Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

23 February 2015

This has been a fun week! I went on exchanges with one of the two Elders Johnsone (for who knows what reason, the two elders in the whole mission named Johnson ended up in the same companionship). That was fun- they were on bikes, and up until then I'd been in a car. Strangely enough, being on bike is a lot harder. But there are some crazy slopes in the area, and going down them, we'd hit about 40 mph! That night, when we were clearing out the area book, we knocked on this person's door. A large black man opened it, and greeted us like we were his best friends ever. I haven't been cussed at yet, but this was still miles away from the normal "who are you and why have you dared violate the sanctity of my doorstep?" sort of deal we usually get. The fact that he was holding a mostly empty wineglass in his hand may have had something to do with it. We started talking to him, and learned that the missionaries had talked to his son. A woman came up, whom he introduced as his wife-to-be, also holding a wineglass. We talked for a bit more, and they kept raising weird points about doctrinal differences that didn't actually exist. Then, after we mentioned the Book of Mormon, she burst out "Oh! You're Mormons!" Keep in mind that we always introduce ourselves as missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but since she missed the introduction, she'd assumed we were Jehovah's Witnesses. We left after a bit more talking, but it was funny. 

The craziest thing happened the next day- I learned how to solve a rubik's cube. What's really funny is that that day, I ate at McDonald's too, and despite eating at the one I worked at once or twice a week for a year without getting sick, the meal I had there apparently wasn't quite as high-quality.  Then, we set up for the talent show that the ward was having the next day. That took a while, because around 3-500 people showed up. It was pretty awesome- there was a world-class jump roper, a 3-year old playing "Sonatina" on the piano, a Disneyland Latin band, sword fighting demonstrations, and the first country music that I've ever heard that I liked. 

Friday we had district meeting, and I heard a great new finding method- surveys! Basically, we ask about their beliefs, and share ours, and then ask them if they would be interested in learning more about the church system that Christ set up on the earth with the same authority that the early apostles had. We've only tried it for a little while, but we've had some great conversations. Unfortunately, the one investigator we've found since I came in (this was a week or two ago) had to be transferred to the YSA missionaries, but he was a great find, and has been taking the lessons. 

Saturday was...interesting. we had 7.5 hours of finding. We did loads of tracting, with the new method for part of it. We visited a bunch of less-actives, and Elder Wilding spent an hour on Facebook while I read my scriptures (Pres. Taggart doesn't let new missionaries do Facebook tracting for the first 6 weeks as a sort of cooldown period where we get into the missionary mindset). Dinner was the really interesting bit, though. Wilding has been in the area for over 7 months, so he knows a lot of the families really well. One of them, the Shaw's treats us just like family- a little too much so, sometimes. This is the same family that has the giant tortoise, by the way. .When they opened the door, I got shot in the arm at close range with a confetti gun that left a crazy bruise. After dinner, Sister Shaw showed us pictures of her playing with tigers in Thailand, too.

On Sunday, we did all the normal church stuff, plus ward council- at 7:30 in the morning. That wasn't a problem for me- I always wake up at 6. But my companion gets up significantly later, normally, so he was wiped out all day. In the evening, we started teaching Andy, our recent convert that got baptized last week, the new member lessons. That was fun, especially since wee had some priests there too. This was both Elder Wilding's and my first lesson with priests present. It went pretty well regardless, though. 

We're going to be getting new iPads in the mission in a month or two,
but they'll be $400. We probably don't have to pay, as either I'll get
a loaner just like the other missionaries who are staying less than
six months, or maybe they'll just give me one. I haven't heard much,
but the new iPads sound nice. Apparently, they have double the memory,
and won't constantly crawl like these do. They're still better than
paper, but not by much currently.

Monday, February 16, 2015

16 February 2015

Things have been settling into some sort of a routine. There are still some funky things that pop up, such as the picture I am about to send, but it's generally about the same every day. Normally, I get up early, then have loads of time to do nothing before my companion gets up. I've read a load of scriptures in that null time in the morning, so I guess it works out. Things have been fin, though. Our mission had another baptism on Saturday that I got to go to, and that was good. I started jogging again, too. Or more accurately, Elder Wilding wanted to go jogging, and I though it would be fun. I was wrong. Even still, we do it somewhat regularly. We've been doing loads of service, too. I heard of a fun opportunity that Wilding had before I came in-fixing the bottom of a pool. At that same house, but unfortunately not at the same time, we took out a microwave that had been bolted to the wall in a way that some Russian repairmen couldn't figure out but took us about five minutes. We also had zone conference. It's a lot like general conference, but it's six consecutive hours of sitting and listening. We learned some good stuff, like better tracting approaches and all that, but it still took forever. 

