Boas Festas!

Hello again!

Not too much exciting news, since I just talked to you yesterday. Which was awesome, by the way. I’m glad skype worked so well. I was a little worried because the hour before that the internet was having a few problems… but worked well for us! Actually ironically the internet crashed just as Elder Bispo was saying goodbye to his family, so I guess we had pretty good timing. It was so great to see all of you! Looked like everyone was doing well. And maybe it was a good thing Eric and Craig were sitting down; I couldn’t compare heights.

So more about the wedding and the baptism of Paulo, Sonia, and Nazaré – that was really really awesome. We went into Belém Wednesday to sign more papers (I got to be a witness), then Thursday night was the wedding and baptism. The ward was really supportive. There were over 60 people that showed up. The wedding went really smoothly, and then before everyone ate (and left) we brought everyone to the font to watch the baptism too. I baptized Nazaré, which was really interesting since she’s scared of water. She actually should’ve been baptized earlier with her brothers, but she wouldn’t enter the water. But luckily she trusted me enough that everything went more or less smoothly. We confirmed them on Christmas in church, and now their whole family seems really happy! Sonia is already starting to get them prepared to go to the temple.

Hmmm so yeah not sure what I have more to say! Christmas Conference was great. I didn’t mind at all the spiritual part instead of the sports part. Knowing my luck with playing sports (other than running), probably would’ve hurt myself. Sent a couple pictures from there. The first is Sister Robinson and me with Elder Miranda, who we met in the CTM our first 3 weeks. He’s super, super nice, and knew a pretty good amount of English, so he quickly became our best friend. I hope I’ll get to work with him sometime down the line! Also, Elder Bispo decided to pick up a snake that someone brought, not exactly sure where it came from. Kinda random and exciting! We ate a ton at the conference, of course, but that didn’t even begin to compare with yesterday and Saturday night. Everyone prepared a feast, and then wanted to share that feast with us. Which was super nice of them! Dad mentioned that missionaries are always hungry, which is generally true. But let me say, last night I didn’t even want to look at food anymore. And I’m still not hungry now, haha. And we get to do this all over again with New Years Eve too! Not going to be sleeping that night, I’ve been told. Everyone for some reason has an absurd amount of fireworks in their house.

Well Feliz Ano Novo, until next week! Love you all, thanks for everything!

Sincerely,
Elder Maughan

P.s. oh yeah to answer you’re question, nearest temple is Recife, which is 30 hours by bus from what I hear. Let’s get one a bit closer!

Christmas Skype!

It was so exciting to be able to Skype with Scott on Christmas Day! Here’s a small video excerpt of our call with him. (Click on the photo below to watch the video.) A big ‘Thank You!’ to Paulo and Sonia and their family (especially son, Paulo, who set up the Skype call for Scott). We really enjoyed getting to meet them, as well as Scott’s missionary companion, Elder Bispo.

A snippet of Scott's Christmas Skype call - December 25, 2011.

Natal na Amazona! [Christmas in the Amazon!]

Feliz Natal!

Although I’ll be able to say that in person soon too! And you’ll even be able to see me, because we get to use Skype! The family of Paulo and Sonia (the couple getting married Thursday) has internet, so we’re setting that up. Hopefully I’ll be able to translate if they want to talk to you, haha. Also, the 17 year old son knows some English; I told him he’ll have to practice with you. Oh and to answer your question, their two sons are already baptized, so Thursday should just be the parents and the 9 year old daughter. Of course Elder Bispo and I still have to finish planning the wedding… an interesting task on our to-do list I’d say.

I’ll let you know when I get the Christmas card! I sent another letter home this week, so if the second gets to you before the first then we know there’s a problem. The first had letters to Jared and Otis, I sure hope they get there! Otis’s status made me laugh [we sent him a screen shot of your Eggnog Challenge post on FB, Otis!] – man I miss him. Also, Coach Button’s letter never got here… but I think I’ll write him next time I have time on P-day. Oh and I haven’t gotten the other Christmas package yet… hopefully tomorrow! We put up the rest of the Christmas decorations today, getting in the Christmas spirit! Actually I lied – it’s super hard to get in the Christmas spirit when it’s 90+ outside. But with the new Christmas music I’ll try my best!

So Sunday was the Primary Program, which everyone in the ward made a really big deal about, inviting tons of people. And of course we invited tons of people as well! And it all paid off – 240 people showed up! We generally have 150 or so in our sacrament meetings. We technically had 22 investigators there (sorry Melissa, kinda beats your record). The program went really well though, so hopefully everyone wil be coming back again. Although if that’s the case the church is going to have to buy some more chairs, because those were seriously lacking in the rest of the meetings yesterday.

