Monday, April 27, 2015

27 April 2015

Thats cool! I really hope that you don´t need the information for the FAFSA so if you could see about that would be great!  Registration for incoming freshmen is in June, so I don´t really need to worry about it until June.  Thanks so much! When will be girls camp? It will be after I get home?  I was thinking parties Brasilian style, music, pizza and dancing until 4:30 in the morning.  But we could just go until midnight if you want :) It will be a lot of fun though.  I got the phone call today asking me to which airport I would be going home and that was cool to have.  I might be getting home the 30th, I don´t know. It completely depends on the route.  If I go through Miami, then I might get home the 30th, If go through São Paulo then Atlanta, then its the 1st.  We´ll see.  In three weeks they will send my itinerary tell me how I get home.  What are 4 12´s?
  This week was pretty normal.  Tuesday we didn´t have District Meeting b/c the Zone Leaders were off to Manaus.  So we mostly just studied a little bit more and got ready for the day. Nothing too extreme happened TuesdayWednesday we participated in a Family Home Evening with Joelle and Fabio with the Elders Quorum President.  He showed the 3rd film in the Work and the Glory Series and it didn´t seem to go over too well.  Everybody was super tired and nobody was really understanding the film, but oh well.  It was interesting. Saturday night was the ward activity.  There is no word that translates into English for this type of activity  It was really cool.  There would be a question or scrambled word or a task apresented to everyone to complete.  There was a few like, count the number of doors or windows in the chapel, unscramble the word tangerina.  There was so really cool questions in there , it was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed it.  We had invited some of our investigators to come, but it didn´t work out for them.  We had a less active family that we´ve been visiting showed up as well! Sunday morning was a lot of running around trying to get everyone to church.  Lãone came to church for the first time, that was really cool.  We´ve been teaching here for about 2 weeks but this was the first time that she went to church.  That was really awesome.  Kennedy went to church this week and is excited to be baptized this next Saturday! He is the brother of a family of recent converts and it super cool! Sunday afternoon was the baptism of Elymara.  That was cool, her mom and family were all there to watch! Her sister Sabrinha, who is the only member of her family bore testimony at the  baptism! That was super cool! Its been a pretty awesome week! 
  I hope that everything is going great back at home! Have a great week! I miss you all! 

Elder Battraw

27 April 2015

On Monday, I got my new companion, Elder Mackey! He's a fun guy, and matches me pretty well in just about everything. It's really weird- my first companion was 24, and had a vastly, vastly different background than me. Elder Mackey is literally the most similar person to me that I have ever met. We focused on planning for the first day that we were together. With Elder Wilding, who had been in the area for 9.5 months, we didn't plan very well, because he knew the area and the good people to visit. With Mackey, we planned nearly 3 straight days worth of meetings and things in one hour of companion study, on Tuesday. And we're feeling the blessings already- that day we had lunch with a less-active member who accepted a call as ward missionary, and got him to commit to help with that! Then, we visited our entire teaching pool, which keeps slimming down. We talked with a bunch of members to try and get to know the area better, and got a bunch of good information on a bunch of less-actives. That night, Elder Mackey went for a haircut at a member's house in his last area, and I got a taste of what it is like to serve in a YSA ward. It was pretty awesome, because many of the members are missionary age and will hang out with you. 

Wednesday, we had service at Habitat for Humanity again. It's always different, and this one was lots of fun- chipping concrete off the ground with pickaxes and shovels. The workers had sprayed stucco, which is a form of concrete, all over the walls of the houses, but a lot had fallen on the ground. That had to come off. After 2 thrilling hours of that, we cleared it up, then got busier with missionary work. One of our investigators has been investigating on and off since he was fourteen. That wouldn't be such a problem, except that he's nineteen. In thirty seconds on the doorstep, Elder Mackey kicked him into gear, all but literally. Later, we tried to visit a whole bunch of people, then went to the YW fundraiser for this year. It was a spaghetti dinner, with a silent auction for desserts and other various things, like tickets to baseball games, Disneyland tickets, an hour massage from a chiropractor in the ward's business, and a whole bunch of random favors from the youth. The fundraiser was wildly successful, raising nearly twice as much as planned. Then, during planning that night, we made a bunch of appointments with members for power lessons.

Thursday had yet more going on. We had district meeting in the morning, then helped a realtor in the ward, Sister Lamb, help move one of her clients out. They had lots of stuff that needed to be shifted out to the driveway, including an enormous weight machine that we had to carry down the stairs in one piece. After that, she took us out for ice cream, and talked about how she was being interviewed for the third TV show about one crazy experience she had as a wedding photographer, where one woman arranged for her husband to be killed. Then, we had a meeting with our ward mission leader, and caught Elder Mackey up with most of our investigators and our ward mission plan. After, he showed us the electric bikes he sells, which were surprisingly cheap and lots of fun to ride. Later, we had dinner with Sister Lamb, at a really awesome sushi place. It was called Sushi In Motion, where all the food ran by your table on a conveyor belt, and you pulled off whatever you wanted to eat from it. It was a great idea, and done pretty well. That night, we had a lesson with a member. He is quite a character, whose roommate is trying to get him to write a thesis on all the research he's done on the Bible and some of the stories in it, and collects instruments that he can't play. We tried to teach the Restoration lesson, but ended up listening to him talk for an hour and a half. What's more, he lent us two violins at the end of the lesson. We got to meet their dog, Hairball, too. 

