I love Brazil!
My first week here has been wonderful. Of course, there have been a few adjustments, but honestly, I feel more at home here than in Arizona.
I arrived on Tuesday, and was so tired. When I went to Arizona, we stayed at the mission home for two days for training/rest, and I thought the same would happen here, but boy was I wrong. The mission secretary, a senior couple, Elder Burkinshaw, picked me up at the airport because transfer meeting was happening right then. so we went to that. Oh, and this whole time, I can't remember a word of Portuguese and can't understand anything. Literally anything. At the transfer meeting, it was great to be able to catch up with Elder Oviatt. He was my first companion, and I didn't appreciate how fantastic he was until having had so many others.
I met my trainer, Elder Rodrigues, from Fortaleza Brazil. He's only been serving six months, but is a fantastic missionary. Fortunately/Unfortunately, he doesn't understand any English. This has really helped me learn Portuguese quickly, sort of sink or swim. But obviously I'm no where near fluent and there are times when I just want to be able to understand him, and to be able to communicate with him better. Our first week together though, has been great.
My first day here was honestly really, really hard. But since then I've enjoyed every minute. I didn't come here with any expectations, and really only knew a couple of facts I had read off of Wikipedia, so basically I didn't know anything, but it's been so much better than what I could have imagined.
The city is giant! The mission has been growing, so we've been opening up new areas. There are two wards in the city, and sister missionaries cover one of the wards, which has a small area, and previously there had been one set of elders covering the other. As it was such a giant area, Elder Rodrigues and I were brought in, and it's still a giant area!! And I didn't expect so many hills! But my shoes seem to be holding up fine, and there's nothing like playing golf before my mission for mission prep, so I've been fine as well.
The other two elders in my apartment are E. Andrade, from Cape Verde, and Elder Anderson from the states. He's lived all over, but mostly in Indiana. His family is in Georgia right now. E. Andrade has been out about 8 months, and Elder Anderson entered the MTC the same day as me, but was in the Sao Paulo MTC and then here in the mission, so it seems like he's been here longer. And it's always nice, when we can't figure something out between me and Elder Rodrigues while we are at the house, Elder Anderson will translate for us.
I love the food here. It's blooming delicious. Everything. One of the highlights this week was going to a guy who runs a coconut stand. I can't remember where I read it, but I remember reading some thing that said agua de coco is Brasil's unofficial national drink, and is a natural isotonic. He had asked us to come back to teach him, so we did. And we bought a coconut a piece. He keeps them cooled, then you pay the equivalent of basically $0.70 and he takes his machete, cuts part of the top off, throws a straw in, and heaven. It was really good. And he wasn't very interested, but someone who was sitting there drinking coconut paid for ours and asked us to come to his house and teach him more.
I wanted to start an English class, and brought it up with my companion here, and he thought it was a really good idea. Like super excited. I feel fairly comfortable in speaking Portuguese, but can't really understand anything still. But that's what happened in Arizona too, it's like my ears have to adjust, and it takes a couple weeks, so I'm not worried about it. I was thinking we would start the class in a couple weeks, but my companion was super excited and talked to the Bishop about it. And it's a good thing as the Bishop has to clear it with the Stake President, otherwise we would be starting that this week. So it probably will start next week. And I'm really excited for that too. I am able to understand usually when it's in a lesson, and we are inside, and it's quieter and I am more focused, but outside on the street, trying to talk to people, I just do my best and usually end up mimicking my companion, either nodding yes or shaking no.
Everyone loves America here. For instance, I've heard more American music here in a couple days then I did in 6 weeks in Arizona. But no one can understand it. They just like it. My companion can't understand it at all, but every now and then he will say some lyric that makes absolutely no sense, but he says it in a big Brazilian accent and I laugh every time. We will be turned down by an investigator and be walking down the street and he will say, "Let's party. Or something like, it's totally out of place, but hilarious.
Elder Hunter Schenewark
P.S. Here's my Christmas wish list:
razors!! cartridges for gillette mach3
wood to put in my shoes to suck out the moisture
pictures of the family, and I cant print them here, so just mail them
pop rock candy
granola bars or something of that sort, maybe just a jar of peanut butter
a small backpack or like a cheap string bag just for traveling, would be helpful
ziplock baggies in the spaces if possible!!
I know it's a lot, but it would be appreciated. Especially the razors. And the food I was able to bring here, the granola, and trail mix and fruit snacks from y-all and the Bachs have been of inestimable worth here, so thank you!