First of all I´m sorry but I won´t be able to send any pictures because these computers don´t recognize mine card. But I took probably 100 pictures this week!
So about Candeias...... You described it pretty well. One of my first thoughts when I got here is that it is like hermiston..... kinda. In some areas it smells like hay, but there aren´t really any farms around that I know of. So it is 20km from Porto Velho, the capital of Rondônia... that is where the rest of our zone/district is and no I´m not DL. So Candeias.. where do I start. We live near the "centro" which consists of a post office, a market and a lan house..... that is about it, and some other shops. The roads are paved there and the houses are good. If you keep going out from there the roads turn to dirt and the houses turn to wood. The town is kinda big,..... ok not big, just spread out. It takes 25 mins to walk from our house to our wood church and 40 mins to get to the branch presidents house..... we are walking a minimum of 20.000 steps a day.
It is very different from Manaus here. I think the two biggest differences are this.... it is quiet and dark. In Manaus it is always loud, someone blasting music or playing something in the street. Here it is very calm and vacant (especially from 12-2 when it shuts down here). At night, there are only street lights on the main roads so it is dark. Walking back from the presidents house, we walk along a dark dirt road for like 15 mins or so. It is sweet! So that is what I will say about Candeias, ask specific questions if you want to know more.
So here is the deal with the ramo... like I said , we have a cute little wood church. It was built 6 months ago when the "groupo" got turned into a branch. Before they had the church, the few members met at Irmã Deusa house. Irmã Deusa is the bomb! ela é a mãe dos missionários aqui em Candeias. Sua filha está servindo uma missão agora. She is so cool and loves the missionaries. We eat with her 2 times a week.
Our branch presidents name is Presidente Mariano. He is so cool! He is so loving and when we go to his house he is always just so happy. Last night he invited us over to his house for tererê.... tererê is like the herb stuff that Jackson had in Argentina with the straw with the filter on the bottom. The difference is that here they drink it with ice cold lemonade... or it might be lime juice... I´m not sure. But it is good.
We talked with him about our new investigators and less actives and stuff like that. So about the whole easy to baptize thing but still having no members. When I was in the escritoro before I flew here one of the 6 Aps told me that he spent a day in Candeias on a division and baptized a Family! He was so excited when he told me the story about how the taught them and then just baptized them after wards. He planted in my mind that it is easy to baptize here.... which it is. The thing is is that this family has never been to church since they were baptized 2 months ago. Never confirmed.
Missionaries come here and just baptize baptize baptize because the people here are open and want to follow God. The thing is is that the people don´t understand that they are making a sacred covenant with the Lord. They just think "sweet, I´m being Baptized!" The missionaries in the past were just focusing on the dunking part and not the staying in the church part. It was just a number. There is a list of 171 people in our house of people that were baptized in the past year and a half... some confirmed but most not. We had 33 people in church.... 171 baptized in the past year and a half and 33 people at church. Am I painting this picture well enough? I hope so.
So a little about the work that was done here last transfer by Elder O and his comp... I don´t know if "work" is the right word to use. Elder O showed me his planner from last transfer and half of the pages are completely empty. He told me this was his regular day last transfer. He woke up at 6:30 and did everything, work out, shower, eat, study and all. His comp woke up at about 9 or ten and just sat there doing who knows what. At 12 they would go to lunch and stay till about 4 or so, then they would come home.... that was there day. Elder O was so annoyed with him because he just wanted to work work work. Now, he is so excited to actually be working now. It is so funny because I´m just working like I know I should be working and filling every hour of our planner and sometimes Elder O will open his planner and just be like "!wow look at this! we actually have plans." So as you can imagine when I got here, we had 0 investigators. Ok 1 but he has been an investigator of 6 months or so. But this week we found 17 novos! 3 families!! One of which is super awesome which I will get to.
So on the day I got here we went over to Presidente Mariano´s house so I could meet him. Like I said he is super awesome! So loving and caring and fun loving. He told us that we need to only baptize firm people, people that are going to stay. He also said when we are out working and we pass a members house, active or not, we should stop by and say high and maybe leave a message or ask to serve them. So he has the same vision as me and Elder O! Only baptizing people that are ready for it!
About me not knowing the area... yeah I don´t know the area.... and neither does Elder O. Like I said, they did NOTHING. He knows how to get to our lunches and the church.... and that is about it. He tells me sometimes as we are walking down the street... I´ve never walked down this street before... he was been here for 2 months! He is so excited to work work work.
My second day here we went tracting. He was on fire! He had only been tracting once or twice on divisions but he looks like a pro! He just knows how to talk to people. He was been held back by his comp for the past two months so now he is just ready to go go go. After he would do one he would look to me and say "ok, what can I do better?" I would say that it was perfect" (because it was). Then I would tell him that he is the one teaching me HERE! He is such a people person and loves to talk to people and has no fear in doing it. He is great. He knows zero English..... well he knows I love you, shut up and the book of mormon. He is great!
On terça we had a baptism.... yeah! It was kind of a rushed thing but I was ok with it because the Pres Mariano was behind the whole thing. He had invited her to church the previous Sunday and she went and got marked to be baptized on terça-feira. In the interview she was very firm and awesome. I had to teach her about José Smith and the mandamentos but all was well. We baptized her at the church.... but we don't had a font..... but we have a pool :) That is right we baptized her in a pool. Just like one of those collapsible ones you can get at costco. She was moving to Rio the next day. At the baptizm it was me and my comp, Mariano, lady that was baptized, her granddaughter (member) and her granddaughters friend (member). It was sweet. I got some good pics but can´t send em:(
No sábado we had a branch activity. Feijoada. It is just feijão with more stuff in it. This one had ground beef, some mystery meet and ribs! It was good. Pres Mariano said this activity was necessary for our investigators but more for the already existing members, mainly the less active ones. So we spent a lot of time this week visiting less actives telling them about the activity. Only a few came but it was still awesome! The members in the ward are so loving, so loving and them love to have fun.
Presidente Mariano used a rope to tie stuff down to his bike to bring to the church so there was a rope there. Irmã Deusa got the rope and started jump roping, (like with a person on each end). Ok... this lady is like 45 years old and she was jump roping! I got tons of pics. Then for the next 2 hours while we were waiting for the feijoada to cook we jumped rope. Our branch has tons of little kids, tons of em. It was so much fun! They cooked the Feijoada behind the church over a fire in a pot that is about 2 feet deep and 3.5 feet across!. There was so much of it and it was good. That was definitely one of the funnest days on my mission thus far. So awesome!
Ok, now back to the super sweet family that we found. We tracted into them my second day here. The dad answered the door and said they were busy but that we could come back. We marked for the next morning. We went back but he was gone. Only the mom and the two filhos, T & W, were there. Elder O is big on teaching families all together so we talked and got to know them a bit. Al* (the mom) is great. She visited the church before in another town in Rondônia. She said she liked it. We marked to come back the next night.
When we showed up the whole family was there Pa*, Al*, T & W. We sat down and introduced ourselves, then we "went around the circle" and the family members introduced themselves. Like I said Elder O is a people person. He was so good at this. He was the one doing it. Anyways, we taught the restauração. That was the best lesson I have ever taught in my life! I´m not saying that to brag or anything because I know it was 100% the spirit. Me and Elder O taught in unity and it just flowed. My Portuguêse was awesome (I thought). And the two most important things: 1. the spirit was there. 2. the family was engaged.
We were asking questions the whole time and they were talking and answering. Al* was really into the lesson. She had facial expressions the whole time. When we taught the first vision she was wide eyed! She was just eating it up. I don´t really know how to explain it. It was just awesome! We asked if they knew what the Book of Mormon was and Pa* said he knew a little but was super confused about it. We taught it so well and they understood. We invited them to be baptized and they accepted (I think it will take them about 3 weeks or so though, maybe 4) Infelizmente, they didn´t go to church! NOOOOOOOOO! They have a car and said they would go. We even called on Saturday night and she said they were planning on it. We should have called Sunday morning though... so that was just a great lesson and we are going back tomorrow and I´m really excited. :)
So Presidente Mariano is the only member in the branch that has a car and he isn´t using it right now because he doesn´t have gas. He just lost his job somehow and he is looking for another one. They still have money and stuff he just isn´t going to buy gas till he gets a job. Most people here just travel by bike, and boy I wish I had one! We walk a ton! It is not big, well it is. It is super spread out. One of the coolest parts is that I´m in the Jungle! Sometimes we will be walking near the edge of town and you look down a street and at the end is just jungle. It´s pretty cool.
I can´t believe that Amanda is going to have her baby! That is so crazy! Like next weekish right? I forgot about MLK day, hope you all have fun:) Oh I almost forgot! I´m the branch Organist! I didn´t play this week because Pres Mariano wants me and the chorister to practice together before I play in sacrament meeting because I guess the last and only time that Elder O's last companion played in sacrament meeting... it was a train wreck. So I´m excited for that:)
But boys... I know Jackson said this for 2 whole years but I´m gonna say it again.... are you ready........ are you sure............. PRACTICE THE PIANO EVERYDAY!!! You will never regret it for the rest of your life. I regret NOT practicing the piano every day. I should have listened to Jackson and practiced everyday. Don´t do what I did. PRACTICE!
So that was my week. I hope I did a good job at explaining stuff but if you have any doubts just ask next week:) I love you all and am doing well in Candeias:)