Well, I made it to 21...pretty legit. "Growin' up in the hood, I didn't know if I would make it this far...kids cry, gun shots, nobody cares, got tattoo tears," (just kidding). Don't worry...my letter isn't going to be Tupac lyrics.
This week was ridiculous. There was a big soccer game that determined the champion of Brazil and Flamengo won. Unfortunately, a few people died with all the excitement. A guy at a bar in our area got shot and killed, but that sort of thing is a normal occurrence here. It's funny and sad at the same time because you arrive at lunch and after, "Hey, how's it going?" the next line is, "Oh, (insert name here) was killed yesterday right down the street." Then you ask, "Oh, really...how?" "...messing around with drug dealers and got shot, stabbed, etc." Once again, you'd think the local youth would learn their lesson that a life of crime and drugs just isn't the way. You never hear about innocent people getting killed, which is always good.
As for my birthday, there was sooooo much food. We started the eating off with Irmã Antônia, a new member to the ward and a big fan of Elder Noorda who served in her last ward, so we had quite a bit to talk about. She made us mini pizzas and shared some of her favorite scriptures with us, which was cool. It was the first time we visited with her in her home, so we took some pictures around the area while the pizzas were baking. Next, we had Family Home Evening at the house of Maria and João Bosco and Reginaldo and Cintia were also invited. Reginaldo and Cintia are a cool family that Elder Olsen was given as a reference from Maria (Reginaldo just got called as Lider da Missão da Ala). We passed by their homes a few days prior and I assigned messages for the kids to give as well as Reginaldo. So, for the first time in a while, as missionaries, we had the chance to just listen...and to be honest, that's the way it should be because one day the missionaries are going to leave and they've got to be able to hold their own. It was really cool to sit down with the families and enjoy the evening. Ana Taise even made a lime cake for my birthday with guava juice to drink. To finish the night, we played a game with flour that's hard to explain, but I'll give it a go. Basically, the person who loses has to dig through a pile of flour with their nose to find a piece of candy. It's pretty funny. We then went over to the house of Irmã Teresa, where we were given MORE pizza and chocolate cake! Good grief, I was full! It reminded me of the times when I would go with my buddies from USU to Olive Garden and put the never-ending pasta, salad, and bread sticks to the test.
In regards to missionary work, this week went really well. We started marking the dates of a few people. One person that is progressing extremely fast is Jéssica. She is 13 years old and sincerely interested in learning. She has done all the "homework" we have left with her and is a really good person. We are working with the youth in our ward to help us find investigators to teach. We have found this to be an effective tool in our work. Later tonight, we have a lesson that we'll be teaching at the house of Joelson who has invited 5 friends to attend. As a missionary, that's pretty sweet because the likelihood of at least one making it through to baptism is great. We are also working together with the ward to put together a Christmas program that will be taking place on the 19th. So far, so good...tonight will be the choir practice, and yes, we were invited.
I went back to Staff today to get my visa renewed with the federal police, which was sweet. I just so happened to run into Noorda and gave him an abraço. Best of all, I had the opportunity to eat lunch at the house of the Leite family. Unfortunately, their disabled father took a turn for the worse and is now in the hospital, so please keep him in your prayers.
Elder Murray, the new Financial Secretary, has a few headaches because of the Christmas conference on the 23rd, so I gave him some counsel. Hopefully, it all works out. Elder Reis, former companion and Staff member, has decided to grow a fro to prepare for the sun's rays in a few weeks when he returns to the field (haha). Other than that, all is going well here.
Elder Taylor Mackay