Hello hello! Greetings from the promised land! Well, I had an super long overnight flight last Monday night to Brazil but it actually went by fast. 10 hours was the longest flight I've ever been on thus far for sure.
I got to the mission home for our transfer meeting with Sister Hargrove from my MTC district! It was a glorious reunion after 6 weeks apart. So we then went to a church building to meet our companions and just like I prayed for, I got a Brasileira! She speaks zero English. My companion's name is Sister Cavalcanti, she's 21 and she has been on her mission for 4 months. Wednesday will be my 3 month mark so we're both pretty new. She is great! She has a lot of energy, she loves to clean...more than me which I didn't think was possible, and I'm teaching her English as she teaches me Portuguese. It's a great combo.
We all left the meeting to go to our designated areas, mine is called Utinga. So Sis. Cavalvcanti, me, Sister Hargrove and her trainer Sister Davis (Americana) and 2 Elders rode the metro until we eventually parted ways. It should be illegal for missionaries to ride the metro. Just when you think you can't fit any more people on, you get smashed into someone else to make room. Definitely not comfortable for anyone to be that close let alone as a missionary haha.
So we arrived at our humble abode to drop off minhas malas then went to our church building to meet our ward mission leader, bishop, and stake president, all in the same night. I was so incredibly exhausted after pulling my suitcases up 14 huge ladeiras (hills) but it was fine in the end. Everyone was so nice and welcoming and our WML knows some English which is extremely helpful...especially after a long trip where my brain isn't exactly functioning well.
We got back home and it's really different than my last house. It's all tile floor, the bathroom is different, the windows, light switches even, everything. There is one knob for water, on or off, and luckily our shower water is hot. So now I will talk about all the random things I've noticed thus far:
- There are fewer things cuter in life than hearing a baby or toddler speak Portuguese...it's adorable.
- There are dogs EVERYWHERE because they're not allowed in the house so they hang out on the sidewalks...I haven't been attacked yet.
- There are gyms outside in the park which must be why everyone here looks so great. Gyms are free!
- The rumors are true, we only eat one meal a day but it's so filling you don't even want to eat dinner. Throughout the day we always have members of our ward offer us food though. I was told I was going to lose weight here in Brazil but I'm starting to think that is not true.
- I ate the first cheeseburger of my life without ketchup because they didn't have any and then when I did get it, it was no Heinze.
- The napkins at restaurants here are like wax paper...very interesting.
- They have these metal baskets for trash outside which I had never seen before.
- I barely recognize any foods at the mercado and the eggs and milk aren't refrigerated. But they're fine, they just have a lot of preservatives.
So my first day we received 5 referrals which are people that we are asked to visit and try to teach. These are like gold for missionaries because then we can spend more time teaching than finding people to teach: every missionary's dream. And our area is HUGE. We travel only on foot, that Sis. Cal says we need 4 sisters to cover this area but due to the lack of visas coming in some areas of our mission are closed. We just don't have enough missionaries here but we need them. Those darn visas are holding up our work! People here are pretty accepting of messages about Jesus Christ though which is nice.
Wednesday, someone came up to us asking if we could visit her house and teach her. We were so excited. But it turns out she's already a member, she just hasn't been to church in years. We'll work on that though :)
On Thursday President and Sister Tanner and our Zone Leaders visited our house and checked to see if it was clean (we passed with flying colors) and to do interviews. It went really well and President said I'm the only American with a Brazilian companion because he knew I could do it. I had instant tears because clearly the Lord trusts me more than I trust myself to learn this language. He also told Sister Calvalcanti (which I found out later) that I need to learn the area and the language really well this transfer because I will probably be training next transfer. I freaked out. I don't feel ready at all to do that but I'm a firm believer that we are called to where we are able and it's amazing to feel that God trusts me enough to learn that quickly.
I love Brazil, I love our ward, I love the people and I'm so excited t be here. We have a lot of work to do but it's all worth it. Never take anything for granted. Especially the fact that you speak English because people here are dying to learn. I never realized how hard this language is until I tried to teach it. It's so confusing! So many words are alike. But Sis. Cal is a champ and is catching on. I have just gained a new appreciation for knowing English, it's such a blessing. It's hard but fun to be an American here because when people know, they instantly pull out every word they know in English to impress me. It's great!! I am blessed with a great ward here as well. I had to speak at church on Sunday and apparently everyone understood me. Woo hoo! I talked about how every member here can be a missionary, not just the ones with name tags and how we can help others feel God's love for them as we invite them to come unto Christ. It went well. I love and miss you all!!