Monday, December 29, 2014

Hairy Kristmann! And one slice of the mission pizza.

Friends and family,
I took a lot of time sending 19 photos so this’ll be a bit short.
We tracked into Santa. But this Santa doesn’t speak English, and he couldn’t seem to make out the words quite right, so Hairy Kristmann, everybody! Let’s talk about Christmas in Uruguaiana: They celebrate it a little differently. The presents are opened on Christmas Eve, and they wait until midnight, where they commence binge drinking and blowing stuff up. Fireworks are expensive, so they just use bombs. This makes for a rather sad day of proselyting on the 26th, because many people are very much hung over.
On "a véspera de natal" (Christmas Eve) we ate with Ed and Jussara, two members known for their good cooking skills. They had some good stuff, which we ate first. But the cake thing went untouched. Let me tell you why. It was soggy bread, topped with some weird chicken sauce, layered a few times, and "frosted" with mayo and pickles and chilled to 40 degrees. Noticing that the cake was untouched, Jussara offered some to us. So we had to oblige. I pulled the "I’m full, so just a little bit" routine. She must not have understood me. So me and my companion looked at our plates, and began to weep spiritually. Then my companion does something very evil. He notices that there is no more juice on the table, so he looks at me, smiles, and pours my glass into his. I have to get him back for that one. So I had to suffer through that one, without help.
Then on Christmas, we got to sleep in. Oh my, that felt divine. I hadn’t slept past 6:29 since September. Then we ate ice cream, visited some members, ate lunch with Inácio (which I heard is FB friends with Conner, apparently) and I got to skype my family. I was SO nervous, because storm clouds were gathering, and the internet fails really easily here. If it rains or the wind blows, the internet doesn’t work. Believe me, it took me three tries to send this very email. But, I got to talk, problem free, with my family, which was AWESOME. I loved it. It went by too quickly. I learned, although my Portuguese is a little awkward, my English is a little worse.
Then, the unthinkable happened. I logged off of skype, and right then and there, Elder Molina and I were offered, I kid you not, THE SAME DARN CAKE that we had the night prior.
OH! I’m better. I was sick for 5 days. But I’m better.
We got back in contact with Larissa. It’s a bigger story than a "spirit break." I knew there was more to the story, so I just told you what I understood. But let me tell you the basics of what I know now. Larissa dated a member. But he ended up giving her the cold shoulder, and she still really likes him. Nevertheless, she is actually interested very much in the church, and has been studying even though we haven’t been talking with her. Get this - she is now in HELAMAN in the Book of Mormon. That’s in about 3 weeks, I think. Maybe longer. IDK. Time flies by. Anyways, she has a solid testimony, and we are CERTAIN that she is investigating for the right reason. However, her father is not. So it’s complicated. More on this next week.
No baptisms, unfortunately, It rained again. (Everyone has to walk to church so when it rains, many investigators don’t attend)
More on this next week. OOH IMPORTANT. WRITE LETTERS TO MY URUGUAIANA ADRESS. If it shows up in the mission home, we wait until the next MISSION CONFERENCE to receive it, which happens like twice a year. So luckily, we had one on the 23rd where I got my package, and 6 other letters, 4 of which were from G+G Wassom, let them know thanks and that I love them. Love you all! Hope you liked the pics!
E. Wassom

Elder Mitchell Wassom
Caixa Postal 179
Uruguaiana RS

Monday, December 15, 2014

Gabriel and Bernardo's baptisms and others

1 Family, 2 countries, 2 miracles, Same time.

Dear Family and Friends, My heart is full. My brother is a married man. Saturday was just an all around good day. Brother got married, Luis Gabriel got baptized, that’s my first one out on the mission, I learned that I would be able to skype home on Christmas, to the family, I also learned that I don’t receive just 12 dollars a week for my groceries, so ignore the letter that says that I only get 12 dollars a week. Also, I’m glad Rachel got my letter! Anytime you receive a hand-written letter by me, tell me you got it. I still haven’t gotten the Christmas package, but I hope it gets here. I doubt they sent it to the moon! Portuguese update: I can speak just fine, and understand. I am still not FLUENT, but I can work my way through it pretty well if I try and think. So I will start out by talking about Luis' baptism. Luis Gabriel was baptized on Saturday. He’s the gurí that is just a ham. He’s a character. I had the honor of baptizing him, so my first baptism was actually mine. It occurred to me, that our whole family (minus sis) very well could have been wearing white at the same time. This choked me up a bit. Frankly, Christmastime is getting to me a little. I am having a few saudades (homesickness)... I miss y’all a bit. But it’s not distracting the work. What got me the most, though was the Christmas devotional. When the choir sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful," I remembered my Junior Christmas concert. That still was the best memory of choir I ever had-singing that song. But anyways, Gabriel said "I feel all happy and stuff" and he described the spirit he felt as "fuzzy". Interesting, but I’m just relaying the facts. It was a great event. Thayná was there, so he was setting a good example for her. She actually has recommitted herself to being a member, so we´re all happy for that. Bernardo was baptized on Sunday, by his father, which was awesome to see Eder, a previous alcoholic, worthy to baptize his son. As a side note (I have a lot of those) the dogs here are so dumb. I miss Bella. She’s a good dog. I do know that they don’t stop barking ever, and they love to get their dirty, flea-ridden selves all over you, and they love to make new dogs in plain sight in the middle of your lessons. And they're ugly. Haha, now that we're on the subject of things that annoy me, my family will tell you that I have some serious pet peeves. The people of Uruguaiana are the best, really, but they also are professionals, capitalizing on my biggest 4 pet peeves. Starting with mild and getting to unacceptable :) 1.) Before singing any song or hymn, there is no pitch given, instead, there are just 12 keys being sung. Or chanted, really. 2) People like to talk. That is fine. But my patience is tested when there is a huge group of people trying to get out of a crowded location, and people decide to talk in the doorway. lol 3) This is mildly unacceptable. Choristers - make sure you direct your choirs at a tempo that is in the designated range. The hymns here are slower than I have ever heard before. And, the most unacceptable, punishable by Chinese water torture 4) in a large group, people love to take photos with many cameras at the same time, without warning. So no one has a picture where everyone is looking at it. There is no logic in this- nobody wins. Seriously. Just make the world a better place and don’t do it. Also, this will be my last letter until the skype session, the President commanded that next Monday, no one will get on the internet. Here’s something cool. I always wondered what happened to all the perfectly good, "outdated" game systems. They get sent to underprivileged kids. So kids down here have a PS2. That is the "in" thing here. There are some old games that I remember and smile about, but here’s the kicker, THEY STILL MAKE GAMES FOR THE PS2. The new soccer game for 2015 just came out. I was surprised to see it in low-def. Can’t wait till Natal. So excited to talk to yall. Proud of you, Blake and Francesca. Love, Elder Wassom

