Monday, February 14, 2011

Week 22 - 14 February 2011

Ola!  Happy Valentines Day!  This week was better than the ones we’ve had lately.  We have 3 people on date for baptism next Saturday, so we’re gonna work hard with them to be ready.  One is a young woman, 16 years old, named Simone, one is an 8 year old girl named Cinita whose sister is a member and their mom is preparing to be baptized the following Saturday, and the other is a lady about 25 years old named Rozalia.  Rozalia is probably the best investigator we’ve had and the best any missionary could ask for.  There is a guy in our ward who is a professional with electricity, and he holds a free class every Tuesday and Saturday, and he invited Rozalia and a friend of hers to participate. He introduced her to us, and we found out she is a good friend with another member too. We started to teach her and her friend and challenged them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.  A couple days after when we scheduled to meet up with them again, she told us that she read the part of the Book of Mormon that we marked, she prayed to know the truth with a sincere heart, and she said that that night, the Lord touched her heart and showed her vividly that this was the right path that she needed to take in her life.  How cool was it to hear her tell her experience!  She bore a powerful testimony of the truthfulness of the church, and this was only during the second time we taught them! She told us that she has moved from church to church, but always felt like there was something missing or something she didn’t really agree with.  And whenever she walked by our church building, she had a feeling that there was something special about it.  So when the member here, Pingo, invited her to participate in an activity here at the church, she thought it would be a perfect opportunity to find out.  She told us that there used to be a huge empty space inside of her, not knowing which church was teaching the truth and everything, but now she can feel that emptiness being filled as she’s learning more about the Gospel.  She was attending another Catholic church here and was really involved with the organization for children there, but now is telling the pastor and everyone that she is moving to the Church of Jesus Christ and that she has a testimony that it’s true.  The people are getting pretty mad at her, and she said it was a pretty ugly situation because of this change she’s wanting to make (because lots of other churches here really don’t like our church), but none of this chaos is making her lose her testimony or change her mind. This really is proof that if you search for the truth, seek for it with an open heart, are willing to receive an answer, and willing to follow this answer, this gospel can change the hearts and lives of anyone.  So we’re really looking forward to her baptism this Saturday!

So right now, I’m actually in Santarém for p-day today and then for interviews and a conference with President Campos tomorrow.  We took a boat here this morning, will sleep at the home of the zone leaders, then head back to Oriximiná tomorrow night.  And oh man the internet here is so much faster than Oriximiná!  I think it’s still probably 2 or 3 times slower than back home, but since I’m used to the quality in Orixi, I’m pretty excited! haha.  President will be bringing letters and packages from the mission home to us tomorrow, so I’ll be looking forward to getting those Christmas packages you guys sent back in December haha. 

Yesterday was Elder Costa’s birthday, and we went over to a member’s house to make cookies and cake and yummies like that.  People here in Brasil don’t know what cookies are btw haha.  It’s like they don’t exist here.  The only place is near the CTM in São Paulo – “Mr. Cheney’s.”  But since lots of missionaries know Americans, lots have recipes for cookies and scrumptious American sweets.  And I came to realize that I don’t have any recipes for anything here!  So I’ll send a little list of things in another email that I would like to know how to make.

Okay thanks and I think that’s it.  Have a good week, and I can’t wait until Rio’s call comes :)

Valeu! Tchau!

Élder Andrus

Friday, February 11, 2011

Week 21 - 7 February 2011

Opa Família!

Ta tudo bem com vocês?  This was the last week of my second transfer, and both Elder Costa and I are staying here in Oriximiná.  Everyone keeps telling me that I still have another 6 to 8 months here haha, but who knows.  The elder that is the new financial secretary now in Belém was here in Orixi as his first area, and he stayed here for 8 months.  Seems like a long time for one area huh? 

My energy seems to just be draining here though.  I’ve been having headaches and just been dead the past little while.  Not sure if it’s the lack of nutrition or what, but I’m definitely gonna try to eat more or something cause it’s a killer trying to work when you don’t have energy.  Our zone didn’t have the best transfer, and Presidente said that he’s not gonna change anything for this transfer so we can try to improve things.  Elder Costa and I have been trying to think of ways to improve, so hopefully we’ll have more success this coming transfer.  We’ve been trying to think of some things to strengthen the ward here, and our new ward mission leader is doing a lot of work to unite a lot of the members with missionary work.  So we’ll see how things turn out in the next couple weeks.

Oh and remember how there is only one kind of big market, one post office, and one bank here? The market went out of business this past week, so now we have to search through little stores to find the things we need, and usually that includes a lot of walking (I got my first blister on my feet from all the walking this week haha, and it’s pretty big too) :/  And we joke that now that the market went out of business, the post office and bank will both go out of business here too haha.  I sure hope not! 

