Monday, June 1, 2015

Behold! Our District!

Carta semanal:

I´ll start off with the good stuff first that I´m sure everyone is curious to know. Behold! Our District! :P

(Behind is me and Elder Ramírez. In front: Sister Estanislado (Peru), Sister Amorim (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Sister Melonakos (North Carolina), and Sister Melo (Campinas, Brasil).

So to explain a little, I said goodbye to Elder Macalupú Monday night. We grabbed a little Pizza on me and waited for a member of the church to come and grab us. Not too many emotions but I made sure to thank him for being a great companion and had him write a few things in my journal as well. We showed up at the Juazeiro Bus Station and stayed with Elder Pasqualini for the night and for all of Tuesday as well. Tuesday evening as we were walking, the Secretaries in Salvador called us to inform us of who to expect as our companions early Wednesday morning. As Elder Pasqualini ended the call, I was informed that I would be receiving an ´´Elder Ramírez´´. Just a little about him, he´s from Mexico City, Mexico. He has 5 months on the mission, is 25 years old, has only 1 older brother, and his family´s all members too. He also did a few years of Medical school before coming Not going to lie, I asked him if he cooks well, but he doesn´t know how to cook anything, besides simple things (MUCH to my disappointment, realizing that my dreams of eating an authentic Chimichanga on the mission were for naught.) He´s a pretty swell guy. He´s a little quiet and shy and has a few more difficulties with the language than I do, so sometimes when we´re teaching, if I´m lost in what someone is saying, there´s a 99.9% chance he´s lost as well. It goes without saying that understanding people will be a challenge with the time that we will spend together as companions. But yeah, that also means that I´m the new District Leader/Senior Companion as well, which is SUPER weird to have to be so early. We met together in this photo and had a District meeting real quick, which ended pretty well. We decided to make a little calendar of who is assigned to bring treats on the District meetings which we hold every Friday. So far, I love being District Leader of these Sisters. They´re pretty awesome :)

The works been going well. I´m not going to lie, we don´t have very many people to teach, so we´ve  been working a LOT with street contacting and working with the Area Book. For those that don´t know what an Area Book is, it´s basically a massive book of teaching records of people that have been taught by other missionaries in the past or are continuing to be taught by the current missionaries. So, we´ve been grabbing names and working with specific names each day to see who´s still accepting the gospel and to see who already waxed cold. All until now have fallen through and so we´ve been doing lots of contacting, working with members, and LOTS of less actives. To put things into perspective, the neighborhoods in my area I have 110% certainty that they were organized by chimpanzees. We work in one large region in particular called ´´João de Deus´´, and almost ALL the names of the streets are numbers (Rua 23, Rua 53, Rua 12, and so forth). BUT THEY´RE NOT IN NUMERICAL ORDER. It´s exactly like I listed. You´ll be walking in Street no. 53, the next one is 54, after that is 55, and beyond that is road number 13. Oh, but it gets worse. The numbers of the houses on those roads go roughly like this: 13, 15, 4, 1005, and so forth. Not kidding. We spend more time finding roads and houses than we do talking with people, it´s sad. Sometimes we ask people that have been living on that neighborhood all their lives where a certain house is located and even they don´t know. But it´s been a good way to do street contacts as well. We ask a lot of people around and manage to share our beliefs, explain our message, and ask to return if the occasion permits. 

I have found something interesting about the language though. Usually until now, I´ve let my Senior Companion talk to pretty much everyone and lead conversations while I sit back and half daydream. But now that Elder Ramirez is here, I´ve had to take the responsibility of doing such and I´ve found that I´ve known more Portuguese than I thought I knew. Granted, it´s not perfect but I can almost always make out what it is that people are saying and my responses/answers are always understood. It makes me laugh how my abilities are flip-flopped compared to other american missionaries. Everybody I´ve met has always understood me and a few people this past week have asked me how it was that I´ve lost my American accent and how it is that I talk so well.

An interesting little story. A few days ago, we were walking in a region called ´´Nova Vida´´, which is on the outskirts of ´´João de Deus´´ to try and contact some people in the Area Book. As we were walking, I was talking with Elder Ramírez and we passed by a member´s house who we visited quite often with Elder Macalupú. Her name is Valeria and she is roughly in her late 20´s, early 30´s more or less. She stepped out as we passed and called us, yelling ´´Elders! Come here for a moment, please.´´ As soon as we entered, she started to explain that she heard my voice as we passed by and was happy because she was in some pain and wanted a priesthood blessing from us.She explained that she was feeling that way since the day before but didn´t want to call us to ´´bother us´´, which made me feel rather sad that she didn´t want a blessing sooner just for the sake of ´´bothering´´ us. Elder Ramírez gave the annointing of oil and I did the blessing. Afterward, she was super nice and ordered a pizza while we were there and we all ate together. Valeria is a super nice lady. She served a mission in Manaus in 2000 something, which is located near the Amazônias or so. Yesterday, we also passed by to see if she needed the sacrament because she´s unable to go to church, and she happily accepted us. That day, I was feeling rather discouraged due to another day of street contacting/looking for addresses that appeared to me as though we reaped no real fruits that day. We talked a little, and she shared some mission experiences she had had and same some words of comfort to me as well. Her story as a convert is pretty neat. One day, she was waiting for the mail to come, and two missionaries knocked at her door. When she asked who was there from the other side of the door, the Elders responded, ´´Correio! (mail)´´. When she opened the door, she was kind of taken aback and asked, ´´What the? The mailmen come in pairs now?´´ to which the missionaries laughed a little and explained that they were representatives of Jesus Christ with a message. Only a couple weeks later, she was baptized. She talked with me a little bit, and made a little joke that there are people here waiting for the mail too that we need to find.

I won´t lie, it has been trying my patience a little to have to walk, walk, walk every day, talk with people, and have no apparent results. But I have faith that things will get better. Who knows if the Area book has some people like Valeria. 

I suppose that´s my week. Oh, and Happy 8 months! Yay! :) I´ve been getting more and more eager awaiting my year mark. It isn´t too far at all :)
Love you guys and thanks for reading until now!

-Elder Skinner

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