Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week 1 Transfer 3 -- Currais Novos!

Buckle up for this one.  

Monday 13/3 - 

Today, I didn´t really do much except that night I met up with some other elders to get burgers.  Everyone was talking about transfers and one elder told me that he knew the transfers and that I would stay and Elder Prado would be transferred.  Another elder, an American, told me that he felt that I would be transferred to Caicó and when he said that I felt it too. Despite what the other elder said and the other rumors I heard saying that I would stay, I somewhat knew that I was going to be transferred to Caicó specifically.  

Tuesday 14/3 - 

Today, the news about the transfer came later than usual, about 11:00.  The ZL said "Elder Holdaway will be transferred to Currais Novos, Zona Caicó, and his new companion will be the DL, Elder Cassiano."  Except for the news about my new companion, I wasn´t surprised at all.  Elder Cassiano is from Ribeiro Preto and was in my zone in my first transfer; Elder Nhantole was my DL and Cassiano was the other DL.  The zone Caicó is about 4-5 hours inland from the state capital, Natal, and is actually spread across a few cities.  Where my old area was a borough of the city, Natal. Currais Novos is its own city and is actually two hours away from Caicó and the ZLs.  My new area has 4 missionaries; Elder Cassiano, Me, Sister Newman (an American), and Sister Noble (a Brazilian).  I´ll talk more about my area later.  I spent the rest of the day packing, and I visited some people including Nathanael; the boy I baptized Sunday and his family, and Ismael, my Ward Mission Leader, who is awesome - he served in Ribeiro Preto and was called as Branch President in his FIRST AREA!!! I can't imagine doing that.  He served in various leadership roles on his mission and when he was an AP, Elder Oaks visited the mission and spent the day with Ismael doing divisions.  He taught me a lot in these 13 weeks and he cried a little when I said goodbye.  Then we went to the Costa's for dinner.  Brother Costa and I talked a lot about our time in the military and I showed him a little pin I have of the Special Forces unit patch with airborne wings. He was a Brazilian commando which is kinda like the Navy Seals.  He did a lot of underwater demolition and he also parachuted; static and freefall.  He said that the military here has the upmost respect for the US SF unit patch and anyone wearing it.  He said he did a lot of work/training with them.  Dinner was great and it was hard saying goodbye to them, the best and kindest family I’ve met yet here.  

Wednesday 15/3 - 

Today at 7:30 I said my last goodbyes to my "birthplace" and we headed for the rodoviário which is a big bus/taxi station where all the missionaries met up to travel and exchange companions.  I enjoyed talking to the other missionaries before my bus left at 10:30. It was a small A/C-less bus as opposed to the nicer buses that others got.  We stopped at a pretty nice restaurant for lunch and continued our long journey.  The countryside here is beautiful and green with small mountains jutting out across the land.  It looks like a greener version of Arizona.  We got to Caicó and met up with our comps and ZL's.  We went to the ZL's house and chilled.  We went to go out and eat dinner, and walking around I saw THOUSANDS of stink beetles and the whole city smelled like beetle.  My shoes still smell like all the beetles I massacred with my feet.  The ZL's said it's not normal for them to be here and they arrived whe

n we came.  We at dinner (I had tapica recheado, which literally means stuffed tapioca. It's meat, eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, etc., stuffed in a crepe or tortilla made of tapioca – Its pretty dang good) and crashed.  I didn't sleep that well because it was hot and those stupid beetles kept jumping and crawling on me.  The next day we had zone meeting and afterwards we played Mafia which was fun.  Then we ate lunch at a member’s house from the ZL's ward which was an hour away in the hot, hot sun.  The members are bakers and they make little cakes, or scones and biscuits for a living and they sell to markets.  It was interesting to see how they work.  Then we went home to grab my things and went to the rodoviário to go to our area.  Another boring trip.  After being here for a few days (it's Sunday right now) I'll explain more about the area.  Currais Novos, translated, means New Corral.  With that you can guess that there’s plenty of ranches here.  But, actually, this city, or town, is an old mining town.  The city is in the middle of nowhere with one road in and one road out.  The nearest city is at least an hour away.  I love it here, and one reason why is because the landscape and climate here is like northern California or northern Arizona.  There are shrubs, cacti, and rocky hills everywhere. The nights are a cool 70 degrees. The culture here is like that of the American Northwest as well. There is a local motorcycle club here and, at the moment, a motofest in the town square.  I love it here and if given the choice, would never leave.  That night we ate dinner with the sisters at an outside churrascaria.

