Monday, December 23, 2013

23 Dec. 2013

Thanks for the email!  That sounds like a lot of fun being able to go to a Christmas party!   Here we have our ward Christmas party this Saturday! Should be pretty good, parties here generally have a lot of refrigerante(soda), arroz(rice), kikão (hot dogs), and other random things. Cake is always there to so it will be a lot of fun. I´m accompanying the 4 YW in the ward with Angels We Have Heard On High and I think I´m ready for it, but we shall see :) People don´t actually carol here, or at least that we´ve seen.  Thats so cool that the missionaries came over and caroled along with a mini jazz band!
  This week has been really busy! Monday was p day and buying our gifts for the mission Christmas Conference which was pretty busy. Tuesday, woke up at 4am to catch the 5:15am bus to the stake center to meet up with another zone to catch a bus the mission had rented that we were told would show up and leave at 6am.  Well, turns out it didn´t turn up until 7:30am, but we don´t know if that ws arranged so that all the missionaries would be there or not, but it was fun to hang out with all the other missionaries while we waited. Got on the bus with some of the assistants and just talked and had fun while we were heading to the meeting. I thought we were heading to the mission office but turns out that we were actually heading to a military base! It was a little weird to look at the window and see a whole bunch of camouflage and rifles where I thought there would be a chapel! We meet up with the rest of the mission here in Manaus, and spent the morning with the CIGSs our the Brazilian equivalent of the Green Berets.  Super cool, I have a bunch of photos and videos of what we got to see and do.  We saw two ceremonies, one with a general arriving, and the other where he was promoted, super cool. Afterward the CIGS talked to us about what they did and actually the commander of the base/school is LDS.  Then they demonstrated with live cobras how to catch a cobra with your bare hands and a few missionaries got to try!  Afterwards went back to the mission office where we had a huge lunch and gift exchange. Presidente Klein talked to us along with Sister Klein, and I along with all the other arriving missionaries bore our testimonies along with all the missionaries returning home. My portuguese is a lot better  now. Left and got home at about 10:00pm. Super tired, but we had to get to up at 5am then next morning to get to the temple by 8pm! Its always awesome to go to the temple and we get to go again this Thursday!  Wednesday, had the baptism of 3 people. 1 20 year old who is amazing. When we showed up at his door b/c his younger brother had been baptized and we started talking to him about the gospel, immediately accepted it. The other two were children with whom we are trying to baptize their mom and older brother.  The work here is going really well. We have several people ready for baptism this week!Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, nothing happened out of the ordinary. Sunday I did actually try to make chocolate chip cookies. It was interesting b/c we didn´t have measuring cups, so it was a lot of, that looks like the right amount.  Turned out okay, but I know now how to make them better.  We also don´t have brown sugar in our town, so we found this other sugar that was brown and it tastes only a little different. Don´t also have chocolate chips, used generic M&Ms. Turned out okay, and tonight I´ll be making more for the zone training tomorrow! Only problem is that its a little expensive! (40 Reals!)
  This week has been pretty good. Wednesday I´ll be calling at about 7pm Manaus Time so about 6pm Indianapolis time. We´re going to skype with a family in our ward,. They found out that I have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies so they want us to come over a little early to make them at their house. Apparently they have brown sugar along with measuring cups!  Here they don´t celebrate Christmas the 25th, they hold all the parties the 24th, but still open presents the 25th, so the 24th we have zone training in the morning, a service project helping to hand out presents in the afternoon and fifty billion houses to visit as well.  It will be interesting. I think today I will officially organize it into Operation Holly Jolly and plan it all out. We will be doing a lot of walking! Packages still haven´t arrived, but tomorrow if any have arrived I will receive them so I´m crossing my fingers!  Other news, my camera broke this morning. Don´t know what happened, turned it off and turned it back on and the message lens error flashed across the screen and it won´t open. I can still look at pictures, but nothing else. I´ll try and fix it, just think something got stuck in the lens when it closed, but if it can´t be fixed, I´ll be looking for a cheap camera here. Still can send the pictures I have.  Thanks for writing! I miss you all! Feliz Natal!
Ben/Elder Battraw

Monday, December 16, 2013

16 Dec. 2013

Thanks for the recipes and the pictures. They were awesome! Hopefully we get a chance this week to try and make the cookies. This week will be super busy for us, but it will be awesome! Tomorrow we need to get up at 4 am to catch a bus to the mission Christmas Conference which is in Alvorada which is quite a distance from us. Found out that apparently i won´t be able to play the piano for it b/c they decided to change the hymn from Joy to the World to Angels we have heard on high and i don´t have time to practice up for it.  If I have time to touch a piano today, maybe but I really don´t know. It will still be awesome anyway. Wednesday my zone gets to go to the temple which is in Ponte Negra, which isn´t as far, but its still a bit of a bus ride, especially with this bus system. The rest of the week will be pretty normal but will still be really exciting.
  This past week has also been a little crazy. We had district meeting this past Tuesday which was awesome, for the first time we didn´t have to travel to it because we decided to have it at our chapel. Our district has only 4 people but it is still pretty awesome. Wednesday was a baptism for the 2 girls I wrote about last week. That was interesting to say the least. We showed up at their house with a determination to get them baptized.  One of the girls came out and said that she didn´t want to be baptized, but we quickly talked to her and explained how important baptism is for us and she changed her mind.  We were planning our walking while they got a ride with the YW President but the YW President told us that she couldn´t do it when we had called earlier that day so we were going to just walk everyone to the chapel, which is not that far, but its still a good distance. However, the same girl said that she didn´t want to walk, so after some intense negotiations we called a taxi and got them to the chapel. We were not taking no for an answer!  Got to the chapel to discover that had drained the font and it was 7:30 at night. The YW presidency met us at the chapel and talked the girls while we filled the font. Generally it takes about 1hr-1:30hr b/c its a lot of water and its really slow, but we opened the water as fast as would come out, hooked up a hose to help it fill, and had a bucket brigade going from three different bathrooms in the chapel to get this font filled. Got it filled in about 30min and notified the girls that it was time to change into baptismal clothes. We asked them who they wanted to baptize them and they chose me so I quickly got changed into baptismal clothes and we waited for them to get changed, but when they emerged only one had on baptismal clothes. You can guess which didn´t. We asked her why and she said she wanted to watch her sister get baptized first and then get changed. We just rolled with it, got pictures and got the baptism rolling. The first girl was baptized and then the other went and got changed, got her baptized, with no more problems. They weren´t able to get to church this Sunday b/c one was sick and the other had to work so hopefully this Sunday we can confirm them without anymore more problems. Thursday was normal, no drama which was nice. Friday was the same, nothing of major import happened, but Saturday was different. Saturday we were going to sing at the temple with a bunch of other choirs and we needed to be there at 6pm and it would start at 7pm.  Our ride was going to pick us and the ZLs up and take us to the temple. The ZLs were going to be here doing baptismal interviews for us. Morning was normal, just going around warning our investigators that we would be swinging by later that day with the Zone Leaders to do interviews. We were expecting the ZLs at about 3:00-3:30 but that time rolled around and they stilled weren´t here . Decided to go grab so dinner b/c we wouldn´t have a chance later that day and the ZLs called and told us that they were at the bus terminal waiting for the bus to get to our area. Anyway, as were finishing up dinner our ride called and told us that turns out he couldn´t take the ZLs as well b/c his parents would be in the car as well. Called the ZLs and told them not to catch the bus and apparently right after we called the bus rolled on by(they´d been waiting for an hour).  Ran to the house to drop some stuff off and we´d just left when our ride comes hurtling down the street and picks us up and whisks us to the temple. The concert went great. We had a missionary choir of about 100-150 missionaries from Zona Manaus singing an arrangement of Called to Serve and Joy to the World in 3 different languages (Portuguese, English and Spanish). Pretty awesome. Weren´t able to get a ride back so took the bus and staggered back home at about 10-10:30pm.  Sunday was normal, had the ward primary program and that was really cool to see but a little weird to hear the songs sung in Portuguese. This week has been a little crazy.
I´m a little jealous that you all have snow! Its super hot here and we haven´t had a lot of rain. Thanks for all the pictures! We´re going to be skyping. What time would be good to skype you guys. I don´t know where exactly we are going to be skyping, but if you see a random brazilian name pop up its probably me! Have a great week! I miss you all! Feliz Natal!
Love Elder Battraw

Monday, December 9, 2013

9 Dec. 2013

Thanks for the email!  Thats exciting for Zach to be able to have his first concert! I remember my first concert still! That was a long time ago back in 6th grade!  Do you know why Matt wants me to be a firefighter?  I guess I will have to change careers just to suit Matt.  Thanks for all the messages from everybody.  Its always cool to hear my different people whats going on at home. Ugh, these keyboards are not easy to type with. The keyboards here have to have all the accents for Portuguese so its a bit difficult to type on.  But it works.  We don´t have any snow here. None at all. We actually haven´t been getting too much rain either. Its a bit weird b/c usually we get rain at least every day or every other day.  Buts its been really dry and hot.  Lots of humidity though too.
  This week has been interesting. Tuesday, first district meeting of the transfer. It was awesome as usual.  My district didn´t change much with the transfers. Only one person left and one person came in. They´re all awesome missionaries though.  Wednesday was a baptism.  His name is Saimon, which is Simon in English only with portuguese spelling. That was a lot of fun. We don´t have cars or bikes here so we have to walk our investigators down to the chapel when we want to get them to church. Its about 1-1 1/2 miles down to the chapel from where he was living so a bit of  a walk. Thursday was normal, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Went and visited with our investigators and found a new family for us to be able to teach. They seem to be pretty excited about the gospel! Friday we had a service project which we gathering up old roof tiles and washing and painting them and getting them ready to be used. Everything here is reused if possible. If its broken, its thrown away usually, but otherwise its cleaned up, new coat of paint and reused. There is not a lot of new things here. Its kinda of funny b/c lots of people here have American brand clothing with messages in english and don´t understand what its saying.  Saturday, we had a baptism scheduled so we did exchanges with the zone leaders to be able to get interviews done in both of our areas.  Elder Lima is a new ZL here in our zone and he was pretty cool. We only had two people to do interviews with, two sisters. We got one done and she was set to go so I made all the apropiate calls to set up the baptism. We came back later that day to do the other and the other sister was actually hiding from us when we got there so you can imagine how that interview went. We called my companion afterwards b/c they wanted to talk with him and him talked with them and they both came back saying they wanted to be baptized Sunday after church. We said okay.  Traded back companions later that night. Sunday we showed up at their house to pick them up for church b/c their baptism was right after church and they  didn´t want to go. Eventually got them to go to church but we had to call a taxi to get there in time. After church we got all the preparations and ward ready for their baptism but when they got their baptismal clothing they talked to the YW President and we found out that we couldn´t baptize them b/c of .......a monthly problem and we needed to wait till Wednesday. So hopefully Wednesday we´ll be able to baptize them.  Other than that, our week has been pretty normal. I found out that I am playing Joy to the World for the Christmas conference for the mission this next Tuesday so I need to practice a lot this week!
  This week looks like it will be pretty normal, but knowing Brasil it will always throw a surprise at you! Today for p day we met up as a zone and played basketball. That was fun being able to be with all the other elders!  I haven´t recieved any of the packages yet, but hopefully I´ll get one before Christmas or right after Christmas before New Years. My companion got a package from his home in João Pessoa in Brasil and so I have been trying a whole bunch of different sweet from there! Some of it like doritos is the same or only a tiny bit different and some of it is very different. One thing he has is candy made from milk that looks like carmels. Pretty good. Anyway. Thanks for the email and all the messages from everybody! I miss all of you!
Ben/Elder Battraw
P.S Can you send the recipes for chocolate chip cookies or anything else that we normally have at home. My companion and I want to give it a try cooking them here!

Monday, December 2, 2013

2 Dec. 2013

Thanks for the email and pictures!  Thanksgiving here was not really any different than a normal day. We didn´t have a lot of money left over b/c it was getting toward the end of the 2 weeks, but I was resolute on having something to have for Thanksgiving so I walked into the nearest bakery at 9:00pm and payed for some pão doce, which translates to sweet bread, or the brazilian equivalent of donuts.  Not really donuts.  It is more like a sweet roll with a bit of jam and coconut put on top. Not the best thing in the world, but still pretty good.  I will try to add pictures to the email, some of the bread is actually bread with cheese in the middle.  So my breakfast feast on Thanksgiving was pão doce with grape juice and cookies. Really healthy, but it was as close as we could get. We actually had pizza earlier that week as we celebrated my 4 month mark and my companions 7 month mark. Partied for all of 15 minutes and then had to get ready for bed#Life of a missionary.
  Anyway my week was pretty good. Spent Tuesday and the beginning of Wednesday in another area with one of the ZLs. Had District meeting as well. Pretty awesome.  Manaus is a little strange b/c you can be standing in the middle of a neighborhood which has absolutely nothing material wise, walk down the street and be in comparably rich houses. Kinda of random to say the least. We spend a lot more time in the poorer areas working b/c people are much more receptive to the gospel there. Well, got back Wednesday and had a baptism that night and also found out that apparently my companion had baptized someone else the night before with the other ZL.  Thursday was spent going around and trying to find more people to teach and we had a meeting with our ward mission leader. We´re trying to get the ward more involved with our new converts b/c a lot of the time, we will baptize someone and they will come to church a few times and then drop off the face of the earth so we are trying to get the ward more involved to keep them at church.  Friday, was pretty normal till we get a phone call towards the end of the day asking if we could come to another area to do a baptismal interview so we headed out there.  To get into their area though without having to do a huge loop around houses and buildings because their area is down at the base of a small cliff/hill and the roads are all at the top and the only ones that descend down there were pretty far away, we had to navigate this slippery little path in the middle of a patch of jungle which is at a 35-45 degree decline. We both fell, but only once.  Interview as it turns out, fell through, but it was still fun. Saturday had another baptism.  This one was special b/c we baptize really only kids, no one else wants to listen to us and/or change their lives to be in harmony with the gospel and the families don´t usually care to much about them being baptized. But this one, the family of nonmembers rallied around the kid, Anderson, and helped him to be baptized. His mom came with him to church yesterday as well to see him confirmed and really liked it so we are prepping to teach her. Another family we baptized two of the kids and now the mom is also interested in the gospel! Its truly amazing at times. Sunday was exciting b/c we had Anderson and one other person we´ve been waiting for awhile got confirmed and then we get a phone call that we need to return to the other area now to do an interview for a baptism, so we hopped on a bus and headed on out there and did it and got back to our area. Got transfer calls yesterday as well. Staying with my companion in Canaranas. Really happy about that b/c this area is pretty awesome.   Awesome week!
  Thanksgiving sounds like it was a lot of fun. Really weird not to celebrate in the normal way. Thanks for the packages, i don´t know when they will get here, but hopefully quickly!  I heard that putting a tracking number on them as well helps out b/c the secretaries here pick up the packages and they can track it if they have the number and help make sure it doesn´t get lost in the mail.  I am actually keeping a running list of all the films that I am missing while I am on my mission so when I get back, you can expect a two week long film festival!  Hopefully on Christmas we will be able to Skype.  We are trying to find a member with all the equipment for skyping right now. What is your skype name and when would be the best time to call?  Hopefully we will be able to get it working. I´ll try to send all the pictures! Thanks so much and I miss you all!
Love Ben/Elder Battraw

