Monday, September 28, 2015

A LOT to Say...‏

Dear Family and Friends,
If I’m passive, forgive me, I have a lot to say.
First off, I’m being transferred. I’m headed to Santiago (Rio Grande do Sul-Not Chile). From what I’ve researched, it should be a deep shortstop-position in the baseball diamond of Rio Grande do Sul. I take off tomorrow, and will be in Ramo Vila Rica with Elder Capistrano. I do not know him yet, as he arrived with Elder Sena.
In my Place in Ijui-Centro, Elder Uchoa Sousa (from my District in Uruguaiana) will be the comp of Elder Sena. More news on the transfer - Elder Jordan Peterson went home (yes, his time was up), and Elder Dener Pereira will be in his stead with Elder Jawaad. Elder Anfuso went to be the ZL of Alegrete, and Elder Abancando will stay with ELder Marcelino.
First things first, Happy Birthday, Mom. It’s cool, because I had the chance to carry around my photos to my investigators this week. Almost all of them commented how pretty you are. A couple even said you looked more like my older sister, you're so young. So, the Brazilians, including your part-Brazilian son think you’re pretty.
One cool thing this week, the head honcho of the local Wizard, the most prominent English school in Brazil, stopped me on the street. He asked if I was American. I said I was. So he invited me to be a guest speaker at his English classes throughout the week. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and make a ton of contacts. We talked of culture, language, food, religion, and such.
At the Wizard English School:

In short, everything went perfectly this week.
Rita was baptized and confirmed :) She is super happy.
Diéssica brought her cousin, mom, and brother to church this week. We had 12 investigators there, not including Rita, who is no longer an investigator :)
We made a street contact with a lady whose name is Marina. She is actually an inactive member that moved here from Porto Alegre, and we didn’t have her records. We visited her, then sent the Relief Society president to her house. She teared up on our message about repentance, went to church on Sunday, and teared up there, too. She plans on coming back to church again.
Another inactive family returned to the church, Irmã Teresinha and Irmão João. João has been interviewed to soon receive the Priesthood.
Rosane and Gabriel are still going strong for baptism on the 10th. They were there at church.
Gilmar and Andrea now plan on getting married. We have already got the papers up and going. They were there at church.
We even checked up on Claudia, an "Eternal Investigator", who said she had read the pamphlet on Chastity, and now understands that she needs to get married. She teared up and said "she was tired of not taking the sacrament." We hadn’t even explained that a person had to be repenting to take the sacrament. She was there at church.
As we went to say goodbye to Irmã Esilda and Irmã Rita, Noara (Remember her?) was at Esilda's house. Noara, "wife" of Fernando, and "daughter-in-law" of Esilda, is an Ex-Investigator of ours. She moved to Ala Jardim, so we passed her to the other Elders. Well, she’s been really pregnant lately, so she has had a lot of time sitting at home. Well, as we were saying goodbye to Esilda, Noara informed us that she had spent much of her "sitting at home time" reading the Book of Mormon. She then told us she decided to get married to Fernando and get baptized. She and Fernando were there at church in Ala Jardim.
The registry department will be pretty busy because of the Missionaries, lol.
So in short, Dad was right. Everything catches fire before getting transferred. But you know what? I’m not sad about it. Actually, I’m super happy about it! I feel like I am now seeing the fruits of my labors. And am quite surprised by them. I’m in a euphoria. I am so excited to see how everything turns out.
I’m also excited to see how the new area and comp are. It will be a new experience with a new opportunity to lead and serve.
So. I’m just way happy right now.
Com amor (e alegria),
Elder Wassom

So I decided to burn my shirt here in Ijui with my friends. Don’t worry, it was already torn and unusable. White shirts burn well.

Messing around with horse face and pretending to be ninjas

Baptism of Rita:

Saying goodbye to: Isabel, Sergio + Fam, The Lencinas, João Gomes and fam, Tainã and Fam, Elder Jordan Peterson (He’s back in Wisconsin), Aline (Forget the side hug) The Bishop and Fam, Igor and Fam, Helmutt and Fam, Rita and Esilda

Monday, September 21, 2015

Some Good News

So yall,
I’ve got some good news. Remember Helmutt? I’m not sure if I’ve written about him, but he is finally supporting his family (Rosane and Gabriel) in their baptism for the 10th of October! Chances are, I won´t be there for the service, but that’s alright by me, they’re finally getting baptized!
The Family of Tainã (Gilmar and Andrea) are also now heavily contemplating on getting married! That’s some serious progress. They continue to go to church and read the scriptures.
Irmã Rita is also still scheduled for Friday, but she didn’t go to church. We will have to talk a little bit tomorrow... But I’m optimistic.
Other cool things that happened this week: The lesson with Diéssicas aunt and uncle went well. They´re super cool. Other cool thing: Diéssica is the Godmother of her little cousin Enrique, and she said to us "I just realized this week. I made a promise to God, even though it was in a Catholic church, to watch over the spiritual well-being of Enrique. So. I’m gonna make sure he´s going to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ." Although the presence of her aunt and uncle was lacking at church, she brought along little Enrique. He's 9. Really thinks the missionaries are cool. He seemed pretty bored in Sacrament Meeting, but hey, so was I at his age. Little things like that make me super happy to be a part of her and Marrone´s conversion. She will be called as Primary Teacher next week. She will be great.
As for Marrone, he is also doing great. He is Home Teaching companions with our Elders Quorum President, Igor. Bishop says that he's got a calling for him too. So both Marrone and Diéssica are very well integrated in this fantastic ward. Marrone showed up to church in his tie that, for the first time, he tied himself. However, it was way too short, haha. So he wore his blazer over it.
Speaking of ties, we had what you guys can imagine would be one of the happiest moments of my life. We, through our own underground sources, found a load of awesome ties for super cheap. So the 4 elders in our apartment pooled in some money and bought 30. Then, on Saturday, we put all 30 on ELder Sena´s bed and had a draft, like the NFL fantasy football draft, but with ties. I was pick number 4 of 4, but thanks to the horribly boring taste in ties of the other 3, I lucked out on almost all of my favorites. The picture shows pick numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4, Elders Anfuso, Sena, Marcelino and Wassom, respectively. If you’ve got a good taste in ties, you too will say that the number 4 Draft pick was better than the 1-3. I´m stoked.
Flashback to Uruguaiana - I was getting my haircut at Irmão Gildos, when he makes the question: "Is your dad bald?" "Noo... why would you say that?" "Brothers?" "No..." "Uncle?" "Yeah, why?" "I can tell." "WHAT?! WHY?!" "Ah, it’s nothing to worry about, just a little thinning back here, is all." "NO! YOURE JOKING!" "Yeah, I am, haha." Although I did calm down a bit, it did put me at edge.
Fastforward 9 months to Thursday. Elder Sena out of the blue: "Great Scott, are you going bald?" "What? No..." "No, look here. Goodness gracious, I swear that bald patch wasn't there when you picked me up." I rushed into the living room, pulled the mirror right off the wall and ran into the bathroom. I looked at it for a while. Seemed pretty normal to me. Elder Sena: "Nah, but it looks pretty normal in the mirror, but from here, it’s pretty apparent." "YOURE KIDDING." "No, I’m not. Grab your things, we need to get off to Irmã Jovita's"
We head to Jovita's. I ask "Irmã Jovita, Elder’s telling me I’m going bald. I think he's lying. What do you think?" "Oh. That? That’s nothing. Just a bit of thinning, is all. Wash your hair well, and it’ll be back on Sunday!" That’s where I started to freak out. She noticed too. I began to think: "If it’s been there since Uruguaiana, there’s no way its gonna magically grow back by Sunday. Plus, I DO wash my hair well." That whole night, I was walking and feeling my hair. I started pondering about Rogane and wigs. I could not go to BYU single and bald.
So after worrying myself to death, we arrive at home, and I asked Elder Sena to take a picture with my camera. I needed to see how bad it was. He takes the picture and shows it to me. I commented: "Bah, this looks completely normal." "I know, I was just kidding." Picture is included.
I seriously need to get him back for that. Any comments or ideas will be greatly appreciated.
Well. Gotta go. Love you all.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

I am holding in my hands in photo A my ID. This finally makes me legal to travel by bus here in Brazil. Governments slow here, too. Photo B is the youth activity last Saturday. Photo C is sugar cane, the tasty stick that caused much grief and oppression to tens of thousands of African Slaves in the 19th Century.

The Back-of-Head picture :). The others are Photos of the First Occasional Pernambuco 100- Apartamento 202 Tie Draft. Twas a great day. I was draft pick number four, but I think I ended up with the best, nevertheless.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Another Week in Ijuí‏

Dear Family and Friends,
This past week was fairly average. A lot of our teaching pool waxed soft, so our focus was in finding new investigators. Using a whole lot of our creative efforts, I would say our efforts were, in general, without results. I hate being unproductive on the mission, nevertheless, we will just keep working. Today will be super cool, as Diéssica will be taking us to her Aunt and Uncle´s house to begin the teaching process. I´m excited for that.

This week actually started off with a surprise interview/apartment inspection from our beloved Presidente and Sister Parrela. To our great pleasure, Sister Parrela found our apartment to be super tidy and even gave us a box of granola bars as a gift. She asked who the cook of the house was, to which the others responded that I was. She asked what about some of the things I had been doing and making. To her surprise, I responded that I had been using a lot of her tips and her recipes. She asked if we had any extra clothes to donate to other missionaries who need them. I said I had pants that used to fit me. She, too, was shocked at how big those pants were, and asked if I had been exercising. I said I had been. She asked if I had been drinking cola. I told her that I hadn´t. With all this, I became her favorite missionary ever. She smiled, and called me her "disciple".
Remember the J. Garcia tie that yall sent me on Easter? Well, I wasn’t sure if it was "conservative" enough to wear. So I kept it in my suitcase, waiting to get it approved by Presidente Parrella. At times I just stared at it, almost crying. Not really, but I wanted to wear it very badly. So the occasion arrived. Sidenote - the interviews with Presidente are pretty cool - He speaks in English, and I respond with Portuguese. Our interview was rather short, sweet to the point, and at the end, I told him about the tie. He said: "Well, let´s see it" So I grabbed the tie. He looked at it, and said, "Well, let's put it to the test." He ran in the bathroom and put it on. Then he walked into the kitchen and started talking to his wife. After about 10 minutes, he said, "Well, she didn’t notice. Guess you can wear it." We both started to laugh, and he said "but sincerely, I think it looks rather nice with a suitcoat, but don't wear it with just a white shirt." So that made my day.
Taldelino and Ezekiel invited us to visit their church. It is called Seara do Senhor, and it's a Pentecostal church. We took the time to visit it Saturday night. It was a... new experience. All I can say is: the spirit was so strong, that ulshadiuy spfa sid i oispafoi id fopai iudf poidufpoisdu ú himv!

As for the work, it’s going alright. It’s been better; it’s been worse. We're still working our tail off. I’m not sure if I had already told you, but there's a lady named Rita, friend of Esilda. She's super nice, really humble, and is getting baptized on the 25th. I’m really excited! Another super cool thing is that there’s this man, I’m not even sure what his name is, but everyone calls him Terra. (Dirt). He is the husband of Irmã Isabel, and father of Tiago and Arides Alves. He HATED the missionaries; and the church. A while ago, he used to throw the missionaries out of his home and yell at them. Even when I was here, when we asked if Irmã Isabel was at home, he said; "look, I don't like you guys, and I don't want anything to do with your church. Bye." Arides and his wife had a baby, and invited him to watch the baby's blessing. He accepted and was there last week, in the most spiritual sacrament meeting that perhaps I had ever attended. What a miracle that was.

