November 30, 2015 (week 7)

Well this letter will probably be all over the place, so sorry for that now! This letter is going to be long, so don’t feel bad deleting it if you don’t have time! We have twice the amount of time to write as we did in the mtc and I thought since this is my first letter from my area I’d describe it. Future letter will probably be a lot shorter! Also sorry for spelling mistakes.. my spelling is bad as is and the computer underlines almost every word since it’s Portuguese, and learning Portuguese is not helping my English spelling! So this week I wrote down stuff that I wanted to say so there will be a lot of little things this week 🙂

Well we left the MTC this week! It honestly feels like ages ago that I was in the MTC but it was actually less than a week, it’s actually a little scary haha. So leaving the MTC meant saying bye to everyone, but honestly it wasn’t really hard to say bye to the other missionaries, it was hardest to say goodbye to our instructors! I’m going to miss them. I honestly think we had the two best instructors in the MTC. I will send a picture with them if I can! They were so patient with us and were so so so helpful! You really grow to love someone when they help you as much as our instructors helped us. They were always energetic and never got frusterated! I hope I get to see Imrã Araujo and Irmão Alonso again someday! Actually, Irmã Araujo is going to do a masters at byu so maybe I will see her in a few years. I think she would die laughing hearing me speak real Portuguese, since my Portuguese in the mtc (and now) is suspect at best.

My new companion is Elder Sena! From São Paulo! And he knows zero english.. literally none! Well that´s not entirely true, he does know the word church haha. It’s hard because when I don’t know how to say something I can’t ask him in english cause he doesn’t know. But you would be surprised how much you can explain with pictures and hand motions. I know I won’t be fluent in Portuguese by the end of this transfer, but I might be fluent in sign language ahaha. I feel bad for him though, he has only been here 6 weeks! Typically missionaries are supposed to be “trained” for 12 weeks in their area. That just means they are with someone who has been in the mission field for a while and so they can show the other missionary how missionary work works. So he didn’t even get to finish his training and now he has to teach me! During the lessons he does most of the talking.. it is sooo hard to understand people. They speak so quickly and a lot of people don’t annunciate their words. So most of the time I am lost during teaching. But he does an amazing job and hopefully I can start helping him out a little more soon!

From my almost 1 week in the mission field, I am convinced of two things: 1, that Brazillians are the nicest people in the world and 2, that they are the best drivers in the world! They are always so welcoming and friendly! It is an awesome country to be in. The people don’t have much.. especially in my area right now, but they always give us so much food. I honestly feel bad cause I know it’s a sacrifice and usually they give me more than I want. But the people are so genuine and just sincerely nice, its awesome! And the driving… hahahah it’s honestly a free for all. From what I can tell, the only law on the road is to honk!! But it’s not like honking in America, where we honk if someone cuts us off or something. Its more of a “don’t move any closer to the road cause if you do you are going to get ran over” in a polite way! It’s awesome how they drive, but I have no clue how they don’t crash all the time, it’s actually super impressive.

We didn’t have running water for two days, but it was back this morning! It actually wasn’t that bad. There was a hose in the floor below us so we just filled up a bucket and used that. It really made me grateful for running water when we do have it! I never really realized how much I used it. On the plus side, it actually made showering better! Because the water wasn’t as cold as the water that comes from the shower head! (there’s no hot water in our house, its all cold).

Brazillians never want to say my name! Its actually pretty funny, my companion is practicing but can’t say it right yet. When people meet us they will be like “good to meet you elder Sena and elder….” then kind of shake their head and not say my name. My companion loves to ask people to say my name but they usually just laugh and don’t try. I’m sure it’s what I sound like trying to speak Portugeuse to them!

So Elder Sena was about to share a scripture from Amos with this one guy, and the guy tried to tell us Amos wasn’t in the bible!! He even went to go get his bible to show us. So he comes back out and flips open his bible to his bookmarked page, and it turns out that his bookmark was at the first page of Amos!! I’m not going to lie, it took a decent amount of effort to not laugh.

One lunch we weren’t served beans (we eat lunch with church members every day) and my companion said it was the first time he ate lunch without beans!! I don’t know if he meant the first time in his life of during the mission but still! That seems crazy to me. I was worried about beans and rice every day coming here… cause I don’t like either very much. But it’s not the same as in the States! The beans are actually good here 🙂

It’s kind of funny talking to the american missionaries here, their english is bad! They talk weird and forget words. They always say that it’s hard to speak english and sometimes they accidently start speaking Portuguese while trying to speak english! It seems like I’ll never get to that point, but I hope I do!

My companion has a collar tan line! Its soo funny. theres literally a line of lighter skin cause his neck tans and then he tans through his shirt but not where his collar is! I probably shouldnt laugh though, cause I think I will have some pretty nasty tan lines in a couple of weeks. It is so hot and humid here! But honestly, no hotter than MN, it’s just that there is also no AC so there’s no escaping the heat, except for fans, which are super nice!

People put super big sound systems in their cars here, and they play music super loud from their houses, so the streets are literally always bumping. Also, their concept of a house is different than ours, they call any place where you live a house so its not a house in the same sense that we think.

I don’t know why, but I can understand American’s Portuguese but just not Brazillian’s! My companion speaks slow with me, so I can understand, but for some reason when I’m talking on the phone with Americans I can understand when they speak as fast as Brazillians normally do. I think maybe it is just cause I’m used to hearing Americans speak.. I’m not sure, but I hope I get better at understanding Brazillians soon!

Well since I’m on a mission I want to end on a spiritual note, the Holy Ghost testifies of truth! During my first day in the field, right before I met my companion and left for my area, we watched a video from Elder Holland. It was part of a talk he gave about obedience and repentance. I think it was the “staying in the lines” one but I don’t quite remember now. It was in Portuguese so I didnt understand much, but I remembered the talk so I could understand a little bit of it. In part of it he said that once we repent we are forgiven! Jesus Christ paid the price of our sins and we don’t have to carry them anymore. I think sometimes we, at least me, feel guilty for a sin, even after repenting. But once we repent it isn’t our sin to carry. When Elder Holland was talking about that I felt the Spirit testify of that truth to me. I know it will be important to help investigators understand that they can be forgiven of any sin and after repenting they are clean again! What a wonderful message I have the priviledge of sharing 🙂

Elder Lawrence 🙂

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