Monday, August 31, 2015

Week Seven - Pictures!

Happy Birthday to Dad and Hannah!

My companion is from São Paulo.  He has almost 4 months in the mission. So not much more time than me really, but he didn't spend a month and a half in the MTC so he has a lot more experience than me, which is normal and good.

We eat a lot of rice, beans, noodles, beef and chicken.  Pretty normal stuff. A lot of different types of juice as well. People drink a lot of juice, Coca Cola and Guarana. Nothing very strange yet. Also the sheet are not a big deal.  It's kind of warm anyway and I'm not having any problems sleeping without them, so that;s all good.

A sister missionary returned from Vitoria on Monday or Tuesday I think. She lives in one of the wards that I cover. She knows Drew and they returned the same day. She wants to go out with us for lessons this week which will be good help for us because we are currently teaching her sister the lessons.

This week was good. We had good days and bad days. One day was some sort of local holiday, so almost every lesson after 3 hours fell through.  But the day after went really well so I can't complain.

The language feels really good at times and really horrible at others. I am slowly learning which is to be expected but when people get excited and talk really fast I can only catch a few words. During lessons I'm fine but when discussions get off topic it can be difficult. But I'm practicing every day so I will get it soon enough.


MTC President and Sister Swensen

Campinas Brazil Temple

São Paulo Brazil Temple

MTC companion Elder Baker

In Maceió

Monday, August 24, 2015

Week Six - In the Mission Field

So I'm actually in the field now.  I have a companion and I'm living in an apartment, teaching lessons and walking everywhere. I'm in a place called Alagoas. Me and my companion Elder Mariano cover two wards: Bariloche and Beira Mar. Bariloche is great and has tons of members and gives lots of referrals and lessons. Beira Mar needs a lot of help. It is extremely inactive, doesn't have a Bishop or first counselor at the moment. Part of the problem is because Beira Mar covers the grota (basically the favela). But we're working hard on both wards.

On Thursday it rained the entire day. It was nuts. We walked around for our appointments for a couple hours, and they kept falling through because people weren't home. Eventually later in the day we knocked out 3 or 4 lessons with investigators so it got a lot better. But I was basically soaked the entire day. The other days were hot. Temperature wise it doesn't feel unbearable. But because we are walking in pants, and it's extremely humid I sweat the entire day. But I'm getting tan so that's cool. I can see the beach in the distance sometimes from certain areas and I really want to go for a swim when it's hot.

We have a good amount of investigators. It's hard to remember all of their names. Not all are progressing, but we have about five that are doing very well. Here it's a problem to get people to get married. A lot of couples live together and want to be baptised but don't want to get married. It's a little difficult. Also a few people have troubles with getting divorced here so they can't actually get re-married at the time. But we have one investigator named Hobby, he's a rapaz who lives in the grota and he's been to church numerous times but only needs the desire to get baptised. It think he will be ready within a few weeks but we will see. We visit lots of inactives here as well. If a lesson falls through we just kind of walk to the nearest inactive members house and clap at their gate hoping someone is home. It surprisingly works out pretty well. Although I really wish people here had doors we could knock on or doorbells. But all is well.

I've seen some very humbling homes here. I think it's a good reminder to be grateful for what I have. I don't have a right to complain about the blisters on my feet, or the heat, or the fact that I forgot sheets or that missionary work is at all hard. And missionary work is hard, but living in the grota or in any other homes of the people I visit would be a lot harder.

A lot of the Brazilians notice me in certain areas because I kind of stick out being white. (Side note: preto the word for black in Portuguese is offensive to call a person, and people use the word negro to refer to skin color). It's pretty funny because a lot of the kids will yell out "what's your name?" which is like the only thing they know how to say in English. I'll either say "Elder" or "Eu ná posso entendo Inglés." But when I say that they know I speak English because I have a bad accent.

I'll admit that Portuguese is a lot harder now. Understanding people is really difficult and it's extremely hard to focus when I don't know what people are saying. I have a lot of work to do but I'm working hard and learning more everyday. I don't speak a lot during lessons. I will if I have something to say and if I've been pretty on point with understanding the investigator, but if I'm a little confused by their questions I can't really say anything sometimes. But I plan on being fluent in three months. We will see.

Until next week

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

At the Mission Home

Hey, I'm typing this from the mission home! I just arrived about two hours ago. We had some lunch and are going to go meet our companions in a little bit. I'm pretty excited. Maceió is really pretty and the weather here feels really great today. I don't have a lot of time to email and I'm sending this from an ipad so I won't be able to say much. The flight wasn't bad, but it was weird to finally leave the MTC. It didn't feel like I was there for 6 weeks. But I don't have too much to say except that I'm doing well. I hope that you are all doing well.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Week Five

We just got back from Campinas, super fun. Crazy story: Last night my companion woke me up at 2:30am and said "our roommate Elder Silva just fell off his bed (top bunk of the bunkbed) and split his head open, I think he has a concussion and we need to go find a security guard." I was half asleep and I couldn't really take him seriously and I thought he was lying and told him to go back to bed. Well I got up, got dressed and wandered downstairs to find the security guard by the gate. He called Brother Hale and we went back up stairs to wait for him. Elder Hughes was in the bathroom taking care of Elder Silva. He had a gash in his forehead which had stopped bleeding but was really swollen. We gave him a blessing and Elder Hale took him to get help. I was so woken up by that, it took me over an hour to fall back asleep. But I made up for it on the bus ride over to Campinas. I feel bad because I was kind of laughing at the fact that he fell off his bed. I don't know why, but it was 2:30 in the morning and he is going to be ok I think.

Portuguese has been coming along really well. This was another week of only Portuguese within our district. Our goals are pretty ambitious. But Arnold Schwarzenegger once said: "If your goals don't scare you, then you don't have very good goals." Or maybe it was like you're not going to achieve anything. IDK you guys can look it up. But yeah I'm excited to go into the field this week. We leave Tuesday morning, I'm not sure what time yet. I do know that I will be taking a plane because that's what Elder Harden did. (missionary who served in St. George for 10 months who came with us to the MTC for a two week refresher. And he's going to Maceió. Super good missionary, I hope to be companions with him at some point). Anyways, I'm really excited to leave. I don't know all the things that I need to, but I want to leave anyways. Hopefully I can hit the ground running on Tuesday.

We got to watch a talk by Elder Nelson this week for devotional. It was a talk he gave to the Provo missionaries a week prior. He said that we as missionaries are living epistles, which I really liked. I thought about it. The purpose of epistles in the bible are to testify of Jesus Christ. And individually we can't physically testify that we have seen Christ perform miracles, or preach during his ministry, but we can testify of the ways that  Jesus Christ and the atonement have effected us. There is a video I really like called "A Expiacáo é a obra missionario".  In it Jeffry R Holland says "Missionary work is not easy because Salvation was not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy... We are all standing shoulder to shoulder with the best life this world has ever seen. We have every reason to stand tall."

Eu sei que esta Igreja é o somente Igreja verdadeiro. Eu sei que ele vive. Eu sei que está obra Eu vou fazer é verdadeiro. Eu estou animado para servo os pessoas na Maceió. Jesus Cristo suffrio para nos, e por meio a Expiacáo de Jesus Cristo nos podemos ser limpido. Eu amo vocés.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Week Four

So there is a cookie shop accross the street and you can send a picture from there to home. I'll go send one after emailing while I'm out. It's a service that they do and you can buy cookies for your missionaries in the MTC which they pick up on P-Day. I will send one but I don't need any cookies. We eat way too much here and I've gained like 8 pounds. Not a joke or exaggeration.

Cool to hear about trek, sounds like it will be really fun. I'm not surprised that Hannah is taking 65 hours to paint a bowl. That sounds about right. Also, I kept remembering after sending emails that I forgot to wish Cole a happy birthday. So two weeks later "Happy Birthday." Yeah pretty crappy, I know.

My companion is great, we get along well. We teach well together and our lessons are pretty good. We taught a really good lesson yesterday about the Book of Mormon during TRC. TRC is a lesson we do twice a week with a "member" (actually an instructor) and we help them with things that they need, and also teach them pre-assigned subjects. They are 30 minutes long and are recorded so we watch them the day after we do them.

Language has been booming this week. My district made a goal to speak only Portuguese Monday through Thursday. It was annoying and frustrating at times but our speaking abilities got a lot better this week. And it's a lot easier to memorize words that way. So that's going really well.

I'm getting really anxious to go out to the field. My language isn't quite ready, but being in the same building for a month straight gets a little claustrophobic sometines. Super wierd that I've been here for a month already. It doesn't feel like it at all. I really want to see Maceió and start meeting Brazilheros.

Drew's story is about how they had a baptism to go to and their investigator lived far from the church. They (and I think their investigator, it's hard to tell) were waiting for a bus to pick them up. The bus never came and they were going to be really late, like over an hour.  But a member "luckily" drove by and gave them a ride to the church. The experience helped to strengthen his testimony that God always knows where we are and what we need. I'm pretty sure at least.

(I had forwarded Luke a portion of Elder Drew Wilson's letter this week which he had written in Portuguese. I did not ask him to translate, but I thought it would be fun for him to read.)

Until next week,
Luke, Elder Batten

(Later Luke went to the cookie shop across the street and sent these pictures.)

 Luke and his companion Elder Baker