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Good Week

Dear Family and friends, First of all, I’d like to publicly say I am very proud of my brother Blake, and my sister-in-five-days Francesca, for their marriage on Saturday. I am so excited and happy for the both of them. I won’t be there physically, but part of my spirit and my cardboard twin will be. Best of luck to both of you! You won’t need it, but hey at least it’s there! Ok, so an update on the skype issue. There is nothing to update, it’s still an issue. I have no idea if it will be a skype, or it will be a call, or whatever. I will learn Morse in case I have to use a telegraph. Let’s talk people. Because people is my favorite thing here in Uruguaiana. We had the baptism of Thayná fall through on Saturday. Thayna is 17, and struggling to keep some of the commandments. Nevertheless, she knows the gospel is true, so we have not given up hope on her, and we have re-marked her baptismal date for the 10th of January. Her brother, Luiz Gabriel, is ready and excited to be baptized this Saturday. Saturday is going to be great. New sister, first baptism. Good stuff. So yeah, Luiz Gabriel is a complete ham. He’s 11. He LOVES attention. In fact, we had a young lady who came with us to teach him one day, and when he greeted us at the gate, he gives her this look of "well, helloooo," takes her hand, and kisses it. He’s just a funny guy. To be baptized with him is Bernardo. Oddly enough, we don’t know him all too well. He is the son of a previously-less-active family that we helped reactivate. He never was there for the lunches or the lessons, but he decided he wanted to be baptized. So we have been working hard, cramming the lessons in, and getting to know him better. He's 9, and also a ham, from what I have perceived. Larissa. Larissa is a 17 year old who loves getting to know about God. We met her on Tuesday. By Thursday, she was on 1 Nephi 11, read through her pamphlet, and had a list of questions for us, such as "if the Priesthood is to be conferred by the laying on of hands, wouldn’t the authority of the Priesthood have to be restored through people who already had it?", to which we would talk more about Peter, James, and John. Two days after meeting her, she agreed to be baptized on the 27th. She was born ready. Sad thing is, we got a call saying that she wanted to take a break from investigating the church, to which we were stunned. We were so befuddled. But the next day, we found out she was just testing if the heart felt any different when she wasn’t learning, just to see if what she was feeling was the Spirit. I do not recommend this test, but I am sure it will work out alright for her. We will make contact again with her this week. Lucia. I talked a little bit about Lucia last week. Lucia, like Larissa, was born ready. She knows the gospel is true, she is just trying to quit smoking. She has gone from 20 cigarettes a day to 1. She has a date set for NEXT Saturday, to which she is excited. Sad thing is, Satan is trying really hard to keep her from going to church. The week before last, she was really sore from working in the yard all day (ok, fine, that was just an excuse) but this last week, she felt way more devoted and excited, to which the night before she got food poisoning. Dang it. She asked for a blessing, so we headed over to her house, gave her the blessing, and taught her another lesson over the word of wisdom. This time, though, she invited her sister to listen in, so they could work on quitting cigarettes together. They accepted, and her sister is now investigating as well. Roberta. Roberta is actually the mother of Edivã. If you remember Edivã, he is the "pioneer" of the entire young men. He has only been baptized for two months. When he first started investigating, he loved the lessons so much, he invited all of his friends. We have a rule here that young kids have to investigate for 3 months before baptism if the parents aren’t members. That didn’t stop him. He was a missionary before he was a member. So like, all of his friends were baptized a month after him. And there are still aftershocks, such as Luiz Gabriel. Now, the families are starting to express interest, such as Roberta. Roberta... She’s pretty lazy, tbh. She says she’s interested, but her Book of Mormon and study pamphlets just collect dust. She only went to church when Edivã was confirmed. Nevertheless, we see that people can always have a change in heart, so we hope that happens soon. Andre. He was supposed to be baptized the first week I got here. But he always seems to be working. So we also had to push his date to January. He is good, though. He knows it’s true. Neli. Neli knows it’s true, but is living with a guy whom she was married to, and divorced. She says she doesn’t plan on marrying him again, but that puts a huge damper on her baptism, so we are unfortunately close to cutting her from our list. Germano e Marcia. Germano is another friend of Edivã. He liked the lessons, and comes to some of the activities, and the last lesson he invited his mom, but then they fell "busy" and kept cancelling our appointments. It just happens in Brazil. I hope to get back in contact with them. And that is the brunt of our teaching pool. We are working hard to find new people, but they are all just in the starting stages. We work a lot with less actives and recent converts, as well. It has been hot as blazes here. Yesterday, we got a ride from Irmão Anderson, whose car read 42.5 degrees, or 108-109ish. I will confess, this is a mere reading from a car, and we know how accurate those are, but it’s hot, people. I am getting a nice tan, though. And my belt is now two notches tighter from where it was when I left. I love it when that happens :) Some Rio Grande do Sul Dirias (slang): Tri-very gurí-guys (guría-gals) tchê-bro, dude bá-wow boia-food bicho-literally means 'bug,' used for 'bro.' Took me by surprise when it was first used, because the last 'o' is dropped, so it sounds like "como 'ta, beesh" xisme (she's-me)- drama jóia- great I love you all. I had a great week. Congrats, Blake and Francesca. Until next week, Tchau. Com amor, Elder Wassom

