Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Week 29 - 4 April 2011

Hey!  I got another letter from you guys through missionties and the other letter with recipes and pictures and stuff today!  I haven’t written to you guys through missionties in a while, and I have 4 letters to respond to haha but I’ll write one today to respond to those letters - no worries.
So this week we had a baptism on Thursday of a lady called Rozene.  We’ve been working with her for quite a while now and she finally got baptized!  She has a son in the ward, Tiago, who is serving a mission right now in Curitiba, Brasil.  She didn’t start investigating the church until after he left on the mission, but I think that it was his example of being a faithful young man to go serve the Lord that made her have the desire to go to church and receive the missionary lessons.  I had the opportunity to baptize her, and I just sent him an email today with the picture of the baptism telling him the good news.  It was pretty sweet.

How was General Conference for you guys?  It was different hearing it in Portuguese haha.  I could understand it, but it definitely didn’t have the same feeling as it does when you hear the actual voices with their feeling put into the talks.  And plus I was a little sick and actually could go to watch conference, but we made it there to watch all the sessions.  It was pretty hard for me to concentrate, so I’m looking forward to getting the Liahona this next month to be able to read the talks.

So this week I was thinking about some cool experiences that I’ve had here because everyone always wants me to tell them some cool stories and stuff.  And it’s funny because all the weird things that happen here seem to be becoming more and more normal to me as the days go on haha.  But as I was trying to think of some weird or cool stories, we were walking in the street, and I saw this truck parked on the side of the road. I saw something move slightly in the bed of the truck, but I didn’t think anything of it. But then as we got closer, I looked in the bed of the truck to find one of those Brazilian white bulls with huge horns tied down and staring right at me hahaha.  I have no idea why there was a tranquilized bull in the bed of the truck, but I seem to see weird things like this everyday and don’t even notice that it’s out of the ordinary haha.

And we still don’t know if we’ll be able to go to Belém to hear Elder Anderson or not... So I have no idea what the plans are about that.  I really hope we’re able to go, because if not I think we’ll be the only zone that won’t be there.  How sad huh?

Well, I love ya´ll and have a good week!  Até próxima!

-Élder Andrus

Another shirt that I got from the Carnaval that they have here in Orixi haha. It´s funny because the slogan here in Orixi is "Spoca Bode" which means "Blow up the Goat". Hahaha so that´s why there´s a goat on the front. I don´t know where this saying came from either. And it´s funny cuz the word Spoca isn´t used in any other place in Brasil, just here in Pará haha.

Baptism of Rozene!

Com Rozene, Irmã Valmira, Bispo, Rosalia

Week 28 - 28 March 2011

So this week was a pretty tough week, but we definitely had a couple miracles here. We got back from Santarém on Wednesday morning, and after our training there, we made a goal of three baptisms by the end of this week.  Our zone really needs to get to work by the end of this month to be able to go to Belém and see Elder Neil L. Anderson speak.  So during the week, we had two fasts for our goals this week, and we worked hard to achieve these three baptisms.  And... we had two on Saturday and one after church on Sunday!  The Lord really helped us to be able to meet our goal for this week.  

On Saturday, we baptized a woman, Aldenilsa, and a girl, Leiliane.  Aldenilsa was a really special baptism because we had been working with her ever since we started teaching Rosalia.  They are really good friends, and the only problem was that Aldenilsa has five kids, lived with the dad, but they aren’t married.  But this week she put her faith in the Lord and booted the man out!  So it was really cool to be able to see her faith grow during the time that we’ve been teaching her.  And the other 13 year old girl, Leiliane, is a daughter of an investigator, and she really likes the church.  We only started teaching her on Thursday, but she learned fast and had the desire to be baptized.  And since she has already visited the church we were able to baptize her too.  Then after church on Sunday, we baptized one of the sons of Aldenilsa.  He’s 11, and I had the chance to baptize him.  He’s funny and was really interested in learning new things about the
church too. 

We still don’t know if we’ll be able to go to Belém yet, but I think we’re gonna have to work real hard until the end of the month on Thursday to get some more baptisms to reach our goal as a zone and as a mission.  So hopefully we’ll find out this week. 

On Sunday, our newest member, Rosalia, gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting about faith.  And wow was it good.  You would never guess that she has only been a member for about a month.  It was definitely better than any talk I’ve given and probably than I ever will give haha.  It’s pretty cool to be able to teach these people and watch them grow into great members of the church.

Love ya guys and have a great week!

Élder Andrus

Yeah these shoes are pretty much ruined after my week in Santarém haha

Our two baptisms and families and friends

With José Nilson before the baptism

Me with Leiliane (far left), Aldenilsa (middle), and Rosalia

Our tough faces!

José Nilson´s baptism

Zona Santarém!

Week 27 - 21 March 2011

Oí!  I’m still in Santarém, and we’re going to go back to Orixi on Wednesday.  We were on splits for the entire week, and I enjoyed it a lot.  I was with one of the Zone Leaders, and we worked real hard.  Santarém is actually a lot different than Oriximiná.  The roads are actually a lot worse.  It was like we were hiking from one appointment to another haha.  But I liked it a lot.  It sure did work on my shoes though.  The only pair of shoes I brought with me here were those black ones that were kinda ruined already, and yeah this week totally ruined them haha.  So I think I’m going to start using those brown ones once I return to Orixi.

When we were working here, one of the days we were knocking doors and found a girl who was a little interested.  She had a little religious background and was understanding, so it seemed.  Then during the lesson about the Restoration, her dad came storming in from the other room and just starting screaming at us about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  I’ve never had something like that happen to me yet haha.  Every time we tried to bear testimony, he would just interrupt us and start yelling that we were wrong.  So he sent us out of his house, and we went on our way.  It was pretty crazy.  We ended up finding some good investigators this week though - the ones who really have a desire to learn more and follow the gospel!  Too bad these investigators are for the elders here in Santarém and not for us in Orixi haha.

We also had a Stake Conference while we were here in Santarém.  It was a pretty special experience because not very often do the members in the Stake get to come together for something like this because some areas are really far away.  But yeah it was really good. And remember that Elder Neil L. Anderson is going to come here to Belém?  President Campos told us that if our zone, Zone Santarém, doesn’t improve this transfer, we’re not going to be able to go to Belém to see it.  How sad huh?  Our zone is hard and there seem to be a lot of difficulties here.  But our zone is praying and working hard to convince President that we deserve to go to Belém.

Oh, and today I finished Alma!  So I’m on track to finish the Book of Mormon real soon in Portuguese.  That’ll be a pretty sweet accomplishment for me.  Well, I gotta get going real soon.  So I love ya’ll, and have a good week!  Até próxima!

-Élder Andrus

Bom dia Santarém!

This one’s for Rio! Haha I laughed really hard when I saw this sign. Translation ``Made in Rio. Funk Dance Party. The biggest funk dance party of Brasil in Santarém! Wait for it. Hahahaha

At a member’s house for dinner. Yeah it was the first time I actually had dinner at a members house since I arrived haha.

One of the daughters of the family

A man in Obidus makes things like this (the same man who made my wallet). Pretty sweet for my mini hymn book huh?

Week 26 - 14 March 2011

Sorry I didn’t email last week, things were pretty rushed here.  We couldn’t even go to the post office last p-day because it was a holiday.  And seeing as we can only go to get letters on p-day, we had to wait another week.  But not too much happened last week, so no worries. 

This transfer ends tomorrow, and Elder Costa and I are staying here in Oriximiná together again.  That’ll make 6 months here for me and 7 and a half for him.  And that means that we’re gonna be together for 6 months; that’s quite a long time to be stuck with one companion, don’t ya think?  It’s funny because Elder Costa was so sure that he was going to get transferred, he basically already said bye to like all the members haha.  And now he’s gonna have to say bye a second time when he actually leaves. Haha.  Sometimes we joke around and say that President probably forgot about us way out here in the middle of nowhere haha.  We actually havent’t received an email or anything from him in a while, and we have no contact with him. haha  But I’m sure he didn’t forget.  We’re actually going on exchanges with the zone leaders today.  Well, when I say today, I mean that they are going to arrive here in Orixi this afternoon, and then I’m going to take a boat with one of them to Santarém tonight.  And since it’s so inconvenient to make exchanges with us and Santarém because of the distance, I’m actually going to stay there for a week, until stake conference this weekend, have p-day there, then return back here in a week. I’ve never heard of a week-long exchange before haha but it’ll be good to get to go to Santarém and work there for a little while.

