Well, the pictures are taking forever to upload, so I'll begin writing in the meantime. One of the pictures is of our district at the last baptismal service and the other is a pretty awesome picture of the river I took right before landing in Manaus.
Once again, we had a very productive week even though we had to go everywhere in preparation for transfers. Our zone meeting this past week was quite interesting. The leaders talked about how we need to focus more on the work here, which was really ironic since immediately afterward they decided to throw a birthday party and dress up like hula girls. Fortunately, this last transfer resulted in a few new elders in our zone who might help me get the others to concentrate through example. Elder Vieira, from our apartment and district, "died" this transfer. His two years were up, so we received a new elder, Elder Williams, who is American. Now we have 3 Americans and 1 Brazilian in our district.
Like I mentioned earlier, we had another baptism. We baptized Ruben Pinheiro Filguera. He is 21, I believe, which will make it easier for him to make his own decisions and remain an active member. Within this month, we should have quite a few more baptisms, probably four if I were to guess. We have more dates set, but honestly, you never know what will happen. There is only so much you can do and then it's up to them. The challenge with the people is keeping appointments. We teach essentially all day, which is hard work, and then we go to an appointment or lunch and the people aren't there. That's the way they are here, not 100% organized, and since people walk everywhere, sometimes things just aren't precise. Fortunately, though, you're guided by the Spirit where to clap doors and it all works out.
Surprisingly, I'm maintaining the same weight even with all the walking and stuff. The members love to feed the missionaries, so every time we talk with someone we end up getting fed, usually bread and juice from the local panificadora. Let's see...the food here remains the same. I still haven't had fish, which really surprises me, but always rice, beans, and chicken. One thing I thought was unusual is that they eat their popcorn here with mayonnaise.
Something very unfortunate recently happened in my area. Everyone here rides motorcycles and there was an incident on the street above ours where this cyclist was careless and got hit by a car and then by another, which ultimately killed him. The other missionaries in our district said it was a bit of a mess. Remarkably, that's the first incident I have heard of considering they don't have road laws.
We've had a serious heat wave this past week...up over 39C (100F) every day. You sit in people's homes teaching discussions and you can feel your shirt sticking to your skin from all of the sweat. To further complicate the situation, in a few of the homes, they give you these pieces of scrap wood to sit on during the lesson that just fall apart, so I find myself "sitting" by the muscles in my legs.
The people are really kind except for the annoying campaign vans shouting candidates' names all day long. They go throughout the city with their little parade blasting their music to get votes...a little bit different than in the States. Fortunately, the elections are Sunday, so that will come to an end soon.
The work is going well and we have a lot of people progressing. There are a ton of names...too many to mention, and for that matter, I don't have the slightest idea how to spell half of them. The language continues to improve as well as the speed at which I talk and read. Many times I find myself looking back on what I just said thinking...how did that happen? Take care and thanks for the support. It really makes this experience that much more special.
Elder Taylor Mackay