Monday, December 1, 2014

So Sorry....Week Two

Well, I sent you an email, but it turns out the internet disconnected about 5 minutes into me writing you, so I lost everything. The cyber cafe is still charging me for it, though. SOOO, I guess I can just tell you to hold on until next week. Until then, I have like two minutes to hammer out an outline. A couple of baptisms have been delayed due to a lack of devotion and church attendance. I was a little disappointed about this, but I read in Alma 14, which talks about Alma and Amulek’s converts being burned before their eyes and then Alma and Amulek were thrown in jail and beaten without food or water. So I have no reason to complain. :) I am so sorry for the short emails, but it’s just Uruguaianian internet. Então, I must write some positives. We got to teach a few lessons to some new investigators. I had little time last week (sort of like this week) so I must talk about Lucia. Lucia is about 50. We met her on the 20th of November. Four days later, she told us that she has been reading, pondering, and doing her extra studies, and she knows that the Book of Mormon is true, the Church is true, and she is excited to be baptized. Quick turnaround. The way we met her was a miracle, but I will have to tell you when I have time. Good thing I have a journal. She smokes, but we are helping her stop by the 20th of December, her marked baptismal date. Yesterday, we were looking for Jamerson, one of Edivã's friends. He is a recent convert. He was not home, but his parents were. They were previously uninterested in the gospel, but I guess they’re ready now, because they listened attentively and excitedly to the first lesson, and accepted the invitation to be baptized. We have not put a date, but we plan on it on the following lesson. We also have been teaching Nelí, another 50 or 60 year old woman whom we found through another miracle. She too, has been progressing quickly, and is planned to be baptized with Lucia on the 20th. She also smokes, but not for long. I must tell you about Celia. She is a recent convert. She is about as strong as a woman as it gets. She’s poor, even for here. She always goes to church, even if it means walking a couple of miles in flip-flops (that’s what she had to do this week, because the bus driver slept in), because she has no shoes. She takes care of her special needs daughter and her orphaned granddaughter. She invites us over to read to her from the scriptures, because she can’t read. She loves the scriptures. People like those remind me of why I am serving here. The last Sacrament Meeting was the Primary program. I wore my tie that my Primary kids gave me :) The Primary program is a little different, instead of an overarching theme, with a script for each child, each child prepares what they are going to say. So there is a big hodge podge of adorableness. Such as, but not limited to: "I bear my testimony that the primary colors are 1, 2, 3: red, yellow, and blue. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." I melted. And then there was a ten year old who gave a 3 minute talk on the law of chastity. That took me by a little surprise. The work moves on. I love my Savior, and I love telling people why. Love, Elder Wassom.

Monday, November 24, 2014

From São Paulo MTC to Uruguaiana, his first area


Great Week!

Dear family and friends,
So I promised to send you guys some fotos this week, because I had some weeks of making up to do. It took a lot of time, so I will try to make this a good letter, despite its shortness. I have everything written down in my caderninho (notebook), so I will not forget to write about them next week. Last week, I had forgotten to mention the most important part of my letter, that being that the people here in Uruguaiana are AWESOME!!! :) They are, by American standards, very third world, and very poor. Our apartment, by American standards, is very small, and fairly homely. It’s beaten down, and a lot of the stuff doesn’t work. But by Uruguaianian standards, we've got the best spot in town. The homes here are the size of an average American toolshed, just not as nice. I sent a couple of fotos showing what an average house on the outskirts of town looks like. (Good luck finding them, mom and dad, because they are buried in a gigantic pile of foto mess. I sent them sort of in order, with some exceptions, chronologically by emails entitled Fotos, mais fotos, mais fotos ainda, mais, and sim, ainda mais.) Anyways, they have very little, but they all seem like they have everything they could possibly want. The kids play soccer with volleyballs, because soccer balls are more expensive. When they bust, they just stuff them with garbage and duct tape them together so they can play more. The missionaries are like kings to them. Everyone, recent converts, less actives, and nonmembers alike, love to have us sit down and talk to them about the gospel. Oftentimes, they will just have us read scriptures to them because a lot of them cannot read. But the people here understand the importance of the Holy Scriptures, so they love to have us read to them. Because of this overwhelming love for the missionaries, we don’t really "tract" that often, because our schedule is always full. But when we do, we don't really have to clap houses, because everyone spends all of their time outside, anyways, because inside the house is very claustrophobic. So most of the time, we'll just find people outside on a lawn chair, sipping their chimarrão. Oh, speaking of which, we don’t have that many people that we have to coach the word of wisdom to, because no one really drinks coffee here. EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE, drinks chimarrão. It’s like a sort of tea (that isn’t against the word of wisdom) that seems to be some sort of a status symbol. If you're a REAL southerner, you drink chimarrão. So everyone, except the native Cherokee, drinks this stuff. And there are no Cherokee here, so there is no exception. So we can just walk up to anyone in town, say hello, ask how they're doing, to which they will respond "Muito bem, pelo graça de Deus" (very well, thanks to God), and we begin our lesson.
And, unfortunately, I end my email. Enjoy the pics, I love you all!

