This week has been interesting on both sides of the spectrum. I´ll start off with the poorer side just to get it off my chest.
Okay, so Brazil has an interesting religious culture. I won´t say everyone persay, but please allow me to explain. The majority of the people here don´t know what it means to think for themselves with regards to the Bible/church/everything.They have a sort of mentality that they just go to any Church that even MENTIONS the word ´´Deus (God)´´ and they think that´s enough. And when they go, they just let the Pastor scream and yell while everyone cries out, ´´Glória a Deus!´´ and ´´Amém!´´ for a good hour or two and apparently that´s what saves souls here. People don´t know what it means to read and think for themselves. Sometimes we teach, and they just want to hear us talk/prayer.
For example, we´re teaching a lady named Maria. It´s very clear that her lifestyle is very humble, her grammar isn´t perfect, and she can´t read. So when we´re explaining pretty much anything to her about Joseph Smith, the Church, the Book of Mormon, she only comprehends 5% of what we say. She is SUPER talkative, just like everybody else in her category is. You ask one question, for example ´´what is faith?´´, and she goes off on a sermon talking about faith for a good 10 seconds or so and then jumping around on topics that don´t have any relevance about what we´ve taught...yet talk about God. After almost every sentence we say, she usually says, ´´Amén, meu filho!´´ or something to that effect, and it´s really grating on my soul. I feel bad more than anything because instead of feeling sorrowful for the people that aren´t accepting us, just treating us like any other church, or have human weaknesses or lack of education, I just end up getting angry and wanting to bash my head in a break wall. All in all, the majority of the people are like this. Sometimes I feel like we´re teaching 2nd graders Quantum Physics or College Calculus.
The other day, we also had what could be considered a miracle or a disaster. Elder Ramirez and I are working a lot in our huge area book to find former investigators and came across a Natália, a member of the Adventist Church of the 7th Day. For those who aren´t familiar with them, their major beef with the Church of Jesus Christ is that we worship on Sunday and not Saturday like it says in ´´the Word´´ (Bible). (Brazilians LOVE to us the phrase ´´a palavra de Deus (the word of God) ´´. Maria had a grandchild babbling on and she told the grandchild to shut up because she was hearing ´´the Word´´ from the ´´Brothers of the Church´´.)
In Brazil, it´s even MORE complicated because the Bible calls the ´´Sabbath´´ as ´´Sábado´´. ´´Sabado´´ is also the word for ´´Saturday´´ in Brazil. as such, they think the Bible says that ´´Saturday´´ is God´s day. Elder Ramirez and I used a variety of scriptures in the Bible that proves that the day was moved to Sunday as part of Christ fulfilling the Law of Moses but apparently that wasn´t good enough. Anyway, we´re expecting a return date here in 2-3 days, and hopefully she doesn´t bring a Pastor to try and debate with us because I´m not returning to do more Bible Bashing. It was a waste of time, not part of the purpose of a missionary, and nobody got anywhere. It´s such a shame because she´s a really nice girl and was super receptive the first visit, so we ended up thinking that perhaps she was already prepared to meet us and stuff like that. We´ll see how things go this week.
This week, my companion and I also did a goal to do 50 street contacts in one day and if we managed to do so, we´d buy a pizza to celebrate. We managed to get our goal but it was more labor than it yielded fruits. The majority of the people tried to walk away from us or just explained that they were already apart of a church. We still left invites with these people, but it was just an empty day to get numbers. We taught a couple of our investigators that day, but afterwards, I made a resolve to never waste a day just to get empty numbers like that ever again.
On the other, better side of the spectrum, I´ve also been loving the members and children here in the ward. That long and tiring day that we did 50 contacts, we returned home and a guy in the ward, named Diogo (pronounced Diego) stopped us to buy us both a burger and some soda to sit down and talk with us. Neither of us were expecting it, but he sat down with us and we explained our day and some of the difficulties we were having. Diogo is a funny dude. He´s about to do 2 years from the day he returned from his mission, so he´s still a college student and stuff like that and we both consider each other like good friends. Not much to say about what he said, just some good pointers and a lot of words of encouragement. He always passes by our house before we go to bed every once in a while. One time he passed by, and had some kind of English homework he received from school or something of the like. It wasn´t really homework persay, more like a challenge, but I helped him with it. I don´t know how a Brazilian would have been able to do it, it had a lot of complicated words and because I´ve been used to Portuguese a lot lately, I had to really sit down and think.
Last night as a matter of fact, we were walking to João´s house to teach him about prophets and particularly to watch ´´on the Lord´s Errand´´ with him when some wacko was outside a home knocking on a windowpane when he stopped us. He started saying, ´´Oh, brothers! There´s a demon in this house! There´s a demon in this house!´´. it was at night and hard to tell but he sounded a little drunk. So I responded, ´´Oh is that right? What do you want us to do?´´ After I said that, Elder Ramirez whispered to me and told me that it´s not a good idea to enter the house. The guy responded, ´´I want you guys to go in and tell it to go out!´´ so we responded, ´´Oh, ok. We´ll come back here soon. We´re busy´´ or something to that effect, which upset the guy and he responded, blabbering ´´Ehhertert.. I think it´s YOU who are the demons!´´. I´ve decided in situations like these, I´m not going to try and expel any demons or anything of the sort unless I feel compelled spiritually to do otherwise. I don´t plan on getting kidnapped anytime soon. As we were walking away, though, Elder Ramirez and I were laughing about the situation.
More sleep talking on my end according to my companion, but nothing in particular. Apparently I said ´´Thank you very much´´ and right afterwards said ´´Muito Obridgado´´ which is the same thing in Portuguese. Elder Ramirez joked around and said one night, he´s going to grab a camcorder and record my sleeptalking to show me, haha! I still get blown away that I sleeptalk when before I´ve never done it before. At least I THINK I never did it before, hahaha.
I´m still loving the members here like I said. The kids are a real hoot here, still calling me ´´vampíro´´ and joking around with them on the bus rides to and fro is a treat. The other day we had lunch at a couple´s house that are super sweet. They both served missions in early 2000 or so, and are starting to struggle to make ends meet around the house. Tordoya and Zeneide are their names. Tordoya is an awesome guy. They were explaining that they thought about giving us something simple or easier to make or even having to cancel on giving us lunch but he explained, holding back tears, that it would be an honor to serve something special for the missionaries and that it would be a blessing for them. They made us a really tasty meal of lasagna, which for Brazilians here is a bigger deal because of how much work goes into it for them. It really touched my heart and made my love for the members and specifically for them grow.
I suppose that´s it for this week. I love you guys, and until next week! Boa semana e um abraço para todo mundo!