Monday, March 21, 2016

It's Been A Normal Week

Elder Gomes and I took a bus from Jacobina to Senhor do Bonfim to wait for our new Zone Leader and for Elder Castro to get there. The transfers were a bit of a confusion and I ended up sleeping two nights in the zone leaders´ house instead of 1, but it was pretty cool. Elder H. Santos is living in Bonfim and the guy is hilarious and we became friends when I met him chatting with Elder Costa e Silva at the Christmas Conference. Speaking of Elder Costa e Silva, last week was his last week on the mission and he´s finally returned to São Paulo. He called me one night last week and we got to chatting a little bit and I said goodbye to him. I sure am going to miss my buddy Costa e Silva. My last senior companion to go home and the non-brazilian sisters of my group have also gone home as well. It´s crazy to think that ´´technically, I´ve served a sister´s mission hahaha. 

It´s been a normal week, not too much to say as always. The house has gotten a little bit more lively with the addition of another companionship in our house. Elder Barbosa is from Porto Velho, Rondônia and is companion is Elder B. Costa from Curitiba, Paraná. Elder Barbosa like I said last week, is my old zone leader and I used to think he was more serious but it turns out the dude is a total clown. He jokes around more than anything so it keeps me pretty happy. Elder Barbosa brought some weights with him in his suitcase to work out so him and I are going to be pumping iron in the morning.  Elder B. Costa learned a little bit of english before the mission through listening to music and watching movies so I´ll probably be helping him this transfer with his english. 

Anyway, I´ve been showing Elder Castro around the area. Unfortunately, Sueli doesn´t appear to be interested in continuing learning about the gospel. Looks like now isn´t her time. But President Lisonbee, I found out, sent Elder Barbosa and Elder B. Costa here because he wants them and us to clean up the area a bit with the membership directory. You see Jacobina has about 20 years with the church here and so there´s a LOT of less-actives and so it looks like Elder Castro and I are going to go looking for less-actives to rescue. 

I don´t have a whole lot else to say but I´m super happy now that there´s 4 of us in a house and I´m excited for the rest of this transfer. 

Love you all a ton and I´ll see you next week!


We went to a place to eat pizza for dinner, rodizio style where they bring you unlimited pizza until you don´t eat anymore.
A gente foi para um lugar de pizza de estilo rodízio onde eles trazem pizza sem limite até não comer mais

I thought this was really funny. Elder H. Santos has an mp3 player of the grim reaper. It wouldn´t be as funny if he wasn´t playing EFY music.
Achei isto muito engraçado. O Elder H. Santos tem uma caixa de som do Ceifador. Não teria tanta graça se não estivesse tocando música do EFY.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Pizza a la Skinner

Weekly letter!

With much anxiousness, we have finally received the results of the transfer. Like I´ve mentioned before, We don´t have any more transfer meetings in Salvador and now instead of getting the word Saturday night, we have to wait until monday morning, meaning I basically just now got word of the transfer. 
  • Elder Gomes will be leaving to Alagoinhas and will be companions with Elder Chastain.
  • I will be staying and I will be with Elder Castro, who´s a Brazilian who´s also from Elder Marim´s group (haha, it looks like I´m going to be with everybody from my son´s group )
  • In Irecê, Elder Rotela and Elder Arimuya (my old zone leader and a great friend) will be returning home and Elder Machado will finish Elder V. Oliveiras training. (I´ll send you a picture of them later. Great guys).
  • BUT, we will also be receiving.. another companionship! Woo!! I was super happy for that. Apparently one of our zone leaders, Elder Barbossa, will be living in our house but will be training another missionary. I feel like we´ve been really needing it. Jacobina is so big and Elder Gomes and I had to sprint from one end of Jacobina to another just to get to appointments and ended up losing time. So yeah, Super happy. It seems like every transfer I was stuck with one companion, I wasn´t as happy and not because of my companion but I always enjoyed coming home and chatting with other missionaries about the day, joke around and what not. It was a great way to blow off steam. 
I don´t know yet who will be district leader but it looks like I´ll find out about that later. I´m more or less indifferent as this transfer, it was hard to be a real district leader as our cell phones ran out of credits and so I couldn´t follow up and see how my district was doing and I wasn´t even able to do a companionship exchange this transfer but this transfer should be good. It´ll also be for 5 weeks so it´ll be short. 
Sueli unfortunately wasn´t baptized this week and we weren´t able to follow up with Erivelton as he´s only home on the weekends due to work. Elder Gomes and I fear that he may have ceded to temptations from his friends but Elder Castro and I are going to visit them this week. I´m not going to lie, though. A part of me was in conflict of having Sueli baptized. She doesn´t understand very many things and so a part of me was a little worried about having her get baptized for her to become less-active later but another part of me was excited to be able to baptize again. We even asked questions, like ´´why do you want to be baptized?´´ and she actually answered all the questions spot on and even understands commandments, like the word of wisdom, tithing and others so a part of me thought that perhaps she was ready. All in all, I´m glad to have her wait a week to see if she really wants to be baptized because she gave a bit of a weak excuse because her unruly and disruptive baby girl got a little sick but as we told her in the beginning: if the day came and she didn´t want to be baptized, we wouldn´t force anything. 

