Yesterday I woke up at 4 to get on the bus to the airport. we got there and the information that the CTM gave me was wrong and I had to fly on a different airline. As a result, I had to pay R$1400 in overweight baggage fees for me and another elder whose card did not work. the maximum was 25 kilos for two bags. I couldn’t believe it. The flight was less than stellar. we had a short layover in Brasilia. before we landed in Natal, we hit some really, really bad turbulence and the emergency lights popped on, not very relaxing, all I could think about was the Colombian flight that crashed just weeks before. the area by the airport looks kinda like Arizona or Australia, not what I really imagined it to look like. the president, his wife, and the AP´s were there to meet us.
We then went to the mission office where they fed us McDonalds and the president conducted interviews and orientation. That night for dinner, we went to the president’s house. He has an ocean-front condo with an amazing view of the beach. they hired a chef to make us beef wellington, chicken casserole, potatoes, and salad. it was all really good. then we had this mousse like stuff for desert. After we had a testimony meeting. we slept at the AP´s house with about 20 other elders because it was transfer night. I didn’t get much sleep.
The next morning, we had a really good breakfast at the church with hot cheese sandwiches, quiche, fresh fruit, and mango juice. Then we got our new companions. My companion is Elder Nhatole, who´s from Mozambique. everyone says he’s a great missionary. We went to our apartment in our area, Nova República, and I settled in. For lunch, we went to this member’s house who lives in very humble circumstances. We had rice, beans, chicken, and macarão, which is spaghetti. The rice and beans were good, the macarão smelled like fish and the chicken was difficult to get down. Baptism by fire. I thanked them and managed to eat it all but I didn´t feel good for the rest of the day.
My companion showed me around the rest of the day and we talked to people. When we returned home, we found that our electricity bill hadn’t been paid for the month of October, and we had no lights. He then took me to meet the ward mission leader, or LMA, who´s a really nice guy and the fed us a really good meal.
We woke up and went to the chapel to practice for a play we are doing as a zone for the mission Christmas conference. we had a short meeting and introduced ourselves. I am in a scene about the three Magis but only say like 2 words, and I didn’t really understand anything that was going on. we grabbed lunch and went to the building office to pay the bill but they didn’t accept Nhatole´s card so we went to the mall to withdraw cash and then we paid the bill.
Then we went to our chapel to help set up for a missionary event where nonmembers and investigators show up. while we were waiting for it to start, a guy named Fillipe showed up needing help. He’s addicted to weed and other drugs. We taught him about the Gospel and he accepted to be baptized, but he lives far away, so we won’t work with him. After that we ditched with two other elders and got açaí, which is like sorbet. We returned home and were pleased to find that the electricity was on.
Friday, December 16th
Today we practiced more for the play, then we had lunch at a member’s house, a young adult who lives alone. He used to work in a mine, which is cool. Then we went to a market to buy some stuff. We chilled and planned for a bit, then went back out to find a contact. She wasn’t there, so we went to this 16-year-old boy’s house – his name is Michael. He said he was reading in 3rd Nephi. I talked about how when Jesus said he wanted to heal the sick an afflicted he also meant our souls and hearts, and we have to turn to Him to accept His invitation to be healed. This I talked about the Restoration and about the 1st Vision. I’m not sure he’s promising, but I hope he accepts our message.
Then we made our way back to our chapel and I suggested we get fresh coconut water. It was super good! For only R$2 (60 US cents)! We went to the chapel to get ready for the ward Christmas party tomorrow night. Then we got Coke with the two other Elders and split. We stopped by some other investigator’s houses. We went to this one house where the boy is a member but his mom isn’t. I showed him and his friends a card trick and they all freaked out. Our main focus on contacting right now is inviting people to the Christmas party and church.
Saturday, December 17th
Today we went to practice again, only to find that they canceled it without telling us. So, we just went to another missionary’s house. My companion talked with them and I took a nap in a hammock. Then we went to lunch at the ward mission leader’s house, which was super good. Then we returned home to find some Elders in our house and hung out – I took another nap.
