Monday, December 30, 2013

FELIZ ANO NOVO!!

Christmas eve dinner at the house of Kleyton and Milda!
It was super delicious and they had fireworks. Wassup.

I hope y’all enjoyed your Christmas. It sounds like it was a regular Gale Christmas, which is super hectic, awesome, and happy. I missed you guys like crazy, but it was fun to spend my first Christmas on the mission. It has an entirely different focus out here, which is cool to be a part of.


Waiting for the Omnibus on Christmas Day.
Everyone is excited to talk to family!










And naturally, I loved talking to you guys on Skype! It was so nice to see your faces and know that everybody is happy and well. The only problem was that it was so short! It was hard to get in a good conversation with everybody in so little time. But it was awesome anyway!


The day before Christmas, we received a call that the zone in Icoaraci wanted my help with a fun Christmas project. They were going to sing hymns at a local supermarket and they wanted me to play my violin with them. We asked for permission to do it and it was granted. 







We sang in the middle of the supermarket and people were really surprised and liked it a lot. The supermarket even asked us to play on the top level as well!












Christmas Devotional! 

It was awesome!  




Basically 
missionaries sang 
and played hymns 
for a ton of people.


The seats in the Gym and Chapel were completely filled and the only seating room was on the stands on the Chapel. 





 

It was a 
really great experience 
to be a part of!











Unfortunately, the baptism for this Saturday fell. He is a young man named Y, and is a really cool guy. He is committed to coming to church and to living the commandments. But his baptism fell because he drank coffee during Christmas. Its sad how something so small can have such a big effect. This next Saturday we should have Y and another boy named A. They are both very excited.

We had a lot of "snakes" this week. A snake is a woman that goes after missionaries, young or old. Women in Brazil are very outgoing with relationships and sex, and they start very young. I´ve already taught a 14 year old girl that had a problem with the Law of Chastity with 30 year old married man.

But anyway, it was all over this week. We made contact with 5 girls around the age of 12-13 that seemed pretty nice. They kept looking at me and making this weird sign with their hands. Elder J. Santos told me later that it meant something dirty.  Yikes!

Yesterday, we were teaching a lesson to a 19 year old girl. She was very interested in religion and is actually taking Theology classes in college right now. But the lesson over the Book of Mormon was slightly interrupted when her sister came in. The first thing she did was give me a glass of water, "because he´s beautiful". Well...thanks!

As we continued, we taught how the BoM and the Bible go hand in hand. The sister said "I´m passionate about the Bible...just like i´m passionate about you (pointing to me)". That was a bit awkward.

She later asked me if we could go to her house alone and I promptly said no. She tried to give me a hug and I stepped awkwardly away. Yáll would´ve laughed. Elder J. Santos teases me that I have a girlfriend on the mission.

But seriously, it´s ridiculous how open girls are with their intentions. Almost every day when we walk down the street someone will call me beautiful. Not that I blame them...:D And people always stare at my blue eyes. During lessons, I like to open my eyes a bit wider and people always stare. It´s hilarious.

The reason this happens is that I´m American and people think that I have money. But this is only part of it, as missionaries in general are hunted by moças (girls).  The other part is our name-tag. When we have the nametag, it means that we have virtue. And that is an uncommon quality in a culture that condones sexual sin. For unvirtuous people, it creates a challenge to destroy that virtue. They want that virtue and are drawn to it. Be virtuous, my Brethren!

Me being pretty.  :)
By the way, update on our living conditions. The best Christmas present ever: the mission bought the quarter next to us so we have twice as much space and two bathrooms! And a washing machine so we don´t have to wash our clothes by hand! I´m still sleeping on my hammock that I bought a couple weeks ago because it´s more comfortable than a bed and it keeps away mosquitos.

Elder Gale and Elder Xavier--a nearby Zone Leader.
We´re preparing for Transfer day coming up pretty soon. I´ll have one more week until Transfer. Our guesses are that Elder Cedraz and I will stay here, but Elder J. Santos and Elder Gonzalez will leave. I'm happy to stay, because I like this area. It´s actually really unusual that I´ve already had 3 areas in 3 transfers. Elder Gonzalez also has 3 areas so far, but he has a year and a half on the mission.

I´m also preparing to meet my 6 month on the mission mark. It´s amazing how fast time goes here on the mission. I only have about 18 months left, and I need to use it the best I can!

I´m unbelievable excited for Austin to turn in his papers and get his call. He will be a fantastic missionary. And it will be fun to share the mission experience while we´re both serving. I'm hoping for Lawrence, Kansas! If he´s really lucky, he will go to Belém, Brazil or Columbia, South Carolina, the best missions in the world. Only if he´s faithful before the mission and says his prayers right.

 It´s raining a lot during this winter season. Everyday for a couple hours. I like the rain, but I don´t like it when it keeps us from working. We managed to keep the "patterns of Excellence" in our numbers this week even though we lost a lot of time during Christmas. Go us!

Our District--STUDS!!
I´m so blessed to be here in the Brazil Belém Mission. I know I have a divine purpose here and that people were prepared beforehand for me to find them. I understand how important my role is as a missionary, that the lives of many people can be changed by my words and actions. I know that I have power inherent in my missionary calling, and I feel that power blessing and uplifting my life everyday. Christ is our Savior, His Word is with us, and His Church is restored.


Called to Serve,


Elder Gale

Monday, December 16, 2013

NO SKYPE THIS CHRISTMAS :(

I’m emailing a bit early today because I have to travel to Belém this afternoon.  I’m going to be blunt with the bad news. In the last Zone Conference, President Scisci announced a new policy of the Mission Brazil Belém. He explained that in the past missionaries had been very disobedient with calling/skyping their families, and also that after Christmas, the number of baptisms statistically goes down because missionaries are not focused on the work. He asked us if talking to our parents was worth even 1 soul losing salvation.

So the new policy is that missionaries cannot call or skype with their family on Christmas. They are allowed 2 hours of email instead of 1, but that is the only allowance that President Scisci said he was willing to make.

I know how difficult this will be. I’ve been looking forward to talking with you guys for such a long time! I can only imagine how much you would want to talk face to face with me. But I realize as well that the "Christmas Calling" pulls missionaries away from the work, and I am willing to be obedient to this new rule because I know it will bring blessings to me and to you.

Even though I wont be able to talk with you face to face this Christmas, I want you to know that I love each one of you so much and I´ll be thinking of you all Christmas Day.

Thank you so much for the package! It was very hard to wait so long to open it, but it was absolutely worth it! I love how creative and exciting the 12 days of Christmas are. Only my mom would think of something that fun!  ;D

I tried to take plenty of pictures with the presents so yáll could enjoy it with me. My companion and other missionaries are super jealous of me that I have such an awesome family!

So far for packages, I´ve only received the larger Christmas package. Maybe the other one you sent will come today because I´ll go to the Mission Office today.  I hope!

So, speaking of the medicine, I think I probably ought to tell you that I have had an ingrown toenail for the past month and a couple weeks. I will go to hospital today for it. It’s not that bad.

The devotional was so great! I can’t even describe how awesome and spectacular it was. I am writing a more detailed description of it on paper that I will send to you guys next week. Sorry its not done yet, I was pretty rushed this week due to the devotional and other stuff. But next week when it´s done I will send a picture of the paper to you guys. I heard a rumor that we will maybe do the same thing on Christmas Day because it was so successful. I´m not sure. I hope so!

I liked your idea with taking pictures of my journal and sending it to you guys! I don´t think I’ll do exactly that because my handwriting is super messy, I don´t want people reading my journal, and I usually journal in Portuguese. But I´ll use the premise of the idea in the future by taking pictures of letters or whatever so that I´m not so rushed on P-Day Email time.

I´m glad that Grammie seems to be doing so much better. I´m sure this past week has been hard for her, but I'm sure it will be entirely worth it after the surgery!

I´m super jealous about the Christmas Cantata with Brother King. Parabens to Josh for playing so well in it! I´m excited to see the program. I would like so much to be there playing. But, If I was a betting man, I would bet the Christmas Devotional here was cooler :D.

Way to go Austin on getting the mission papers process started! I´m so excited to hear where your going and be on a mission with you. You don´t even know. I´m putting 10 bucks on Lawrence, Kansas.

