Monday, August 31, 2015

Rio Branco - Week 14

I have a story to tell you :) So we were walking back home from the area of the supermarket, about 20-25 minutes away from our house. I think this happened Saturday. Yeah, it was Saturday. At 8:45ish at night, we were just going to go straight home. And then all of a sudden this guy rides up alongside of us on a bicycle. I was walking next to Elder Moreira, but Elder Moreira was in between me and this guy, so I didn't really pay that much attention. I just thought that he was a homeless guy or something asking for food. But then the guy said "Assalto. Passa tudo!" [Give me everything!], and he raised up his jacket to show us that he had what may have been a gun. I don't think it actually was, but it sounds cooler to say that it was a gun. So basically what happened was that he asked for our watches, which Elder Moreira actually laughed out loud about because his was kinda falling apart anyways, which I think unnerved the guy, because he forgot (or something, I don't know) to ask for our wallets. He also asked for the cellphone, which is a joke too. We showed him what it was, and he was like "yeah you can keep that". Hahaha :) So we just handed over our watches and he rode off into the casinhas [little houses]. Which was really flippin' annoying! I liked that watch. But luckily, he didn't ask for anything else. Or he was just dumb. So yeah! That's my mission's robbery story, which I hope will be the last. Don't worry about me, I'm safe. We were on a main road at night, is all. Pretty dumb place for a robbery, but whatever. It was a lot less dramatic than I had imagined a robbery would be. It was super lame. We just gave a guy our watches, because he asked for them. Not nearly as cool as Dad's story, but oh well. Probably wouldn't be a mission in Brazil if I wasn't robbed once :) So yeah. Obviously, I learned nothing, and this morning Elder Moreira and I went to the center of São Vicente to buy new watches, hahaha. Because I can't live with just a watch that doesn't have a stopwatch, to mark my Rubik's Cube times :) At least I took a picture of the old watch, I can show it to my grandkids and tell them that this was the watch that got stolen from me in Brazil :) Anyways, pretty cool, right? 

About the weather...HA! Winter, my foot! We've only had a couple cool days this week, and it rained once. Which made it cool off. But the majority of the days are hot and sunny still. Which is pretty stupid. I was looking forward to a lot better winter than the one that we had. I think it's probably spring now, or close to it. 

Blessings that I received this week...I think that I was pretty blessed during the robbery, to not have more stuff taken away. (not that I was carrying anything valuable) Also, we were blessed to be able to take Cristina to church again, so she'll get baptized this Saturday! And we had a pretty cool ward activity on Friday, and they had a cotton candy machine there! Huge blessing! :) I think in general also, I was blessed with a lot of knowledge. I've been reading the student's manual on the Book of Mormon, and it has a TON of cool insights and new stuff. I actually understand Jacob 5 and the Isaiah chapters really well now! :D Which is a blessing and a half. My Livro de Mórmon is going to be one marked up masterpiece this time next year. But yeah! :) 

Today, I found the BASKETBALL Olympics coin, which is slick. [Here are] pictures of all the coins that I have so far:

Have an awesome week! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Rio Branco - Week 13

The new piano is a huge blessing. I don't even play in sacrament meeting, there's a young woman who does that, but it's so nice. Elder Moreira is wanting me to teach him how to play too, haha. So he bought a notebook of blank staffs and I'm writing in exercises and stuff for him. Did you know that they don't use the regular names for notes here? A, B, C, D, etc.? They use Do Re Mi Fa and so on. SO weird, really hard to get used to. But I thought about you this week in sacrament as I tried to sing the duet part of I Stand All Amazed. Pretty hard. I always sing bass though. I think I'm the only person in the room who sings a different part. Well, nobody sings the melody, haha.

So, this week...I've started teaching English class again! All the other Americans left from our ZONE, except for one, Elder Jenson. He's leaving after this transfer, so he's only got 5 weeks left in the mission. So he and I are teaching English class, it's kinda fun. I missed it. Other than that...not much happened. It was kinda a tough week, we haven't been able to find anyone new. Which is frustrating. It's hard reading about Keaton [a cousin who is on a mission in Ghana] bringing 7 people to church. That's a dream here! 

Anyways...lots of people to e-mail. So...I love you Mom!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rio Branco - Week 12

8 months! Woo! It's...CRAZY. I have as much time here as Elder Lindsey did when he was first my companion, in my 2nd transfer. Crazy stuff.

Also, I guess I'll talk about the transfer now too. So I'm staying in Rio Branco with Elder Moreira! I'm pretty happy about that, we can actually baptize the people that we prepared last transfer! But, Elder Vasconcelos got moved to an area pretty close to here. Which is sad. We had a good tie exchange (finally have a pink tie! :) ) and I also gave him a shirt and shorts of pajamas (starting to cut down while I can), and one of the pictures from Grandma Bratsman, of Christ calming the storm (a story that he absolutely loves). And I also got one of the coins of the Olympics! Since the Olympics are coming up here, they're minting all-new 1 real coins, with a certain sport on the back. So I have cycling now! They're beautiful coins, one thing that the US doesn't have. So that was nice of him :) There's an Elder coming over here who I don't know. So yeah, that was the transfer! 6 more weeks in Rio Branco!

Me and Elder Vasconcelos. He is a cool Elder, I'll miss him.

But, the biggest news of all time is still coming up! There's......A NEW PIANO IN OUR CHAPEL!!!!!! WOOO!!!! :D I'm so unbelievably happy. They finally installed the new piano, and it is GORGEOUS! Probably the most beautiful thing that I've ever seen in my whole entire life. It's electronic, so it doesn't take up too much space, and it's just perfect. Full length, it has a pedal...perfect! No more stupid organning! So I'm going to be getting a lot more practice now, which is a huge relief.

As for our lessons...some are with people in houses, but a lot are just on the road. At a bus stop, for example. We hardly talk to people on buses anymore, mostly because we don't take buses anywhere. We don't have a reason to, unless we go somewhere on Pday. Oh, and I just thought of something. Go look up "Behold the Wounds in Jesus' Hands" on the web by Motab. And look at the lyrics. It's such a good song! You'll like it.

I kinda ran out of time a little bit, so I'll include more stuff about my week next week. Also, August 9th was Father's Day here, which I forgot to congratulate Dad. I can't remember if it's also Father's Day over there, but if you could wish him a very delayed Feliz Dia dos Pais for me, that'd be great :)

A picture of the Plan of Salvation that I drew in my Livro de Mormon.
Pretty slick, if I do say so myself. It helps so much to teach that with a picture. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rio Branco - Week 11

My salsa turned out really good, and it was even better with the Fritos. I put it in the blender to make it kinda like the restaurant-style, more of a sauce. My only complaint is the peppers here are crappy. Not very hot, and very bland. But...oh well.

I had a nice surprise, I was looking through that box again and I found the rest of the Smarties! that I still hadn't eaten. Which was an awesome surprise :) But they didn't last long.

Also, I'm shocked and saddened that Five Guys decided NOW to make shakes. That is just cruel. I bet they're just the best shakes ever, aren't they :( What are all the flavors? Just so that you can make sure that I'm thoroughly tortured? Just tell me all about them, why don't you? :) Argh. Curse this Brazilian Five-Guys-less wilderness.

For breakfast lately, I've invented a new thing. They have this stuff here called Toddy, or Nescau, or Italac, there's lots of different brands, but it's chocolate powder to make chocolate milk. Just add the pó [powder] to milk and stir or whatever. So...I've been making a peanut butter sandwich, except instead of Nutella which is prohibitively expensive, I put this Toddy stuff! So it's literally just peanut butter and...powdered chocolate hahahaha. It's really good, and it's kinda dry so it's even more amazing with chocolate milk. By the way, chocolate milk is 2,59 reais per liter. So...I go through a lot :)

Also, another unrelated development is that we did a deep cleaning this morning, and so I had a very unfamiliar, although refreshing, experience. I walked around the house in my bare feet! It was very strange, but I'm hoping that we can keep the house this way so that I can keep walking around without slides. Super nice feeling, you guys are punks.