So our last district meeting we decided to be in English, and I gave the training and stuff. Haha  Oh man, it was tough for everyone.  I think Sister Davis had the hardest time switching to English.  It was pretty funny.  But yeah, it was pretty fun for everyone to speak English.  Sister Beery liked it a lot and wanted to do it again soon haha  I do too.  It flooded while we were there too.  It rained the whole time while we were in Repartimento, and the little river there flooded a lot.  It was pretty cool, and I’ll send pictures, don’t worry. J 

Last week I received a letter from you guys and from the young men and women from our ward. Thanks a ton!  I loved it.  But...some worker here or somewhere dropped the letter in water or something, because it was all inky and wrinkly and the photo of the young women ended up sticking to the letter and ruining the picture L  But it’s okay.  I could still kinda see the photo haha so thanks! 

Love you guys, and I think that’s about it for this week.  Amo vocês!  Até próximo.

-Élder Andrus

Nosso batismo último sábado!


In the rain!

Our trail back home!

Me with Sister Beery´s umbrella haha and Elder Costa with Sister Davis´

Yeah usually there is only a little stream with farmland and trees.
but not today! Haha.

Umm this isn´t the toilet as you guys might have thought at first
haha. This is our washing machine. And no need to worry, we didn´t
fill it with urine. This is the water we get here in Oriximiná hahaha

My right shoe is starting to talk like this haha but its okay.
Sometimes I glue it shut for a couple days and it works just fine :)

We got this cup at Christmas time from the pres and his wife. It´s
pretty sweet. But that same day the kids of the stake president kicked
it and broke it...and I just recently fixed it :) just like new!

Week 20 - 31 January 2011

Opa família!

This week rained every single day for at least half the day or more, and it’s actually pretty chilly too.  I don’t even need a fan at night right now haha.  I don’t really know what kind of season we’re getting into, but I hear that here they have a really hot season, and then a really rainy season, and that’s it haha. 

It was a little difficult this week to find and teach people because of the rain, even though it rains a lot here, the people act like they are scared of it and don’t even come to church activities if it rains just a little.  But we had a baptism planned for last Saturday, for a brother of a member in the ward. His name is Fhulvyo, and he’s the one who called us over in the street and said he wanted to get baptized. We taught him everything and he accepted everything.  So Saturday, we had the
baptismal font all ready and we had people seated ready to watch the baptism, and we actually had an investigator come just to watch the baptismal service, but then it fell through... He wasn´t as prepared as he thought, and he didn’t tell us the whole truth on some of the commandments we taught, so he’s gonna prepare for next Saturday.  So we just sang a hymn and had a message and then told everyone to come back next week. It was a bummer.

Anyways, this week we found a married couple with about 5 kids!  Here in Oriximiná I think only about 5 percent of couples are married..haha.  It’s a struggle to find families here, but we found one!  We’re gonna work with them this week and bring them to church.  The husband accepted the restoration well, and we didn’t have the opportunity to teach the wife, but we’re praying this will work out.  Oh and we actually had 8 investigators come to sacrament meeting with us yesterday.  Not many are prospects for baptism, but one lady showed up with a member family and she’s really interested.  So we’re actually planning on baptizing her with Fhulvyo next Saturday!  That’s the goal we have right now.

Also, there is a young woman in our ward who is deaf, so yesterday she had a little class teaching us Limbras (the equivalent of American Sign Language here is Brasil).  It’s different than ASL, and it was interesting to learn how to say ``tudo bem´´ and ``como você está´´ haha.  Tomorrow at our district meeting, since it’s only the two sisters, Elder Costa, and I, we decided to have one meeting in English!  And I’m going to be the one giving the training because the two sisters probably forgot a lot of English, and I’m the newest American haha.  So that should be pretty fun.  Even Elder Costa is going to try to speak in English the whole time haha.  Oh and next Tuesday we’re going to be heading to Santarém for interviews with Presidente Campos.  So there I will receive a bunch of letters and hopefully a couple packages you guys sent!  I’m not sure what Presidente will bring, but I’m hoping those packages arrived by now.  And I finally bought my own cheap hammock!  So I don’t have to use Elder Costa’s anymore when we take the boat to Santarém.  Well, I think that’s about it.

Amo vocês e obrigado pra todo o amor que vocês mandam pra mim!

Teu Homen Amazônia,

Élder Andrus

This is the hammock I bought. It´s supposed to say ``Deus é Fiel´´
(God is Faithful), But instead it says ``DeuZ é Fiel´´ hahaha with a z
instead of an s

Here is a foto of Maria e Vandria, my first baptism with Ronan. I
baptized the younger one, Maria.

