Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

   Hey, I get an hour to email you guys now, but part of that is eaten up by a letter to the mission president.
   Well, I guess I’ll start with the beginning. We had to wake up at like three in the morning to leave or something ridiculous like that, from the MTC. All of our travels went fine, and everything went ok. Rio is not much more humid than São Paulo was, just a tiny bit more. The mission home was really nice looking all decorated for Christmas already. We ate there and stuff but did not stay there. The mission President and his wife are nice but they don't speak any English!! It's really hard to communicate right now. I'm doing my best though to learn.
   Alright so after we ate and had interviews with the President we left for the church building to get our companions and watch this video or whatever on training missionaries. My first companions name is Elder Ferreira. He has only been on his mission for 7 months and I am only his third companion! It was a little scary to learn that fact but he seems to know what he is doing. He speaks English pretty good, but when he is tired or something he has a hard time understanding so I need to learn Portuguese fast. Our first day was mostly travel. It took three hours to get to our area. The name of my first area is Galeão. The main part of Galeão where we proselyte is a favela called Vila Juniza, and it looks very much like the favelas look in Fast Five Lol. The houses are crazy and the streets are all broken and trash and dog feces are everywhere. But there are quite a few members here and almost all of our investigators are in there.
   So.... my apartment... if you can call it that. We do not live in our area, unfortunately. This means we have to take a bus every day to and from our area. This costs about 35 reais a week, and we only get 260 for the month. Over half our money is spent on travel to our area. We also have to pay for our utilities and house payments. We get reimbursed but it takes like 10 days so we have to have enough money saved to pay the utilities first, so not much money is left for food and things. I basically buy a few snacks and some cereal for the morning. The main meal in Brasil is lunch, not dinner, so the members feed the missionaries lunch. We have a lunch appointment everyday so don't think I'm starving or anything. My apartment is really small. We live next to the bishop of the Ilhã ward, which is the ward that meets in the same building as us. We also live with our district leader and his companion, so four of us in a tiny place. A lot like The Best Two Years. We have a small fridge and very small stove and sink. Our washing machine is very small and hooked up to the sink to get water from. It's very humble place to live in. We do not have a dryer so we need to hang our stuff up to dry. The bathroom is small. The shower is basically a spigot from the wall. There is not curtain and no walls, other than the corner it is in so water is always everywhere on the floor. We never go anywhere barefoot.
   The second night I think, my feet were almost completely eaten by mosquitoes. They itch all the time now. It was partly my fault because i had my feet uncovered, but that’s because it's so darn hot. I spray with bug spray now every night before I sleep.
   OK, a have little time left so I will tell you the things I think you need to know. No, you cannot send letters to me at my address. I don't know why but that is what my companion said. You must send them to the mission office, not the mission home. This is where packages are sent as well. Unfortunately this also means I won't get letters very often. I only get real letters every six weeks, at transfers. It's lame and sucks, i know. I also have not heard anything about using the pouch mail system. None of the elders in my district are American and only my companion speaks any kind of English. Also, for me to send a package to you is very expensive.... like 50 reais or so. I'm not sure how many times I can send my camera memory cards.
   We have a meeting with Elder Bednar this week. It's pretty exciting. I can't wait to hear from him.
   Well, I'm out of time. I love you all and will write again next week. Send all your questions again!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dear Family,
   Yesterday was the first time I got to go proselyting! Two times here in the MTC we get to go proselyting... once yesterday which was just around the MTC and in MTC boundaries. All we did was try and place copies of the Book of Mormon. And next week we will be bussed into the heart of São Paulo and we will proselyte in the big busy areas, again placing copies of the good Book. But yesterday was so amazing.... we placed all 4 of our books in just 2 hours, and for the next hour since we didn't have any more books we just talked with our teachers. It was amazing because 3 out of the 4 people we talked to really seemed like they would read it, especially this one lady in particular. She said she was Evangelical but we asked her to read it and promised it would bring her peace and happiness in her life. She wanted to know a little more about our church so I gave her an Articles of Faith card I had bought here in Brasil. It was in Portuguese don't worry ;). Yesterday was huge in it being the first time we really placed copies of the Book of Mormon to real people. Some of the people who took them looked so grateful and happy to have them, and started flipping through them even before we left. Hopefully at least one of them will call and want to know more. Also, sometimes when we teach our teachers and members who come in to be taught the Spirit is so strong. One of my teachers, a guy, even started crying because he felt it so strong. It was awesome.  Also, next Monday we will have two general authorities visit the CTM and give us training. This is the day right before I leave for the field so we just barely get to do it! It will be a member of the Area presidency of Brasil and a member of the Presidency of the Quorum of the 70. It's pretty cool because we rarely get authorities of any kind down here.

