Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week 13 - 13 December 2010

Ola todo mundo!

This week was tough for us.  Sooo many lessons fell through, and we didn’t meet our goal for the week.  So many people were traveling and out of town.  So it was a bummer. But that means that this week we have a lot of work to do and a lot of people to see.  And every single day after lunch there is no one on the streets and no one to teach.  The schedule of the people here is wake up really early around 5:30 or 6, then after lunch at noon, everyone sleeps until about 3 or 4.  It’s pretty odd, but I think we should be allowed to have the same schedule and get a nap in everyday... haha jk.

On Wednesday night, we had to take the boat to a nearby town called Obidos, which is where the other companionship is serving in our district.  We dropped off another Elder there and spent the night.  Then we took a bus back to Oriximiná at about 5:30 in the morning.  It was about a 4 hour or so bus ride back.  Oh gosh, so I’m already starting to forget words in English...but the bad thing is that it feels like I’m not learning enough Portuguese to even it out  haha.  A girl in our ward here asked me what “noivo” was in English.  I know what it is in Portuguese but I couldn’t remember in English - haha.  It’s fiancé.  I was thinking so hard, and I knew it was what you call someone when you’re engaged, but I couldn’t think of the word haha.  That has happened a bunch lately. The strange thing out here is that I’m always hungry!  At home you guys always got on me for not eating enough, but out here Elder Costa gets on me for eating too much of our food haha.  I’m not sure if I’m gaining any weight, but I’m pretty sure I’m losing my six pack I used to have haha.  The members here provide us lunch, which is like our dinner and the bigger meal of the day, and they always feed us the same food: rice, noodles, beans, and chicken.  I’m starting to not be able to taste rice and beans because I’m so used to it. Haha

So some days here are really hard for me and others seem to be easier.  Some days I feel like I can understand and say what I want, then I have others where I just can’t manage anything..ha – it’s tough.  But I sure am grateful that at least I’m having some good days.  I’ve been trying to change my accent so I can sound more like a Brazilian because the people here say I have a horrible accent. Haha  It just seems my mouth doesn’t move the way the Brazilians move it.  But I’ve been working on not rushing and talking a little slower and thinking of what I’m going to say before I say it.  It seems that I’m getting used to hearing Portuguese though because it’s strange whenever I hear anything in English.  But the thing is I still can’t understand what’s being said. Haha.

We have two young men in our ward that left this morning for the CTM in São Paulo. The testimonies of the people here seem to be really strong, and they have a really good testimony meeting on Fast Sundays.  Last Saturday and Sunday, we had a stake conference transmitted from Salt Lake for the stakes up here in Northern Brazil.  It was pretty cool.  The speakers were Elder Ellis (I think), Sister Dalton, Elder Neil L. Anderson, and President Uchtdorf.  Elder Ellis and Neil L. Anderson spoke in Portuguese, and Sister Dalton and Pres. Uchtdorf had to be translated.  Then we got to watch the Christmas Devotional that night too.  The music was beautiful, and yeah, I’ll admit, it made me miss home a little bit haha.
So I received 3 letters through missionties, but the one I got today was only a little part of the whole thing...I don’t know why.  But I started translating all of the letters you guys send to me. Haha  It’s pretty fun, and it helps me find knew ways to say things in Portuguese.  Also I’ve been noticing that a lot of the people here point with their lips haha  It’s odd, and it’ll take some getting used to, especially when they point AT me with their lips haha - a little strange.

So I thought of a little slogan that I write and read whenever I feel the language is a little too much for me.  It’s “Nunca Desista, Conseguirei,” which is “Never Give Up, I Will Achieve.”  I actually think it makes more sense in Portuguese haha, and it’s a good picker upper when I feel down.

Well, that’s about it for this week. Love you all!

Com Amor
-Elder Andrus

I drew this on the back of a notepad I have with a bunch of scriptures and references and stuff :)

My proselyting bag and tag

Us at 5:30 in the morning waiting for a bus in Obidos. We were so excited to be awake that early!

From the district meeting in the middle of nowhere

Mais fotos da reuniãno de distrito no maio do nada!

The apartment

A nearby soccer field

Some houses here

Rio Trombetas

Ituzinho I mentioned last time. YUM. :) Tão gostoso!

Map of the area

Yeah, it rains a lot haha. When it rains, it pours!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 12 - 6 December 2010

Oí!  This week went by so fast, it seems like only yesterday I was sitting here on the computer haha.  So remember that bat I mentioned last time?  Yeah we found it inside Elder Costa’s backpack! hahah  So funny. 

