I did want to post excerpts from my sister's latest e-mail from Brazil. She's left the CTM (the Brazil version of MTC) and is now in her first area. I laughed pretty much my way through her e-mail and thought it would be fun to share:
WOW!!! So I have finally arrived in the real Brasil. My first area is
in a town called Cangauretama. It took me a few days to be able to say the name.
The church is very new here. The branch has only been here for one year.
Yesterday was my first time at church and it was a madhouse. Most of the members
and attendees are under the age of 14 so you can imagine the level of reverence.
Sundays used to be my favorite days...But it´s getting better. My trainer Sister
Leal has been here for seven months and she has made a lot of changes to the
branch and has been trying to train the local leaders. It´s been so interesting
to be on the frontier. It´s really like the frontier out here. The town is very,
very poor, mostly projetos, or projects. Mom, the next time you think your house
is dirty, just think that many people here live with farm animals in their yard
or in their house. Our apartment is probably the nicest place around and that´s
not saying much. Last night, I showered with a frog and we have a majorly bad
ant infestion, but I don´t mind ants, they´re they small kind. I haven´t been
sunburned yet, but I have about 10 million mosquito bites. I need to buy some
repellent. It´s so interesting to be here as probably the only foreigner in
town. Everyone stares at us anyways because we´re missionaries and we dress
differently and the town is probably small enough that everyone knows who we
are, but they especially stare at me because I´m super white and have blonde
hair. Sister Leal says people can tell I´m american just by looking at me. But,
everyone is really friendly about it, sometimes groups of schoolchildren will
follow us saying random English words like hello or see you later!!
The branch is very tiny. There are exactly 6 adult leaders TOTAL (which coincidentally matches the number of missionaries here, including me) and they all have less than one year in the church, but they are all extremely devoted and try their best. Unfortunately, there is very little oppurtunities for education, etc. here. Oh my gosh, mom, you would have died at church yesterday. During sacrament meeting (in which the missionaries still do almost everything) the roof caved in and we had to try to restore order. After that, I was assigned to help in Primary, which was total chaos. The teacher doesnt really know how to teach a class, and especially not to children. For a while I was the only missionary in there and the teacher was giving the lesson by just reading from the manual and reading scriptures. She had me read FIVE verses to them out of the Doctrine and Covenants!! Adults can´t even pay attention that long. Thank goodness Sister Nascimento came in and saved the day. We played the tree of life game and the holy ghost guides you (we blindfolded them, and set up a maze of chairs etc) I was extremely impressed at how well the kids paid attention despite the poor planning etc. So that´s Cangauretama. I can´t think about how much work has yet to be done or else I think I will explode. It´s really like being a pioneer. Except a pioneer in an alien world. You cannot imagine how frustrating it is not to be able to speak fluently.
When I first got here I was so excited to get started, I thought that I would be fluent within days and I would be so busy that I wouldn´t have time to think about home, etc. I soon found out that that´s not the case. We work hard but there´s alot of downtime. So it´s been pretty hard this week to stay motivated and to try to remember why I´m here doing this. It´s been a little bit of a cultural shock, you could say. I love it here, but I miss home a lot. I think that I didn´t prepare myself very well for what it would feel like to be the only one of my kind within 100 miles. But I know that I´m supposed to be here, we had 8 people baptized this week!!! I know these feelings will pass and one day when I come home, I will miss this place instead!!! I love the other sisters here, they are all really kind, they make me feel at home. I know that every missionary feels this way their first couple of weeks and I just need to wait it through.