Monday, December 5, 2011

A Little Girl ... A Map ... A Reminder!

Dear Family!

Hey guys!  How’s life going?  Things are going good way down here.  Sometimes I forget how far away I am from home.  The other day a kid had a map of the world and wanted to see where I lived so I showed where Las Vegas is.  She said, "Whoa!  You are so far away from your home!!"  I had kind of forgotten how far São Paulo is from home and it took that little girl and a map to remind me.  haha.

How was my birthday without me there?  It was so weird here.  This was my first birthday in 20 years that I wasn’t home with you guys.  Leading up to it, I wasn’t planning on doing anything for it.  I was just planning on it being a normal day of work.  However, Elder Costa decided that he didn’t want my birthday being “just another day” and wanted it to be a bit more special.  During a Family Home Evening with a family that I really like, he said, “So next Friday is Elder Fox's birthday.”  So much for not doing anything for it!  haha  The mother of the family instantly invited us over for the night of my birthday.  Her little daughter and daughter's cousin made me a cake which was really good!  They are still primary age … like I think 10 years old ... and they did an amazing job!  It was really nice of them but that day was still a hard one.  I was dying from saudades.  (Remember that word?)  I was super homesick.  I wasn’t myself that day.  I didn’t think it would be so hard to be away from my family during birthdays and holidays.  Also, I haven’t gotten the package yet.  The thing to remember is that the post office in America can say it’ll get here on a certain date, but I’m in brazil.  Once it leaves the United States … they don’t really have any control over it.  I may get it tomorrow during our district meeting, but if not, I’ll have to wait until transfers.  If Elder Costa or I are transferred, we'll be going to the office.  If not … someone else probably will be in my zone, so then I’ll have to wait until the week after that.  We'll see.

They’re stopping sending foreign missionaries to brazil?!  What?!!  That’s crazy!!  Does that include other countries as well or is that just happening here?  I’m treated really good here.  Just as good as my Brazilian companions and sometimes better.  People think it’s really cool that I’m from another country.  And being from Las Vegas adds an extra amount of fun.  They always have tons of questions about home.  Or … I’ll be walking down the street and some little kid that I’ve never seen before will come running up to me and ask if I’m American.  When I reply, “Yes.” they will then respond, "Oh! Say something in English please!!"  It’s really funny.  Especially when they try and speak in English to me because generally the only thing they know is … "What is your name" (name being pronounced namey) and "The book is on the table".  It’s really funny.  I’m treated great here.  I have had one guy threaten to kill me once, but he was drunk and probably didn’t know what he was saying.  Of course there are some people that are very Anti-American.  They think that we are all stuck up and think we're better than everyone else, but those are very little in number.  For the most part, everyone is super receptive and really really friendly.  Brazilians are really nice!  So, I can’t believe they’re stopping sending foreigners here.  I told Elder Costa and he was in disbelief.  I’ll ask President Martins about that in my email today.  It kind of sucks for the Brazilian missionaries too because to be able to speak English is a very useful ability here as far as work goes.  Speaking English puts you way ahead in competition for a job.  On the mission, a lot of them study English and practice it and try to learn it.  I’m teaching Elder Costa English and during language study, while I’m studying Portuguêse, he studies English.  But you can’t learn a language good without someone to practice with, so they’re going to lose that opportunity too.

Things are going good here.  We’re working hard and doing lots of contacts. When you’re outside of the big city, your teaching pool is a lot smaller.  We spend a lot of time going after new investigators.  Lots of knocking on doors and stopping people in the road.  We have a lot of investigators that are really good though!  The only problem is their baptism will take a little longer.  Two of our investigators that we have are awesome!  They have two little kids and they are going to church and all the activities.  They already have a lot of friends in the ward.  The only problem is that they aren’t married.  We taught the Plan of Salvation lesson and brought up marriage with them.  In Brazil, you have to get married in a government building that’s just for marriages.  After that, they do a marriage ceremony in the church too, so everyone can go and see.  It’s all decorated and everything, but that is just a ceremony and doesn’t mean anything.  Anyways, you have to make an appointment at the government building, pay, and do a bunch of stuff.  When we brought up marriage they said, “Oh I don’t know.  We don’t even know what were supposed to do for it.”  Before the lesson, Elder Costa and I had stopped by that building and gotten all the information on it all.  We came prepared!  We pulled out all the papers and set it all down on the table.  It was pretty funny.  One of those “not expected” moments.  They seemed pretty shocked that we knew everything already.  Then there was the dilemma of them wanting a wedding too.  Something in celebration, with decorations and everything.  They wanted to do it in our church building.  Their concern was that it was going to take a bit to prepare for the wedding and it might be hard for them all by themselves.  Well … the lesson was being held at the 1st counselor in the Relief Society's house and she said, “Oh!  Don’t you worry about a thing!  I will make sure that the ward takes care of it.”  Gotta love the Relief Society!  I guess they had already done another wedding and the whole ward pitched in to help.  They accepted the wedding/baptism date and have already gone and scheduled the day at the government building!  It’s awesome!  We have some other investigators preparing for baptism as well.  The only problem is that theirs will be delayed a bit too.  They won’t be until the next transfer or the one after.  I hope I’m still here for them!  Basically, a majority of what we are doing, and what President Martins told us that we’re going to be doing in this tiny city, is planting seeds.  That’s why we’re talking to tons of people, making lots of contacts, and handing out lots of those church card things.  (I forget what they’re called in English.)

My times about up, so I’ll wrap this up.  Belle … congrats on your friend that is getting baptized!!  Make sure you’re always there for her because that’s what you have to do when you help someone do something important like baptism.  I love you all so much!!  Hope you’re all doing great!!  Just 20 more days until I can call home!!  I love you all!!!

Love,
Tavin

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