Here’s the usual Question & Answer:
Q: Do they have a Mother’s Day there?
A: Yup, día das mães, same day here and there. Same exact thing.
Q: Have there been any holidays that would be different to us?
A: Brazil is one of the laziest countries, I know that Americans are lazy but it is ridiculous, they have tons of holidays. They have a day that’s like called "the workers holiday" where people who work, don’t work. It’s simply because no one wants to work. It is very funny, but yes there are a lot of holidays here that we don’t have there. I don't know how to spell them, or exactly what all of them are yet.
Q: What is the coldest month there? Is it just quite rainy or just cooler?
A: June/July are colder. It’s exactly the opposite of what were used to. Here is the big problem here; it drops to 40s during the day, and at night high-mid 30s, not THAT cold, but.... NO ONE OWNS A HEATER! So our house when we wake up is freezing cold, and buying a heater doesn’t do much good either—all brick houses waste of energy (which is expensive). So I’m pretty cold at nights. I’m in my blankets and sweatshirt and jeans and I still get cold.
Q: Do they have city or neighborhood parks? You said people don’t really have yards so I was wondering where kids play.
A: Oh that’s simple, kids play in the same area where dogs play, where people drink, where people play soccer and even PlayStation...the street. Everyone is on the street always.
Q: How many ward members are 1st generation members? 2nd generation? (not sure if you know) In 7ths of course.
A: 5/7 are first generation.
2/7 are second, with almost nobody as 3rd (that I know) I mean there are families here with grandmas in the ward, but they are still like converts. (And in one families case the grandma was the last one to get baptized.)
Unfortunately, the baptism of Maria Aparacida had to be rescheduled to a lack of priesthood holders being present! Hopefully that will happen within the next couple weeks. However, Elder Blackford did have a really cool experience—and I think he has named it appropriately, because it is exactly like the stories you read in the New Era or the Ensign.
Here’s my "New Era story" for the week. Hope you guys like it, because it really has made a difference for me.
Yesterday I had an awesome experience. We returned to the house at like 7:45 to use bathroom, and then we had our last appointment with Erlan and his family. As we were leaving I stopped, and proudly announced I was running back to grab my shiny purple flashlight (remember when we bought it? I do!) So I run in and I grab it and Elder Crandall had this look of "Why did we waste 30 seconds so you could go get a flashlight that is completely unnecessary..." I thought it wasn’t necessary as well, but I just randomly decided (or so I thought) that I wanted to bring my flashlight (which had not even left my suitcase until yesterday).
So we get to the house of Genilda, and we entered and there is just one light that I hadn’t noticed before lit. I look and it was connected to a wire that ran to outside the house. We asked what happened, and they said that most houses there in the favella lost power, for no reason that anyone knew. The few random ones that did hooked up a line to their neighbors so that they could have at least one light bulb. The experience of singing hymns with this part-member family as we were all gathered in the kitchen, with 6 of us on a 2 person couch, and then sharing a spiritual message as we prepared Erlan for baptism was one of the most spiritual moments so far. It was not until halfway through the lesson that I looked into the bedroom area and just saw blackness. I thought "how are they ever going to see in there?" it wasn’t until that moment that I remembered I brought a flashlight in my pocket. I then asked (translated for you guys) "Do you guys have a flashlight?" which was followed by "No Elder, we don’t, we have no way to really see in the bathroom or bedroom." That’s when I pulled out my flashlight, and handed it to Erlan. I said "And now you do."
I never would have thought that at that moment, when we were leaving that I had a spiritual impression to bring that flashlight. I thought it was a random thought in my head; I thought I was just being my normal doofy self.
This story is so amazing—especially since we remember his shiny purple flashlight and how excited he was to get it. I have always wondered how we know which thoughts are our own and which are impressions from the Spirit, because sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to tell. I think the message in this story is that we might not know until later, but we should always act in case it is a prompting.