Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 12, 2014

Skype was fun seeing you guys!  Next time I might not be able to speak English maybe!

Right now I'm using a super ghetto computer so if my grammar is extra bad - sorry!  So this week was awesome.  We focused a lot on one family.  They all went to a Mother's Day activity but didn't go to church because the sister's mother was in town so it's all good.  We're going to try to get them to come next week.  They enjoy church a lot and have gone a few times.

There are two sisters named Daisy and Daniella and they want to get baptized but first they need to get married so we are going to help them with that.  Daniella has a daughter and she was going to get baptized but the night before changed her mind because she said she wants to keep wearing short shorts and listening to a music called funk - haha.  So we're going to keep working with her and her family.

Then at church we weren't expecting any investigators but this boy came to church and he said to his teacher, "yeah, I came to church because I saw two American missionaries and I'm going to learn English."  So during Sacrament I sat with him and I taught him different colors in English and how to say, "you are a monster" to my companion so that was fun.  He is 11 and his names is Gabriel.  We're going to try and teach him this week so that's exciting.

We were also trying to find new people to teach and we found this new girl named Erika and she is awesome.  We taught the first lesson about Joseph Smith and how the Church of Jesus Christ was restored.  We taught that when Jesus Christ was killed and his 12 apostles as well all authority was lost and many different churches were formed from the teachings of the Bible.   And it went great.  She is looking forward to going to church this week.  So we have some great people in the area to teach this week.

Something I've learned is obedience.  When I follow the rules and do what I'm supposed to do I find great people and I receive so many blessings.  I know when I follow the rules of my mission and apply the teachings of the scriptures into my life I can bless other people's lives as well.

Random thing this week:
Cooking an egg in a microwave isn't that bad - it's TERRIBLE!!!

Well, I love you guys and I'm doing awesome.   It was fun to see that my family is crazy as ever!  Brazil is awesome.  Keep choosing the right and all that good stuff!

May 11 - Mother's Day phone call highlights

Today Austin was able to Skype with us and the house was on lock down until he called.  It was so fun to see his face and hear him laughing with his siblings.   We covered a lot of topics.  We asked him what his favorite part of his mission is, and what is the hardest.  He said that he loves talking to people and teaching them and answering their questions.  He said the hardest part is when he knows people feel what he is saying is true, but reject his message anyway.   It's sad when people use their free agency to reject God and not want Him in their lives.  Anyway, it sounds like he is loving practically every minute.  Here's some random stuff…

- He often makes himself fried egg sandwiches with cheese for dinner.  Breakfast is not eaten in Brazil, but the first meal of the day is lunch, and that's the big main meal.  This is the meal that they eat with church members.  Lunch is BBQ'd meat, rice, and beans.  Everyday.  He is getting tired of rice and beans.  I asked him if we have a big Brazilian meal when he gets home with rice and beans if he'd think it was funny?   He said no!

-I have a friend going to Porto Alegre next month (small world, right?) and she asked if I'd like her to take anything to Austin for his birthday.  I asked Austin what he would like or what he misses most from home.  His answers were sour patch kids, skittles, starburst, stick deodorant, and contact solution.

-He lives off the equivalent $12.50 US per week for food.
-Rent is $150.00/month split between 4 missionaries

-He is sick of meat, rice, and beans.  (I never thought I'd hear the day Austin got sick of eating meat.)  He is dying for an American cheeseburger!

-He is in the city of Porto Alegre now in an area called Rubem-Berta.  He said it's really small.   He can sit on the toilet and take a shower at the same time - haha.   He hasn't done this.  A little brother asked…

- Randy asked what the predominant religion is and he said currently where he is it's called Batki.  I probably don't have the right spelling.  He said that animal sacrifices (chickens) are a common practice for this particular religion.

-Nothing phases him anymore.  Austin was never phased by much anyway, I thought.  He said breastfeeding is super common and the women don't cover up like they do in the USA.  Used to embarrass him…

-Stray dogs everywhere.  Says they're dirty and have bugs on them.  Doesn't like the dogs but the dogs are happy stray dogs.  People feed them.

