To whom it may concern...
How’s it going in the US? Everything is going just peachy here in Aguas Compridas (try Google mapping that). So, I’m just going to ramble on if that’s ok. I feel like that’s all I do in these things. Haha. I’m definitely feeling more at home here than I was before. I know where everything is and for the most part all the members know who I am. It’s really hard to remember people’s names because when I ask them they just mumble it to me and assume I understood them. Even when I do understand them, it’s a name that’s really hard to remember, so naturally I know like 3 people’s names! Yesterday was Fast and Testimony meeting. My companion went up and bore his testimony and told me to bear mine. I didn’t. I’m a pansy, I know. I promised myself next time. I just don’t feel comfortable enough with my Portuguese to stand up in front of 100+ people and speak. I guess I really could have but, whatever. Things with the companion aren’t getting better or worse. I had a little talk with him and nothing has changed still. He’s just impatient. He even told me that he didn’t want to train an American. Gee, I couldn’t tell... haha. I’m just going to have to wait him out. The only time I feel like I can get along with him is when I’m teaching him English so I try to spread some of that around the day to keep the peace.
Food.... So the Brazilians eat this stuff called doce (everything here is called doce that even has the hint of a taste of sugar). But anyways.... this doce is like jelly, except it’s super thick. The stuff is bomb. You have to cut it with a knife and you just eat it. I’ve formulated the perfect breakfast here. It took me about a week to find everything but every morning I have a guava, oatmeal with bananas, 3 scrambled eggs, and protein. You know how I like good food. It’s probably going to make me fat but, whatever. Also here, people eat sugar like it’s candy (haha). I swear, for each batch of suco someone makes, they poor like 2 cups of sugar in and a batch is like a liter. I tried this stuff called guarrana do amazona the other day. Guarrana powder with banana blended. Twas good!
This week we taught a 14 year old girl who is in a family of members but is not a member herself. We taught the first 2 lessons and she wants to be baptized. That was easy. Anytime she said she didn’t understand me I got so frustrated but I would have to just find another way to say what I wanted to say in Portuguese. My companion just takes over lessons. It’s pretty frustrating, sometimes I don’t even get the chance to say 2 words. I’ll just have to be more aggressive and talk to him about it. The families that I told y’all about last week are progressing. They just keep taking the lessons and agreeing. They’ve all been to church. They kind of love us. They think were pals even though they have to keep repeating themselves slowly when I don’t understand them haha. The ward here has these huge Family Home Evenings every week. They are way fun and they always have tons of food. There’s never a shortage of food here, which is awesome but I’m perpetually full. At lunch appointments, people ask my companion if I want something, We both get frustrated because I can understand what they’re saying and my companion knows that I can understand too.
I think my Portuguese is improving although it’s pretty hard to monitor something like that. I can understand a lot more than the first week but I still definitely have those moments where I can’t understand squat. I always find myself forming sentences in my head even when I’m not talking or with anyone. I read a chapter of the Book of Mormon in Portuguese every morning and I try talking to my companion even though he doesn’t ever want to talk to me. I think at this point I’m mostly just learning through hearing and reading. I also made a goal to memorize 150 flashcards a week. I can’t wait until I start forgetting words in English. That’ll be the day... And of course I learn other words without even knowing I’m learning them. It really helps to not have people to speak English with, though I get really frustrated at times especially in the morning when I’m trying to get my roommates to do something or they’re trying to get me to do something. I just walk away sometimes. haha. I think they think I’m an idiot.I’m pretty much the maid of the house. I wash everyone’s dishes, sweep, clean up messes, make food... etc. It’s nice! The culture here is something different every day. The other day we were on the bus and this guy with one leg hops on. He starts yelling something to everyone on the bus like he was giving a lecture and then starts handing out candy and accepting money. What the heck! During the same ride there was a guy that did the same thing but didn’t sell anything. He just collected money and said “Bom Trabalho. haha. You gotta love it.
The people are super nice here. They hear our message and really never have anything negative to say about it. They always bring up the fact that I’m really white and that I probably have some German blood in me. As a matter of fact, I do. But as I walk around this city and see all the poverty and humility, I realize that this gospel is huge. It’s a big deal. It brings people together like nothing else can, and people receive help through it. I think we take it for granted sometimes what we have. Sometimes I think about how all the apostles are in Salt Lake and when I was in school; I could see one on pretty much on a monthly basis. Whereas here, they are thousands of miles away! Just don’t take things for granted! People here would give their right arm to go to Salt Lake and view a session of conference. I’ve been reading Jesus the Christ. I’m like a quarter ways through it. I don’t know if this is irreverent to say but Jesus was awesome in His earthly ministry! His parables and lessons are always perfect and usually allude to something that will happen or has happened in the past. I know He’s our Savior and that He lives! His gospel is the only way.
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll