August 5, 2013
So a lot has happened this week that was cool so I'll try to give a good recap.
Monday was transfers and pday at the same time. The transfer took forever and afterwards we had to catch the train, a charter bus, and a city bus to get here. Needless to say I slept on the 1.5 hour bus ride. We drove through a lot of green areas/the middle of nowhere. It was cool but I was asleep. Turns out we spend more money here on transportation than my other area. My area really consists of like 3 areas so we have to get the bus all the time. But we buy these coupon things so it's cheaper. The weather is definitely cooler here. I had to buy a blanket to sleep with because I never used/needed one in águas. You kind of just wake up in the morning freezing here. My companion gave me a sweater and I use socks all the time. The roads here are set up like a grid so it's easy to find your way around but at the same time it's hard to find investigator's houses. The Bishop is super legit and is getting everyone to go on divisions with us. He likes to talk about his mission and his American companions and the things that their moms would always send them. Everyone here who has ever served a mission always mentions peanut butter. Its super rare here and it's a delicacy. If ya'll sent me some it would make my week. We had a fhe that night at Erasmos' house. He's this guy who was an AP on his mission in Rio but was inactive for a long time. He had some rough problems but the missionaries reactivated him. He read the BOM in a week and is super excited about the gospel now. He goes out to teach with us almost ever day which really helps because he's a good teacher.
Tuesday we went on division with the ZLs. They live in our house so it's easy to do. I went with Elder Vargas. He's from Rio Grande do sol and he's super small. But he's way confident and I like his teaching style. It's always good to learn different ways to teach to keep it interesting. We knocked a ton of doors that day with a lot of success. The interesting thing about that day was that the other American missionary who already left, Elder Something, marked a visit with this English teacher. He marked for him to go and talk with this class of fifty teen-agers about why learning another language is important, and he said at the end we could talk about the church. So we got to this high school at night and the teacher was waiting there for us. Off the bat he started speaking in English and I could barely understand what he was saying because his accent was so thick. So he was speaking in English to me and I was speaking in Portuguese to him. I think he was really excited to use his English on an American. We got in the class and the room was full of rowdy teenagers who really just wouldn't be quiet. Me and Vargas were at the front of the room waiting as the teacher introduced us. Then it was my turn. Everyone was super quiet to hear what I had to say. There were even a few kids with their cellphones out filming me. It was kind of weird but I think I handled it pretty well. There were kids in the hall saying something like "oh there's a German guy in there"... I assured them that I was Americano and everyone laughed. I started talking about how my dad uses Spanish to sell security. I said he has more references than a lot of other people in the company because he uses his Spanish to sell to people that nobody else can sell to. Then I talked about the process which I passed through to learn how to speak Portuguese. Everyone was in awe when I said I've only been speaking Portuguese for 8 months. It was way cool. Then the teacher did this thing where the kids would ask questions to me, he would translate the questions into English(even though I already understood the question perfectly in Portuguese) and then I would respond in English... sometimes. This teacher just really wanted to use his English ha ha. It was legit though. At the end we explained who we were and why we're here and what the church is all about. Eventually me and Vargas just went to teach little groups sporadically in the room. I think I taught the 1st lesson like 5 times. It was legit. The students had weird questions like, "how do you like our health system" or, "what do you think of Brazilian girls?", or "do you listen to worldly music?".... It was kind of funny. Some of them would talk with their hands to get me to understand what they were saying. uhh... I'm understanding you perfectly.... you don't have to do that. When it all ended the principal gave us a ride home. I asked him for one of the shirts all the Brazilian kids wear to school and he gave it to me willingly. Sweet.
Wednesday was cool. It was District meeting so I got to meet all the missionaries in my district. Turns out there are 8 Sisters and 4 Elders. It's a bit different, but it's cool. The sisters are way cool and a lot of them work harder than the majority of the elders in the field. Elder Doyel, my companion, is the district leader, so when he finishes here I'll be the district leader. It's gonna be different to work with so many sisters but it'll be fun. We have to watch out that we don't hurt any feelings because they don't put up with the same stuff that elders do. One of the Sisters was sick and needed a blessing. I did the blessing in English because she's only been out here for 6 weeks and I thought it would be better for her to understand. It was really, really hard. I felt like I was learning to speak English, instead of the other way around. It was just awkward.
Thursday...... It was rough. Before I got here the Elders were teaching this dude Saulo. He's married to this recent convert, Claudia, and was marked to be baptised for this Sunday. Doyel told me that Her daughter tried to take her own life by overdosing the week before and had been in the hospital for a week straight. So we had to do things to make sure that Saulo would maintain his desire to be baptized. Thursday morning she died in the hospital. We went to Saulo's house to do something to comfort them. We talked about the Plan of Salvation and just eternal families in general. It seemed to help a little bit but there was really nothing we could say to make it alright. I felt really out of place because I had never met these people before, so I just said what was appropriate at the appropriate times and followed Doyel's lead. The next day the funeral happened. It was the first time I'd ever been to one and I felt pretty uncomfortable. But it made me think about the body and the soul, and really how fragile this life is. It made me think about the word procrastination and all the connotations that come with it. We only have one life and we need to use it wisely. Repent as soon as possible, tell someone you love that you love them, just try to be like Christ in general. He gave us this life to prove ourselves and we don't get a retake. I learned something pretty cool this week. It's human nature to stay in our comfort zone no matter what happens. So that means that if you're a genuinely good person, it's going to be really hard for you to sin, but if you're a terrible person you will struggle trying to turn a new leaf rapidly. When Christ was tempted by the devil, he was impeccable but sinning really wasn't in his comfort zone so he didn't give in just to stay the way he was. To take the easy way out. A lot of times, our easy way out is sinning because that's our nature, but he was so perfect that his easy way out was staying perfect. It's pretty cool. That's what we're striving to do in this life. Maintain a healthy comfort zone so that it will be hard for us to sin, and we really won't have the desire to do so. It helped me to understand my investigators more. You kind of have to break them like wild horses and get them in to that healthy comfort zone. Alright, I'm just rambling now so I'll move on.
Friday we met a lot of new people and taught a lot of lessons with Erasmo. My companion is a good teacher and I'm learning a lot from him. The only problem is that he talks the majority of the time, giving me less time to say what I need to say. We'll work it out. We went on another division with the Zls because I needed to teach an English class in the church, but Doyel needed to stay in the area to talk with Saulo. Teaching English was weird. Although I know everything, it's hard to explain the transitions from Portuguese to English to someone who speaks Portuguese. One of our investigators, João was there. He knows a lot of English already, and was really excited to learn. He's always talking about how the US is awesome. I hate to agree while I'm in a different country, but I agree.
Saturday was a blur because we taught so much.
Sunday I met everyone. It's really hard to remember every one's names when you meet like 200 people in the same week. But it was good. The ward is legit and we had a baptism after church. Saulo stayed strong during the week and pulled through to get baptized. It was great and everyone welcomed him with open arms. He asked one of the zone leaders to baptize him, Elder José. He's from Paraguay and learned Portuguese here on the mission. There aren't that many Spanish speaking missionaries here so that's why Saulo wanted him to baptize him.
Well I'll close this thing up. All in all this week was cool. I feel like I'm being trained again. The only difference is, I know how to teach and I know how to talk. Love you family! Till next week!
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll