Monday, November 30, 2009

How Not to Teach English...


Here Comes the Rain!

Three Month Celebration

Oh, yes. Three months on the mission. Yeah!!!

Hmmmm, exciting things that happened this past week…

I attempted to teach English at an English Learning School. I had a hard time explaining why box=boxes and ox=oxen. Why not boxen, or oxes. Can someone explain this to me? Needless to say, it went horribly. But it was still nice to speak English.

I also walked more this week than I ever have before. We walked 18 miles in one day. The best part was walking 2 miles to an address that didn’t exist. And then immediately turning around and walking those 2 miles back. We taught 3 lessons that day. The rest was spent walking.

The remainder of the week was kind of boring. We only have one progressing investigator named Rui (whoo-ee). But he has skipped out on church two weeks in a row now. We teach a lot of first lessons, but very few second ones.

Things are pretty tense between my companion and me. He likes to treat me like a child and to enforce the rules. One morning I closed my eyes after the alarm went off at 6:30 AM, and accidentally fell back asleep for another hour. He was livid. He called me a fubeca (slacker missionary). I am trying so hard, and really feel like I am progressing well, but in his eyes, I can’t do anything right. It is pretty frustrating. Just know that I’m definitely learning patience here in Brazil. I will survive, because we have transfers in 8 days. I’m hoping one of us gets sent elsewhere.

Word for the week: "puxe" - pronounced "push" but actually means "pull." It doesn’t get much worse than that. When people tell you to “puxe” and you start pushing instead of pulling. haha

So, any guesses as to where I might get sent next? Or, if I remain in Ibipora?

Stay tuned!
Peace from Brazil.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My New Friend, a Talking Parrott!

My new buddy can say "Oi"

The countryside of Ibipora, Brazil

This Thursday is my 3 month anniversary!! Hard to believe, eh?

Things are going better and better every day with the language, but Elder da Silva and I aren’t having very much luck with the work. Elder Carter and Elder Galdino, who share the same apartment with us, are having a lot of success.

It rained 5 days this week. Not straight, but sometime during the day it rained. And like I said before, when it rains it pours. They are always thunderstorms, too. We got caught in 3 of the 5. It was a wet week. My umbrella broke due to overuse.

I found a parrot the other day that can say “Oi.” It was pretty funny. That means “Hi,” by the way.

Hmm, this week wasn’t super exciting as far as stories go. Hopefully I’ll have something to relate next Monday.

So here are some more “similar” words. It is a very tricky language! (Although I’m not sure it would be very easy to explain about our English to, too, and two!)

tesouras - scissors
tesouros - treasures

abacaxi - pineapple
abacate - avocado

The emphasis is on a different syllable.

comessem - imperfect subjunctive form of ´they eat´
começam - they start

A funny thing to do in Brazil (with people you know) is to make fun of their language, for example, the word “obrigado” (thank you), is pronounced ohh-bree-gah-doo. It’s super fun to say in front of Brazilians “abrigado” - ahh-bree-gah-doh. They hate it. All new Americans say it with an “ah” and the Brazilians will ALWAYS correct you, even if they know you are joking. It’s hilarious.

Until next week!
Elder Titus

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pictures are BACK!

There are some very beautiful flowers down here.

My first baptism. From left to right: Elders Carter and da Silva, Camila, Camila's father, me, Elder Galdino.

Good news! A friend in the branch down here had a USB cable that he loaned me so, PICTURES are back!

Ibiporã is pronounced: I – (as in “it”) – bee – pore – uh

The weeks are getting crazier and crazier. Portuguese is coming along smoothly. Ibiporã is pretty sweet. There are about 30,000 people here.

Okay, here’s some funny stuff:

After each of our lessons, we ask the investigator to pray about what we have discussed to receive a confirmation that it’s true, and then they can get baptized, if they want. One day, we returned to visit with a lady who we had asked to pray at the end of our previous visit. She told us that she had a vision of two big black men in white, with big white beards that told her not to get baptized. She’s a little odd, but we love her. We told her to try again, and we would come back.

