Hello Family and Friends,
It was another nice week in Cidade de Deus - Jardim Botânico. We are well into the wet season in the Amazon. It rained a lot this past week leaving my pants and shoes covered in white and red mud. In order to get to our appointments, we take a lot of dirt trails and very few roads. Our area is one of the largest in the mission, so we cover quite a bit of ground each day. It is also full of hills, so I'm keeping in pretty good shape. Currently, we are teaching mainly from referrals and the people seem to be very receptive to our message.
Good things are happening through our work, much of which is occurring very quickly...changes I never expected to see. We started talking about two weeks ago with a man who had lost his way from the Church by way of drugs and alcohol. Within a little over a week, we helped him find a job and he has since ditched his bad habits. Each day we see him, it seems like he's more and more sober. He even paid tithing last Sunday without anyone prompting him to do so. We have eight investigators who have set dates for baptism over the next three weeks with a chance for more if they all come through. We are currently teaching: Kleive, Valéria, Erika, family of Jonas, Stéfani, Evanaldo, Ivanildo, Fracinete, Diego, Pedro, Nira...the list goes on.
The whole jungle trip that we were going to do last week got canceled. It was probably a good thing since some people informed us that the government places military guards throughout the jungle to keep people out and to preserve the wildlife. It may not seem like a big deal, but unfortunately, they shoot first and ask questions later. If you are lucky, you are caught and thrown in jail from one to three years. Another thing that prevented our excursion was the rain. It poured all day, much like it is right now. Today we are taking a trip to the center to go collect some native knick-knacks, which is always interesting.
Besides the people, one of the things I am enjoying about this area is the fresh juice people serve to the missionaries rather than just soda like in Compensa. I'm definitely grateful for that. Oh yeah...last Thursday we went to the hospital for a few of my appointments and afterward Elder Hodges and I stopped by the only McDonald's in the entire city of Manaus. It was delicious and for the first time I was thankful for the invention of fast food.
The English classes continue to go well. At the end of each class, I teach things that they should know before traveling to the United States. Last night's phrase was, "I'm not paying for this." That about sums it up for this week. Hopefully, I'll have some more positive news to share in my next email. Thank you all for your support. I appreciate it more than you know.
Elder Taylor Mackay