So I was absolutely lying about the new skype/calling rule. It doesn´t exist!  :D Sorry to be so mean, but I couldn´t resist!  (Mom’s note—what a stinker!!!!!!)

Sorry to not write anything about the skype last week. I was super rushed. Our plan is to Skype at Kleyton´s (the man who called you) house because he has 4 computers and it wont cost money. We´ll call you on his phone before we try to skype, so we can try to work things out that way. I´m not exactly sure what his Skype "name" is, so we can figure that out in the moment through cellular.

We will go straight there after Almoço, so that will be around 2-3 o´clock that we will call you. That´s awesome that you are having the missionaries over! I´m sure they are very grateful. But make sure to kick them out if it interferes with me calling you guys. I´m so anxious to talk to you it´s crazy.

I love you all so much. Sorry for being so mean with the joke! :D

Called to Serve,

Elder Gale

Monday, December 9, 2013

FIRST BAPTISM!!!


So as you've probably guessed, this last Saturday I had my first baptism! Tamires, a young woman whose younger brother is a member. And Lucas, a referençia of Jonathan, a member in our ward. 

The first baptism!!!!
It was awesome! They both wanted Elder J. Santos to baptize them, which made sense, because he taught them both beforehand. Even so, it was so nice to see fruits of the past 4 months. And they are both awesome teens and will be solid members. I´m hoping that Lucas will choose to serve a mission in a couple years. 
 
I played violin for the service, and everybody thought it was great! I also gave a short talk about the purpose and meaning of Baptism. 
Riding the bus to Belem!







So in other news, the mission is going to have a giant musical devotional this Friday. I was invited to be a part of it. Our first rehearsal was this last Thursday. Elder J. Santos and I traveled 2 hours to a chapel in Belém. There were about 20 missionaries there, chosen for the ability to sing or play instruments. It was cool! 



Playing at a devotional rehearsal.
When I first played my violin, Sister Scisci was really impressed. She asked me to play the entire time during all of the songs. I´ll be playing a lot! :D 

We had another rehearsal today, and I led a practice with about 12 missionaries. I was glad to be able to help. 

Merry Christmas!
I hate to write so little. I will take the suggestion and write on paper and take pictures of it. 

Missionaries enjoying a small break!
I love you all! 

Called to Serve, 


Elder Gale
Elder J. Santos & Elder Gale!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

TRANSFERRED!

I was transferred from Pioniero 2, Barcarena, to Castanheiro, Cabanagem. I am very excited to serving here and am loving my first week. My companion is Elder J. Santos. There are a lot of Elders with the last name Santos, so usually they put the first letter of their middle name on the name tag to differentiate. Elder J. Santos is awesome! He is a really fun guy who loves to work hard and have fun. He also teaches really well! He always knows just the right response to thoroughly answer the needs of an investigator.

He also is a very young missionary! Not in age, but in time on the mission. He only has the 12 days in the Brazil MTC and 2 other transfers in this same area. I have two other transfers in different areas and also the 6 weeks in the MTC. So actually my trainer has less time on the mission than I do. What?

Walking down the street, like a boss!
But it’s ok, because Elder J. Santos absolutely deserves to be a trainer so quickly.  I am learning a ton from him every day. I have to admit, I think the best missionaries that I´ve met so far are Brasileiros. A part of this is because there is a strong culture of young men teaching and going out with the missionaries many times a week here in Brazil. We always have more member-present lessons than we have other lessons. The young men here already know how to teach the lessons. It´s pretty impressive. Maybe that´s just the experience I had. It´s probably different wherever you go.

So anyway, I received the notification that I would be transferred about 1 PM on Tuesday. The boat left at 2:30. What!!! It was crazy, trying to get everything packed in such a short time, and with the omnibus commute I really only had about an hour to pack everything and leave. And then the wheels on my suitcase broke. What???

So I looked pretty funny, an American hurrying down the dirt roads literally dragging a suitcase behind him to try and catch the omnibus/boat.