-Walks all day long.  Teaches 25 lessons a week.  Walks 8-14 miles per day.  His first set of shoes was worn out in 2 months.

-Worst thing he's eaten - cow stomache.  Said it was slimy and gushy.  Then it gave him diarrhea.

-you don't knock on the doors in Brazil but clap outside the homes outside the gates.

-currently he lives behind a gate where there are 3-4 homes inside the gate.  He lives on a second floor apartment in one of the homes.

-he is a 3 minute walk to the church building.  The building is bigger than the one we have in Ashburn.

-He gets up at 6:00 everyday.  A typical day consists of studying in the morning and then talking and teaching all afternoon.  He has Mondays off.

-He comes home December 8, 2015!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

May 5, 2014

It sounds like you guys had a crazy week!  Time to get a new car!  That's crazy that it totally died like that!  The beach looks beautiful and awesome!  I'll be able to go to the beach in 3 years!  Enjoy the water for me!  This Sunday is Mother's Day and I can Skype you guys but you need to create a Skype account.  Then I can talk to you guys and it will be awesome!

The time for me is the same time zone as Sao Paulo.  I will call you guys at 3 o'clock my time so that is 2 o'clock your time but just check to make sure.

My companion is named Elder Gee and he goes home in 4 more weeks.  He has been in Brazil for almost 2 years and he has a lot of experience so it is fun to learn from him.  He is American.

My new area is in the north of Porto Alegre - Rubem-berta.  I live in the ghetto.  My apartment is less than half the size of the living area of our basement.  We have four Elders living in it.  We are trying to get another house.  Me and my companion and the other set of missionaries have a lot of fun together.  My area is awesome though.  The church is a lot bigger and we have a lot of members in our ward.

Everyone in my area is black and is very poor.  My area, I think, is the poorest in the entire mission.  We had a lot of investigators go to church last week and that was awesome.  We had one investigator named Daisy, who is married (the people are never married in Brazil) so that is awesome.  Being married is a requirement to be baptized.  Daisy brought her sister and her sister's two kids.  So hopefully they will be baptized this Sunday.  That would be way awesome.

My mission is a baptizing mission.  This area of my mission apparently just gets a lot of baptisms.  It's super neat to see how Heavenly Father prepares different areas and people to hear the gospel.  The average missionary here baptizes one or more people a week here.  And it's not because the missionaries here work harder or that we're just lucky but it's because a lot of people here are just prepared to receive the gospel.  It is great to work on this mission, to see so many people open their hearts and to hear a message from us.

This week I walked into the most ghetto area I could find.  I told Elder Gee "let's go on an adventure."  We went into an area that was just wooden huts so I did the first normal thing I could think of and thought, "let's find the person that looks like the most unlikely person to teach."  So we found this guy with a bunch of jewelry and tattoos and I decided to teach him.  So I taught him the third lesson in Preach my Gospel - just the basics about faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  He said he wants to go to church, but we'll see what happens.  He told me, "wow, no one ever comes here.  I've never seen any church person every go anywhere near this place."  So on the bright side there are lots of people who have never been taught, and on the other hand it may not be such a good idea to return because a lady started asking us for money when we started to leave.  Don't worry, I won't go there at night -haha.  But it is fun and humbling to go to different areas and seeing how people live.

Two of my favorite families.
 This family is my favorite.  I told them they were my Brazilian family.  They made me BBQ's every week and I taught lessons with their son.  I also helped their son learn more English.  He reminds me a lot of Blake and he is crazy.

The guy sitting to my right returned from his mission 3 months ago and he was our mission leader and helped us out a lot.  This is another awesome family.  We ate cake and drank lots of juice and had lots of lunches with them.

 This is a picture of Juliano.  He got baptized and for being only 14 he has a ton of faith.  He rides his bike 35 minutes just to get to the church.  He is an incredible example for me of how to not only have faith but to really show faith and the blessings you can receive when you apply faith in your life.   He is an awesome kid and hopefully he continues to go to church.

This is me and my companion and a guy named Tiago.  He just returned home from his mission two weeks ago.  His is super awesome and has helped us teach lessons.