At another lesson, we taught a man and a woman. After the lesson, we were walking out the door shaking hands. I shook the lady’s hand and then suddenly remembered that I needed to put away my chair, so I doubled back and took care of putting the chair away. Meanwhile, the man told my companion that I needed to, “Pedir a deus para perdaõ,” or ask God for forgiveness because I forgot to shake his hand. He was serious, too. So I quickly shook his hand and told him that I was sorry, and that I would repent.

We have been meeting some very interesting people!

Last Saturday, one of our investigators got baptized. Her name is Camila. That was really cool. My very first baptism! At least, my first one in which I took part in teaching! Her father, who is already a member of the Church, baptized her.

It’s still hot. And when it’s not hot, there’s a thunderstorm, and then after the thunderstorm it gets even more humid and hot. I got super sunburned this past week, even with loads of sunscreen slathered on. The way I see it, in about three months I’m going to look Brazilian for sure. And with luck, by then, I’ll sound like one, too.

Thank you to those who have written to me! It is so cool to get mail. Oh, and thank you Angela and Tim! The box you sent arrived safe and sound. And the goodies are awesome! American food, yippee! (OK, so maybe marshmallow Peeps are not a great example of “food,” but oh, they tasted soooo good!)

Until next week,
Elder Titus

Elder Nelson and me in Londrina, Brazil. He was my companion for five days!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ibipora, Here I Come!

President Leal, Elder Titus and Sister Leal

I’m in Ibiporá, my first official area. It’s about 15-ish miles east of Londrina. It’s hot here, too. My “trainer” is Elder da Silva from Fortaleza, Brazil. He’s 25 years old. He was baptized when he was 23 and left everything he had going for him to serve a mission. He’s a great guy. However, he doesn’t speak hardly any English, so he’s not much help at all in the language learning aspect. I’m kind of on my own. Did I mention that people speak Portuguese here? (Yes, I know I did.) All things considered, it’s going good with the language, I’m technically ahead of most “newbies” but it’s still hard for me to understand what people are saying. It’s also difficult to not be able to fully express myself and my feelings when we are teaching a lesson. Usually, I can talk for hours in English. I guess for right now I just need to be patient with myself. Most American Elders say that they are fluent by 6 months, and can understand 95% of the conversation by 3 months. That seems like a lifetime right now.

Ibiporá is a much smaller town than Londrina. It’s spread out over a few miles. Lots of little hills. All small houses, made of brick with tin roofs. Most people here do not have cars.

Our ward is actually only a branch. We need about 10 more priesthood holders to become a ward. The branch president is pretty young and he and his wife do not have any children – yet. Sister Fernando is pregnant. There were about 45 members who came to church this past Sunday. They are very humble, and very wonderful. They take turns feeding us lunch.

We mostly cook breakfast for ourselves. There are two other elders in the apartment with me and Elder da Silva; Elder Carter (from Farmington, Utah) and Elder Galdino. Elder Galdino insists on cooking the food, which is just fine by me! We usually have beans and rice, and . . . well, rice and beans. He cooks a pot of rice and a pot of soupy pinto beans and then puts them together, usually with some kind of meat. We got some pork one day where it was cooked and all, but it still had hair on the outside of some pieces. We occasionally have noodles with sauce. And sometimes, although quite rare, we get this cake type stuff for dessert.

Our apartment is fairly large, by local standards. The front room has a hammock. Then there are 3 bedrooms, but two are used for studying. The other room has four beds. We have a kitchen with a table in it. There’s sort of a laundry-ish room, open air. All homes here are open air, so forget about keeping the creatures out. We have a washing machine and a clothes line. Only the super rich have dryers. There are also two, very small bathrooms.

We are teaching about 15 people right now. We make 30 street contacts a day, where we just try to briefly explain that we have a special message about Jesus Christ and that we would like to share it with them in their homes another day, and then quickly write down their address.

Oh, and we walk a ton, about 12-15 miles a day. I already have survived my first blister. My companion wonders why my legs are not tired. Hmmm... I wonder. I have not explained the cycling thing, because... well it would need to be explained in Portuguese and I can’t really express myself well enough. Maybe some day.

