Monday, March 30, 2015

Another Week

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was another week. I fear this letter will be disappointing to the readers, due to the lack of content or excitement, nevertheless I will do the best that I can. First off, unfortunately, our investigators from last week just kind of fizzled out. Not too interested. Veleda was progressing very very well. However, some very rare and unusual circumstances arose, and put a big stumbling block in our teaching with her. Nevertheless, we are working very hard and very closely with our mission leaders and God on how we can overcome these major complications and bring her to the baptismal font, and the fold of the Shepherd. These careful proceedings will require the constant companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost, so keep us, our leaders, and her in your thoughts and prayers.
And other than that situation, we knocked a ton of doors. If I’m not fooling myself, I do believe we set the weekly mission-wide "standard of excellence" in contacts made. However, despite the massive amount of people we talked to, this only resulted in a mediocre amount of lessons given, and a miniscule 2 new investigators, neither of which show much interest. In short, this week was tough again. But we just keep pushing through it. Putting our minds to the planner, then putting our shoes to the pavement and working hard. What else can we do, right? The blessings of the Lord are bound to show themselves eventually.
On a brighter note, we had our Ward Conference on Sunday, in the which 87 people were in attendance! That’s 27 more than the weekly average. Among these 87 were 15 less actives, Veleda, and 2 friends that members brought along. One lady who showed up said she felt so good, "it was like nothing she had ever felt before," and that she’d bring her daughter this next time.
As I said, Urlandia B (my area) is really big. It is also very diverse. For example, vila renasença is like being in the country. Vila Urlandia is the ghetto. Vilas São Pedro, and Antônio Reis, are the stereotypical mid-upper class suburb. Vilas Tomazete and Alegria are the mid-lower class suburb. Vila Residencial Tomazette is for the rich people. Terra Nova is for the young people, and there’s another little vila way up there that seems also suburban.
Also, the lunches here are normally AWESOME, especially on Tuesdays. Tuesday we have Irmã Iara (our Mom), and lunch is always fantastic. Nevertheless, I am eating healthier at the house, and walking much, and the result, I’m trimming up again. My days with Elder Matoso were awesome, nevertheless, they weren’t so healthy, thus stopping my constant thinning. But I’m back at it again.
Love you all. My prayers are with all of you, and especially with the Ghios.
Até mais, Gente.
Com amor,
Elder Wassom.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Information Leak in the Santa Maria Centro Lan House‏

The missionaries in my new zone, and my apartment

There has been an information leak in the Santa Maria, Santa Marta Zone. The info is as follows: Elder Wassom has American Food Recipes. Instantly, I have become every American’s best friend. I have already responded to quite a few requests to copy and send them to elders all across Santa Maria. I am a very happy boy.
Why am I so particularly happy? Well, today I made a big ol pot of chili. At first, I was afraid it wouldn’t turn out right, because there was a lot of improvising that I had to do. First of all, chili powder isn’t a thing here. So I though... yeah that’s kind of important. Also, canned foods also isn’t a thing here. So I used fresh tomatoes, bagged tomato sauce, and I cooked my own beans. I live in Brazil. Of course I know how to cook beans. So instead of chili powder, I decided to use some churrasco seasoning, green bell pepper, and (the equivalent of) tobasco. To make a long story short, it worked wonderfully. If you guys have watched ratatouille, you might remember the reaction of the food critic in the restaurant when he tried the ratatouille dish. For those who do not remember, he goes into a flashback of when he was a boy, saddened by the recent bicycle accident. But his mother was full of compassion on him, and went to deal to his requests. She gave him a bowl of ratatouille. He smiles. Flashback ends. Time seems to stop. The pen in his hand rolls dramatically out of his hand and free falls 2 lengthy feet to the floor. A satisfied smile slowly spreads his previously-grim face, lightening the intense mood into that of abundant joy. He has a spoonful. And another. It is as if he was returning to his happy childhood which he left several bitter years ago. This over-dramatic interpretation of the climactic scene of a very mediocre film well describes my felicity during the 10 minutes of joy I experienced at lunchtime. Although I had no pen to drop from my quaking hand, I was able to re-live my days in Texas, and satisfy my temporary longing for home.

That’s enough poetry for this email. So other things. The weather has been AWESOME. Like, 73 degrees, partly cloudy. It feels like fall is right ready to take its place. And I have no complaints about that. Oh, and mom, I have a jacket now. It’s a big long black raincoat with a removable fur lining on the inside, tending to my chilly-or-freezing jacket needs. It’s really nice. My favorite part - it was free. For some reason, Elder Cardoso didn’t want it, so he left it behind at the transfer.
Another reason why I am happy - We are having success. Last week’s difficulty was recompensed. We now have a handful of what we hope to be the Elect of God, awaiting the chance to hear the gospel. Some of them, we can already tell that they are. For example, last week, we clapped a door (about a thousand, actually, but this one in particular) of a lady named Veleda. She was watching a novella (I hate novellas). She told us she couldn’t attend us at the time, but said we could come back another time. Yeah... that’s what they all say. But. Last Monday night, after P-day, we had nothing to do, so we went through our contacts, and gave Veleda another chance. She accepted us warmly. She said "Sorry for not taking you in last time. I was wearing these hideously ugly Bermuda shorts, and I didn’t want anyone to see me." Haha.. made me laugh on the inside. But she sat and listened. She mentioned to us that she had seen our chapel when passing it on the road. It caught her attention it was so beautiful, she said. So we're all like "Cool, wanna take a tour of the inside?" So we did the whole missionary chapel tour thing. At the end, in the chapel, I sang "Mais Perto Quero Estar" ("Nearer My God, to Thee") as Elder Soares da Silva played the piano. (Yes, he plays piano. We will be a well-used source of musical numbers in the ward, I can imagine) So anyways, she said she felt something she never felt before really strongly in her heart. We testified of the spirit, and now she’s gonna be baptized.
Hey, I’m out of time again, but other potentials are Ana, and two ladies named Rosangela.
Love you all.
Com Amor,
ELder Wassom

Monday, March 16, 2015

Oi de Santa Maria!‏

Oi! SO this is gonna have to be pretty rushed, but I’ll go ahead and let you know what’s been going on down hizzle.
First off, sorry people got sick on the crazy stormy boat... that’s pretty sad. BUT I hope you still had fun!
Alright. So URLANDIA. It’s... a change. Elder Soares da silva and I are actually opening the area, so we're practically starting from scratch. ELder Soares da silva, to give you an idea, is really quiet and 5’3”. Sorry for not sending a foto yet. But something about starting from scratch - it’s hard. And to top it off, our area is enormous. Porto A (my last area) was a big area, covering 1.5 bairros (bairro is like a neighborhood, but usually way bigger than the ones in the US.) But Urlandia B covers 5.5 Bairros. And a complex of condos. It’s in the shape of a giant watermelon shell, with 4 of the neighborhoods in a u formation, and one jetting out the side 30 minutes walk, and the condos jetting out the top , an hours walk. But to get from one end on the watermelon to the other, it’s an hour. To get from the condos to the other bairro jetting out the side, it’s 2 hours. So, it’s really big. But extremely pretty. It has MOUNTAINS :) Little green ones with pretty trees. I think I dropped another 5ish pounds this week. Because we didn’t know the members, we just had to knock doors all week. Inefficient, but it yielded some success and now we have something to work with.
We live in a smaller house with ELders Jordan Peterson and Ferreira Santos. Elder Jordan Peterson reminds me of Elder White, and Elder Ferreira Santos reminds me of Landon Croft. Our washing machine was broken, so I had to wash by hand. It’s not as fun as I thought it’d be. But they "repaired" it, and now the only problem is that the water doesn’t pump. So I have to stick a hose from the sink faucet to the washing machine. Awesome.
Elder Mitchell Wassom
Caixa Postal 0339 - Centro
Santa Maria - RS
CEP: 97001 - 010
Differences: the gaucho-ness (cowboy) is much less. The most gaucho place in the mission is Uruguaiana. So the accent is easier, and there aren’t just chickens and horses and such running wild. Also, people in Uruguaiana were born there, their ancestors were born there. Here, we have people who moved here.
Funny thing about Brasil - they name their pets normal American names: "Bobby, Billy, Mikey," to name a few. Gotta go. Next week I’ll talk more. Tá!
Love yall.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Just a few pictures of the aftermath of Carnival, saying goodbye to friends in Uruguaiana, and doing laundry:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Dear Family and Friends,
I will begin this letter with a Portuguese word of the week - despedir - to say goodbye. As my third transfer has come to a close, the same is, with my time in Uruguaiana Porto A. I have made many friends here, including my awesome companion, Elder Matoso. He’s a haas. A beast. Definitely a favorite companion! And, like dad and Elder Losser, we were only together for one transfer :/ BUT. It’s the Lord’s vineyard, not mine. So I will go where he wants me to go…which, in this case, is Santa Maria, Urlandia B. I take off tomorrow at 1:30pm my time on a 7 hour trip to Santa Maria, where I will meet my new companion, Elder Soares da Silva. Oddly enough, Elder Marin will take my place here in Uruguaiana. This is funny, because he was my roommate in the CTM, and Elder Matoso trained him. So Elder Matoso had two transfers with him, one with me, and then Elder Marin AGAIN. For those not that familiar with missionary work, that very rarely happens, having the same companion twice.
Phew … I have a lot to talk about, so I’ll put my hands to the keyboard and let my fingers fly. First off - some business. I would like some simple recipes for the following - pancakes, apple pie, brownies (especially brownies), taco mix, tortillas, salsa, and chili, and anything else easy and Texan. Or not necessarily Texan. I like to cook, but I don’t know any recipes. Also, shoutout to my Dad and brother Conner, who celebrated their birthdays on the 7th and 6th, respectively. Happy 23rd and 41st :) Also, I received Moms valentines card! Yay. Made my day. ALSO.
So like I said earlier, there are 2 carnavais in Uruguaiana. The actual date of Carnaval, and this last weekend - Uruguaiana Carnaval. This festival that they have here is actually the 3rd biggest in the world, behind Sao Paulo and Rio. It’s even in front of Bahia (I don’t believe that, but that’s what they say). Nevertheless, it was huge. I sent some photos of the preparation, but that was last Monday night.

