Tuesday, January 27, 2015

27 January 2015

I arrived safely in Anaheim, California! I think it's a cross between Arizona and Indiana- really bright, really hot, really humid, and it's January still. I'm not sure what to expect in July...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

24 January 2015

A LOT has happened this week. On Tuesday, I heard that my visa was delayed, and so I'd be staying another week at the MTC before being shipped out on a reassignment. Late last night, a paper came that said I'd instead be going to Anaheim, California on Tuesday! I went from having an extra week to having only 4 days overnight! It's weird to think that I have so little time left- it feels like I've been here both for forever and for no time at all.

Two days ago, late at night, I saw a few of the missionaries in my district singing this song, Come unto Christ. I joined in, thinking nothing of it, until I was pulled out of class the next day to audition for a devotional group. I still didn't think anything would happen because our group was really unprepared- we hadn't read the rules or memorized the music, and one of us (there were only 5) was wearing a sweater instead of a suit coat. We did about a dozen minor violations like that, but even still we sang so well that we got 3 days notice THAT DAY that we were going to be singing in front of half of the MTC during the departure devotional on Sunday!!! I'm going to practice like crazy! You should have heard our piano player, Elder Sands. He's only 18, but he's written and played 10+ songs that he's sold do record companies. He's amazing!

Also this week, we've been teaching a TRC member- basically, it's all role-played out like they're real investigators. Some of them are members, some aren't but we aren't told which. Every interaction with them is purely role play, there's no evaluation afterward or talking as anything but missionaries. I got pretty lucky though- mine is awesome. His name is Chad, and he loves learning about and debating about the gospel. Every lesson with him, I think I learn more than he does!

Things here have been hectic! It seems like either we're rushing around trying to get stuff done, or sitting in class. You need to tell Sam to check his email- I'm sending him one too. If I can figure out how to get this computer to send pictures, I'll send about 20 of them. Have fun at home!

Monday, January 19, 2015

19 January 2015

That does sound like an interesting week for sure!  I read Toms
account about the trip out to salt lake and it sounds like it was
interesting! Was he flying delta?  You don´t have to leave the
terminal to be able to get your baggage though.   Oh well, he got
there.   I remember my trip out there was really calm.  We flew
directly to Salt Lake so we didn´t have any layovers at all. I was
also with austin gorge and not alone so that was cool.  Brenna
Donnelly is back from her mission now! Thats weird b/c I remember
talking with her in the MTC.  I saw her a few times there in the MTC
Bookstore!  Pretty cool.  Matts got his first tooth! Is he already
asking about the tooth fairy as well?  Is it already warming back up?
  This week didn´t have too much happen.  Tuesday was pretty normal.
We had District Meeting and the normal.  My companion Elder Sanderson
was sick that day so we work a little bit and then we went back home
to let him rest up and get well.  Hes fine now so everythings okay!
Tuesday night was also supposed to a Ward Family Home Evening but
didn´t happen on the account of it raining super hard.  So that didn´t
happen. Wednesday was all normal.  Thursday was the 2 ward soccer semi
final that we got to watch.  Super fun to be there. Brasilians really
get into soccer to say the least.  Out of the 2 wards participating
there had been 10 -12 teams and now it was down to the final 4, which
out of those 4 are now 2. Fun game to watch.  Friday normal. Saturday
was did exchanges and I got to spend the day with Elder Pablo who
suprisingly is from Brasil.  Super good missionary.  We got to teach a
whole bunch of people and that was cool to see how he teaches the
people. Sunday was church.  Pretty normal.  We are teaching Gospel
Principles right now! We have a few investigators who are going pretty
well. We are still teaching Anderson.  He got interviewed for his
baptism that if all goes well he will be baptized this Saturday.  We
are super excited for him!    We got to teach a lady with the name of
Franciamara this week.  She is not too old and has a lot of interest
about the church.  She was very interested about the Book of Mormon so
we got to explain that to her!  Lots of fun! We are teaching a kid now
as well who is always playing soccer at the chapel!  His name is Hugo
and he is super cool! Also has a lot of interest in the church! Not
too much besides from that happened this week! Its been a good week.
Elder Sanderson and I will stay together one more transfer now! Its
going to be awesome!
  I hope that you all have a great week! Miss all of you! Have a great week!
Elder Battraw

Friday, January 16, 2015

16 January 2015

For future reference, I'm in branch 31b, I hope that's what you meant by unit number. Also, I need 2 things- the cable for my camera so I can send pictures, and the date of my latest polio vaccination. Can you fax the polio info over by Thursday? My P-day is friday, and I'm staying for just two weeks.