-Elder Wassom

Monday, November 17, 2014

Elder Wassom and his new companion, Elder Molina

Bom Dia de Uruguaiana!‏

Hey friends and family,
     Please pardon me for again, the lack of photos. I was in a frenzy this morning and forgot to bring it along. First off, I have WAY more time to write you guys than I did in the CTM, so expect some good letters! I say this, so I have to commit to sending good letters instead of slacking off. 
     OKAY. So as the name implies, I am in a town called Uruguaiana. It is on the FAR west side of Rio Grande do Sul. The town actually holds 200,000 people. The inner city is rather big, with tall buildings and houses made of bricks and stuff. The outskirts are more of a poor, farming community. Lucky for me and Elder Molina (my new comp), we get to work in the outskirts. In fact, our area borders the Uruguai River. This means, I can actually see Argentina very clearly from my apartment.
     I will try to write this letter in somewhat of a chronological fashion, because I have SO, SO, SOOO much to tell you guys! Gosh, I am so excited for yall to read this letter. Okay, so first off, back at the MTC, our district sang that version of ‘Abide With Me, Tis Eventide’, with the a cap verse that I arranged, in the MTC devotional on last Sunday. It was incredible. It was funny too, because in the MTC, all the sisters sit up front. So we kept looking up to a bunch of bawling faces while we were singing. It really was really good. In fact, both the Mission President and his wife were crying, too. I am going to miss that group of guys. We also talked President Swenson into letting us record the song afterwards, and so I have a recording on my camera. The recording does not do it NEARLY the amount of justice it deserved, so yall will have to have faith that it actually was good. That is, when I remember to bring my camera. Next week, I promise.
On Tuesday, I took an early morning flight down to Porto Alegre, then a little tiny propeller plane down to Santa Maria. I arrived, dropped our stuff off with the assistants, and took off to the Mission Home in Santa Maria. The first thing Presidente and Sister Parrela did was they took us to the roof of the house, and had us overlook the valley. This was an incredible experience. It was so beautiful, and yet, so familiar. I really had a confirmation that THIS is the place that I need to be.
     Afterward, they took us inside, and, (mom, you’re gonna like this), gave us a 3-hour talk on how to stay healthy. What to eat. What not to eat. When to eat. How to eat. Where to eat. Where not to eat. And, yes. Even why we eat. And other hygiene stuff.
     WHICH REMINDS ME. There is a reason why the "b´day" is nowhere to be found in America. Make sure that the United States does not lose sight of that reason by the time I return. PLEASE. I BEG OF YOU.
     So anyways, I am well watched over. I am now a health pro. And I look more like one, too. I’ve trimmed up quite a bit.
     After all that jazz, Presidente treated all the newcomers to a churrascaria. I was so excited, as I had never had churrasco before. Lesson learned: please understand what the waiters are bringing out to you before you tell them to put it on your plate. I could have had ANYTHING my heart desired in that place. Chicken, steak, pork... my first dinner in Santa Maria was Chicken Hearts, people. Check to see what it is first. It actually wasn’t that bad, but I could’ve enjoyed a nice steak over that.
     We head to a hotel for the night. My roommate was a Brasileiro, so I could start up a basic conversation with him about his home, about his family. I had a little bit harder of a time explaining that I had accidentally locked myself in the bathroom and the handle came off. So I was shouting all the Portuguese I knew how to yell, such as "door is closed! Broken! I am here" and my roommate was yelling in Danish, I think, so it took a good 20 minutes to get me out of there.
     After a decent nights rest, I repacked my bags, headed out to a meeting, met my companion, and took a 7 hour bus ride over to Uruguaiana. My comp is really awesome. Like, really. He works hard, he’s fun, likes to follow the rules. He also walks as fast as humanly possible, like Elder Reis was for my dad. Even though he is only 5'5, it is hard to keep up with him. We get to Uruguaiana, unpack our stuff, and head out to André's house. Andre is a man, lives a simple life, and he was going to be baptized last Saturday, but he got sick, so next Saturday he will be baptized. Lesson Learned: Humility. I did not speak Portuguese as well as I had thought. Like, really. I could speak decently, but I did not understand him at all. Down in the south they have an accent "como um gaucho." Dad, imagine Portuguese WITH the tu and vos form, without the letter s, and "de" and "te" are actually pronounced as "de" and "te" instead of "djee" and "tchee" as I had learned in the MTC. So that was humbling.
     Here in the outskirts of Uruguaiana, cats, dogs, pigs, chickens, and even horses roam the streets, in great number, none of which have been fixed. Which cause for the wild animals to increase in number.  (I can’t call them streets, because there are very few that are actually paved... many people, such as André, live off the trail of the train tracks)
     Presidente Parrela gave us all a pillow, which he called "travesseiro de lagrimas" or "pillow of tears", for the nights when we can’t take it anymore, we can cry it out. This was the one time President was wrong. When you hit your pillow, you are so exhausted that you don’t have time to cry. You are out cold. The only time I almost used it was when I had a Hamburger that everyone said was as close as you could get to American. It just... no. Sorry. I want a real burger.
     Everything that dad told me about Brasil was pretty accurate. I have seen 9 year olds with pacifiers. Mothers here don’t hide themselves while nursing, even in Sacrament Meeting. The drivers here are terrible, and there are no controlled crosswalks.
     There is a lady that Mom would LOVE. That means she is about 70 years old and loves to talk. Her name is Irmã Delmaci. We were talking to her one day in a lesson, when she looks off into the distance and says "it’s ready." She promptly gets up, runs to a tall melon tree, and, with her 70 year old body, climbs the tree like in those jungle book movies, picks the melon, climbs back down, and gives it to us. It made me smile inside.
      There is a rapaz named Edivã, but we call him popó. He is 12. President Parrela told us that because of our focus on families, a youth must wait through 3 months of investigation before getting baptized, if their family is not a member. No problem for popó. In fact, a month in, he invites all of his fútbol friends to take the lessons, and in two months later, he was baptized, one month later, all of his friends were baptized, and now make up our young men’s group. Except one. His name is German, and we are working with him now. He´s the youngest of the group, he’s just a rapaz of 11, but he is progressing well. We hope he will be baptized on Saturday with André. We were heading over there, to teach him, and his mother wanted to listen in, too. So we taught her the first lesson, gave her a Book of Mormon, and we have another investigator.
     I have no doubt that this was because of a special fast we had on Saturday to Sunday, which was for Sao Paulo to get rain. But I prayed for the Gift of Tongues, and investigators as well. It was the hardest fast I had ever done, because as hard as we walk, (and as FAST as we walk, goodness) It was very hard to go without water. But this fast was by far the best working. I haven’t heard anything about São Paulo, but the success boomed yesterday. For instance, Germans mom, and also, we felt very impressed to visit a contact that was given to us by a member. Like, very impressed. So, we take off to the house, and clap at the gate (we clap, instead of knocking). A lady walks out. We asked her if she was Patricia, she said no. We asked if a Patricia lived there, and she said no. So we said to ourselves "we usually don’t 'tract' because we have so many appointments, but lets try" and we asked her if she’d like to listen to our message. She said yes. So we taught her the first lesson, gave her a Book of Mormon, committed her to baptism, to which she accepted, and we’ve got it planned for December. Pretty awesome. Stuff like that happens with the spirit.
     I still have stuff to tell you guys, I have it written down so I can tell you next week, as I have run out of time. I never resolved my "I can’t speak Portuguese" story, so It suffices me to say that through the grace of God, my Portuguese has improved greatly, and I can talk to the people here. More stories and miracles on that next week. Anyway, love you guys, until next week,

