Many members ask about our family and friends. The one question that always gets asked is “do you have a girlfriend?” Elder Dattilo: Nope. Me: I have a girl that I´m writing. In their eyes, that counts. (Much to mine and, I´m sure, her annoyment. Wait, is that even a word?)
The pop culture is very active down here. Many members are taking some time with their family to see “The Dark Knight Rises”. (GRRRR!!!) From the few trailers I have seen, including some recent ones, it looks fantastic and I was so giddy about Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy in their respective roles. Fortunately, I could calm down quickly and get back to work, since Elder Datillo isn´t a comic book fan. (Cora, where are you when I need you?) Anywho, that´s all I have to say about Pop culture for a while.
Yesterday was our first baptisms. Marcella, a 14 year old sister of a less active, and an 8 year old (can´t remember the name). That kid has such a smile; it reminds me of Brayden. We were to have one other yesterday, but even after finding her at her house (a mere block from the chapel) she never showed up. Oh well, more bpatisms are scheduled for the 18th, so we´ll see how that one goes.
The Portuguese practicing is coming along, though terribly frusterating. Portuguese is VERY specific, and sometimes very general. For instance, the phrase for umbrella is “protector of rain”. The one that made me laugh was a phrase for slut, which was “woman of life”……Yeah, probably shouldn´t let the kids read that one. Other phrases are just strange. One is “returning to the cold cow” which means “returning to the conversation.” I love that one. The people here, one family in particular, are very interested in the English language. We had one man Saturday come up to us and ask if we could teach him English. He would only accept us, and not the class they offer at the chapel. One of the officiators at the class asked is we could help out (since we are native speakers). I was delighted by the offer and thought, “This is a good chance to practice and to fellowship some of the people.” There is even a great example of a conversion story in PMG, but Elder Dattilo said no. When I asked later, he said it is a mission rule from President Martins. “That is not your calling to teach English.” Oh, well. The lessons themselves are slowly increasing in number, and most times I´m at a loss for how we manage to find people to teach. We hate doing contacts, but somehow we find some people.
Ah! The missionary´s worst nightmare. Knocking on Doors. That has been established as our last resort by President Costa. Reason being, here you don´t knock at doors. Everyone lives behind a gate, so you clap. (BTW, the term here is “hit your palms” or “hit doors”) These people already have a barrier between you and them, so you are even less likely to be successful. Saturday night was painful. The three people that didn´t talk to us through intercoms all had specific reactions. One man turned around and raised his hand dismissingly when we told him who we were. Another pretended like she didn´t see us and tried to get her dog (a hot dog) to attack us. (Through a barred gate?) We were annoying and persistent until she came out and talked to us and told us to go away. The final person actually treated us nicely, but stated that she was evangelical, so she probably wouldn´t believe us.
You know the saying, “When there is a knock on a door in Europe, there is a baptism in Brazil”? Either it´s not true, or we have some lazy missionaries. (Pretty sure it´s not true. Shout-out to Joe Lawrence!) Many of these people belong to the Brazilian congregation, who will never read anything we give them, and others are just like those in the states. They just don´t have time, or they are with their family and we can´t be out knocking on doors at this late of an hour. I understand their complaints with us, but it does make it hard for us to “have a good mission” as many of these people who are familiar with us say. We have our best success with part-member families and member referrals. President Hinckley was not joking when he said that this was where the mission work has the best results. These people already have a friend in the gospel, and the members here are enthusiastic in sharing the fruits of the gospel. These people are ready to be taught, and it gives us a boost in our spirits and reminds us that the Lord will not forget his promises. As we search with the spirit with us, the Lord will prepare these people to be taught.
Next week will work a bit differently. We have a temple trip (HOORAY!) on Tuesday, and thus Tuesday becomes the P-Day. Monday will be the regular day, and we do get time Tuesday to email and go to the mission home to get letters, packages, and clothes. The usual two (Dad and Christine) had their letters sent out last Wednesday. I may write a special one today. Please continue to send letters. I will respond to every one. Until then, let this email and photos – the Costa ones (I´ll upload some more next week) suffice.
Stay strong in the gospel. The stormy weather is upon us and we cannot afford to give ANY ground to the adversary. I mean any! Recently, I have found some older conference issues and have loved reading through Elder Maxwell´s. (He really does seem like just your type, Mom and Dad.) Plus, he did quote Tolkein. Others have quoted C.S. Lewis, which makes their talks shoot up in my book. If I had a different mission President, I might try to convince him to let us have Narnia or Lord of the Rings as reading material. Narnia for sure. How can you not see allegories in those books? I appreciate your prayers on our behalfs. It gives us great comfort and motivation when our sweet Moms, Dads, sisters, brothers, and friends are pleading with the Lord. I often find myself reading the first few verses of section 100 because I think about you all. I can´t wait to see you all again and talk to the family on the phone come Christmas time. (More details on that later, but it will be through Skype.)
Eu amo vocês para sempre!
Stephen (Elder Jarvis)