It is another great week in Alvorada, which is "sunrise" in Portuguese. It seems like time flies by a lot faster here. For those of you who are interested, I thought I would share some information about my new area. It is called Flores (flowers) and is the heart of all the big events and parties here in Manaus. Due to its location, it is safe to say that I can expect to hear a few nights' worth of live concerts blasting through our windows. Most recently, we had the pleasure of hearing Iron Maiden. It appears to be a lot safer here than in any other place I have served, given that many people think Cidade de Deus and Compensa are some of the most dangerous areas in Manaus. I would have never known otherwise since nothing ever happened to me, but I did hear about some missionaries in those areas getting robbed by the same guy twice, which is a little ironic. The church is about 20 stairs away from where we are living, so it is very convenient. Another good thing about this area is there are always returned missionaries (namely Boby and Kennedy) who are willing to help if we want to do divisions to teach more people.
Our district is called Laranjeiras (orange trees), just like the county back home, and currently consists of 7 people including myself: Elders Gonçalves, Noorda, Willian, Guerrette, Sombreiro, and Ahern. Contrary to the way things had previously been going in Flores, we made a pretty effective plan of action to boost the missionary work in the area and it seems to be working quite well. I'll give you an idea of what we have for baptisms coming up in the near future: the 4th of May- Carolina and possibly Thamiris, the 10th of May- Graça, Evoni, Josivane, Claudia, Artemeze, and Ozorio, and the 17th of May- Adriana (so far). As you can see, the work is going really well and we even have several others who are progressing with the lessons. The only hard part about it all is we only have 5 hours each day to do our teaching and walking, which in the past was done in 10 hours. Fortunately, we have been seriously blessed with everything working out so well. I've decided to take a different approach to this area and not come in shy or timid like I had done in the past. I must say it really helps gain the amizade (friendship) of the members and investigators a lot faster and it makes it more enjoyable doing the work.
This past Sunday was really weird. We walked into church a little late because we had been helping people find their way and something just felt different about the new ward. After sitting down for a few minutes, I realized that I was one of the darker-skinned people in the room, which is completely opposite from my last two areas. Everyone here is of direct Italian or Portuguese descent, so they have surprisingly fair skin. I think the wealth of the area has a little to do with the differences in appearance from the average Amazonian.
I just completed reading the manual for my new position. It starts off like this, "Congratulations on your new calling as Financial Secretary of the Brazil Manaus Mission. The next SIX to EIGHT months you are the guardian of the sacred funds of the Church..." It's a good thing I like it here since I will be in this area a while. Being in an area for this length of time allows a lot to be accomplished in addition to building great relationships with members of the ward.
As for new occurrences, we decided to get on a good fitness program where we run a few miles every day around an old go-cart track right behind the house. It's a lot better than running circles around the parking lot. Another cool thing is that this Saturday Bosco and Maria, from my last area, are getting married and on Sunday baptized. That is pretty awesome! They really want me there, but being that it is on the other side of Manaus and with mission rules, it's looking like it's not going to happen. Nonetheless, I'm excited for them. In closing, thanks for the continued support. Our Flores squad has adopted the phrase, "Know what you are doing - Love what you are doing - Believe in what you are doing."
Elder Taylor Mackay