Dear Family and Friends,
I hand write to you yet again with the chance of having limited/no time at the cyber café. October 12th is “Children’s Day” here in Brazil, as if Christmas, Easter, and birthday festivities just aren’t enough. But, as in other holidays, EVERYTHING CLOSES, including the cyber cafés. But yesterday we did visits with a member who told us of a place with 3 computers.
Thankfully, I was able to use my “Convincing power of God” to reserve two of those computers for four hours- as there are 4 companionships in Santiago. Being short on time last week, I didn’t have the chance to talk about the District. There is one Ward and one Branch in the small town of Santiago. (population 50,000ish, I believe) Both Santiago Ward and Vila Rica Branch have 2 pairs of missionaries as President has been quite optimistic that now is the time for Santiago to blossom.
So starting with Vila Rica Branch. Elder Capistrano and I are doing very well together. We recently have been doing a “spring cleaning” of our teaching pool and have had considerable success in doing that. More on our work together later in the letter.
We split the branch with Sister Chaves and Sister da Silva. From what I’ve noticed so far, perhaps those two are the best companionship of Sisters in the mission. The interesting thing.. Sister Chaves arrived with Elder Sena and Elder Capistrano. In only 3 transfers, she gained the trust of the Mission President to such an extent that she is finishing the training of Sister da Silva. Sister Chaves is responsible and very obedient. Sister da Silva is from Brasilia (Sister Chaves is from a small town in Sao Paulo), and she is pretty quiet, humble, but powerful. Yesterday, in a boisterous and somewhat heated Branch Committee meeting about leaders leaving the chapel parking lot (and, at time, the chapel) open to the local skaters, Sister da Silva quietly raised her hand and said, “Look, I’m a recent convert, and to me, the chapel is a sacred place where I seek refuge from the chaos from the outside world. If I were an investigator on a chapel tour, I would be appalled to find a bunch of vagabond teenagers in a cuddle puddle in the church hallway.” Her voice was soft, but firm. Everyone went quiet and in an unspoken consensus, we changed the subject.
We share an apartment with Elder Alvarenga and Elder Bicudo from Ward Santiago. They are both from Sao Paulo. The are both fairly quiet. Elder Bicudo is headed home in November, so… the youth and vigor of Vila Rica B is contrasted a bit with Santiago A. I went on splits with Elder Alvarenga on Saturday, and we practiced our Spanish in the streets. Funny thing is that in Spanish, I have an oddly precise Argentinian accent when I speak Spanish. Even Elder Anfuso commented about it. He said, “It’s weird because you’ve been speaking Portuguese for 10 months now (this was 2 ½ months ago), and even though you don’t have too much of an accent, it’s pretty apparent you’re not Brazilian. But in Spanish, which you’ve been speaking much less, your accent is almost perfect.” Funny story coming soon.
Sister Magallanes is from Argentina. She’s got about 3 months left in the mission. Recently, she has been having quite a bit of knee pain, which really worries her. She does NOT want to go home early. Under instructions of Sister Parrella, she stayed in her apartment on Saturday. Our job (Elder Alvarenga’s and mine) was to bring her food for lunch. When we arrived at the apartment complex, I gave her a call “!Hola, Hermana! Estamos agui afuera de su apartamiento con comida y una torta de galletas para ti!” When she came down, she looked worried. Then she laughed and said, “You scared me! I thought you were my brother!” Sister Magallanes is training Sister Vera, also Hispanic. She is from Peru, although she doesn’t look like it. She is not too quiet, not too energetic, always with a smile on her face, so that’s good.
So, yeah, that’s our District. Our branch is big… almost a Ward. We just need 2 more active, tithing paying Priesthood holders. We have some prospects for men to fill that position. Among our prospects are Valdecir and Altair. Valdecir is a man of 45 years, more or less. By the smell of his house, we can tell he smokes quite a bit. We found him on Tuesday. He’s pretty cool. Funny thing is the story of how we met. Tuesday, Elder Capistrano and I were being accompanied by Elder Pierce, our Zone Leader from Santo Angelo. We saw two men working with concrete outside of a house. We asked if they needed help. They said “no, but if you’re here to preach the word of God, go right in.” So we went in. To our surprise, the two men packed up and drove off. We imagined that they would be joining us, but they just hightailed it. Then Valdecir walked into the room with a look that said “What are you doing here? Who are you?” All of us puzzled, I explained the best I could. “Uh, well, there were two men out there that invited us in…”
“Really? That’s weird. Why would they do that? They’re just my employees…”
“…you know, we’re not really sure…”
“But anyways, I’m Elder Wassom, and this is Elder Capistrano and Elder Pierce, and we have a message about Jesus, and while we’re here, do you mind if we talked a little bit about Him?”
So we had a great lesson, and even during the lesson he expressed how neither he nor we had been expecting to have that lesson at that time- that it just happened, and how he thought that was a sign from God telling him to repent.
God works in mysterious ways.
So Altair is the father of Lucas. We met him yesterday. Lucas is a fantastic influence on him. Lucas is a recent-convert. He has been a member for 7 months. In those 7 months, he read the Book of Mormon 3 times, Doctrine and Covenants once, and is finishing up Jesus the Christ. He is also well versed in Preach My Gospel. How’s that for a powerful recent-convert? He gave a great testimony about the Book of Mormon to his dad. It was great.
Well. Gotta go.
Love you all, hope yall had a great week.
Answers to some questions asked: So I am the District Leader of the Missionaries in Santiago. The Half-Mission Conference happens about once every 2 or 3 months, and half the mission goes to Santa Maria on one day, and the other half goes to Alegrete on the Other Day. They go by bus. The bus from Ijui to Santiago was 5 hours. On an American interstate it would be more like 1, 1+1/2, but the road was narrow, bumpy, and dusty.
Our new District: