Monday, March 28, 2016

Enseada - Week 2

 Mission Conference, March 22:  "Happy Easter 2016"

Yeah, you know how it is being the official mission pianist...lots of sight-reading practice hahaha. Although in this [mission] conference, everything went a lot better. I didn't even do anything worthy of embarassment (is that a word...? Is it spelled right? Oh goodness...) We learned more about the Biblical meanings of Easter, which I got last Easter too, but it made a bit more sense with my better Portuguese hahaha. And we learned that each one of us can have a personal testimony of the Atonement. Like actually being there. Which, to say the least.

I've been helping Elder McCain with Portuguese and also just letting him talk, since he doesn't get to talk much with his companion (because of language barrier and because his companion is pretty annoying/robotic).

[When asked if he still gets nervous speaking in front of people]  Yeah, when I give talks/testimonies, it's like "whatever, let's do it" hahaha :) That's a pretty accurate summary of my feelings. 

Hey, I keep ALL your letters! It's a good thing that I'm getting home this year, because it's quite the considerable pile by now.

My biggest blessing from last week was the family of Joel and Magda. They're recent converts, and they are just amazing. Well, actually, big news. We moved houses! And we moved to Joel and Magda's prédio [building], it's been super awesome. Anyways, they've helped us a lot in the move (not so much in taking furniture, etc, but in other ways) and they are always giving us food and stuff, whenever we do a Book of Mormon study with them, they have a snack for us. And yesterday, they bought us chocolate bars for Easter :) They're just a really good family. They'll be really good friends.

Yesterday was the best Brazilian barbecue that I've had in my life. It was with the same irmão [sister] that does the lunches for the mission, so you can imagine...oh mah goodness, it was so good. Speaking of that, you guys need to see if you can find farofa there, because I am slowly becoming addicted. Just so ya know :) 

So yeah, about our move. The Cabrals didn't like the house we were in (too small), so we have been getting some stuff ready for a move, contracts with the owner of the apartment, etc. So now we live on the fifth floor! :) It's a super cool apartment, and I'll get videos of both the apartments. It is very cool getting into the elevator to go home hahaha. Plus we live close to the awesome family. The move took a whole Thursday, and we took everything (EVERYTHING, beds, fridge, oven, everything) in our hands, since it's close, just down the road. That, and 2 shopping carts. We must have looked like total mendigos [beggars]. So that was a good experience. It's a lot bigger and better in the new apartment, I'll see if I can get the address to you guys. Anyways...that was the biggest news. 

So yeah, sorry I'll keep it short since I'm working on your Mother's Day project :D  I'm pretty proud/excited. Love you!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Enseada - Week 1

Yes, piano time is very good, again :) I am the pianist in the ward, but they have a nice piano, so it's all good now :) I'm working on your Mother's Day project... :) *wink* :D Don't expect too much though, although it'll be different. 

Speaking of the envelope, I got it last week! When the other dupla [set of missionaries] got here, it is one normal and one American greenie from the CTM :) So they brought some stuff from the office. And I LOVED it!!! It was so awesome. Everyone is loving the Twizzlers, and the speed cube is super slick, it's so nice to use. I didn't get video, but it's awesome. Not sure if it's helped my time yet, because I'm not super used to it, but I'm sure it will. And the shirt [from Dad's work] is super cool, I like feeling a part of it :) 

Well, as far as this area...I'm loving it :) The members here are awesome, the bishop is super funny, and a lot of people give us food :) There are some rich areas too, I think I wouldn't mind living here :) Apparently, even Neymar lives in my area :D Which is slick. Not too much news.

Oh, the new American Elder, Elder McCain, is from Houston. He's got some difficulties with the language, but that's normal. It's been very strange...almost like seeing me when I got on the mission, not understanding anything, not being able to communicate with the people. I don't know if it was exactly like this, but similar. So I'm glad I can help him out. Very strange feeling though, it just reminds me a lot of me. Oh, we all introduced ourselves/gave small talks in sacrament meeting this week.

Sorry for the smallish e-mail. I hope you have a great week!

An Ovo de Páscoa that I bought this week, celebrating 15 months/Easter.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Caraguatatuba - Week 6 - and Transfer!

The internet in this new LAN House is KILLER fast (at least compared to Brazilian internet), so I am able to upload all the videos/pictures that I want, including one forgotten one from Christmas :) But yeah, that should be a lot better now.

Soooo, I got moved out of Caraguatatuba. Which I didn't want to leave there, since I had spent so little time and I was really liking it. But...that doesn't really figure in to the Lord's plans, I guess :) So I had to take aNOTHER 4 hour bus ride back down to the baixada [lowland], and now I'm serving in Enseada! Which is in the bairro [neighborhood] Guarujá, which is pretty close to Santos. So that'll be nicer. It seems like a little bit of a richer area, and the 1 lunch that I've had here was already incredible, so that's a good sign. I'm here with Elder Melo, who has 3 months on the mission, and I'm just his senior companion! I'm so excited to not have to talk with anybody on the phone! Apparently, my DL lives in our house, so I don't have to call anyone! :) It'll be so great.

