Link to Elder Crandall’s blog: http://bcrand.blogspot.com/
Elder Blackford has spent the last couple weeks being as busy as ever! I feel like I’m constantly repeating myself by saying he’s doing great, improving his Portuguese, and loving the cultural experience, but in all honesty every letter and email is filled with how much he loves being in Brazil. He doesn’t care that he’s in the ghetto. He doesn’t mind trying the new food. He loves getting to know the people. He gets along with his companion very well. He loves teaching the gospel. What else is there to say? So here’s a few more Q & A that my mom has sent Elder Blackford the last couple weeks:
Mom: What would you describe the income level of people around there? What are typical occupations?
Elder Blackford: Income level, I would say this area is "typical." You compare it to America; everyone is dirt poor. Because of the way it is, everyone works locally, so you have a lot of everything. Every 7 houses or so is a business. People don’t have yards, just garages, and TONS of people just paint their garage, buy a few things, and tada! It’s a business. Everything, food, haircuts, restaurants, churches, clothes, paper stores, bars, is on every street on every corner, in peoples garages. This is how it works, if you have a car, you’re "rich". And the cost of the car in the US is like a $4000 car, and if you managed to buy one and use it, you’re a rich person. But as far as jobs, everything that standard society needs. Rarely do people work more than 15 minutes walking distance from home.
Mom: Do you know if your area is one of the poorer areas of your mission?
Elder Blackford: It is "normal." I have been all around, and all the homes look the same, for millions of people, it’s all exactly the same look—there is no difference. The more "inner" you are is where it starts to get richer. So since I’m more outskirtish, I guess it’s poorer, but for my mission very few people are inner area, only like probably 1 zone of the 13, so I’m standard poor. No one here is rich really, everyone here is in humble standards, but here to have fun and be happy you don’t need that much money.
Mom: How is your time divided? Is it 3/7ths knocking on doors and 4/7th referrals or what?
Elder Blackford: Our area is tiny, so there’s not to much area to explore. This Sunday is our big da—ward conference—where bishops and ward leaders have everyone pumped to go out and invite the whole world. So we will get a ton of referrals then. But no, we don’t go to new referrals daily. We get a referral, we go, they either accept or decline and that’s that. Here the people either accept us after the first lesson or straight up say no after that. So we spend our time street contacting, making appointments, then going to them the next day, where 99% of the time they aren’t at home, so basically they told us a wrong time because they didn’t want to hear, and its back to making contacts the rest of the hour. Rinse and repeat, every day.
Mom: If you have time, tell us a little more about your daily routine.
6:30 wake up/get ripped for 30 minutes
7:00 shower and eat and dress
8:00 personal study
9:00 companion study
10:00 new missionary study
11:00 language study
But because we ALWAYS have something going on in the morning, I have done the new missionary study stuff maybe 5 times. Whether its appointments, meetings, planning with ward, or whatever, normally it doesn’t happen, as well as language. Lately we just do it at random hours during the day where we don’t have appointments cause I need the study time.
12 almoço! Which is still driving me NUTS!! Three words I’m going to hear for the rest of my mission "Comi mais Elder!" and the reason it’s always me is I eat fast. I have always eaten very fast, and I was trained well by my mother not to play with my food. Well here, everyone plays with their food. It’s take your fork, put food on it, spin it around a few times pick it up, look at it closely, put it down, talk to everyone, get a drink, twirl fork again, decide it’s not a good amount of food, remove food, get new food on fork, rinse and repeat until you have wasted 5 minutes. Then take that bite.
IT KILLS ME! Elder Crandall has adapted, but the issue is we are supposed to be there 1 hour tops, but it’s closer to 1:45 because you can’t leave because no one is done eating, dessert has yet to come, and that’s just rude at that point. Elder Crandall is used to it, but I eat super fast, and because I don’t understand what everyone is saying, I have nothing to say, so I continue to eat.
2:00-9:00 it’s working time.
We really plan to have solid appointments at 3-5 because it’s super hot. 5:30-7:00 is best time for contacting and heat, so that’s when we really like it.
Some of my favorite things to hear from Elder Blackford are what it’s like on the average day—like the schedule he outlined for us. It’s really cool to me for two reasons:
1) I want to serve a mission and think it would be so awesome to go to a foreign country.
2) Our dad served his mission in Mexico, so it’s interesting to see some of the similarities.