Friday 17/3 - 

We slept in to get needed rest after 2 long days of travelling (and 2 weeks of sleeplessness for me) and went to get lunch at a restaurant that a member works at and he paid for our meal.  Then Elder Cassiano showed me the area and we met a couple members. I went to the local supermarket to get groceries.  

Saturday 18/3 - 

After lunch, we went to the chapel to visit with the branch president, who wasn't there. We went to go to his house but met him on the way and talked.  He wants us to speak on Sunday.  Then we went to take açaí and then checked out the Motofest which was awesome.  Hundreds of bikers from different clubs were walking around with their cuts on, like the Brazilian version of Sturgis.  Luckily, I didn't see any "one-percenters."  I bought a pin of the state flag, Rio Grande Do Norte, and a pin of an eagle with the words "motociclista" written beneath it.  Then we ate dinner at a snack shack that the branch president owns and chatted with him.  

Sunday 19/3 - 

Today, we picked up some members and went to church.  My comp and I had to give talks, and I prepared what I thought was a pretty dang good talk on how we can grow our testimony of the BoM, that would fill the 10 minutes allotted.  I was first and wasn't too nervous to talk in front of 25 people.  A little more than halfway in and right before the good part, the 1st counselor nudged my leg and gave me the thumbs up like that was enough.  So, I quickly wrapped it up and closed.  I don't think I talked all that long or even went past the 10 minutes.  He apologized after I sat down and said something but I didn’t understand him, I still don’t know what happened, but I hope it means they won’t ask me again.  

That’s all folks, until next week.  More pictures in the blog. 
You have arrived . . .

Monday, March 13, 2017

Transfer 2 -- Weeks 4 thru 6

Tuesday 21/2 -

Today, my companion and I divided with the District Leader, Elder Alfaro, and his companion, Elder Martins.  I went with Elder Martins in his area, he and I are good friends already so I was excited to spend the day with him.  For lunch, he made ham and egg breakfast tacos which were good.  Then we went out and did some street contacting.  They have a small sand dune in their area, so he took me there and we hiked to the top and watched the sun set, but I forgot my camera.  We talked a lot and he really opened up about his life before the mission and what not.  Then we went to take açaí for dinner.  Side note - their house is like the best missionary house I have seen in the mission and I am super jealous of them.

Wednesday 22/2 -

We woke up and Elder Martins made fried bananas.  You fry bananas in oil, put on a plate, and top with sugar, powdered milk, powdered chocolate, and sweetened condensed milk.  Super easy and super good. Then we returned to our areas. 

Thursday 23/2 -

This morning, President and Sister Colleoni came over to our house to look at the place and tell us that we were going to move houses to live with two other elders in another zone.  I am not too thrilled about this change, but the good thing is that the house is right next to our chapel.

Friday 24/2 -

We have to be careful in the streets at night and shouldn't stay out late because of the Carnaval parties.  Everyone is drunk.  We taught a boy named Gean that we met on the street the other day, and he invited his two older brothers, Mateus and Leandro to listen in on our first lesson, the Restoration.  It went well and they all seemed interested.  We committed them to church on Sunday, but who knows being that Carnaval is this weekend.

Sunday 26/2 -

They didn't come, in fact no one came except for a handful of people.  I went to stay the night at the DL's house to spend the next day with them.  The power was out in their area but we had a fun time playing Uno and other games. 

Monday 27/2 -

Today, I stayed at the district leader's house last night and we are going to go on a tour of Natal and the beach and what not with a member. 

We went to an activity at the church for Carnaval and we ate feijoada, rice, and barbeque.  Then we went with a member to the beach which was really cool.  We went to a place where the sand dunes met the water.  I saw camels there and the view was just amazing, I think the beaches here are my favorite that I have been to.  I was surprised that not a lot of people were there though.  We went down near the shore and walked 3-4 miles down the coast.  My favorite P-day yet.  On the way there we passed a Carnaval parade while we were on the bus.  It was like a mix between Mardi Gras and a San Francisco gay parade. I didn't realize it was so gross and dirty.  Maybe there's a better part to it.  There was a guy I met at the church activity that had a GoArmy key chain that made me look twice.  It was weird seeing that here.  I talked to him and he said he went on his mission to Idaho and he planned on joining the Army there in the states, but it didn’t work out for some reason.  Thought that was pretty interesting.

Tuesday 28/2 - PARA BENS MAMÃE !!!!!!!