So last week we baptized 3 people, Ronan, Maria, and Vandria.  Then this week we baptized the two young girls who weren’t baptized last week, Eloiana and Eloina.  I had the opportunity to baptize Maria last Sunday and Eloiana this last Saturday.  It was awesome.  So I’ve been really trying to read the Book of Mormon in Portuguese, and I’m already almost in 2 Nephi!  I have my English ones by my side to help with the big words, but I think the scriptures are a powerful way to help with the language.  Rio sent me the advice from Sterling and Sean about the language and I really appreciate it and will use it.  My planner is FILLED with new words everyday for me to study. Sometimes I even have too many for me to remember haha.  I made a study plan the other day for the hour of language study I get.  I’ll try it out this week and see how it works. 

On Saturday, we got to do a little service project with a family in our ward at their house. We built a little table in their back yard and then it started to pour down raining.  When it rains here it rains pretty hard.  Here in Oriximiná, they have these things called ituzinhos, which are like popcicles but made from ice cream and stuff.  They are so good.  We bought 20 of them, 10 for me and 10 for Elder Costa.  I ate all of them in one day  haha. So during Sunday School at church on Sunday, I opened up my Bible and guess what crawled out of it...a huuuge grasshopper!  It must have been in there for a while, I don’t know, but it sure freaked me out haha.  Bugs here live everywhere, and you find them in the weirdest places every day.  Some members here own a bakery and make bread for the whole town, and sometimes we get some free bread!  They have this kind called pisoleta that is soooo good, and for only 25 centavos. 

We’ve been doing a lot of activities with the ward.  On Wednesday, we have a class for English at 7.  On Saturday, we have another English class at 5, baptisms at 6, then an activity at 7.  Then on Sundays, we have a class we teach about missionary work called “Mini CTM.”  It’s nice because it gets the members involved with the work that we do.

In response to the letter I received today from missionties: I finally looked at a map and found out where I am in Brasil haha, and yeah I didn’t realize how far west I am.  Mom said it’s the 2nd biggest city, and yet we only have 1 bank and 1 post office... and one set of Elders! haha.  It doesn’t seem very big here because the actual town in small.  But there are a lot of outskirt regions here where people live in dirt and grime houses.  We don’t ride buses unless we need to leave the town for something.  And a lot of times we go by boat for that.  The biggest meal here is lunch, and we have a regular schedule for which member we eat with on which day of the month.  So for lunch we are usually fed pretty well.  But for other meals a lot of the time we don’t have much food and end up just throwing everything we have together and mix it up in the blender or something haha.

That’s crazy Karl served with Kyle’s dad!  Where did they serve?  I’ve been emailing Kyle a little bit just to keep in touch.  Well life here as a missionary is rolling.  I’m not gonna say it’s not hard, because it’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve done.  But I’m studying tons everyday, and I know the Lord blesses missionaries and their families.  The Lord doesn’t give a commandment without providing a way to accomplish it.  Love you all and thanks for everything!

Com Amor do Amazonas,
Elder Andrus


Week 11 - 29 November 2010

Ola!  This week was pretty tough.  But on Sunday, we had three baptisms!  We were planning on five but two fell through and hopefully will happen next week.  It was really cool though!  Elder Costa got sick this week from something in the food he ate so this week didn’t go as well as we hoped.  I gave him a blessing, and he’s better now, but let’s hope I don’t get sick next haha.  When he was sick I went out with a RM that arrived just this week so we could still teach some lessons.  He’s freshly back so he still had all the good missionary skills.  And he actually reminded me of Leif Dayberry a little haha.  Except for the fact that he spoke Portuguese of course. 

So something funny happened this week.  While we were getting ready to leave to a lesson, a bat flew inside our house! Haha We tried to get it out but it was pointless.  It was just flying around like crazy.  It’s funny because we never saw it fly out but we can’t find it anywhere in there, so we have no idea if it’s dead in a corner there or something haha.  I guess we’ll find out soon.  Also, every Thursday we have a district meeting.  And since we’re really far away from everything, there is only one other companionship in our district, and we have to take a bus for about an hour and a half to meet up with them in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere.  I have a feeling I might get a little sick of that after a while haha.  The ward here loves us I can tell.  We do a lot of activities with them and really try to get them involved.  We had 20 lessons last week and 17 were with members!  Also, I think we’re planning on starting a little activity once a week for them to learn some English.  That should be fun because that’s one thing I can actually really help with haha. 

Here in Oriximiná, I hear that your clothes get ruined extra fast haha.  And I already ruined like 2 shirts and a tie! Haha  I need to be more careful.  Oh and about the bugs here... yeah there are tons.  Our house is full of ants and bugs.  I hate it, and we try to get rid of them but they always find a way in.  There are tons.  I’m not a fan haha.  And we always seem to find a surprise for us when we arrive back home at the end of the day.  Yipee...haha.

