It´s so wonderful to hear from you all! I cant tell you how awesome it is to receive letters here on the mission field. Thanks to all of you who wrote me! It´s soo great! It takes forever to get to me though.. so sorry if the response takes forever too!
The best part of the week was meeting my new mission president! He is from Arizona, President Hall. I am so excited to have him as a president, and I love his outlook for the mission. He wants us to focus on following the prophet and first presidency´s program for missionary work- or in other words, he wants us to really focus on teaching people and helping them with their problems through the gospel. To teach people, not lessons. I have seen people here get so into the routine of teaching a lesson, making commitments and leaving without even knowing the person. That is so sad! I am glad to have someone who will try to change the feel of how things are done. He also wants us to work with the members a lot, to integrate people into the church, which is just awesome. He said he hopes to work alongside us, to walk the streets with us (literally) and to lead us correctly. He is just the president for me! His wife is really nice, she is learning Portuguese and is just really friendly. He has 5 kids, most of them are older, but we met two of them: Brad (23, served as a missionary in Brazil) and Quincy (20, really nice!) I had such a fun time getting to know them and am just so excited for the future of my mission under their leadership.
Nothing much happened this week. We have a decent number of investigators, but none that are really committed. Here they call them `moles´, pronounced mole-eees. It just sounds like a perfect word- it means soft, slacker, in a way- lazy. It´s true. That is the hardest part about this area of Brazil. People are very religious, friendly, open to hearing our message, but wont do the work. I hope to find more people like my baptism, Lourena. Hopefully as we work hard, we will find people like this.
Since I don't have much to update, I will tell you about my life here in Natal. The lifestyle of the people, if you will. There are soooo many things that are different- practically everything is different. Here are a few cultural differences- not bad, just different!
• People´s level of modesty. Well, at times it really doesn´t exist much! I have seen soo much skin in this past month. Men are always walking around with their shirts off, gut totally hanging out and over their pants. Women wear little tank tops, usually skimpy or old, often with not much support underneath. O ya, they all have guts too. The shortest shorts I´ve ever seen... armpit hair, hairy legs, every type of cellulite, you name it, I´ve seen it! Naked babies are common, or children (boys and girls) just wear some little pants or underwear and run around town. Its such a beautiful sight!
• Houses: the houses here are very, very small. They are mainly two little bedrooms, a little kitchen and family room. They are made by cement and have metal gate doorways. The houses are also right next door to eachother, with no space in between. When we go to someone´s house, we clap outside the door, or sometimes yell their name. They then walk to the front, unlock the lock, open the gate doorway (if that makes sense) and let us in. They are just soo tiny.
• Bugs: I am learning that ants are NORMAL here. I dont agree with it! Haha! It is something that I refuse to get used to. Lets see- this week I have killed them with bug spray, drowned them, burned them, smashed them, yelled at them, strangled them, smushed them, and whatever other way you can kill a tiny, tiny ant, I have done it. But we are very fortunate to not have too many bugs in our house.
• Creatures: There are always creatures running around this town. So many mutty dogs, cats, little cute lizards, bugs, and other stuff. The other day there was just a herd of cows walking down the street- i updated my pictures. It was so great! There are also donkeys, and people with little carts and horses. That always makes me laugh to see a horse and cart running down the street at full speed- it dont know why it is funny, but it is. I´ll have to try to take a picture.
That is just a few little things Ive noticed. I´m enjoying it here though! The language is coming along quickly enough, the lord is helping me soo much! I was soo happy this week as I understood a majority of what people were saying, and could speak back. I helped teach lessons, gave messages at member´s houses, and made more contacts. It´s so wonderful.
Well I miss you all and hope you are all doing well. I am so excited to be here as a missionary, and I thank you for your prayers and support. Keep praying, keep reading your scriptures, and keep smiling! Love you!
- Sis mish Steph
Continuing to teach all the creatures of the earth!