     E. Wassom

Friday, November 7, 2014

Last Week At The MTC!!!

Dear Family and Friends,
     This week was super cool and spiritual and what not. I was reading in John 17, and I found myself just engulfed in how extremely selfless the Savior is. That is a very powerful chapter of scripture. In all, I'd say that this week was rather normal, nothing particularly new happened, so I will try to make this one as interesting as possible.
     First off, yesterday, we had President Swenson visit our sala de aula (classroom) unexpectedly, looking for Elder Smith. Once we had informed him that Elder Smith was teaching a lesson, he exclaimed, "really? So no one is headed to Santa Maria in here?"  To which Elder Lang and I responded that that was where I was heading. He then announced that President and Sister Parrela had come to visit us. So they came in, greeted us very warmly, and talked a little bit about life, and the mission. I then noticed that Elder Lang and Elder Stanbury had been using the whiteboard to do a big physics problem for the last 45 minutes (instead of studying). So Elder Lang and I positioned ourselves very carefully as to block the whiteboard from President’s view. Luckily, we were both far taller than he was, so "Operation Block-the-board-to-avoid-looking-like-slackers-and/or-nerds" was a complete success. They seem like VERY awesome people, and it makes me very happy and excited to serve under them, starting Tuesday.
     Oh, yeah. I head out on the field on Tuesday. That seems very unreal to me, there is no way that I have been gone for a month and a half. What Blake said could not be more accurate. The days are long, the weeks are short. Doesn’t make sense, but extremely true. I still have no idea how I am to get there. Well, I guess I have an IDEA, I think I’m taking a plane. But I have heard nothing about it, so don’t be surprised to hear otherwise next week. I´m so excited, yall. I feel very ready. I’m excited to see who my new companion will be. I’m excited to preach the good news to anyone and everyone. I am so excited.
     As a new Portuguese speaker, I’m sure you are wondering about if I have had any bad Portuguese mess-ups. I have, but not nearly as bad as some of my district members. So I’m gonna share those. So I was eating dinner, and instead of saying, "opa, este é um colher pequeno" (wow, this is a very small spoon), I said, "opa, este é um COELHO pequeno" (wow, this is a very small bunny rabbit). So not terrible. Elder Blocker was called upon to say the opening prayer in the devotional with the whole CTM. He meant to start with "o nosso amoroso pai celestial" (o loving heavenly father) but he said, "o nosso almoço pai celestial" (o heavenly father of lunchtime). Some brasileiros had a hoot about that. My personal favorite, was in a lesson, Elder Stanbury meant to tell our investigators that if you follow the law of chastity, that "vocês vão sentir melhores por todo eternidade" (you will feel better for all eternity), but he said "vocês vão sentir mulheres por todo eternidade" (you will feel women for all eternity).
     We are all in good company. Those are the three that come to mind immediately, but I will share more if they come to mind.
     On Sunday, we had our fast Sunday. Practically all of us fasted for rain, as São Paulo was at 5% capacity in their lakes. That’s absurdly low. Anyways, about 5 hours in to our fast, the rain came. And it didn’t stop for 4 days. So yeah. Power of the fast, people.
     I will talk to you guys a little about the meal schedule. We have Panini’s in the morning, we have rice and beans at lunch, and we have rice and beans for dinner. The lunches here are bigger than the dinners. I like the schedule a bit more than in the states. But when it comes around 9 pm, we are all starving. So we have something called "launche" which means, snack, or dessert. Let me tell you of this concept. NEVER HAS MEDIOCRITY BEEN SO LOVED by a group of young men. Sincerely, it consists of a juice box (everyone hopes they get apple, because it gives them weird dreams), a thing of saltine crackers without the salt (we just put that in our makeshift birdfeeder out the window) (the instructors still don’t know about that), and a little muffin thing, that we all call a "dirt cake", because it tastes like dirt. But for some reason, we all look forward to it every day.
     Love you guys, can’t wait to talk to you next week!
     Until then,

