, for Barbara also. Elder Lindsey is a really good guy, he's keeping me on my toes here for sure.

We did have our conference with the Cabral's last Thursday, it was really good. It's crazy how much of a bigger...gospel perspective I've gained on the mission, even just until now. And more pressure because of that perspective, but you know, I guess that's how it goes. It makes me feel like I missed out on stuff that you guys maybe had to share with me but I just never made the effort to find out. But at least I know I didn't miss out on the same example that Sister and President Cabral set for us. 

Oh, also, I found a tie bar. There's this religious shop (it felt a bit weird going in there, but oh well :) ) that sells music equipment/accessories, lots of religious music/books, and church clothes (mostly interested in the tie bars and ties though). So I ended up getting a tie bar and a cool tie, I'll get some pictures of me modelling them this week (haha). :) 

Funny story, I think that they actually don't carry size 12 shoes here. I'm a 44 here in Brazil, and I've never seen a single store sell 44's. Highest is a 42 I think. So that doesn't really help my case, but it's funny anyways :)

Last P-day, I think after we e-mailed, we went to this fancyish bakery/lanchonete/gas station store (it was pretty reminiscent of home actually), and we ate there for Star Wars Day. There, we also bought these ginormous yule log kinda things, I think called rocambole. I got brigadeiro, and Elder Lindsey got doce de leite. 

We also started teaching Christiane (Elder Zenger baptized her two kids Nicole and Daniel) and she's just the most amazing person ever. She's already read the Book of Mormon TWICE, from cover to cover (literally, everything) and she's starting on her third time. Her only problem is smoking. She is unemployed, and so she just stays at home and reads the BoM for most of the day I guess. Actually, a miracle happened with that. We had lunch with her on Thursday, which we weren't sure how that was going to work out since she doesn't have a job and their family doesn't have a lot of food (she's a single mom). But, when we got there she had everything, rice, beans, pasta, sausage, juice, this saladish thing, dessert, everything. One of the bigger lunches I've had. And she told us that she hadn't been able to sleep the night before, since she was so worried about what she would do for the lunch. When they were planning the lunches in Relief Society at the beginning of the month, she felt prompted to volunteer, even though she had very little. So anyways, the day of, a bunch of people brought all sorts of food to her house. Her son actually found a box of juice (the powder, anyways) on the road on the way home from school. A neighbor brought a cake, somebody else brought pasta, and so on. She actually doesn't even have gas in her house to cook with, so she cooked everything with alcohol somehow. And Elder Lindsey and I ate everything we could (it was just us two there), and she and a friend ate, and there was still 5 ice cream tubs (that's what a lot of people use for tupperware here, along with normal tupperware) of food that she sent home with us for the other Elders and for dinner that night. And she STILL had food from that same lunch, leftover for her and for her kids. From the food that we took home, I think people ate a total of 5 or 6 meals from it. It really was a miracle (feeding the five thousand, anybody?) and it showed me how we, as missionaries, are able to bless the people that we have lunch with, just by going to their houses and accepting their sacrifice. It was amazing. 

In lesser news, at the most recent capoeira class (we just teach a little message at the beginning and then leave, our ward mission leader is teaching), they had one of the little competitions with another capoeira team or school or whatever. So everyone got in a big circle, and the leaders of the other team had the instruments that they play (I can't remember what they're called, you can probably look it up. They look like a longbow with a kinda coconut looking-think on the bottom, haha), and so we stayed there for a bit to watch. It was very Brazilian :) 

Until next Monday!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day!

Mother's Day was the best holiday I think I've ever had in my entire life:

Skyping from ward mission leader's house - him and Elder Lindsey in the background.

Dayne in California, Jacob and Erin in Florida, Michael in Brazil - amazing!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Vila Sônia - Week 14

Yesterday, Rogerio came to church, plus Denilson (brother of Diego) and Iago and Leandro (brother of Iago). So...I'd like to have more adults coming to church, but so far it's just kids. Hopefully we'll be able to baptize Rogerio this Saturday. It's interesting, we honestly have way too many people to teach and way too many references to contact, we could never have enough time in the day.

I feel like I'm in a safe area, but whenever we have conferences with other missionaries they always ask how I haven't been robbed yet, with my watch and being in Vila Sonia :) I genuinely haven't seen anything like that go on though. Just a lot of drugs, that's the worst thing here. That I've seen. And, our ward mission leader Anderson was walking home with us after doing some visits, and we were walking right by our huge hobo forest (I'll try to maybe get some pictures eventually), and he said that there's a lot of corpos in the forest, and a lot of people get killed back there. So that was a little spooky. Explains the vultures, haha. But honestly, I feel safe. We're always home before 9:30, which isn't late, and we do our best to stay on safe roads and such. So I'm okay, don't worry :)

I can't even imagine what California will be like, I'm just excited to get a tour of it when I get back :)

Of course we have cockroaches here. They haven't been super bad though, just occasionally we see one and we stomp it and sweep it outside. I do keep my suitcases zipped up though, I don't need anything living in there for 6 weeks before I find it. Elder Richards had a couple cockroaches in his suitcases, if I remember right. Which is not cool.

We had a cold front (I guess) pass through on Wednesday or Thursday or something, so it was 70 in our room! It was funny, I actually used one of my sweaters that I packed during our study time. In 70 degrees, haha :) Isn't that sad? But then it wasted no time in heating right back up, so it was just a teaser :( It needs to cool down for real, though.

I thought about Jake this week, about what it will be like when he leaves on his mission, and how I'll feel. I'll probably feel worried about him, even though I know I was fine. Just not knowing what he's up to and stuff.

Just one thing I wrote down to tell you, last P-day I got some chocolate croissants at the supermarket here (for lunch, obviously), and it reminded me of that one time when we got chocolate croissants and hot chocolate together (I don't really remember where we were...I feel like it was Seattle but I have no idea why I think that). But yeah, just kinda a fun memory. I really should have kept a journal, even if it was just of fun memories that I had with you guys. As I remember them here, I'll write them down. I'll keep all my planners, with all my notes and stuff. That'll be fun to show you guys :)

And HAPPY STAR WARS DAY!!! :) I'm pretty proud I remembered it. I don't think we're going to do anything really Star Wars-themed today, but I think we'll eat at a lanchonete (little mini-restaurant kinda thing) to celebrate. So that'll be nice. And we're going to get all the stuff to make Grandma's salsa today, and I'll get cucumbers and vinagre (how do you spell that in English? Vinager? that looks weird) to do some makeshift pickles. But yeah, may the fourth be with you today :)

I'm also super excited for Sunday, it'll be good :) Just try not to take up too much time with crying, hahaha :)

From this last week...Thursday, we had a ward activity with a food competition (us missionaries competed against the young men to make a better sub, but we had to leave early on account of our curfew, so I don't actually know who won. I feel like we did, though, with our American experience).

Then Labor Day was good, lots of people were home so it was a good opportunity to get some visits in. Plus, some random Brazilian girl said my hair was beautiful. Which was cool, I guess :)

Then yesterday, there was the huge championship finals between Santos and Palmeiras. So, for a good 3 hours yesterday, NOBODY was outside (only the people who like the Corinthians, the 3rd team that got beat out. Haha :) ). And every single goal that anyone made, everybody started shouting and letting off a TON of fireworks. I don't even know where they buy them, but I'm tempted to say they go through more than Epcot, for the fireworks show :) And then after Santos won, people started driving through the streets on motorcycles wearing the Santos team's flag as a cape and honking and yelling and stuff. Quite interesting.

Also, at lunch that day, we helped Erika in the branch get unpacked a bit in her house next to us, and I had juice with ants in it :) Following in Dad's footsteps, you know. So that makes two member neighbors that we have.

Also learned the recipe for the really good pudim [pudding] that they have here. It's one box of condensed milk (I think that's about 400 mL, but I don't remember exactly), 2 eggs, and 1 liter of milk. And then you put all that in those big donut kind of pans, and put that pan in a pot of water and leave it cooking on the stove for 30 minutes or something. I don't know if any of that is replicable, but there you go :)

Not too much happened besides that this week, we're just trying to work on getting our short lessons down so that we can start teaching a ton of lessons to random people on the street. A lot of the stuff we're doing is just numbers, which feels kinda weird. But goals are good.

Um...I think that's pretty much it for this week. Sorry I've stopped doing a nice organized update, it just takes a bit too much time :/ So, until Sunday! Agh! :)