Letter #32

Dear Family and Friends,

My new companion is Elder Thyslom Santos. He´s from Aracaju, Sergipe, which puts three out of four companions here, from the northeast. He´s 23, been out for a little more than a year, and left a fiance. He joined the church when he was 13, and is still the only member in his family. Judging by this first week, he´s the hardest working companion I’ve had, and I´m happy for that.

Something I’ve been learning to do, and something Uncle Zach wrote a while back, that it’s important to recognize the sacrifices people make to go on a mission. This attitude has been helping me learn to love despite imperfections. He´s made a lot. And is serving diligently. His motto is `Continui a Nadar` or in English, ‘Keep on Swimming.’

And on the subject of the sea, I’ve eaten lots of fish here, but this week, we ate torta de capixaba. It’s the most famous dish of the entire state of Espirito Santo. Basically like a baked fish casserole, it has a bunch of different types of seafood mixed together, also including shrimp, with onions and olives. It’s super-duper expensive, but really delicious.

This week for Easter, the members have been way generous, giving chocolate eggs, acai, and even fried chicken.

This week, I thought I´d share three `portraits’ of the week.

(1) With my new companion, we visited a dentist on Wednesday. You know I hate, I hate, I hate visiting the dentist. But my companion had a problem with his teeth (completely different than mine for the record) so we decided to go. It was not anything like `civil war medicine,’ nevertheless, it was different. Think dimly lit room, no assistants just a receptionist and a lone dentist. We asked a couple people about which dentist is the best, but there was no clear analysis. When in doubt, (and the real is 1/4 of the dollar) choose the most expensive. So we did.

I’ve never really had a problem with the teeth before, and yet the dentist always brings pain. So I went in showing my teeth, but it wasn’t because I was smiling. But, this anonymous angel performed a quick examination and gave me some instructions. Basically, as often happens, three months ago I noticed a little problem. And I go into DEFCON 4. He told me I´m brushing way to hard, and shouldn’t use Listerine with alcohol. I have gingivitis, and have been exacerbating it exceedingly pushing the disease up with my brushing. So, he gave me a couple things to do, and I´ll be checking back up with him on Wednesday. Already, it feels so much better. Lesson: It’s important to talk with the doctor, not just have a herb garden.

(2)  A while back, I mentioned that a person in the street, Ricardo, stopped us and asked for a Book of Mormon. We delivered it, and taught one of the most interesting lessons of my mission. He´s about 40, and if there is a `Brazilian hippie,’ he´s it. Man bun. Fashionable there, unheard of here. He´s currently unemployed and living off his parents inheritance. His mother was Catholic, his father atheist. He was baptized Catholic but followed his father´s example for many years until a couple things happened, and he became Christian, without associating with any denomination.

There´s a mountain near us, Mestre Alvaro, so beautiful. Luscious green grass and trees mingled with stunning rock faces. It really is the prettiest mountain I’ve ever seen. The green in Brasil, is different, more alive and vibrant than the green in the States. Well, this new convert to Christianity hiked up Mestre Alvaro one day, alone, crazy considering all the robbers who hide there. But he made it to the top, next to a small pond, and as he described it, “I felt a strange sensation, something calling me, so I stripped naked, shouted my name and jumped into the pond. Yes, I was baptized as an infant, but this was my real baptism.” Really friendly person, and he´s faithfully reading the Book of Mormon, and believes it, but just can´t get him to visit the church. And he´s the first person I’ve met who´s baptized himself.

(3) Saturday morning, a hummingbird flew into our apartment. Its called a `beija-flor` in Portuguese. Or a flower kisser. It flew around the house moving like a melody looking for spiders to eat. Truly beautiful. A lustrous green and blue, outlined with a black beak. It was one of those moments where time seemed to stand still, me, being captivated, the wings humming. The colors of the bird being in stark contrast to the staid concrete. Jesus Christ taught, “Be a light to the world.” And like the hummingbird, we should be different, bringing joy. Having color in our lives. Eventually it left, but the flower kisser will forever flit and flutter in my memory. Fly free forever.

I´m excited for General Conference this week. For a chance to hear inspired words from living prophets. Make sure to mark it as a priority.

Love,

Elder Schenewark

Nice and tidy.

Leave a Reply