This is a square here in Orixi. Called ``The Square of MissingsHaha,
actually I don
’t think it has a straight translation. It’s really pretty
with the sunset...we
’ll try to catch the sunset one of these days.

Take a look at this spider we found in Repartimento! I´m pretty sure
it´s poisonous haha

Big bug haha not quite a butterfly...yeah who knows 

This is the road we take every week to our district meeting. Yep it´s
pretty much the most comfy bus ride i´ve ever taken....haha sike the
drivers are crazy here

Another look from the bus

Week 19 - 24 January 2011

Olá Família!

Como vocês estão?  This week was pretty good.  We got a lot of new investigators this week too that seem to be interested.  But still with all of the new people we taught and invited to church, we had no one in sacrament meeting... I’m not sure what it is about these people here in Oriximiná, but they don’t do anything!  We had about 10 people that were going to come to church with us, but when we went to go get them in the morning they either wouldn’t answer, had already
left the house to go somewhere else, or tell us that they didn’t want to go anymore.  We’re not so sure what we need to do to get people to keep commitments. During the week we had a brother of a member in our ward stop us in the street and said ``Hey, I wanna be baptized!´´.  We weren’t really sure what to say back haha but we’re teaching him and he’s accepting everything, it´s actually pretty suspicious.  But we have him on date for baptism this Sunday after church (if he goes). Hopefully he’s being honest with us.  We also taught this other lady who seems to be interested in the church too.  After we taught her the first time, we asked her if she had any more questions after the lesson and she said ``Yeah, I wanna know when you guys will come teach me again´´. Haha  You don’t hear that too often here, so it was a nice change.  But we just really need to help them get to church and keep commitments.  And we have a girl, Missilene, that was supposed to be baptized last Saturday, but she had to go to Ôbidus and stay with her grandpa for a while, so we’re having the Sisters there take her to church and teach her, then maybe we’ll head over there to Ôbidus and baptize her.  We’ll see.

So there are a ton of different types of churches here in Oriximiná and almost all of them teach the members to not talk to ``the Mormons´´ and not to let us in their houses.  We had two people this week tell us that they went to a couple different churches here and the pastor would teach them not to talk to us and everything.  How sad is that é? We meet some cool families here, but once they find out that we’re ``Mormon´´ they say that they can’t accept a message.  We’re always bummed when we find people like that because it’s not like we can do much to persuade them.

Sooo yeah I’m definitely losing weight here.  I can just feel it haha.  Hopefully I’ll gain some of it back when I get transferred somewhere else, but tudo bem.  My clothes seem to be a little looser than they used to be and I can feel the affects of the weight lose a little.  I don’t know how much, but I’m guessing I’m back down to what I used to be before I got to the CTM (bummer). Haha which is like 10 to 12 pounds.  I’ll let you guys know when I find a scale... I don’t know if they even exist here in Orixi haha.

But yesterday at lunch I drank something cool.  The people didn’t have any water for us, so he went in the back yard and cut down a couple coconuts, stuck a straw in it, and we drank ``agua do coco´´. Haha  It’s actually kinda weird, but it was cool to drink out of a coconut!

Love ya´ll!  Valeu!

Teu Filho Amado,

Élder Andrus

Week 18 - 17 January 2011

Oí Família!

Como está todo mundo?  I don’t really have too much to write about this week.  It was just another week here haha.  We didn’t have too much success, but we have 2 good investigators that will hopefully be ready for baptism this coming Saturday, and the one

We had a district meeting this week in Repartimento with the sisters, Sister Beery and Sister Davis.  They made brownies :) hahe  We always get a special treat. We have our district meeting in the town, Repartimento, because it’s about in the middle between Oriximiná and Ôbidus.  So we have to take a 1 and a half hour bus ride there.  And usually it’s a decent bus, but this time we had a really, really old one... so we had to go the whole way standing haha. 

Everyone up here in Northern Brasil sleeps in a hammock.  So this week I decided to try and be more like a Brazilian and start sleeping in a hammock!  It definitely takes some getting used to, but I think it’s cool.  My back sure was suffering this week because of it, but I’m already starting to get used to it.  I don’t have one for myself yet, but there is a young woman in our ward that makes and customizes hammocks.  I made a design and everything, and she’s gonna start making a hammock for both Elder Costa and I.  It’ll probably be a while until she’s done, but I have a feeling it’s gonna be super sweet.

Oh, and the other day, I reached Mosiah in the Book of Mormon in Portuguese!  I think it was President Hinckley who gave us a promise that if we read the Book of Mormon in a different language, that we will be fluent and able to speak it.  So I have a plan to finish it within a few months. 

Sorry this email wasn’t too long and detailed, but not too much really happened this week!  The ward here seems to be getting better, and we have a new missionary ward leader who is a returned missionary.  So I think things are getting better in that aspect.

Love you all dearly!  Obrigado por tudo e tenham um bom dia hoje!

Com Amor do Amazonas,
Élder Andrus

Pretty pic from district meeting

Yeah those are all bugs..haha

This is açai! It´s from a fruit here in the Amazon. We don´t have much
of it here in Orixi but people in Belem have tons. It´s odd...haha you
have to put like 3 spoons full of sugar in one glass to make it taste
good. Haha.

Sister Davis, Sister Beery, Elder Costa, and me

King of the Amazon!

Elder Costa e eu

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Week 17 - 10 January 2011

Olá família!

So this week we made a division with the zone leaders who are in Santarém.  So in order to make one division, the zone leaders had to take a boat here to Oriximiná in the morning and meet up with us at about 6 pm.  Then one of the Elders, Elder Lacerda, and I  took a boat back to Santarém that night at 9 pm, slept on a hammock throughout the night, and arrived there at about 6 in the morning, while Elder Costa and the other elder, Elder Raphael, stayed in Oriximiná.  We had a district meeting there in Santarém, then worked that day and slept at the home of the zone leaders.  Then that night, Elders Costa and Elder Raphael took a boat to Santarém to meet up with us that morning, just so Elder Costa and I could take another boat back to Oriximiná at 8:30 in the morning.  Man, it was a lot of work to just make one division.  So we arrived back in Orixi at about 3 pm, dead tired and had not eaten for about 24 hours...rough day haha.  But we both learned a lot from going out and working with the zone leaders. Haha and while I was in Santarém, we totally taught a kid about 16 years old that looked just like the actor who plays Jacob Black in Twilight. hahaha  Just thought I’d throw that out there.  Oh, and no, I didn’t get a picture with him haha.

So the next day after, since we were behind in lessons for the cause of the division in Santarém, we went on splits with two young men in our ward, one who is actually leaving this Wednesday to serve a mission down in southern Brasil.  This day was particularly tough for me because since I was with someone who didn’t have any experience as a missionary, I had to be the senior companion for the day.  And since I’ve only been here 1 month and a half, it was really pushing my limits.  It was really tough and made me realize how much harder I need to work in order to be able to become better.  Although, I can definitely tell I’m improving since when I first arrived because when I was at a ward activity in Santarém during our division, the members thought I was lying when I told them I’ve only been here for a month and a half.  I think they were being nice haha.  But also when we went on splits here, we passed by the house of the aunt of the boy I was with to see if she was interested in hearing a message (she wasn’t), but some girl there asked the aunt if I spoke Portuguese already, and instead of the normal answer, “he does just a little” or something, she answered, “yeah he already speaks Portuguese.”  So I can see improvement, maybe not as fast as I’d like, but I think it’s coming.

I realized kind of how to compare serving in Oriximiná with Elder Costa as a companion with something that you can understand.  I think that it´s kind of like a foreigner coming to serve in the USA, and after 2 months in the MTC, serving in the New England area with a companion from Mississippi haha.  But it’s good; I’m definitely learning lots in my first area I probably wouldn’t have learned in another area.

With all of the traveling this week and everything, and on top of that we had a zone fast, Elder Costa and I were completely dead with lack of sleep and nutrition this week. We’re doing better today, but this was a really needed p-day.  Hopefully we’ll be able to rest and be all set and ready to go to work tomorrow.  Even with all of this, we found a couple good investigators this week.  Oriximiná is a tough area to find people who really want to learn about the gospel and be baptized, but hopefully we found a couple - one girl, and a man with a family. 
Oh and just a curiosity, is my plaque up at the church building?  I don’t know why I thought of that, but it would be cool to see what it looks like or something haha.  Oh and one more thing, I need my account number for my checking account.  I’m trying to put some money in the account, and Elder Costa and I are trying to figure out how the bank here works.  So that would be great.

I think that’s about all for this week.  Love you all!  Obrigado pelo apoio e tudo!  Valeu!

Com Amor do Amazonas,
Élder Andrus

Morning in Santarém when we woke up from the boat ride

The Amazon!

The blazing sun

See the change in colors of the water? Here in Santarém is where 2 rivers, Rio Tropajós and Rio Amazonas join together. The dirty brown water is from Rio Tropajós and the blue water is from Rio Amazonas. It´s pretty sweet.

A cow sort of thing in the back of the house of the zone leaders in Santarém. I don´t really know what it is haha

It´s pretty sandy in Santarém. The word for sand is areia, so everyone calls Santarém, Sant-areia. Haha.

Another pic of Santarém