Monday, July 13, 2015

Spending Time with João

Carta Semanal:

So Tuesday morning, we had our weekly planning session, which also means companionship inventory. During the week, I was feeling a little frustrated with our companionship and at the time was ready to bear some of things that have been bothering me to him. I always start off our inventory by first asking how my companion is feeling lately, and the first thing he told me was that he was feeling pretty sucky lately. Elder Ramirez is doing well now, but at the time, he was passing through some homesickness that left him a little disturbed. After talking through it a little, I managed to help him feel a little better. A part of me feels grateful for passing through some similar feelings so that I could help him out a little. Another thing I learned through the experience is that whenever you feel angry or frustrated about somebody, it´s pretty much always a misunderstanding. After realizing that he was feeling sad, I had much more compassion on him instead of wanting to just rip him a new one and tell him what he was doing wrong (because in reality, a lot of problems are my fault as well). So we went through that and we each respectfully told each other how we were feeling, and it´s a lot more relaxing and constructive to explain how we were feeling and admitting that perhaps we were seeing things wrong than to just feel angry and insulting your companion´s weaknesses. Anyway, what I´m really getting to is that in the middle of helping Elder Ramirez feel better, we got a call from our Zone Leaders with good news. We got two more Elders in our house and I would still be District Leader for this transfer. If you guys could´ve seen my face after hearing the news, you would´ve sworn it was Christmas in July. I was elated. So that day, we prepped up the house and divided some house for their arrival. That day, there was also a misunderstanding on the calendar for lunch, so Elder Ramirez and I decided that we would buy some food in the market next door and make an attempt at making tacos to cheer up Elder Ramirez some more. They don´t hold a candle to real mexican food, but regardless, having something we don´t normally eat was pretty darn awesome. 

Last Pday, we also spent passing time with João in his house. At the market, we grabbed some snacks and stuff and went to his house to pass time together. I know it made his day because nowadays he´s working at some place that works metal, so when he came home that day tired and hungry, he sure seemed happy to relax a little, talk with us, and snack. It sure made my day as well. I love spending time with João. 

Alright, so on to our new buddies:

Elder Ramirez, Elder Cerna (Lima, Peru)(1 year and 5), Eu, Elder Santana (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil)(7 months)

We took this picture before leaving our house today. They´re some pretty good guys and we manage to joke and laugh a bunch here and there. We´ve already sat around at night playing ´´Uno´´ a little bit and just messing around. The only thing that kind of sucks is that it´s hard to understand their Portuguese, at least for me, so I´ve been having to ask them to repeat themselves quite a lot lately. I´ve been getting a little bit discouraged here and there with the language. Sometimes I still want to know why it is that the Lord is still letting me struggle with understanding people when I can say pretty much whatever I want in Portuguese. It isn´t too bad though because there are certainly things that people used to say that I never would´ve been able to understand. The other day when I was calling the Sisters to follow up how their week went and stuff like that, I was talking with Sister Melo, who´s been practicing English and speaks really well. The other Sisters were listening to our conversation and they said it sounded like 2 Brazilians practicing because my rate of speaking has decreased dramatically. I can speak normally small sentences and the like, but when I need to tell a story or try to explain things, I have to stop and think which word I should use. I´ve gotten so used to speaking Portuguese without having to think about words that my choice of words/speaking rate in English has suffered plenty. 