So about the language, it’s really hard.  It’s really overwhelming at times, especially this week.  Some days I feel like I can understand a lot, then others I feel like I can’t say or understand anything.  It’s pretty frustrating, not gonna lie, because I want to talk and converse with these people so badly.  I want to help and be involved more, but there is still this huge language barrier.  I study and pray everyday, and I know that the Lord helps me.  I know you, Mom, served in Colombia and had to speak Spanish.  It would be greatly appreciated if you had some advice for me or something J because the Portuguese seems to be my primary concern right now.
Besides that, I’m loving it here.  Serving the Lord is great.  I’m really being pushed to my limits here, but I’m so grateful to know the Lord trusts me.  The people are great, even though they do laugh at me because of my horrible accent and my inability to speak haha.  I gave a thought about baptism at the service on Sunday, and while I was talking everyone was smiling and smirking because “the American” was speaking. Haha  But I still love them.  Love you all, and thanks for all of your support!

Com Amor do Amazonas,
Elder Andrus

American district friends

Goodies from home

Mais amigos!

New watch

Last day at the São Paulo temple

Elder de Lima

Irmão Zamboni

President and Sister Clark

Irmão Waskow


Everyone leaving the CTM with us

Hammocks on the boat

On the boat on the Amazon

Elder Costa and me on the boat














Week 10 - 22 November 2010

Olá everyone! So these past 2 weeks have been pretty crazy. I didn´t get a p-day last week because I left São Paulo on Tuesday and my p-day here is on Monday.

Well I arrived in Belém Tuesday and went to the home of President Campos with his wife and daughters. They live about 18 floors up in central Belém. We did some stuff there and ate there and had our interviews there. That night me and a bunch of other Brazilians stayed in Belém then on Wednesday we were off to our first area. My area is a small isolated city called Oriximiná! It´s in the zone of Santarém. When President Campos told me I was going to Oriximiná he told me that it is the area that almost everyone wants to go, but very few get to. He also called it the ``other side of heaven´´ area of our mission. From Belém I took about an hour long plane ride to Santarém, which is down river from Belém. There I met my companion Elder Costa. He´s really cool and likes to work, so I´m grateful I got a good trainer! So then Wednesday night we got on a boat and went on a 10 hour boat ride from Santarém to Oriximiná on the Amazon River. I´m not quite sure where on the map I am right now but all I know is that I´m downstream from Santarém about 10 hours. It was crazy because the boat was from about 7:30 at night to about 5:30 the next morning. So everyone was cramped on board and slept on hammocks. So that was my first experience on a hammock, on a boat in the Amazon River. It was pretty sweet. 

So far I haven´t been able to teach much in the lessons, just bearing my testimony and saying the first vision and stuff like that. People here talk a lot different than what I´ve learned in the CTM, so I´m having a pretty hard time understanding and speaking to people. But I´m trying to improve everyday. The biggest barrier for me right now is the language. The people here are amazing. A lot of them act like they´ve never seen anyone as white as me before haha. They either laugh because I can´t understand anything or love me because I´m American haha. My second day here Elder Costa and I were contacting this lady and I heard her say something to me but I just smiled and shook her hand. Then after Elder Costa told me that she called me a boneco. Which is like calling someone a ´´Ken´´ Barbie doll or something. He thought it was so funny that it was only my second day and someone already did that haha.

The city here is actually pretty big, but almost all of it is on poverty. We have a lot of area to cover because we´re the only ones in this city so we walk quite a bit. Our house isn´t bad though. We have a washing machine, microwave, fridge, blender, all the essentials. There are so many motorcyles here too. Almost everyone rides a motorcycle. There is only one member here that owns a car. There is one ward here and it has recently moved from a branch to a ward. So things are growing here in Oriximiná. The members seem to really like us and want to help us and provide us with food, so I´m happy about that. So far this week we have 4 people with a baptismal date for next Saturday. We would have had a whole family to baptize last Saturday, but we found out that they weren´t married so that was a downer. 

As for the mail and everything, it seems that I´m very isolated and not sure how long it´ll take for mail to get here or to send to the US. It´s all good though. I love it out here. I just only wish I could understand and talk to the people. Because it´s really hard to understand, but even harder for me to speak. Some days it feels like I´ll never be able to, but don´t worried I try to hurry and change my attitude and work even harder. Thank you guys for all the support and love! Love you all!

Com amor do Amazonas,
Elder Andrus

PS the packages weren´t at the mission home when I was there so I haven´t gotten them yet.  My address in Oriximiná is:
Caixa Postal 10
Oriximiná - PA  68270-000

Elders in our district pose (CTM district)

São Paulo temple

Swollen finger

Birthday cookie!

First group of Brazilians 

Next door neighbors 

Elder Lima and me 

Shirt that a Brazilian gave me

Elder Costa wrote in my scriptures