Monday, January 26, 2015

Alô, meus queridos amigos e familiares!

Carta Semanal:

Alô, meus queridos amigos e familiares!

Mostly been a normal week. I´ll relate a few of the main experiences I had this week that I can remember, because I didn´t have the chance to prewrite them again. Last P-day as planned, we went biking on a trail with the other Elders and some lady members in our ward. It was fun. It was only a 15km ride, but I guess nobody really bikes here, because they had to constantly take breaks and we got charged extra for going over our time limit (how is anybody going to finish 15km in an hour? There were lots of good spots to stop, rest, and take pictures.) We all had a good time though. The trail itself was very smooth, no uphill or down. The way they rent bikes is flatout dumb though. They don´t rent out helmets and they don´t have any safety protocol of sorts that they do before they give you the bikes. Just mount and go. I made sure to ride more carefully. 
This week´s been mostly preparing 3 of our investigators for baptism. One was Christine as you already knew, and the other 2 were Ana Carolina (the girl I´ve been telling you about) and the other is a boy named Lucas. Lucas is 15 years old and he´s similar to Ana Carolina regarding how prepared he is for baptism. Lucas was a sad story this week though. Basically, we´ve taught him the core lessons already and had everything set up. But there´s an age limit of sorts where basically you have to have a parent sign to allow the baptism. The only person stopping us was his Mom. She wouldn´t allow it before hand so we set aside a day to show up there to talk about any doubts she may be having and address her concerns but everything we did, did nothing. She and her husband don´t have religion and she doesn´t want her family to be divided into different churches and religions. So basically, the only one that shows incentive to change that is Lucas himself in wanting to be baptized. He bore testimony and all, saying that he knows that this is the true Church, and she straight-up denied his testimony and said ´´no you don´t.´´ the discussion resulted in us citing scripture in the Bible, relating personal experiences, and yes, even him bearing his testimony, and she denied it all. Both Elder Rivera and I knew the Spirit was there and telling her what we were saying and what he was saying was true, because she at times was speechless in the things we said. But she was so hard hearted. She even went so far as to say that we manipulated him into saying what he did. Yeah, not joking. We just need time though. She´s still comfortable with him going to Church and taking discussions, which is always good. Ana Carolina and Christine were baptized though. President and Sister Lisonbee even came, but showed up quite late for a funny reason actually. The street where our church is located is ´´Colina Azul´´ and they typed in the GPS ´´Colina ao Sul´´ and showed up in a Favela where a police officer had to tell them to turn back because they were in a dangerous area. Veesh! Hahaha. It was good though, everything ended well. It was a super spiritual experience for everyone, especially Ana Carolina and Zeak and Christine. Good way to end a transfer. I even had the chance to confirm Christine in English in front of our Brazilian ward. It was funny because immediately afterward, one of the members of the Bishopric went up and said something to the effect of ´´I expect everyone here understood what was said?´´ hahaha!
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Nothing much else. We had a companionship exchange with the Zone Leaders and I teamed up with an Elder Morgan in his area, Cajazeiras. Their house was noteably bigger than ours and the bed there was a bit more comfortable as well. So I slept well that night, hahaha. Elder Morgan is a good guy. Just imagine a slightly bigger, goofy Elder from Utah who´s always laughing and loves to sing. A lot of people here think he´s weird and maybe so, but he cheers me up so I can´t complain. Anyway, I got to stick around with him visiting less-actives and doing some street contacting which was a blast. I love learning about the techniques of other missionaries here so that I can revise and refine my own. After our lunch appointment, Elder Morgan treated me to a milkshake at a place called ´´Mr. Mix´s milkshakes´´ and we talked about life before, during, and after the mission. It was pretty cool. We ended our night by returning to his home, and he made ramen for us. They have so many different flavors and brands of it here, but basically he mixed like 4 (2 cheese, 2 meat) kind of deal and fried up some sausage and we ate that. Wasn´t exactly pleasant to go to bed after eating, but I appreciated the little services and kindnesses that Elder Morgan did more me during the division. I made a personal goal that if I rise to a leadership position here on the mission that I would do little things like that for the people I serve with too.

As far as today goes, we´re just going to be saying goodbye to some of the people that Elder Rivera has come to know. The results of the transfer went:

Elder Skinner - stay
Elder Rivera - transfer
Elder Medina - transfer
Elder Graça - stay

So I´ll be living with the African Elder from Cape Verde for some more time. We were both happy to find out that we would be staying. Elder Graça told me that if my companion is ´´chato´´, which is like ´´annoying´´, that he´d be happy to do exchanges with me so that I can be his companion for a day. Super awesome. 

The progress on the language has been incredible lately. More or less, what I´ve learned about this training is how to come out of my shell and be less afraid about talking to people. Talking is slowly and slowly becoming easy but as always, o entendimento é o parte mais difícil. It´s been good though, because almost always, when I ask someone to repeat 2 or even 3 times, I eventually understand what they say, hahaha. I notice that I talk like a pro when I talk with people I´m comfortable with, like Ana Carolina for example. After the church services ended, we waited around for people to disperse and head home, and we chatted it up in Portuguese. It was so cool. The Lord has blessed me so much to be able to finally start talking. As of right now, I don´t know who my new companion will be obviously. The only small detail I know is that one of the Assistants, Elder Pollard, told me that he knows my companion and that he´s cool. How they do it here is really cool. Basically they have all the missionaries pile into a chapel and they throw on a PowerPoint with every Elder and Sister there. Basically, it shows the area first, then both missionaries pop up at the same time (with the senior on the left side and the junior on the right side) and it lists any leadership positions under our pictures. It´s pretty dang cool, but kind of scary sometimes because you won´t have any previous knowledge of your companion until that exact moment. I remember when Elder Rivera first popped up on the screen 3 months ago, I thought he was Brazilian and I was super nervous at first. Well, stay tuned for next week about my new companion!

Elder Rivera and I also traded ties. I gave him one I bought in São Paulo that I thought was considerably cooler but he gave me two ties. These ties are neat though. Basically, they´re like lineage ties of some sort. Let me explain: For example, one missionary signs their name on the tie and gives that tie to their trainee (We call trainers the ´´Dad´´ and the trainee the ´´son´´ so Elder Rivera is ´´meu pai´´ and I´m his ´´Filho´´. Then, when that missionary has the opportunity to train a different missionary, that missionary signs the tie under HIS trainer´s name and gives it to HIS son. So I have two of those. One that he got from a long line of missionaries in Bakersfield that I plan on keeping because there´s no space, and one that Elder Rivera started. That one will have just enough room for my ´´grandson´´ if you will. Funny stuff, eh?

That´s all I got for this week! I´ll have loads to write about next week, don´t you guys worry. Love you all a bunch!


Élder Skinner

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