Then we went to a guy’s house to teach him, but he wasn’t there. Then we walked around a bit and we found an investigator we are teaching, Raissa – she’s 13. We taught her a bit and invited her to church on Sunday. We walked around a bit more and went to the chapel to help set up for the party. No one was there, so we sat and talked until it was time to pick up the investigators, who ended up not being home. But there was a 13-year-old kid who was a member, so we took him.
While we waited for him to change, a slightly drunk man came up to us and we started talking. He then said a bunch of stuff about God that I didn’t understand. My companion told me that the guy said that when he saw us, he saw angels from heaven and he needed help. He looked sad and said that he can’t cry because he’s a man. I told him that God sent us to help him and he was trying not to cry. We took down his info and we’ll teach him next week, hopefully he has the same attitude sober.
The Christmas party went well and some of our investigators showed up that we didn’t think would. We have to work hard at earning the trust of the members her because of the bad behavior of a past missionary – when my companion first got here, he felt like was opening the area for missionary work for the first time.
I know that there is evil on this earth. I am here to overcome that evil with the light of Christ. My companion, from Mozambique, grew in a religion called Spiritualism. This is a very dark and powerful religion with its roots in Africa and is also here, especially in Northern Brazil. He said that his grandma would dress herself in animal skins and perform dark rituals. If you steal something in the village, she would have the power to make you physically come back and return it. This is interesting, because wasn’t that Satan’s plan in the first place? Forced obedience?
Sunday, December 18th
I woke up and we went to pick up investigators for church. No luck. Church here is way different, and I’m not sure what a branch is because a ward has 30 members. After church, we went to lunch at a member’s house pretty far away, but it was really good. After that we just chilled for the rest of the day until we went to the other ward’s Christmas party because we didn’t have food. At the party, they did a Secret Santa thing, where you pick a name out of a cup and say something nice about them. I only knew one person there, the ward mission leader. The first miracle on my mission was me picking his name. I said in Portuguese, “he cooks good and I’m grateful for his help.”
Monday, December 19th – P-DAY
We slept in and “cleaned” the apartment until eleven. Then I spent some time at the internet café emailing. After that, we grabbed lunch and went to the chapel to practice for the play with the rest of the zone. After we practiced, the 16 of us downed a big box of acai. We went home and my companion and I shared a pizza.
Tuesday, December 20th – Natal Mission Conference
We woke up at 4 am to catch a taxi to the chapel for the mission Christmas conference. We met up with our zone at the chapel and then took a bus to the place of our conference, about an hour away. There we had breakfast and the Mission President, his wife, and a few others, spoke. I had an Elder translate for me. Then we had lunch, which was bomb. We had rice, cheese potatoes, brisket with BBQ sauce, another meat, and lasagna. Lasagna here is different. We did our plays, which went well. We went back to our chapel and drove by the beach, which was sick. Then we downed another box of acai.
Wednesday, December 21st
We accidentally slept in this morning, but we got up and got ready for the day. We grabbed some lunch at a member’s house and then went to this big super market in a mall so I could buy stuff. Then we returned home and went to teach. We made a few contacts, but didn’t have much luck until later that day. We were walking and my companion told me we should stop at this guy’s house we’ve been trying to teach, but is never there. We passed it a few blocks back, so I just said we can do it when we return. After walking a few steps, I felt like we needed to go now. We went to the house and he was there watching UFC. He invited us in and we were able to teach his family about faith, repentance, and baptism. They are big alcohol addicts and don’t seem like they really want to stop. But they said they will come on January 1st. I told them that getting over this addiction will be hard, and I shared some personal experiences when I used the atonement to help me overcome addictions.