Elder Cerna and Elder Santana are some pretty cool guys and I´ve already learned a few things from them. We did two companionship exchanges to help them learn their part of the area, where the members live, and stuff like that. they learn pretty fast. But anyway, when I was with Elder Santana, we did a street contact with an older lady who had some very interesting things to tell to us. From what I remember, she was some evangelical lady who just wanted to Bible bash with us, saying all sorts of things that just don´t even make sense. She told us that the Bible says that Adam and Eve didn´t marry and stuff like that. It made me kind of angry and I almost decided to respond a few things myself about how the Bible does say things like that. Then out of nowhere, Elder Santana asks, ´´Oh, excuse me, ma´am. Do you have your Bible?´´ to which the lady responds half excited, half angry, saying ´´Yeah! Do you want me to get it? I can get it right now!´´ and Elder Santana responds, ´´No. What we want you to do is read the Bible tonight and ask God if Adam and Eve really did marry in the spirit of prayer´´. It kind of opened my eyes a little bit. Like sure, I already knew that Bible bashing was useless but in reality as missionaries, we aren´t here to waste our time trying to convince people when God can do that for us. So we left that street contact, and tried to wish her a good night and shake her hand to which she tried to punch Elder Santana´s hand, but missed. As we turned and left, her and her husband were laughing at us, but it didn´t really bother me much. If anything it just made me sad to see a lack of understanding when all we want is for them to receive these answers from God.Elder Cerna is a pretty cool guy as well. in Peru, he learned how to speak British English. I didn´t know they taught certain types of English, but anyway, apparently he speaks. I don´t know how well because I never really tried speaking English with him, but he says he understands everything so that´s pretty neat. I´m sure I´ll have more stories about them next week, but something kind of funny that happened. We were sitting down studying and we had a knock at our door. I was the only one to stand up and see. The son of our Ward mission leader knocked on our door to inform us that a lady in the ward wanted to feed us that day but the day before, a different lady gave us money for that same day. So I shut the front gate, and as soon as I entered, both of them started chanting, ´´Pizza! Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!´´, implying that we would spend the money that was given to us for pizza later that night. We still haven´t done that yet, but tonight we plan on getting some pizza from the pizzaria in the front of our house. 

I don´t know if you guys remember our investigator named ´´Edson´´, but he´s pretty much our best investigator who has potential to progress. He´s already gone to church, accepted a baptismal date, and has committed to some of the things we´ve invited him to obey. His problem is smoking, which he´s done since 10 years old and now has 23 or so years. Anyway, we showed up yesterday morning in his new house, and he started to give excuses as to not going to church. He said he was tired, that his clothes were dirty, and that he had chores to do. After trying to convince him that nobody would mind his dirty appearance and that everyone would be happy just to have his presence there, he still didn´t want to go. The way he said these things, though, made it clear to me that those excuses weren´t the actual reason he didn´t want to go. So at church that day, we didn´t have any investigators, which made me rather disappointed and now I´m starting to question whether he will actually continue to progress or not. 

I suppose that´s really it for this week. Nothing really good or really bad and it passed by pretty fast as always. These days I´m starting to realize that we don´t have enough time in the day to really work. We spend so much time walking around, knocking on doors that never get answered, and moving between neighborhoods and don´t manage to teach very many people. Usually what happens is that we enter into peoples´ houses, teach them, they appear to like it, we mark to return another day and show up and nobody answers the door. Needless to say, it´s been a little discouraging at times and sometimes leaving lunch into the sun to start working is VERY hard to want to do. But I won´t give up despite all of these problems. They´ll get better. 

Today, we plan on going to the Centro to spend some time, take pictures, and hang out with our new elders. We´ve talked with the Sisters about meeting up too, because they have a new Sister, Sister L. Ferreira who´s new here, so we might get together. Also, there´s a place there that sells everything you need to prepare a type of tea here called ´´Chimirrão´´. You guys should look it up. Elder Pavlovsky has it and I´ve tried it and liked it. (you guys can erase this part if you want from the blog but can still send this part to family. Karli, Maddy, and Tommy: Chimirrão does NOT look like a drug. ok? The only reason I say so is because some of you still think that Bob Dylan shirt I have with him and a microphone and harmonica looks like him smoking a bong. When I return home with my chimirrão and you guys call it a bong or that I´m smoking weed, I will destroy you guys. understood? Hahaha!)

Love all of you guys that have been supporting me until now. Makes being out here a lot more enjoyable. :)


-Elder Skinner

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