Monday, February 23, 2015

I have 19 years.‏

Im making my bolo. Its ready for tonight.

This was this morning when we went out to play basketball, I was wearing my Brasil shirt my companion got me. The first one are the bleachers set up for Carnaval again in march.

Well, today I make 19 years. Lol, ok, my English hasn’t gotten THAT bad, but, who am I kidding, yeah it has. I found that one out while doing splits with Elder Hintze. More on that later in the email.
First of all, I have to say, I am shocked at the amount of support that I have received just for my birthday! Not to minimize the individuality of each of your emails to me, but I received a total of 21 emails for my birthday already. I am a lucky Elder!
There is a custom here that people crack an egg on the birthday boy’s head, and throw flour on him. I have thankfully avoided the tradition thus far, and still have perfect hair :) Anyways, so my Big Day is as planned: Wake up at 5:50, go play basketball, make cake, clean apartment, study, write letters, eat lunch, buy shoelaces for my companion, go grocery shopping, SLEEP :), wake up, teach Larissa (we got back in contact with her!) and have a family night with Lúcia, go home, eat pizza, cake and ice cream, and sleep. It’ll be a normal p-day, but it will be good. After all, it has been 19 years since I first used my lungs.
OKAY. So starting at the top of my list, I have to count to you a few interesting Brazilian culture stories. There aren’t very many big, interesting differences, but I like to tell them when I can. So before my mission, I was imagining the "hear howling monkeys at night, use machete to save companion from anaconda" Brazil. Well, I was wrong. Until this week, the only difference that I had noticed with the animals were that there were ugly stupid dogs everywhere, and horses just roaming the streets. Well, let me tell you something. There are two words in Portuguese: Lagartixa (Gecko) and Lagarta (Lizard). At nights, we see geckos everywhere. My companion told me that there are also lizards that are pretty cool to see. Beleza. So I was imagining something green, more or less twice the size of a gecko. Well, on Tuesday, I figured out what people were talking about when they were talking about lagartas. We were teaching Mariangelica, and she had left some eggs out on a little plate off in the distance to feed the lizards. And surely enough, they came. But they weren’t the cute green 8-inch reptiles I was picturing. They were big, black 3 foot (minus tail) Komodo Dragons. So that threw me for a bit of a loop.
Also, I had talked about the only interesting thing that I had eaten thus far was chicken hearts. Add one to the list: Capybara. For those who don’t know, Capybara is the largest living rodent on the planet. To describe Capybara, imagine a rat. Now make it the size of a buffalo. When I first got here, I had like one piece of a Capybara sausage. Last night, we had capybara ribs. It was pretty strong. Not bad, but I definitely prefer chicken.
Okay. So on Friday I had splits with Elder Hintze, one of our ZLs. He’s from DC, been out for a year and a half. Both he and I were a little excited to actually have a conversation in English, that we (tried) to start one. Well, both of our English is pretty bad now. So we gave up and just talked in Portuguese. The splits were good. He likes music theory, too. Haha. Funny thing is that all of his investigators said right to his face that they could understand me way better than him. Poor Elder.
So now that I had my G.H. moment (gloria dos homens - missionary acronym for boastful/prideful) we had a good day together.
Yesterday, we were teaching Josemar and Elizangela (less actives), and they wanted to know what we ate in America. She asked if we ate rice and beans. I responded with "well, we have them sometimes, but not everyday." She then incredulously said "Well, what do you EAT then?!" I laughed.
So the work. The work is awesome, good enough to make a missionary very happy. We will have the baptism of Irmã Zaira this Saturday. We are very excited. At first February looked like my first full month without a baptism, but then Zaira popped out of nowhere, and bam. Also, Dorival and Mara went to church again, and accepted the invitation to be baptized. They will have to get married first, but it’s a good step to plan ahead. We had 6 investigators at Sacrament Meeting, which is as high as it has ever been since I’ve been here. March is looking to be a good month, indeed. For it is.
It has cooled down the last week. We had a blistering hot day on Thursday, but other than that, it’s been rather comfortable. Right now it’s cloudy, maybe 75 degrees. Maybe more. But not bad.