It was HUGE. The main road, Presidente Vargas, was completely blocked off with bleachers and beer stands, and there was really loud obscene music playing (Obviously, I wasn’t there, but I could hear the lyrics from my apartment) and there were floats, extremely extravagantly decorated. I have never seen anything like it before. On Thursday, we were having a baptismal interview at the chapel in centro, Presidente Vargas, and when we finished, I got to see some of the floats, prepared for the big party. Mom and Dad already know of my interest with parades. In essence, it doesn’t exist. BUT. These parade floats... wow. Like, WOW. Preparing sets for musicals gave me an idea on how much time, money, effort, and talent was put into making these floats. If it weren’t for the naked women on TOP of the floats (as there were none at the time, but my comp ensured me there would be) and the massive drug and alcohol consumption, the abhorrent PDA, the loud obscene music, and the blatant loss of self worth, identity and control of the whole crowd, (among other horrible, horrible things) it might be a festival I’d like to see.
We are teaching a lady named Alessandra, whose husband works as an alcohol salesman. Here in Brazil, people sell stuff from their houses. They just stick up a sign saying "We sell picolé" or "we sell woodworks" or, in this case, "we sell, beer, whiskey, rum, cigarettes and charcoal" So anyway, parked on the ground under a tree by her house, you find quite a few burrachos. "Burracho" literally means anything made out of rubber, but also "A person who has completely wasted their living on alcohol." So when we go to teach Alissandra, sometimes these sloshed folks like to join in. One of which is named Paolo. He is a member, actually. Inactive, clearly, but he knows the doctrine off the back of his hand. He really likes to help teach Alissandra. He’s actually not that bad of a teacher. Bad example, but he doesn’t distract from the lessons like the others do.
We had a really good Tuesday last week. We started off tracting in the morning, when we found a family named Neuza, Lani, and Enrique. Neuza and Enrique were really zealous about the gospel, and so they loved to have us come visit. Lani was really cold towards us. We could tell she wasn’t interested. But the other two kept scheduling days to return, and so we would, and Lani would sit in quietly. Well, anyways, she takes interest now. We actually have lunch with them in a half hour. We had Gabriel’s baptismal papers signed by his mom, (he’s a small white kid in the "guri" photo), and he'll be baptized on Saturday. I won’t be there, but hey. Then, another rapaz, Luiz Enrique, told us "hey, I want to be baptized." to which we were like "...okay, sweet." Beforehand, he sat in on our lessons with the Marduque rapazes, but was always laughing at us, distracting the others, and being a dunce. BUT. He finally went to church last week, felt the spirit, and is going to be baptized on the 21st, I hope. After that, Dorival told us "Hey, my two daughters want to be baptized" so we're all like "...okay, sweet." Dorival is AWESOME. He can’t read, is addicted to cigarettes, and his "wife" doesn’t want to marry him, so things are complicated on his baptismal status. Nevertheless, he is always dressed in his Sunday best and ready for church every Sunday. Even if it takes walking 20-ish blocks to get there. Then. Carmen (Lucias sister) said "Lucia is ALWAYS reading that Book of Mormon of hers, and I really want to study it, but she’s always reading it! Is there a way I can get me one of those?" So we handed her one. She is now taking the lessons.
One more cute story. There is a boy from the Santana Ward (who shares our church) who is IMPOSSIBLE to control. He’s about 4. He LOVES to run out of his primary class, and into our sacrament meeting, and call for attention. Well, I think this last Sunday was his worst episode. During a talk, he ran up to the pulpit, climbed up on the little wooden wall, yelled "cannonball!" and jumped off. He did this two or three times, evading the bishopric, who was trying to catch him. He was finally hauled out. Then, they stationed an usher at the door to ensure that he would not enter again. Well, this usher didn’t understand his duty, because 5 minutes later, he came hauling on in again. This time, we went straight up to the person speaking. He said "Eyy tia!" ("tia" and "tio" means "aunt" or "uncle", but is used as a familiar "friend" or "bro") "Hey tia, what are you doing?" Sister Jussara responded, embarrassed and still behind the pulpit, "Well, I’m talking, why are you talking? I’m giving a talk.” “What are you talking on?" "Well, sit down, be quiet and listen, and you’ll find out." He was carried out again.
Well, that’s all folks. Next time, I’ll be writing you from Santa Maria. Love you all.
Com amor,
Elder Wassom

Lots of pictures!
Chillin', FHE with Zaira, why the cake isn't going to fall off the counter (from birthday pics)
My district, meal I made, little girl who loved my camera. She took 46 pics. Too cute!

