Hello new year, how are you? I hope you enjoy staying with us for the next 365 days. You should have a blast here. Earth is a pretty happenin' place. I know its not the same as a Mars Year and it will definitely pass fast than your year on Pluto, so make the best of it with us, all right? Good.
This week was one of my best weeks as far as the work goes! We really pounded it out and had 3 BAPTISMS!!!!!! But first, let me explain.
So at the beginning of this week we had a joint district meeting with some other missionary companionship's and the Zone Leaders gave us a great pep talk (or training, as they call it.) I was really feeling good and prepared, then my fantastic Zone Leader had a long chat with my companion about what had occurred last week. My best guess is they talked for about an hour! Anyways, we returned to our area shortly afterwards and a miracle occurred... MY COMPANION TALKED TO ME!!! He decided to open up and we talked about our issues, what we can do to improve, problems, and goals. It was amazing! He got some things off his chest we were finally able to move on! After that it was all easy sailing. We taught, studied, found new people, and taught more TOGETHER! We were joking around and genuinely having a good time! A MIRACLE! Seriously, he and I are new missionaries now and we have "captured the vision" as they say.
We ended our week with 4 baptisms in our district, one of which has been waiting to be baptized for 16 years! I had the privilege to help him finally find peace from his past. I am just so blessed that we were able to help him. When I baptized a kid name Rener, he remembered to plug his nose but totally spaced about closing his mouth, thus he unintentionally drank a big old mouth full of water!! As he came up he gasped for air, looked and me and said " That's it?" Everyone busted up laughing!
Diving into the gritty details of the week: MY CHEESE DIED!!! Yes, it turns out that Tillamook cheese can only take so much of a beating and spend only so much time in a plastic bag, traversing the oceans and jungles. Yes, it turns out that even great cheese must finally return to that great cheese factory in the sky to receive its recompense and glory as all cheese must do. I had consumed only about 2 thirds of my cheese when it finally fell prey to time and age (and heat), giving way to odor and its appetite destroying effects. T'was sad, yes, to see so much cheese lost to garbage demons but I take comfort in the fact that one day I will meet it again in a walmart near you (or in a package for my birthday...?
Side note - a member gave me a tie with a saxophone on it!!! I love it and I feel so good knowing I have a woven memory of my high school days!
Also our hot water shower head burned out. t'was to my dismay one morning this week when I arose expecting warm comfort, and instead found liquid ice. Needless to say, my showers have become much faster and more frantic.
Side note- There is a verb in Portuguese, plastificar, that literally means to plasticify! LOVE IT!
The bishop here saw that I write everything down during the week in a little black notebook that I carry with me everywhere (hence the detail in the letters.) He then asked me to take note of a few things;
1. I lent him 10 bucks to buy gas and pick up some people to bring to church.
2. He wished to give a big hug to my dad.
3. We had lunch on Sunday at his house, the 1st day of the new year.
The bishop here is a fantastic man whose family is wonderful. We love passing by his house to say a quick hello! Speaking of his family, I have a story to tell. There is a handicapped man who lives right next door to the bishop. His name is really long so everyone just calls him "Fozzie" (yes, I thought of the Muppets too.) He is very old, crippled in one hand, and suffered an accident to the head so he can not walk very well or communicate. He has almost no immediate family. This week I helped him take in his food that he bought. Two fishes, an old tomato, an onion, and 2 liters of soda. Just upon first sight of him, my heart sank. How can [man] leave his brethren (and sisters) to exist the way this man does; tears me up inside. He could barely open his front door let alone carry his bags and prepare a meal. Upon entering his house I found he owned a small, very old fridge, a stove with no heads on top, a hammock which stretched across the entire room that constituted the house, one table, and a radio tuned in to Portuguese dance music. The rest of the house was covered in old newspapers and garbage. I wanted to cry then and I still do. Fozzie was in no position to better his situation nor did he deserve what he had. And yet, these facts do not change the truth that he lives in. He gave me a smile and thanked me for helping him as I left to join my companion in the bishops house. There I sat and contemplated what I had seen. It was visible too that something has on my mind, so the bishops wife, Grace ( graça) offered me something to drink. I accepted and asked her about her neighbor.
The story she related tore me up. His life was one of trials, pain, and loneliness. He has nothing. She also told me he loves to read and that is why he had all the newspapers. She then told me of how everyday after he leaves, she opens his back door and cleans his house, washes his clothes, and often prepares and gives him food. She told me of how she regularly cuts up the vegetables he uses and how often she will invite him to dinner or to participate in a family activity. He lives there free of charge. Within all my sorrow for this man, Sister Grace gave me such a hope that God sends his angels to care for his people. She was such an example of Christ. I felt so grateful to her. I also realized I had reading material for Fozzie!! So I returned to his house (which was just a few steps away) and I offered him a Book of Mormon to read when he is at home or not busy. His faced beamed and I wanted to cry again. He thanked me and I felt that his thanks was something more than words. He asked if we could say a prayer before I left and so I did. Just 15 minutes later he came to the bishops door, asking Sister Grace to cut his tomato and onion. She did, preparing them carefully so as to make sure she did not ruin the small amount of food. He also said he was so very happy because I had given him a book and he did not have any other books to read. I tell you now, I hope to help others and touch the souls of these people in the way he touched me and I pray and hope he will be okay.
On Saturday I got a visit from the Mission President. He brought me Christmas cards from Dru and Jessica, The Combs family, Brother and Sister Rigby, and one from Mom and Dad. I also received your cookies Hanna! They, unfortunately did not survive the voyage, but I still have them because I do not want to throw them away. I also received a package from Ryan and Michelle's Family!!!!! Twizzlers, candy, and...... another Harmonica!!!!! Yes, I have two now and I am getting pretty good I think. I can play a score of hymns and ol' sea shanties to satisfy my musical bones.
Thank you also to Kenzie and Kyle for the awesome watch. It is beautiful and thus will probably be stolen, but I wear it with pride. It was huge so me and my companion used a sewing kit and my Leatherman and managed to take out 2 sections to make it fit.
Another side note - I will have it known that my pants, when I bought them, were long. They puddled at my shoes following classic missionary fashion rules. However, as the rainy season has arrived here, puddled pants in rain puddles do not mix. Thus, I have tested a new creation of mine. I "hemmed" one of my own pants. 3 inches!!! AND they still puddle a bit on my shoes! These pants are LONG. So I think I am safe if I happen to grow and inch or two on my mission (unlikely at this point).
We spent New Years at the member house where we had Christmas as well. We hate another feast and they had music videos playing in the background. I happen to catch a glimpse (or rather watch) a new Coldplay video involving elephant suits! Yes, I am speaking of the music video to their song "Paradise". I highly recommend it. It's good stuff.
Well, I think that closes up my week. Until next time, "you stay classy San Diego".
Eu vos Amo.
Elder Asa Laws