Later that 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 at all.
(Wednesday 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.
(Thursday 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.
The first 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.
Every day 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.
It's amazing 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)
So some 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.
The language 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.
About 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.
THE TAN 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.
So I'm 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 :).
After the 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 bed. Hahaha.
As a 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.
I love you so much!!!!!!