I am writing this email from my first area in my mission! And in an internet cafe!! The name of this area is Vila Medeiros, in the Jacana stake (which is the first stake ever formed in Brazil.) The area itself is very very beautiful, but there's one problem: it was formed on a BUNCH of hills. Seriously, so many hills. I don't mind walking 8 miles every day, but the hills are many, many, many. By the end of my 3rd day, my legs were ready to fall of. Not cripple up and die, but completely fall off, without me feeling a thing. But now, my legs are getting stronger, and I'm starting to be able to handle it. Also, please forgive my spelling errors. Because this is a Brazilian computer, it is saying that every English word is wrong, so if I actually misspell anything, I won't know.
My companion is Elder Casagrande. He's from the southern part of Brazil (which he describes as the Texas of Brazil, being incredibly proud people and probably wanting to sucede from the other parts of brazil.) He speaks English fairly well (he learned from videogames and music when he was younger), and he's a convert from Catholicism. He is an incredibly awesome trainer, and has patience with the fact that my Portuguese is horrible.
The members here are great. All of them are very kind and patient with the fact that I'm probably making little to no sense. Although, on Sunday I gave my testimony/introduction during sacrament meeting (Not Fast Sunday), and they said that they understood everything I said, so that's cool. The members we have are fairly active in the Church. Also, the chapel is beautiful. The building was an old Mansion, and they restored it to look amazing.Also, all of the people are super funny and LOVE to talk. On Sunday, we had lunch with a couple. What was supposed to be a one hour lunch ended up being 3 hours because we could not get out of there. They just kept on talking!
The work here is fairly okay. We've had a couple really good days, and a couple really bad days. In particular, Friday was horrible, and Saturday was amazing. Friday, we ended up having no lessons, and only getting a couple contacts. But on saturday, we got 4 contacts and 6 lessons in. As of right now, we have about 7 or 8 investigators, with another 10 people or so that we need to visit for the first time. When we're not doing these lessons, we're either street contacting or looking up people in our area book that expressed interest in the past, but since then have backed down. But on the bright side, our investigators are really doing well. We have one person, Ramiro (A Bolivian, read more on the next paragraph), that commited to baptism once he prays to know that it's true! So we don't have a date with him yet, but he's progressing greatly.
Also, I'm about 50% sure that I'm going to be trilingual by the time I get back. 3 of our investigators only speak Spanish, so ECG (Elder Casagrande) and I are using what little Spanish we know and mostly just pronouncing Portuguese words differently. Surprisingly enough, it actually works. Probably because he knows less Portuguese than me.
Street contacting has its ups and downs. When we get people, it feels nice, but a lot of people use the exact same excuse, becuase they're too kind to say that they're not interested: "I have to work a lot. Like, every moment." So people, if you want to tell missionaries that you're not interested, be either honest or original. Because that excuse is not an original one.
ALright, I'm gonna try and add my voice recording and some pictures on another email! Have a great week everybody! Write to me!!
Oi! Hoje is sexta-feira, e eu estou muito feliz! Vida é legal!
I hope that everybody is having a great week! As per usual, my week here (My last until the field!!!) was super quick, and fairly unmemborable. Although I have loved my time training, I am absolutely ready to be out in the field. 16 hour days that only involve studying the language or Portuguese get to you pretty quickly. I'm ready to get out there and start preaching the good word. I've finally met some Brazilians that are going to Sao Paulo North, and they're super legit. A couple of them even speak English, so I wouldn't mind having them as companions down the road (after I get this language down.)
My language study is going well. The main problem I'm having right now is that I can't roll my Rs, which isn't too much of a problem now, but down the road it'll likely be embarrassing and be the ultimate sign of being an American. That, and the fact that my last name is super hard for Brazilians to say. Brazilians don't really have that many words that have "y"s in them, and most of them are based on foreign words (for instance, Youtube, pronounced "Youtub-ee"). But it'll come. It was just awkward when I tried really hard, and my result was having a lot of spit come out of my mouth in a very short period of time. It was embarrassing.