And, again, thank you all for the support. I’m doing great. Really.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Useless word of the week - Castisal - Literally means "Candlestick", but it also takes the meaning "Third-wheel on a date"

Monday, February 16, 2015

Bom Dia from a Crazy Town

Hey! (1) is me and Elder Santos-Melo, (2) the bridge to Argentina, (3) a FHE with Elder Matoso, (4) me and a gurí, (5) raising the bar with Elder Vernon, me, Elder Matoso, and Elder Santos Melo.

This town is crazy right now. I think Dad may have forgotten, but I am smack dab in the middle of Carnival in Brazil. For those of you who don't know what Carnival is, it comes the weekend before Ash Wednesday, where people give up sinning for Lent. So they party hard the 4 days before Lent.
Luckily, they don't party as hard as Rio or São Paulo, and especially not Bahia (I hear stories), the people here usually just celebrate it by getting really drunk, having water balloon (or beer balloon) fights, playing loud music, and running around in groups of immodestly dressed people. So we still leave the house and proselyte as normal, avoiding the "bloques" of crazies.
Despite the excitement of Carnival, the work here is booming again. There was a rough patch in there for the last couple of weeks, but Uruguaiana Ala Porto (our area) is back in business. We visited Zaira on Tuesday on a division with Elder Santos Melo. The spirit was so strong there, he committed her to baptism on the 28th. She accepted. This is funny, because before the lesson, I hadn’t even talked to him about a date, or baptism or anything, he just did it. He’s going to be a powerful missionary... Understands how the spirit works.
Turns out, just like last week, we had another contact that accepted the invitation to church. "Our church is located there at the top of cidade nova on Presidente Vargas...blah blah...Starts at 8:30...blah...we would like to extend to the invitation to be there." "Sure, I’ll be there" "... ...okay, cool, see ya there!" The next morning, we passed by there to accompany him to church (wake him up) and his wife leans out the window and said "he already left!" another "...really?" moment. For it is. His name is Dorival, and he’s progressing, just has a Word of wisdom problem.
It feels nice to have progressing investigators again :)
On P-Days, Companionships Porto B, Santana, and we go down to the bus station at 6am and play basketball. It’s really fun. To answer dads question, no, I still can’t dunk. But I think (honestly) those rims are higher than 10 feet. More like 11. So maybe. Who knows.
Fun fact: We're now teaching a guy named 'Élder.' How cool is that? Haha
Other Fun Fact: I will not argue which language is better, but I can say Portuguese has its plusses. You know those awkward moments where you don't know what to say, but feel obligated to say something? Portuguese has a cure for this: They use the phrase: "Pois é." meaning, "for it is."
Here’s a fun story, a month ago, I could talk fine, but still had some problems with thick gaucho accent or fast talking. On Saturday, we met a woman with more talent than I have ever seen. I can’t even talk that fast in English OR Portuguese, even if I tried. And she talked straight, almost without breathing, for 15 minutes. Elder Motoso and I were stunned. We couldn’t find a break to get a word in. First off, I understood her. But secondly, I have never ever seen anyone talk even close to that fast in my life. She must’ve talked 13 words per second for 15 straight minutes.
Let me recount a story that I forgot to share. This is the most memorable moment of my mission to this point. And I forgot to tell it. So that one Wednesday. The horrible, horrible Wednesday where everything went wrong. The one that I wrote my only depressing letter about. We had just finished our final lesson with Evellyn. She had given up on us, and told us she wasn’t to be baptized, along with 3 others earlier in the day. Everyone left the house except me, Elder Molina and Marcia. Elder Molina and I just hung our heads in exhaustion and disappointment at the end of the worst day of my mission to that point. Marcia didn’t know what to say. She told us "I just don't understand. I did everything I could to help that girl. Did I fail? What did I do wrong?" As missionaries, seasoned with this kind of feeling, we told her about free agency and our role as members to invite, and theirs to accept or not. Then Elder Molina put in his flash drive to her TV, and we watched a video segment. It's called "The atonement and Missionary Work" by Jeffery R. Holland and Henry B. Eyring. It just... really was exactly what we needed to hear at that point in time. I can’t really say more, just watch the video on YouTube, and you’ll understand better. Elder Eyring is addressing the Priesthood in conference; Elder Holland is addressing the Mission Presidents in some conference.
So I’ll leave you with that this week. Love you all. I’m doing great. The Church is true. Feijão é bom (Black bean soup is good).
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Good Week :)

