Carta Semanal! :)
I sent my package through the mail! Yay! Mas, tem uma problema.. it´s not going to get there until a couple months :( It has Dad´s birthday present in it so it will show up late and plus Mom´s mother´s day present! I think you´ll love what I sent you, Mom. I remember you specifically saying you wanted it. Last P-day, we visited Pelourinho again. This time, there were a BUNCH of tourists because of the New Years festivities. I got to ride the famous elevator down! Nothing real special though. The view when you step outside and look up where you came from is real neat though. Pelourinho is truly just a tourist spot. They all sell the same things: t-shirts (some fake jerseys), useless knick-knacks, jewelry, necklaces, bracelets, cool paintings, etc. As always, it´s a very beautiful part of town. Elder Rivera and I met some less actives that go to some church called ´´7th day adventists´´ or something like that. They were respectful and nice to us, but I basically took part in my first Bible bash with respect to keeping the Sabbath Day holy. It´s very confusing because basically the Bible says to keep the ´´Sabbath´´ holy, right? Problem is, the word ´´Sábado´´ means ´´Sabbath´´ AND ´´Saturday´´ here. So it was real complicated to explain it. Rivera shut them down with legit scripture but they still weren´t accepting. I bore my testimony when I could, so that was good. Remarkably, I was able to understand a lot of what they were saying so that was good, Portuguese-wise. There´s an investigator that we have who´s getting prepared to get baptized this Saturday. His name´s Lucas. I believe in my last email I sent a picture of the streets where they play soccer, but anyway we got to mess around a little and play ´´fute-volê´´, which as its name suggests, is soccer-volleyball. We kick the ball around and we used a rock to mark boundaries. That stuff is tough, man. Lucas and his friend made a pair of clowns out of me and Rivera. It sure was fun though.
O que nós fizemos com respeito ao Ano Novo? Quase nada. Obviously we have mission rules so we had to be in our house at least by 23h (11pm). We were invited to go with the other Élders to a members house, but we didn´t really want to go. It was a bit of a walk and we had to stay in missionary attire (even though they didn´t). So we chilled at our apartment, Elder Rivera taught me how to play Clue, and we ate Ramen with some juice. Yep, probably the most pathetic way to spend a holiday. Elder Rivera noted that he felt like a Jehova Witness and I can affirm those feelings. The fireworks were a different ballpark though. Basically ten minutes till midnight, fireworks occasionally would go off and the closer it got to midnight, the frequency increased and by the time it was midnight, it sounded like there was a firefight going on in the favela adjacent to us. Literally right in front of us behind this house, legit fireworks were going off. Super loud, we were right there. it was nuts. I took video of it though.
Fiquei com um corto de cabelo também. Agora, eu pareço como Macklemore. Vocês vão ver nos fótos que lhes mando. I´ll let you guys translate that one, because I´m embarassed hahaha.
Google translate: I got a hair cut too. Now, I look like Macklemore. You will see in the photos I send them
Temos membros da Igreja muitos legais. Some of them, Thiago and Paulinha, have plans to go to BYU to study. They´re both married and both return-missionaries and I was helping Thiago (James in Portuguese) read the Book of Mormon in English. I love helping people read in English. Anyway, I thought that was fun. We were talking about languages in general and how they watched a talk given by President Monson in English one time and they told me that even though they didn´t understand English very well, they felt a different kind of Spirit coming from him. Because translators can´t translate the natural emotions and the way people speak. It´s quite interesting.
Elder Rivera and I have been messing around a bit lately too. We like to quote Bane from Batman: The Dark Knight Rises but sometimes we throw in Portuguese with our quotes. Portuguese spoken here is kind of Southern-ish compared to English for the States. A lot of people end their sentences with ´´ ´viu?´´ Which is basically ´´y´hear?´´ and so we´ll quote Bane and say ´´Did you come back to die with your city?´´ in the same voices and one of us will respond ´´No! I came here to stop you! ´viu?´´ hahaha it´s super funny.
Do you remember that girl I mentioned a while back, Ana Carolina? So her parents finally allowed her to go to church yesterday and she´s super strong already in her testimony about what we´ve taught. So much so that she sat down next to a lady on the bus and basically bared her testimony to this random lady who kind of attacked her beliefs. We think she´s Jehova´s Witness as well. Elder Rivera and I remarked that we believe she´ll be a missionary some day. She´s super inspirational. It makes me feel happy to know that I´m going to have that kind of impact on others as well.
My Birthday was pretty cool too. The other guys surprised me after I got out of the shower by singing ´´Parabéns´´ (happy birthday) in Portguese to me. I was caught off guard because I thought I heard Elder Rivera wanting to enter the room so I tried to hurry up and get out with my pants still without a belt and slightly hanging down, so I walked out of the room and they took a picture of me and gave me a small gift. I got some of these cream-filled wafers and Elder Graça wanted to be funny and wrapped up a pair of socks for me. I unwrapped my birthday present as well! The ring came and so did the shirt! I´m going to reserve my ring for good days, like Church, P-days, and meetings. A member of the Church made me a key lime pie which we ate at her house too and we messed around with some of her instruments that she uses to teach Capoeira. Later that night, I had to call President Lisonbee to ask for permission to go the mall so that we could go bowling again (he made that a rule that we have to call now) and unfortunately, he didn´t let us. Sister Lisonbee (and later Elder Morgan, our Zone Leader) sang happy birthday to me on the phone which made me happy hahaha. I love my mission president and his wife. They took us to lunch today on P-day. Of all places, we ate at McDonalds (which is the opposite, like I said, here in Brazil. It´s expensive so it actually meant something this time.) I had my first Big Mac with everything on it, which was super good and they even bought us all ice cream. It was neat being able to hang out with the AP´s, the secretaries, Rivera, and President and Sister Lisonbee.
Anyway, that´s been my week this week. I wanted to leave a quick spiritual thought with you guys that I thought was special. Mosiah 2:22-24.
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
Basically, we are indebted to God, like it says. He gave us our bodies, this Earth, and all these experiences, and, like in a contract of sorts, we have to keep his commandments that he gives us. And that´s all that he requires of us. He immediately blesses us if we obey too. Like how funny is that. Imagine getting money for obeying the laws that we have to obey as citizens of our country. It´s also worth mentioning that we´re ALWAYS indebted to him, because even when we think we´ve payed our debts by obeying the commandments, he gives us blessings. And then we´re indebted to him because of those blessings! I thought that was super funny.
Before I say bye for the week, I wanted to leave a song that I found that I downloaded to the music I listen to while I study that I really love. It´s a cover of the Hymn ´´All creatures of our God and King´´. I encourage you all to listen to it. It´s really good.
Anyway, that´s all for now! Love you guys!