Sunday, December 2, 2012

26 November 2012 Gaúchos

Hello Friends and Family,

This week was a pretty tough one, but I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed this week because I feel my companion and I really bonded this week. I don't know what set it off but it was good for me because now I feel comfortable in this whole new environment. I think it was maybe because I was finally able to keep a conversation going in Português. I'm stoked to see that the language is progressing each and everyday. I can pretty much understand what people are talking about. Some heavy accents throw me off but soon that won't be a problem.

Why this week was so tough. First off, we hiked every lomba in our area and some of them we hiked a few times. Also, lot's of appointments fell through so we found ourselves wondering around trying to do a bit of contacts or visiting less actives or recent converts. Knocking doors is a joke here it's very ineffective so we try to find anything other than that to do. My companion sees me as a secret weapon, an American. Even if someone on the street has no idea what I'm telling them they will usually give me an address to come teach them another day, basically because I'm American. The people down here in the Southern part of Brazil can be very racist. If someone is brown or black they usually do not give them the time of day when out contacting. This might be one of the reasons Elder Quieroz does not like doing contacts. We find after lunch it is very hard to do anything because everyone goes to sleep! This would not fly in the US. They also have a holiday just about every week it seems.

We have a new investigator named Rosi. I have high hopes for her. She is a single mother and lives in the roughest part of my area. Elder Queiroz tells me not to look at anyone while walking around there. Sadly, one of our investigators told us she did want us to teach her anymore. She is the mother of a member of my ward, Bruno a teacher in the aaronic priesthood. The missionaries have been working with her for awhile and Elder Queiroz and I thought she would join the church, but she gave us the excuse that she does not have time for church. Pretty sad, especially because her son Bruno was so stoked for her. She recognizes that the church is a huge blessing and she decided to deny it for herself, people are weird. The upside is that we layed the foundation for future missionaries.

This week I will tell you a little about Gaúchos. Gaúchos are Brazilians from Rio Grande do Sul, the Brazilian state in which I live. They love only three things in life, churrasco, chimarrão, and Grêmio.

Gaúchos are extremely prideful, for example people from Texas. This is why I fit so well here. This is a generalization but 99% of Gaúchos are like this. Churrasco is Brazilian BBQ which has made them famous. It is really good. I have been to a few restaurants and some members have made us churrasco for lunch. The drill is the same every time. They have these huge slabs of meat, all kinds, stuck on spike and they come walking around and you jab your fork into the side of the meat and they slice that portion for you with a big ole' knife. It is really tasty and you eat until you cannot anymore. All it's missing is some spring creek BBQ sauce.

Chimarrão is the tea every single person here drinks. Oh, and missionaries are allowed to drink it because it does not have black tea in it which makes it against the word of wisdom. Chimarrão is very different. They put this green powder inside this really goofy looking cup and then they dump really hot water inside. Also, they drink it with this metal pipe looking straw. If you didn't know  it was tea you would probably think it was drugs because of how it looks. I drink it a lot because usually a member has it going when we stop by. Oh yeah there is only one cup. You pass it around when you finish your shot. There are even rules behind the whole operation like who serves it and what not. Kinda ridiculous.

Lastly, Grêmio. Grêmio is the soccer team in Porto Alegre. When there is a game work stops, period. You can tell when Grêmio scores because you can hear people screaming and shouting. Its pretty funny. Their arch rival is international which is a team also here in Porto Alegre. I picked Grêmio as the team I support even though I have never seen them play. Most people like Grêmio so that's how I start conversations sometimes. I visited the old stadium on P Day, their new stadium opens up early 2013.

Anyways, that's the news for this week. To answer some questions, yes I'm still getting letters from mission ties. You can still send me cookies through mission ties. The trip from São Paulo to here is a day or two. The next transfer is December 11th. Time is starting to pick up now. The first few weeks were really slow but this last week went by quickly. Like all missionaries say the days are long, the weeks are quick. Thanks for the pictures you sent me, I need them because everyone is asking to see pictures of my family and I only have one from like two or three years ago.

Lastly, I had some time today to write some letters. I did one for Oupa & Ouma, Grandpa, and Grandma. I will try and get them in the mail this week. Oh by the way Happy late Birthday to Grandma and Marie, hope you two had excellent Birthdays.