We had our last district meeting in Irecê and we talked a lot about testimonies. The meeting turned out to be spiritual and really good. I´ve had a lot of experiences like that on the mission though where the Spirit appears to touch the hearts of those around me and I sometimes don´t feel it as strong or not at all. It happened once with Elder Marim when I bore my testimony and once again with an investigator that Elder Gomes and I were visiting. Sometimes I get confused if it´s because it´s harder to feel the Spirit speaking another language or for some other reason. Either way, it made me feel happy to know that my testimony is felt by others and I have no reason to complain. 

We had a family home evening with Caio and his mom and I ended up making american pizza for us all. It wasn´t the best but Caio´s mom loved it and wouldn´t stop praising my pizza craftsmanship, telling me that I need to open up a pizzaria called ´´pizza a la skinner´´ and hire her two sons hahaha. I can tell she likes us a lot but sometimes it gets to be a bit much when we try to share a message with them because they all get distracted and talk about random things in the message or sometimes they just talk too much. 

Our english class was great! Caio´s sister brought two more friends and I was able to speak english almost at a normal pace and they were able to understand almost everything I said. I pretended to be a travel agent and I presented options for them to visit New York or Alaska and we talked about all kinds of things. It was really fun and they even accepted a visit from the missionaries so we´ll see how it goes :)

All in all, I´m super excited for this transfer. I feel like my next companion and the other missionaries and I will be able to speed up the work here in Jacobina and really contribute to the branch´s success. 

I don´t imagine there´s much else to say. When you guys can, check out the new easter video that the church came out with! I watched it and it was good. 

I miss you all and hope you all have a great week!

-Elder Skinner
Elder Arimuya along with many other people really liked the ring I got and he was joking with me begging for it but I didn´t want to give it away after just having got it.

Elder Rotela designing the baptism symbol and putting ´´só batiza!´´

I gave some ties to the Elders in our district :) (Elder Arimuya, Elder Machado, Elder Rotela, Elder V. Oliveira)


Monday, March 7, 2016


Weeky letter:

So I hope I hadn´t scared anyone with regards to the little bug that I had caught about a week ago. As of now, I feel as though I´ve completely recovered and we´re back on our feet again :) I talked with Sister Lisonbee on the phone and after talking a little, she told me that no missionary has gotten Zika but has gotten little sicknesses here and there that have ressembled it. Some little cars from the government with men with gas masks have been passing by some neighborhoods where we´ve been working and have basically been gassing the streets. A LOT of people have been getting these same symptoms I´ve gotten here in Jacobina but it looks like they´re determined to fight it. All I really needed was just a day or two of rest and water and I got better. We had a little scare with Elder Gomes though. Last week as we left the lanhouse, he started to report some strange feelings of pain in the sides of his legs and later that night, we didn´t end up leaving to work at night because his situation just started getting worse and he had a strong fever and chest pains for almost the whole week. He´s better now and we had a few good days to end our week. He just slept almost every day which left me time to do some miscellaneous things, such as study, prepare a district meeting, laundy and all sorts of little things. Our branch president and his wife were so sweet to us and stopped by every once in a while to drop off lunch and to check up on Elder Gomes. They´re really special and Elder Gomes and I are going to have to do something special for them. After two days or so like this, I started getting bored. When you spend all day working, it doesn´t give you any time at all to think about home or anything like that so after a while of sitting in our apartment, I started feeling a little sad but luckily Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we were able to get on our feet and work so it helped me to forget about it.

