January 28, 2008

As always, when I first got here on Tuesday night I was really uncomfortable and quiet and stupid. But, as always, I've slowly acclimatized and I'm doing well now. I've noticed in all my areas (and in the CTM) that things get better after the first Sunday. My companion is great. He is a very relaxed Brazilian. He is rich and not needy. He is from a really nice part of Rio de Janeiro. He always talks about how great it is. He is adamant about Rio being the best place in Brazil for anything. So I think I've decided that if I came back to Brazil to live (and I have a potential plan for that) I would live there. Elder C Nunes is a great missionary. I've learned a lot from him already. In teaching, he is very calm but also very powerful. Convincing, but not coersively. Full of love. I sort of envy him, but I've learned something very important about our companionship--the less I speak in the lessons, the better things turn out. I'm convinced of this. I've spent all this time in the mission talking and trying to teach people, but that doesn't really work. We baptized five people yesterday!! I'm good for making small talk with people here and there. Answering questions people have about the States or how you say this or that in English. It's great. I know my place here, I have no problem with it. And all the while I'm learning. So, it's a good thing. Our apartment is great. We live above a pizzaria so it always smells like pizza in our apartment. The guy who runs the pizzaria (and owns the building we live in) is named Tokinho. To-KEEN-yo. He's awesome. He picked us up from the bus station in Brasilia and brought us here. He's not a member of the Church yet, but whenever anyone asks him if he is, he says "not yet" so that's a good sign. We live with one other dupla. Elder Kiger and Elder Santos. Elder Kiger is a big jock from Palo Alto, California who played football at MCC in Mesa. He is always loud and happy. I love him. We've become fast friends. In part because I'm the first person he's been able to speak English with in months. It's great hearing a great big "HOOOOOOOOON!!" when I come home at the end of the day. Steve Young is in his ward. Elder Santos is a nice guy too. He's so Brazilian that if he doesn't eat rice and beans everyday he gets weak and has to lie down. That is amazing. The two of them both have five months left in the mission and won't stop talking about home. So you can rest easy (momma) knowing I'm comfortable and enjoying my time here in Planaltina. Elder Jardel Leite will be in Aguas Lindas at least until the end of this transfer. Probably longer. But, yeah, if you have a package for him, send it to the mission office. You shouldn't need his full name for that but I don't know maybe you do. The office can separate packages just from "Elder So and So". I heard about President Hinckley this morning at a meeting we had. I was sad at first. Hearing that definitely took the wind out of my sails. But I soon got happy because I know he probably wanted to go. I miss him already. I'll miss him a lot come conference time, but I'm also completely willing and ready to sustain President Monson. He will be a great leader for us. Who will be the new counselor in the First Presidency? I say Russell M. Nelson. What do you guys think? Dad, can we start a family pool on this one with a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card for the winner? $50 gift card for whoever can guess the new apostle! Have a wonderful week. I love you guys so much and miss you more all the time. ps: go Patriots? I guess? Jordan

January 22, 2008

Well, I am in fact leaving Aguas Lindas today. Four months here. I'm way bummed. I love the people here. They are my friends. I'll miss them dearly. I'm not able to say goodbye to anyone. I hope they don't hate me. I'll be moving to a city called Planaltina and my companion will be Elder C Nunes. Another Brazilian. I know him kind of. If you'd like to look on a map, Planaltina is north of the Distrito Federal. It's poor there like here, so I don't imagine much will change except the faces. I'm kind of excited. I hope you guys sent the last box to the mission home address, otherwise Elder Leite will have to eat all the ranch and barbeque sauce. Which is fine because he's in love with ranch dressing and wants you guys to keep sending him more. Feel free to do that, he'll be here a while. I'm a little surprised I'm being transferred. I only spent three transfers here. Most missionaries who come here stay four. Meh. Planaltina should be a good time. The zone there baptizes more consistently than any other zone in the mission. NUMBERS! Here are some pictures of me being phased by McDonald's in Asa Norte and Elders Valentine and Day. Our new stainless steel pots and pans. Oh baby! Christmas and Elder Leite's birthday party to. I haven't gotten those three boxes yet but I'm sure they've arrived at the mission office. I'll get them today at the transfer or in a week or so at zone conference. I did get the new debit card and letter from Momma and pictures. Thank you, thank you! It all came very quickly. Ever since I gave you guys the address for the apartment I've gotten three letters! Sooo much better. I'll give you my new address next week. I must go. I'm sorry I have to be brief this week. I love you guys and miss you more than ever. Enjoy the pictures! Jordan

January 14, 20008

I have indeed received a few letters from people in the ward. I got a Christmas card from the Peterson's and from the Forrest's and a letter from Bishop Boyer. His letter was nice, I liked it. Tell him thank you very, very much. I was particularly happy that he committed the last paragraph to only talking about the Suns. When I wrote my acceptance letter I committed to have my mind focused 100% on the Lord for the next two years. Little did I know how hard such a prospect would be. So, it's always nice to talk about something else every once in a while. And regarding letters, sending directly to the apartment is amazingly fast. I got dad's letter on last Friday, the 11th. Eight days from the postmark! Amazing!! Let's just cross our fingers that I don't get transferred in a week at the end of this transfer. I probably won't. I should have one more and then leave here end of February/beginning of March.
Elder Day is a legit guy. He was in my group at the CTM. I love him. He speaks better Portuguese than me and was actually just called as a district leader this transfer. Which means he has a cell phone and has to interview people for baptisms and has to conduct weekly district meetings. He's living in Cruzeiro right now so I'm a little bit jealous. Is his mom awesome? Probably.
Have I really been out for 223 days??? I can't believe that.
I loved dad's letter about John Wycliffe and the history of the Catholic Church. Very interesting stuff. And let me tell you something that has been firm in my belief for some time, and stories like this only reaffirm that...for me, it's this church or nothing. If this church suddenly went corrupt or was somehow proven wrong, I wouldn't go looking for another faith. It's all or nothing in my opinion. If this church isn't true then there is no gospel. Does anyone else feel this way?
My only resolution for this year was to write in my journal every day. That ended January 2nd. Oh well. Next year. What are everyone else's broken resolutions? I'm sorry I have no pictures, I just haven't taken any recently. Just baptism pictures and those are kind of boring. I will try to put myself in some picturesque moments but this is a rare occurrence in the Brazil. I am an hungered so I must go. Tchau, familia. I think there is probably something I forgot to mention but I will try to remember throughout the week. And I hope it's a good week for you all. I love you.
Oh, ps: Leite wants more ranch dressing. He SO phased. And I want barbeque sauce. KC Masterpiece Brown Sugar. Is this OK? I need to show it to some of the sisters in the branch. Jordan

January 7, 2008

We didn't get a toaster but we did get this thing called Walita that grills sandwiches. It' nice. Makes our dinners a little fancier. I'm not sure why the mission bought them for us, it seems a little extravagant. Especially considering I didn't ask for it. I only asked for a washing machine and a new fan. I asked a few months ago. I think they gave some out but not to us here in Aguas Lindas as of yet. Did you know there are no dryers in Brazil? None whatsoever. It's the strangest thing. They don't know this exists. There's a setting on the washing machines that spins the clothes really fast and that gets most of the water out but everyone still uses clotheslines. Thank you Momma for doing all you could to find me nice shirts. They will work just fine I'm sure. The forearm strengthener torture devices too. I'm excited! I'm especially looking forward to some fresh white shirts. Did I tell you about how at church a few weeks ago there were 17 sisters that asked us if we wanted them to wash our clothes for us? 17. I counted. Aguas Lindas is a dirty place. I'm looking forward to the three boxes. Even if they had nothing in them. Getting packages aways ticks other missionaries off. I love it.
We had a special conference on Wednesday with not one, not two, or three...but FIVE Aidukaitis'!!! It was madness! Presidente's older brothers were there and their wives. I shook one of their hands and all he said was "your hand is your pocket". I baptized a little girl on Saturday, it was nice. I felt like I was going to die of an anxiety attack, but it was nice once she was baptized. We had lots of cake and hot dogs and soda. It was also the baptism of a little boy named Andre' who just turned eight. His dad is in the Branch Presidency and his wife speaks very good English. They are rich so we had a party. This branch is all about parties. We should be more like that at home. With the little girl (Juliana) and her sister being baptized, that completed their whole family. Six more people in the Church. The parents were inactive but started going back two weeks ago after we started coming by their house. All four of their kids are now baptized. If they go inactive again I will shoot myself.
I love the football news. Keep me updated on it, Faja. I hope for the best for Brett Farve too. He's a legit guy, he deserves the trophy. New England sounds like the tightest though so I don't know. My prediction is New England and Green Bay in the Super Bowl. I'll be phased either way but I can't help but kind of root for Green Bay. Right? My partially-educated prediction for the NBA Finals this season is Suns vs. Celtics. Am I right about this or what? I think so. If it's San Antonio and Detroit again the ratings are going to start going way down for basketball. San Antonio and anyone for that matter.
Spench Legs and LEXA!!??!!??!!??!! I will write you lovely ladies more next week, I promise. I have to go right now because Elder Leite takes very little time on the computer and is sitting here waiting for me and I feel bad. I caught a glimpse of B. Spears on TV being taken away in an ambulance and a bunch of paparatzi chasing after the ambulance. It was so funny. I thought of home. I love you guys.

Receive this bag, Jordan

December 31. 2007

The best moment of the year for me was talking on the phone to you guys. It reminded me that YOU are the people I really want to spend my time with when it comes down to it. As Michelle said in her e-mail to me this week, I love our extended family very much, but it's the five of us that are more important than anything. I spent the last week of 2007 in a place called M Norte about 30 minutes away from Aguas Lindas. The M doesn't stand for anything. It's fancy there; all the streets have asphalt and every house has a ceiling. Elder Atkinson was my companion. American. Nice enough guy, but then he took my ice cold water out of the fridge--that was for me because I like to cool off when I'm in the Brazil--and started adding warm water to it because "it's too cold, elder". Then he ate my last oatmeal cream pie. Which I had because it was in the package from Hajax and Chelsea that was waiting for me at the house in M Norte when I arrived. That was awesome!!! They put a bunch of little cards and TWO ties and goodies in it. I loved it. I'm back in good old Aguas Lindas now. I think that when you live somewhere, it only really starts to feel like home after you've left and come back home again. Home is a place to return to, and Aguas Lindas feels that way now. Don't worry, Mesa, AZ is still home in my heart. Like how Tim always still says Arizona is his real home. Well, have a great New Year's Eve, family. Don't watch ABC. Dick Clark really freaked me out last year. I hope they're having someone else do his show this year. I love you all, Jordan

December 24, 2007

TALK TO YOU TOMORROW! Ha. I'm excited now. I didn't think I would be but oh man...

By the way, the area code (or state code) for where I am is 61. I hope that's all you need to know. I talked to Erisvaldo and his daughter and they said they didn't get a call from any Americans this week. I got a little worried that maybe you didn't have all the necessary numbers but you probably do. I LOVE YOU and I can't wait to talk to you! Merry Christmas, family. Jordan