Elder Miller
Ântonio who was baptized the first week in the field.
19 November 2012 Macumba

Hello Friends and Family,

There is so much I have to talk about and so little time. I will try and remember all the interesting things and include them in future emails.

Right now I'm in the heart of the city, Porto Alegre. We are here with a another companionship and a member of the ward who is preparing to go on a mission. The city is very cool with its old architecture and such. I passed the captial building just an hour ago which you could probably see on wikipedia. Lots of people are coming up to us asking where they can find our church. The  people are interested to hear what we are all about and we are happy to anwser. Its suprising how many people know about us here, I wonder if it has anything to do with Mormons being in the news lately?

I will tell you a couple things that happened this week. The first is that I went on splits with one of the zone leaders for a day. It was intense and what I expected missionary work to be like. We were talking to everyone and it seemed like we had an appointment every hour. It was very eye opening and spiritually uplifting. The zone leaders name is Elder Capistrano an African/Brazilian that has been out in the field for a long time. He was super humble and hard working. One experience that stood out was we went into a member's "house" which just some bricks and blankets, and sung christmas carols. It was good experience because the member was this old guy that looked as if he was about to cave any minute. He was missing his feet and was blind, obviously bed ridden. I was pretty choked up inside while we sang because the whole time I was thinking just how good we have it in the states. We are so blessed I can't even express it. It seems like I am thinking this way all the time out here, especially while in the favelas.

The lessons we had this week went very well. Renatta just needs a baptismal date now which we are hoping will be sometime in early December. Hopefully we can achieve this goal. Also, those brothers I told you about last week are actually a brother and a sister. The brother is Rafael who is 13, I think, and Ingrid who is maybe 16. Their grandma is a member and she reffered us to them. Our meeting were really good and I committed them to baptism! The problem is now the Mom of, Rafael and Ingrid, all of a sudden does not want us talking to them. It is really sad  that their mom would deny them such a blessing as this. Their mom is a less active member and we are scheduled to talk with her about the whole situation Thursday. Hopefully this meeting does not fall through, I have noticed in Brazil what you plan usually does not happen. Oh, and while we were talking with the Grandmother we made another contact. I can't remember her name but she is in her early twenties and is a family friend. We taught her a couple times and she went to church yesterday and had a really good experience. We committed her to baptism in December also. It was really funny yesterday at the end of the lesson because we asked her to pray and she would not do it because she said she felt "vergonha" or shame. Elder Queiroz and I just closed our eyes and folded our arms waiting for her to offer the prayer. Eventually, she finally prayed and it was very powerful, especially when she mentioned her parents that had passed away. I could feel the spirit and I know her parents were looking down on us.

The last thing I will mention in this email is Macumba. It is something native to Southern part of Brazil and is kind of creepy but worth mentioning. So there are a lot of these African ritual religions down here and they like to play with evil spirits. A couple nights ago I saw it for myself. There was this family and they had all these weird statues and paper etc. with a fire going on, and they had a cage with something in it. I dont know what was inside and I dont want to know, but lots of times they do sacrifices just out in the middle of the road and nobody does anything about it. Lots of times when we leave our apartments in the morning we see the remains of Macumba. It is actually kind of scary because the missionaries tell me that sometimes you might even come in contact with someone that is "possesed". Pretty crazy huh? Elder Queiroz gave me the whole run down on what to do if im ever in house or with someone like this, it was pretty funny. You can tell which houses you should not go into because in their front lawn they have these little red houses where they keep all their macumba stuff. Just thought that would be something to tell you all about, but dont worry about me. It just goes to show the mission rules are inspired because we were like 10 minutes late to getting back to our house when we saw this family starting their macumba session.

Questions. Christmas is going to be really weird this year since it will be hot and humid, we should be able to use skype at a members house, maybe the bishops. Don't worry about me being hungry anymore. We recieved a giant suitcase full of candy from Manaus this week. This should keep me going a couple more weeks haha. Oh! I found a pannini maker in the cupboard this week so I bought a bunch of meat, cheese, and bread and now I am a pannini making champion! Last, week I ran out of money so I had to use the debit card a lot. I should not run out of money again, last week we had to use to buses a lot for Elder Queiroz's doctors appointments which quickly burned through my cash.

Anyways there is a lot more I want to say but I have to go. I'll save it for next time.


Elder Miller