Dear Family and Friends,
This week went by really fast. At this point in my mission, it seems like each week passes faster than the previous. Even so, our teaching has been going well and I remain focused on the work. In fact, as we made our way to the LAN house today to use the Internet, we met our new neighbors who are excited to go to church with us. They kind of just showed up out of nowhere, but we are excited to start teaching them.
For those who might be wondering, I do not have a pet cat. Instead, I am posing with Little Rib who belongs to Carlos, Teresa, Dany, and Jéssica. They thought he was going to die because he was depressed last week and wouldn't eat. I decided to take advantage of the situation and take a picture with the cat before he kicked the bucket. In case you were worried, he has recently started eating again and is healthy. Something I have learned in Brazil is that cats have 7 lives and not 9 like in the United States…bummer!
Yesterday, we toured the Opera House in Manaus also referred to as the Teatro Amazonas. It was built during Manaus' affluent rubber boom period and is truly amazing. Much of the materials used in its construction came from as far as Europe, including paintings by Domenico de Angelis which adorn the ceilings. It took fifteen years to construct and opened on December 31, 1896. Since flash photos are not allowed in the Opera House, my pictures don't do it justice.
Another part of our P-day adventures included going to a native products store with a returned missionary and a recent convert. There was a ton of cool stuff there and the experience was pretty interesting. I asked the clerk if we could handle the objects and she said, "Feel free." Being the curious person that I am, I picked up a wooden blowgun and loaded it. I blew the dart softly into my hand and it kind of hurt. That was a good sign. I thought to myself…if it hurt when I barely blew into it, let's see what happens when I put some force into it. As the lady had her back turned to us, I aimed at a wall on the other side of the room (not thinking it would travel that far). To my surprise, the little bugger ripped through the air and logged itself into the concrete wall! I casually walked over, not wanting to cause a commotion, and plucked it out of the white painted wall. I was impressed with the product and will certainly buy it the next time I'm in the area.
Also on our way to the center, we paid a visit to the Leite family. It was great to see them again. The family is doing well but misses having the missionaries frequently stop by their house. From what I have been told, the missionaries in the area only stop by for lunch, but hopefully that changes in the near future.
Now that I have had a few weeks and divisions as district leader, I feel like I have a handle on the job. It's not too overbearing and you get a chance to know a ton of people as well as missionaries. Every other Thursday, we have a leadership meeting with the zone leaders to better our work, districts, and zone. The extra responsibilities really haven't affected my teaching in our area too much since I only have two divisions each transfer and our Thursday meetings don't last too long. As for baptismal interviews, I only perform those on appointed days such as Friday or Saturday after 6 p.m., but I would honestly be willing to interview anytime since it's a pretty important step in the conversion process. Including myself, there are a total of six people in our district: Elders Keicher, Melo, Bittencourt, Cainã, and Soelberg.
Our district looks to have an awesome month in March. So far this transfer, we have baptized three people but have really set the stage for success in March. We made a goal of nine baptisms (three men and two families). As of now, we already have thirteen people with dates marked for baptism in March with a potential of even more. We are passing by the homes of these individuals nearly every day to maximize the possibility of their acceptance and conversion.
Now that Elder Soelberg and I are no longer living with another companionship, we are responsible for covering both areas (ours and the other companionships). It makes for a pretty spacious area, which requires a lot of walking. My legs are beginning to get back into pre-mission shape like when I was running. Let's hope the same thing happens soon with my abs (haha).
Elder Taylor Mackay