Monday, November 25, 2013

25 Nov. 2013

Thanks for the email!  The best way for packages would just be to use the advice I had previously talked about with the picture of Christ and writing religious materials on the box. The address with Rua Loris Cordivill is the address it needs to be sent to.  Money, yeah I would just send it to you and put it to my account. The city/town/suburb where I am right now has actually quite a few places that accept credit cards b/c they all have this little handheld credit card machines so I can actually use it. I haven´t had to use my card too much, mostly just for food when our mission funds run low b/c we always have to pay for the bus and water and gas. The machine generally refunds it back to us but we don´t know when we get refunded so it makes the weeks a little interesting. Did you find the memory card in the box? Its has all the pictures from Boise and the MTC.  Your new job sounds so much better than the last. Hopefully it stays that way. Thanks for the pictures! Its always cool to see whats going on at home. I´ve been having a little bit of trouble with keeping track with whats been going on at home. I spent all this last week thinking that Thanksgiving was this last Thursday until Saturday when one of the Zone Leaders corrected me. Oh well, I´ll just have to find some way of celebrating it this Thursday. Pizza sounds good.  Interesting fact about Brazilian pizza, they don´t really use tomato sauce at all, and we tried a restaurant pizza this past week and I ordered the Italian pizza personal size. Cost 3.00 reals so about 1.50. When it came out it was about the size of a large cookie so maybe 4 inches in diameter and had a slice of tomato sitting in the middle with two olives sitting on either side.  Interesting to say the least. Would have taken a picture but I don´t carry my camera with me b/c its too dangerous to carry it at all times.
  This week has been a bit chaotic. Monday, p day. Tuesday we had district meeting which was great as usual.  Got completely soaked by the rain.  Rain here appears out of nowhere and is pretty sporadic at times. Wednesday, completely soaked by the rain.  Wednesday we were supposed to have a baptism for 2-3 people, but they all bailed at the last minute or weren´t home so a bit frustrating. Thursday we had exchanges so I spent the day with Elder Lessa, in our area working. Its always interesting to see how other missionaries operate.Friday we traded back and got completely soaked again (noticing a trend?). Saturday was especially frustrating. The ZLs came and did baptismal interviews for 6 people that were supposed to be baptized that night and every single one fell through either b/c they weren´t home or their parents changed their mind at the last moment and decided to not let them be baptized. Quite frustrating. We met one person though that wanted to be baptized so Sunday we planned on having them baptized after church.  Sunday came and we get to the chapel and check on the font and guess what the font is not working. Half of the chapel doesn´t have water, but the other half does.  The bishop recommends that we go to another chapel (which there are actually quite a few here) so after church, we get a ride with some members and ride over to another chapel and have a baptismal service.  That was pretty cool. But we are all exhausted so I´ve been looking forward to pday for a little while. This has been an interesting week to say the least. We have transfers coming up this next week so I have a possibility of leaving this area, which I don´t really want to. I also have my 4 month mark this Saturday! Exciting! Weird to think that I´ve been out for four months. Feels like forever ago that I left, but it also feels like yesterday. Time is weird on a mission. I do know Daniel Felipe D'Oliver, he is a member that lives near us. He is prepping for a mission as well and asked to see the video of when I got my call and I told him it was on your page. Did he send you a message as well? He mentioned sending you the request and perhaps a message as well. But yeah I know him. Hes pretty cool.
Thanks for writing. I miss all of you too! Its going to be a little weird not having Thanksgiving and watching the Macys Day parade. I´ll try to send you pictures as well. My companion has a bunch of pictures of our baptisms that I´ll try to steal from him. Thanks so much and I miss all of you!
Love Elder Battraw

P.S. Here are some pictures that I do have.  First a baptism . Daniel is acutally in this picture. The only other person as tall as me. The second, somebody we found in our bathroom. Picture doesn´t really convey how big it was!

Monday, November 18, 2013

18 Nov. 2013

Thanks! Thats exciting that you start your new job tomorrow!  Here its been pretty busy. Weather hasn´t been helping that much at all either.  Almost every day without fail we will get rain in one form or another.   Sometimes it just drizzles for all day, and at other times it will pour out rain for about 15-20minutes and completely soak us. I´ve gotten to keeping my umbrella one me at all times. Storms come up really quickly as well. We can walk into an appointment and walk out 20 minutes later and see storm cloud coming our direction. You can tell when its going to rain as well, b/c the clouds are very black.  It makes life interesting.  I´m so glad I have two pairs of shoes b/c they usually get soaked so I have a day or two to let them dry out before I have to wear them again. My companion only has one so life is a little interesting for him at times.  We´ve had some pretty bad storms but nothing yet on that scale where things are getting damaged by the storms.  The houses here are all brick and usually don´t have any glass so things don´t usually get broken from the storms.
  This week we´ve had two baptisms, but we´ve managed to get some of our investigators to church to get confirmed so we´ve had four people confirmed. Pretty exciting. One of the baptisms this week was a bit of an adventure. We´d just gotten out of lunch so it was about 1pm and we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do when we came across a groups from the cidadão.  Several of the boys had already been baptized and actually they were some of the confirmations this week, but we started talking to them and one of them came up to us and said that he wanted to be baptized as well, but he was leaving soon. So we called the bishop up really quick with our phone that chooses when it wants to work and got permission to confirm him as well. We also called on of the young men who is prepping for a mission to help us out. We got the kid over to the church, gave the family and him a quick tour while we waited for the font to fill, had a quick baptismal service and confirmed him. Total time, 4 hours. Its blows my mind how quickly things can happen here. Another cool experience. So this acutally happened later that night, we got back to apartment and we beginning to get ready to go to bed. I had just gotten out of the bathroom and my companion got in to take a shower (I hadn´t taken one yet either) and he turned on the shower and nothing  came out. We thought the knob was broken so we ran to the apartment next door to get a screw driver to see if we could figure out what was wrong. Well, we found out the person above us didn´t have water, but we had some running water and we thought it was just the knob. Spent some time trying to figure it out when we turned on the tap nearby and guess what, we didn´t have a water either.  We went next door to see if they had water and it turns that they didn´t have much, but had some. We got to talking to the girl thats living there and she wants to hear more about the gospel! Its kinda of cool that b/c we didn´t have water, we managed to get into contact with her and hopefully she will hear all the discussions and get baptized!  The water came back sometime the next day  so we had to use buckets full out of frigid water for our showers.  
  Things have been pretty good here. When did brother newill last write, b/c I haven´t gotten anything recently?  My favorite scripture would have to be helaman 5:12.  Good for Zach! Thats awesome!  Its weird to think that there is only 2 more weeks in this transfer and then I have the possibility of leaving Canaranas, but I probably won´t.I hit my 4 month mark on the 30th as well so super excited as well! We have district meeting this upcoming week as well so that is something to look for ward to and we have a baptism this Wednesday that I will sure to tell you about! Thanks for writing! I miss you all!
P.S. Did a box ever arrive with a suit, towel and other assorted things from Boise? It has my memory card from the MTC with all of my pictures, but I had to trust that my companion would be able to send it off b/c I didn´t have time.Thanks!

Monday, November 11, 2013

11 Nov. 2013

Thanks for the email! I am pretty jealous that you all got to go to Arizona and I wasn´t able to. But I´m in Brazil so I´m kinda okay with it. This week has been pretty busy.  Monday, cleaned the house and made it look like people could actually live there, that was the big highlight of that day. We spent this morning as well get it looking all nice.  I spent Wednesday at district meeting at the stake center, which is about 20 minutes away by bus. That was pretty cool. There is only 4 of us in our district including me, so really small district, but its still pretty awesome. My portuguese is getting better and better. I could understand a good portion of it. Still a lot of room to improve though. I don´t really have trouble following the general flow of a conversation, but when asked specific questions, I have trouble understanding b/c every word that you hear matters in the meaning of the question in Portuguese. Not a lot of filler words like English. After district meeting, I went on exchanges with another missionary in another area for a day, so I stayed the night there. Pretty cool to see another part of Manaus. Life is so different here. I´ve come to find that Brazilian ice cream is better in some ways than American.  Brazilian markets are pretty cool to. If you can´t find something in one store, chances are that you can walk down the street and there is another store that sells the exact same thing at a different price. Not like grocery stores where you have to travel a bit of a distance to get to it. Restaurants here are pretty cool too. There are restaurants everywhere, including randomly in the middle of the neighborhood, so you don´t have to walk far to get there. Most of the time they are run by the people living there, so it doubles as a house, but you can just walk up and order some food without having to walk very far. Some members told me and showed me that there is a pizza hut in Manaus, but I haven´t had any yet.  I don´t know if  I will, it is probably really expensive. Everything that is american here is very expensive. What costs about 2 reals for the american version is usually 6-7 reals. But its all good. Thursday I returned to my area and we had a baptism that night as well. Tuesday we did as well along with Saturday. Total baptisms for this week is 4. The people here are so willing to listen to the gospel it is amazing.  We are always teaching somebody or finding new people to teach.  Baptisms here happen so fast.  We usually start planning for  one 3 days in advance, but most of it happens the day of. Very fast.  The days here are starting to blend together. Friday night, I played piano for one of the soon to be elders in our ward. I didn´t find out till the day of though so I spent a good amount of time at the chapel beforehand practicing up for it. I only had to play accompaniment for armies of helaman, but with the amount of notice I had and time to practice, I was pretty stressed out,  but it went just fine. The meeting was supposed to start at 6:30, but it started late even by Brazilian standards.  Normally meetings will start 30-60 minutes late here. Not unusual, you just plan for it. But this started at 9:00pm, 2 and 1/2 hours late. We are supposed to be back at the house by 9:30 and it ended right at 9:30 and food was available afterward. The food was also our dinner, so we grabbed as much as we could, gulped it down and got home as fast as we could. Brazilian cake is also very good. Tastes kinda of like really sweet cornbread, but super good. Saturday was a baptism, so super busy running around making the final arrangements. Sunday we spent in church meetings. Pretty good week.
Things that I need, I don´t really have any thing that I need.  Things that I would like to have is more music if there is some way to get it down here, and maybe some american candy or snacks, but I don´t know if they would survive the trip down here. Basketball shorts would be nice as well, b/c its pretty hot. Nothing I don´t really need. I really miss though donuts and basically anything that is american and is sweet. But everything is pretty good here. Thanks! I miss of all you! Have a great week!
Love Ben/Elder Battraw

P.S.  I´ve had to use  my debit/credit card a lot lately for food and to get a new bag b/c the other one was not working out with it having to be a shoulder bag and backpacks aren´t allowed here. My mission card usually works, but I´ve had to use my debit/credit card a bunch to get food and some other things that I really didn´t need. I´m really sorry about using like that and I´m trying to stop using it except for emergencies. Just letting you know, with the cost of the bag and all of the food for the past 3 months should be about 100 dollars off of it. I´m super sorry not using it right.

Monday, November 4, 2013

4 November, 2013

Thanks for the pictures, they always make my day to see them. So this week has been pretty busy. We´ve had three baptisms this week so we´ve been running all over the place trying to get interviews in and everything. We had two people get baptized on the 1st and one this past sunday so yesterday. It always amazes me how quickly people will get baptized here. We have been going through the area book and pulled out records where people have taken the discussions and everything except for some reason not have been baptized, so we walk on over to their house and ask them if they would be baptized thsi coming friday or sunday. They usually say yes.  Its quite surprising. We have three people who were supposed to be baptized this week as well, but they backed out for some reason or another so this coming week we will be dropping by to see how they are doing.  Really busy.
This week was also my first zone conference in Manaus.  My entire zone gathered at one of the chapels and we got taught how to be better missionaries by the zone leaders. The zone leaders are pretty awesome. One of them is american so he helps me with my portuguese whenever I need help.  It was awesome, but a little tiring. I have also figured out why brazilians don´t have amusement parks. They don´t nee them at all. The buses here do the trick just fine. We have to ride the bus a lot whenever we go out of our area so I´m pretty used to it, but the first time was definitely an adventure. These buses will fly down the street filled with potholes and literally move up and down about 6 inches the entire way. It is always jostling from side to side and when you get on the bus you have to be fast b/c they don´t really wait for anybody.  Once you get on, you have to pay 2.75 reals, bu the bus is already moving so getting the money out and standing there while the bus is flying down the street always makes life interesting. 
This past week I´ve been sick from something. I´ve just had a headache and a upset stomach. No vomiting, just not feeling good. It would come and go. It started Wednesday night, so we called Sister Klein, our mission presidents wife the next morning and she recommended some medicine and I´m feeling much better. Still have some headaches, but for the most part I´m feeling fine. My feet are getting used to walking everywhere as well. We probably cover 5-10 miles everyday just going from place to place. My feet haven´t blistered, but hey have come close. Showers here are also interesting b/c the water temperature depends on how hot is outside. I figured that our shower water sit outside the house above the house and is warmed by the sun. Its closed so nothing gets into it, but if its raining all day and we don´t get much sun, water is frigid.  Speaking of rain, it rains almost every day here.  Even if its just a little bit, it rains. You get used to it, but it still makes you kinda or miserable at times. 
Had my first interview with President Klein as well this week. That went well. He speaks only Portuguese with a little english. So it makes interviews interesting, but possible. Registered with the federal police this week as well. I am now officially allowed to stay in Manaus for the duration of my visa. My visa actually expires next October so hopefully we will be able to renew it when the time comes. I hope Tara will be able to return to her mission. Being a missionary is awesome. It is hard at times, being away from home, learning a new language and culture, but its worth it. Right now I don´t need anything from America. I did get the carmels before I left, they were delicious. Anything that I might want would be another pair of basketball shorts b/c my companion keeps wearing my Fishers ones and I would prefer to keep those and any food would just be anything that is american. I don´t need anything though. Packing tips, don´t pack anything that sounds like food or anything valuable. Muffle it somehow. Don´t send big huge packages as well. When you pack it, put a picture of Christ under the tape b/c people here are superstitious and don´t want to cut a picture of christ to open the box. You could also write `Religious materials´ on the side and I´ve heard that helps as well. Thanks for the piano guys cd. Its always fun to listen to whenever we get the chance. I hope you guys have a great week and I miss you all!
Love Ben/Elder Battraw

Monday, October 28, 2013

28 Oct. 2012

Hello from Brasil!  This past week has been pretty crazy with all the traveling and trying to get used to Brasil. Monday I woke up at 4am to leave Boise and I went through Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Detriot, Sao Paulo to Manaus. I got to Manaus about 12:30am the next day. 30 hours of continuos traveling was pretty hard, but I am here now safely in Manaus. When we touched down in Manaus, I and one other Elder from the States met a whole bunch of Brazilian elders from the Sao Paulo MTC. The assistants and President and Sister Klein picked us up and took us to the tempke, then to the mission home and then to the mission office. I got my first taste of Brazilian food there. It is pretty plain but good food. They have a drink here called Bare that tastes kinda of like skittles put into a blender, but tastes really good.  Most of the food that I've had is rice beans, some kind of meat(chicken or beef) and usually some vegetable side dish.  Its really good and we have lunch with the members here every day. We don't really do dinners, its more or a kind of snack and we don't usually eat breakfast either. Its pretty different.  Manaus itself is really different. All the houses are usually one but sometimes two stories tall and they have either concrete or tile floors. Every house is sourneded by a gate that is actually part of the house. You can tell pretty quickly how well off a family is by seeing if they have a gate, and if the sidewalk outside their house is tiled. Its a little weird to walk into a house that looks like it is going to fall down at any moment, and find 6-8 people living it, with the house being the size of our living room and family room at the absolute most.  Its even weirder when they start pulling out smart phones and you notice the tv and dvd collection as well. Not a lot of books here I've noticed. Most people usually only have the bible and book of Mormon. Drivers here are crazy as well. There is a speed limit but everyone ignores it and you see bikes weaving in and out of traffic.  Whenever we have to go out of our area, we have to take the bus and those will have easily 50-60 people on them all crammed in. Its every different.
  My new companion is Elder Sousa Silva from Jose Pessoa Brazil. He speaks a little English, but mostly Portuguese so it gets exciting sometimes trying to understand him. I'm still trying to figure him out, but he seems pretty nice. Our apartment here is nice for the mission. We have a fridge, washing mission, toilet and shower along with a microwave and a sink. Its pretty small, and our room is the only room in the house that  has a/c. It gets the job done.
  This week I was  able to baptize two people. A brother and a sister. Their names are Narielly and Paublo. Its was really cool to baptize them. A baptismal service here are very quick and you can plan and set them up about a day in advance. You have a hymn, prayer, message about baptism, baptism, quick advice, hymn and prayer then you are done. Its very efficient. Its pretty amazing though. The spirit there is pretty amazing. The members here are super nice. Weather is always hot and humid. We haven't had rain at all since I've gotten here. Very different.  Well that's all for now. Internet here is super slow so hopefully this pictures will go through. I miss you all!
Love Ben/Elder Battraw

Monday, October 14, 2013

14 Oct. 2013

Thanks for the package! I got it today.  I can't wait to listen to the cd and thanks for the towel. I'll probably be sending back the old one with the suit jacket and a bunch of other papers that I don't need anymore.  A lot of the papers are memorabilia from my missions like travel papers and such.  I hopefully will get it sent off sometime this week. Today was p day and a lot of fun. Our zone got together and hiked a hike called Table Rock. It wasn't too long and only took us 30-40 minutes to hike up there. The view there was amazing! We could see all over Boise. Pretty awesome. Speaking of Boise, I was able to go and visit Boise State University and go see their foot ball field and campus. Pretty nice place to go to college and they having a huge stadium. We weren't able to walk out onto the field but we were able to get pretty close. I even got to see where their ROTC meets. We got to help out some of the sister missionaries change their car tire b/c they got a serious flat and wrecked the rim of the tire.  We don't know how it happened, but we got their and there was no doubt that the tire was flat at all. Oh, something else exciting, we now have a car. Since Elder Smith is a district leader, and the mission had a bunch of cars that were just sitting there so we are now cruising around in a 2014 Chevy Cruise that is gray. It is so nice and its always fun to drive. We like to use the quick stick in it and its so much fun to drive.
  Super excited to go to Brazil. Found out that I get my travel plans on Sunday along with my papers. I get dropped off at the airport at 5:15ish to catch my 6:30 flight so I may be able to call from there, or I may call from Salt Lake City. I will definetely try to call. Hopefully I will have time to fit it in.  This week will be saying my good byes to all my members and investigators. Its really hard and sad. The day after I leave will be a baptism for one of our investigators and I am super down b/c of it.  I haven't heard anything about the shoes from the mission office so I think I will be able to take them. Since I get reimbursed for my baggage, I might just check them as a second bag, b/c all of my other stuff is really full. But i will try to get them down to Brazil. The only things that I have recieved so far is a letter from Great Grandma Young and a package from Taylor King. Nothing else so far. Should I be expecting anything else? I have gotten the packages from you. The last one was the suit jacket. I will make sure to send the mailing address to you for the mission office in Manaus! I do have my mission packet right now. Do you want me to send it back?
Thanks for the email. It always makes my day to hear from you guys! I miss you all!
Ben/Elder Battraw

Sunday, October 13, 2013

More Big News

 I am admitting to knowing about this for several days now and have put off posting it on purpose. If I don't post it, does that make it less real? I hope so - not so sure I am ready for my son to be so far away! I found out Tuesday, Oct. 8, Ben found out two days later, so we knew first! :-)

Just heard your Visa came through and you leave the 21st! I think  we found out before you did! :-) How excited are you now? How many pairs of shoes do you have? I just talked to a mom whose son is in Brazil and she said that you go through a LOT of shoes.

Yeah I just got the news today and I'm super pumped! I can send a real letter on Monday, but I just wanted to make sure that you knew!
Elder Battraw

Monday, October 7, 2013

Nine people taken to hospital after car runs into funeral crowd at LDS church

Nine people taken to hospital after car runs into funeral crowd at LDS church

Credit: Adam Worthington/KTVB


Posted on October 7, 2013 at 4:06 PM
Updated today at 5:24 PM

BOISE -- Nine people were injured, including a 5-year-old boy, after car hit a group of pedestrians at a Boise LDS church this afternoon.
The accident happened around 2:43 p.m. at a church at McMillan Road and Shamrock Avenue.
Boise Police say it appears a male driver in his 70s was in a Toyota sedan parked next to the sidewalk and he unintentionally accelerated into a crowd of people leaving a funeral at the church.
Eight people were hit.  Nine people, including a female passenger in the Toyota sedan, were transported to three area hospitals.  Six of them were taken by ambulance, three others were taken by private vehicles.
Preliminary Information indicates that two of the injured appear to have serious injuries, including the 5-year-old boy.  Two people were treated at the scene.
The injured people were taken to Saint Alphonsus in Eagle, Saint Alphonsus in Boise and St. Luke's in Meridian.
The male driver of the Toyota was not injured.
A witness tells KTVB that the immediate family had just left the funeral service when the accident happened.  They were standing at the side doors of the church preparing to leave for the cemetery, when the elderly man crashed into them.
The witness says she heard screaming and yelling and saw several people hurt on the ground.  She says some people attending the funeral began helping the injured, while others began giving blessings and praying.
Boise Police continue to investigate.  No citations have been issued.  A spokeswoman for Boise Police says the accident does not appear to be intentional.  She says some of the victims hurt today belong to the same family.

7 Oct. 2013

Hey hows is everything in Indiana! Conference was awesome! We watched all the sessions at the members homes in our wards. I loved all the talks, and there were a lot of talks about womanhood, the priesthood and families this conference. I don't remember who said it, but I liked the quote the mans laws do not change Gods laws.  I thought that was pretty powerful and pretty direct. The speakers did not beat around the bush when they were giving their talks. It was all pretty direct and in a such a way that there was no room for interpretation. Watching the priesthood session at a members house was kind of weird, but it was good. Apparently they don't show conference in this stake in the ward buildings, only at the stake center.  The stake center is about 8-10 miles round trip so we don't try and bike over there a lot.
We had both district and zone meetings this week and they were both at the stake center (sigh). I got an interview with President Winder and that was pretty cool, he is truly called of God. Zone meeting was mainly about working with the members, and we've been talking about that a lot lately. We try to get the members more involved with missionary work and we are beginning to see some of the work and counsel pay off. We are getting more and more referrals to go and talk to people. It keeps us busy all the time. So cool story time. After the zone meeting we went to lunch at Costa Vida and had huge sweet pork burritos which were awesome. As we were pedaling home, a woman flagged us down so we pulled over to her. As we started to talk to her, she completely broke down and told us that her daughter was in the hospital and that her son in law whom she was staying with assaulted here. She openly admitted that she was a less active. She said she couldn't feel the spirit anymore and she just wanted to pray with somebody. We stood there and said a prayer and she left that parking lot with a smile on her face. The blessings of talking to the missionaries.

This week started suit coat season for our mission meaning, we can only wear suit jackets and/or sweaters. I've got two sweaters and two suits so I think I'll be good until it really gets cold. Hopefully I'll get my visa by then.  We were talking to one of our ward mission leaders ,Brother Berg (hes really chill and cool) and he said that I might not get it for awhile because apparently the US government was shut down b/c Congress couldn't pass a budget so I don't know if the State Department is working on visas. Well, hopefully it all gets resolved soon and I will be off to Brasil. Boise is awesome, but I can't wait to get to Manaus.

This next part may not be a good thing to read out loud at dinner so just giving a heads up.  So as were pulling up to the Stake Center where we email we see this funeral processional leaving the chapel and so we  go around the other side of the building to get to family history center where we email from. It wasn't open so we were standing around talking to some members when one of them mention that apparently there was an accident on the other side of the building so we start heading around to see what had happened. We get there and there are 6-7 people lying on the grass with people huddling around them and a car parked on the grass as well. Apparently an older man had gotten into the car and gunned it, lost control and went up onto the grass hit some people and managed to come to a stop. There were fire trucks and ambulances all over the place with police officers coming up as well. Some kids were crying so we talked to them and tried to distract them from what was going on.  After that we just went around to people who looked like they needed a comforting word.  It was quite sad and it looked like everybody was going to live, and we had a prayer to bless anybody who injured and then left to get out of the way of the first responders. Hopefully everything will be all right.

How is marching band going? When is district and regional competitions? I didn't know that there was a BOA thing up in Muncie. Thats cool. We still do eat in members home every night. We don't every cook for  ourselves b/c the only meal we really make is breakfast and thats cereal. Nothing major. We actually do have bunkbeds in our room since there are three of us! I'm the only one who is not on the bunk bed so its pretty great. I don't think I need anything right now. If I need anything I'll let you know! Thanks so much! I miss you all!
Love Ben/Elder Battraw

Monday, September 30, 2013

30 Sept. 2013

I have gotten one of the packages, the one with the suit jacket in it! Thanks so much! Suit Coat season starts Monday after Conference where we can only wear suit coats or sweaters so that will be of great help to me!  The other package is probably at the mission office b/c it was sent priority mail so that will be a bit harder to get but I'm supposed to be going down to the mission office on Wednesday for a new missionary sort of training thing. I 'm not really sure what it is, but it will still be super exciting!
This week has been interesting. Saturday we had exchanges so my senior companion Elder Smith who is also District Leader exchanged with another missionary and it was weird to go through the day with Elder Shade who was from Mexico instead of Elder Smith. We mostly were just dropping off progress records so it wasn't that big of a job, but it still kept us busy! We did set up some appointments for this week to meet with less actives and investigators. Tonight we are teaching a man who is very baptist, but has agreed to let us practice the lessons on him. Hopefully he feels the spirit and we will be able to really teach him! Super awesome! 
Tuesday we got to go to the Boise Temple with our district and do a session there! It was amazing. The Boise temple is beautiful but not my favorite one in the world. The layout inside is a little weird, but it was stil cool. The Makenzies (the family we are staying with) also went to the temple and their car broke down on the way back to the house so we went inside Seagull books and Krispy Kreme while we waited, not a bad way to wait at all! Wednesday was supposed to be one of the wards chili feed, but it got postpoined till Tuesday b/c of rain so tomorrow we will be feasting on chill!
Today has been pretty good so far! We got our library cards so we can email from the library now as well. We've had to wait for mail to come in for us to prove the we do actually live in Boise and that has taken awhile but its finally come! We went bowling as well. 2nd time in my life that I can remember where I went bowling and I did decent. My first game with 10 rounds I scored a 93 and a 81 on the second. Its actually a little tiring playing. I did not realize that. We picked up some groceries, I got that package which made it even better, and then we are here emailing! We have a dinner set up for tonight and a lesson as well so we will be busy getting around today. General Conference is this weekend and I'm super pumped for it! I can't wait to see it!
Sounds like everythings going good back home. I wish I could see the marching band show! It sounds pretty cool, especially if Fishers is actually placing now! Hopefully they can still keep doing better!  Matt sounds really excited to be in Kindergarten! Nice braces Nathan! The work here is going really well and we are always busy with something! I got to talk portuguese to a brazilian lady this last thursday and I definetly have a way to go, but it was super awesome! Thanks for all the letters and emails!

Love Ben

Monday, September 23, 2013

23 Sept. 2012

Things are going really good here in Idaho! The people here are great! We do have dinner with people here almost ever night except Mondays and that's because it is p day! One of the members got us each ten dollar gift cards to five guys so we are going to go eat there for lunch today! At this rate it may be both meals! We get fed really well here and it was a little weird to have people asking for your contact info so they could talk about me. The food is pretty good though and it's been awesome!
This entire week has been contacting and teaching so many lessons. We taught about thirty different lessons this week and so it is never boring around here! My visa still hasn't come do I now need to go shopping for sweaters because apparently after conference all the missionaries meaning elders have to be wearing suits or sweaters so we are going shopping today for some warmer clothes.  It is actually starting to get chilly here already, but I don't want to spend too much on warm clothes and get my visa. I'll figure out some compromise.

This week is the ward chili cook off here  and we have a lot of investigators coming to it so we will be super busy, but it will be a great time! I can't wait. The members here are great and are so willing to help out with missionary work! We. Are always receiving referrals from people. This week we got nine! One of them is a man named Jerry Kramer who used to play for the packers and he is inactive and I our area! He hasn't the door yet, but hopefully we will be able to meet him! This week my district also gets to go the temple so I'm super pumped for that!  Hopefully the temple will be done in IN soon! They are actually building another temple here in Boise, super exciting!

Thanks for the pictures! Matthew already looks like he has already grown a lot! I need to really start taking picture. I haven't really been doing that since we are always on the move! Ill try to send some next week!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hi, Mindy,

We had your son over for dinner on Sunday along with Elders Crowley and Smith.  I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know what a delightful dinner we had!  He is in a wonderful companionship….and while I understand it may be brief since he is waiting for his Visa to Brazil, what a great experience for those three Elders!  Unfortunately, my husband and Elder Smith kind of dominated the conversation with golf; so I hope they will come back before your son leaves for Brazil so I can get to know him better.  But  I did feel the Spirit through him and he was so polite, thoughtful, and helpful that I know you raised him well!

What a blessing for us to have him in the Boise Mission before he departs for Brazil!

Mary Sue
Boise Idaho

Monday, September 16, 2013

16 Sept. 2013

First p day in the mission field. So much fun. So I got to Boise on Tuesday, picked up President and Sister Windor at the terminal along with 33 other missionaries who were also arriving. There is only 5 of us waiting to visas, 4 to Brazil and 1 to Austrailia. So we were picked up, got our luggage and headed over to a nearby chapel to get lunch and get introduced to some of the missionaries. We got assigned temporary companions, had an interview quickly with President Windor, and then were off tracting down on the streets of Boise downtown. We did that till dinner, but didn't have any success, nobody wanted to listen to us and would actually turn around when they saw us walking down the street. So we headed to the mission office, got dinner and had a brief testimony meeting with all of the new missionaries. Then some of the missionaries picked us up to take us to housing where we would spend the night. Wednesday was transfer day. I got assigned to my two companions, yeah I'm in a trio again, Elder Smith my trainer from Snowflake AZ and really loves to go golfing. Elder Crowley from Monticello UT who is doing ROTC as well is also being trained Fun stuff. They are both pretty cool, and we get along really well. So the rest of Wednesday was mostly getting briefed on the mission field area that I'm in. We cover 3 wards here so we spend a while at church on Sundays. But Wednesday was mostly just meeting families and trying to find bikes for us.
   Thursday was spent mostly trying to get bikes till lunch time and we actually got some that we are now able to use. Nothing special but they get us around. We spent the day going around meeting bishops and ward mission leaders and starting to coordinate with them to be able to really get the work moving forward. Lots of fun. Our area is 2 miles by 2 miles so its pretty big so we have to use our bikes to make good time. Only the ZLs and APs get cars, lucky them. 
    Friday was district meeting so the entire district met at the chapel, we had a get to know you activity since this was the first meeting we had as a district.  After that we had a lesson by Elder Smith, who is also the DL and then headed to Costa Vida where we had lunch, so good. I got a huge sweet pork burrito and it tasted delicious.  The rest of the day was planning for the rest of the week and then we went out and taught some investigators that we had.
    Saturday was mostly the same, going around and teaching lessons to different people. I got to meet Barb, one of our investigators who is super nice, but doesn't want to take the discussions right now, but still we drop by to say hi. I also met Peggy who is a grandma of a priest in the ward who is soon going a mission and we were able to teach her the first discussion with her family there (who are members). The spirit was really strong in that lesson.
    First Sunday.  So the first ward started at 9,but we got there shortly after 8 to help prep the building and to greet everybody. The 3 sacrament meetings were all pretty good, and one of them had a primary program, so a nice break from the norm. Next week there is another one as well. Peggy was there to see the primary program and we're teaching again tonight, so excited! I also got into my first bike accident.  I had draped my suit coat over my scripture case and it was sliding off so I reached back to correct it as we were going around a sharp turn and hit the front brake instead of the back brake and needless to say that I ended up on the ground, and now I need a new suit, b/c the suit pants have a hole in them about he size of a quarter. I was fine besides from that though, so if in your next package you could send me a suit, like the gray one I could probably use that, otherwise I do have some money to buy a new suit if I need to. 
  Otherwise from that everything is going good here and its so great to be out here in the mission field! We can listen to the Piano Guys out here and one of my companions has both cps so we listen to that at times. We're busy nonstop here and we never seem to have enough time to be able to do what we want to be able to do.  I've had people comment on my Portuguese name tag a lot too, b/c I don't get an English one and its a conversation starter Anyway I miss you all and can't wait to hear from you!

Love Ben/Elder Battraw

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In Boise

Hey Mom!,
I was just emailing to let you know that I am here safely in Boise and am in a trio. Elder Smith from AZ is my trainer and Elder Cowley is also being trained as well. I did get the mission address, which is 1111 South Cole Rd. Boise ID, 83709.  That is to the mission office and if you send the packages by regular USPS mail, not prioity, the office can forward it to me wherever I am in the mission. Just emailing you to let you know that I got here safely.
Ben/Elder Battraw

Friday, September 6, 2013


Dear Mom,

So today I got my reassignment for my mission. We got them right before lunch and since we are able to email, I thought it would be a good idea to email you where I have been reassigned.  My district and the other district that is leaving this weekend gathered together and opened our reassignments one by one and read them out loud to be able to hear where we were going. I was in charge of recording all the assignments. Pretty cool. One other elder in my district is going to the same mission that I'll be going to. We have to report to the travel office at 2:30am on the day that we leave. Super early. But it'll be fun. We have a connecting flight from salt lake to oakland california to our mission. Hopefully I'll be able to get some sleep on the plane. Can you tell I'm just dragging this out.  Well, so I've been reassigned to the Boise Idaho Mission and report Tuesday! My companions are going to Detroit Michigan and the other the Scottsdale AZ mission#Jealous.I can't wait!

Ben/ Elder Battraw

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

3 Sept. 2013

Thanks for the email. Its is a little hard to believe that this is my final week in the MTC. Its kinda of nice, because I'm going a little stir crazy here. This week has been pretty interesting . On Saturday we found out that our district is being split and being merged into two different districts b/c the school is starting at BYU and it screws up the teachers schedules. I'm still with my companions,but starting tomorrow, I will be meeting with another district in our zone. My original district will remain intact, we just won't have class together anymore. Oh well, worse things could happen and we are leaving in a week. We also are getting new teachers as well, and I really don't like that b/c my old teachers were awesome. Irmão Gabriel and Irma De Campus were the best. Last Wednesday I got to host new missionaries coming into the MTC which was a lot of fun. Basically, you pick them up on the sidewalk, help them drop off their stuff, pick up study materials and get them to class w/o any major melt downs. Some of the elders were walking in the 3-4 suitcases and it was really funny b/c all of my stuff fit into one. I saw one sister with 5-6. One of the missionaries I hosted was from Noblesville and went to Noblesville high school. He's also in my zone and is going to Brazil. Fancy that.  it was really kinda of cool.  One of the Elders in my district was sent home this week due to medical issues.  It was really sad, b/c he was a great guy.  We all sang to him, " God be with you till we meet again" before he left. It was really touching.
Fun fact that I don't think I've mentioned about the MTC. All of sacrament meeting is in your mission language.  So sacrament meeting is all in Portuguese and whats really cool is that I can understand about 99% of whats being said.  You have to take into consideration that all the talks are given by elders and sisters who are at the same level of Portuguese as me, but it is still really cool to hear/see.  So Tom, if you go foreign, get ready to experience Sunday in your mission language. That reminds me, Teresa got her mission call she is going to Scottsdale AZ. I'm really jealous.  We get our reassignments on Thursday or Friday and I can't wait to see where I get to go. We figured out that the elders and sisters that reported this last wednesday, we'll be reassigned to the same missions that they are going to. I'm hoping for Tempe AZ, but my district thinks I'm going to Detroit. 

Yesterday was pretty interesting. We played volleyball out in the rain b/c it actually rains here about once every week to 2 weeks. Kinda of nice. Our teachers said all their goodbyes as well and showed us pictures of their missions in Brazil. None went to Manaus, but this new teachers not teaching us did and he got back 5 months ago.  Listening to him talk about his mission was a lot of fun. Apparently we'll be mostly staying in the actual city of Manaus b/c of the 3.1 million people in my mission, 2.8 are in the city and only the ZL and APs go outside the main city really. It is really hot about 40-50 degrees outside (100-112) with 100% humidity.  They have a lot of foods and fruits there we were told that we were supposed to try. Our mission president is really strict but really nice at the same time. He runs that mission kinda like a business and it runs really smoothly. I was also to never translate " I'm full" literally even though elders there will try to make you do that, b/c the meaning to other Brazilians is that you are pregnant. Good advice. 

Thats great to here that Fishers won the HSE-Fishers game. Its been awhile since I think we've won. It will be fun to get back and watch a football game. One of the things I really miss in the MTC is music. We're not allowed to listen to any music until we get out into the field, so the moment I get out I'm buying as much MOTAB as I can.  They do sell all the motab cds here in the MTC, so if I have a little left over and I'm going stateside, I might get some. I miss all you! Eu seu que o Livro de Mórmon e verdadeiro, é Jesus Cristo é nosso Salvador é Redentor. Eu amo meu missão!

Ben/Elder Battraw

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Aug. 27, 2013

I will try and write more.  This week has been pretty good. Sunday has been the highlight except for today.  Sunday, we studied from 7am-8am and then went down to the cafeteria to get breakfast, which was just cereal on Sundays and muffins, it was pretty good.  We studied afterward till 10:40, when we had priesthood, which Brother Jackson, one of the counselors in my branch presidency taught about the atonement and why it matters to us. It was good, and I really liked. We now have a new District Leader, Elder Jensen from Washington.  We call him Cabelo de Fogo ( Head of Fire) because of his bright red hair. Hes a lot of fun and reminds me a lot of Uncle Spencer.  Hes a really good artist as well. I will try to include some of his artwork, just don't ask for the back story, its really long. We're having a lot of fun though. Sacrament was at 2:00pm-3:00. I don't know if you knew this, but they don't assign people to talks before the meeting. They send out a general notice about the topic of the meeting and then everybody rights a talk about it. Its usually something from preach my gospel.  Then one of the branch presidency will get up and read off three names of the people who have been selected and they have to come up and get to give a 4 minute talk about that topic in Portuguese.  Its kinda of cool, but really nerve racking especially if you didn't prepare a good talk. All the hymns we sing are in Portuguese, I even have my own small Portuguese hymnbook. Usually after that we have a Sunday walk up to the temple for about 45 minutes, come back down to dinner and then some of us go to choir practice.  A devotional is given that night,this time by the missionary department head, which was really cool! Then we watch a film put out by the church, there is usually a selection of about 4. We watched as a district this time the Character of Christ by Elder Bednar. It was fantastic! I highly recommend it if you ever have an hour and a half to just sit and watch it. I think its on
Monday we got up and played volleyball as a district in the morning which is a lot of fun.  We do that every Monday morning and its just awesome.  We'll have our entire district playing and a few others and we have a blast. Nobody else has gotten their visa yet.  We're all waiting with baited breath, but we're all probably going to get reassigned. I'm hoping for the deep south or in the southwest, somewhere where it is warm, b/c all I have is Brazilian clothing. Today has been pretty good. We were able to go to the temple and do an endowment session there and I actually saw my Trek parents, Bishop Wentzel and wife there in that session, but I didn't have a chance to go talk to them.  It really is a small world. After that we came back, studied for a little bit and then went to lunch, did laundry and here I am typing out emails. Thanks for the addresses! I don't know if I want to do a general letter, b/c i like to personalize them to the person, even they are short.

Tomorrow we get to greet the hosting missionaries as they come in the MTC and we're really looking forward to that! Its kinda of funny to see them come to the MTC b/c it is a totally fish out of water look when they come to the MTC. When you get to the MTC you get an orange dot placed on your nametag so everybody knows that you are new and is saying welcome to the MTC, and it kinda of overwhelms people sometimes,but it will be fun. It was like that when I got here. Then tomorrow night, my companionship is helping with some of the greeting new missionaries as they get used to the MTC.  

Right now I don't really need anything.  Though if I do, I'll make sure that you know.   I have been taking a lot of pictures, its just mostly nature shots of the MTC if that makes any sense. I figured out how to send pictures, but its a bit difficult and I can only send a few at a time because the files are so large.  I will reset the settings on my camera to make them smaller file sizes. The only thing I think I could need would be some memory cards. One of the elders said that they were doing was just filling up a memory card and then sending it back to their family. They do sell memory cards here, but they are kinda of expensive.  Maybe if I have enough cash left over. I will try to send some with every email though. Jelly Belly jelly beans would be appreciated as well.  Thanks for the ties! If you ever need to send ties again, can they be polyester and not silk, b/c polyester are indestructible in comparison.  Thanks for the food!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

August 20, 2013

Thanks for the pictures!  The MTC is going okay right now. I am recovering from having a cold/flu this weekend which was pretty miserable, but I got through it. I lost my voice on Sunday and got it back Monday, but had other symptoms throughout the rest of yesterday. I did get your package! Thanks for the food and pants! I needed the pants b/c I went to put on a pair of pants last week and found out that they were way too small. i don't know how they got in there, but  they did. This last week has been pretty interesting. Last Tuesday night, Richard G. Scott gave a devotional about how to pray and it was really good. He was quite funny on the way out b/c you could tell he didn't want to leave the devotional. He turned around and stopped at 3 times at least to wave and say goodbye. It was funnier b/c the entire Marriot Center was silent until he did. It was a great talk though. Sunday night we had Via Sikahema,the first tongan on the BYU Football team and now a Sports Broadcaster and Emmy award winner come back to talk to us about his mission to the South Dakota mission (if you don't know who he is, you could probably ask president Kinard about him).  He was quite funny. He wouldn't let us take any notes b/c he just wanted us to listen. I really liked it. He had one of his converts there as well to bear his testimony about missionary work and the influence that it had on his life. Tonight there is a devo at the Marriot Center, and rumor has it another general authority is going to speak. Thats really cool that President Kinard  is the new Stake President, though I'm really not surprised. I wish I could have been there for President Hollands talk.
We are now half way through the MTC! I like it here, but I can't wait to leave to get out in the mission field. Thanks for all your letters, it really brightens my day whenver I get them. I did get a message from Regina, so I need to make sure to write her back when i get time to.  A lot of people emailed me so I'm trying to punch out emails as fast as I can. Thanks for the addresses, do you know if you could send me the facebook emails for Jake, Stirling,basically any of the young men you think I would want to write to,and Teresas and Bethany (Elis)? Do you know how to get those? You just go to their profile page, click on about at the top in the bar where its has their pictures and likes, usually right beneath their cover photo. Scroll down and on the right side it should have an email address, usually something like, something like that, I don't actually know stirlings though. Anybody else you think I should have would be great as well. Nobodys visas have come in yet, but everybody is still waiting with baited breath.

Thanks for writing!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

13 August, 2013

Thanks for writing and emailing me while in the MTC. It means a lot to get mail here.  Sounds like everything its going pretty good. I got an email from Caroline and she said that marching is going really well.  So far in the MTC, we have a pretty regular routine, so it gets kinda of boring at times. At night, I'm trying to read from Jesus the Christ in German so help keep that sharp.  My Portuguese is coming along all right, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Its so weird not to be going to school right now.  It feels like we've been in the MTC for a lot longer than 2 weeks. My companions and I are getting along great right now! We got to go the Provo temple this morning and watch the new film and that was a lot of fun!  I don't know if you caught this in my last letter, but Jennie Oaks Baker played at our Sunday night Devotional not this last Sunday, but the Sunday before and it was amazing. Even her kids can play really well!  We have devotionals every Sunday and Tuesday night and they have all been really good. Tonight, we're having a devo that is being broadcast to all of the MTCs world wide, but we never know who is speaking until we get there. I'm in the choir and its a lot of fun.
Not much out of the ordinary goes on here. Mostly its the same thing over and over and over. We've taught 4 lessons in Portuguese so far and we have a new investigator tomorrow as well. That will be fun! I've taken a lot of pictures, but I can't really send them. I got 3 pictures on the computer and I'll try and forward them to you.  The other elder in the picture is Elder landro, but I didn't get one of Elder Carolson. The other one is of my district.

Thanks for all the letters! It really helps a lot. They do have document pouches here so I'll get on of those. I need to get 1-2 more pairs of garments, but those i can also get here.  The only thing I really want/kinda need but not essential is more black pants and 1-2 more ties. The pants I have right now are Dockers black 32/32. Those work  really well.  Thanks for the package of food, we've eaten through it all already. It was really good. Can you tell Bishop thanks for the email?  Thanks for writing me and I'll try to send letters if I can!

Love Ben.