Today, we went to the top of a ´´peak´´ called ´´Jaraguá ´´, which had a pretty view that put the Cruzeiro to shame. We went with Caio and Parley from the Teachers´ Quorum of the branch and had a blast. It was pretty lightweight with no risks but the view was remarkable. Afterwards, we had lunch at Caio´s house that Parley had made and it looks like we´re going to have a family home evening with his family because his mom and sister are also investigating the church and I promised them that I would make mexican food. Unfortunately, I gobbled down the Matta´s hot sauce that you guys had sent me the first two lunches that President Francisco had left with us so I won´t be having any real mexican food tonight. We might even make a homemade pizza because it´s a little easier and cheaper. Not sure but I´m excited to have a family home evening with them.
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We´ve been continuing teaching Sueli, the mom of a less-active girl, and her husband Erivelton. We were happy to see them go to church yesterday because they live in ´´Caixa d´Agua´´, which is a neighborhood that lives a little far from the church and, even worse, it´s almost all uphill. I was most happy for Erivelton because he´s had problems with alcohol and normally drinks with friends on Saturday/Sunday so we were elated to see him at church and he even remarked on a follow-up visit that it had been a long time since he felt happiness on a sunday. It made me really happy to hear that and I fear that he will be bothered with more temptations now that he has a baptismal date and I hope he´ll be strong like he was on Sunday because he had some friends invite him to drink with them and he said no. I have a testimony that Satan is really good at that. He would have us think that the momentary pleasure in sin is greater than the small but meaningful feelings of peace for resisting a temptation and that it´s worth it when it´s not. We´re going to do our best to help them this week and Sueli has a baptismal date for this Saturday. We pray that all will go well.

We´ve started up english classes Saturday night after we invited all investigators we could to come to church. I enjoy teaching English and find it enjoyable. I think that speaking another language is so neat like I think I´ve said in past letters and I hope to learn another language or two in life because I think it´s really cool the culture and art of languages. I´m a little nervous of starting it up though because next Monday, we´ll be once again receiving the results of the transfer and I´ve learned that President Lisonbee sometimes has some surprises for us and who knows if I´ll only be here 1 transfer. Like I´ve said last week, I love the members here and I will be glad if I have to stay. What I really want is another companionship to come here to Jacobina but not too sure if that will happen. Stay tuned though :)
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A funny little story I forgot to tell. In the beginning of the transfer, we got around to talking to a guy that stopped us in the middle of the road that was a little wacked up on probably some funky substances that seemed like a chill guy. We realized that our conversations weren´t going to get us anywhere so we said goodbye to him after 5 minutes or so and then he says probably one of the greatest things I had heard for a while, Imagem inline 4

´´Good night to you guys. Well, actually Good NIGHTS because we aren´t going to see each other for a lot of nights so I want to wish you all some good nights´´.

It´s a lot funnier in Portuguese the way he said it and Elder Gomes and I still crack up about it every once in a while because he seemed so relaxed about life. From now on, whenever I pass someone, I too will wish them many good nights.
Anyway, I love you all as always and hope you have a great week (e muitas boas noites, sabe ;-)  )
Elder Skinner 
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Monday, February 29, 2016


Weekly Letter:

The missionaries from Senhor do Bonfim and from Irecê came to Jacobina as it´s the midway point and we had our zone meeting here although it was super quick. I also got my packages from them and later learned that it was a mistake as now several of the Elders are now asking me for some of the ties that I was sent but I don´t think I´m going to give them certain ties they asked for because some of them are easter ties that both Dad and Tommy have, so those ones are off limits hahah. But they did like the Pop rocks though. There are 10 missionaries in the zone including me so I gave away all 9 of the packets to the zone. I wish I could´ve gotten a picture but I didn´t bring my camera. I´ll try sending an email to the elders to get a photo of our whole zone though.

Today, we ate a breakfast of pancakes that I had made with the maple syrup that I was sent too at Caio´s house, a young man from the ward who I´ve grown to like a lot. He´s a funny kid and we ended up spending some time talking and hanging out at his house and then later going to buy things to make lunch and had lunch with him as well. Just another day of rest because this week, I must´ve gotten bit by a mosquito or something because I started feeling sick this week and I still have some soreness below my ribs. It´s the kind of pain you get as if you were running for a while and you have a stitch in your side. Luckily, I don´t have any more muscle soreness, fever or headache like I did and I imagine this week, I´ll feel a lot better. The members were real concerned with me and I even remarked to Elder Gomes later that they were more worried about me than I was for myself hahaha. Our branch president had a little activity/birthday party for his 1 year old daughter and so Elder Gomes helped with setting up everything and I basically napped in the branch president office with air conditioning and a little cushion with a pillow. They gave me medicine and every once in a while a member would stop by to see how I was doing. I thought it was kind of funny and sweet the concern but I ended up being fine. I just needed rest and lots of water. I also made more cookies for some of the members here that turned out to be the best that I´ve made thus far. All of them liked the cookies and it looks like I´ll be making some more and giving out the recipe I had found! I love the members here. I don´t feel like I´ll be staying here too long but If I had to stay for a few more transfers, just the members alone would make me be happy. 

