Sorry it took me a while to get back to sending this email. I didn't think it was possible to have so many things going on all at once. After slightly more than three weeks in the office, I can now understand why Elder Guerrette went more than three weeks without writing home to his family. By the way, I sent out a few things in the mail this week, so it'll be just a matter of weeks before they arrive.
To answer the questions of the future missionaries reporting to Manaus, I would highly recommend bringing a credit/debit card since at times you will need more money than is allotted, especially if you have intentions of buying keepsakes. When you only get $100 a month for food, transportation, and whatnot, there isn't a whole lot left over at the end of the month. As for the towels, from my point of view, the best ones are from REI because they dry extremely fast, which prevents them from getting a foul, mold odor. The only other suggestion I can make is to buy an inexpensive suit for the mission. Let's just say, the weather here doesn't allow for a suit to retain its mint condition.
As for events of the past week, I have a funny story about Carolina, one of our recent converts. In Manaus, McDonald's is like a 5 Star restaurant because there are very few in the city. One day, Carolina got really mad at her mom because she bought McDonald's for her sister and herself while Carolina was at a friend's house. I've never seen someone so disappointed over a Happy Meal!
Something else you might find pretty humorous is that there is a choreographer in our ward and he is going to be putting on a huge production at the end of June. They have been working months on it, and out of nowhere, I was asked to help in the production with the filming, editing, and promotional aspects. It's going to be a pretty good attention grabber for investigators in the area. I'm really excited! He was also asking for hints of how to make the production better. I told him I'd help, given the limited time I have, but I guess it will go toward the two hours of service we have been asked to perform each week. And by the way, the theme for the production is High School Musical (haha). They are going to combine all three movies into an hour and a half show.
In other news, there were a total of 40 people in attendance last week at church due to a massive rain storm. It just so happened that the speaker was one of those people who decided to not show up, so right before the meeting started, I was informed that I would be speaking. Fortunately, it went well and everyone seemed to like what I had to say. The Bishop and some of the ward members even referenced my talk during their lessons afterward, which was pretty cool.
Elder Hodges stopped by the Mission Office this week since it was Zone Conference. He got to stay with us for a day, which was great. He also dropped off a few pictures. It sounds like everything is going good in Manacapuru. It was nice to see him.
Mother's Day was great! Besides being able to call home, we had two baptisms. Lunch on Mother's Day was also a special treat. We ate at a Dutch-Brazilian family's house and I am pleased to say there weren't any rice or beans included in the entire meal. The food was really good and had the unique flavor of American food, which I haven't eaten for some time now.
By the way, before I left Cidade de Deus, Elder Olsen and I marked 5 dates for baptism. One of them is a large, tattooed man named Luis and the rest are part of a family: Marcilene, Riandra, Raian, and Renan (the man, Elizeu, was already baptized). They will all be baptized this Saturday!
I've sent quite a few pictures this week. The descriptions are as follows: the rising of the Amazon, our lunch appointment in a jungle of fruit trees, Mother's Day lunch, the wedding of Bosco and Maria, a truck load of bananas, an island of turtles near the airport, our recent baptism, a group picture at the baptism, and me shooting Elder Noorda in the butt with a dart gun.
Just in case you're wondering, summer has officially hit the Amazon...weather-wise at least. Have a great week.
Paz e amor,
Elder Taylor Mackay