Friday was weekly planning. Then, we tried to visit a bunch of people. Every single person we tried to visit wasn't there, but we still found two new investigators, in the least likely place I would have ever guessed. One of our investigators is dead set on being outside of any particular religion, because he believes they are all right. When we knocked on their door, two of their children, who were 16 years old twins, answered and talked to us for a long while. Both of their parents cycled through at some point, and invited us in. We left their kids with a Book of Mormon, and an invitation to read and pray about it. That night, we had a lesson with Emily again. She is the stake president's son's "friend who is a girl", and knows a lot about our church already. We taught the gospel lesson, and got her to commit to be baptized and set a date! 

Saturday was the biggest service project that I have ever seen. Easily 200 or 300 people showed up to help clear back the brush at an equestrian center. All of them were wearing Mormon Helping Hands t-shirts or vests, and spent four hours with chainsaws, rakes, weed whackers, loppers, and pruning saws. The city had provided two enormous dumpsters, which proved to be wildly optimistic. We filled both of them to overflowing, and left a pile of junk next to them that'll probably fill three more. Someone flew a quadcopter with a camera and filmed it, and I heard that you can see the video on Will Love's Facebook page. Afterward, we tried to visit a bunch more people. 

Sunday was super busy, for a Sunday. We had ward council in the morning, then double attendance at our Gospel Principle class. After church, we learned that somehow we managed to seriously offend the parents of the twins we taught Friday. Exactly how is beyond me, but our former ward mission leader is sorting it out. Later, we visited a bunch more people, and narrowed our teaching pool down to under 10 people, with return appointments with two. At dinner, we taught a full lesson to the family, something that we've been asked to start doing. 

Things are pretty different than home, meal-wise. When I first came out, I thought I'd cook 3 course meals every night. The next day, I thought I'd live off of pop tarts and freezer dinners. The actuality is somewhere in the middle, I cook often, but it's more or less the same stuff- hobo dinners, rice, and spaghetti. It's pretty good! Your guess was right about making divinity, I did make it by hand the first time, and it did hurt my arm. I also started playing tennis in the mornings during exercise time, because my apartment has a court next to it and we got some free racquets from other missionaries. That's been it for this week!

Monday, April 20, 2015

20 April 2015

You could braid Matts hair? Thats different for sure.  I´m not too suprised that he wanted to go to school like that though:)  Wow, Prom has already happened?  Its seems to be getting earlier and earlier every year! It looks like sam had a good time though.  Its weird to think about Prom, so long ago.  Its be a little while. I haven´t gotten any official word about when I go home.  I thought that I would have gotten some official notice or phone call by now, but it looks like it might be a little while more.  We´ll see. I am pretty positive that it will be the 1st of July when my flight touches down in Indianapolis, just no travel itinerary or flight information has been arranged yet.  I´ve heard that they don´t send it towards the end of your mission, like 2-3 weeks beforehand.  I don´t know.  It´ll get here when it gets here.
  This week was fun.  Monday we traveled to Manaus to get Elder Jesus (yes his name is Elder Jesus) and come on back to Manacapuru.  That took up most of the day, lots of time on the bus just traveling.  But it was good. Got back here, emailed home and then let him unpack his bags. Tuesday was district meeting which was good.   It was normal, nothing extraordinary.  Tuesday was a lot of showing the area to Elder Jesus and introducing him to members and investigators.  Wednesday we got to go to the Temple which was super cool.  We had to wake up at 4:15 am to catch the 5:30 bus to Manaus.  The bus ride was super nice.  It was cool to go riding through the Amazon rainforest watching the sun come up.  Kodac moments. Got to Manaus and got on another bus to get to the temple about an hour early.  The trip took a lot less time than we thought. But it was still cool to be at the temple early and just walk around the grounds.  The session was nice, and afterward we got lunch and got on other buses to get back at about 5:30.  Total traveling time: 5.5 hours on buses.  Fun times.  Got back home and were able to do a few visits.  Thursday was normal, nothing super special happened. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were normal.  English and piano class were cool.  I´m teaching both of them now that Elder Sanderson left the area and Elder Jesus doesn´t know how to speak English.  Its fun though.  I´ve been teaching about treble and bass clef.  Its weird to teach something that is so natural for me, like asking which note is this? For me its super simple, but for them its a lot more complicated.  All of our investigators are doing good. Elismara is progressing well and she is excited for her baptism! When found a few new families to teach this week and we are super excited to teach them! They are receiving the lessons well! Joelle and Fabio got confirmed last week and are still super excited about church! Our area is getting interesting.  During this time of the year, the Solomon river floods its banks and floods part of the city, which includes part of our area (but not our house!) The picture that I attached is us on a bridge that when the river is normal, it about 9-10 feet off the ground just to give an idea. 
 I hope that you all have a great week this week! I miss you all! Have an awesome week!
Elder Battraw

20 April 2015

P-day was epic. At first, we just went to Walmart, then the library. But then we went to Skyzone. That was really awesome, with over 50 missionaries all playing dodgeball and volleyball. We had 1/3 of the whole mission there, and so got a great group discount. That night, I tried to make divinity for the first time. It turned out a little off-white, and kind of lumpy, but still tasted good.

Tuesday, we had Presidential interviews. When I heard about them, I first thought it would be an actual interview. Nope! Basically, we just chatted for a few minutes, then he gave me a bunch of advice, mostly on how to find investigators. Then, we took Elders Pratt and Whaley to the bike shop again, and talked to the woman who worked there again. Afterward, we cleaned out the area book more. 

Wednesday, we had Habitat for Humanity again. It's a lot different every time, and this time it was painting. We had 8 missionaries all painting a block of houses, and got through 3 of them. That took most of the day, until dinner. We went to Pepe's for lunch, and had the most interesting burrito I've ever heard of. It was called the California burrito, and all it had in it was steak, sour cream, and french fries. It was amazing! Literally the best burrito I've ever had, and it was huge. They had some interesting signs, too.

Then, we went back to the apartment, and went out for our first dinner-less than an hour after lunch. Fortunately, it was a to-go dinner, so we weren't too full for our second dinner. It was a pass-off dinner at the stake president's house, with us getting an awesome investigator from P2. She has a mormon boyfriend, and knows almost as much as the missionaries, and has read the Book of Mormon and wants to be baptized. Basically, the lessons are a formality. Either way, the lesson went well.

Thursday, we stayed in proselyting clothes for the longest time. We dressed up really early because a member was making us breakfast. We did that, then had district meeting. Afterward, we went to Pick-Up-Stix, an Asian restaurant. I got the best fortune ever there-

At dinner that night, we went to a SWAT team member's house. Last time we went there, he showed us a video of what he'd done earlier- shoot a machine gun out of a helicopter. This time, he told us about his time as a jail guard, and all the fun ways he'd seen inmates make weapons, out of Jolly Ranchers, Styrofoam, and how to get razor blades out of the razors without guards noticing. Then, we learned how to smuggle drugs into jail. All of this probably won't come in handy, but isn't bad to know, just in case. That night, we did more setup for the 10 virgins pageant. Later, we got leadership calls, and learned that Elder Wilding is going to be a zone leader. 

Friday, we finished setting up the pageant. All in all, we were there for four days. After setup, we learned what we were going to be doing the next day. Afterward, we got to see P2's shattered car window. Apparently, someone had gone around in their apartment complex and broke 8 car windows. Nothing was stolen, not even their GPS in plain sight. 

Saturday morning was the much-vaunted 10 virgins pageant, the stake women's conference. We had set up tables for 280 people, and had to set up more by the end. We made 300 salads to start with, and nearly all of them got handed out. 

We had a pretty good assembly line setup going on, and knocked them all out in half an hour. Then, we had to serve them. Each companionship had to hand out bread, water, and salads to 4 or 5 tables, 40 or 50 people, and be ready to help. That was just a little stressful. After it was all done and everyone had left (we didn't actually see the pageant, we were making the salads at the time), we tore everything down. Despite the 4 days it took to set it all up, it took under two hours to clean it all up. That night, I tried making divinity again. It turned out pretty well this time, largely because I used an electric mixer this time. It actually turned out white, and had no lumps. Afterward, we went to Sonic to await transfer calls. We eventually got ours-Elder Wilding is going to Anaheim singles ward, and I'm staying in Brea 1 with a new companion, Elder Mackey. 

Sunday was interesting. It was Elder Wilding's last full day in the area, after being there for 9 1/2 months. He got loads of goodbyes at church, and then packed for a few hours afterward. Normally, missionaries will accumulate junk until they are transferred, then throw away most of it. He had 6 transfers worth of junk to go through, so that took a while. After that, at Persian, we had 8 missionaries there, mostly to see Wilding off. Their dog was in the middle of a shed, so it looked like it had lost a fight with hair clippers, as an unrelated sidenote. Here are some other funny pictures from this week:

Oh, and this morning, we managed to set the kitchen on fire. It was nothing too serious; one of us had spilled something on the burner earlier, then turned it on this morning. We still managed to fill the kitchen with ash, but that was the extent of the damage.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

18 April 2015

While I was at the library, I finally remembered to look up all the
recipes on your blog. I was really surprised to find so many, and
surprised more to find ones I really wanted to try. Right afterward, I
went to the store and bought some special ingredients, and tonight I
started cooking. Out of all the recipes I could have chosen, I picked
the one that looked best while requiring the fewest ingredients:

Monday, April 13, 2015

13 April 2015

That sounds like it was an awesome trip out to Maryland! I am kind of jealous that you all got to go out to Gettysburg this weekend.  That would be super cool to do.  Just another thing that I will need to do when I get back.  I remember that Fort McHenry was super cool as well.  I do remember seeing them raising and flying the flags while we were there.  So why didn´t you buy the new van? Sounds like it is pretty awesome.  Casper is a pretty cool name.  What was the cherry festival like in D.C.? Was it cool, what did you do there? Lots of sandwhiches huh?  Its been a long time since I ate a sandwhich.  
   This week was pretty crazy for us.  Monday was the last p day for Elder Brown on the mission.  Tuesday was District Meeting which was normal.  Nothing super crazy happened during District Meeting.  Pretty normal.  Wednesday was also normal.  Nothing super strange.  Thursday I got to go on exchanges with Elder Pablo. We went around and did some visits in both areas while Elder Brown and Sanderson went to Manaus for a meeting for Elder Brown.  So I got to stay in Manacapuru with Elder Pablo.  It was pretty cool.  We walked quite a bit going from area to area.  Did some basic visits. Friday rolled around and it was the same thing.  Elder Pablo and I were able to submit the intial papers into the offices here to help some of his investigators get married.  It took awhile because some of their papers were not exactly right and so they had to make some phone calls around, but it all worked out in the end.  We had a cool visit later that night with a less active.  He hasn´t gone to church for a little while but we were able to teach him about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the importance of taking the sacrament.  It was a cool lesson. Saturday Elder Brown and Sanderson got back from Manaus about 9:40 in the morning. Saturday was Piano class as well, which I am starting to enjoy being able to teach about music.  Taught about how to figure out which notes are which in treble clef for all you music people.  Pretty simple stuff, but it was still fun nonetheless.  The rest of the day was normal.  Sunday was the baptism of Daniel.  He is the nephew of one of the members and we were able to teach for the last few weeks and Sunday night was his baptism.  It was super cool.  I was able to baptize him which was awesome! We got to visit Joelle and Fabio this week and they are doing great.  We sang Families can be together Forever with them and they started  to cry.  They are super awesome and its awesome that I´ve been able to teach and help them. Transfers have come and gone and my new companion is Elder Jesus from São Paulo Campinas.  He is pretty cool, but I´ve been with him for about 3 hours now.  It will be a fun transfer.  I´ll still be in Manacapuru for now. I´m excited for this next transfer!
 Hope that you all have a great week this week! I miss you all! Have an awesome week!
Elder Battraw

13 April 2015

On Tuesday, we received an unnatural gift from the heavens- rain. That day, we cleaned out our area book a little more, narrowing down our teaching pool to people we are actually teaching. That took until dinner, where we used some gift cards that we had been given. We got some frozen yogurt for dessert, too. There are about ten thousand different yogurt places around here, but I hadn't been until then. 

Wednesday, we spent the whole day doing service. In the morning, we went over to a member's house to help out in their backyard. We dug up some busted sprinkler pipes, and put up a short fence to keep their dog out of their garden. Then, we went to the stake center to help set up for a pageant that the stake is putting on- the 10 virgins. Apparently, it's going to be a huge production. The stage setup was designed and (largely) put together by a Disneyland set manager, using massive 10 foot tall hand-painted panels that we had been given by another stake. The panels showed an impressively painted background of a city and garden from around this time, and had been painted by a member for a different pageant from another stake. They were painted on big slabs of plywood, so we screwed them on to 2x4 frames and started setting them up. The configuration that we put them in has a narrow hall in the back, and rooms on either side that are largely open to view. They look amazing with the painted backgrounds! Then, we got frozen yogurt as a reward for helping.

The next day, we did just as much service, at the same places. We went to the same member's house, and finished up replacing the sprinkler pipes and reburied them, before starting to sand her kitchen that she wants to repaint. That took until dinner again, then we went back to the stake center to finish setting up the pageant. We finished putting up all the frames and securing everything down, so the stage looks just like it will when the pageant is put on. It looks shockingly awesome! We got more frozen yogurt after. That's the weird thing about members feeding you- they all decide what to cook based on the weather or something, because meals come in streaks, like getting Mexican food for a week straight. Not that I mind, but I wouldn't have guessed it. 

On Friday, we went back to the same member's house and finished sanding her kitchen. She wanted to get us lunch, and we weren't about to argue. We walked her dog while she was off getting it, and then had a very early dinner. It was at a really good Hawaiian barbecue restaurant. After that, we just cleaned the apartment. Not a super exciting day.

Saturday was when all the real thrills happened. We went over to the Wade's house. I talked about it two weeks back, but here's the gist of that- really old abandoned house that needs to be refinished and have loads of stuff replaced. Last time, we cleaned up a lot of wreckage around there. That's how we started, but by the end, we got to the fun bit- tearing down the drywall. Do you know the fastest way to look for studs? A double-handed sledgehammer. I used one of those to pound holes in the wall in a line, then a huge crowbar to pry out large chunks of drywall. The only problem is that once you are done wreaking havoc on the bits that aren't directly attached to the frames, you have to remove the bits attached to the frames. That is super hard work. The method I used was simply beating it to death with the sledgehammer, then getting the point of the crowbar under it to scrape off the remnants. It was hot, too, in an unventilated room while wearing heavy painter's masks to avoid white lung disease from all the plaster in the air. It was so totally worth it, though. Unfortunately, the project came to an abrupt end for the day when one of the guys working there, who was 64 years old and tearing down a wall, hung from a beam to try and pull it down, and succeeded too well. He hit his head pretty hard, and got taken to the hospital for stitches. After the project was done for the day, we mostly just rested from all the work there, and gave some other missionaries a ride to a bike shop for repairs. One of the women working there told us how desperate she was for religion in her life, and told us her whole life story, including all her mistakes, right in the middle of the shop. She was very open. 

Sunday was pretty tame. We went to church in the morning, and arranged a few meetings with some investigators who came to church, which was awesome. The lesson we taught in Gospel Principles class was on Faith in Jesus Christ, which for missionaries comes pretty naturally after talking about it with every investigator who'll sit still for the first lesson. After church, there was a meeting for all the new ward missionaries and us at the ward mission leader's house, Brother Grant. He talked to us about our need to formulate a plan to find people, and a little about what we should be doing. We have a whole bunch of really good ward missionaries, so this should work out pretty well. Right after that came dinner, where we talked a lot about education and careers. Right after that came Persian, where we talked yet more about the same sort of thing. All the missionaries I have talked to have said that going on a mission has made them second-guess their plans for the future, but so far I've just had mine get more and more clear. That's probably more because I'm almost never thinking about them than anything else, but I'll take that over uncertainty. Elder Wilding shared an insight that spooked me a bit: after our missions, while we are in college or have jobs, we'll be working 5 days a week, and spending another at church. The last day will be our only leisure day, and we'll still have families to juggle then. That means that if we don't enjoy what we do at work, we won't have much, if any, time to do what we like. That's a powerful incentive to get a job you really, really like. 

13 April 2015

What My Mother Taught Me

My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE: "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside- I just finished cleaning!"

My mother taught me RELIGION: "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL: "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

My mother taught me LOGIC: "Because I said so, that's why."

My mother taught me more LOGIC: "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."

My mother taught me FORESIGHT: "Make sure you wear clean underwear,in case you're in an accident."

My mother taught me IRONY: "Keep crying and I'll give you something to cry about."

My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS: "Shut your mouth and eat your supper!"

My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM: "Will you 'look" at the dirt on the back of your neck!"

My mother taught me about STAMINA: "You'll sit there 'till all that spinach is finished."

My mother taught me about WEATHER: "It looks as if a tornado swept through your room."

My mother taught me how to solve PHYSICS PROBLEMS: "If I yelled because I saw a meteor coming toward you, would you listen THEN?"

My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY: "If I've told you once, I've told you a million times-Don't Exaggerate!!!"

My mother taught me THE CIRCLE OF LIFE: "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION: "Stop acting like your father!"

My mother taught me about ENVY! "There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do!"

My Mother taught me about ANTICIPATION: "Just wait until we get home."

My Mother taught me about RECEIVING: "You are going to get it when we get home!"

My Mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE: "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."

My Mother taught me to THINK AHEAD: "If you don't pass your spelling test, you'll never get a good job."

My Mother taught me ESP: "Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you're cold?"

My Mother taught me HUMOR: "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes,don't come running to me."

My Mother taught me about GENETICS: "You're just like your father."

My Mother taught me about my ROOTS: "Do you think you were born in a barn?"

My Mother taught me about WISDOM OF AGE: "When you get to be my age, you will understand."

And my all time favorite.... My Mother taught me about JUSTICE: "One day you'll have kids... and I hope they turn out just like you."

Monday, April 6, 2015

6 April 2015

This has been the shortest "week" of my mission, but a lot has gone on still. On Thursday, right after sending the last email, we had zone activity- soccer. Elder Wilding was talking about how he felt a little slow, but no one took him very seriously. Then, we went to the library for wifi to email, and then he said that he had to get back to the apartment, because he felt sick. He was REALLY sick. After a while, I saw him curled up in the fetal position halfway into the bathroom. That was the point he asked me to call in some other missionaries to give him a blessing. We did that, and I got one because my stomach has been pretty uneasy ever since the nasty tamales a few nights back. I felt fine afterward, but all Wilding wanted to do was sleep. Which was unfortunate, because as he told me the next day, he'd stayed up dry-heaving till 6 the next morning. He woke me up once or twice, too, and I forgot to set my alarm clock. The net effect of that was that I was in bed for 11 1/2 hours. Elder Wilding also had a funny experience- apparently, at about 3 in the morning, he'd just given up on the thought of ever stopping throwing up, and was really hungry and thirsty, and ate a bunch of clementine oranges. He was fine after that, for whatever reason.

Friday, Elder Wilding was still pretty out of it, so we didn't do anything for the whole morning. Unfortunately, we found the most solid investigator ever while tracting a few days back, and the appointment we'd set up was for today. So I spent a lot of time on the phone trying to figure out exactly how we could have Elder Wilding stay in the apartment and have two missionaries at  the lesson. Then we had two consecutive miracles: Elder Wilding said he felt well enough to sit in on the lesson, and the investigator told us that he couldn't meet at his house. I suggested that we meet at the church building where all the other missionaries in the zone were doing a carwash/church tour thing. He agreed! What we ended up doing was meeting in a classroom with us, the investigator, his daughter, and the first counselor in the mission presidency. It was a good lesson. The investigator said that he was super excited about hearing more, but he was going on vacation all next week, so we won't be meeting for a little while. 

Saturday, conference started at 9 in this time zone, so we didn't have time to do anything before we went out to watch it. Do you know the real reason that conference is broadcast at the churches? It's pretty much entirely for the missionaries. We saw only about 3 non-missionaries there. A crazy thing happened too, but it takes some background. A few months ago, we found an interested guy while tracting, Albert. That is super rare, which is why we weren't too happy about passing him off to the YSA missionaries. Apparently, he took all the lessons, and was keeping commitments, and even showed up to stake conference and sat for all of it. We were thinking he was on the fast track for baptism, but then he sent the YSA a foot-long text saying how he was actually atheist, and was just playing them, and wasn't interested at all, or something to that effect. Then, he showed up at the church for conference, and once again watched it all. My eyes nearly popped out of my head in shock when I recognized him. By the way, does anyone know why President Monson didn't give the welcome to conference?

