This week was just about the same in all aspects. I really liked reading those little updates. I don’t have time to read all my friend's emails so if you can continue and do that for missionaries each week, just some highlights, that would be awesome! It sounds like everyone is having just good experiences and growing so much. I hope one day to be able to have a similar affect and experiences with the people here, and really get to know them, but right now I´m just always clueless as to what the heck is going on.
We had lunch yesterday with the bishop and his wife, who are really nice and supportive, and keep telling me in 3 months I´ll be fluent. I hate those expectations because I just dread setting myself up for failure. I am afraid the language is ALWAYS going to be a struggle for me here. This week if anything it felt like I digressed. Bishop had me bare my testimony again and it went even worse than the first time. I couldn’t think of the words I needed, my brain went blank, it was terrible. Then He said to be prepared for a talk in November. That’s gonna suck :(
|FYI: Elder Sork is one of those people that could NOT have any food touching each other on his plate.|
If for whatever reason you ever get a package down here, two things I REALLY want are resistance bands and a jump rope for some good exercise with the 30 minutes I’m given. Without stuff like that there’s not much variety that I can do. Also, I am uploading pictures today; you will see a brown leather scripture case, the one I bought. I need an extender for the zipper, I had a makeshift red one on it, but I was wondering if McKenna could make something artsy/nifty that would work to attach to the zipper, otherwise when I unzip the case all the way the zipper gets shoved way back and lost.
From what I hear, I will be getting letters from the mission home on the 26th. I got the letter from you and Austin/Dani the last day in the CTM, but so far that is the only thing. I CAN print, but just use good judgement on what you tell me to print because it costs money and I am sure it will get complicated as everything seems to here in Brazil. (I'm not worried about printing costs so send me your emails and I will put them into one doc so he can just print once and get all his notes from home.) Also make sure you have the correct mission home address, like triple check, I don’t have it with me right now but that would calm my fears of my mail getting lost that way. I am definitely looking forward to getting mail.
Hearing about Grandma today was really, really tough. I don’t know if she has tried sending letters, but let her and ALL family know I don’t get mail often so not to feel bad if I’m not responding or anything, let them know email is a lot better if they really need to talk to me. I will definitely be praying for her. That was a blow today, but thank you for sharing.
Okay, now from my list of experiences this week. This week was tough in many, many ways, but during the week I carry around a paper and write down thoughts/experiences unique that happened that I can email about so I´ll go through that:
1. There are TONS of motorcycles here and not many cars. All the cars I have seen are stick shift. It makes me want to learn to drive a stick and also get a motorcycle when I get home... But I know that would never fly with you! I’m just day dreaming :) A member drove us to the chapel for a meeting this week and, oh my gosh, if dad’s driving is bad, this is terrible. Cobblestone roads, lots of speed bumps, stick shift, plus the crazy driving of Brazil, got me SO SICK.
2. There are also SO many stray dogs! It sounds a lot like Texas with Austin but instead of people shooting the strays, the dogs just die from starvation all over. It’s really sad. I see so many sad puppies and sick dogs all day :( I miss Pippin! Give him loves (and the rest of the family).
3. They don’t refrigerate the fruit here. I eat bananas and it is exactly like the microwaved mashed bananas I used to feed Spike (Our box turtle from Louisiana). They’re pretty hard to get down! Also, I discovered the first thing I do not like – Papaya; especially warm, mushy, gross papaya. UGGGHHH it’s gross. But my tummy is doing REALLY well so far (I am going to chalk that up the regiment of vitamins and probiotics that I told him to start taking a week before he left for his mission and then stocked him up with.) That has certainly been a blessing.
4. We always have lunch with members, often dinner as well. Every morning my breakfast is two buttered pieces of bread with a slice of some kind of meat. I am not sure what it is, kind of like bologna/sausage stuff, I actually really like it.
5. This week one thing that really, really was a bummer was a recent convert named Wellyda (she was baptized by Elder Galdino) had some big problems. Apparently for the first few weeks she was a perfect investigator and gaining a super strong testimony, but this week we came across her really drunk and with a guy. Now she isn’t going to church. We had spent a lot of time with her and she had been a practice contact for me. Now we´re cutting ties because she doesn’t have a desire for the gospel anymore. That is really sad but also so, so common here. All the people here seem to have been baptized already if they’re eligible, but then don’t continue in the faith.
6. I HAD MY FIRST BAPTISM THIS WEEK! His name is Diego Da Silva Fernandez and he is 10 years old. It was really cool to perform the ordinance. I am so sad though because the line that reeled him in was Elder Galdinos, “We will buy cake and Coca-Cola for you after the baptism.” He uses this line with every kid, so we get a bunch of kids who want to be baptized, but no real investigators and it just makes the work feel useless. Then I start thinking about if we do find a real investigator, I am not going to be able to get to know them well or effectively teach them because I can’t speak the language and it is even more disheartening. I am still searching for my testimony, faith, and purpose out here.
