Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 13

2012_10_22 Family Letter

  Dear Family,

 I am doing well and hope that you are always doing fantastically! The weather has been good and generally quite warm. The cold spell that we had at the beginning of my being here seems to have gone away. Also, it hasn't rained in over a week, which is nice as well.
This last week was good because we finally had lessons with members present, which was a pleasant change.

Nevertheless, we had 15 new investigators this last week, which means that 15 people listened to our lessons and were willing to commit to one further lesson. Unfortunately, none of our investigators made it to our ward conference on Sunday, which would have been quite a treat and would have sky-rocketed the numbers of Biguacu.
We tarry on.
One of my concerns is that we don't do our work particularly effectively. We get a contact in one street and generally manage to follow up in teaching a lesson, but a somewhat eclectic method of choosen houses resolves in investigators being spread out all over the city of Biguacu. What I didn't realize is that our area extends way beyond what I had thought, but that the farthest parts can only be reached through bus, making it much more of an investment to get out there.
My blisters are starting to do better finally, which is good as I hope that we might be able to start running some days, which would be good because the only time that we've had to run has been when we've been bad at keeping time (ie during a lesson) and need to get back to the apartment at night.
One big change is that we just "fell forward" with the time change, as everything here is the opposite of the North. However, our mission is changing its schedule so that instead of getting up at 6:30 and sleeping at 22:30, everything in the schedule goes forward to 7:30 and 23:30, as well as everything in between. That will be interesting. But perhaps a good change as it might mean that the members can help us more during the evening so that we can fellowship our investigators.
We had a second lesson with one of the investigators, a fellow named Anderson. (I've noticed that a lot of people have American names or American-sounding names such as Annelly)
He's a really nice fellow who wants to know a certain path to follow. When we met, he had already read a good portion of the BoM.
Anyhow, I'm liking the work more and trying hard to be grateful. I generally remind myself that the people are a lot friendlier than Phil's were. After all, the mission is kind of funny.
Between all my inconsistency, I'm trying hard to like everything I do and love life by keeping more scripture cards ready and at hand. The language is coming but I need to learn more vocabulary and study more consistently.

 I love you all and will try to write some letters to you today.


Elder Luschin


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Week 11 2012_10_08

Dear Family,
As I write this, a beautiful day here in Biguaçu is drawing to its half-way point. Furthermore, the realization that once something has been established in a pattern, things go that much quickly and the mission is just going to take off in flight. In other words, there are only two more months left in this year and I will have finished the first big part of my mission. So things go.
As to questions:
I was able to see General Conference, but unfortunatel,y the ward that we went to (20 minutes by bus in a place called Casa das Acassias) did not have in English and that was that.
It appears that I am able to print emails here at this internet cafe, but I still need to check the rates.
I received Mom´s small packet with the emergency rain coat, but not the birthday greetings.
I am happier about being here. It is a nice area with some nice members. I had one occasion where, when praying at a less-active member´s home, consisting of the divorced mother, a grandmother and 5-year old son, I had no idea what to pray for as all of the things that one normally can give thanks for did not exist in that person´s home.
I hope that as I go along, I will increase in my love for the people here.
Contacting goes as such:
Houses are generally fenced or walled in, which means that you´re anywhere from 5 to 30 meters away from a house. You clap your hands 5 times signifying that you´re there (unless they have a door bell, which is about 1/30 houses.) then wait as multitudes of dogs come running from somewhere and bark at you. Then, the proprietor of the house might lean out of the window or come out of some back entrance to talk to you. Most people are busy or are not interested due to being catholic, but we were able to teach 2 lessons this last week just from people receiving us into their homes. I am trying hard not to feel like I´m not working hard, but I do feel like my companion and I could work a lot harder than we have been.
I´m wondering if one of the only resources we have is to really talk to every single person. We rarely get to return to somebody´s home, and I do think we have way too much downtime walking to and from in our area, which is quite a big area for the mission, apparently.
This last week I got blisters on both of my feet and they´ve just starting healing up now. I believe they were caused by one of the pairs of comfort socks that I have with me. Some of them work really well but others, not so much. Additionally, the slip-on shoes that Phil gave me are ever so slightly too big.
I´m starting to feel more comfortable in the language and in the circumstances here. I think I´ve figured out how to live somewhat healthily between tomatoes and carrots and apples bought from the store. For breakfast I generally just eat a ham and cheese sandwich. Lunch is with a member, which hasn´t been particularly consistent in who gives the lunches. But one thing is apparent: that the Brazilians love their carbs. Most meals lack vegetables (but might have a salad) and feature 3 to 4 different types of carbs. Dinner is non-existent, but I want to change that to not have such an unbalanced day by eating smaller snacks such as bananas throughout the afternoon.
My companion is nice. His teaching style is so very different from mine and he keeps on cutting me off in teaching. However, I was glad to discover that what I thought was contempt for me or regarding me as stupid is actually a cultural thing. I have been apparently coming across as rude due to my  straight-forwardness and directness. Where I thought that my companion was treating me as stupid by adding a inquisitive/confirmative "Ne?" or an "OK?" at the end of every phrase wasn´t to indicate that I´m slow or anything; rather, it exists to be less direct and more vague.
Oh cultures. I hope to increase in love and patience.
Contacting is fine and it really doesn´t bother me anymore due to the strangeness of it all, as Christoph pointed out. In reality, what we´re doing is so unusual that I find that I just need to work on avoiding using the same words over and over again and instead have sincerity. Lessons are good but I think I need help with doling out even portions of the lessons.
I try to memorize scriptures or hymns while we walk. My studying hasn´t been as effective as it was in the MTC.
Seeing that my time is almost up and my release to the world is thus fading away, I wish you all the best, my dear friends across the seas.
Love, Elder Luschin