Getting on the plane to Denver, Colorado was easy. Arriving at the airport was easy. Trying to find the checked bag that I didn't know had been sent all the way to Salt Lake was hard. I spent 20 minutes waiting for my bag to come down the carousel, then 30 minutes in line at the baggage claim counter trying to get someone to help me figure out what had happened to it. When I finally got down to the counter, the lady there took about 5 seconds to figure out that my luggage was already en route to Salt Lake. The only problem was that I wasn't- I had to get back down to the gate. I went down to security, but they couldn't let me through without a new boarding pass. I then ran to the ticket counter clear at the other side of the airport, but the plane had already left by the time I got there. So, they printed me a new standby ticket. I immediately went to a phone and called the missionary travel office and the shuttle bus station, and told them the situation. I was told just to wait for the next flight- 4 hours later. Then, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. I read through a huge chunk of the missionary reference library. Finally, the plane arrived and boarding started. Unfortunately, the plane was already overbooked, and the airport officials were asking if anyone was willing to wait an extra few hours. I waited anyway, and lo and behold, 2 standby seats were open! But then, there were also two other standby passengers, who took both. So I recalled the MTO and shuttle bus, and this time I got a whole new ticket that wasn't standby. Then there was nothing to do but wait more. But eventually, after 8 hours at that airport, I finally got on a plane and on my way to Salt Lake. 

The shuttle bus was...interesting. I had to wait 40 minutes for the next bus, and when I got out to the curb for it, I was a little surprised to find that it was actually a minivan. Sure, it had a nice paint job, but when you're cramming 7 full-grown adults into one, with their luggage, things got a little tight. Nevertheless, I made it to the MTC after another long while in the van. 

At the MTC, things got fun fast. The second I walked in the door and checked in, I was handed a phone and told to call home. I got David, and he said something along the lines of Mom being about ready to have a coronary because the only thing that the church had told her is that I wasn't at the MTC. Understandably, she was a little worried 8 hours after that when I still hadn't checked in. I promised to give her all the details later, something I am doing right now. 

When I got up to my room and got set up, I met my companion, Elder Whaley. He's a cool guy! I share the room with him, Elder Jacob Jensen, and Elder Tessimale (I hope I spelled that right). They are all fun guys! Elder Jensen spent over a year in the military, and the rest of his life on a ranch. Elder Whaley's background is eerily similair to mine- about a year flipping burgers as a crew trainer at McDonald's, learned the trumpet (I took lessons a few years back), and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Life at the MTC is pretty strict in most ways. You have to be dressed up to use the dining hall! To go to any devotionals or big meetings, you have to wear a suit. Fortunately, classes are relatively laid back- just a white shirt, tie, and slacks. There's not too much you can do in casual clothes- this email is one of the very few, so I'm capitalizing on that. Once I get a cable for my camera so I can send pictures, I will. The dorms are pretty spartan- one desk, four chairs, 3 bunk beds, and a few cabinets and dressers. I still haven't unpacked, and I'm probably not going to at this rate- time in your room is pretty limited. You pretty much have a little time at night, and that's about it. There's a load of flu precautions- apparently, 700 missionaries were quarantined not too long ago because they all came down with it. There are hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and get this- at the MTC, you can't shake hands! All the leaders here are leading by examples, but that rule is by and large ignored by most of the missionaries. Come on, that's half the reason we came here. 

There's a whole lot of classes to take- sort of. It's all one classroom, but you have morning and afternoon 3-hour blocks. Both are about the same sort of thing- learning to feel the spirit and use it to get inspiration about your investigator(s), so you can teach them better. I love the missionary purpose- to bring people closer to Christ by helping them to receive faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. I'm just thanking my lucky stars that I don't have to learn a language- the missionaries that do stay in the MTC for 6 weeks, not two. 

I can't wait to head out to India! I still don't have my visa or passport back from whoever I sent them to, so I'm likely just going to have to hang out in Idaho or Utah until I get my visa. I've heard that they are notoriously hard to get, so I'm not holding my breath...

This place is so awesome! I can't wait to get letters from everyone (hint hint)! Have fun!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Time to go

We were all able to go to the airport with Tom this morning to drop him off for his mission. We weren't able to do this Ben so this was our first experience taking a missionary to the airport and saying good bye there. It's hard to see him go, but I know he'll be a great missionary!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Setting Apart

President Kinard came over to the house tonight and set Tom apart as a missionary. It's real now... 

Monday, January 12, 2015

12 January 2015

That sounds like it was a fun week! Lots of snow and freezing rain! Here this week its just been rain!  Is Indian food really good? What does it taste like? Lots of rice and chicken as well? Sounds like it
was a good open house though, lots of people who stayed for awhile!  I still remember my open house, but that was a little while ago!  How was the time at the temple?  Was it pretty cool! Bishop Jensen wrote all the missionaries telling us about the temple will probably be completed in the fall of this year so that was exciting new to hear? how is the work on the temple going? I hope its going well!
  This week was pretty cool.  Nothing super exciting happened to us this week.  Tuesday was Zone Training in Manaus.  So we left Manacapuru at 6 am to catch the bus to Manaus.  It took about a 1.5
hours to get to Manaus.  To get to Manaus from this side of the city you have to cross over the Ponta Negra Bridge which is a huge bridge which was pretty cool.  The Training was really good.  It talked a lot about the return to the emphasis of the mission which is helping investigators progress until baptism.  Really good training.  The only bad part was when we left the training we had to walk with a 40-50 pound box of Books of Mormon for 2 miles to get to the bus stop.  Both my back and my companions were hurting the next day from that trek. Got back to Manaus the same day which was nice.  The rest of the week was pretty normal missionary work.  We managed to find a new family
this week through a member.  We are teaching a father and his daughter, whose name is Sidrak and Rebecca.  They are cool to teach. They live with his mom whose name is Dolores who is super funny.  She likes to talk randomly throughout our lessons, but always has a funny comment to make!  They are pretty cool.  Thursday we got to give a blessing for a man in the hospital. We had another investigator ask us to go to the hospital and give him a blessing.  He had fallen outside of their house and was taken to the hosptial by them .  He had the front half of both of his feet amputated because he had diabetes but hadn´t been treated up until that point.  We walked down the hospital and gave a blessing.  He left the hospital the next day and we taught him quickly but he already went back to Manaus.  We had a bunch of people stop us in the street this week and we got to teach them.  We
had two young men stop us in the street whose names are Andre and Bruno.  They both train for UFC and Andre has been doing it for 12 years and he is 20.  We taught the Restoration and they both seemed to like it a lot, but weren´t able to go to church this Sunday.  We got to teach Anderson again and he went to church again, he has some special needs so its always interesting to teach him.  All in all, a pretty good week!
  Hope that you all have a good week!  Hope that the freezing rain has stopped!  Have an awesome week! Good luck to Tom! I think I can write him, I just need his email! I miss you all Have a great week!

Elder Battraw

A few pictures from the mission.  The first one is from  a recent zone training.  The second is the famous Ponta Negra Bridge in Manaus that goes across the Rio Negro which is part of the two rivers that make the amazon river, the next is of Manaus from the bridge, then something I found in the collar of one of my shirts, and then the street that we live on here in Manacapuru! Have a great week everyone!

Elder Battraw

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tom's Open House

Tom wanted an Open House before he left with lots of Indian food. I didn't think to get any pictures of the food, but here are some with the friends that came by to see Tom.


Going to the Temple

David and I took Tom to the Louisville Temple today.  It was a long drive in the snow, but it was great to be there with him for his first time through! One step closer to the mission! It's getting closer and closer. We stopped at Sonic on the way home and had lots of delicious food we don't get often as we drove home. Yum! It was a good day with Tom!