Then we stopped at another house to teach them for the first time. The father, Paulo, wasn’t there, but his wife and son were there and she invited us in. We briefly explained the Plan of Salvation, left her the pamphlet, and decided on a date to return and teach the whole family. Then we went to go find the house of Roberto, the “drunk” who stopped us needing help. After 45 minutes of asking people where his street is with no luck, we finally met someone we knew, who knew Roberto, and who took us to go find him. We found him at an outside BBQ place eating churrasco. He seemed happy to see us and we picked a date to teach him. The guy who helped us bought me a skewer of meat, which was nice. Then we went to the ward mission leader’s house to talk about our investigators. His daughter was watching Legend of Karra, so I was distracted most of the time. They fed us egg and veggie pancakes, like a frittata, and rice.
Thursday, December 22nd
This morning, I went to the clinic to switch my bandages and get a new x-ray of my foot. It was a relief to finally take the bandages off for a short time. My toe still looked really swollen, but it looked better. When my toe broke, the doctor said it would take 3-4 weeks to heal. So, I wasn’t expecting much. The doctor told me today that the toe healed fine and I would return in 5 days to remove the bandages completely. I was really surprised, but I knew the Lord blessed me. When I first got here, my companion said we had permission to take it easy, but I wasn’t going to let a petty thing like this get in the way of the salvation of souls. Even after walking all day every day, my toe healed and I barely have a limp. I don’t think it would’ve healed that fast if I sat around all day. It still hurts a little, but I’m sure in a couple of weeks it will all be good.
We then went to grab lunch at a salgradinho, which is kind of like a bakery. Everything they sell is some form of fried or baked dough with meat inside. It’s really good. Then we taught for a bit and then we went to teach a little girl who is about to be baptized at her parent’s request. We arrived at 7 and we had a dinner appointment 20 minutes away at 7:30. I wanted to cancel, but it was too late. We finished at 7:35 and called the family to say we’d be late. Everything worked out, but I was mad. I later discussed with companion the issue of missionaries teaching children of active families who are being baptized at the age of 8 – especially when it put other investigator appointments in jeopardy or where we could be teaching real investigators. The dinner was really good – probably the best one we’ve had. I love the family. Something about them reminded me of home.
Saturday, December 24th
We went to go teach a family, and on the way called some members to help us teach later in the day. One agreed and we made the arrangments. We taught the family, but the rest of the appointments fell through for the rest of the day. We tried to contact people, but everyone was either drunk or had their mind on partying. So we went home. There were 2 Elders from another zone who needed a place to crash and shower, so they stayed at our place. My companion, 2 other Elders – Orizinto and Flores, and a guy from the ward chilled for a couple of hours. Then we went to the ward mission leader’s house for a Christmas message and we started eating at 10:30. We had lasagna, rice, chicken stew, and chocolate coconut cake. Then we returned home and crashed.
Sunday, December 25th – NATAL!
I slept in and we went over to the ward mission leader’s house to Skype my family. I had a nice conversation with them. I also Skyped my grandparents who just woke up. It was nice to talk with them. Then we watched Return with Honor and went to church.
We had church at 4 instead of 8:30 in the morning. After the sacrament meeting we went to our house to get a change of clothes because we were going to go to the zone leaders house that night to make churrasco (bbq). I went to get some shorts on the top shelf in my dresser, that I haven’t touched since I put them there 2 weeks ago, and when I lifted them up these really small ants started pouring out and I found an ant nest in my clothes. I took each article of clothing, shook the ants off, and put it in a plastic bag to be washed. I then took bleach and doused the remains of the nest with it which killed most of them. Oh well. I grabbed the only shirt and shorts that weren’t affected and we walked the long way to the zone leader´s house.
We finally got there and we built the fire for the bbq. I thought we were just gonna cut up some meat and put the skewers over the fire, but the zone leaders bought a rack of cow ribs. We made a make shift spit and put the ribs on for three hours. I slept a little in between and finally (at an undisclosed time) the ribs were ready. It was pretty good but it needed bbq sauce, not something that’s common here. I managed to sleep a bit more until we had to leave the next morning at 7:30 because we had to meet a guy at our house who was going to but insecticide in our apartment for cockroaches and fix our fridge. we got to our house late but luckily the guy was late as well. I change, showered, and then we left and I got my haircut.
|At the Mission Conference|