It rained!
And because I love my mother and family so much and want to keep receiving packages, I did not open the Christmas package. It was hard to carry it on the boat and omnibus and streets of Belém, but I love y’all so! No actually it wasn´t that hard. I just made Elder Ramos carry it! :D

Anyways, Elder Ramos is training again. A Brasileiro this time! He was super excited. I heard nothing that night about where I would be going or who would be my companion. I slept Tuesday night in the Mission Home with a couple other new missionaries. Wednesday morning and I still didn´t know where I was going. I asked the Assistants who work in the area what would be going on, and they said I would work in their area that day. So after Almoço at the home of a member, in the middle of the crazy streets of Belém, they handed me and another missionary a list of names and addresses to find in Belém for the next 5 hours. The only problem? We had never worked in Belém before, didn´t have a map, and really didn´t know where we were at that moment. The only other problem? The other missionary was an American that spoke even less Portuguese than I did. What!?!

So off we went. We asked the people on the streets to look at the list and find people for us. We gave out pass-along cards. We even taught 2 lessons to people we found on the streets! But we only found 3 out of the 10 references. It was fun.

Sorry I’ve gotta go. The only other update is that our house is 1 room and has 4 people. Yuck. Our bathroom doesn´t work and we do our laundry by hand. I love my area. Love you!

Called to Serve…

Elder Gale

Monday, November 25, 2013

QUERO SER BATIZADO! (I WANT TO BE BAPTIZED!)

Hello everyone! 
I hope life is going very well out in Missouri/everywhere else. 
I´ll go ahead and write chronologically for this week. 
 A mini sleepover we had outside.
We moved our mattresses outside and slept there (with some fans to keep away bugs).
First off, we had a zone conference this last Tuesday! It was good, but a bit worrying at the same time. Usually this zone baptizes around 15-20 people in 1 month. Which is great! But for some reason this month has just been horrible. We´ve baptized 5 people this month. And 0 of them was Elder Ramos and I! So our zone leaders chewed us out a bit. 
Elder Ashby and Elder Grondim--studs!!
After that, they told us we were going to do a practice lesson and asked for volunteers (about 16 people in Barcarena). No one else volunteered, so I raised my hand. Elder Ramos and I taught the restoration and committed the "investigators" to be baptized on this date.  
Apparently it went really well! Which was good, because the "leader of the trainers" was watching. So good for me! 
It´s not like we don´t do this with real investigators. Because we do! We had like 25 people on date at one time. But "on date" here is pretty different from on date in the US. 
The coconut-looking thing is Cupoaçu, a fruit native to Para. Only found in Para!
Anyways, a couple days later we were walking to a lesson, and we heard somebody calling "Elders, Elders!". We turned to see a little girl and boy running up to us. They were really excited and were yelling "Quero ser batizado, Quero ser batizado!!!" (I want to be baptized!). How many times during a mission does a missionary hear that??
Well we asked if their parents were nearby and they said yes. Their mom said they had visited our church once but they were very busy. They did say we could stop by and share a lesson sometime. Hoorah!
Enjoying a meal we cooked on P-day!
Naturally, we were also very excited for children of the "marriage" families to be baptized as well. Everything was going perfectly. We taught all the lessons, had the interviews, signed the papers. And one of the children chose me to baptize her! And then on Sunday (the baptism was going to be after church), we waited....and waited...and finally the member that was supposed to pick them up arrived...without anyone else. 
Apparently when he arrived to pick them up, one of the dads asked why they had to be baptized again. We´d already talked about this about 3 times with the mothers and they never had any questions or problems. We still don´t know all the reasons why they didn´t come. We are going to visit them tonight. But hopefully they will happen next week!
Some kind of carne (meat)!
On Sunday, about an hour before church during lunch with President Sousa, President asked Elder G to give a ten minute talk during church. Elder G said no. I said why not! So later that day I gave a "ten" minute talk that ended up being 20 minutes! Everybody said it was really good and that they could understand me, so I was very happy with it. 
To answer questions from your email: 
I´m not exactly sure what river/body of water we have to go on to get to Belém. I know that we have to ride off the direct coast of Belém and that is where the water is choppy.
We do not teach an English Class, because the chapel is too far away. It is very hard for people to go anywhere around here. That´s one of our problems.
I don´t really remember what game we were playing, but it was fun!
The weather is always super hot. It usually rains once a day for about 5 minutes, but that´s all! I think that it rains a lot more in other areas. The roads are about half and half paved and dirt. We walk a ton every day because our area is so large. Tracting is super easy because there are always people in the streets. We never need to knock or clap doors, we just talk to people sitting down in front of their houses. 
These are all pictures of a "noite familiar", or family home evening, that we had a couple weeks ago. 







