This week marks the beggining of transfer 2 in the mission office... woohoo!
Elder Rocha is off to train and divide an area, so he was all giddy this week. Unfortunately, he started think about the new area a bit too soon and kinda gave up on our area :(
So now I´m the full-fledged mission secretary, (but the computer still isn´t recognizing me... which is a bit annoying cause we need to go to the Federal Police office this friday to register the new gringos that arrived.)
Our area is a bit interesting, because it takes in one of the richest neighborhoods, as well as the poorest. So our teaching abilities have to be well rounded to teach all types of people. Yesterday we met a man from Spain who is the head chef in the fanciest hotel in Curitiba. We told him that we´re gonna pass by to leave a Book of Mormon with him in spanish, or english, or italian, or french, or portuguese, or what ever language that he´d prefer. (Here in two weeks we´ll even have copies in Creole to teach the Hatian refugees).
Our investigators are having a bunch of problems with their marriages, divorces, or separations... depending on the situation. Geraldino wants to separate, but the woman won´t leave the house; Gisele wanted to separate, now wants to marry, and is lacking money; Ruth is waiting on the judge to finalize her divorce; and Kelly is trying to convince Fabio that it is time to marry... This is serious motivation for me to: date -> court -> marry -> continue dating ;) (with my wife of course). Speaking of dating after marriage, being close to the mission president is very neat. The other day, he was leaving the misison office at about 4:00 in the afternoon (very early for him) and he told us that he and Sister Fernandes were going on a date... and made it abundantly clear that she was the only Sister in the mission who could go on dates. Este Presidente é uma figura.
This week was Thanksgiving right? Well we ate rice and beans and pressure cooked meat and pickled onions. Halloween is catching on a bit down here, but `Dia de ação de graças` still doesn´t have much representation. I had a dream about that cranberry salsa on cream cheese with wheat thins that mom makes. Yup, I had a moment of trunkeza while I was sleeping.
This year I am thankful for the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is a magnificent present that the Lord has given us. It contains the sacred writing of ancient prophets who lived in a place very far away from the prophets of Israel. This record was written and preserved for us, and I am thankful for the generations of ancient prophets who wrote what the Lord told them, which would be to our benefit today. I am thankful for the spiritual strength that we recieve daily as we study the words contained therein, and appy the simple doctrines we learn. I am thankful for the Book of Mormon as a testimony to the divine call that it´s translator recieved, and for Joseph having prayed in a grove. I am thankful that I can live in a time when the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached in every corner of the earth.
We have lots and lots and lots of people to teach... so now the difficulty is knowing who the Lord needs us to visit most. But we made headway with Rute and José (eternal investigators) with the documentation needed for them to divorce with their ex-spouses so they can marry with each other, the only part frustrating is that a distant relative who is a member turned Macumbeira (which is the name for a person who participates in a rather unpleasant African chicken sacrificing religion with ties to Voodoo) showed up this week to spend time in their house and now it is very hard to help them feel the Spirit in their own home... solution? Take them to member´s homes!
It is because of odd religions like this that Halloween hasn´t really caught on too well in Brazil. Some of the Evangelical churches got all up in arms when they heard that we were hosting a Halloween activity for the youth, but all of their kids wanted to go... 10 points for the Halloween party :)
Being in a ward with many of the oldest members in the city is very interesting because you learn much about how the church has grown in the city. There are about 45,000 members in the city, and less than 70 years ago there were 0. That´s a lot of people in one lifetime.
Today I think we´re gonna go sing and play the organ in a really old catholic church close to the mission office. We were thinking about what we could do today, and this slightly odd but rather attractive idea came to mind... `go sing in that church!` So after lunch we´re gonna go get our Gregorian chant on. :)
(or Dia de los Muertos like they call it in all the spanish speaking communites)
Just to clear up any misunderstanding, Dia dos Mortos has NOTHING to do with Halloween. It´s basically Memorial day on steroids.
Today we had an incredible experience... yeah, it´s p-day, but when you´re in the mission office, if there´s work to be done, we do it. So... in the largest cemetery in Curitiba and the little public square outside, we showed up with about 5000 liahona magazines, 400 Livro de Mormon, 300 Restoration pamphlets, 800 Plan of Salvation pamphlets, 2000 pass-along cards, 600 DVD´s, and a few of these same materials in English. So we show up in the spot that the city gave us to put up a little tent and it´s right in front of the HUGE Catholic church that was setting up to have Mass... but there are SO many people that go to Mass on November 2nd, that they hold it outdoors concert style with a big bandstand that the city sets up for them. If you´ve never been to Brasil you really can´t understand what the Catholic church is here... In the US (and everywhere else in the world) the services seem to be very ceremonial and reverent, but here, they are a big concert... lights, smoke, special effects, all of the Padres have professional showman training, instead of reading the passages of scripture and what not to a calm music, you need to imagine full out Lady Gaga rock band set up complete with electric guitar, saxaphone solo, and drumset... and the city put us in the middle of where all of the people would stand to watch :). It was pretty awesome. Two zones of missionaries running around giving people church material, mixed in with the little ladies in yellow jackets giving out the little ´Santa Seia` wafers being accompanied by dudes holding umbrellas (no it wasn´t raining, I think it was just to indicate where they were at), and everyone coming up to ask us about the church and the Book of Mormon, and how they could get a copy. During the week, I designed a few banners to be put up in front of our stand that a brother from the ward sent to be printed (really fancy!), and everyone wanted to know about what the pictures meant, giving us chances to talk about genealogy, eternal families, temples, the Atonement, etc. Our little tent was being swarmed by people wanting to know more and the missionaries frantically scribbling down addresses and giving out material. Elder Rocha and I grabbed a bunch of material and starting walking around all of the grave sites (grave sites here are super nifty... they are usually about 10ft. tall with several members of the family put into these vertically stacking coffin boxes, usually have a little space on the base to put candles, a little box on top to put live flowers, a little glass case to put pictures of the deceased and figurines of `Nossa Senhora da Aparecida`) talking to people about the Plan of Salvation and helping people cope with the loss of their loved ones. Almost everyone we talked to has friends who are members of the church and were very receptive. The Japanese weren´t too friendly with us (until we found a Liahona with the front page being a cute little picture of an Asian-ish father teaching his daughter... they liked that one :) ). Today we Hastened. Our mission literally ran out of materials with one huge activity. We showed up at 6:00h with a mountain of materials thinking that it would never run out, and before noon it was ALL gone. We returned to the mission office with a few Liahona in English, and a half pack of pass-along cards.
Next year we are gonna do this in EVERY cemetery in the mission. That´s how we do it in Curitiba South.