Thursday, March 1, 2012

First Few Weeks in the Field

Elder Blackford is off in his first area! He is basically in the ghetto of São Paulo, in an area called Jardim Lucélia. His companion is Elder Crandall, who is American and from Redmond, Washington! Our family actually was able to get in contact with his family and my dad talked to Elder Crandall’s dad for a little while. It was way cool! (I’ll post a link to Elder Crandall’s blog at the bottom of this post—be sure to check out his video of their apartment!!) Elder Blackford had some computer trouble and we missed a week of emails and I was a week behind, so here’s the update on his first three weeks out of the MTC:

First, here is his description of his first day out:

Day 1, after orientation and all that at the mission office, its grab your bags and go! I took a bus ride (standard, fear for your life as you think you going to crash every 5 seconds) then it was a train ride where it’s "Oh your full? I bet we got room for 10 more!" and you just get crammed to the point there’s 6 people touching you on every side and your squished so when the train hits the breaks you don’t fall because there’s so many people no one moves. Then after an hour or so of that, it was run through the pouring rain for a half a mile, getting my suit and suitcases soaked, to get on another bus, and then to our house. When we got there it was like “Oh wait, we got a new house?” So then we packed up Elder Crandall’s stuff, and off to a new house, which luckily had 2 light bulbs and running water and mattresses. By then it was almost midnight.

Elder Blackford said that Day 2 out of the MTC he was off meeting tons of people and was thrown into everything. The rest of it blurs together for him, but he is already meeting tons of people and is enthusiastic about it too. Here are a couple of the people he’s met:

Vaughner - The ward mission leader. He is an RM and has been back 6 months, so he is still pumped about mission work and has gone teaching with us a bit. He is also the gospel principles teacher and he loves making fun of me. When I don’t understand talks loudly and stupidly in English (all missionaries learn English here in Brazil, when Americans have 1 hour to study Portuguese, Brazilians have an hour to study English) and he knows a good bit.

Ariella - An investigator who is going through a lot of struggles and decided she needs church in her life. Yesterday I challenged her to baptism, and she said she will prepare. So let’s hope we can get her ready! She’s about 20, has a kid, lives on her own, smokes and yeah, but we can do it.

Elder Blackford also told us that they sang “There is Sunshine in My Soul” at the last MTC fireside he went to AND in church, so that it must be a sign he clearly is doing what he is supposed to be doing. (For those people in the Maple Grove ward or probably anyone who knows my brother knows he is completely obsessed with that hymn.) His other reasoning behind knowing he’s where he’s supposed to be is because sometimes things just work out for him. He tells us of one experience like that. “We also watched the first vision video with some investigators. They didn’t have a DVD remote, and their DVD player is super simple, so it didn’t have arrows. So by a miracle the default setting on the video were, Japanese, with Portuguese subtitles. So there you go.”

My mom sent Elder Blackford a little Q&A and I thought I would pick out a few of the best questions:

Mom: Do you cook meals or do members feed you more often than not?

Elder Blackford: There is only 1 "meal" in Brazil, almoço (lunch) and we get fed every day except pday. And it’s always freakin’ good. Every house you enter gives you water or juice or something, and members always make you eat a little desert or whatever, so we generally eat a small meal before bed—eggs, grilled cheese or pizza. But so far I’m loving the food.

Mom: How do you like your companion – Elder Crandall?

Elder Blackford: Love him! We are very much alike. We get along super well, and we’re doing super swell with working and being focus from 8am to 10pm every day.

Mom: Teaching experiences your first couple of weeks?

Elder Blackford: Tons tons tons tons tons. We basically started at ground 0. And now we have like 6 people to teach regularly; some already went to church. Elder Crandall said that this last week was possibly his best week ever on the mission as far as new investigators and getting them taught. It has been amazing all of the stories that we have heard from people. People here all really understand the importance of Christ in their life; the hard part is simply trying to speak Portuguese and teaching the first lesson.

Although he is struggling with the language (as all foreign missionaries do at first, getting headaches and such), Elder Blackford still has a positive attitude and is working harder than ever to keep up with the Portuguese. He told us he has talked about every possible subject in Portuguese, including terrorists, flying spaceships, and Justin Beiber. Everyone else enjoys his struggle with the language though. He says,

When ward members try and talk to me and I don’t understand they do one of three things:

-Say it again and then laugh cause I don’t get it.

-Try to say it in English, in which I still don’t get it.

-Continue to say more stuff even faster just to see the look of confusion on my face. day I’ll know what they are saying, and then it’s payback.

Rejection also doesn’t even seem to get Elder Blackford’s spirits down. Somehow this doesn’t really surprise me, considering he always finds a way to look at things from a slightly different perspective than most people. Here is what he says about being rejected:

As far as getting rejected goes we have our motto down. Jesus was the perfect missionary, and he got rejected and even killed. Obviously we are nowhere as good as he was, so obviously we have to get rejected to in order to become a perfect missionary. So our motto is "Let’s go out there and get rejected!"

Only Elder Blackford would be excited about a motto like that.

Elder Blackford did get a little sick at the beginning of this week, but in his last email he said he expected to be feeling better in a couple of days and said not to worry. It is pretty common to get sick when you go somewhere like Brazil, so hopefully it is just due to the change in lifestyle and food. He wasn’t too concerned, and we know the Lord is with him so neither are we.

Here are a couple pictures Elder Blackford was able to send us!!

Here's the link to Elder Crandall's blog!

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