So this'll be my last email until I get into the field. I don't know if I'll be able to email on Tuesday/Wednesday when I arrive at my mission home, but if I don't, my P-days will start being on Mondays, almost always for the next two years. So you can start writing me on Sundays. Sundays are nice times to write, and I'd appreciate it. If you send me a letter, send it to my mission home address (Mom, could you put that address on my blog? Thanks! :D) But yeah. I like letters. They make me feel special. It's cold and lonely here in South America, so a metaphorical hug in the form of a letter would be lovely. And a metaphorical e-hug in the form of an email would be also lovely.
Referring to the subject of this email: Elder Burton and I started to realize that we climb A LOT of stairs every day. So we decided to count how many floors we go up or down in just one day. The day we counted, it was 38 floors up and down stairs. To people that say that you can't exercise while learning all day, I say: tell me that after going up and down 38 flights of stairs (And yes, that would translate to 19 floors up and 19 floors down. I think. My math skills are a bit rusty since focusing all on preaching the word of God in a different language.)
I'll have a lot more detail to give you on my next email, when I'm outside of this building that confines me almost every moment. It'll be a lot more exciting starting next week.
On to responses! If I have time, I'll write a follow up email! Tchau! Have a great week!
Portuguese fun fact of the week: The word for "Turn signal" (like on cars) is pisca-pisca, which literally translates to "wink-wink." So if you want your driving experience to be more adorable, be sure to always turn on your wink-wink. Yes, this is real.
Oi! (The joke from the title was something that my Brazilian posse told me. They all thought that it was the funniest joke ever...you have to make "reggae" sound like a ribbit.)
This email is going to be short this week, for two reasons: 1) I'm behind on responding to personal emails (a wonderful problem to have, thank you all so much!), and 2) because this week has literally been a blur of monotonous activity. Despite living thousands of miles away from home, I tend to forget that, outside these cold walls, are people who exist. The CTM has finally reached the point of "I just want to be in the field." Our teachers don't really know what to do with us, so they mostly just go over small gramatical stuff. I feel like I'm just waiting to jump into the transfer cycle at this point, so I twiddle my thumbs, learn a few words, memorize some scriptures, and wait for the next P-day, so I can talk to all of you good people.
Btw, there are a few email addresses that don't work on this list, so if you're reading this on my blog and want to be on my list, please email me again with your address. I might be able to fix it, but most likely it'll have to wait until I'm in the field and I'm not doing sprint-typing.
There have been some interesting things happen this week. Our Brazilian roommtes left on Tuesday, but we got another group come in on Wednesday night. As for now, we haven't connected with them yet, but that's just because they're in the "I'm in a daze because I just started my mission" mood. It'll come. Also, on the bright side of things, we got cereal for breakfast. For two. Days. It was a wonderful feeling. Most breakfasts, we have this warm oatmeal type milky substance that we put fruit in (It's yummier than it sounds), and a panini-style breakfast sandwich that we make ourselves from rolls, pieces of ham, and cheeses. But cereal...well, cereal is good. Also, once a week we have pizza night. The best kind of pizza is this chocolate banana pizza with some cinnamnon. I don't know the Brazilian name, but it's quite wonderful.
This is pretty much my entire week. It's been a mundane week where days came and went like the Rick Astley and harlem shake phases. (I have a feeling that these references are really old already.) Also, word got to us that the US might be going to war with Syria, and there's some scandal? If any of you write me, you should give me some news updates. I feel like I know nothing now. I love being a missionary, but at times like that, I remember that the world is still going. Also, I got my first taste of "I miss music" last night, when some car outside our window started blasting Run-DMZs version of "Walk This Way" and I got kinda excited. But alas, I'm good.
Alright, I'm gonna do some personal emails! I love you all!!
Brazil/Portuguese fun fact of the week (I'm gonna start doing thsese): Weekdays in Portuguese are super cool. Literally translated, the days of the week are, starting on Sunday: "Sunday, 2nd day, 3rd day, 4th day, 5th day, 6th day, and Saturday." So today is sexta-feira.