Sunday was more or less the same deal conference-wise. We went out to the church, and Albert was there again! After the session, we all went to a member's house for lunch, and Albert came too and talked to all the missionaries. I talked to him a bit, and would not have ever guessed that he'd just self-deferred on the YSA missionaries just 3 or 4 days ago. For second session of conference, we went to a member's house. The Shaw's treat all the missionaries like family- a little much so. Last time I walked through their door, I got shot with a confetti gun. This time, I just had about ten confetti eggs smashed all over me. Then, we had an easter egg hunt. That was super fun, with four missionaries and five Shaws searching all over their yard. Everyone got a load of candy, plus gift cards to Yogurtland and Chipotle. Then we watched conference, then got to watch their enormous tortoise, Turtle, eat an apple. That was really awesome to watch, because Turtle only swallows once for about twenty bites, so when she does, you can see an enormous lump traveling down her throat.

6 April 2015

David plays the saxophone? What kind, Alto, Tenor Bari?  Tenor I think is a little bit easier to learn than the others and its in Bb so not really hard to transpose music to C.I got a cake with the candles and everything, just haven´t had time to make it so far. Sounds like it was a fun Easter!  You are going to Maryland? When and why?  That would be super cool.  I´m still trying to register for classes for BYU, its taking a long time b/c my Eclestial Endorsement is not done yet, so  I can´t register for classes, super frustrating and has a long story with it that still is not over. I called my mission President and asked for him to do it today, so hopefully it´ll get done soon, after I register I´ll get my book list and everything, and then all I think that I will need can be resolved when I get home, I don´t think there is anything else yet. The first payment for Tuition is the 1st of July and the first housing payment might be then as well.  If there is anyway to take out a student loan without me being there, I could use that to make the first payments, but I don´t know if you can do that.  I will keep you updated on any other costs that can come up.
  So this week was pretty good here in Brasil.  Monday was of course the normal pday.  Nothing super spectacular monday.  Mostly just hanging out and relaxing after the long week.  Tuesday was District Meeting and was normal.  The training was on how we need to remember the importance of Christ during the Easter week.   Nothing too special.  Wednesday was a lot of fun.  My 20th birthday and was super cool.  The morning wasn´t too great b/c Elder Sanderson had ear problems so we ended going to the hospital and staying there for a while while the doctor looked over his ear. After that came home and got ready for the day.  The day was pretty normal.  I did open my present, The piano guys Wonders.  That was awesome thanks so much!  I did notice that you had already opened and listened to it:) Thanks so much though.  That night we had a Family Home Evening with one of the families in the ward.  It was pretty normal.  We shared a message about tithing and the importance of it.  Pretty cool.  Afterwards they invited us back in to their kitchen we they had pizza and rice and chicken with soda and when I entered they all started to sing Happy Birthday.  It was really cool . they are a super awesome family.  The next day I even got cake from another family in the ward.  The members here are pretty awesome.  The rest of the week was normal.  Saturday was the baptism of Joelle and Fabio.  That was super cool.  After teaching them for so long they were finally baptized! It was super spiritual baptism.  Next week will be their confirmation.  We are super excited for them both! General Conference was this weekend!  It was awesome.  We all watched in Portuguese. It was super cool.  The Saturday sessions all seemed to have a common theme, Marriage, but Sunday not as much.  Pres. Monson didn´t talk to much, but it was awesome that he annouced three new temples! Hati, Thailand and Costa do Marfim.  Those will be super cool.  The conference talks were all awesome.  The talk by Elder Holland was awesome.  I really liked that talk.  Elders Packer, Perry and Christoffersons talks were all really good as well.  I throughly enjoyed the general conference. It will be weird to watch the next conference in English and not portuguese. In the sunday morning session they were having a bit of difficulties getting the Portugese going, it started out in only english! But everything got working! Really awesome week, birthday baptism and conference.  Can´t ask for much more.  
  Hope that you all have a great week this week!  I miss you all! Have an awesome week!
Elder Battraw

6 April 2015

Did you note two of the names in the sustaining of the seventies
during general conference? The first was Bradford Bowen, our missions
last mission president, and the second was Paul H. Sinclair, who I
think was our last stake president before pres. Kinard. Can you check

I just had lunch with Grandma and Great Grandma, at Polly's pies. It was good food! We hung out and talked for a long time. We got some pictures at the office:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

2 April 2015

This feels like the longest week on record, largely because p day got moved up to Thursday. Tuesday, we did loads of tracting, because the 5 visits we planned all fell through. On the other hand, it was the most successful tracting day that we've ever had; we taught 3 lessons, and found 2 people who said that we could come back to teach them. That is almost unheard of in this area! We were passed a good-looking referral a while back, but when we knocked on their door, no one answered, so we called and tried to set something up, but just left a message. We met a very interesting Jehovah's Witness who was "grounding" when we met him. We tried to convert each other for an entertaining few minutes, but ended up leaving each other some literature and going our separate ways. Now, our car has a Jehovah's Witness booklet, a Quran, and about 50 Books of Mormon in it. Jehovah's Witnesses believe some interesting things- for example, they refuse blood transfusions. Also while tracting, we found a teen walking down the street wearing a hoodie- it was 80 out. We talked to him and left a card.

