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.
Lots of pictures!
Chillin', FHE with Zaira, why the cake isn't going to fall off the counter (from birthday pics)
Cotton candy with Antonio, big spider outside my apartment, Fantastic performance for Women's Day, Pizza
SAYING GOODBYE TO THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE OF URUGUAIANA, BEFORE LEAVING TO SANTA 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