I spent my Christmas morning (about
1 am) sitting on the floor of another companionships house. After the caroling
and HUGE dinner on Christmas Eve, we waited for a taxi because our house was
super far away. A taxi never came because they were too busy driving all the
drunks. A miracle happened and somehow a nonmember stopped by and gave us all
rides, but this was already at about 2 in the morning on Christmas morning.
While we were sitting, waiting for a taxi, I was talking with another American
about how we spend Christmas. It definitely brought back some really good
memories of all the lights off, except the Christmas tree, and how cozy it
felt. Also about how you would make muffins after opening gifts, and it would
smell the house up. There were a lot of other details that we talked about that
I never realized before until I didn't have them on my Christmas day haha. It
was good though! It made me really appreciate the tight family we have because
on Christmas day (after lunch) we went to work. I saw a lot of people sitting
on the sidewalks that have absolutely nothing (including a house) except the
clothes on their back and a bottle of alcohol next to them. It was really
sad... We seriously have it SOO well in the US where we live. I wish you could
spend one day with me and see the things we see.
That Christmas package was
AMAZING!!! I absolutely loved all of the gifts that went with the scriptures
and a lot of them made me laugh!! Thank you soooooo much!!! The other
missionaries that I'm living with were drooling over all the candy and snacks
inside haha :)
FREAKING BRAND NEW HOUSE!!! So this
past week we moved houses because the house we were in sucked hardcore haha.
Long story short, the house is amazing because the house was just built and
we're the first ones to live in it. The only problem is that when we started
our washer for the clothes for the first time, it started to flood where the
dirty water exits. It wasn't that big of a deal because it's outside, but we
found the problem of why it was flooding. A dead lizard (about the length of
your hand and fore-arm combined) was hanging out in the piping when we turned
on the water. It drowned him out and we found him floating at the top of the
pipe that went into the ground. We think there's another one in the piping
that's stuck because we're still getting flooding, so yeah..... hahahaha. Fun
stuff :) I'm sorry, I don't have any pictures right now, but I'll work on it!!
A challenge for you and dad... I
highly encourage that you read and study "Teaching Chastity and
Virtue" by Matthew O. Richardson (Oct. 2012 Liahona). I was studying this
talk during my study time and all I could think of was Parker. We need him to
know NOW that our bodies are sacred. I just don't want anything to happen to
him. You and dad are AMAZING parents, but it's scary how early kids are doing
things. I've seen kids (about 10 years old) with cigarettes, tattoos, a bottle
of alcohol next to them, and who knows what other things they've done. It's
weird... It's so weird...
We were FINALLY able to get a family
of four to come to church with us and it was amazing!! I thought it went really
well and they said they liked that, so I take that as a thumbs up :)
11/27/12) It's so hot here. Hahaha. Immediately as I stepped off the plane I
started melting in my suit. The first day I got to Teresina, we all went to the
mission home and were taught about how to survive here. Hahaha. President Seidschlag
and his wife are so awesome! I feel like they're going to be great. I had
hardly eaten anything all morning long, so at about 3:00 pm President and
Sister Seidschlag took us all out to this buffet restaurant where I ate like a
king. I felt like I cleaned them out. We then just sat around the mission home
(it's more like an office type setting) until we were interviewed. The "Portuguese
24/7" thing is killing me. There's been some Brasilians here that speak
pretty good English, so they've helped out a lot. Oh, I forgot to tell you . .
. I went up with Elder R, Elder W, Elder A, Elder L and three other Brasilians.
night, we took our stuff to an apartment where we stayed that night. That night
was probably the hardest night since I've been in Brasil. I was covered in sweat
and felt so nasty, we had one little ceiling fan that hardly worked, there were
ten of us in a room, about the size of our living room, on bunk beds. And then
six others that actually live there slept in different rooms. The place was so
nasty and packed, but I guess I'll have to get used to it. We never got dinner
(I think because of the big lunch) so I munched on some Doritos that you gave
me (thank you so much). I definitely cried that night to myself and said,
"What am I doing here?" I prayed really long and hard for strength
and some sort of hope to get through this. I really started having doubts and
regretting my decision to go on a mission. I really hate to say that, but
that's what was going through my head that night. That day was not good to me
11/28/12) I definitely think my prayers were answered because the next day was
a lot better. We were at the church all day learning about the specifics about
being a missionary, our credit card, baptismal goals, schedule, teaching
techniques, stuff like that. We also got our companion and area. My companions
name is Elder O. He's from Sao Paulo and has super dark skin - haha. He's been
out for a year and eight months. He seems like such a cool guy, but he speaks
way crazy fast so I have him repeat almost everything he says or I just nod my
head and pretend like I know what he's saying. I haven't had/ to do that a lot though.
I'm going to Sobral which is right next to the boundary of the Fortaleza
Mission (to the east). I was told it can get a little windy there, which is
awesome. I also heard that it's a fairly well rounded area. What that exactly
means, I have no idea. We were at the church from about 9 am until 7 pm. It was
lots and lots of Portuguese-only. After that we went to President and Sister
Seidschlag's place to eat. They literally live in this penthouse in a
skyscraper apartment thing. It's so nice and they had maids working for them.
That was such a glorious dinner. I slept a lot better that night.
11/29/12) I've been writing all of this on the six hour bus ride to Sobral.
This morning has been a little rough on me. I said goodbye to the last
Americans I know and I'm pretty much throwing away English for the next couple
months. It's been so so so hard to communicate with my companion because I know
what I want to say in English, but I'm having to baby down my sentences just to
get my point across. As we were sitting at the bus station, waiting for the
bus, I started thinking about stuff and all of a sudden I started to ball my
eyes out. My companion asked if I missed my family and all I could do was nod
my head. I kept saying, "It's so hard, it's so hard." He put his arm
around me and said that everything is going to be okay. I immediately stopped
crying, shook it off, grabbed my things, and followed him onto the bus.
I'm now in
Sobral and it's Monday, December 3rd. I haven't had any time to write because
I've been so busy. Things are definitely a lot better now. But seriously
though, I can't describe it on paper and I did a crappy job at trying, but I
was a mess those first couple of days after I left the CTM. Mentally, physically,
and spiritually drained. I think once I got settled in, things started to roll.
My companion has been a life-saver. I'm living in a "descent"
apartment with amazing elders. The people here are amazing, the members have
been so loving, and the Portuguese is coming a little better.
morning I woke up here, I woke up to what sounded like screaming children (I
kid you not). It turns out they have a pig and goat/lamb auction thing right
outside our window. They're all still alive and they know where they are going
and so they scream bloody-murder. It's such a weird thing. I guess they do this
almost every morning, but it's only happened three (I've lost count - hahaha)
times since I've been here.
Also on the
first day, I got to go to the ghetto of Sobral. It was seriously probably one
of the most humbling things I've seen. I felt embarrassed to be an American and
about the things I complain about. We went to go meet the Bishop there, to have
lunch at his place. They're probably one of the nicest families I've met and
they made us a huge lunch that was so good.
here we've had lunch at a members house and they've fed us well. I don't eat
dinner until I get back at 9:00 pm which kinda sucks, but whatever.
how accepting the people are here. You can almost go up to anyone, talk to them
for a little, and then ask if you can come by some other time and they'll
almost always accept. This first week, we've only met members and done street
contacts. We haven't taught any lessons yet.
Ah! If you
can find it (I'm pretty sure you can on Youtube), look up "The Atonement:
How It Applies To Missionary Work". That stuff gets me going . . . To me,
I think this is the best thing the church has put out. Actually, I don't think
the church made it. It might have been a member. It has President Eyring and Elder
Holland speaking in it. It's got piano music in it if that helps at all. It's such
an inspiring video non-the-less. (Here is the address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6FKiNVbw3Y)
basics about how I'm staying alive . . . haha. Each morning for breakfast I
have oatmeal with cut up bananas and apples along with some bread. I thought I
was super awesome for eating healthy, but it's starting to get really old. I
think I'll need to change it up real soon here. And about the piece of bread .
. . I've been eating hamburger buns. Why? Because that's what missionaries do!
And plus I can. Hahaha. For lunch we've always eaten at a members place.
