I realize my last email had almost no information about my area. I’m sorry about that, and I promise to fill this email with as much information about all that as possible.
So the area.
I’m in the Jaboatão Literal area, which is next to Jaboatão dos Guararapes (city). My companion and I are serving in the Jardin América ward. Our area is the smallest in the mission. That comes in handy in a lot of ways. Basically, it means that no commitment is more than a 10 minute walk away because our whole area is less than the size of BYU’s campus. Half of our area is in the neighboring bay – not sure how that came about. I’m still waiting to visit our amphibian investigator friends. Either they’re less active or they’ve all moved to different wards. If you’re Google Mapping it (yes, Google Mapping is a verb), you can probably just about pinpoint it by looking for the zip code 54430. That’s near us, but I’m not exactly sure how near. Our south border is Rua Prof. Silvia Rabato, our west border is the bay, our north border is Rua João [. . .] (I’m not sure what the rest of the street name is, but it should be readily recognizable – I think it’s a main thoroughfare for the area) and our east border is Rua Pedrinópolis dos Guararapes. So there ya go. You can see exactly where I work every day. We live a few minutes down the street from the chapel.
The sun here is hot. The sun rises at about 5 am and sets about 5 pm so we have about 4-5 hours in the heat, which really isn’t too bad. I guess the critical bit is that it never really cools down. The sun goes down and it feels like the air gets warmer. It’s the strangest thing…
Our schedule is:
– Wake up at 6:30 am
– Exercise until 7 am
– Shower, put on deodorant, shave, iron shirt (if not yet done already), etc. until 7:30am
– Breakfast from 7:30 – 8:00 am
– Personal Study 8:00 – 9:00 am
– Companionship Study 9:00-11:00 am (2 hours because I’m in training)
– Language Study 11:00 am-12:00 pm
– Lunch 12:00 – 1:00 pm (1:30/2:00 typically because of travel back and forth and because everything starts a good 15-30 minutes late around here)
– Proselyting 2:00 – 8:00 pm
– Dinner 8:00 – 9:00 pm
– Planning 9h00 – 9:30 pm
– Shower, Cleaning, Journal Writing 9:45 – 10:30 pm
– Bed time at 10:30 pm
With, of course, some moderation. The point is, there’s a lot of studying in the morning, which is kind of nice and kind of frustrating at the same time. On the one hand, I love studying and I am not at all where I need to be in terms of mastery of the lessons we teach and (more critically) mastery of the language. On the other hand, we don’t really start work until 1:30 or 2:00. On the third hand, for those of you with special abilities, we do have a solid 6-7 hours of work (sometimes we just push dinner off until around 8:30 or 9:00). So all in all, each day is (or ought to be) full. With fewer and fewer exceptions, that is indeed the case. This last week we had a “blitz” in our area in which several companionships came to our area and made contacts with random people in the street. We were able to sequester a lot of appointments as a result. Although many of them are falling through, it’s nice to have work. Hope as a motivating force is more powerful than rejection as a demotivating force. I guess that’s what keeps us out here for two years.
I taught my very first lesson this last week. It was a reference given to us by a member. We (my companion, the members, and I) met in the house of the investigator and taught about how the restored Gospel can transform families for good. I shared the experience of growing up in the Gospel and seeing the difference in family relationships between our ancestors and our nuclear family now. I think the change is about 180 degrees. She began to cry as the members testified of how the ward, the missionaries, and most importantly Jesus Christ will help her through her trials if only she opens her arms to accept them. The spirit was so powerful. She commented that she thought the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was some sort of cult that performed strange rituals behind the chapel walls. She explained how she would grab her daughter and guide her to other side of the street to avoid walking past the missionaries. Once we explained that we spend three hours in the chapel discussing how to become better people through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that the missionaries are volunteer 19-21 year-old boys away from their mothers in a strange country, and that we were not in her home to convince her of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel, but to invite her to find out for herself through study, meditation, and prayer, she seemed much more accepting – dare I say excited – about our message. She said she would come to church the next day.
She didn’t. But I have hope.
On a more difficult and heavy note, one of our investigators, a mother of four, is struggling with domestic abuse at the hands of a violent and almost constantly drunk husband. She wants to leave and escape, but doesn’t know where or how or what to do with the kids. When we visited her last, she was sitting outside her apartment crying because the husband had made a mess of the house, told her to wait outside, and went to buy more alcohol. It was a surreal experience, sitting there, talking with her—two 21 year-old boys and a mother in a situation like that. I felt helpless in a big way (what are you supposed to say in a situation like that?) But, she called us and her children into her house and we left a prayer in her home. She seemed much more at peace afterwards. She shook each of our hands with both of hers, whispered “God Bless You”, and told us to leave as quickly as possible (so that her husband wouldn’t be even more angry with her for entering the house).
Work here is a little different than the web development I was doing before.
I like ’em both, but I’m sure glad I’m on a mission.
God Bless all of you.
I love you dearly.