Monday, December 8, 2014

´´Harry Potter! Harry Potter!´´

Maddy: I´m so proud of your progress in school! Keep it up! School is a lot more enjoyable when you´re ahead on the game. You´ll learn the importance of that in high school, trust me. Karli will tell you that too. High school is also a blast. You´ll have a lot of fun there. It´s hard to believe you guys have already filled up the ´c´in the called to serve calendar! Time is flying here, that´s for sure. After each P-day, I keep telling myself that the next one will never come and I end up proving myself wrong, it´s funny. Love you, Maddy! :)

Tommy: Warriors still killing it, eh? That´s awesome! I´m also happy to hear you guys had fun in California. Wish I could´ve been there. You´ll be pleased to know that I´ve been quoting Bane Outtakes and talking about some of the YTP´s we used to quote with Elder Rivera. He thinks I´m crazy but he thinks they´re funny. Love you, Tommy! :)

Karli: I remember that feeling of just wanting to graduate. I remember I got tired of still being treated like a kid even though we were about to be adults. It was frustrating. But like I said, learn to appreciate the little things in High School. You´ll definitely miss it. I´m starting to already, and It´s only been several months. I can still see that picture in my head, hahaha. If you can, send me physical copy in my next package. I´ll want that one. Are you and Mom still into Plants vs Zombies 2? Have the new levels come out yet? Hahaha, I converted you! You will love the heat now! hahaha. Counting down the days until Face Time!
Love you, Karli! :)

Mom: I´m glad I´m starting to accustom too. It´s kind of hard, because I see Elder Rivera who already has the language down, starting to make emotional connections with people, and there´s me without that yet, and I´m still more of a burden for people to talk to. It´ll get better though. I just can´t wait until I´m at that point. That story about Dad and the Boeing 757 made me smile. I still can´t believe I´m out here on my mission sometimes, let alone another country. It´s crazy. Man, I´m jealous of you guys. That would´ve been fun to be in California, but I´m glad you guys got to go and have an awesome time. I can´t complain becuase I just went, hahaha. Good luck in your job out of training! Be sure to tell me how it goes! :) My apartment isn´t air conditioned, but Rivera and I have little fans we put at the foot of our beds to cool us off and repel mosquitos as a side benefit. My shoes are good. Obviously, they´re getting dirty, but they hold well. Christmas packages, I grabbed one and we´re going to get the rest at our next Zone Conference which I believe is tomorrow. No news yet on Facetime, but I´ll keep you posted. We´ll likely be doing it sometime before lunch here, but that´s just a guess. Give the Elders my best and tell them merry Christmas from Salvador! Love you lots, Mom. Can´t wait for Christmas.

Dad: It sure sounds like you guys had an awesome time. I miss the crisp, cool climate of San Francisco and eating fudge and clam chowder bowls. Those were some good times. I actually do remember Cattlemans. its too bad we didn´t get the chance to eat there before I left. That´s interesting you mention people that aren´t part of the Church but still have a great love for the Savior and the gospel. I love finding people like that here in Brazil, now granted not too many. They´re the kind of people that say they love Jesus and the Bible, but we´ve had moments where we´d ask them questions, like ´´If God told you the Book of Mormon is true, would you go to Church?´´ and they wouldn´t do it. The people here also just basically go to the closest church to their  house. It´s so weird. But we have found an investigator here who´s starting to open up more and more. He´s really cool. I think I mentioned him last week. His name is ´´Moraes´´. Great guy, very involved in the Catholic Church i believe, loves the Bible and Christ, and just loves to serve. He´s starting to like what we teach which makes us happy. So my plaque came in? That´s cool! I wish I could see it, hahaha. Crazy to believe my name in Bishops office is under the Single adults section and now I have a plaque. Freakin´crazy. Anyway, love you Dad. Can´t wait to tell you about what happened this week.

Last P-day, we went to another mall again, but we didnt bowl like we initially planned because we didnt have time. We did, however, look up prices and we´re going to go probably next week. Anyway, this time was a little more special. We took another picture with Santa Clause, and this time we attracted a bunch of attention to ourselves. We had Santa, another mall worker, and 3 ladies working as elves there asking us all kinds of questions about who we are, where we´re from, about the church, and why we´re here in Brazil. We gave Santa a Book of Mormon and one of the ladies actually lives nearby, so we´re going to hopefully visit her sometime. I have pictures to prove it, in case you were wondering haha.

