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.