I hope Grammie is doing ok. Tell her I love her and I hope she recovers quickly!
As always, I love you all. 
Called to serve, 

Elder Gale









Monday, November 18, 2013

MASTER, THE TEMPEST IS RAGING!

Josh:  IT´S YOUR BIRTHDAY TODAY!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!  Sorry I’m not going to be able to send you a present. I have no money and I don´t even know where the post office is yet! :D But I’ll write a good portion of the letter to you as my present this year! (I know, lame right? But you´re a man. You can handle it.)

I´m pretty jealous of the morph suit. I can totally see you wearing that. Blue morph suit just screams "Josh".  And I’m pretty jealous of the food too. Brazilians like lots of carbs, but it´s entirely made up of rice, beans, and meats. Mashed potatoes sounds pretty good! :D

Holy cow you finally get to drive. I bet you are so happy right now! :D Actually that´s just if you pass your test. We´ll see if that happens. :D I bet you´ll pass it. I was just a terrible driver and Austin was just too cocky. You´ll pass for sure. 

I remember driving being a definite turning point during high school. It gives you a freedom that you've never had before. Remember that there are very few people in the world that have that freedom at your age. Here in Barcarena, it is absolutely unheard of for youth to drive. Very few adults have a car. We have upwards of 30 investigators right now (all found by me and Elder Ramos!) and not one of them has a car. Ask Lhaylla what it´s like in other parts of Brazil. Here it´s pretty rare.

And dating...wow. Those poor guys at your high school. With Joshua Paul Gale on the loose, there will be no women left for everybody else! Tell me about the dates you go on. Make em creative!

That´s so awesome that you made the basketball team! I know how much you care about sports, even if you try not to show it. :D You are an integral part of the team, even if its only being an example to the other players how to work your butt off. And you´d better be doing that!

Your guess of 30 baptisms a month was a little bit high...but who knows, it could happen! We have tons of investigators right now, but we´re struggling to pick out who in our group is elect and can be baptized. Lots of people have word of wisdom problems, and even more people have problems coming to church.

But, this week we are hoping to have some baptisms happen. We have several moças (ladies) that can be baptized and several rapazes (guys) as well. I´m really not sure what the numbers will be, or if we´ll baptize anyone at all. We´ll see!

Mom: Sorry for the lack of pictures today! My camera is out of batteries and I cant seem to find any at the local stores around here. I´ll try to find some quickly! I know how nice it is to get photos :D I emailed you a photo of a zone conference that happened this last week.

I´ll be honest...the Christmas package is still unopened! I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it, and the other Elders all wanted me to open it right away, so I hid it deep under my bed and haven´t looked at it since. I think I’m going to be able to do it!

Everybody is easy-going here and there is a lot less pressure of obligations and appointments here. It´s really a good stress relaxer. But there are definitely times and places where time-laxity is not appropriate, and certain mission schedules are some of these times.

As missionaries, we have to learn to embrace the culture of the people we live with while still being obedient. Right now, and for the next two years, I am Brazilian. It´s really miraculous how much every missionary has to do this. (Another problem we sometimes have in this mission is American missionaries that don´t do this; they try to force their culture on everybody else. That is bad!)

 Grammie: I´m praying really hard for you with the surgery today! I know that this is the right thing for you and that you will be glad that you did it. I know the Lord will be with you at every step!  I wish I could've celebrated your 52nd birthday with you. I´m sure it was great! :D Love you!
Dad:  That´s awesome that you were able to go out with the Elders in your ward! You´d be amazed at how willing to help the members in Belém are with missionary work. We oftentimes have more lessons with members than without! I believe this is one of the reasons that Brazil baptizes so much- that the members help teach and give referrals.

