Hello Family and Friends,
This week was interesting to say the least with something eventful happening nearly every day. It started off last Wednesday when we took a ride to the center for our P-day activity. While we were there, I purchased a really cool jaguar and river scene carved out of wood from a native art exhibit. The main purpose of the trip was fulfilled later in the day when we went to a blood bank to donate blood in behalf of a member in our ward who is having a tumor removed. I've never seen a needle so large in my life! Following our donation, they rewarded us with chocolate milk and bread. Yum! The next day, Thursday, Elder Hodges and I were walking in the rain on a slippery moss covered trail and my feet slipped out from under me and I slammed down fairly hard on my back, knocking the wind out of me and bruising my back pretty good, but like good missionaries, we continued on and finished the day. On Saturday, I went to the doctor and found out that I have an abdominal hernia (not related to the fall) that needs to be operated on...go figure. At least I now know the source of my pain. Anyway, Sunday was a little bit of a bummer because it rained so hard that only two investigators came with us to church and many active ward members were even absent. The weather lately has been unusually hot but at the same time really rainy. Monday brought new meaning to Amazon excitement when there was a little scuffle on our street resulting in shots being fired and a guy fleeing on a motorcycle. I'm glad our house is surrounded by barbed wire, making it one of the most secure homes in the neighborhood. Fortunately, the crime isn't too bad in our area...at least we have never had any problems. Don't worry...I'm staying safe.
Teaching continues to go pretty well. Currently, our focus is on weddings since we are teaching four unmarried couples. We were able to successfully get Ivanildo and Fracinete to kick cigarettes and alcohol and now they will be getting married along with Marcos and Aldaiese. I am beginning to see a trend in that marriage isn't a priority here, but Elder Hodges and I are addressing the problem. We are also helping a man named Jonas get back on his feet. He was selling his family's food in order to buy drugs. Osmildo, the man we are reactivating, is doing really well, but unfortunately, he was among those absent from church last Sunday due to the downpour of rain. So far so good, though. Things are picking up for us and we have several baptisms scheduled for February, so it should be a really good month for us as long as all the documents are approved for the couples to be married.
As for the construction of the Manaus Temple, it is still as it was back in June. The Church is waiting for a few more Stakes to be established in Manaus before they begin construction. At this point, I doubt it will be completed, let alone dedicated, before my mission ends.
I received some great news from Elder Rocha, my previous companion in Compensa. He informed me that an elderly lady who we were teaching has decided to get baptized. She thought I looked exactly like Jesus...I'm thinking not, but that might have helped with the conversion. Who knows?
The members in this area aren't quite as good about feeding the missionaries as they were in Compensa, but we get by. On average, we get two invites a week. The fresh fruit drinks provided to us are nice, though. Some of the juices we've had are: graviola, sugar cane, mango, cashew, banana, pineapple, guava, apple, cupuaçu, and açaí. Manaus has a greater variety of fruit than anywhere else in the world. Manaus also abounds in pizzerias, but unfortunately, their pizza does not compare to home. Their specialty: making bad pizza with no sauce.
I have a few cool pictures of our donation experience that I was hoping to send this week, but the computer is not cooperating...I can't even open the files. Hopefully, I'll have better luck next week.
Elder Taylor Mackay