This is Rosari and her family. She lives in Porto B, but she makes our meal calendar. She noticed we didnt have lunch planned on Sunday, so she invited us over :) Unfortunately, she is moving in March :(

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was a good week. You want to know why? I am a missionary for the Lord's church, restored in its fullness in these latter days. Want to know why else? MY BIRTHDAY PACKAGE CAME IN!!! It came in on Tuesday. And I have already torn into it, eaten the Swedish Fish (shared a bit with my companion - you know you have developed Christ like love for someone if you share your Swedish Fish that you haven’t eaten in over 4 months) but the cake, candles and frosting are not to be touched until 2-23-15, when I turn 19 years old. YAYY! Thank you guys so much. My ties are envied, and my shirts were definitely needed. Summer is still hot, and long sleeves isn’t a fun option. Shoe polish, bleach pens, socks... everything came in and I’m happy.
Wanna know why else I’m happy? We're starting to see some success again. Our investigators are reading the Book of Mormon. Mariangelica and Gideão look like they are progressing nicely. They didn’t come to church, because Gideão had a MMA cage fighting match. We made a contact with Zaira, an old lady. She’s cool. We only taught her one lesson on Wednesday, when we contacted her, but we decided to drop by on Saturday to invite her to church. When we asked, she said "Sure, that’d be great, what time does it start?" "8:30 AM." "Great! See you then" I wanted to say "wait... what? Really? No... excuses, nothing? Sweet!" And so we went to church, and at first, she was a little uncomfortable, until Brenda ran up to her, gave her hugs and kisses, and accompanied her throughout church. At the end she said she liked it, and will wait for us to visit on Tuesday! AWESOME!
On Thursday, we had a mission conference. OKAY. First off, Wednesday before last, I got a call from the assistants. They wanted me to arrange a musical number for the Mission Conference. I am well known throughout the mission as the "Elder that sings well." So sometimes, I have to pay the consequences, lol like arranging all the men in our zone to sing in 3-part chorus. I was nervous, but when we had our practice 8 days ago, I felt... at home. In the MBHS choir room. I was doing my whole section leader thing, just in Portuguese with much less talented Brazilian missionaries. Nevertheless, through good practice, it sounded really good. I had a good time doing that.
So the mission conference. President and Sister Parrela introduced us to Elder Masagarte, 1st counselor in the Brasil Area Presidency (also a 70). Cool. So now our humble Brazilian male chorus singing "Brilham raios de clemência" (brightly beams our Father’s mercy) will now perform for one of the head guys of missionary work in all of Brasil. Our performance was awful. But I think the spirit was there, maybe. It was really good in our practices, though, so I’m proud of my work and of the missionaries in our zone. The conference was awesome. Elder Masagarte gave us some awesome tips, pointers, and a whole lot of doctrine. That man is smart. I learned a lot.
We are still working on contacting tudo mundo. We are doing everything in our power, creativity, and mental effort to find people to baptize. We talk with everyone. It’s getting easier to sort through the "bad" contacts, because when we step in the streets, the people who don’t want to hear us just run away. So the people who remain have a shot, or so we currently figure.
Ok, this is a funny story. I’m not sure if I talked about Lilian. We were walking on a hot summer day (that would be all of them, but on a particular day) Elder Molina and I were walking along the trilhos (railroad tracks) when a family stopped us and asked "would you like some water?". To a missionary, it sounds more like "would you like a free contact to a nice family to teach and baptize?" So clearly we accepted. Lilian wanted us to drop by the night before Elder Molina left, but time ran dry on that day, and I told Elder Molina that I would visit them with Elder Matoso.
Well, with my sense of observance and direction, that was more difficult than I thought. I knew it was a big yellow house with a big driveway, a pool, was on the trilhos, and close to Eder + Joyce. They seem very rich to the people here in Uruguaiana. There is only one set of tracks in our area. There was no way I could miss the house.
Well, some things don’t change. The house vanished. Like, completely. For 2 weeks, it vanished. We tried hard to find it, but for some reason, it just wasn’t there. Well, we finally found it on Wednesday. The reason I didn’t see the big yellow house with the big driveway and a pool was because there was a giant pink 10-foot concrete wall in front. Hmm. Somehow I completely forgot about the giant pink concrete wall. I was never too observant, but this is low, even for me. No man should be able to physically ignore that kind of landmark.
So she was happy to see us, and we marked a visit with her for yesterday. WELL. Her husband also marked a giant party for yesterday. So we show up, there is loud dance music, (I didn’t mind that part so much), Lilian is really mad at her husband, and everyone, minus Lilian, is completely sloshed. Hammered. But they wanted us to enter, so we decided if we have people that actually want to hear us, we would come in, leave a little lesson, get everyone’s address, and leave. Lesson learned - drunk people are completely useless to a missionary. Just... mark a different day and leave. So unfortunately, that did not go quite as planned. Nevertheless, we marked to show back up for Wednesday.
Alem disso, tudo joia aqui no Uruguaiana. Estou muito feliz. Meu companheiro é ótimo. (Other than that, everything is going great in Uruguaiana. I am very happy. My companion is awesome.)
Até mais, (Until Later,)
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy Groundhogs Day, Everyone!‏