More similar words:
Pecador – sinner
Pescador – fisherman
Pesquisador – investigator

Mao – hand
Irmao – brother (when people say irmao, they say the “ir” very fast, and if it’s in the middle of a sentence, then usually you only hear the “mao” and things become confusing very quickly!

I would love to go on, but time is limited.

Until next time,
Elder Titus

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm in Londrina, Brazil!

Bad news: I lost my USB cable, so I won't be able to post pictures until I can buy a card reader. There is a big store about a half hour away that might sell them. Cross your fingers. I know the pics are fun to see! Sorry...

Good news: We all left on Friday for Londrina at 4 AM (yes folks, 4 in the morning!). We loaded in the bus to go to the Sao Paulo airport. Things went well for all and we were soon on the flight to Londrina. One hour in the air, nice and short. Londrina is absolutely beautiful. There is the main city with lots of skyscrapers and then some suburbs that go for a few miles out, then it’s all Brazil. It is a very pretty country and grassland with some jungle here and there. The dirt here is incredibly red and at the end of the day our shoe soles are covered in it.

We met President Leal, the Mission President, and his Assistants, Elder Tobar and Elder Wolfertz, and then we all went to President Leal’s house, where we had a quick meeting and a nice lunch.

Transfers aren’t until Tuesday, so we were all temporarily put with elders currently serving in Londrina, located at various spots throughout the city. I’m with Elder Nelson, serving in Vivi Xavier.

We walk...a lot. We average about 12 miles per day in this area because there are lots of houses. Elder Parrott from my District at the MTC, said he walked 25 miles on Saturday. We work from 10 AM to 9 PM, with no breaks, except to eat lunch.

The first night we had little luck. In Brazil, all or most homes have walls and a gate, with no door bells. So at every home, you have to clap, it’s quite interesting. It usually alerts the dogs, of which everyone has at least one. Then the owners come out and unlock the gate. On some walls, the top is covered in broken beer bottles that were set in there when the concrete was wet. Consequently, the tops of the walls are full of colorful shards of pointy glass. The wealthy have electric fences on top.

One lady gave us some cinnamon rolls to take home, muito bom!

We did some street contacting which is interesting. You walk up to people, tell them you have a very special message about Jesus Christ and families, then you ask for their address so you can go and teach them in their homes another day. Most agree and are excited to have you come talk to them.

It’s exceedingly hot here. Exceedingly hot! By 11 AM it’s in the 80s, but with a very high jungle humidity, too. So, two steps after leaving the house you´re sweating. We drink 2 liters of water a day, of which we are supposed to purify before drinking.

On Saturday, we had an epic lunch at a member’s home; spaghetti, pot roast and beans and rice. And then a fudgecicle afterwards. That doesn’t happen very often, but it was amazing while it lasted. Elder Webb told me that his first lunch consisted of rice, with feijuada, a mixture of beans and meat. The meat is usually leftovers. In this case, for Elder Webb, it was pig ears with the hair still attached and some other type of unidentifiable beef. Mmmm!

Twice a month we get $115 reis to spend on food and other things. That’s about $57 dollars. Yeah, you have to be careful of what you buy or you may go hungry later in the month.

On Sunday, one of Elder Nelson’s investigators, Fatima, was baptized, so that was exciting. Elder Nelson is a stud, he’s from South Jordan Utah, and his two years as a missionary are over in January, so he'll be leaving to go home. He’s ridiculously fluent in Portuguese. He says it takes about 3 weeks before you can understand most things, and after that it gets a lot better. Right now, people are hard to understand, so I’m hoping I will catch on quickly!

I find out tonight where I will be going for the next 6 - 12 weeks. It could be here, somewhere in Londrina, or as far north as Barau, or as far south as Guaçu Falls, which is 6 hours from Londrina by bus. Then I will find out my address and send it to my mom and she will post it here on my blog-site. Then you can send all the packages you want! :-) Actually, it’s probably best to send packages to the Mission Home, which is over in the right hand column.

Ate mais!
Elder Titus

PS. It appears that P-Day (Preparation Day, which is my opportunity to use the internet for a short period of time) has been changed to Mondays. So, hopefully posts will be up by Monday evening. Thanks for keeping track of me!