     E. Wassom

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Big Week of Stuffs

October 31, 2014
Happy Halloween!
Alrighty, this week was another awesome week. I feel like I am so ready to tackle Santa Maria. My language has still got some room for improvement, but I can definitely get through talking to people, as I found out on our proselyting day, on our P-days, and talking to brasileiros in the hallways! Oh, and we've got new roommates. One is from Santos, Brasil, and the other is from Paraguay. They arrived yesterday, and they are super cool. They like talking to us, and we like talking to them, because that makes our language better.
 So I had a pretty busy week. I have a lot on this list of stuff that I want to talk about, and I hope I can get through it all.
I’m going to start off with some stuff that I seemed to forget the first couple of weeks. First we have this lady named Irmã Sonya. She makes her business doing underground trading for the missionaries. Like, really. You need anything? Get with Sonya on your P-Day, and she´ll hook you up. It’s awesome. She also has a very nice collection of ties... for cheap... and I like it :) she has everything we seem to need. Oil vials, Uno cards, things of the miscellaneous missionary sort.
Ok, so I learned how to make a super cool paper airplane, and it makes me excited. I don’t know why I wrote that on the list of things to write home about.
Ok. Big thing I missed the first few weeks. Have I been using my music skills much at the MTC? YES! I still always carry around my pitch pipe wherever I go. Elder George, Elder Paulson and Elder Burt all sing pretty well, so we like to sing together. I lead the music pretty much every time a hymn is sung. Irmao Galarza (one of our instructors, super cool from Argentina) calls me the designated chorister of the MTC. One time, the Branch president felt badly that I led every week, so he called on Elder Cook (same branch, different district) to lead. Before I get to that, I have to remind yall that for some reason, seemingly all the missionaries in my branch are really tall. I am, like, one of the shortest. Anyways, almost everyone is super tall, like 6 foot 3, except Elder Cook. He’s like 5 foot. So he gets up to lead Chamado A Servir, and he asks everyone to stand. He then realized that no one could then see him, so he had to ask everyone to sit back down. It was super funny.
Anyways, so with my musical background, I was asked to lead the district in a song to perform for our last Sunday in the MTC. So what do I do? I use my free time to compose my own rendition of Abide with me tis eventide. And, not to pat myself on the back, but it’s really beautiful. I’m proud of how it sounds. I then realized that not too many brazileiros get to sing in our Sunday devotionals, because they’re only there for two weeks. So I asked them to join us :)
So I can now talk about yesterday. Our head of education, Irmao Dias, came in looking for me. Apparently, Presidente Parrela didn’t know that I had arrived. So Bro. Dias was just here to check to see if I was here at the Brasil MTC. I am still here, as was my report to Irmao Dias. So he wrote Pres. Parrela back saying "yes, he is here, we know him very well. He is the one that sings very well." I tried to get Irmao Dias to brown nose a little for me, but we decided against it, lol.
So Elder George, our new district leader, is super cool. He has an unusual sense of Idaho pride. He has a potato tie pin. Another thing that I’m not sure about is how it made it on the list.
We had a local 70 speak to us on Tuesday. He looked like a (in moms words) cute little man when he walked in the assembly hall. But that man was as energetic as I’ve ever seen. He was like a game show host! He felt really intimidated at first, because on Tuesday, ALL of the Brasileiros headed out to the field. So everyone was either white or Hispanic :) He was afraid that no one would understand him, but once he realized that we understood him just fine, he really opened up. Like, REALLY. He spoke very loudly, and it was a good talk to get us motivated for the field. I’ve never seen anyone jump up and down and/or throw stuff from the podium before. This guy was... very... involved.
There’s an ongoing joke over here at the MTC that the apple juice gives you really weird dreams.
Every time we wash our clothes, me and Elder Lang find a blue sock in our finished laundry basket. Neither of us own blue socks. It is a very bizarre mystery.
Yesterday morning, there were eggs for desjejum (breakfast).  As in 4th nefi (Nephi), never were there a happier group of people than the American missionaries on that blessed morning. We are all really tired of Panini’s. We keep trying to make them different, but it just doesn’t make me happy like it did previously.
We went to the police office yesterday. We got ourselves registered for the country and stuff like that. It was perhaps even worse than the government buildings in the US. We got there at 7. We left at 1. It was very boring.
I have a testimony of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
Well, until Next week,
Elder Wassom

Friday, October 24, 2014

Week 3.5 :)

