Monday, June 29, 2015

São João

Carta semanal:

Alright, so I´m super tired. Today, we had a Zone Pday and we went to a city nearby called Sobredinho. I´m not exactly sure why we decided to visit there, but there was a dam there, and we did a lot of walking and took plenty of pictures. Again, still have no idea why we went to take pictures near a dam, but regardless, I enjoyed myself. It beats sitting in the apartment doing nothing or walking around Petrolina Centro again. I mostly just enjoyed spending time with Elder Konig and Elder Costa e Silva, my buddies here in Petrolina. But yeah, lots of walking and random pictures so you guys should be getting some here in a little bit. 

Last pday was pretty cool. We met with a member in Juazeiro named ´´Washington´´ who actually studied in the US a little bit, and now takes advantage of every opportunity he can to talk with American missionaries in English. He speaks pretty well. So we had lunch there, but in reality it was dinner. We mostly just sat around and hung out with other Elders and Sisters from Juazeiro and also our District, including Elder Gish, Elder Medina, and our district. Out of nowhere, people started grabbing buckets and dunking water and throwing water balloons. It ending up turning into a war of elimination in trying to soak everyone. I managed to stay indoors for some time, and I could´ve been that scumbag, partypooper Elder that wanted to be a wuss and hide and not get wet, but decided that was pretty lame, so I set myself up to get soaked by chilling by the door, they pushed me outside, and the Sisters from my district dunked a bucket of water on me to the cheers of the other missionaries. There were still plenty of other missionaries that were still dry, so once I joined the ranks of wet missionaries, we conspired to nail the others, including my companion. It was pretty fun, not going to lie. I´m still shy when it comes to social things, especially in Portuguese, so that´s something I´m still trying to lose. It´s kind of funny that I can manage to do a street contact with almost no problem as of now, but still feel kind of awkward at get-togethers to just relax. Anyway...

Alright, so I got a funny story from last week that I forgot to share with you guys. Elder Ramirez and I embarked for a day to spend in Pedra Linda, which was a good one hour walk or so. As we were walking, some lady stops us in the middle of the road that I later discovered was drunk after some time talking. Elder Ramirez and I were both with our Books of Mormon in hand, and she stopped us and said, ´´Oi! I want to hear the word of God (A PALAVRA DE DEUS! Remember that phrase? Starting to bother me, not going to lie.)´´ Anyway, she continued on and said that what she wanted was for us both to open our Books to the first scripture and read it to her, one from me and one from Ramirez. By this moment, I still haven´t realized that she was drunk, so I stop her midsentence, and ask if we can enter her house to explain the book that we had. So we enter the house, and lucky us, there were 2 other drunk guys, one of them was pretty old. So we sit down, and after talking for a minute or two, it finally passes my mind that they´re all drunk beyond belief after the woman grabs another bottle of some type of alcohol and pours herself a glass. While we were talking, they were all speaking at a noise level borderline yelling, each one trying to get a sentence in to us, and whenever one cut off the other two, the other two would yell ´´Ahh! Cala sua boca!´´ (Shut up!). I swear, I heard the phrase ´´shut up´´ at least a hundred times in our short little 10 minute visit/scramble to leave. Not that it matters but they asked where we were from and I didn´t want them to think I had a bunch of money or for them to get any ideas, so I lied and said I was from Argentina. Kind of funny I thought. Also, out of nowhere, this women gives me a decent little smartphone that was configured in English and wanted me to reconfigure it to Portuguese and give it to her. But don´t worry though, she assured me at least 3-4 times that she didn´t steal it. She just ´´found´´ it in a tech school. Whatever that´s supposed to mean. Anyway, I tried to lock the phone, but couldn´t figure it out. Anyway, I think the funniest part of the encounter was that after some time of trying to get the heck out of there, we finally resorted to some negotations. they promised we could leave if we shared the ´´palavra´´ with them real quick before leaving. So Elder Ramirez literally opens the book of mormon randomly, and reads the first scripture that he comes across. As he was sifting through the Book of Mormon, these three drunks through their hands over each others´ shoulders in a line with a big ol´ smile on their faces, patiently awaiting to hear the word of God.  Want to know the scripture that he read was? Helaman 10:5, where God is speaking with Nephi:  

And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

The moment that Elder Ramirez finishes reading this scripture that has nothing to do with anything that was happening in the moment, all three of them start speaking in unison things like, ´´amém! amém! Glória a Deus! Jesus!´´. Anyway, that experience gave me a good laugh. It was actually really weird in the moment. We left a Word of Wisdom pamphlet in their house. 

Alright, so here in Brazil, they have a holiday called ´´São João´´ (St. John)  that´s pretty legit. I´m not exactly sure what the whole celebration is even about. I´ve already asked some of the locals, but even they can´t explain it straight. In short, what the festivities usually consist of are massive bonfires out front of everyone´s house, lots of roasted corn, and lots of kids throwing firecrackers that are literally borderline bombs. One kid threw one across the street where we were passing, and i had a ringing in my ear for a couple of seconds. João told me that sometimes, irresponsible kids have lost fingers and toes from these firecrackers. Lots of fireworks as well. So yeah, we stepped outside to visit some people at night, and you would´ve thought the neighborhoods of ´´João de Deus´´ where on fire. Bonfires and smoke everywhere. It was pretty cool though. The church had a ´´são joão´´ fest at the stake center friday, and we brought an investigator with us. LOTS of corn. It´s part of the spirit of são joão here to eat a lot of corn because around this time is when corn is in season. LOTS of Mungunzá (mmmm, REALLY good), corn cakes, and all sorts of things. It´s also a time to eat lots of peanut-based things as well. The perfect combination for me. 

Sunday, I also gave another talk. It ended pretty well but it didn´t last too long. Bishop Ferreira didn´t even inform me, our ward mission leader informed me through a member who went out to work with us one night named ´´Rogério´´ who´s a really good guy. He served a mission in Rio de Janeiro and now goes out with us on a weekly basis. I think he´s the stepfather of the boys that call me ´´vampiro´´. I really love their family though. The other day, we stopped by to give them some cookies that we made, and they had us stay for their quick little family home evening and afterwards gave us a snack of corn cake and let us take home so mungunzá and Nilda, the mother, gave me a little recipe pamphlet of corn that she had for a long time. She said that she knew that I liked corn and gave it to me to fool around with. We initially gave them cookies as a little thank-you for Rogério going out with us, but they ended up spoiling us than we did them hahah. I really love their family though. There´s so many people I love here in Petro. João is also the other one. When we were at the party of são joão, we spent time together too, joking around and such. I don´t know if you guys remember, but on pday mornings, sometimes we put on movies while we eat breakfast, and one of the movies we have is ´´Robots´´, a little cartoon about an inventor that Karli, Maddy, Tommy, and I used to watch and now I´ve memorized some of the parts in Portuguese. João likes the movie too, so we joke a lot with some of the quotes. Anyway, he made a comment, asking if I would one day return to Brazil when I leave. I made the comment that you guys (mom and dad) might come down here one day with me, and he said that he wants to meet you guys. He´s an awesome kid. He goes out with the members now to visit people on sundays, and says he has the desire to serve a mission. 

Earlier this week, we also did a companionship exchange so that I could stay with an Elder Pavlovsky and go to the meeting of District Leaders in Salvador. Nothing remarkable happened that´s worth sharing about the specifics, but it was a really good training and it will help me to be a better missionary for our district. Sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming because I often find myself thinking, ´´is what I´m doing helping to be a good example for Elder Ramirez and for the Sisters?´´. Sometimes, I suppose I judge myself too harshly in an attempt to try and be perfect, but either way, I want to be a District Leader that´s different and one that everyone will remember fondly of. Either way, it was cool to be in Salvador again. It´s raining plenty there, and I also got to see some good buddies there, including the americans from my group, Elder Sterling and Elder Nickerson, and also Elder Gaby and Elder Macalupú. It was really awesome to see them and share stories and chat. For lunch, we also had subway. Did you guys already know that they have Subway here? Can´t remember if I said so or not. Our bus ride back to Petrolina, once again, didn´t leave until 10pm, so we did a quick little division, and visited some people in Pernambués there in Salvador. Alright, so get this: we visited an investigator that has a pet monkey smaller than the size of a fist. Probably the coolest thing I´ve ever seen, and the little guy even walked up my arm. Poor little guy was scared because of all the São João fireworks and such. Unfortunately, I have no photos to prove it, but I solemnly testify that I did indeed hold a tiny monkey. I can now die in peace. 

Anyway, that´s all for this week. Nothing much else to report other than I love you guys a bunch as always. 9 months as of Wednesday! 
Nossa, passa-se rápido mesmo.


-Elder Skinner

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