May 16, 2013

Talk with Elder Farr

It was so amazing to see him and talk to him!  He is so happy and looks great!  One of my most favorite parts is when he would talk to his companion – we would all lean closer to the phone or TV and listen with big goofy grins on our faces, while Elder Kyler would rattle off Portuguese!!  So cool!!  As the family that could be here were talking and goofing with him, he laughed and told us that he was worried that everyone would have changed in the last 5 months but that he’s happy that we’re all still the same!  Except for Liam – he has changed a lot, of course, and Kyler could hardly get over how big he’s grown!

Kyler is guaranteed to be in Jatobá until at least May 27th.  Then his comp will probably be transferred and made a zone leader.  Kyler thinks he will stay there for another transfer.  They are dividing the Fortaleza Mission into 3 missions!!  

They buy pizza from a local individual.  They put chopped up hard-boiled eggs on every pizza, along with along with other ‘normal’ toppings.   He said the egg is so good!     There are no fast food places in his area and only 1 Burger King and 1 McDonald's in Fortaleza city center – but it’s very expensive.

Some foods in the market are very inexpensive and some are very expensive.  “American foods” like peanut butter are very expensive but they eat simply for very little money.  Oh, eggs are also very expensive.   In Jatobá, there is no farmland.   There are lots of fruit trees though.  There are 2 football fields, 1 market, 1 gas station and 1 drug store.  Most of the people work in the city; lots of them are bus drivers.   Cars and gas are very expensive – not many people have them but some have motorcycles.  He loves the people there – he says they have nothing but they are so nice and generous and friendly.

The only places that have AC is the Bishop’s office and the market. 

There is a lot of crime and violence.  Guns are not legal but of course all the ‘thugs’ have them.  And a lot of young people have them and use them to steal.  This is why they are not allowed to have a cell phone or car.  It would just get stolen.   Even their second floor apartments have bars in the window to help protect them.  They have never been bothered – Kyler’s too big and his comp is large for a Brazilian.

We got to meet Elder P____, his comp!!   He was very friendly and nice and we are happy to have his face to go with his name now!!

Elder P____ has been in Jatobá for around 5.5 months.  There had been another missionary there as a trainer and after training 1 missionary or 1 transfer (I can’t remember which now), he said he was done and didn’t want to train anymore so Elder P____ was assigned as trainer there.

Their washing machine is still broken so they are still washing clothes by hand – he laughs and says he loves it – it adds to the memories!

They don’t wave there – they give the thumb’s up, which explains why Kyler is always giving us the thumb’s up!!!  Good to know!

Kyler had trouble remembering words, like “backpack”, “wind”, “cheese”….   It was so funny.  He’d stop and be thinking and then laugh!!!  He had to hold up his backpack so we would know what he was trying to tell us!

The language is more formal there.  Instead of saying, “I don’t want to go to church”, they say, “I don’t have the desire to go to church.”  He answered one of my questions with, “more or less” and then laughed and said, “See, that’s what I mean.  I would never say that normally but that’s how they talk here.”

Only him and 1 other missionary he went out there with have native companions.  He said he used to be a little jealous because they could talk and easily communicate with their comps and he has had to really struggle.  But when they get all together at zone conferences and such, those elders can’t talk Portuguese as well as him and the other elder with the native comps.  The native Elders and people on the street will say, “What’s wrong with them?  Why can’t they speak very well?”  And Kyler said that this shows him how very lucky he is and he’s very grateful, even though it has been hard.

Shannon asked if President S____ spoke any English.  Kyler said just enough to do worthiness interviews but in the first interview Pres asked him if he was taking drugs?  Kyler was surprised and said, “NO!”  Then President said, “drugs….for health”  And Kyler smiled and said, “Oh, yeah.. medication” and President said, “Yes… medication!”

In the MTC Elder Holland told them that if they can’t speak their native language at the end of their mission, that’s wrong – they didn’t do their mission right!!  Kyler was so flabbergasted and didn’t understand because we always thought that was a sign that they completely immersed themselves in their mission, and that’s good!!  Elder Holland went on to explain that their native companion needs to learn English as much as they need to learn Portuguese ( or whatever language) !!   They should be teaching their companions English while their companion teaches them their language!    Hmm.. never thought of it that way but it makes perfect sense.

So in regards to that – Kyler has taught Elder P____ a little English!   The best story is about ants!  The Portuguese word for ant is difficult to learn and hard to remember for him.  So Kyler taught him the word ant.  They will speak Portuguese before and after the word ant but say ‘ant’ in English!!!

They had 6 or 8 (I can’t remember) investigators at church last Sunday.  They are having a war (contest) with the other areas and they’re in a very hard area but he says they are working so hard and having some success!

(Shannon had asked him some questions about his time in CA)  In California one of his comps was “Peter Priesthood” and the other was a really big slacker.  It was a very difficult situation.  He struggled in that area to really feel the Spirit and wondered why, because he was doing all he could.  Then it was revealed that the slacker was breaking some mission rules  - no, not rules… they call them guidelines!!  And that’s why the Spirit wasn’t with them always and as strong as he expected.

The houses in Jatobá are made of the red brick we saw behind Kyler in the picture he recently sent and have a wood ceiling and clay roof.  There is nothing in the rafters and it’s open on the sides so that the wind can blow through to help keep the houses cool.  It works, but it also lets in bats, mosquitoes and huge flying cockroaches!!!  He said the mosquitoes are HUGE, like the size of a mosquito eater here!  And they hurt when they bite.  He has lots of red bumps all over his arms.   Elder P____ says they like his sweet American blood!  They also have tons of ants everywhere all the time… little black one and huge red ones!   They clean the floor with bleach and that keeps the bug population down some.  But he says that he accepts the bugs and bats because it does make a big difference in the temperature of the house!!

There are huge tarantulas all over the street.  He says the biggest ones here are the size of the baby ones there.  He has never seen one as big as his head yet but that they are commonly that big.  The tarantulas will lie on their backs with their legs up and when something touches their leg, they attack it and eat it!  So Kyler touched one with his shoe and it latched on, attacking his shoe and wouldn’t let go.  He had to kick pretty hard to get it off!!

He’s happy, healthy, loves his mission and the people.  He says it’s the best decision he’s ever made!