I finally had the chance to read the talks from the October conference in english and I really liked the talks from President Uchtdorf that talks about two topics. One has a title of something like ´´a visit to great aunt rose´s´´ and the other is called ´´it works wonderfully!´´. They´re both some talks that I really liked and I wanted to invite all of you to read them. 

Hope you all have a most excellent week and party on, dudes!

-Elder Skinner

Monday, February 22, 2016

Um Cheiro

Carta Semanal:

Marcone and Rosana were baptized on Saturday and were confirmed members yesterday, to our joy. It was a great experience for the both of them and we´re excited to visit them again this week to ask them how their experience went. I think this baptism was even more special in my opinion because it wasn´t a baptism of a kid with nobody else in the family or someone alone but a couple who have brothers and sisters in the church who´ve had high callings and will be easily supported and welcome into the church. It was evident to me the joy that was felt when Marcone went to hug his sister, Christine, who´s been a member for a while and stood there in a long embrace. It had been a long time since the last time our companionship had a baptism, and not that it´s something to add a sticker to a list of baptisms, but it at least made me feel like I´m finally fulfilling my calling and that it´s actually possible for someone to enter into the waters of baptism, something that used to be almost unfathomable due to constant failures since João was baptized in Petrolina and it stopped shocking me everytime a progressing investigator stopped going to church and didn´t want to be baptized anymore despite all we had said, taught, warned and encouraged. 
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We also had a district meeting but our district is us in Jacobina and the other 4 elders in Irecê, which is 4 hours away so we don´t do district meetings very often because the buses between both places are very infrequent and we literally spend the whole day doing the district meeting because it´s an 8 hour round trip ordeal and we didn´t get to discuss much, let alone take a district picture because our bus was about to leave from the station. Irecê is a cool little town but I didn´t get to see much. It has a lot of history but it´s still just a branch in a rented house.

This friday, we´re going to have a zone meeting and everyone will be coming to Jacobina because Jacobina is the midway point between Irecê and Senhor do Bonfim and I´ll finally get the package you guys sent me because they informed me that I got the box :)

I also had the chance to give a talk yesterday and President Francisco Ferreira wanted me to talk about missionary work, which I talked about and even got several compliments from the members. Something that kind of caught my attention when I was studying was a well-known scripture of which I learned a new interpretation of, in 2 Nephi 31:10, which says:

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastnessin Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a loveof God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

Can we really have a perfect love for God and all men if we don´t want our neighbors, friends, family and whoever else that doesn´t have this message to feel and have the same love and blessings that our Heavenly Father has given us? I talked a lot about the many opportunities that I had growing up to share the gospel and all the opportunties I had to invite friends to go to church that I didn´t take. One of the biggest things I learned on the mission is exactly that: the desire to be more involved in the work. I hope that those of you that read this can also take a moment of reflection, as this talk had really helped me to understand that. 

Um cheiro. (yes, some people in Brazil say ´´a smell´´ before hanging up the phone sometimes. I am not making that up.)

-Elder Skinner
We stopped by a snack bar on the way home from an appointment monday night and bought a ´´super dogão´´, a huge hotdog and split it (even though it was made with hamburger buns.Imagem inline 4Imagem inline 5
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Because we live in a little apartment of 3 stories, the owner of our apartment has a dog named Linda that´s annoying as freak and every time I step out back to hang up my clothes, she sits near the catwalk and barks at us, and it´s even worse because it´s a small space and so her barks are 10 times louder. Somehow, she escaped without her owner knowing and she went to our house and came in. She has a lot of energy and I got angry because she scratched up my suit pants a little when we wereheading to the baptism. scumbag dog.Imagem inline 8

Monday, February 15, 2016


Weekly Letter:

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It´s been getting kind of strange these days to introduce yourself to members here and they ask you ´´Elder, how much timed do you have on the mission?´´ and I respond ´´a year and four months´´, to which they respond, ´´ah! You´re already getting ready to go home!´´. It´s weird to think of how fast time has really flown by. 
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I don´t remember if I mentioned last week, but I met a couple that have been taught by Elder Gomes and his companion and it looks like we´re going to baptize them this saturday and I´m super excited. They seem to have taken a liking to me because for some reason the way I talk is just a bit funnier. The way they said it reminded me of my other non-american companions that spoke english and I remember the way they talked was also a little bit more different so that must´ve been it. Anyway their names are Marcôni and Rosana and they´re really great people. Hope all goes well with them. 

