We didn’t have the usual Q&A this week, so instead Elder Blackford reminded us how not warm summers on Bainbridge Island there. One of the first things he said in his letter was, “Haha summer is starting there and winter is starting here...and it’s still warmer here =P.” Although I don’t like being reminded that summer on the island is not exactly hot, at least Elder Blackford is happy in the warm weather (he detests the cold).
Elder Blackford also tells us, “This week was super!” which is no surprise. They say attitude is everything, and I think he is living proof of that. “I was absolutely exhausted every day, but I have been working "até o pó" this week.” (I’ll let you guys look up that phrase and figure out the expression yourselves. Personally I thought it was funny.)
Things are going just swell with Elder Lopes. I have already gotten used to the whole not speaking English thing. Actually, there is a group of like 10 Americans who are living on the road next door and are here for 3 weeks. I talked to them and it was weird to talk out loud in English to a person I don’t know on the street. We have made some goals on language stuff, because I’m supposed to help him learn English, so in the house we speak English, outside Portuguese. He can only pray in English as well. It is hard to speak slow English, and my Portuguese skills are at the point where I really don’t have any problems, and he doesn’t have to speak slower or simpler for me.
For language I don’t speak super well yet, accent and all and I still talk a little slower and all that, but as far as understanding I really don’t have any problems at this point, and I can even follow conversations with several people talking at one time! This is what’s exciting that I don’t have to pay attention and focus on someone to understand what they are saying!
Also I woke up Elder Lopes the other night because I was talking/yelling in my sleep. I was like “Oops! Not only did I wake you but you didn’t understand what I was saying huh?” And he was like “No; I understood a good part of it because you were talking in Portuguese.” So...wooohoo! I sleep talk in another language.
I think Elder Blackford often doesn’t remember exactly what he tells us in his previous letters, so some of what he says is a little repetitious, but also a good refresher to keep track of the people he talks about.
Gina and family (which I now have the names down!)
They are all nuts and crazy, especially Ezekiel. He asks ridiculous amounts of questions and it is impossible to sit still. Normally he talks a ton, bugs Italo, Gina yells at them, Italo cries, Israel cries because someone else is crying, Oriel tries to calm Italo down, only makes it worse, Gabriel yells at Oriel for making it worse, Gina yells at Gabriel for yelling at Oriel, and then Israel cries more because people are yelling. It’s great! They are such a funny family! We have a special handshake with every one of them that we have to do every time we go there.
So they all went to church on Sunday, and because 2 weeks ago was stake conference Gina didn’t want to bring everyone all the way there for 2 hours with all the boys, and last week was the dedication of the temple in Manaus, you had to have temple recommend to enter the chapel to watch the dedication, yesterday was fast Sunday. And at the end Gina asked me if she was allowed to give her testimony (remember this is her 2nd time at church) and I said sure, go ahead (I really wanted to see what would happen). Well during this entire meeting, everyone was talking a little like usual that buzz, but when Gina got up there DEAD silence. Her testimony was more of theatrical performance but it was soo funny. She started out by saying how she had always grown up knowing that God existed and she needed to follow him. She went to a church where they told her a lot of things she didn’t understand, and that when she asked her pastor about the Mormons she always saw, he said the stereotypical cult, racist, polygamist and all the other stuff. But then when she accepted the Elders to teach her, she realized that "they speak Jesus!" She continued to explain how her church was the real cult, and her pastor an anti-Christ. Then she explained how she was confused, just like Joseph Smith, and how she was grateful that he had the faith and pure heart to ask God to guide him, and that there were other plates that prove he is a prophet and we can learn from them and that this church was true and that she needs to follow Christ and be an example for her kids and how she likes this church because we understand the importance of families.
So basically it lasted like 10 minutes, and she was up there using hand gestures and halfway dancing, it was hilarious but at the same time it was really her testimony. When she was done everyone in the room had this giant smile on their face, and as she was walking back she mutters (everyone heard) “I didn’t get to say half of what I wanted!” But she knew she couldn’t keep going.
Basically everyone in the ward is asking when the baptism of her family will be and wants to go there. We are super excited. It will be the 30th of this month.
I really wish I could meet this family and see how the gospel changes their lives. I think it’s the families like Gina’s that missionaries remember the most. Even if things are a little crazy at their house, the gospel will bring them so much peace.
Elder Blackford adds as a side note, “Erlan got the Aaronic priesthood Sunday, and that was way cool as well! Everyone else is doing great.”
He finishes his letter with a plug to read his next letter. “Next week will continue the story of Gina, and the following photos of the baptism will come! Stay tuned!”