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