7. I don’t know if I already said this but tone deafness is like an epidemic out here. My companion is SO BAD but loves to sing. It is so hard not to either cringe, or just laugh, depending on the mood I’m in, when we sing. He insists on singing hymns a lot in our house. What I would not give to hear McKenna’s beautiful, sweet voice!! I miss her a lot, A LOT, Mom. Please give her love for me.
8. Saturday nights we play soccer as a ward with a lot of the youth. I wore my Timbers jersey from Tanner, they were all intrigued. I wasn’t the best player out there. There are a lot of really good Brazilians, but I am certainly not the worst! All those years of soccer practice paid off. I had a few goals, and the Brazilians here definitely have a little more respect for me now! It was good, and I was able to connect through soccer if not the language. It was fun to play, but I am SORE! It’s been a long time since I have run around like that!
9. I have got my first few blisters of missionary work, with many, many, many more to come. My socks are good sometimes, but others I find myself wishing I had some black Nike socks like Austin did, just for a change in material. My feet get so sweaty they often end up slipping around in my socks inside the shoes because of the material. But its not terrible, definitely better than normal Sunday socks would be!
10. It is REALLY heating up. In the middle of the day we go back inside after almoço (that means lunch in Portuguese – so he must be getting some of it ;) because everyone takes naps and everything shuts down, but - even before and after this time it is getting roasty! This area is the cooler part of my mission. Yikes! I sweat SO MUCH but am already getting to the point of just not caring. There is not much I can do about it.
11. I miss family the most by far out here on the mission, but this week I heard some English music. Tons of Brazilians listen to it and, oh my gosh, I miss music a LOT more than I was even expecting I would. I didn’t realize how big a part of me it was, even just being able to listen to it. On preparation days (p-days) I take some time to play hymns in the chapel but I have such a craving for all types of music I am no longer able to listen to. I will definitely enjoy having that back when I get home.
A quick spiritual thought before I go: One conference talk I enjoyed was by Jean B Bingham about how to find joy. This conference was the first one I went into with questions. One specific question I had was how to feel closer and develop a more personal relationship with Christ, how he is not just this being I read about, but truly my savior, someone who understands me. One good line that caught my attention first was that Christ doesn’t care as much about our comfort as he does our progress. This made me laugh a little inside thinking about this ridiculousness that I’m in Brazil and don’t speak Portuguese! But then one thing she said was the best way to get closer to Him is to study Him. Because of this talk I have started reading Jesus the Christ from the special edition Jason gave me. I was waiting until later in my mission, but it’s been really good for learning about Jesus and being able to personalize more his life and existence and purpose for ME. Please let Jason know I am really grateful for the book and I will be rereading and studying more in depth throughout my mission. Right now just reading through it, I am about halfway done, but I have really enjoyed studying his life, and encourage others if they find themselves lacking in their feelings of a personal relationship with Christ, to study more in depth his mission and life before, during and after his ministry on earth. I still have so much room to grow. My faith is so weak in this area because I still struggle to have those personal feelings of Christ in my life, but I know this study will help.
Thales, the guy who speaks English, suggested one way to study Portuguese is to listen to General Conference audio in Portuguese while also reading along the talks in Portuguese. Not sure if it’s doable or if it would even be helpful, but if it isn’t too much trouble I was thinking maybe you could try and send a SanDisk card with the Portuguese audio of the talks from conference in a letter or something, along with some printed talks? I don’t know how hard that would be or even if it’s worth doing, but it’s just a thought.
I have uploaded pictures to the drive. It’s hard to get pictures because I can’t walk around with my camera - I don’t even walk around with my bag. My companion suggested against it because it makes me look more like a target. There are a few pictures of my apartment, so you can feel like you have had the tour.
|Kitchen, Laundry Room and Storage Closet all in One|
|The shower that contains a toilet that you can't flush toilet paper down, and the sink.|
This week I am going to try and get a picture with a family recently reactivated in the ward, Willian and Harynne with their children Guillarme and Maité. They are a super sweet family and so nice. Guillarme is really attached to me and Elder Galdino already. Last night he was telling me he’s really gonna miss me when I have to leave. I don’t know how because I don’t speak his language really, but he likes listening to names of super heroes in English. They were my first meal in the field, my first night in Campina Grande and have fed us a lot. They are super nice and encouraging. I am also gonna try and get a picture with a lady named Meny, she isn’t a member but really likes the missionaries, and making fun of my Portuguese. But she’s super nice (a little crazy, definitely a fire cracker). Before I leave I want to try and re-invite her to church and give her some lessons, but in the past missionaries were unsuccessful. She looked me up on Facebook and looked at all you guys and said I had a beautiful family. She always has fresh juice, and oftentimes cake at hand. She likes to joke around with us. She’s kinda like a crazy, but still cool, Grandma.
I can’t think of anything else right now. My companion really loves his computer time! I think he is ready to go. I love you, Mom.
Love, Elder Sork