Mom, that's one thing I think I may miss is your cooking around holiday time. But it's all good I'm sure the members of the wards I will serve in will take care of me.
The language is coming along pretty good. I can talk a lot about the gospel and if I really try pretty much about everything I want to. Understanding is coming. Slowly I can understand them even when they speak super fast. I think once I am in the field I will accelerate though, because it will be 100% portuguese all the time.

Today I had a cookie milkshake from that cookie store I told you about. It was kind of expensive... but it was my last P-Day here so I don't regret it too much. I will try and keep my expenses down though, until I get to the field and will receive money every month for my monthly allowance. My branch president is a really cool guy. He has been the officiator in the Temple because he is here on a mission too. It's been really cool being able to see him twice a week.
Relaxation? haha, we get none. Sometimes we don't study too hard and talk in class... but that's about it. Sleeping at night is really the only relaxation I get. And toilet breaks Lol.

Hey grandma i just wanted to let you know I got your letter and love hearing from you and about grandpa's experiences as a missionary. Please keep writing me and read my blog so you can know what is going on with me! Lots of love!
Well, have a good week everyone! Lots of Love from Brasil! Next time I write you I will be in Rio de Janeiro. Hopefully ;).

        Elder Baldwin

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hi family:  
   Today was the second to last time I go to the temple, with next Tuesday being the last time. It's kinda weird.... I only have two weeks left. I sometimes forget to pray Daily for a good first companion but I do pray for one. My teacher told me about a companion he had who had 2 lazy missionaries in a row, and so when my teacher got to him he had to reteach him the missionary purpose, how to use preach my gospel, all the lessons, and everything. Then the companion he had right after him was an american out 8 months who, because of laziness and lazy companions, still could not speak Portuguese! I really hope that doesn't happen to me. It's getting better but I don't think I'll get really good until I'm out in the field. Some brasiliens compliment me on my accent though. They say sometimes I sound like I'm really from Brazil! That makes me happy when I can do that.
   Weather here is starting to get hotter. The past few weeks it has been nice and cool, just under or around 20 Celsius. Today though was more like 25 and I think it will just get hotter. Also, it's starting to get more humid which just makes things worse. But I’ll get through it. I'm not sure really what I want in my Christmas package. It's weird, before the mission I never really cared much for ties but here I really want to by some but do not want to waste my money on them. So yeah, ties. Not silk ones though.... apparently the sun here ruins silk ties so send me polyester. Its really too bad because almost all my ties are silk. They said it's fine as long as I only where them like once a week though, but I still want to be safe and have some polyester too. So yeah, that’s all I can really think of. 
   Today I bought a notepad and two cheap pens and I'm starting to practice drawing when I have free time. Just practicing drawing people and different things. An Elder in my district named Elder Swinney can draw really well and has started teaching me a few techniques. It's weird being out here on the mission made me really think about all the talents and skills I really want to develop, but never "had the time to" because I was playing video games and what not. Like drawing and painting, playing the piano and other musical instruments, and other things like that. Also all the books I want to read like Jesus the Christ and the Bible,. I know it sounds weird but those are the kinds of things I want to start doing now... but can't because now I'm busy with actual important things. 
      Yeah the choir directing went pretty good, but I chose a song that was a 6/8 so I'm sure my arms look like I was windmilling, but everyone told me I did good. This past week our district sang the special musical number. We sang I know that my redeemer lives in Portuguese. It went really well. Also, tonight for the devotional we will be singing about 4 songs for prelude music, so taking choir really helped me out on my mission too in helping me learn to sing. Brasilians here do not recieve music classes in school, so many do not know how to sing, follow sheet music, or play any instruments. Even the LDS ones, so many times missionaries have to play every week for sacrament. This one elder told me he knew three songs and he was in a branch where he was the only one who knew how to play, so they sang the same three songs every single week.
      I wanna check out the blog but won’t get the chance until maybe the field, and maybe not even then. Keep it updated though and I will see it for sure when I get back ;) No, they have not given us any culture training here at all yet, and I don't think they really will, so... I don’t know. When I get out in the field I'll start walking around with less stuff, especially in the shady areas, but around the CTM it's pretty chill and in the CTM no one is going to pick pocket me. But yeah I’m sure if I get transferred to a bad area the President or my companion will warn me first.
   I love you and will try to think of more things to put in the package, but If you were gonna send it this week go ahead and send it. Oh, and you will get an email with a letter scanned to you, hopefully you can read it. I only have two more weeks in here so don't pay for that and use it. I just did it to get the free cookie and send you guys another letter. Well, Tchau!
   Lots of Love,
                      Elder Baldwin