I think it is way fun for Elder Blackford also to explain to us what his average day is like. He realizes that for most of us here in America, what his daily life is like is almost unimaginable for us. It has become very clear to us that he really has developed a whole new perspective, especially when it comes to material things.
Of course, what would his emails be without the classic Elder Blackford (and company) stories? At our house, this story has been deemed “The Avocado Story.”
Fun story for the week: Thursday we switched comps with Grajau for the day, so i was with elder smith. At approx. 6:15 we were walking and we passed an avocado tree in our area (I stayed in our area, Elder Crandall left to Grajau so I had to lead Elder Smith around because obviously he doesn’t know the area). He was like “Elder, I have to get some.” I was like aight, but do it fast we got um compromisso in 15 minutes. So he takes off his shoe and starts hucking it at these avocados. After getting like 10 he’s like, “One more. That big one there.” He throws the shoe, hits the tree as usual, and then it bounces off hard and over the wall into someone yard (I say yard but these people manage to have a little junk pile thing behind their giant fence with spikes on top).
So I walk over to the gate, and see possibly the largest pit bull I have ever seen, who, when Elder Smith walked over, began to bark and go nuts just biting the fence and snarling. The shoe is far from reach, and Elder Smith begins to panic. "Elder I have to get my shoe, that’s the special one my parents sent me!"
After going back to the apartment, Elder Smith wore my other pair of shoes and we went to our compromisso. Like usual they weren’t there, so we went back, got a long bamboo stick, like 10 feet or so, and he walks back still freaking out. I’m just laughing my head off. So then the pole isn’t long enough and the dog was very unhappy about this invasive stick. After more freaking out, and laughter, we asked the neighbors to borrow a ladder, Elder Smith leans over the wall, and with the spikes and broken glass that are on the top of the fence jabbing and cutting him, he manages to move the shoe closer to the gate, and then we were able to get it.
It was a moment of great embarrassment for poor Elder Smith, who then realized that he could have used a bamboo stick this entire time to get avocado, rather than a shoe.
Oh well it made for a great story eh?
If you didn’t laugh or at least smile while reading that story, hopefully this one will make you chuckle. This to me is something that is SO Elder Blackford that I laughed out loud (while I was by myself reading this).
We have a recent convert who is married to a guy who is a complete drunk. He got a work injury a few years back, gets money from the government and is literally wasted 24/7. It’s about as frustrating as it gets for her and everyone, including their kids. It’s such a tricky situation. Anyways we go over there a lot, because she is a new a member, she works full time, and has so much to worry about. We just go there and give encouragement and support. She has a daughter who is like 7 who loves me. Literally. She shows me all her toys, talks to me about her day, and she just jumps right up onto the sofa next to me whenever we get there. It’s so funny. I can actually understand her too. But anyways when were there, Elder Crandall spends his time talking to Genilda and giving her all the support answers questions and stuff, while I talk to the drunk guy. It’s awesome. I practice everything I want, because he isn’t like an angry drunk, he just makes up stories of his life and blames people for his misery. So I listen to learn how to speak Portuguese and I practice invites, such as “Voce vai a igreja conosco proximo domingo?” [meaning “Will you come to church next Sunday?”] and stuff like that. He always says no and some other stuff, but then I like do the regular testify of the importance and all that, and he replies the continual garbish of a drunk man. So it’s awesome—free practice with a technical real investigator in a sense. It’s funny. And like last night he was telling me how in 1997 or 98 he killed a man in the streets just like a cowboy. Because his mind was so angry, he like stands up and punches the door, and everyone in the room looks at us like uhhh? And I’m like he’s fine! Just a story! It was classic.
I must say that now more than ever, I do edit his spelling and grammar before I post these stories. I don’t alter the stories or the meaning, but his spelling has really become quite terrible. The fact that the computers he uses are all set to Portuguese does not help, but sometimes it even takes me a couple tries to decipher what he is saying. Elder Blackford admits that sometimes it’s hard for him to think of simple phrases in English and says if he doesn’t focus, he slips into Portuguese!
As much as I miss having my big brother around, whenever I read these emails or letters from him I realize that wishing he could be home would be one of the most selfish things ever. Elder Blackford knows he is doing the Lord’s work without a doubt, and it is inspiring to see how much he has progressed in such a short time.