Monday, April 27, 2015

´´o Céu da Missão´´

Carta Semanal:

Last week was our transfer meeting and the morning of, I had to pack up everything and say goodbye to 7 de Abril. The P-day before, however, I spent some time saying goodbye to a few of the members
there. Not as many as I would´ve liked due to the time, but I managed to bid farewell to as many as I could.

Anyway, the morning of packing up, It was a miracle that I managed to fit the things that I
needed to in the bag. All of them were pretty much packed to the max. The handle on the largest suitcase is now broken because of the weight, but it´s no problem. As for the meeting itself, we had some little trainings here and there, where I had the chance to meet with Elder Sterling and Elder Nickerson, my two best buddies from my MTC District who were serving in Luís Eduardo Magalhães and Barreiras in that order. Basically what that translates to is a 15-18 hour bus ride
from their areas to mine so needless to say, we never saw each other until day 1 in the field until that transfer meeting. Their language skills have improved ridiculously and it was awesome to see them
again. I also saw Elder Rivera as well, and it´s safe to say that he´s been how he´s always been. Love those guys.

As always, the transfers were shown on a big PowerPoint Presentation.  I´ve been transfered (transferred? I´m forgetting how to spell certain words) to the Petrolina Oeste (west of a city known as Petrolina) portion of the mission, otherwise known as ´´o Céu da Missão´´ (Heaven of the Mission). It´s known as such because apparently, the members are excellent, the area is beautiful, and a lot of baptisms are made.  I heard these things from Elder Costa e Silva anyway and also from
Elder Rivera. So that night, everyone dispersed except for the missionaries heading for the interior parts of the Brazil Salvador Mission, which meant long, long, long..... long bus rides. So we stuck
around for some time, and Mission President told us to meet at the Iguatemi Mall, which was relatively close by. We showed up there, had some dinner with President and Sister Lisonbee at a decent buffet-style restaurant, and had some Açaí frozen yogurt for dessert, which was really awesome. During our dinner talks and stuff, we found out that apparently they´ve put a hold on American visas entering into Brazil. So we won´t be getting any american missionaries for the time
being. Have you guys heard anything on that at all?

Starting from the end of the presentation until the bus ride, I made friends with an Elder Gish from Utah, who has roughly 1-2 less tranfers than I do. It just so happened that he got transferred to a
town called ´´Juazeiro´´ which is a stone´s throw from Petrolina, AND that he served in the exact same area as I did. So throughout that whole night, he made sure to give me the rundown on my area, telling me about how it is and such. Pretty swell guy, I like him. From the Rodoviária until Juazeiro, it´s roughly a 8-10 hour bus ride, but thank goodness, I slept through the whole thing. The bus was actually pretty nice with AC and everything, I slept like a baby. There were several other missionaries on the bus with us as well. So we arrived at a bus station in Juazeiro and waited for some members who were kind enough to wake up and come and give us a ride. After some time, a
member named ´´Everton´´ came along with my companion to come pick me up and my suitcase. We arrived at our little pink-and-green house (it used to be a Sister´s house, so it´s reasonably bigger and better than our hobo hut in 7 de abril), and I unloaded everything and made myself at home. The house itself is big enough to house 4 elders and previously it did, but they closed an area here for now so it´s just me and my companion. Élder Macalupú is his name. He´s from Peru, 19 years old as well, He doesn´t speak English so this gives me the chance to improve Portuguese. So far, not too many problems with that. I speak well and understand just enough to understand him, so it´s
been going pretty well. He´s complimented me a few times on my ability to speak. He´s our District Leader as well, but our District only has us and 4 other Sisters. As for now, I´m more than a little ashamed to admit that I don´t have a picture of us yet but I´m sure after today, I´ll at least have one. I do have pictures of the house and a view of the city of Petrolina as well.

