Friends and Family,
Thank you for all of your kind messages this week on my birthday. I really appreciate the support. I really would love to give longer, more personalized emails to each one of you, but time is limited, so this blog mail will have to suffice. I´m really sad to hear about Gabe´s game, that must have been a rough one. I´m glad they battled it out til the end though. I really want to send some pictures back to you, but our normal LAN cafe is closed today because it´s a holiday and really rainy, so I can´t get the SD card reader to work. Next week. For all of you worrying about my food situation, I´ve basically got it ironed out. I got some eggs and ramen, along with a bunch of milk and juice at the store this week, and we received some other food that I´ll discuss later on. I also got a multivitamin, so good there. We also eat lunch with the members basically every day, and now that we´re not moving houses anymore, I´ll be getting my stuff together. If you guys have any easy, cheap recipes that make use of basic supplies like ramen, other pasta, eggs, and other cheap stuff, I´m all ears. I´m slowly but surely settling in to the new area, new customs, new people, new language, new lifestyle, and new companion, and pretty soon I´ll be getting this thing well figured out. I suppose I have to, because I go on an exchange with the Zone Leader tomorrow, so I better know my stuff.
As for this week, it was all over the place. Not only were the emotions all over the place, I´ve been all over the place. I can´t even tell you how much we´ve walked this week. I began the week with a blister that was about two inches long stretching across the ball of my right foot. Then, I got a huge blister on the other foot too, and a bunch randomly distributed around the toes and the heal. They were hurting a lot, and then I walked more, and they spread. When one of the members noticed I was limping, I realized it was time to do something about it, so I got some advice from the Relief Society President ( the one who noticed). I cut off all the extra skin, rubbed a ton of bacitracin on the horrible looking under part, and whenever I had to wear shoes, I´ve been putting gauze on them. And they´ve healed. I still get a bit of pain whenever I walk, but it´s much much less than before. It´s truly a miracle, especially when I´ve been walking on them ~5 hours a day. The power of God is real, and he looks after missionaries.
The members here in Itajubá really are fantastic. They all want to help with the missionary work, and it´s never hard to get a member to join us for a teaching appointment. One member in particular, Gabriel, has been doing a ton of work with us, knocking doors, and joining lessons. He´s one of the young men in the ward, and he´s great. We also did a split with some of the local Priests. I found some frustration when we taught a woman who for some reason couldn´t understand my accent, so I´d say part of the lesson in Portuguese, and then the Priest with me, Isaque, would repeat the exact same thing, word for word, and she´d get it. Sadly though, despite the fact that many people are willing to hear the message, most are very non-committal. They don´t want to come to church, they don´t want to accept challenges, and although we taught a lot this week, we´re suffering in the New Investigators department. It´s alright though. As long as we´re putting in the work, eventually we´ll find those that the Lord has prepared for us. We´ve also got some good appointments set up for later this week to teach our progressing investigators, and hopefully we´ll start to see some more baptisms soon here.
As for my birthday, we celebrated by buying a couple of pizzas at the local supermarket and cooking them in our apartment. I ate a bunch of pizza and drank like a liter of banana juice, and it was good. I have pictures, but alas, I cannot send them. I also still haven´t received your package, although hopefully I will tomorrow at our district meeting in Pouso Alegre. I´ve been missing you guys more than normal this week, being my birthday and Halloween, normally one of my favorite times of year. I also remembered the anniversary of my last, disastrous high school football game. I miss disc golf, and basically all types of media too. But that´s alright. I can make it.
This Wednesday our branch had a musical training activity, where we all learned how to lead hymns, and we talked about the spiritual power of music. After, we had popcorn and Guarana. On Halloween, we had the opportunity to help the Branch President and his wife throw a Halloween party at their English school. I got to converse with a bunch of the Alumni in English, and I also got to help a younger class practice singing Glorious for a choir event they´ll be doing in December. Elder Gomes and Gabriel helped a lot with setting up chairs and tables, and we got to eat a bunch of cake. We also took home all the leftover refreshments, so our kitchen is well stocked with bread and cakes and juice. It was a really fun experience, and I got to speak my native tongue for a while and share the gospel purpose that brought me here to the South side of the globe.
As far as the Spirit goes, I´ve been praying a lot this week. Prayer and Ibuprofen got me through a lot of the days with the really bad blisters, and it really is a miracle that my feet are healing so fast with the amount of punishment I´ve been giving them. I´ve looked a lot to 1 Nephi 3:7. Kind of a classic verse, yes, but it holds a good, robust message of hope. Through the power of the Lord we can do all things, no matter how hard. I´ve also really, really been enjoying Jesus the Christ, and I recommend that if you haven´t read it yet, you should start. It´s awesome.
Things this week were hard, but not nearly as rough as last week. I´m relying on God and slowly getting better and better at living the missionary life, and I know that soon, great blessings will follow. It´s tough, but with God on my side, I will succeed!