Saying goodbye to Elder Molina at the Rodoviária, and I didn’t have a picture of Elder Matoso yet this morning, so we took some selfies on our apartment elevator.

Hi, Everyone! Happy Groundhogs day! This is by far my favorite holiday of the year, and I want to make sure everyone has enjoyed the Festivities of the Shadow! If anyone has taken my letter seriously thus far, don’t tell me, because that’s an insult on my character.
So first of all, I have a new companion. His name is Elder Matoso. He is awesome, super humble, and in general, a great friend and missionary. He is taller than me, probably 6´2ish. I am super, super excited to work with him.
I can’t say he’s super tall, though, because Elder Vernon is training a new guy, Elder Santos Melo. He is super tall. Just... big in general. 6'7, 250-type big. He had to bend over just to talk at the pulpit, which was raised all the way. He is also awesome.
In case I didn’t specify, my area is Porto A, or one half of Ala Porto. Elder Vernon and Elder Golias (as thus we sometimes call him) (not really though) have Porto B, the other half. Mom asked how the district works. It actually is very close-together and stuff. All 5 of the companionships (Wassom-Matoso, Vernon-Santos Melo, Ribeiro Gomes-Uchoa Sousa, Anfuso-Santos Araujo, and Sisters Amalia Silva-...and her greeny) have the upper half of Uruguaiana. Each morning, we have a conference call at 6:45 to unite us all as a district (probably just to ensure everyone’s awake), and every Tuesday we have a district meeting. We like each other. It’s good stuff.
So yeah I love working with Elder Matoso. Our first day together (Wednesday), I’ll admit was a little shaky on my part. Not as a companionship. I hadn’t planned the day very well, and it was a little frustrating, because it was without much success. So I worried a little bit. That night, I made sure I put in a good plan for the next day so that it could be awesome. Yep. Thursday was a great day. Lots of good lessons, a new investigator, and on one of our lessons, they were having a churrasco. So we ate well that night :)
More on Elder Matoso - He’s a great guy. He can be a little weird sometimes... in a good way. Like, he’s obsessed with honey, addicted, really. He puts it on everything… eggs, bananas (that’s a good combo, actually), and he just eats it by the spoonful. We get along great!.. My favorite companion up to this point.
I am learning to cook better, I always could, but I am improving. For instance, I can 'flip' food in the pan. I like doing that, makes me feel fancy and such. I am venturing out and experimenting with new things. That probably doesn’t surprise my parents. I’ve always been that type of guy. For instance, Elder Molina impulse bought a giant moranga (a type of gourd) right before getting transferred. I have no idea why. So he left it behind for us to cook. None of us knew how, so I just said "what the heck" and went to work on it. I went ahead and boiled it, and tasted it. It was sort of the consistency of a yam, so I thought to myself "Hmm. With leftover potatoes, my mom made potato pancakes, so I’m gonna try moranga pancakes!" To make a long story short, panquecas de moranga was a success. I felt proud of myself, as were my roommates.
Mom and Dad said recent converts make great member missionaries. I agree. Lúcia has started bringing her family to church. It makes me happy.
Also, the André situation cooled down way faster than I anticipated; perhaps we might be able to work with him again soon.
I am happy, as usual. 4 months from two days ago I left home happy, and I don’t think I ever stopped. I still have a very deep testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Until Next week,
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Useless word of the week: Emboscar - To hide in a forest or prepare for an ambush.