Nothing special really happened today except that I'm getting sick and Gean and Mateus weren't there for their appointment.  Vai dar certo.

Wednesday 1/3 -

Today, we passed by Gean and Mateus again (Leandro doesn't live there) and we taught them the Plan of Salvation.  Mateus shows more interest than Gean, but he is 3 years older than Gean at 15.

Thursday 2/3 -

Today, we went to visit a 13-year-old named Alan who just got back from the church youth camp.  He liked it and wants to be baptized, in fact he has wanted to be baptized for quite some time.  He has already been to church several times, but hasn't been taught.  He leaves for a city near Mossoró next Tuesday, so we are working to get him baptized on Saturday.  Today we taught him the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, and Gospel all at once and scheduled to teach the commandments tomorrow. 

Friday 3/3 -

Today, we taught the commandments and filled out the membership/baptism document and got it signed by his mother.  Now just an interview with the DL and the baptism tomorrow night.

Saturday 4/3 - PARA BENS KAELIN!!!!!!!!

Today, we received a call from the bishop and he told us that we can baptize Alan if we want, but he will not confirm him because Alan is leaving, and the bishop doesn't want another inactive member on the records.  We plead his case and he said he would call us back.  The other problem is that there is no church where Alan is going.  Next, we got a call from the Mission President saying that for the sake of good relations between the ward and stake, he would not be authorizing this baptism.  I wasn’t feeling well, so I returned to bed after personal study and got up in time to go out and work for the day that afternoon.  We taught Mateus today (Gean lost interest) and committed him to baptism and church. 

Sunday 5/3 -

Well, Mateus actually showed up and we had good meetings.  In Sunday School, the teacher taught about gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and shared a video of Elder Holland talking about it.  I thought it was the perfect lesson for our investigator and he seemed really interested.  We went to eat lunch and the member told me about an American who passed in this area who was a really good singer and had a band back in the states.  I asked her more about it and she said that there’s like 12 members of the band and they wear blue.  I was a bit confused and asked if there was a video of it on YouTube, and she pulled up a BYU Vocal Point video singing Silent Night.  He is the first one singing.  I thought that was pretty cool.  We went home and I tried to catch up on sleep that I lost the previous night due to not feeling well, but it didn't come.  Then we went to a meeting that ended up being cancelled and so we did some street contacts for the rest of the night.  On one contact I presented the message of the Restoration and asked the lady if she would like to hear more about it this next coming week.  She pulled up an empty chair next to her and told me to share it now, and so we did right there on the street (a lot of people just sit in front of their houses outside) and afterwards we set up an appointment to teach them the next one.

Monday 6/3 -

Today, we went to Alecrim so I could get a suit from another Elder who is leaving soon.  I felt so sick that we just we went to the LAN house and stayed home the rest of the day.

Tuesday-Saturday -

I was pretty sick and couldn´t sleep that well this week and it was hard to find the energy to do anything. As a result, work was slow, especially with most of our appointments falling through.  The only really good thing that happened was teaching this one family.  The mom, Kayla, was baptized 23 years ago but is inactive.  Last Sunday she had the sudden desire to return to church.  She brought her 13-year-old son, Nathannael, and his cousin who is a member.  We talked to her and set a day to teach Nathannael to baptize him.  The day we went, we talked to the step-dad, Tiago, and had a good conversation with him.  Throughout teaching the family, we found out that Tiago has a really strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and Restoration.  By Saturday, we committed Nathannael for baptism for Sunday, Tiago for baptism after he gets married (people here aren´t usually married), and Kayla and Tiago will work on going to the temple.  Saturday night when we were teaching about eternal marriage and families, Kayla became very emotional.  She gave the closing prayer, and it was one of the most powerful and sincere prayers that I have felt.  It was truly special. Friday night we went to the marriage of our WML at the chapel.  It was boring but the food was good.

Sunday 12/3 -

The night before we had a conversation with the bishop over the phone and he almost blocked the baptism again.  I decided we should open a fast for our work here and leave it in the Lord´s hands.  I felt like everything was going to be ok, but my companion was up all night thinking about what he will say to the bishop the next day.  Today, I brought my baptism clothes even though it was still up in the air.  I sat down in the 1st block and the bishop came in and sat down next to me and said we will have the baptism like normal.  My comp was very surprised. The baptism went very well (it only took one time this time), the whole family was there and once again the mom was very emotional.   

Tomorrow is transfer day, I think I will be transferred but we will see.