Questions & Answers:
Q: Dad wants to know if Brazilians sing well or if it is more like what he experienced in Mexico….not super musically inclined.
A: it is probably the same, maybe a little better. It’s like this, they once brought in an electric keyboard to the school to play, but no one can actually play the hymns, and I can manage the right hand better than anyone else...and I still don’t know how to read music, I have to announce out loud "ALL COWS EAT GRASS!" in order to figure out what I need to play. But yeah the signing is pretty bad, especially at the churches. As you may remember every street has at least 1 church in a garage, and they are always singing/yelling songs through a mic, and it drives me nuts. It’s horrid.
Q: Is the unemployment rate high? Are some areas better than others?
A: yeah it’s pretty high but São Paulo is like the employment capital, there are lots of other states in Brazil where people want to move here because you can manage to get a better job, but Brazil is even lazier than the united states. It’s also harder to hold a starting type job. If you miss 1 day before you reach one year of employment you’re fired. Even if you told them you got in a car accident and it’s on the TV screen they don’t care, you’re done. It’s weird.
Q: Do you hear much about US politics? Did you know that Mitt Romney got the Republican nomination? Not sure if he can win the white house but he will be on the ballot!
A: Yeah I heard a little bit, I heard he was doing pretty good until they asked to see his business numbers and then he delayed a few months to sort them or something so cause of this sketchiness he went down. But other than that not really much. Everyone here doesn’t like the current president, I haven’t really asked why.
This was the week that Elder Crandall was transferred which means Elder Blackford got a new companion!
So... new companion dun dun dun...his name is...Elder...Lopes! yup yup, but don’t say his name like a Mexican Lopez, cause he gets angry, you pronounce it Lawpess, because he’s from Brazil not Mexico. He is from the big river of the north. ( Rio Grande de Norte) so weird the names here. He is from my group! He left the MTC way before me, but we started the mission the same day. So we both have 6 months. This is his second area; his first wasn’t to far away either, 45 minutes or so.
But anyways about him, so he has been a member of the church 1 year and 8 months. So yeah, just a little bit of time. Missionaries did a contact with him on the street and tada! He’s here today. So yeah, he’s the only member in his family that was baptized, and certainly the rest will be baptized with time.
He is super different then Elder Crandall, so I am already starting this adjusting process. He basically is the Brazilian twin of Elder McLain (our dear friend in Texas). Let’s see... so he is still new to a lot of church stuff, and he was just called to be district leader. Our district changed as well, so he is in charge of the leaders of the zone er... zone leaders and the sisters, which is really funny to listen to him follow up on their day and everything that "happened". But anyways while he was called to be district leader apparently I was called to be senior companion. Anyways so it’s going to be a fun transfer.
He has already had a rough mission and he did not get along at all with his first 2 companions and wasn’t too sure about continuing the mission. So anyways my new job is to help him be district leader, cause he doesn’t know what to do, and is very panicked about everything. So it’s pretty fun. I really like him, and he’s a great person and has a lot of desire to serve I just have to help him learn to love the mission, which is why we’re going to buy ice cream! Always seems to help! But he is great, and I know for sure there probably will be some bumps to pass through this transfer but I already decided I am mastering my patience attribute of Christ.
So yeah about this whole English thing, he doesn’t speak English like at all. But we have had 0 problems with communicating in Portuguese--I just don’t know some words. And my mind has already started to think in Portuguese 24/7 and so now it’s hurting my brain to only say words in English. But I am helping him learn English, and today I taught him how to pray...I think. I literally forgot the words you use in prayers! It’s been 6 months since I have done a prayer in English so yeah. But I think I remembered right.
It’s funny to see how Elder Blackford’s sentence structure is sometimes changed to be more like the structure in Portuguese, and how his vocabulary has changed. He’s definitely figured out a few things about English now that he’s learned another language. Take this for example: “You know what word is really dumb in English? Cabinet. Because I realized that I say it cabnint. And that’s totally not right. I spent at least 24 hours pouting about how I have said this word wrong my entire life.”
On the investigator side, Elder Blackford was incredibly enthusiastic and said things were going fantastic this week. His biggest excitement came from one family.
Gina, our awesome friend with 5 sons, is doing super-duper well. We pass by every other day (at least). She had some dreams that also are helping her with the testimony.
Dream #1: she dreamed that she had to stop drinking coffee, and that she tried to fight herself, like her inner self, and she lost and in the end she stopped drinking coffee.
The next couple days she suddenly lost the desire to drink coffee, and the smell became gross. She doesn’t like it. And a friend of hers, who has nothing to do with the church or us showed up right after she finished praying to have strength to stop drinking coffee with like some chocolate mixes and stuff and was like here you want this? She then threw out the coffee and had chocolate! So her whole family has stopped with coffee, the kids are still complaining but she told them no more because they keep Gods commandments.
Sonho #2: she dreamed the Jesus appeared to her, but she was confused and wasn’t sure if it was him or not, because his clothes weren’t white, they were like a red-ish purple color and she wasn’t quite sure if it was him, and he told her she needed to change her attitude about the Book of Mormon (she was only reading a little bit), and that it was time to make a change in her life.
She expressed her concerns to us, and we weren’t sure what to tell her, until the next day she says "Elders I found it!" We were like uhh what? She was like “The Jesus of my dreams!” And she opened up the Book of Mormon and points to the first photo in the front of Christ and says, “It was him, exactly like this, and now I know what the change in my life needs to be.”
So Gina, along with 4 of her 5 children will be baptized the end of this month. All of the boys have biblical names. Gabriel, Oriel, Israel, Ezekiel and I forget the other one. (Israel only has 4 years that’s why he won’t be baptized) the others have 8, 10, 11 and 13.
When we taught the plan of salvation this week at the end we were like “So who remembers what we have to do to open the door to eternal life?” and Israel yells “Baptism!” And we were like “Right!” Then they Ezekiel asked, “Wait...when are we getting baptized?” We told them 30th of June, and then he pauses “…wait...I get to be baptized!” and they all start to jump up and down and start yelling, someone jumps off the couch, temporarily hurts himself, but anyways Gina asked, “But wait don’t you have to be 8 years old in order to be baptized?” Everyone was still excited, except Israel. Poor little guy started to cry cause he felt left out. But his awesome brothers kept him excited.
Anyways, so as you can imagine just the thought to teach that family is the greatest and all the kids invite their friends on the street to listen. Yesterday we had Gina, with 2 other teenage girls who live nearby, her 5 kids, and 7 other kids under the age of 10. Wow it was a battle to teach.
Elder Blackford connects with people so well, and I know that a family with lots of children or five boys would be his favorite people to teach, especially since he loves kids (and they love him!). At the end of his letter he says, “Anyways loving it here in Brazil, super excited to keep finding and baptizing! So many stories, so little time.”