Soooo...almost all went as planned this past week. I've just been a little occupied with some packages we have been trying to send to Rio Branco and Porto Velho. The boat that was supposed to arrive here a week ago to take the packages still hasn't arrived. The process to ship by airplane is a lot more expensive and complicated, but it has become our only option given the situation.
This past Sunday was nothing short of crazy with all the running around we did to help our investigators make it to church. Marivane was confirmed (we arrived just on time) and it was also the homecoming talk of a missionary who returned from Rio de Janeiro. He is the only member in his entire family and is really excited to get to work. I think he's a little too optimistic with his initial thoughts of activating his entire family but that makes things easier for us.
We have been teaching a group of friends: Andrews, Anderson, David, Flávia, and Karla. All of them are actually really cool and willing to talk to us, which is surprising because generally speaking religion isn't a priority for teenagers. Andrews, whose father was already baptized and actually knows a ton about the gospel, will be baptized on Sunday with the presence of a large chunk of the ward, family, and friends. The teaching is going a lot better now that the conference season is over and everything has settled back down.
As Financial Secretary, you get asked a lot of questions, but the question that beats them all is the ever so popular, "Mesada caiu?" to find out if the $$ will fall on the established dates (7th and 22nd of every month). Just when I would rather not answer the phone or begin to think the questions are annoying, I have to put myself in their shoes. In the normal mission field, you've got to walk to the bank or in some cases, like in my last area, take a bus. It is nice to have a confirmation before you make the jihad to the banco.
One of the neat things that took place last week was a lunch we had planned with a family in our ward who lives at Kilometer 22 on the highway to Itacoatiara. They were glad to see us since it is a rare occasion missionaries visit due to the fact they live out of the city. After lunch, we were invited to go on a fishing trip on their property. Their property is amazing...one of those as far as the eye can see properties with areas possibly unexplored by civilized man. After we grabbed a few sticks, hooks, and pieces of bread, we marched off to a few small lakes that have tucunari and piranha (both relatively small fish). Being that I am not a fisher, I went along more for the journey and to know the wildlife of Amazonas. I'm not going to lie...my shoes got filthy, but that's what the shoeshine kit is for. Right? As you can see from the pictures, it was very green and the water was a little less than welcoming, so we were thankful for the mission rulebook. We did, however, roll up our pant legs in an attempt to lure in a few fish, but we still didn't catch anything. Unfortunately, I won't have any cool stories about how I got bit on the leg by a piranha...although I tried. The weather and air were very clear...maintained by nature rather than mankind. It was a long walk out to the lakes and a long walk back. Once we arrived back at the house, we drank some suco and had a visit from one of the horses that roams freely on the property and decided to stop by for its daily dosage of salt. They never have to buy food for the horse because there is so much vegetation it will never go hungry.
On the way back to the office, we caught a bus that took two hours before it passed by. It just so happened to be a party bus. A nice, little crowd was passing around shots of alcohol and chanting, "...drink, drink, drink." Fortunately, nobody messed with us, but it was just one more reminder for me that I wasn't in the United States anymore.
In two weeks, I'll be sitting here with my new companion, teaching him the ways of Financial Secretary. I have an idea of who it could be, but it's still up in the air. Wish me luck and thanks for all the support.
Elder Taylor Mackay