But yeah, the transfer went well. Had a bit of a panic attack when I got to the rodoviário [bus station] at 6:10 (knowing that the LAST bus would leave at 6:30), and then they didn't want to accept my card. So I had to run over to a little ATM thing that is super expensive and take money out :/ But such is life.

My piano lesson...didn't work out. Because Friday, we did a division in Ilhabela, the prettiest area in the mission :)

So we didn't switch back until Saturday at night, so the lesson didn't work out. And then I left the area, so I feel kinda bad about the hype :/

My biggest blessing was with the transfer, as usual. I was protected and helped a lot. I left at 6:30, and got to the other rodoviário at 10:30, and then the other elders (from a completely different area, although close by) helped me to get to their house, and then I slept there, and then this morning I left by myself on another ônibus and went to my area. I asked the motorista to let me know when we got to where I was supposed to get off, but I guess he forgot :) So...we went all the way to the end of the route, he got off without even opening the doors, so I got kinda locked in for a bit, but then pretty soon he came back and started on the way back. THIS time, I didn't let him forget :) And I got off, and Elder Melo had gone looking for me, but pretty soon he came and found me and then we went to the house and I got all settled in! Sorry for the run-on sentence :)

But yeah, apparently this area is AWESOME, which it does seem like it. So I'm pretty happy to be here :) I'm back in the news zone...since up in the north there is a different telephone code, and the normal missionary phones can't call to there, so I never talked to anybody from the south. But when I got here, Elder Carlos called me, and it was cool to be back in the loop :) Also, more importantly, this area has a piano. Which I will be sure to use and abuse :)

I got Goodman's package last week in our zone meeting! I am sorry that I am a slacker and didn't get any pictures yet, but I will get at least one of me eating salsa :) Also, the beef jerky was nicely timed for my transfer! :) I got to eat it on my 4 hour bus ride :) When we got home from that meeting, the first thing we did was open the chips and salsa, and we absolutely devoured it. One jar of salsa gone in about 30 minutes :) And luckily, I found the flavorless Doritos here, so those went perfectly when the Tostitos ran out.

But...I think that's about it! Thanks for everything!

Wait, it's St. Patrick's Day?!?! What the heck...make sure to get some mint shakes from McDonald's for me :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Caraguatatuba - Week 5

[How much of a people-person are you now as compared to before your mission?]
I don't know how much of a people person I far as how much I like it, it's still at about a 5% :D But I like to think that I'm a bit better. Something that is really draining is having to follow up with all the missionaries in the district. So I call two duplas (sorry, can NEVER remember how to say this in English) of missionaries every night, for about 30 minutes in total (5 minutes for the Elders and 25 for the Sisters, haha), and then I have to call the zone leaders and talk about how our day was. I don't like doing it at all, I always feel super tired after. Anyways, to answer your question...about 50% better probably. I don't know, that's hard to put a number on.

Here, everybody kinda makes fun of me whenever I say 1 little tiny thing wrong in Portuguese. Which is pretty embarassing, because I don't have any reason to be speaking wrong. I think it's just because I try to talk faster than I'm used to, and then it comes out all wrong. 

One blessing this week was something pretty simple. On Friday, we had lunch with that one awesome sister who lives super far away. And her mom took advantage of the fact and asked us to do a service project that morning. So we went, and it was super hot as usual. The service project was that we had to move a bunch of rocks (like the kind they use to mix concrete here) across the...terreno [ground]...into some containers to sorta store them better. Like, a lot of rocks. Several tens of those 10-gallon buckets of rocks, we're talking. So that was exhausting and spine-straining, but we managed it. Us two. But then after, she has this showerhead outside. So in our normal clothes and shoes and all, we took a cold shower, and it was the most amazing thing ever. It was a very nice feeling :) And then we got dry super quickly, because of the blazing sun. And an awesome lunch after. So it was a very nice day. I think that was a good blessing. May not seem like much to you guys, was :) 

Let me see what else happened this week...I think that service project was the most exciting thing. Transfer next week! I'm really hoping that nobody leaves here, which is probably in vain. But...who knows. I hope that not much changes, anyways. On Tuesday, we'll have a zone meeting which I had to prepare another training for, and there'll be an open house of a new chapel in a neighboring city. Our chapel should get delivered [turned over] to us sometime in March, so I'm just praying that I'll stay here and that it'll have a legit piano. Speaking of piano, on Saturday I'm going to start giving piano lessons to some kids from the branch. So that should be cool! Have an awesome week!