I love you all. Have a good week.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Short letter...‏

Written September 7, 2015:
Look, sorry that I didn’t get to write you all a letter, It’s just that today is a holiday here, and the Cyber Café is closed. So I worked with what time I had. All´s good around here, and I’m looking forward to talking more in depth this following week. But as a brief overview, it was just another week. Elder Sena and I are getting along well. Marrone received the Priesthood this Sunday!

(Elder Wassom hand wrote and scanned this letter attached with his email.)
7 Setembro 2015
Dear Family and Friends,
So today is Brazilian Independence Day. While this is perhaps a day of celebration, it also means that the Cyber Café will most likely be closed. And so amongst the festivities and churrasco, I will be slightly on edge not knowing how I will be able to get a letter off to you, and, even more importantly to me, read all of yall’s letters. My hope is that the assistants will approve the use of members’ computers, and everything will be A-OK. With the best-case-scenario, however, is implied the probability that we will not have a full hour to write yall, as in times past. Therefore, I will write yall in paper and cheap blue pen form.
Although the celebrations occur, the patriotism in these parts is extremely low. First off, Rio Grande do Sul has, for the past few decades, been threatening to secede from Brazil. But Brazil doesn’t want that to happen, because a ton of natural resources and agriculture come from here- and practically sustain Brazil. Therefore, the 20th of September is even more recognized here than the 7th because the 20th was when Rio Grande do Sul won some important battle against Argentina, or something like that. AND comically, everyone seems to know the State Anthem more than the National Anthem. And if that’s not enough Anti-Patriotism, the government associations from the whole state have been on strike for the last 2 ½ weeks. Amongst these government agencies are the schools, the local buses, the healthcare agencies (one more reason why national healthcare is so… well… I’m a missionary; I can’t debate political issues) and, as frightening as it is, even the police are on strike. Now, Mom, if it is any more calming to you, with the lack of police, the crime rate here is Ijuí hasn’t risen all that much. Just more weed-smoking teenagers is all. But with no police, the 7th of September parade was cancelled. To me, that’s not that big of a deal; I’m not a huge fan of parades anyway. Plus, I’ve already seen my share of “parades” recently, but those “parades” involve protests and pickets instead of face paint and floats. So, Happy Independence Day!
While we’re on a comic-sarcastic note, there’s a funny story with a bad excuse not to let us in the house of a street contact. I remember Blake had a story about how there was one lady who said, “I have hot tea in my mouth and can’t answer the door.” My story isn’t THAT radical, but it’s still pretty funny. So we clapped the door of a house to which a teenage girl told us to return the following day when her dad, Flademir (not a name I would give to my son) was home. So we returned the following day as directed. There was a 5 year old playing with toy trucks in front of the house. I asked, “ Is Flademir there?”
“Yeah, I’ll go get him”
“Thanks.” He returned with Flademir. “Hello, Flademir?”
“Uh, no…Flademirs…in the shower. Come back another day.”
Then the 5 year old shouted, “But Dad, YOU’RE Flademir!”
“Quiet Son! Er, Flademir’s….washing clothes.”
So, at this point, I would just let it go on a normal day. But I had a long day, and I’m like my papa and I don’t like it when people lie to me. So I continued, “Flademir’s washing clothes in the shower?”
“Um, no, Just in the shower”
“Hmm. And what’s your name sir?”
“No! No! Look, Flademir had a long day at work, alright? He wants to rest a bit.”
“Looks like he won’t be able to, though, if he’s already gotten to his ‘in-the-shower-clothes-washing’ duties”
“Er, yeah. Pass by another day.”
So…Turns out I’ll just have enough time to send you this letter. Details about the week, and about our 7th of September party to come.
Love you all. Sorry for the brevity 
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Pictures taken at the 7th of Setembro celebration: