Hello from Fortaleza, Brazil!
Man, this past week has been a rush. I arrived at the Fortaleza Airport and we were picked up and loading our luggage in the trailer of a van and then we all got into the van. We got dropped off at the mission home, which is an apartment in the nicer part of the city of Fortaleza. We had dinner and met President and Sister Souza. They are awesome! They don´t speak English so an American Elder translated much of our interactions. We then went to the mission office which is in a high-rise building about 10 minutes away from the mission home, also in a nice part of Fortaleza. We received instruction and met our companions. My companion´s name is Elder Christiansen from Texas. He is great and is really good at Portuguese (he has been out for 17 months). We then took a taxi to our area, which was about 40 minutes away. We arrived at our house (if you can call it that), and we share it with two other Elders. It´s pretty nice, but very, very different from anything in the United States.
I have been assigned to the Ala Sevilha (Sevilha Ward). Our area covers part of Genibau and Conjunto Ceara, which are kind of like districts within the city of Fortaleza. It´s so different here, it´s crazy! It has been a pretty hard week, but a good one. Portuguese has been very difficult for me, and it has been quite humbling. The first day I was almost positive that the language everyone is speaking here is not the language they taught me in the MTC, haha. I guess in Fortaleza, they pronounce things very differently. It was rough initially, and still is very difficult, but I´m slowly, so very slowly progressing. I just want to be able to understand everyone and communicate with everyone right away but I know it will take time. As President Thomas S. Monson reminded us this weekend in General Conference, ``the heavenly virtue of patience is required´´.
We had a successful week teaching, and we had one baptism! Tiago, who Elder Christiansen and his old companion had been teaching, was baptized so that was awesome! He´s great and I am very excited for him. We are still working with his wife to get baptized. We teach a ton here! People love talking with us and inviting us in their homes. It´s been crazy and very, very different from New York, although my mind has often been with the wonderful people I was working with in New York, and I miss them a ton! But anyways, my first day we taught 11 lessons! The members here are totally awesome as well. Almost the entire week, wherever we go and teach we have a member with us, just because they love sharing the gospel! It´s been great to visit so many people in just one week. I usually just say a few things in lessons because obviously my Portuguese isn´t great but I am able to understand what is going on during lessons, like when we are in gospel discussions.
Pretty much everyone here loves talking with us and are all so loving and inviting, so that has been awesome! We walk everywhere and it is super hot and humid here, so we´re constantly just drenched in sweat. Inside our house, which is protected by two separate metal gates that each have locks on them, it is also hot. The showers are cold, which is quite a shock after always being so hot. There are also a lot of bugs, and we have to keep all food in the refrigerator. Also, I got very sick this week, which they say is pretty normal for my first little bit. I had to spend half a day in bed, throwing up, etc. But I am feeling better now, after I called Sister Souza and she told me what medicine to get. It was miserable but I´m doing well now.
Definitely one of the highlights of the week was General Conference! We started watching it in the church in Portuguese, which was nice because it was air-conditioned, but then, us 5 American Elders went into another room to watch it in English. It was really hot but I didn´t care cause I could understand it. It was so awesome! It made me feel right at home (I´ve been a little homesick), and gave me great comfort. My favorite talk was President Uchtdorf´s Saturday Morning Session, where he said, ``doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith´´. I love that! All conference was so great and was a nice break from translating everything in my head.
Overall, it has been a hard, but good week! I am truly blessed to have this opportunity to be a missionary here. I know that as I continue to work hard the Lord will continue to bless me. I am thankful for this challenging time, and I am excited for what lies ahead. I have felt the love and prayers from so many of you, even though I am so far away. Thank you all for everything! I hope all is going well for you all. I love and miss you all.
Until next week.