Our lunches fall through about twice every month here. So yeah, I miss Barbara :/ But Elder Vasconcelos makes a really mean macarrão [macaroni] with salsicha [sausage]. OH, that reminds me. One awesome thing that I ate this past week was this French fries thing, that this lady started selling close to our house. It's a styrofoam clamshell full of French fries, and you can get little bits of chicken, bacon, and calabresa [pepperoni]. And she has mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, catupiry (a cheeseish kinda thing) and cheddar sauce. Oh and garlic sauce. It's 6 reais for the full thing, and it's awesome. I thought that it would be a GREAT idea to sell at football games! It was just little bacon bits and bits of chicken and stuff, and then the sauces were free. It was super good though.

My clothes/supplies are holding up great! On one of my shirts, one of the buttons that buttons down the collar fell off somehow, so I just don't button the collar and it's fine. Um...I think everything else is going good though.

As for health issues, I think I'm free. Occasional gripe [a cold], but it's okay. Normal, anyways.

I don't think I have anything/one that you guys need to pray for. Just me, in general :) As for a time when I felt protected...I guess one time was that all 4 of us were walking back from lunch and I was just barely walking on the sidewalk. And then all of a sudden I stepped up onto the sidewalk and an ônibus passed like 2 inches from my arm. Pretty scary, but I feel like I was protected then. :)

So this week...we got a reference from a member (woohoo! finally!), of a person who lives on our same road. Super close. And it's Christina, who has 40ish years, not really sure, but she's really interested. She also has to stop smoking. So she might get baptized this month (maybe you guys can pray that I don't get transferred. Hahaha just kidding :) ). And we also have the couple Wellington and Mary. Mary is kinda iffy, but Wellington is super interested and wants to get baptized. As for William and Laura, we haven't been able to find them both at home, so...dunno what's going to happen. And we found Vanessa, who is 20 years old. She went to church yesterday, so that was good. So...yeah. As for cool experiences...nothing much happened. Except that Saturday we found ourselves lacking 10 lessons to hit our weekly goal, and so we had to rush around to make that up. But we made it! 10 lessons for us is a lot in one day. It's usually 4ish. And I also had to talk to 32 people to hit my goal. But it worked out well.

And it's our last P-day of the transfer...this time next week I might be headed off to somewhere new! I hope not though. So yeah, I think that's about it. I love you Mom! :)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Rio Branco - Week 10

Our week was okay. Found a couple who seem to have potential, William and Laura (maybe I already talked about them, no idea), and I think one other person who actually showed interest when I did the contact. Nobody wants anything to do with us here. One lady called us a perturbação [disturbance], which was pretty funny. But yeah, seems less friendly here. Even the porteiros [door men] don't like us that much. Which is kinda discouraging, keeps feeling like I'm doing something wrong. And who knows, I probably am. :)

One big development in the culinary department is that I ate powdered milk! I guess that's a thing that they do here. I guess it's the same thing as powdered milk anyways. So I have a challenge for you Yankees. You have to buy a container (I don't even know what it comes in over there) of powdered milk, and then...get a spoon and eat it! Just the powder, plain, with nothing else. It's very strange, because it tastes like super strong, dry milk. Which is kinda exactly what it is, but I had never thought about just eating it. They LOVE it over here. So yeah. Go eat some powdered milk. Just don't breathe it, 'cause you'll probably die. 

I made some more salsa today to go with the Goodmans' Fritos that they sent like 3 months ago. So I hope it turns out. 

I can't remember anything else that happened. Which is pretty much all that I wrote in my journal too, just a lot of "I don't know what else to write"s. Kinda boring week I think. They've been remodeling our chapel...which is probably just giving me false hope that we'll get a real (electronic) piano before I get transferred. Which I know won't happen, but it's nice to dream. 

Also, I'm sad to report that all of my American candy is gone. It was a sad day, but they were awesome while they lasted. So, yeah! Until next week!

Editor's note:  This is a write-up Michael did for the mission's monthly newsletter.