This week has been so amazing here at the CTM!!!! Most of my
email is going to focus on last wednesday, but aside from that, here are some
-I finally figured out my new name. I have a group of
Brazilian friends that I like to hang out with a lot, and they all pronounce my
name "Elder Yooge". Apparently in Brazil, there's some TV show with a
character named Youd (pronounced like yooge"), and he's Japanese. So
-Speaking of which, the Brazilians here are so much fun! my
portuguese is getting so much better talking to them! At first, we couldn't
really connect with our roommates, but we finally found the first connection:
Music. What started out as me humming ended up with all of us singing Alicia
Keys' "Girl On Fire". It was a tender moment of bonding, and we've
spent most of our free time with them ever since. Our posse is really me, Elder
Burton, and Brazilian Elders Ruppel, G Cilva, E Sousa, Almeida, Oliveira, and a
couple others whose names I always forget, but that's alright, because we know
each other, and it's cool.
-Food here is still amazing. I've found that I need to stop
overeating at meals here, because it's super easy to do so. Maybe I won't be
losing weight after all in Brazil.
-Also, last Tuesday, we were playing volleyball, and I
rolled my ankle. It's not sprained, but I really have a problem with getting
competitive at things that I have no skill in. Kids, don't get too competitive.
Volleyball is a silly game. But I'm good now.
So my main focus of this week was Wednesday, because...we
got to go proselyting!! Our teacher took our class to Central Sao Paulo, and we
were given two copies of the Book of Mormon that we had to give away in an
hour! It was so cool. The city is phenomenal. And huge. Very, very, very, very
big city. A lot of the buildings aren't that big in width or length (maybe 7x7 number
of rooms), but then they go 30 or 40 stories high! And everyone in our district
was able to give away all of our LDMs (Livro De Mormon, it's Portuguese. Come
on.) Elder Burton and I started walking down the street, and at first, we had
about 4 or 5 rejections. But then Elder Burton started talking to an older man
about the book, and while he was listening, another guy in his mid-30s started
looking at us, so I started talking to him. And both people took the books! My
guys' main concern was whether it was free or not. After I finally learned what
he was talking about, things went a lot smoother. As it turns out, you can
actually have quite a bit of conversation with three weeks worth of Portuguese.
The second book I gave away was on the bus ride home. Buses are beautiful
places to proselyte, because the people know that they can't get away. (The
buses are holy crowded, often fitting about 15 people more than what it can
hold). The lady I gave it to didn't seem quite as interested as the first guy,
but took it anyways. It was the coolest experience. Also, cars and traffic in
Sao Paulo are CRAZY. It's interesting, there are actually a lot of traffic
jams, and when that happens, there are people waiting on corners that sell what
looked like peanuts and cotton candy to the drivers. They just walk out on the
street when cars are stopped and start knocking on windows. But oh my goodness,
Sao Paulo is such a cool city!!! When I'm in the field and not fighting for
computer time like I'm a savage, I'll send y'all a picture of my view from my
dorm window. It's like a movie, but cooler, because it smells like the city.
It's like a movie with a scratch and sniff paper. Truly a 4d experience. Or
it's real, but I like thinking about scratch and sniff pictures.
Also, about the subject of my email: while we were walking
in Sao Paulo, there was a guy having a heart attack in the middle of the
street. It was quite weird. A bunch of people were surrounding him. Luckily as
we saw him, the ambulance got there, so that's good. I was probably in too much
of a this-city-is-super-awesome shock to realize that the situation was more
serious than my awestruck face likely showed. So that wasn't my proudest
It's crazy, in less than three weeks I'll be in the field,
and in 8 days, I will have been a missionary for a month!! I feel super great
right now, like I'm metaphorically skipping on a cloud made of cotton candy,
but in a more masculine way. Sorry, I feel the need to put a joke or two in
here. My district, while I love them, is not too prone on humor, so aside from
Portuguese/slapstick jokes, I've had to hold myself back. So I'll let myself go
in emails. I swear, I don't talk like this as a missionary.
Well, I'm gonna start responding to individual emails! If I
have more time at the end (I doubt it), I'll send a followup email. I'd love
any and all letters from you!! Check if dearelder.com does the Brazil MTC. If
you need the information, I'm Elder Youd, District 33-A, Ward 1, Room 419,
Going to Brazil Sao Paulo North. It gets lonely here. We barely ever receive
mail, so this is our time to feel love back home. Write to me! Tchau!