Nothing too crazy yet. Always rice and beans along with possibly spaghetti
noodles, lasagna, some sort of meat, and soda haha. For dinner, we don't eat
until 9 when we get back. It's usually just been snackyish foods or something
really easy to make like top ramen.
is going okay. I can communicate with my companion fairly well, but with other
people it's a little tricky. My companion knows how I speak so he can
understand. With other people, some things don't make sense because of the way
I say it. The hardest thing of all is understanding . I'm having the hardest
time understanding people. During a lesson I can follow along fairly well
because it's gospel material, but most things outside of that, I'm lost. There
have been many lessons where all I've done is bare my testimony at the end. One
of the other elders I'm living with said that a super great way to speak is to
literally drop all English, especially with studying. I should only use my English
books if I can't figure out what it's saying. Another good thing he said to do
was to read the Book of Mormon in Portuguese out loud.
washing my clothes, we've got a washer here to ourselves. But we don't have a
dryer . . . so we have to hand dry everything. It's actually not too bad, just
a little time consuming because the washer takes about three hours to do its
thing, and then hand drying takes another good couple of hours.
LINES ARE BEGINNING TO FORM!!!!!! I've got a descent watch tan line now and I
know it's only going to get worse hahaha. It gets sooo hot here, but the super
amazing part is that there's wind here in Sobral. There's almost always a nice
little breeze, which saves me from the heat. But really . . . it's hot here.
I'm not sure
if I made this clear, but I'm living with three other guys. My companion and
another companionship. The other elders are Elder B and Elder A. They're both
Brasilian, but Elder B looks like he's American. They're both so amazing,
pretty clean, very organized, and on top of things. I think the messiest one is
my companion, but it's not even that bad.
working on a package to send to you guys for Christmas, But I know you won't
get it in time, so please be looking for that! I haven't sent it yet because
I'm still trying to figure things out and make it. It won't be much, but I'll
do my best :).
first four days, we started walking A LOT! Each night when we would come home,
I would be absolutely disgusting, covered in sweat and feeling so sticky and
everything would hurt. I would shower, eat a little, write in my journal, and
as soon as my head would hit the pillow, I'd be out. I remember one night as I
was laying on my bed, about to go to sleep, I was saying to myself "OH MY
GOSH! THIS BED FEELS SOOOO GOOD!" even though it's probably the crappiest
missionary, I'm starting to appreciate some of the simplest things. One time a
member gave us some ice cream. I lit up like a Christmas tree because it was so
hot and it was the most perfect thing at that moment.
So I guess I was able to get a little email time in today!
I'm in Teresina right now because we had a conference with the Area President
(or something like that haha). It was amazing.. at least for the parts I could
understand haha. We spent 8ish hours traveling yesterday by bus to get here.
We've got until I think 10:30 pm to do whatever (because that's when our bus
About the Skype and Christmas situation... I have ZERO idea about what's going
to happen and it's so frustrating. I'm for sure going to figure it all out this
week and then I'll be able to tell you next Monday (Christmas Eve).
So it turns out I've got one of the better areas in the Teresina Mission. It's
also one of the hotter areas (right behind Teresina). We've got cleaner water
here (I'm still not going to take my chances and drinking it) in Sobral. Today
at the conference, people were telling me that they were jealous of my area
haha. Being here in Teresina, I miss Sobral because it is soo miserably hot
About the missionary work... We haven't baptized anyone yet, but we're getting
close :) We met this lady because she was sitting outside of her house one day
and during the conversation she just starting crying really hard and she kept
telling us that her life is really difficult right now. We set up another date
to return, but she wasn't there. And ever since we've been stopping by about
every day to see if we could chat for a little and she's either gone or her
husband tells us to leave without letting her know that we came. I think on
Saturday, we FINALLY were able to catch her while she was home and teach her.
Right after the lesson, we invited her to be baptized and she accepted. It was
really crazy seeing someone accept a baptismal invitation right after the first
lesson. We're trying to get her baptized sometime in January.
We've got another kid (just turned eight) that we're teaching and we're
planning on baptizing him at the end of December. His family is only family
members with no one holding the priesthood, so that's why we've been teaching
him. It's been super exciting!!!
We also have this husband and wife we've been teaching that seem pretty golden and
they've been progressing really well! We were finally able to invite them to
come to church, but we forgot we weren't going to be there because we were
going to be in Teresina. We had to quickly run by and ask if a member could
come pick them up and take them to church. We were praying yesterday that
everything went well and they enjoyed it.
I really love the members here. We've been fed really well and they've been
helpful with helping us out with random stuff.
So I've heard from a bunch of different people that I'm with an amazing
companion. And it's definitely true. He's been very helpful and very good at
teaching the lessons. I'm still struggling with the language and so sometimes
I'll sit the entire lesson and not say anything (even though I'm trying so hard
to think of a good question or comment). But my companion has been really good
at letting me bare my testimony and making me read some scriptures if needed.