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Early today, we went up the ´´Cruzeiro´´ because at the top there´s a cross that´s lit up at night for everyone to see and Elder Gomes and I had the desire to go all the way up. I sent some pictures for you all to see. Some really great views at the top. Imagem inline 13
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The other day, I got to thinking though. My favorite book of mormon prophet was always Alma the Younger because of his amazing conversion story and a scripture that I was thinking of the other day was in Mosiah 28, which reads that their desires were really strong:

´´3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.´´ 

I feel that that´s the kind of desire that all of us should have but lately I find it difficult to have a christ-like love for those who don´t value the message that we bring. It does bring some good moments of reflection though. Do we as members of the church have the same desire for those around us or are we sometimes neglecting to have a similar love for our neighbors? If it´s the latter, what do we need to change in our lives so that we can have those feelings? 
I suppose that´s all for this week. Love you all, and may the force be with you.

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-Elder Skinner
Marquin, the guy that ran the lanhouse in Barreiras. Wanted to take a picture with him because he would constantly ask me questions about english and what not. Also the only lan house owner that would occasionally give us snacks in the middle of writing to families. Non-member but super good guy.
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Saying goodbye to Barreiras
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Monday, February 8, 2016

Elder L. Skinner

Carta Semanal:

So, just like last year when I was in 7 de Abril, it appears that everything is going to be closed down this week because of Carnaval, the holiday of Satan. It´s funny though because in Jacobina, it appears that everything is much more calm and from what I´ve heard, there isn´t going to be much parties here because everybody likes to leave for neighboring cities like Feira de Santana and Salvador. I´m not going to lie, I was hoping that I wouldn´t get transfered to Salvador and I´m pretty happy here because Jacobina is a pretty little city which is a lot greener, less hot and smaller. The only thing that´s kind of hard is that there´s a lot of uphill areas, even more than Salvador which is notorious for it´s inclined favelas and what not. 

So apparently, I misunderstood the phone call of the transfers from the Zone leaders. My companion is actually Elder Gomes (because Brazilians often have the same last names and have to end up putting the first letter of their first name in front of their last name to differentiate). For example, I had shown up and on the mission there was another Elder Skinner, I would´ve been Elder L. Skinner. Elder Gomes is a pretty cool guy and he´s from the same group as Elder Marim is.  Elder Gomes is from Rio Grande do Sul in a city called Cachoerinha (little waterfall), which is really close to the capital of Porto Alegre where Joe Norby served. I´m really liking the variety though because normally a lot of missionaries come from São Paulo but so far, I´ve have Brazilian companions from several states and they all have different cultures, which I think is pretty cool. Almost each state has a nickname if you´re from that state. For example,
Elder Costa e Silva is from São Paulo and they´re known as ´´Paulistas´´.
Elder Laurindo is from Rio de Janeiro which is famous for beaches and they´re known as ´´Cariocas´´.
Elder Marim is from Minas Gerais which is famous for cheese and they´re known as ´´Mineiros´´.
Elder Gomes is from Rio Grande do Sul which is famous for barbecue and they´re known as ´´Gaúchos´´.

Anyway, Jacobina is pretty neat. I was a lot more sad than I thought I would be for leaving Barreiras. At the bus station, I got to say good bye to a few people from the branch. I never got teary-eyed for leaving an area but I always felt a profound sadness in saying goodbye to so many good people you´ve met, especially considering that it would be difficult for me to return to see them again. It´s a weird feeling, it´s like turning a page in your life and starting all over again once you get to a new city. I felt kind of out of place when Elder Gomes was taking me around to meet some investigators and the members but what made me feel better was remembering that when I first got in Barreiras, it was literally the same thing with Elder Laurindo, so I felt better knowing that I´ll soon get used to the branch. Everybody´s been treating me well so I´m already feeling at home. 

Anyway, I´m not too sure if I´ll have time today to send photos to you guys, but be sure that if I can´t today that I´ll have plenty next week. Love you all!

-Elder Skinner