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 10

Dear Family,
I am excited to finally be out here in the field, even though I have not too much idea of what to do except to bring people unto Christ. It's rather shocking that we're goingto be having General Conference this weekend. Last conference, which was a special one to me, seems like it only occurred yesterday. I am, however, particularly excited at the fact and am looking forward to being able to participate in listening to the words of our beloved Prophet. Right now I am copying and backing up my pictures for the first time, as it also is the first time that I'm able to do so.  Miscellaneous information:
P-day, as you may have noted, is on Monday and will always be such. It lasts from the morning until 6:00 PM.
Letters: Unless a specific occasion occurs, I will get letters whenever we go to the mission office to have zone conferences or interviews with the President. This is about every 6 weeks. This is because we can only be sent letters to the Mission Office, the address of which you already have as was apparent when I arrived in Fl. and found a letter from Arnold and Astrid. Thanks! It can happen that with APs traveling or DLs that the letters might be able to get out to me earlier than that, and this, apparently, typically happens. Nonetheless, a letter sent to me will probably take a minimum of 3 1/2 weeks to have an answer, and up to a maximum or even more of 9 1/2 weeks. That is to say that mail will not be the fastest means of communicating with me.
 I feel that I'm pretty good at staying focused and thus I am trying to memorize a good number of scriptures and hymns to keep me focused and happy. I just memorized number 14 in the hymnbook, which deals with Revelation 14:6-7. Pretty amazing scripture.
I'm now in the area of Biguaçu, which is an area about 30 minutes by car to the NW of Fl. The area is right along the coast. Most of the area by the coast is pretty flat, and pretty much all of the area can be reached by foot in an hour and a half from our centralized location 10 minutes from the down-town. The city is mostly urban with a few residential blocks that are gated off.
This means the work that my companion, Elder Fraga and I generally walk around all day trying to find people in houses to teach. Most of the people are not on the streets. In going around the last few days we have only been invited in to teach a lesson or return 6 times, with only one lesson being taught right from the onset. This was to a young man last night right before retiring to the apartment at 19:00 for our weekly planning. He said that he had been looking for a path to choose in his life. We taught him the first lesson, which was pretty exciting. I hope that something may occur.
The ward is really nice but has about 35-40 active members. Our goal as a companionship is to work with the members to get referrals and the fortalecer, or strengthen the ward.
The language is coming along and I find that depending on context, I can understand around 85% of what people say. Elder Fraga, from Bahia is a great companion, but doesn't really speak any English.
Off to go shopping, my love stays with you.
Elder Luschin