Wednesday, we tried again to visit Orlando, the most welcoming guy we've ever met. We found him in the first 2 weeks I've been out, but haven't talked to him since because he's either never home or, in this case, was sleeping and his wife answered the door. After that, we went to volunteer at another blood drive. Now, last time was the polar opposite of this one. Then, we were inside a nice, air-conditioned building, and spent the whole time talking with people and sharing stories, basically having lots of fun and eating the donors' snacks. This time, the blood drive was in a truck. The table we were at was right in front of the exhaust on a 90 degree day. We had a nice canopy cover, but the sun gradually crept closer and closer, so we had to scoot the table back three times before our shift was up. Worse, we talked to about 2 people, because all the donating and recovering was done inside the truck. Worse, they kept all the snacks out of reach inside the truck! After we were done there, we went out to visit loads of families. All the visits we had set up fell through, and no one was home wherever we went. After a while of that, we went out to visit an eternal investigator, sort of. She's an older lady who is very nice (she tried to give us a monopoly set), and loves having us over. Unfortunately, she's single, and so we can't come in, and we've never actually managed to teach her a whole lesson at once because she LOVES to talk. We had to turn her down on the monopoly set, too, but it was a nice interlude in that day. While tracting, we met a deist who called us servants of Satan, and talked about how the fluoride in the water was calcifying our pineal glands, and how the world was run by the power of the devil.  

Thursday was much more fun. We had district meeting, and then washed our car. One elder in our district, Elder Christiansen, is widely acknowledged to be the king of car washes. We spent a half hour out behind the church doing that, then picked up my new orthotics. They feel a little different, but it's pretty nice not to be rolling my feet inward so much whenever I walk. Later, we tried to visit more people, but no one was home. We spent a lot of time tracting, and found another interesting character: he was dressed to the nines, was carrying a shoulder bag, and 30 seconds after we knocked, threw the door open and asked, "Do you believe in the ministry of all Christians?" When he got the expected blank stares and we asked him what he meant, he just repeated himself. He did it about three times before Elder Wilding just started testifying about what we believe. Then, the guy (who never explained what he meant) said, "Well, if you don't believe in the ministry of all Christians, I have nothing more to say to you." Then he shut the door, leaving us nonplussed. 

Friday, we had weekly planning. After that, we visited another eternal investigator, and had the most candid conversation I've ever heard. She very clearly explained to us that she thought all religions were right and that religion was not her biggest priority right then. She spent much more time talking about her new car and its transmission problems. However, she said that we could come back anytime, so I'm counting that as a partial victory. Later, while tracting, we knocked on one particular door. There, the guy who answered left the screen door closed as we talked, so we couldn't even tell what he looked like. Then, while talking to him, he decided he was finished talking to us in the middle of a sentence and just closed the door. We also went down to the mission office to drop off our car report, and I got the most unexpected news of my mission. Elder Wilding was dropping off the car report while I hung out in the office, and Sister Jameson, the mission secretary,  turned to me and asked me to grab Elder Wilding because she had something to tell me. Visions of visas to India danced before my eyes as I rushed out to grab Elder Wilding. When we were both in front of Sister Jameson, she first destroyed my hopes about the visa, then, while I sweated, wondering if I was in trouble, she explained that one of my Grandmas and a great grandmother were going to be taking me out to lunch in a week. Oh, and somehow, she cleared it with the mission president. I think that the Elders in the next room over could hear my jaw hitting the floor. In the mission handbook that President Taggart quotes as a matter of scripture, it very clearly states that we can't have visits from our families. I have absolutely no idea how she did it, but I am NOT complaining. Later, we had absolutely nothing planned for that night, so we tracted. At 8 at night. What's worse, we were in the richest part of the area, so all the houses looked like they were lifted straight from a horror movie. Some of them were gigantic, too. You have not seen big houses until you go to California. They had their own grounds and gatehouses! One of them was two towers, a portcullis, and a moat away from being a castle. It was HUGE!

Saturday, we had a fun service project. Someone built a Mexican-style villa in the middle of an orange plantation in 1909, but since then the plantation got plowed under, and the house was abandoned. Fortunately for the new owners, the house had been lived in since (until 2000), and so had electricity and modern plumbing. Unfortunately, 15 years of neglect wrecked the sheetrock. A family in the ward had bought it, and was restoring it to live in it. They had got a 
30x8x10 dumpster, and we filled it to overflowing with all the sheetrock, loose wood, and various debris we tore out of there. What was even more fun was the dozen 90 pound bags of plaster leaned up against a wall that we had to carry 100 feet to the dumpster. What was yet more fun than that was filling trash cans (the big ones that get picked up by the garbage trucks) full of junk, dragging them over to the dumpster, then hefting them overhead to clear the side of the dumpster, then dumping them out and repeating. After 4 hours of work like that, we were finally finished. On the way home to clean up, because we were covered in dust, we got a call from a ward member who needed us to move a couch for them. After that, we cleaned ourselves up and went out tracting. 

