It was a slow week here in the Amazon but interesting nonetheless. For starters, some of the people here are crazy. We were teaching a guy who is the son of a member...and well, to make a long story short, the first thing he told us is that he does and sells drugs (he had cola, a hallucinogen, still on his finger). At first I thought...I wish I knew that bit of information before I walked into the house...but then I realized he was pretty calm. We shared a brief message and invited him to attend church with his dad. His response was that he couldn't leave the house during the day or someone would try to kill him. To prove his point, he took off his shirt and showed us the bullet wounds and knife scars that should have killed him. He claimed God didn't like what he was doing but that God was always there to protect him (I'm going to go with more sheer luck than divine protection). Anyway, before we left, he asked us if there was anyone bothering us in the neighborhood. My companion mentioned a guy that was always yelling stuff at us (he had done so many drugs that his brain was fried). Then the guy we were teaching asked where he lived, so Elder Rocha described the whereabouts and our "investigator" nodded and agreed that he was a nuisance. He said he would "talk" to him and since that day I haven't seen the crazy guy who shouts at us. I'm thinking he did more than talk to him, but I guess my hands are clean since I never said anything about anyone bothering us (don't worry we aren't going back there any time soon).
To change the tone of the letter real quick, Marianice made some Garfield invitations (probably my least favorite cartoon cat, but the humor of her choice made it all good) and they are having a little get-together with the ward on Monday in honor of my birthday. On Saturday, we have the baptisms of Nivea (Elbenisa) and Pâmela, which completes my first "family." This is probably one of the most anticipated baptisms because the probability of a family staying faithful is much higher than that of an individual person. Yesterday was our Zone Conference, where the President spoke and the assistants did some training exercises with the missionaries to keep us on our toes. The main topic was goals. Everybody set good goals but very few hit them, so rather than have 250 baptisms last month as a mission, we had 210. Don't get me wrong that's an amazing amount of people, but 40 people is also a lot to be missing.
There appears to be a Christmas Conference this month that will totally rock (without the music)...we're talking food and care packages. Anyway, I really appreciate the packages. They really make life a lot easier and thank you to all for the birthday wishes. I feel so old turning 20 on Sunday. It's one of those ages that everyone else hits and you think...oh, that'll never happen to me...I have sooo much time. It's kind of like a mission, though. Growing up it seems like an eternity away...then before you know it, you're sending home weekly letters via email from a LAN house in the middle of the Amazon. Tchau to all and thank you for your support. Have a festive holiday season. If you are somewhere where it snows, feel free to make a snowman.
Elder Taylor Mackay