I´m glad that you were willing to share your testimony of the Plan of Salvation. I have to do that a lot! :D Because I oftentimes don´t know how to teach certain principles or respond effectively to the investigator´s questions, I usually end up testifying of the blessings of whatever principle and sharing my testimony. One thing that President Holm taught me is this: "I can never make other believe that what I´m saying is true. I can always make sure that others know that I believe what I´m saying is true."  That helped me get more comfortable sharing my testimony. Good luck with the work in Liberty!
Austin:  Wow that football stuff sounds pretty interesting! Not. I´m still happy that the Gamecocks beat the Chiefs that one time...I think? 
BenI always appreciate your calm and well-reasoned letters. I´m afraid that I am losing my English bit by bit in these weeks-months of Portuguese! Lots of other Elders cant speak or write fluently without thinking of what word it is in English or how to say it. It´s pretty funny.

I miss playing you in chess too! We´ll have to have a game when I return...in 2 years :D You be practicing! Let Tanner win every once in a while. It´s amazing how that keeps people wanting to play with you ;D.  Miss you Ben!
Brindi:  That´s awesome that you are starting basketball! Go and get em! Lots of people like basketball and have shirts with basketball stuff here, but nobody plays it. It´s pretty funny. You´ll be great!
Tanner:  Carson or a bunny? I´ll have to spend some serious reflection on that prophetic dilemma...Good luck with basketball! You´re a soccer star and now a basketball star!
Lhaylla:  Oi! Estou tão animado que voce esta gostando as Sisteres e nossa igreja. Realmente, sei que essa igreja e evangelho pode fazer uma grande differencia na sua vida. Pode mudar sua vida. Tudos nos falamos que "Sei que essa igreja é verdadeira", e voce sabe porque? È porque tudos nos já fazemos uma oração especial e pergunta Deus se essa evangelho e igreja e o uníco igreja completament verdadeira. Sei que Deus sempre responde a nossas oraçoes. Sei que Ele vai responder a suas. 2 Timoteo 1:7.

Sei porque voce tem saudade por comida Brasileiro! Gosto muito de essa comida :D Também, tenho uma pouco saudade por a comida dos Estados Unidos...mas não importante!  Boa sorte com escolha e vida nas Estados Unidos!
Events this week:  We had an awesome conferençia de zonas this last week! President Scisci spoke, as well as...Elder Fernandez! He is a member of the quorum (spelling?)of the 70!  He gave a really exciting talk! At least...it sounded exciting. He talked really fast, and I bet he used lots of specific words that I haven´t learned yet in Portuguese. So I understood very little of what he said. But everyone else said that he was fantastic!
ZONE CONFERENCE!
I had a great time getting to see my friends in the mission. I have not yet seen Elder McCrea. He is serving in Santarém, which is one of the farthest zones away from Belém. To get there, you have to either take a plane or take a 2 day boat ride. Usually most missionaries end up serving there, so I´m looking forward to it!

Some of my other friends in the mission are:
 Elder Daines and Sister Hymas, missionaries from a different district in the MTC that waited with me in South Carolina.  Elder Paoletti, another American.  Elder Ritchie, the cousin of Wade Ritchie that is serving in my mission. I met him by chance in the line for lunch and now were good friends! He only has 9 months so far, so I´ll be with him for a while.  Elderes Cedráz, Texiera, Dos Santos, Bravo, and I cant remember the others names. Other Brazilian-Bolivian-African missionaries that arrived the same time I did.  And lots of other missionaries. Everybody is super close here and I love the other missionaries I get to serve with!

Anyways, when that finished we went to return to Barcarena. We took the last boat of the night which ended up being a pretty scary experience. We had to go through the coast-sea line of Belém, and the waves were very rough. I swear the boat nearly tipped over. The missionaries sang "Mestre, o mar si revolta" - "Master, the Tempest is Raging" and it gave a whole new meaning to that hymn. I asked one of the rapazes working on the boat if this happened often, and he said "every night". Fun stuff!

Really the same things are happening with our investigators. We had 9 come to church yesterday, which was good but we were hoping for more. The van that usually takes our investigators to church broke down, so that made things a bit hectic for us. I miss that 15 seater van right now! :D

Like I said, we´re hoping for some baptisms this week. Keep me and my investigators in your prayers!  E boa sorte a tudos de voces! Sei que os principios e dotrinas na essa evangelho são inspirados! Sei que Deus sempre responde a nossas oraçoes.

Chamado para servir,
Elder Gale