Dear Family and Friends,
This past week was very productive. We got things rolling with our progressing investigators and it appears that we'll be having a few weddings in the near future. Investigator attendance at church was pretty large on Sunday, but the week to come should be even better. Through much work, we were able to bring thirteen people to Sacrament, and in one week, we marked five baptism dates (Kleive, Anapaula, Daniela, Matias, Tiese).
As for the English Class, we have discontinued teaching it. The Stake is offering a certified class that counts for college credit and such. Unfortunately, the best teaching time was from 8-9 p.m., so it was a little bit of a conflict even though it was only once a week for each dupla.
The ward in Cidade de Deus consists of approximately 130 members (give or take a few since we can only count on the stronger members to faithfully attend every Sunday). Elder Olsen and I took a leap of faith and put a heavy heap of missionary work in their hands and they are really coming through for us. It's more effective with the members' help that's for sure. The members feed us lunch about six times a week or provide us with money to fend for ourselves... which is fine. The ward mission leader is very supportive of our work although it seems as though he is always working or at school. We only see him on Saturday and Sunday. Only a handful of the ward members have gone through the temple...really not too many due to the distance and expense of traveling to Caracas, Recife, or São Paulo. The members are extremely excited for the completion of the Manaus Temple, which will hopefully be completed by late 2010. They are also anxiously awaiting the World Cup in 2014 (haha).
We just got back from the actual Jardim Botânico (Botanical Garden), which is just a bunch of open forest with some crazy trails throughout. It was a district activity with Elders Cavaliero, Morris, Olsen, Mauro, Paredes, and me. Like our last attempt, we walked about two miles to find out the trails were closed. Fortunately, we have two rich Brazilians in our district who were able to persuade one of the workers to take us on the trail. Even though we were walking on a previously blazed trail, the guide told us of some other places off the trail where we could go take sweet pictures. There were a lot of strange things we saw during the walk, but the coolest were vines like Tarzan swings on...they really exist! They are thin but really strong. I tried climbing up one but was a little worried that I would pull the whole tree down because of my ridiculous strength. While in the rain forest, I saw an awesome colored lizard that resembled a snake just sitting on a little log. It's amazing how once you enter the jungle, it's a whole new world. It is not hard to see with all the greenery how life is easily brought about in the rain forests of Amazonas. The only bad part about the whole trip is the mud caked on the bottom of my shoes and pants, but hey, it's nothing a cloth or good wash can't fix. It was a great experience.
As you can see by the pictures, my hair is a little long since I wasn't able to get it cut last week due to Elder Olsen's illness. I will be getting it taken care of today.
Paz e amor,