So that´s about it for the week. I´ll share a few details that I´ve noticed here and there or any little stories that I thought were worth sharing:

So, like I already mentioned, our house is pretty nice. It doesn´t have gas for now but it has pretty much everything else. It´s also basically infested with mosquitos in almost every dark recess in the house, including our room, and spiders in the corners and bathrooms of our house. The first night, I woke up with my feet itching up a storm and it was rather difficult to go back to sleep. My first thought was that I contracted some type of foot fungus based on how bad my feet were itching, but it turned out the tops of my feet, my knees, and my arms were laced with mosquito bites. Very, very tiny ones, but all the tiny bites are pushing triple digit numbers in total. I counted. We went and bought an interesting type of mosquito repellant which is basically a cinnamon roll-looking thing that you light the tip on fire and it burns throughout the night that basically lets out a smoke that they don´t like. The first morning, I also killed as many as I could find in an act of vengeance. So yeah, that was fun.

The heat has been a little intense lately as well. Now, I literally take an umbrella to block out the sun, a water bottle to occasionally wet my arms, face, and neck, and a hand towel to dry up the water. I´ve also been making sure to drink loads of water and put on sunscreen as well so there´s no need to worry about anything happening :)

In comparison to 7 de Abril, Petrolina Oeste is a LOT quieter and basically flat, unlike 7 de Abril which had inclines where we almost ALMOST needed rock climbing gear to scale the road. Petrolina is also located in a different state of Brazil. Pretty neat, huh? :) It´s also a bit more organized and such. we have a pizzaria literally right in front of our house which is pretty cheap (haven´t tried it yet) and literally right next door a market. Because there´s only one companionship, the area is huge with LOTS of walking. I come back each night beat. Usually right around 6:30 and 7PM, I´m so tired that it becomes extremely difficult to focus on people talking and trying to understand what people are saying. All in all, Petrolina is pretty sweet. Besides car and motorcycles, it´s a very common site to see people travelling by cart being pulled by a small horse or a donkey. It´s a pretty funny site to see sometimes. I´ll try and snap a photo of it sometime if I can. I´m trying not to bring too many valuables with me because from what my companion said, the area isn´t exactly very safe.

Some details about the locals, there´s a lot more people with fairer skin here too. In 7 de Abril, it was pretty rare to see someone of my color but in Petro, it´s pretty common now. For some reason, Elder Macalupú and I still attract a lot of looks. We passed a little school one time, and they said that I was German and that he was African (even though he doesn´t look African at all.) That´s also something that I´ve noticed as well. 7 de Abril and here, almost everyone thinks I´m German. One time we passed a kid whose eyes got all big when he saw us, and he said all happy, ´´What is your name?´´ to me and I responded to him in Portuguese that I didn´t understand what he said, hahaha. Then I replied to him ´´What is your name?´´ in English and he didn´t understand.  One joker, like 15 years old, passed us on a bike and yelled out, ´´Fale Portuguese!´´. I don´t know if he thought we were speaking Spanish, but as he passed I told him that´s what we were speaking.
The members of the church seem nice too. The chapel and the number of members is substantially bigger than that of 7 de Abril, where we had sacrament meetings in a huge rented building. I don´t know everyone yet, so it´s been fun having to introduce myself to the people. The youth and the kids seem to get a kick out of me. We grabbed a bus that the church pays for that passes the area to pick up the members and A girl of like 6-7 years thought I looked like Superman because of my slicked-back hair and thick glasses. She wanted me to fly above the clouds. It was pretty funny. I still hear a lot about me looking like Harry Potter as well.

The language has been super wishy-washy lately. One day I understood almost EVERYTHING that everyone said and then night time came around, and the very next day too where I didn´t understand jack. I´m not letting it get to my head though. Almost daily, I hear members compliment my speaking after only having 6 months in the country and hearing them relating stories about how they´d suck speaking English in the States with the exact same time as me.

I suppose that´s all the things I can remember this week. I sure hope I managed to include everything I wanted too. Because the computer is slower, I have to manually ´´Save Draft´´ and one time I hit Save Draft, but the session expired and I lost some time. As for P-day, we just plan on doing some sightseeing and what not in the center of the city, maybe grab some lunch and get some money from the bank. Should be good:)

If you want to see roughly what our area looks like, just type in areas west of Petrolina, like ´´João de Deus´´ and stuff like that. I´ll try and see if Macalupú knows the address next week. The address
of our church is

Av Clementino Coelho,1480 Bl 04-Apt 404, Palhinhas, Loteamento Caminho
do Sol, Petrolina, Pernambuco

but it´s not showing up on maps. Don´t know why. Anyway, That´s all
for this week. Love you guys! :)

-Elder Skinner

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