One of the members we had dinner with was a very interesting guy. He was a conspiracy theorist who thought that Nehemiah was a liar, and that all religions sprang from Judaism around 100 ad when people wanted to start practicing the law of consecration, which led to state formed religions in a long process. We had quite a long discussion about that. On Valentine's Day, we got to make our own pizzas at a members house. None of us were any good at rolling out the dough, so all of the pizzas were abstractly shaped oblong blobs. They tasted good though. 

I've been having a good time out, though. We're going on exchanges on Wednesday, and that'll be fun. I'm partnering up with Elder Johnson, a biker missionary. It'll be something new to try. 

Today, when we had absolutely nothing to do, we decided to go out to Omars, a bird store that was recommended to us by a member. We didn't end up getting any, partly because of mission rules, and partly because the birds all had price tags ending in more zeros than I wanted to think about. The place was set up like a petting zoo-rows of hanging perches with wood chip trays underneath. They had a pretty good selection of exotic birds. 

How are things going back home? Over here, it occasionally breaks 90, and is almost constantly sunny. The annoying thing about using iPads is that I can't plug in my camera chip in to them to send pictures, and the cases they gave us don't have camera holes. It's a pain to take them out every time you want a picture. I still took a few though, which I will include. What's your new job like?

Have fun in the snow!

16 February 2015

That sounds like a fun Valentines Day. Here Valentines Day is in the middle of June so here was pretty normal! Yes, the temple will be dedicated in August then! I will be there!  So you haven´t really started working at your new job yet, huh? When will you be starting then? I remember you doing Second Saturday b/c you would leave us all alone and I got to babysit all of them.  I got grandmas email about them coming down here to Brasil.  That will be super cool for them. Goais is in the middle of Brasil, not too much happen them.  They´re going a weird portuguese there.  Weird accents.  Goias is the sticks there.  Manaus is a long ways from anything b/c its in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, but Goias is just in the middle of nothing. How long is the mission there? Matt is already praying that I come home safely! It will still take a little while...
  This week was pretty good here.  It was quite interesting.  Monday was normal still, tuesday was normal as well.   Really it was just Friday that was pretty crazy.  Friday afternoon was just a great day.  That afternoon was super cool b/c I got to see a family from my first area here in Brasil.  We were just walking down the main street here in the city and we suddenly here from a car that was driving by, BATTRAW, BATTRAW and it was Irma Patricia from Ala Canaranas.  They are a super cool family. Later that night after all of our appointments she bought pizza for all the missionaries here and we got to hang out.  That was really cool. Her two kids right now are out on missions right now as well.  Sunday was a good day as well.  Got to have Genelza to church with Raimundo!  I don´t think I´ve talked about them just yet.  They are a married couple in the late 40´s that we found through a street contact and have been teaching them.   They are super humble and this week was the first time that they got to go to church with us.  They borught 2 of their kids and they absolutely loved it there!  She got really excited and told us at the end that she wanted to come back every single week! Super cool family.  We are still teaching Genelson.  For some reason, he didn´t go to church yesterday so this week we are going to talk with him.  Andre as well, this entire week he wasn´t able to talk with us, so hopefully we´ll be able to talk with him this week!  Joelle and Fabio are going great! Last week they both went to church though this week they didn´t.  We went over Thursday night and show Pres. Uchtdorfs talk from the last General Conference about light and it was a good lesson. You can always depend on the Apostles to share a good message.  Joelle is getting excited about the gospel!  We´ve be getting back to talking with Diego!  Talked to him briefly Saturday night and he seems great! This week we´ll be able to teach him again!  Carnival has started up here in Manacapuru which means huge street parties every night until 3 am!  Its getting pretty crazy at times!  We just try to avoid those areas when its getting dark outside! Most people here don´t go to Carnival as well, its just really all the younger people above 18.  The parties will be going until Wednesday night which will be the last huge party!  Carnival is pretty serious here!  It´ll be interesting trying to teach people during it, but everything will go great!  
  Hope that you all have a great week!   I miss you all!  Have an awesome week!
Elder Battraw

Monday, February 9, 2015

9 February 2015

I've been on my mission for two weeks, and already we've gotten a baptism! The guy's name is Andy Reafsnyder, and he was actually investigating for the last two months. I just came in at a fortunate time. There are a lot of interesting people here. One family has a giant tortoise that runs around uncaged in their backyard. Another family teaches us how to read Persian every Sunday. Yet another described Six Flags in a lot of detail. We have dinner with a member family every night, so we meet a lot of Californians. That tends to lead to some interesting experiences.
I've had some crazy foods here too. Have you even ever heard of Cookie Butter? It's a lot like peanut butter mixed with cookie dough and brown sugar. It's delicious, but nowhere near anything I've ever tried before. One of the families we had dinner with served us acai berry smoothies and salmon smothered in mayonnaise. That was good, actually. The McDonald's here have a "Create your own taste" burger", where you can just put anything on one. It's a good concept. The whole place looked like it just came down from a satellite or something- everything chrome and steel, that looked really futuristic.
Getting investigators is the hardest part of working down here. Tracting is nearly useless, though we have found one or two that have seemed reasonably solid, but we haven't followed up on either because they both specified today as the best time to contact them. That sucks, because today is p day, and it's too short already. We only had three until Saturday, and then we lost one because he got baptized.
How are things back home? I think I heard cold and snowy. Yesterday, it was sunny and 87. That's California for you. Have fun back home!

9 February 2015

Thats cool that Stake conference was this week!  Here Stake Conference was just a broadcast from Salt Lake, it had Elder Cook talk in it!  Speaking of the temple, when is it scheduled to be comleted? Have there been any releases about the temple or anything yet? Hopefully I´ll be able to be home in time for the open house and dedication! Never say where you don´t want to go!   I remember before my mission saying that I didn´t want to go to Provo Boise or South America and here we are.  But I love my mission!  Its awesome here!  Thanks for the blog, its quite true for missionaries! I liked it! Everybody here tells us of how cold it is there back in the states.  They mainly talk about New York and how its covered in snow, but we have heard how cold its back there.  Here its just about the opposite.  Super hot and raining!
  This week was fun! Monday we traveled to Manaus after lunch and got there about 2:00pm!  Got to spend the rest of pday there in Manaus!  We mostly just walked the streets and used the lanhouse there.  For dinner it got interesting.  We were all hungry so we walked into a pizza parlor and there they told us that a pizza gigante (giant pizza) was only 15 reais.   We all looked at each other and said, I think that I could eat that.  So us 4 we all ordered our own gigantic pizza and that was dinner.  It was funny because the waiter came up and asked yes what we wanted and one of the ZLs said he wanted a gigantic and the waiter started to leave but he called him back and said, Wait, they´re going to want some too!  it was super good and all 4 of us managed to finish it!  That night we slept in the coldest a/c that I´ve been in the mission.  Elder Sanderson and I were in hammocks b/c they didn´t have enough mattress so we froze to death that night!  The next day was the zone training! It talked a lot about the importance of marking baptismal dates with your investigators to help them progress and other missionaries techniques! It was super good!  Got back here later that day super tired, but we managed to teach a little bit.  We´ve been teaching a 19 year old whose name is Genelson and he is super cool.  We´ve been teach him a lot this past week and he is progressing a lot! He has a desire to serve a mission as well.  We  found out this week that his cousin is a member of the church and that she left for a mission as well this week! Super cool discovery. He is always offering to help us out with dinner or anything like that. Just cool.  This week was just packed with appointments so we spent a lot of time running from place to place trying to teach everybody.  Its going great!  Saturday was Elder Sandersons 21st birthday so some of the members made him lasagna and cake.  It would have been even better if they had told us about it!  They had mentioned it last Sunday but hadn´t said anything to us about it so we didn´t know if it was going to happen!  Well, 8:00pm they called us and asked us Elders Where are you!  We went over there and had made lasagna and cake for Elder Sanderson! It was all super good! Sunday was the baptism of Lucas!  His Uncle from another ward was the person who baptized him! It was super spiritual! Really cool! Its been a pretty good week! Elder Cook from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles will be out here in Manaus to give a training for the mission on the 24th. Everyone is super excited for it!
  Thanks for the letters! Have a great week! I miss you all!
Elder Battraw

Monday, February 2, 2015

2 February 2015

That sounds like you all had an interesting week! I hope that everything is going great for Tom out there in Califórnia! Thats super cool that you are back at that same hospital now1  How is it going there? How much long will you be in training?  Thats cool though.  Matt is throwing up now? Thats no fun at all.  This season right now here in Manacapuru is the season of sickness.  The river is filling up now as it does every year, but as the river fills up its means more sicknesses and just not being well.  its fun to say the least. 
  This week here was pretty cool.  Monday was p day.  Normal p day except for the fact that I went up to dunk the ball during our weekly game of basketball and ended not landing too well on my foot.  Hurt quite a bit but didn´t really put too much thought to it.   Tuesday the LZs were in Manaus so we ended up not having District Meeting.   Tuesday was a pretty normal day, except that it was pretty painful to walk on my left food b/c it had swollen up like a balloon. The wife of our Ward mission leader looked at my foot and said it looked I sprained/ twisted the nerve in my foot.  I went to on the Ward members there whose dad Works with stuff like this and he helped it out a bunch.   Wednesday, the foot was still pretty swollen so we headed up to the hospital and got it all x rayed.  After 3 hours in the hospital we found out that it was not broken after all, just sprained.   So the doctor just told me to go easy on my foot.  It still is a little bit sore, but its doing way better now.  The rest of the week was pretty normal.  Thursday I got to go on exchanges with Elder Thomas from Texas and that was super cool.  Sunday was interesting b/c there wasn´t any power in the chapel b/c there had been a problem with the church payment system and the energy had ended up not being paid, so they cut the power in the chapel.  That is getting resolved this week though!   Right not we have a bunch of investigators that are going great.  We have one 18 yr old whose name is Diego, and he is going to church right now.l  He has a desire to be baptized so we are helping get ready for that!  Super excited for him!   We are teaching a 20yr old right now whose name is André and turns out he isa 2 time Jiu Jitsu Olympic Champion.  He has been several times to the US and was planning to train there, but ended up getting married and staying in Manacapuru to help out with his wife.  He has a lot of intrest in the gospel and super cool to teach!   We are also teaching a 15 nephew of a recent convert.  His name is Lucas and hes been to church a couple of times now and is really cool as well.  We are super excited for all of them!
  Its been a pretty good week this week!  Hope that you all have a great week as well!  I miss all of you!

Elder Battraw

2 February 2015

Sorry about not writing on Friday- P day is now on Mondays, so that's when you'll get the emails.
It's been a really crazy week. Tuesday morning, I got up at 1 am, was on a train by 4, arrived at the airport, and called home. I talked to David, but unfortunately, after my flight landed (uneventfully), I got grabbed by the Mission President, Elder Taggert, before I could call. He took us to the mission home, where we watched some safety videos and got assigned to our new companions. I got Elder Wilding. He's a fun guy. He plays guitar pretty well, and is good at teaching. Then, we were shown some beds and told to take a nap. 15 minutes in to mine, I was shaken awake and interviewed by Elder Taggert. I was so sleepy, I don't remember a thing. At the very least though, he pried enough out of me that he didn't send me home. For the rest of the day, I was energetic enough, but right then I couldn't even think.
That night, I set up all my stuff in the apartment, and then we headed out to clean up the area book- visiting potential investigators that the missionaries talked to once and forgot about. For dinner, we went out with a member family to El Durango's, a Mexican restaurant. What's really funny is that Elder Wilding sounds just like James from Studio C, and guess what he ordered there? Lobster bisque.
Wednesday was equally interesting. The highlight of it was going out tracting. After meeting a lot of people who by and large just yelled that they weren't interested from behind locked doors, we finally found someone who might be. He actually had visited the Salt Lake temple grounds. We told him more about the temple, and gave him a Plan of Salvation pamphlet to read. He seemed fairly interested. Tracting, apparently, is almost useless in California. Elder Wilding knocked on every door in his first two areas, and didn't get a single investigator from that. Member referrals are the only way to go. That night, at a member's house, we had fajitas for dinner.
Thursday so far has been the best. I got an iPad mini! They are these small, specially programmed iPads that are loaded with a few helpful apps and lots of monitoring software. You can't do anything with them besides the church-approved stuff. They are incredibly helpful though- the area book app works about a thousand time better than paper. You can also read scriptures, general conference talks, church magazines, and everything else. Guess what we had for dinner? More Mexican food.
Friday was weekly planning. We set up goals and all that for the week, and did laundry in the hour and a half we had left over in the scheduled time. No one knows why we are given 3 hours for planning that takes so little time. Then, we went out to do some service. That's where my companion found me with a needle in my arm. Granted, that needle was put there by a Red Cross blood drive nurse. Originally, we were just going to sit behind the welcome desk, smile, hand out information packets, and watch out for people who passed out, but instead I ended up donating. Apparently though, you're supposed to drink a lot more before donating than I did- my veins were so small they had to use a side vein, which takes a lot longer. I talked to a few interesting people though. One of them had donated every three months since 1996! My companion and I are going to be doing a lot more service in the future. While tracting, we're lucky to find one or two people who will talk to us in a week. In the three hours we were at the blood drive, everyone there chatted happily.
It's almost unbelievable how much energy I have over here. I consistently wake up at my alarm's first beep, something I'd completely sleep through even at the MTC. Even right after donating blood, I was still super hyper. I don't know what they put in the water here, but it's incredible.
The one thing I'm kicking myself for is not taking music. The one CD I brought, we already had at the apartment. Can you send over every Piano Guys, Pentatonix, and EFY CD you can find? I think that one of them is still in the Mac's disc drive. And if you're feeling especially nice, can you ask Sam to email me everything Sundayish off of Itunes? Elder Taggert said that he doesn't care  what music we listen to as long as it doesn't drive away the spirit. Also, a cheap chess board would be really nice. on p day, we can go to a chess group thing, and I'd like to practice in my free time. My mailing address is:
2500 N Bristol Street
Santa Ana, CA