THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH FOR THE PACKAGE!!!!! It was so nice and generous, and it filled my tummy up with good food from home. You definitely have not been a C on the packages. A++. I appreciate every one that you sent me so much.
You already know this, but I was so excited to receive 2 packages from the mission office the same day! Not only did I receive those, when we went home there were 3 letters for me waiting in the mailbox! What an awesome day! The contents of the package were absolutely wonderful. When I opened it, I ran through about 3 pieces of banana bread right away.
Life is going very well here in South Carolina. We still have no progressing investigators, and several of the people who we like to visit are going to need to be dropped. That's ok. Dropping is a natural part of life (snicker).
One fun experience we had was with a guy named Mark. He's a super cool "friend-agator" (friend investigator) who loves talking to the missionaries but isn't really interested in the church. He is an atheist and very persuasive and logical. I really like him. We knocked on his door and he talked to us for a good hour and a half. We talked about.... basically everything. He likes to take a subject like prayer, faith, etc. and deeply analyze it. It was interesting.
We were talking about why the experiences in life that people face are so different if God sends us here as a testing experience. For instance, why are some people faced with intense medical and social conditions while some live in luxury and wealth? How is that fair?
I don't have time to write the answer I gave, but he said that he had never heard a better explanation for it, and that it made sense. In his own words, "point 1 for the Mormons".
I didn't really tell that to sound prideful, I just thought it was funny and a cool experience in a week that wasn't filled with tons of spiritual teaching appointments.
We attended a service project for someone in the branch who needed help cutting down a large tree. As missionaries, we were not able to handle large power tools, but we were still able to help with loading and unloading logs to the places people wanted them. It was a great experience and a fellowshipping opportunity with the members. Tim and Grant were able/willing to come. Tim is old and has cancer, so he wasn't able to do too much, but Grant was a beast with a chainsaw.
We had a dinner with a man named Matthew who is going to marry a member of the church. They are very excited to be married, and we're hoping that he will join the church. He is going to church and reading the Book of Mormon, but doesn't want to meet with the missionaries until after he is married.
He took us out for Philly Cheese-Steaks and they were delicious. Which brings me to the tangent that I’ve basically lost all hesitation with eating meats. I'm hungry enough every day that everything members feed me looks delicious. I've devoured steaks, hamburger, and chicken without a problem. I'm glad that's the case, because I don't think I will get much else in Brazil.
We had other good and bad experiences with investigators, members and less-actives, but none of them were really memorable.
I understand the importance of exact obedience. With partial obedience you can hope for miracles, pray for miracles, and probably find miracles. But with exact obedience you can expect miracles.
I'm still far behind my companions in biking ability. I don't trail behind them too much anymore, but they still have to wait for me pretty regularly. I'm getting better, but I’m not exactly where I want to be.
The bike I was using was great (an extra bike), until it popped a tire. I need to buy another tire at Wal-Mart, but I have yet to do so. I keep forgetting to check the tire size before I go. I am currently using Elder Hutchinson's bike. He is a zone leader and his companion cant ride a bike due to medical reasons, so he's graciously letting me borrow his with the condition that "you break it, you pay for it". I'm a bit nervous about using it...but I don't have much of a choice.
Random Tangent: We live with Elder Hutchinson and Elder Ah Kui in our trailer. They are our zone lords, so it's helpful with coordination between district and zone in our areas. They are awesome missionaries and friends, both about 25 years old.
Elder Hutchinson is outwardly very tough, but a sweetie deep down.
Elder Ah Kui is a really chill Polynesian dude. He is hilarious and very respectful of everyone. Elder Nissen and I will go on exchanges with him in the near future.
My companions are great. They both continue to work hard and have fun. Elder Nissen is absolutely comical. He is constantly dancing to the phone alarm and making strange noises and faces. I hope he sees this description sometime in the future because it will make him laugh. He is a stellar missionary and very brave.
Elder Phillips is our fearless leader and teacher. He is a very intelligent teacher and hates wasted time. He is humble and loves to learn.
I seem to get reputations wherever I go. Here, I am known for being relentlessly optimistic. The Elders constantly mimic terrible situations happening and me saying something like "well that was a great learning experience, guys!". I told them my family called me the Grinch at home, but they just thought that was funny. I guess my attitude must be changing or something. They also make fun of my awkwardness. We are all growing in friendship and unity as roommates.
I'm the only one in the trailer that doesn't have a girlfriend back home. Elder Phillips has already set a wedding date with his girlfriend for when he returns (I’m killing him this transfer).
We have yet to do any fun P-Day activities. Usually all we want to do is write letters, do laundry, eat, and shop. I'd have thought we would have more time to hang out, but P-Day just goes so quickly. And it ends at 5 if we have a member dinner, and 6 if we don't.
I've heard no news on the visa. I can tell that my Portuguese is getting a bit worse, but I’m not that worried about it. We skip language study if we ever have to find time for activities, so my study time is very limited. I'm sure it will come back to me quickly when I reach Brazil. I've heard that the waiting time is usually 1 transfer, although some Sister Missionaries have been here for 6 months. It doesn't really matter. Missionary service is missionary service wherever you go.
Our trailer is a bit bigger than a normal trailer. We line the 5 beds up along the middle of the area, and we have 2 study rooms that each companionship can use. I've never met the owner. She lives in a different area.
BTW, I live in the Chapin area of SC. Our address says Irmo because that's where the mission office is. (just in case you were ever going to find us on Google map or something). I'll send the actual address of our trailer in my written letters today.
I love you all so much! Stay sweet.
Called to Serve,