December 17, 2007

Are you kidding me!? What am I missing? These games must be full of cross-court KG backwards two-handed slam dunks. Send me articles or something. I need to know what's going on. Celtics?
It's about time the Husky Dawgs got a somewhat fair schedule. That opening game against Oregon is going to be epic. I wish I could watch it. I wish I could watch anything to be honest. The biggest TV show in Brazil is Woody Woodpecker. The cartoon. It's called Pica-Pau here and everybody loves it. It's on in every waiting room and restaurant in town. All day. The Flintstones are a big deal too. I have to say, due to the realization I've come to on this mission of the ways I had taken my life for granted before coming to Brazil, you may find me on the couch in 17 and a half months watching the Cartoon Network in tears rejoicing over the fact that not only am I allowed to be watching this, but it's in English! Maybe, maybe not. I don't know.
The only things people watch on TV here are cartoons and soap operas. Cartoons are called 'desenhos' and soap operas are called 'novellas'. Novellas are borderline softcore porn. Moreso than any TV show in the States. BRAZIL!!!
Alright, regarding this phone call on Christmas day... I'll be at the house of a member named Erisvaldo at 2pm my time in Brazil. That should be 9 o'clock your time at home, so wake up! As much as I'd like to make you guys call at 3am it just isn't feasible for the members, so 9am will have to do. I'll be jealous of your breakfast. I'll no doubt have just eaten chicken with all kinds of mysterious and pointy bones poking my mouth and freaking me out. We'll be having lunch at their house and then waiting for the phone calls. I'll be waiting at 2 o'clock my time or sooner. My new Brazilian companion, Elder Leite, will be waiting for his call from home at 3pm. So that means we'll only have an hour, not five. However, since we'll be eating lunch and lounging around, feel free to call a little sooner. Get me away from the chicken with bones. I'd appreciate that. I'm excited to talk to you guys.
I'll have one more p-day that I can e-mail you before Christmas so if you think of anything you need to ask me, be sure to ask before next Monday.
SPEAKING OF CHRISTMAS!!! I got all SIX packages that were actually waiting for me last Tuesday--the same day I wrote you saying they would be at zone conference--on transfer day at the Rodoferroviaria. It was amazing. I got a picture of me with all of them stacked up as high as a house. I was so excited, an made absolutely sure not to open them until I was home safe and sound. Which took longer than I expected because Elder Leite had been in the state of Tocantins and was on a 13 hour bus ride back to Brasilia. I said bye to Redd and waited around for another hour or so there at the bus station with Elder Day and Elder Valentine, two guys from my group at the CTM, whom I love. The infamous Valentine was my companion there if you remember those days. I love seeing him. He's been in my zone every transfer of the mission so far, so I always get to see him at zone conferences. We were there at the bus station, talking, having a great time, being a little confused about where our new companions were when one of the AP's (assistant to the presidente) told me and Day to go get in a van. We left Valentine and started walking toward the van, me somehow balancing all six packages, got in and saw a few other missionaries who told us we were going to a place called Asa Norte where we would spend the night and meet our companion's in the morning. We got there, left our stuff in this huge apartment that is also used for missionaries who are going home, to stay the night in before they leave, and then walked down the street to a place called McDonald's. Yes, that's right...McDonald's. It was amazing. I got a Big Mac, fries, a drink and a giant sundae. I spent nearly R$20. The desserts are even better here than in the States. It was all soooo so good. I was SO PHASED!!! It took me straight home. I loved it.
The next day I met up with Elder Leite and got a little scared when I realized I was really only going to be speaking Portuguese for at least the next couple of months. He knows a little English. He's very very grateful for the gifts. You lucked out, Momma! It turns out I do have a poor Brazilian companion who needs gifts for Christmas. I think you probably wanted us to wait until Christmas day to open all the presents, but I'm afraid we couldn't do that. We already opened them all. And I love everything, thank you so so so much. Elder Leite gives his thanks as well. I blew up the Christmas tree (I blew up the Christmas tree??!!) right away and put it in our study room. Thank Sis. Darner for that. I got a picture for you but this computer is not recognizing my camera right now. I'm sorry. Elder Leite has been listening to the book on CD by Henry B. Eyring and reading along with the copy of the book I have to help him learn English. He says it's helping. I've been listening to Our Search for Happiness and I'm loving it. I'm in chapter 4 which talks about the Book of Mormon and it's making me want to start reading that instead of the New Testament. By the way, I finished Luke already and started John. You guys need to catch up!
Ok so you guys have all the information I have about the phone call.
I don't know my belt size but it's whatever goes well with size 33ish dress pants, then go a little lower. I may not even need it--with all that candy you guys sent me I'm gonna be asking for a bigger belt pretty soon.
You won't need to send me gum or socks because I already got plenty in these most recent packages. Lots of love and thanks to Gma & Gpa D for sending the comfy dress socks and pistachios and jelly beans. Elder Leite had never had jelly beans before. Thanks to Gma, Gpa Hoon for their box as well. I loved it. I did not get the package from Jonny and Chelsea. Did they send it yet? Also, why did one of the packages have a wedding invitation from "Jill and Brian" for June 9, 2006? I was confused, but liked it nonetheless. Who are Jill and Brian? Jill Perkinson?
I always feel like I'm forgetting to say things in every e-mail. Am I? Be sure to keep watching basketball and keep me updated. Other sports too. Who won the World Series? I know nothing. Dad, some Portuguese phrases to say when you call Erisvaldo's house this week to make sure everything works...
"Alo" - Hello
"Aqui fala o Pai do Elder Hoon" - This is Elder Hoon's dad
"Descuple, eu nao falo Portugues" - Sorry, I don't speak Portuguese
"So' ligando para saber se est e o numero correto" - Just calling to see if this is the correct number
"Os Suns estao jogando, eu tenho que ir" - The Suns are playing, I have to go
"Tchau" - Bye
I hope you know this is the only thing my Portuguese will be good for after the mission, impressing people by knowing another language. That's it. And helping Dad call people in Brazil that he will need to be calling. I need to learn Spanish