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