Well, as many of you may know, this week marks (almost) a week in the mission field. I’m still not quite sure what that means yet. But I suppose I can tell you what I’ve been doing this first week and that will give you an idea.
The first day I landed in Recife, I went to the mission president’s house for lunch. The food was amazing and the apartment was beautiful. The president’s wife was sweet and welcoming, and the president himself was stern and a little bit on the quiet side. Everybody says he’s really a nice guy, but his English is such that every statement he makes comes off clearly and bluntly. Almost like a drill sergeant, but with more spirit and less cussing—a quiet, stern, fatherly sort of drill sergeant. Let’s just say, I’m glad I don’t know any Brazilian slang, as I don’t think it would be appreciated. After lunch, we had interviews with the mission president, President Lanius. The interview was straightforward. As one could imagine, there were not any congratulatory remarks for making the choice to serve full-time as a missionary or questions about the weather, the plane ride, or Brazil in general. I kind of like that. President Lanius demands the respect of the missionaries. My last branch president in the MTC, President Barreto, said something along the lines of, “It’s better to be trusted than to be loved”. That may sound awfully Russian for a Brazilian, but I suppose you could soften it by saying, “It’s better to be trusted and loving than untrusted and loved,” or something. There’s truth in there in some form or another. A false binary, really. It is what it is.
I met my new companion, Elder J. Vargas. He’s an amicable Brazilian of 21 years, the only member of his family with the exception of his grandmother, and he’s really good at communicating with our investigators and members. Time ticks on a different clock in Recife. The rhythm here is less Beethoven’s 5th and more Debussy’s Claire de Lune. The first day I arrived, my companion and I spent 4 hours studying in the morning, 3 hours at a member’s house for lunch, and 6 hours at another member’s house “asking for references”. I was more than a little surprised and a bit peeved. I brought up the issue with my companion, and he informed me of the time difference. He explained that members and investigators get offended when missionaries don’t stay and talk after lunch or after a lesson. But he did promise to try and be more prompt and so far the rest of this week has been good on that front, though our work is almost entirely with less-active members and non-members. We had one fun day of service hauling roof tiling from one part of the village to the other for a man married to a less-active woman. I love the people here and I love our members. I have a lot more to say, but only limited time.
I love you all dearly.