Monday, October 27, 2014

Letter 7

Dear Family and Friends,
Down to business I will get: 

First my new companion is a Brasiliero and doesn´t speak any English. His name is Elder Figereudo and he is great. He is my dad as they call it in the mission field and he has helped me a lot.  My area here is Santa Maria North and there is one other set of missionaries here.  Elder Winterbottom and Elder Rivera (Elder Rivera is a Brazilian but has lived in the US for 12 years and speaks good English so when I need help they are only a call away.

Second, the meals here are different in the way of time. What I mean is that lunch is the biggest meal here and the other two are like snacks and so I have had to eat more during lunch so I won’t be starving at night but the lunches are big and are fed by members every day except P-Day and one other day in the month.

Third:  For exercise it depends. For the past four days we have played soccer with Elder Winter and Elder Rivera and we have gone running 1 time. It is not bad and I am getting pretty good at being a goalie.  We also walk everywhere.  I walk about 6 miles a day.  I really enjoy it!

Kinnon:  I am so glad to hear about your farewell talk.  Hard to believe that you will be leaving soon.  Be ready my friend because it will be a roller coaster ride when you get to the MTC and that is the same for all the other friends I have that are going foreign speaking.

Fourth:  Mail - The box is an interesting part or at least sending packages, it will take about a month President Lundgreen said and when you send it can you send me an adapter for SD cards so I can send you guys pics. Everything down here is flash drive and so pictures will come next week because I need an adapter.   Mom thanks for getting the letters to my friends.  I will try to send packages home next week because I am still learning the area. I have about 2 hours every P-Day for email and other things.

Now to begin,
The last week of the CTM was crazy because we had orientation and I didn’t understand a lick of it. The last day in the CTM felt like I was breaking my family apart because I had been with my district for 6 weeks and now we were all being separated.  For dad, there was an elder in the CTM that was from Belemfonte, Africa and he speaks Afrikans.  I got him to write you a letter and I will be sending it next week.
When I left I got on a bus with other missionaries at 4:30 in the morning headed for the airport. Then I had a 2 hour flight to Brasilia and then we were picked up and brought to the Mission President’s house. After we had lunch we had an interview with the president and then we got on another bus and headed to meet our new companions. When I met my new companion, we got on a public bus which gets very crowded and rode for another hour until we got to Santa Maria where it started to rain.  I got to meet the other elders and went out with them to go get a late night snack at Dudu´s place.  Dudu is a recent convert. He makes frangos which are like crapes but are fried and have meat and cheese and other things fried inside them. Also there is pineapple ice cream which tastes really good.

Day 1:  The next day I got to wake up to a companion who didn’t know any English and got ready and got on a bus and headed to the district and zone reunion. It was a lot to take in because I was not ready for such a rapid change. There are two apartments for our missionaries here in Santa Maria North.   My companion and I are in one and the other set of elders are in the other. Our house is extremely tiny and the other elders have a giant house. The reason for two houses is because about a year ago or so there was a fight between a set of missionaries and so the president had to separate them.
So for the first day and for this past week I have been really homesick and I can´t understand anything people are saying, but that is improving rapidly.

Day 2 in the field was the longest day so far because I did not understand anything that was said and when someone asked me a question I couldn´t respond.  When I woke up that morning I felt like  had woken up to a bad dream because I couldn’t communicate.  I know the Lord will help me to get through this language barrier. 

Day 3. Here in Brazil the word Fervelhara means slums and this place makes Chicago look like a kids playground.  Even though it is very poor the people here are very nice and willing to talk with others.
Sunday was a hard day.  When we got to the church building a guy was walking past the front gate and started to call us missionaries and the member we were with foul language.  Also earlier in the week we had someone Bible bash us about what we believe and know to be true.  That was frustrating. 

Now for some information about Santa Maria. A popular thing to do is for the guys to wear swimsuit bottoms and not have t-shirts on.  The girls don’t dress very modestly.  Another  thing here is the music. People like to put gigantic speakers on top of their cars. I mean like 3 feet by 3 feet speakers that are cranked up to the highest volume. As for elections:  They just had an election here for a new president and the people here go crazy here with advertising because there are no regulations on campaigns and stuff like that. Also beer bottles here are not 16 oz bottles,  they are 1 liter bottles and people will have two or three of them at a sitting.  It is interesting after being in Mesa for my entire life. 

The members here are really nice and have been very kind to me in helping me learn the language. Also the culture is very sweet.  The people are very well mannered.  The people here have great respect and are very kind but they are also big Bible lovers and will give the Bible belt in the states a run for their money.  There is a church on every block and corner.  Also American products down here are extremely popular and the music from the states.  People down here want to learn English and are asking me questions constantly about how to say certain phrases correctly.

For Dallin and Spencer Bowers especially, I HAVE BEEN TAZED!!!!  It was so much fun. I know that sounds wierd but it was. Down here in Brazil guns are illegal and only the police and military are allowed to have them.  In the ward down here there is a retired police man and he has a flashlight that on the end by the lens are two rims of metal that when he flips a switch this flashlight becomes a tazer.  It is not as powerful as the ones back home but it is strong!   I will send a video next week.  Also here they have playgrounds but these playgrounds are not jungle gyms or ladders but are just exercise equipment for the kids.

Religion here is huge and these people study their Bibles a lot and so they will ask when we are about to speak what we are going to do to contest their knowledge about the Bible and when we say something they believe they say, “com certeza”, which means with truth.
One thing though I have noticed about the religion here is that these people are so ready to hear this gospel because when we find people that will listen to our message and are really interested.  It is when they are listening intently some distractions always occur.  In my opinion, Satan knows how good these people can become and is trying to do everything in his power to stop them from hearing it.  It has been a long first week but a new one is ahead. Also I have hit daylight savings time here and I am now 4 hours ahead of you

To all that are going on a mission and to my friends and family that read my letters, I want to bear my testimony to you that I have a witness of this gospel and the power of God because every time I have gone to speak about the gospel, my mouth has been filled with the correct words to say and my mind has been grasping, adjusting and working so well to understand this language that a lot of the members, people on the street and missionaries that have been here over a year are amazed at how fast I have progressed and adjusted to speaking this language and understanding it.  I am where I am supposed to be. 

Till next Monday,
Elder Hoopes

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