This weeks been a week of service. Wednesday, we applied wood polish to a few doors of a member´s house. Saturday, we laid concrete on the roof of another member´s house. That was some rough stuff. It sure made me thankful for the things and tools we take for granted in the US. First, we had to fill up empty sacks with sand, throw them on our backs, carry them down some stairs, climb on top of the little house, dump it, and go back up. We also had a big pile of small rocks to add to the mixture that were thankfully right next to the house but we also had big bags of powdery cement to carry down that weighed more than me. Not kidding. I couldn´t even carry one myself. Rivera and I had to carry one halfway down before someone took it from us. It wasn´t hot and I was drenched with sweat. The Brazilians here are hard workers. They just take their shirts off, wearing only flip flops (yes, flip flops. I can´t emphasize that enough), and just worked unceasingly. After we made the mixture, we had to constantly churn the stuff with hoes and shovels to prevent it from hardening. I´m not complaining about the work itself. I was just sad that I couldnt´ve been more useful. Obviously, the language. When they asked me to do stuff, I didn´t understand. And I wasn´t as conditioned as they were. Most of the time, it was easier for me to just hand over my shovel because they did it better than me. I got winded out really fast as well. Yesterday, we did a move as well. Nothing much to say about it except the old guy we were helping was picky about where he wanted everything. A member was helping us in a long sleeve white shirt and tie. His name is Walter and he´s just an awesome dude. He´s constantly talking to people about the gospel, like he´s seriously a missionary without the tag. Rivera´s convinced he´s one of the Three Nephites. All in all, I´m just praying that the Lord will strengthen me to be a better servant next time and also for the gift of tongues. 

Thursday, we had a companionship exchange. I accompanied Elder Medina, a guy who lives with us. He´s from Rosario, Argentina, and has been out for 5 months. Obviously, no English. His Portuguese is in need of some refinement as well. I could tell because occasionally, I could hear him speak Spanish words in between his sentences. I loved the exchange, but probably not for the best reasons. He isn´t much of a hard worker so we just visited member´s houses, talked, left spiritual messages, and left. We arrived to one house and they were watching ´´Frozen´´ and we finished watching it with them. It was in Portguese with Portuguese subtitles and I actually understood everything that was said. That´s what I´ve noticed about Portuguese. Reading, writing, and sometimes even speaking are the easy parts. I understand 95% of what Elder Rivera says. It´s the dang Brazilian accent that infuriates me. Plus, it was nice to get away from Rivera for a little bit. Nothing wrong with him, he´s awesome. But it was fun to know another part of town, another Elder, and not speak English. Rivera says I´m ready for a Brazilian companion. Sheesh, I hope so.

Funny stories: Rivera and I were walking near a more rural part of our area and we found 3 boys real young around 7, 8, or 9ish. We talked about Christmas with them really briefly and gave them passalong cards. I didn´t hear them, but as we walked away, they said I looked like Harry Potter because of the glasses. We were quite some distance away when I turned around and saw them chanting ´´Harry Potter! Harry Potter!´´ with their thick accents. I did some fist pumps in the air and heard them laugh a little. Another time, we were walking arund heading toward the bank to get our mission funds when we came across a group of girls whom we asked for directions. Again, I didn´t hear but Rivera told me that they said, ´´Oh! Bonitinho! Tantos olhos azuis!´´ hahaha. Apparently, I stand out really well here.

I´ve been having fun with the guys here. As we´re walking to and fro, sometimes we horse around a little. One time, we all held our shoulder bags as one would hold a gun and we were running arund taking cover behind walls, cars, and corners, making hand signals, and crouching down and stuff. The expressions people made were priceless. One time, we were returning to our apartment and we all marched in single file, stepping really loudly with our right foot, walking in unity like a military troop, and people arund us were laughing. And one time we walked through a favela, just me and Rivera, and we walked past a group of kids who were real little, like Everett´s age. Because of our appearance, they thought we were presidents or government officials. hahaha, its just the little things I love here.

Foods been the same. I still like it but because I´ve been eating the same stuff, same flavor (actually everything here is super bland), it´s making me miss food back in the States so dang much. I´ve been having some mad cravings for Matta´s, Pei Wei, Oregano´s, Waffle Love, Chik-Fil-A, and all kinds of good food. But yáll need not worry about Elder Skinner starving. I don´t think I´ve truly experienced hunger out here. I´ve been eating 3rds of everything. If anything, I need to tone down. Kind of a side note but they put something in their food here called ´´Farinha´´, which literally translated is ´´flour´´ but its more of a grainy consistency and not a whole lot of flavor. Just to add texture. It´s really good. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention about Salvador. They like fireworks. Randomly throughout the day at any time, you´ll just hear a firecracker go off with a big bang. They all use the same type of firecracker. I asked Rivera why they do it so much here, and he told me they use them to celebrate when their soccer team makes a goal. He also said that that could also be a signal that an illegal drug shipment just came in. Yeah.. But don´t worry, I haven´t seen anything rough here yet.

Love you guys a bunch! Talk to ya next week! 
--Elder Logan Skinner

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