Craziness... Literally as we were walking out the door to go to the bus station
for Teresina, we were locking the door behind us and the frickin key broke and
half of it was stuck in the lock. We were able to get the little piece out, but
we couldn't lock the door. Being already a little late, we were running around
the house, grabbing anything valuable, and locking it in a suitcase that had a
padlock on it. We were kind of freaking out because our room would be
completely open to anyone. Lucky our apartment building has a gate on the front
to keep out any creepers, but still... We had to say a quick prayer right
before we left. We made it to the bus station with only a minute to spare haha.
About me and my body... I haven't gotten sick yet which is awesome for being an
American and for the first time being out in the field, but it's bound to happen
soon. I do have the squirts though about every morning in case you're wondering
;) The only problem with my feet is that the arch support has been sliding
forward in my shoe a little, so there's been a little gap between the back of
the arch support and the heel part of the shoe. I've been getting some weird
rubbing there, but it's starting to caulis up and been fine. I was using the
mole skin which helped!
And for my weight.. I don't think a whole lot has changed. I'm pretty sure I've
gained a little, but not a whole lot. I've been the only guy in my apartment to
work out every morning using an elastic band and basic pushups and sit-ups. So
I'm kinda proud of that.
My time is running thin, so I gotta bounce! I sent a letter through MissionTies
so I hope you got it!! I'll definitely let you know about the Skype thing this
next Monday. If for some reason something doesn't work out, just be on Skype
all day long and make sure the computer stays awake.
I love you sooo much Mom! I think about you guys every day!!
I first wanted to start of with that I don't think we should use Mission
Ties any more. I only get mail once a month so I think it would be useless for
you to send me mail through Mission Ties every week and I get it all on one day.
So I think the best thing to do is to just stick to emailing. And another
thing... I hardly have any time to write ;( So emailing would be better!!
I'm so sorry, but I still haven't been able to send that first letter off
with all the details on it because I've been soo busy. I'm planning on doing
that today or in the next couple days.
I think today I'll just write a bunch of random things that has happened,
but next week I'll start doing a day by day thing using my journal so I don't
I still haven't gotten the Ensign grandma sent. They probably had it at the
mission home, but they didn't give it to me because they were worried about
getting me the package you sent. I'm going to Teresina next week for a
conference, so I hope I get it then.
People pronounce my name so funny here. I think for the next two years I'll
be known as Elder Stee-jee (or Ste-jee). Kinda funny.
Fun fact. I've already had a shoe thrown at me. It came nowhere close, but
some group of kids were hanging out (and I actually think they were drinking),
but as we were walking by, they tried to throw a shoe at us! I actually thought
it was really funny. After it was thrown, we just kept walking as if nothing
The tree is up!! After about a solid 30 minutes, Elder O and I
finally figured the tree out hahaha. I've got it taped up right now and it looks
awesome! Thank you soo much! I also noticed there's an ornament for each day, so
I've been puttig one up each day. Once Christmas rolls around and we've got all
the gifts and ornaments up, I'll send you a picture!
A super hard thing for me right now is the water. I've been told that the
water in Sobral is pretty good, but I don't know if it would be good to me,
being an American. So I've been having to buy all of my drinking water. It kinda
sucks, but I'll have to get used to it. I've tried boiling the water, but for
some reason it tastes so nasty and bleaching tastes worse haha.
Holy moly Teresina is hot!! So I get an hour every Monday (my p-day) to
email, but I still need to kindof make it quick! So I'm serving in the city of
Sobral. It's actually SUPER amazing here! They've definitely got some of the
saddest housing I've ever seen, but then they've also got some really awesome
parts! I'm not going to bother sending you any pictures because it'll take to
long, but I hope you look it up and possibly google map it.
My trainer is super amazing! The only bummer is that he knows very little
english... hardly any. So it's been EXTREMELY difficult to communicate with him,
but I think I know enough to get my point across :) His name is Elder O.
I'm currently living with two other elders. They're both super awesome and they
both know a lot of english which has helped me out a TON. Elder B and
Elder... shoot, forgot his name haha.
Literally every day I come home feeling sticky and nasty haha. I guess this
is a better area because there's more wind here.
I'm going to end this email and try to send you some pictures. If I have
more to say, I'll come back and keep writing. I'm also doing a missionties
letter that will be in more detail.