So a little about this past week - We didn’t have any baptisms last week or this past one either.  We have a few people with dates, but they all fell through.  Remember those 5 baptisms we had planned?  Three fell through, and we were sure that they would be ready for the next week.  But the boy, Rangel, stopped answering our phone calls, and we don’t know where he lives.  So he just sort of disappeared, so that was sad.  And the other girl, Simone, decided to back out and said that she’s enjoying another church here more. Urghh.  But the other girl, Dayane, is getting everything straightened out to be baptized this week, we’re hoping.  So that’s real good. We have a few other potential baptisms coming up too.  So I’ll let you guys know some more about them in a week or two.

On Sunday, our recent baptism, Rosalia, received a calling as the leader of activities of the Young Women to help bring together the young women and strengthen the ward.  I have no doubt that she will magnify the calling and help the young women program a lot here.  Also, for Sunday School and the Gospel Principles class, the teacher didn’t show up, and guess who got asked to give the class with 3 minutes to prepare? Haha.  Yep, they asked me haha.  We had I think 3 investigators in the class with us, and Elder Costa didn’t help me at all haha.  Gosh that was nerve wracking.  But I think it went okay.  It was about The Life of Christ, so it wasn’t too hard.  But I just hoped that they would be able to understand haha.  Oh and are you guys still getting Ensigns every month at home? We get the Liahona here every month, and I’m really beginning to enjoy reading them! They really have some good talks and stories.  I’m thinking that it would be cool to order them in Portuguese for me when I return back home haha.

Well love ya guys!  Até próxima semana!

-Élder Andrus

A couple in the ward that has been members for quite a while. Irmão Adecido and Irmã Maria. There´re cool and always give us snacks when we visit. They actually just got sealed in the temple this last month when members here in Pará made a trip to the temple in Recife.

On Sunday we took a picture with the ward missionaries in the ward who just got Preach My Gospel´s to study.

Week 25 - 7 March 2011

Oops… Elder Andrus forgot to write an email! Silly boy. Good thing he sent pictures!

So at our district meeting we decided to climb this hill to take some cool pictures and stuff. So we went out behind the house where we do our meeting to the farm with the cows and bulls and stuff. 

But we found that there were two barbed wire fences in between us and the hill. As we looked around, all of the cows were fenced in on the other side, so it was all clear to go, all we needed to do was get passed the fences. 

So we went under the first one, then found that one of the bulls got out of the fenced area and was in our way to get to the hill!He looked mad, but he was harmless. So we went under the other fence and got passed the bull and made our way up the hill. It was pretty adventurous. And we had permission so no worries haha.

So we got to the top and it was really pretty. We had a great look of the whole Amazon! Haha it was pretty sweet. 

So we took some pictures in the jungle we found there and wanted to take a picture with the 4 of us on the top of the hill, but there was no where to put our cameras. 

So, I came up with the idea of hanging my camera on a tree branch and putting it on the timer thing to take a picture. Pretty thrifty huh? But right as I did that, the wind started to act up and it took a few tries to get a semi straight picture of us haha but it worked out.

 The dog of the lady who lives at the house there followed us up there and he wanted to be a part of the picture too haha. We named him Eldinho haha.

Then we took another picture of us in the shack at the bottom of the hill.

This is a thing in the Liahona here in Brasil. It´s cool and talks about stake Santarém and Pres Campos and the stake presidency. I thought it was cool. Pres Lira is really cool.  

This is a shirt from Carnaval here in Oriximina. I thought it was cool but thought it was impossible to get being a missionary and all, and that Carnaval is really bad and against everything the church teaches. But amazing the second counselor in our ward, Alessandro, found a way to get one for me and will get another type for me this week haha sweet deal.

I got a moto taxi shirt! Dad will like this haha. Alessandro works as a moto taxi person and got me this brand new shirt. Sure I traded him my black Nike shorts and some m&m´s haha but I think it was worth it. It´s comfy and he´s still gonna give me another Carnaval shirt and another t shirt of his. Brasilians really like Nike for some reason.

Alessandro´s moto. Yeah I want one when I get back haha

On our way to Repartimento. I guess I took a quick nap on the way there haha.

Week 24 - 28 February 2011

Oí!  This week we had 5 people on date for baptism on Saturday!  So we were really excited and were working with them throughout the week.  But it ended up that three of them fell through... We baptized a young girl, Cintia, who is 9 years old, and a young kid, Vitor, who just turned 8.  Cintia is a daughter of a woman we’ve been working with.  There is one girl in the family that is member, and now there are two, including Cintia.  But the Mom, Creuza, has to either marry the dad who’s living at home with them or separate and move houses.  We find situations like this a lot here, and it’s super tough to get people to get married.  But we actually have two families that are working on the marriage papers and everything really soon!  A lot of people here just don’t understand the blessings that come with marriage and having a good family.  The other boy who was baptized was actually going to be a ward baptism, because he lives with an active family in the ward.  But his parents, who are the next door neighbors to the people that he lives with, aren’t members.  So we reviewed the baptismal interview questions with him and filled out the baptismal form, and he was baptized on Sunday after church. 

The three people who had a date for last Saturday but fell through are Rangel, Simone, and Dayane.  It was a real bummer because all of these baptisms didn’t happen not because of the desires of the investigator, but either because the parents aren’t allowing them to be baptized or their parents or neighbors started talking bad about the church to them and made them doubt about their decision.  All three of them are really good and have the desire to be baptized, so we’re gonna work with them and talk to their parents during this week. 

Remember the lady, Rosalia, that we baptized last week?  Well, she is growing so fast.  She has more of a desire to help us and tell her friends about the gospel than most of the members here! Haha  One of her friends that we’re teaching with her is Audeniusa.  She clearly has a desire to learn more and come to church, but she has some struggles at home with her five kids.  She lives with the dad of the kids, but doesn’t have any relation with him and neither one of them loves each other enough to get married, just to work and help take care of the kids.  She knows that in order to be baptized she can’t live with him, but she says she needs him to help with the children. We run into situations like this a lot here, where the people have a desire to learn about the gospel and be baptized, but have things like this that are holding them back.  We’re not quite sure how to help them either, just pray that the Lord will prepare a way for them. 

Oh, and Rio’s mission call!  California Carlsbad Mission Spanish Speaking!  Man, that’s so exciting.  I’m happy and proud of her J  She’ll be a great sister missionary.  I sent an email to Dad and told him he needs to learn a foreign language while we’re gone so he won’t be the only one in the house who doesn’t know either Spanish or Portuguese haha.

Well, this week went by pretty quick.  I woke up this morning and almost forgot that it was p-day haha.  But I think that’s about it for this week.  Love ya´ll!  Até próxima segunda-feira!

-Élder Andrus

A water fall kinda far into the suburb part of Orixi but was still in our
boundaries. Haha. We went there on p-day with that family in the ward,
Élica e Wanderson.

Yeah the city is full of vultures here haha

We had an activity called A Noite das Tortas, meaning The Night of
Pies. People made pies and cakes and we were the tasters haha. I guess
this one wasn´t very tasty...haha

This is a catholic church I saw today on the way to use the internet
Haha. So I took a pic real quick.

Some pics of the outer parts of Oriximina

This is Cintia and her sis and mom. I gave her one of those CTR rings
you sent to me :)

Week 23 - 21 February 2011

Olá Família!

Tudo certo?  Because of the Zone Conference in Santarém at the beginning of the week, we didn’t have as much time here in Orixi to work.  We didn’t get back till about Wednesday, but it was a really good conference with Presidente Campos and Sister Campos. I definitely learned a lot.  And I learned that Pres. Campos is really hard to understand haha. He has an accent from northeastern Brasil, and it is wayyy different than what I’m used to.  I’m starting to get used to the ´´shhhh´´ sounds like how they talk here in the Amazon, but his accent is totally the opposite haha.  Even some Brasilians have a hard time understanding him sometimes, I think.  But during my interview with him, we were talking and he asked me if I knew that I was senior companion.  I said no – no one told me.  Then he said well, I guess you know now haha.  So yeah, I became senior companion already here in my 3rd transfer.  It’s weird though because I’m still with my “dad” of the mission and in my first area.  The people here still look at me like the American that can’t understand anything, and it’s tough to gain their trust here. And since Elder Costa is District Leader, I still don’t have many responsibilities in the companionship that a normal senior comp would have.  But Pres. told me that this will be something for me that will prepare me for other things in a couple more transfers.  I don’t really feel prepared yet to have a type of leadership position because Elder Costa still does everything.  But it’ll sure be a good growing experience, forcing me to really push myself. 

So after our Zone Conference, we got all of our letters and packages, and I got a big box from you guys with ties and snacks and goodies, and then a little package from Rio.  I really liked the BBQ sunflower seeds too!  Sunflower seeds are one thing that I have been missing out here for sure.  On our way back from Santarém, Sister Beery, Sister Davis, Elder Costa, and I took a boat back to our areas.  And turns out that Sister Beery really likes sunflower seeds too haha because she played softball.  So we pretty much devoured the bag and ate a ton. Haha.

This week, we baptized that lady, Rosalia, on Friday.  Man, I think that was the best baptism we’ve had.  It was really spiritual, and she was crying afterward.  Then we went to a member’s house and had a little get together with cake and pop.  I can tell she’s gonna be a really strong member.  She already has the desire to spread the gospel and everything!  Today we’re going to teach one of her friends with her, and she told us that she didn’t want to wait very long to tell her friends about the gospel because she knows that it’ll bring a light into their lives.  Que bom né?!

Our other baptism, Cintia, fell through.  But we put another date on her for this next Saturday and made her sister promise to do all she can to make sure they’re in town and everything.  We also have another boy, Rangel, and a girl, Simone, preparing for this next Saturday too.  So we’re gonna be working with them to be all ready, and hopefully we’ll have 3 baptisms this week!  I just hope that none of them travel or something, because that’s one thing that people here always do last minute.  Since this isn’t a very big and economical town, people travel to other cities a lot.  So that makes it hard sometimes. 

Oh and also, we’re reading the Book of Mormon as a mission, 2 chapters per day, so that we can finish by the end of April.  So I’ve been reading it in Portuguese and am already in chapter 10 of Alma.  I’m still relying on that promise that whoever reads the entire Book of Mormon in a language will be fluent by the time they finish haha.  So April’s the goal!  And I’m really excited for Rio’s mission call!  Hopefully she gets it this week so I can find out next p-day. 

Well love ya´ll and thanks for the packages and everything!  Obrigado e amo vocês por tudo que vocês fazem!

-Élder Andrus

PS  I attached a photo of our zone with Presidente Campos e Sister Campos at our Zone Conference (2-15-11).

Our zone with Presidente Campos e Sister Campos at our Zone Conference

Rosalia’s baptism. A member here, Élcio, baptized her

Sister Beery took this for me on our way back from Santarém

A photo of the dock in Santarém from the boat we were on

I tried to call you guys but the parrot wouldn´t let me... Haha jk.
This was in Santarém. We thought it was cool.

Yep these are chickens in a tree. Haha i don´t know how they got up
there, but I guess they can fly here in the Amazon! Haha.

Cool pen I bought. Boas lembranças de Santarém.

Sweet wallet I bought from a guy in Óbidus who makes cool things like
this. It´s the fur of a wild cat here haha

A family in the ward gave me a shirt that they customized for us!
Pretty sweet huh?

We went out for pizza for Elder Costa´s pizza with some people from the ward. And I´m not drinking beer haha it´s called Guaraná :) and it´s yummy!

We actually found something cool here for once haha this place has a
square and this pond with fish! Pretty cool.

This is the family that gave me the shirt and went with us to pizza and
stuff. They are cool but also really hard to understand haha

The son of that family

He took a pic of me and apparently I didn´t want him to haha

Yeah we made cookies for Elder Costa´s b-day

We actually made cookies! Haha they never heard of cookies before

Bom Dia Oriximiná!

Hahaha bacana né?