Alrighty, Friends and Family!
    So to all those who were worrying about my toe, it is currently fine, toenail still attached :) Funny story, when I went to go see the medic, my toe was legit purple, and white around the hangnail. It was absolutely a mess. Everyone in the MTC told me that it would definitely be coming off when I went to go see the doctor. Anyways, after I finished up my letter last week, we went to go see the doctor... he was closed on Fridays. So I hobbled around on my purple toe, in very much pain. (Never had one that bad) So Saturday morning, I explained to him on how it was very difficult to even sleep with my toe throbbing like that. I took my sock off to reveal my horrendous toe. All he said was "well, it looks like you have an ingrown toenail" I so wanted to say something like "oh, really? I just thought it was a bug bite" but I didn’t. He told me to just pull back the skin, lift up on the nail, and repeat, and when it was as far separated as it was going to be, just to jam regular paper in between. I had my suspicions, but I followed orders, and surely enough, the doodadd came on out on its own. It was lodged a full centimeter in there, to give you an idea... eww.
     So anyways, a funny story that I forgot to tell y’all when I first got here, when I was at the airport, I was expecting to have all these Brazilians en route to Sao Paulo when I first got there, and I was ready to just start talking to some Brazilians, and baptize everyone at the airport, haha jk. Either way, I get there, and I see two people walk in, they looked like Brazilians, and they were speaking a foreign language. So I try to eavesdrop very subtly on their conversation, and I did not pick up a word. Not even a word. I was so frustrated. I was like "gosh, all that time learning Portuguese, and I’ve got a long way to go" while true I had a long way to go, I soon learned that they were actually speaking Hebrew, so that relieved some stress.
     So we go from not even recognizing what language someone is speaking... flash forward to now. We went proselyting on Wednesday. Irma Deniz, one of our instrutoras, (I’ve got a picture, just wait a bit) took us, and another district, to a big centre of people and told us to start handing out Books of Mormon. We were terrified. But it turns out, we were ready. We understood pretty much everything everyone was saying, and worked our way through the hour of being there. I even gave one to the guy sitting next to me on the bus! Anyways, in an hour, the 8 companionships that were there handed out 53 copies of the Book of Mormon. That’s pretty good for a bunch of Americans, an Englishman, and a South African. :) I’m so excited to be speaking the language. It relieves a lot of stress actually being able to talk to people. :)
     BTDUBBS, I sent some letters last week, and I’ve sent a couple this week, including a BIG one for home.
     Other things I’ve neglected to mention - They’ve got Antarctica Guarana on tap here at the MTC. It’s very nice :)
     I gave a talk on Sunday in Portuguese. It went off very well. I sent the talk home via mail today. BTDUBBS, I just heard that Missionties has a monthly fee. I thought it was a one- time pay-and-done thing. It is probably not worth that monthly fee. If you haven’t signed up, don’t worry about it. If you already signed up, it could be very useful for the MTC, but after that, it’s not quite worth it.
     Okay. So on Monday, Elder L., one of beloved colleagues in our district, announced that he was going to be sent home. This was the most bittersweet, perhaps tender moments that I have ever witnessed. Under his own free will, he confessed that he wasn’t ready to be out on a mission, and that he wanted to change his life around. We were all proud of him for making that vital but very difficult step of repentance. With consent of the Branch President, we gathered around Elder L. to give him a Priesthood blessing of knowledge and guidance. A very shaky and emotional District Leader, former companion of L.,  Elder Riddle was the voice. He only had one other Priesthood blessing under his belt, and that was a blessing that I would get over my cold. The blessing was probably the most beautiful thing I had ever heard in my life. Not a dry eye was in the circle of the band of brothers, sending Elder L home to begin his journey of utilizing the atonement. The words uttered in the prayer were perhaps too sacred for this email, but it sufficeth me to say it was unbelievable. We sent him off the very next day singing "God be with you till we meet again" from our 6th story window, as Elder L drove off to the airport.
     On Wednesday, we got a new district member - Elder Burt. He spent 3 weeks in Provo, got his Visa, and came over here. Let’s just say, I’m glad I’ve learned Portuguese in Brazil. :) He’s got some work cut out for him, haha. He’s a great guy, and like the rest of my district, very tall, very big. He’s a tight end.
      Running out of time, but I will say one more thing - The Book of Mormon is awesome. I am reading it as if I were eating Baked Steak. I read it every time I have a chance. I can read it in Portuguese just as easily as in English. It has enriched my life greatly. It is true. It is absolutely true. If you don’t have one, get one and read it. It’s a good book.
     Love Y’all! Until next week,
     Elder Wassom.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Week Two!‏                                        October 17, 2014
Dear Family and Friends,
Things are still awesome! I am learning so much already, it is amazing! First thing's first, I would prefer to be written via postal mail. My emailing time is very short and it is difficult to read everyone’s and still have time to send a decent email. However, I have plenty of time during each day to read and write hand-written letters from everyone! So don't hesitate to send me some mail!
Okay, so I just got back from the Campinas temple. (Pictures to be sent when I get to Santa Maria)  I cannot decide which one I like more, the Campinas or the Sao Paulo. They are both so beautiful. Heck, the whole country is beautiful. I especially like the artwork. In America, it seems like all the paintings and such are the same across churches, temples, etc. Here in Brazil, everything’s new. In the Sao Paulo baptismal font there are two giant tile mosaics on both sides of the font, rising up about 15ish feet high. It really is stunning. Portuguese update - the language is coming great. I went through the temple in Portuguese and understood everything just fine. Reading and writing - no problem. Hearing and understanding- a little harder, and speaking it is still fairly tough. I wouldn’t say I was fluent, but give me two weeks, and I could say safely that I would be very close. Maybe I’m overly ambitious. This week our district really buckled down and everyone has a whole lot of improvement over these last 7 days. We really are a tight-bunched group. Its super cool, I like them a lot. I am getting along well with my companion.
Somehow get this message out to Chandler Brown, I ran into an Elder Guierrmo Fernandez from Paraguay, who says that you taught him English. He's a cool dude. We've sat together at lunch a couple of times. Some of the food here is getting pretty... old? I’m getting pretty tired of Panini’s. It’s a good food, but it is the only thing we have for breakfast... so today when they had frosted flakes, the missionaries went ape wild over it. Milk is not something that they have in plentitude here.

To answer a previous question, they do have a CTM choir. I am in it. It is awful. But what is severely lacking in talent is made up for in spirit. Speaking of which, I cannot hardly talk, let alone sing. I have an extremely nasty cold. Insomuch, that blowing my nose so frequently has given me frequent nosebleeds. One nosebleed came unexpectedly in the night, and it dripped on my garment top. So I spent an hour in the bathroom at 1 am with my garment top and a tide pen getting that sucker out. I would go into detail about my ingrown toenail, but to make a long story short, I am going to the medic right after I am done writing you to get my entire toenail removed. TMI? probably. Do you remember about how I talked about Elder Paulson being a saint? Not surprisingly, he is our new zone leader. In sports, we call him RamenTop, because his hair looks exactly like ramen noodles. Funny story, Our instructora, Irma Diniz, said she had a surprise for us. She was so excited to show us this surprise which she had for us. The next day, she said she brought us all American candies! We looked at the wonderful stash she had brought, and they were Hall's Cough Drops. We tried to suppress the laughter. Lang and I just smiled, because we actually needed them. That’s all the time I have, ttyl! BTW, handwritten letters... awesome! 
Love, Elder Wassom

