The questions we come up with to send Elder Blackford sometimes make me laugh. Not only do we ask random questions, we get completely random responses that really reflect his personality.
Q: Any Easter traditions they have there?
A: Yeah it’s all about chocolate eggs with surprises inside. It’s like a decent chocolate sized egg and you can buy certain types to determine the prize just based off what the wrapper says. I got a Transformers one and it came with a car-launching Optimus Prime. Everyone knows about painting eggs, but no one does it.
Q: Keagan asks about your ward–are people pretty normal? Some crazy ones?
A: Normal people don’t exist where I am at. Everyone is crazy. Everyone here is just naturally strange, and then you add the fact that the average person has like an 8th grade education, so we have to talk simply with pretty much everyone. Here, there is no such thing as being logical with people.
Q: Do people try to do little gardens and/or have chickens?
A: Let’s say there are 500 houses in our area.
20 of them have yards.
3 of them have chickens.
0 have gardens for food.
10 have plants.
10 have trash.
All 500 have dogs.
And each street has 50 dogs that live on it too.
Elder Blackford said that during this week he had to go take a language proficiency exam. The church is testing missionaries to see if they need 9 or only 6 weeks in the MTC. Elder Blackford said he did really well, and thinks that they should only spend 6 weeks in the MTC. However, we all know how anxious he was to get out into the field and put what he had learned into practice, so it’s not surprising he would advocate less time in the MTC.
I was really glad he continued with his “chain reaction group” story. I honestly think this is one of the most interesting (and slightly confusing) stories to follow.
Let’s see, we are continuing our chain reaction group. We have a huge mix of people there, and are constantly dropping and adding people. Some will stop reading, then a week later read and we will teach, and then they stop again. Luckily we pass by all the time so we can keep tabs on them. The most progressing person in that area is Vanessa. We still don’t know if she is more interested in the lesson or us. But, she went to conference and church yesterday. She is reading and praying, slowly. We get to teach her nice and slow, because like 90% of people here, she has almost 0 knowledge of the Bible. "Church" here is where people just yell in microphones and babble random words and stuff, and then tell everyone they are saved and take their money. So really most people don’t know anything and think that church is just a scam...sigh. But anyways she is doing well, as well as Maria Aparacida. She went to church as well (she’s the one with 12 dogs 80 cats) and she is reading a ton. We will go visit her today, her baptism is the 21st. She is really progressing and she says that since we started teaching her, her life has made a change for the better and she feels it but can’t really explain it. So it’s awesome.
Some of Elder Blackford’s other adventures include helping a less active member install 100 gallon water tanks on their roof in the rain and wind, meeting a girl in their ward who is 12 but hasn’t been baptized because she has a fear of baptism due to something a different missionary said in the past, and the realization that he has begun to think in Portuguese most of the time now. It was great to hear that he is in the middle of it all down there. It’s easy to tell by his letters that he is super focused and really cares about all these people and is fired up about the gospel more than ever.