Me and my missionary bros...

                                                                      Elder Gee

 Elder Andrade

Elder Burgos

Elder Barrus - they pronounce it Bahos here

My new house.  The shower broke so we boil pots of water and then we put it into a bucket that has holes in it.  Then I run to the shower and dump the hot water in and then I put the two smaller buckets underneath to catch the water from the big bucket.  Good think I have street smarts - haha.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

April 28, 2014

I'm heading off for my second area tomorrow!  Can't believe it has already been another 6 weeks.  There members here have been so awesome.  I'm going to have one last BBQ before I leave.  I got to go to the temple last week and it was a great experience.  It is basically a super p-day where I got to walk around a giant shipping center and eat lunch there.  And then afterward head for the temple.  I'm excited to leave for a new area though.  I'll let you guys know next week where in Brazil I am.  I got some letters dated February 16 this week.  It was the day of Sophie's birthday so it takes a little while for letters to get here.  I haven't gotten any of the packages yet.  I think it takes a few months to arrive.  Time is going by super fast!

 We made tacos on P-Day

Porto Alegre temple

(Second email later in the day)
Sounds like you guys had a crazy week!  Blake's scar is crazy!  Tell him congratulations for also having metal in his body!  The temple was so awesome.  I had a translator mating so I wasn't totally lost when the people were talking so that was good!  I'm becoming better with packing my stuff for transfers so that's good.  I'm excited to leave for a new area.  We have 4 sister missionaries coming to our area so we super cleaned the place for them.  I love you guys.  I'll write more next week.  It was fun to get your letters.  We had stake conference last week and I could understand phrases at this meeting, but the people here talk very fast!  The language is getting way better.  I can understand people if they talk slow and I don't have any problems anymore speaking during lessons so that's gotten better.  The six month mark is where I'll be able to understand everything apparently.  That is according to other missionaries, so that will be neat.  I think I might study German after I learn Portuguese on my mission, because a lot of people here know German.  I can get a German Book of Mormon at the temple.  Well, life's good here.  I'm going to go eat super good meat!  I'll write you more next week.  Love ya!

Monday, May 12, 2014

April 21, 2014

Questions from home, and answers from Elder Barrus

1.  Did you poison the cockroaches yet?

"No poison yet.  Me and my companion watched a cockroach crawl up and out of the toilet.  We now use the bathroom in the chapel….WE NEED POISON SO BADLY!"

2.  Did Juliano get baptized?

"Juliano was baptized.  It was awesome."

3.  How is the couple doing?  Are they still trying to get married?

"The couple wants to be married.  They have set a goal for one month.  They would like to get their daughter baptized and they are all attending church."

4.  How are your feet?  Did you buy any shoes?

"I bought running shoes.  The pain is gone but I need to wear running shoes for awhile like a month to make sure the problems don't come back."

5.  Are you still teaching the Nixon's?

"The Nixon's are awesome but don't have the desire to change, but they like when we come and visit them.  It's kind of a dead end with them right now but the wife read The Book of Mormon so we need to follow up.

6.  Did David get baptized?

"David's mom wouldn't let him get baptized after she saw all the paperwork for the baptism.  But before that she was cool with him getting baptized.  If I don't get transferred to another area next week then I'll follow up with him in a few more weeks.

7.  What about Jessica?

"Jessica ended up not believing in the Bible and isn't ready for baptism."

8.  Juice packets that you are so excited about - is it kool aid?

"The juice packets are kool aid and are very cheap here."

"Going to the temple today so don't have a lot of time today!  For Easter we threw an activity and had the ward and youth work together and played soccer and volleyball.  We ate hotdogs.  We had six investigators at the activity and at the end of the activity I baptized Juliano.  Two investigators stayed for the baptism and now they want to be baptized too!  Two previously inactive members are now very active and one of them is now going on a mission.  He told me he wants to serve his mission in 6 months.  We went on a division together and taught lessons together.  His name is Anderson.  I ate some chocolate for Easter.  I think I can get your package in two weeks or so.  Life is good here.  I'm excited to go to the temple!"