Well this last day at the MTC was a big long orientation for the field which meant everything we've learned here in the past 6 weeks in really fast Portuguese. Then we spent the night packing and what not, got up at 4:30 in the morning, got on a bus and headed for the Campinas Airport. The airports here are different, you don't go through security until like 10 mins before your flight and so Elder Sargent and I were kind of stressed out but it turns out security is next to nothing, put your bag on the belt and walk through, that's it- super easy. So we had one flight to Porto Alegre about 3 hrs, waited for about an hour til we had our flight to Santa Maria which was about an hour on this smaller plane. We arrived at this tiny rinkey dink airport, like super small, one building with a concrete strip.
Anyway, the Parrelas where there and so we all got to meet them (there were 9 missionaries going to Santa Maria including me). Then we dropped off our bags at a hotel and went to the president's penthouse apartment in the city. It was super nice, and we had dinner where Sister Parrela went on about how any food that isn't natural will make you sick and we aren't allowed to drink milk or soda or eat pizza or a ton of things like that and I am excited for this opportunity to exercise obedience, haha. But they are really nice and it came out that I studied music at BYU so I sang a hymn for everyone and Pres. Parrela said if we had an apostle visit he would get me to sing at the meeting haha.
So next day we get our companions! My companion is Elder Fávero. He is from Brasilia (the capital) and he's got about 9 months on the mission and I am his first trainee. My area is here in the city of Santa Maria- if you look at a map the center southern most part, I think. We are in the Urlândia ward. Interesting though, something happened either with the past missionaries or in the ward itself, but the work in the ward is going really slow so Pres Parrela said that if we loved the members we would see miracles. But after these next two transfers if we still aren't happy and things aren't progressing, he will close the area, no pressure.
So our area is really big and we walk a lot! It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the chapel from our house and then about another 45 minutes to walk to the farthest part of our area, which we did this past Sunday for lunch. Then we walked all the way back. If you want to prepare for a mission, go walk in your suit and Sunday shoes for a couple miles on gravel and cobble stone streets... haha... I expect calves of glory! Also, after the first day of walking I started using my wool socks like hiking socks and that solved the blister problem. Thank goodness I've got those so i wear like 3 pairs of socks, wool then black over top so it's appropriate, haha It's hot but it's worth it! So we share our apartment (which is decent compared to the others I've heard about) with 2 other elders Elder McCutheon from Utah and Elder P Santos another new missionary with me from Sao Paulo.
Ummm so yea, I've been walking around trying to teach lessons in Portuguese, which is actually going pretty well. Everyone here is surprised to find out this is my first area because I don't sound like it from my Portuguese, which is really nice to hear, haha, Oh yeah, and really cool- we have some deaf members in our ward so we are authorized to teach in Brazilian sign language, crazy right! I already know the alphabet and a couple gospel words... cool cool cool. There are definitely cultural differences between me and my companion, mostly in timing like 20 minutes late for study or I want to be out and doing stuff but he is still putting on his tie or shoes or talking with a member for a little too long or getting back to the apartment 15 minutes late. No contention or anything but it's a goal for us now to be more punctual and using our time wisely, haha.
I love you all so much, thank you for all of the prayers! Things will get better here, with time, and as I continue to adjust to the schedule of crazy missionary life.
**Check out the next blog post for the first batch of pics from Elder Pierce!