Cotton candy with Antonio, big spider outside my apartment, Fantastic performance for Women's Day, Pizza

(1)Angela, (2)Berenice,(3)Maria

(1)Marcia, (2)Kimberly, (3)Zaira, (4-6)teaching Luiz Gabriel to tie a tie

(1)Lucia, (2)Os Guri, (3)Nilza, (4)Eder & Joyce

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Dear Family and Friends,
I was not only surprised with the support from home, but also in the support here in good ol Uruguaiana with my birthday! So I will start off with that... So first, I made a delicious cake sent from home (thanks mom+dad) to which I ate plentifully with Ice Cream that my comp bought me. My comp knows how to make me happy.

Then Carol surprised us by bringing us brownies. She was really happy that she found a recipe to something so American. That’s something that Brazil needs, btw. Brownies. Não existem aqui :( (they don’t exist here) but carol made me some and they were good. Different (I think she added vanilla) but good.

Then we went to Lucias for a family night and she surprised me with some strawberry-tangerine cake and... hot dogs.

From there, we went to Irmã Delmací, where she surprised me with... a cake, that’s right. It was a chocolate formiguinha-brigadeira cake with extra sweetened condensed milk. It was quite delicious. That was enough calories for one day :)
Later on in the week, we had a family night with Josemar and Elizangela, where we made a cake. We had a baptism of Irma Zaira, where there was a cake. We are celebrating today at her house with more cake. SO I think y’all understand the title of my email. I had lots of cake. I didn’t actually have any of the cake AT the baptism of Irma Zaira, but that’s because... I was halfway dead with the stomach virus of the century. Oh, and Elder Matoso gave me the bagual Brazil Soccer jersey.

So anyways, to respond to Francesca, yes, I was definitely spoiled by the Members on my birthday. I was not egged, thankfully. Their Birthday song has a melody like ours, just with the words:

Parabéns pra você (hei!)
Essa data querida
Muitos felicidades
Muitos anos da vida!


Congrats to you (hey!)
that beloved date
Much happiness
many years of life!

And they sing it, accelerating the tempo, and clapping on beat. Many people asked me to sing it in English, but I explained to them that Americans aren’t creative enough to make a birthday song longer than 5 words.

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear _____
Happy birthday to you

So let’s talk about Irmã Zaira. She’s awesome. Mom would call her a "cute" lady. She was the one that we just contacted one day, and invited her to church, to which she accepted. She never missed a Sunday since. And 3 week later, was baptized by Elder Matoso. She’s funny. The other day, we asked her "hey who are those people that live in the house next to you?" She responded "Them? Those are my neighbors." She just accepted the gospel with open arms. From day one, she just loved it. Day 4 she said she knew it was true. She’s way poor, can’t read, super super humble and a great lady.

At her baptism, there was a HUGE turnout. She was baptized with João Vitor from Ala Santana, so there were two wards there. The Santana Ward conducted the service. They announced: "and now, we will have a musical number by Elder Uchoa Sousa and Elder Wassom!" As I worked my way up to the front, the youth from my ward messed with me, saying "Eyy, Wassom. Dá o tom!" meaning "Hey wassom, give us the pitch" I responded honestly, with "I would, but first I need to know what song I’m singing." I never liked having things thrown on me like that. So anyways, I sang "A child’s prayer" with Elder Uchoa Sousa, who... attempted to play the violin. He says he has been playing violin since he was 12, but he still didn’t grasp the concept of tuning, and especially key signatures. So it was nothing short of a musical disaster, but... it just was. Pois é. It was in the key of Bb, and he missed, like, every Eb, and the final Bb, causing there to be no resolution to the song. To my choir friends, in short, he made the song end on "di." That’s only supposed to happen on a pickerty third in a minor key, which was not the case. I was pretty embarrassed to be a part of that, honestly. Elder Uchoa Sousa is a great person, and a good missionary. But he’s got some work to do on the whole violin thing.
I am approaching the end of my third transfer here in Uruguaiana. On Friday, I find out if I’m staying or not. I feel fulfilled here, like I don’t have much unfinished business to take care of, if I head off, but I would also be happy to stay here another transfer :)
Hey, so my time was cut short with all the pictures, but I’ll catch you up next week, tá?

Com Amor,
Elder Wassom