Sunday started out super early because we had ward council before 9:00 church. After teaching our lesson there, we tried to meet up with some more families. Later, we had dinner with a Disney security manager. He definitely had some interesting stories. Apparently, Disney has a big problem with people being drunk and disorderly. He also got to do escorts for celebrities, like Johnny Depp right after Pirates of the Caribbean 1 came out, and Michael Jackson. With Michael Jackson, he said they only got about 100 feet down Main Street before the 20 security people they had there had to circle him and link arms to keep off the crowds, and retreat to take him through the back passages. We went to the Christiansens' again for Persian study, and had a very interesting discussion. I mean, VERY interesting. As in, one of the highlights of it was me deciding that I would name a pet skunk Balofasale Gomoshtan, which is Persian for "to immediately have guests." One of the Sisters who comes there too had a birthday, so Sister Christiansen had made strawberry cake, a kind that she had never had before. 

Monday wasn't P-day, so the week felt really long. We started it off by helping a nonmember move to a different apartment in the same complex. That was mostly easy, except for the enormous fridge that we had to get down a flight of stairs. After that, we had to go shopping because we were out of food, then tried to visit a bunch more families. We had another very interesting dinner, where we talked about how much fun you could have on a trampoline, and swapped stories about funny things that had happened on them. The family was all girls, so they had invited a nonmember friend to sit in. He was deprived of some of life's most essential experiences, like root beer. He said that he had never had it before, and when we got him one, he took one sip, and said that it tasted like breath mints. That night, I tried cutting my own hair for the first time. I made a rookie mistake there- I like short hair, so I decided that a 3/8 would be a good place to start. So until my hair grows out, I'll be sporting a nice close cut. 

Tuesday was just plain exciting. In the morning, we helped another family move out, and I learned that one of the missionaries in our district, Elder Christiansen, is amazing at U-haul tetris. Then, we had loads of free time again, so we went out tracting. We met quite a few REALLY interesting people. The first was an Asian named Charles, who was an evangelical Christian, who lived up to the evangelical part of his belief. I'm not sure he was a good one though, because he spent the whole time picking on our beliefs, so we still have no idea what he believes, except that he told us that he didn't feel that prayer was necessary because all truth can be found in the bible. Then, we found the best investigator ever. See, when tracting, it's just a fact of life that you won't find anyone serious. Elder Wilding has knocked on a few thousand doors, and never found anyone serious. Then, I came along, and one of our tracting finds is attending church, and then we found this new guy. Basically, we knocked on his door, and he told us he was ex catholic, which is what we hear easily half of the time. But, when we asked him what he was looking for in a religion, he told us he was looking for something that felt right, and that he had investigated several other churches but none of them had that. We talked for a while, and it was going just like a role play. This was the tracting equivalent of winning the lottery twice, with one ticket. To help you understand exactly how awesome he was, he gave us his business card and requested that we send him reminder emails about the appointment he set up 3 days later. Then, we gave him a Book of Mormon, and he said he'd read loads, because he was a big reader. To end, we said a prayer with him on the doorstep, and as we were leaving, he came running out and asked if his daughter could sit in on the lesson. This is the tracting equivalent of a 50,000 carat diamond falling out of the sky to land at your feet. 

Wednesday was fairly uneventful, because we spent the whole day scouring out the area book. We went from 100 potentials, down to 20. 

Today, the reason that we had p day right now was a temple trip. We went down to Newport Beach for a 7 o clock session, which meant getting up at 5. It was still totally worth it, though.

A few miscellaneous things that I've forgotten to include in other emails:
A week back, we were at b-dubs, and as we were leaving, we had to cross the street to get to where we were parked at. As we were crossing, a redneck in an oversized Ford truck pulled up next to us and yelled, "You Mormons jaywalking!" Then, to look super cool, he revved the engine and took off- right into the bumper of the Corolla in front of him. He totalled its back end, leaving glass everywhere. He showed us!
I've heard loads of stories about "apos" (really disobedient, short for apostasy) missionaries who go out and do stuff like go to nightclubs, but the one that I heard that takes the cake is where one missionary got a TV and an Xbox, and spent his time playing it. However, he didn't want to look apos, so he'd make up investigators to talk about. On the corner of his TV, one pixel would flicker, and so he actually went to the ward council and talked about this new investigator he'd found, Jerry Pixel, who'd be on and off about religion. I'm not sure whether or not it's true, but it definitely jives with everything else I've heard about him. 
While visiting with a super old member (she served her mission right after WWII), we were discussing mission slang, and she told us that "trunky" (homesick) and "green" (new) were still commonly used in 1940! You never think...

The craziest thing I've heard all mission: one of the elders in my zone, Elder Nesom, is from Edmunton, Canada. One of the elders in my MTC district was the one and only Australian Elder Pollard. Elder Nesom was talking after district meeting about how his family got a new Australian elder in their ward. I'm going to be emailing Elder Pollard about that.

Also, when I first got out on my mission, I thought that I'd be cooking a bunch every day. Three days out of the MTC, I thought I'd just be eating pop-tarts and McDonald's. My first two weeks, I cooked next to nothing and ate out a bunch. Now, I haven't bought food at a restaurant in a few weeks, and I'm starting to cook real food. However, sugary cereals are starting to lose their charm. Any way you could send a few muffin recipes, especially the pumpkin chocolate chip one? Thanks!