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Elder Wassom's MTC District

Saturday, October 11, 2014

BOM DIA!!! :)

Dear family and friends,
I somehow don't have a space bar that works, so you'll have to make some paragraphs or something. Im still getting used to this brazilian keyboard, so that's why I might have some crazy misspellings, and you will just have to cope with me! So, the MTC is an awesome experience, I am loving the people who I am with. I am in a district with ten 18 year old anglos who don't know a lick of Portuguese. Well, at least that was my impression when I first got here. But this makes a full 9 days out in Brazil, so our Portuguese is progressively getting better. As far as the learning curve goes, I am doing just fine. I know some were wondering if I were to be learning at a slower pace than I had hoped, but this is definitely not the case. In fact, our Portuguese instructor does not even speak English, so the only way that we could even attempt to communicate with her was by studying really hard and trying not to have our brain explode. There have been a couple of times where we have snapped, trust me. The Duolingo has definitely helped, as I was (still am) the person who everyone looks to if anyone is trying to speak with us in Portuguese. There are some awesome people in my district. Their names are Elder Blocker, Elder Beecroft, Elder Lang, Myself, Elder Riddle, Elder Lewis, Elder Stanbury, Elder George, Elder Smith, and Elder Paulson. I am writing so ridiculously fast, because I only have 30 minutes to write yall, and I can't send photos from the MTC. so I will send pictures to yall when I get into the mission feild in Santa Maria, including the ones of me and my district at the Sao Paulo temple. Sorry, this letter has no form. I'm just trying to tell you everything I have to say. Anyways, the temple. Its gorgeous. We kind of had a neat experience today, because we left at 6:30 am to beat traffic (it didnt work) so that we could get there in time for the English session. BTW. The drivers here are crazy. Especially the motorcyclists. Its as if the division lines in the road didn't exist. Either way, all missions in Brazil are 100percent walking, so I'm down with that. So the temple, haha. We arrived at 830ish (yes Sao Paulo is huge, so it took us 2 hours to get there in the same city) and our sessions didnt start until 1030. so our leader told us to ask the front end if we could do any service for them while we were waiting. So me and my district were able to work in the laundromat in the temple. It was so cool. Then, they let us check out the temple, where we stopped at the baptismal font, where we were conveniently needed. This one lady came in with some names for baptism, but no one was there to do baptisms. So our district got to baptize, be baptized, confirm, be confirmed, do initiatories for, and go through a session for the names that she brought. She was just sobbing that Preisthood holders just happened to walk in right when she needed us. It was a very cool experience. Also, the English session kind of fell through, so we just did one in Portuguese. They gave us headphones, but I didnt really use them. I am getting so good at Portugese now, it's super cool. Uhm, my companion. On the first day, I really thought we were going to have problems. It seems like everything he said or did aggravated me (probably because of the great amount of stress that first day was. It was really sort of a drag.) Nevertheless, I kept my head high, and now we are truly getting along just fine! The days are starting to be a lot quicker, and a lot better. It was rough the first few days when we were stuck in a room for hours on end (big district, small room), taking instructions we didn't understand, and it was tough. But now, I wake up smiling, knowing that the day will be hard, but that I will learn so much. Looking back, it is indescribable how much I've learned just in these past few days. I took a picture of your letters to me, and I will read them and respond to them as quickly as I can. My time is limited, so I haven't read them yet. Let's see what else. The food, haha. yeaaahhh, so I like it a lot, but my stomach sure didn't those first few days... lol. We have rice and beans for dinner, and Paninis for breakfast. The Paninis have already gotten old, but thankfully I love those rice and beans. We have a gym that we get to use everyday for 40 minutes, and there's either basketball or volleyball, two sports which I love to play. There was one day where 5 guys in the district (including myself) were playing together (they're all as tall or taller than me, and very athletic), and some Brazilians came up and said "Hey, lets play some ball!" we destroyed them. My inner sportsman died that day. Okay now a little bit about the people in the district. we're really close, because we really do spend, like all day in the sala de aula, which is a classroom that barely fits us all. Elder Lang really likes science, and is very hard working. Elder Blocker... He's just a goofball. Really, though. He's a great guy. Imagine a cross between Ethan Croft and Conner, but tall and lanky. Elder Beecroft is really quiet. He's awesome, and plays basketball super well. Elder George is awesome. He always laughs at my jokes, which is saying a lot. Elder Smith is very similar, which is perfect, because they're companions. Elder Riddle and Elder Lewis are both ripped, athletic type of guys that are really awesome. Elder Stanbury is from London, and likes attention. Elder Paulson is a saint. He plans, and studies, and does the right thing. He's somewhat of a leader figure in the district. My time is coming to a close, but I want you all to know that I love you a lot, and I have thought about you frequently, especialmente in the temple today. Love Yall, Elder Wassom. PS Im bummed that BYU lost. I don't really care, though.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


October 1st, 2014
Hey Guys! Just checking in to tell you that everything is good and decent here in the Sao Paulo MTC. My companion is atualmente Elder Lang! The same guy from the Missionary Mall!  I can tell we will get along just fine! The flights went smoothly, nothing was stolen :) Uhm. Sao Paulo is really pretty. It is a big city, but not very dense, so I dont feel so tiny. I sat next to a brasileira on the plane, and we spoke primarily in portuguese the whole time, so that was a confidence booster. We only had ten minutes for our little pulse check, but I figured I'd let you know that all is well, and that I love yall. I still don't know when my P-day is, btw.

Elder Wassom :)
All the new missionaries in the MTC in Brazil