Also, we’ve been working a lot recently with members who are reactivating, which is a really next experience. There are two couples specifically that we are teaching where the wife has been a faithful member for a while, and the husband is just now coming back to church. It’s really neat because they are always talking about what they can do to qualify to go to the temple, because they want to be an eternal family! That’s one reason all the missionaries in Belém are working hard and have high expectations; we want to bring a temple and all those amazing blessings to all the amazing members here in Belém. But we only have one more General Conference before Presidente Campos is released… and he’s making sure we know that! In running terms, I’d say he’s kicking it in pretty hard.

So Elder Bispo is from São Paulo, and he’s the oldest of 3 kids who live with their mom. The 4 of them were baptized 7 years ago, but he’s the only active one in his family. Although just recently his family started to go back to church! Which I can tell is really exciting for him, although he doesn’t mention it too much. It’s great to see how his mission is blessing his family! He’s 21 years old and worked for two years before coming on the mission. He’s been here in Paar for more than 5 months now, which means that neither of us have been anywhere but here on our mission. He’ll make 4 transfers here, and the people here will be very sad if he leaves in January!

Wow long ranting letter? Sorry! Pictures – the first one is of people just waiting for the bus outside the church (kinda random) and the second is a mamão [papaya] tree so full of mamão that Elder Bispo told me I had to take a picture, he’s never seen one so full. So I did! Well have a fantastic week and a very Merry Christmas! Love you all!

Com amor,
Élder Scott Maughan

See Mom, I Take Pictures!

Olá família!

Sorry you only get one letter from a missionary this week! I’m super jealous everyone gets to see Melissa. I absolutely love the pictures though! Melissa looks great. Hopefully I’ll have time to write her back today, but I took the time to read everyone’s emails, which is always totally worth it by the way – I love reading your letters! Also, the internet isn’t working right now so I’m typing this in Notepad, where there is no limit to how far horizontal a line can go. Or in other words, this whole paragraph is one giant line and I can’t read anything I’ve written.

Well hopefully I’ll get to see Melissa in a couple weeks too! The past year missionaries have been able to use Skype, but we haven’t heard if that’s going to be allowed this year. If it is allowed, we already have a family who’s willing to let us use their computer (not too many families here have internet or a computer). It’s actually the family that is getting married and baptized the 22nd of this month! Hopefully you’ll get to see them too – I’ll try to translate. Or Eric might actually be able to translate better than me, if he can understand the Paraense accent.

So part of the mission is getting to do service projects, which are always great. We’ve helped a couple families move, and this past week we got to do some landscaping. From what it seemed like, we were taking a 5 foot dirt cliff and moving it back. I actually have no clue what we were doing or why, because it turns out my landscaping/construction vocabulary isn’t that great. But either way it was really fun, despite that fact that it started pouring basically as soon as we started. Got some good exercise, shoveling mud! But he seemed really happy for the help, and we of course were very happy to help. I’m sending a picture, although the picture was taken after the storm had passed, so you’ll have to imagine the pouring rain when you see it.

Also sending a picture of lunch on Saturday! So you can get a view of my typical lunch. That’s rice and black beans (of course) and spaghetti, lettuce, onions, carrots, some mysterious fatty meat that was mixed with the beans, chicken, farinha, and a side dish of crab (which I opted to not mix with the rest). Actually the crab isn’t as typical, but the rest is seriously more or less what I have for every lunch. And I love it! Remember when I was younger and I didn’t like it when one of my foods touched any other of my foods? Yeah, not anymore.

Well can’t wait to talk to all of you! Next week I’ll let you know the details. Love you all, everyone give Melissa hugs for me!

Love,
Elder Scott Maughan

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Óla família!

So looks like I won’t be asking any questions in this email, because I’m using an English keyboard that’s configured to Português keys, which apparently means there’s no question mark.

But if I was able to ask a question, I would ask if you’re super excited to have Melissa coming home! I’m really glad I went to go see her too; I think that worked out perfectly. I actually still have the video from that and all the pictures with me on my camera still, which is really nice sometimes! I’ve actually used that a couple times now to show people my sister, and to show people Kirtland. It’s been helpful. And also, thanks to that trip, I can say now that I once drove 7 hours on 3 hours of sleep and with the flu.

So lately in the mission there’s been a huge push to find and teach and baptize families. So we’ve been working on that, and we’ve been teaching some great families that have been introduced to us by people in the ward. Unfortunately, all of them have to get married… the reason our number of investigators at church is always relatively high is because there are a bunch of families that are basically super active members, minus the fact that aren’t baptized. One big problem is that it’s hard to get married, and even harder to get a divorce usually. So we work with trying to figure that out pretty often. We will have one wedding and baptism later this month, that will be really exciting! Also having to do with families, we like to hold family home evenings on Monday nights! That’s been really neat and really fun (and another way to some more food too).

So you are right – Ananindeua is huge. So huge that I didn’t realize it was a city. I thought it was a county sort of thing, and that the cities or towns I’m in were Paar and Curçamba, but it turns out those are just burroughs. Well they are huge burroughs apparently! It takes about 40 minutes of speed walking (Elder Bispo likes to walk fast) to get from one side to the other. But to answer your question, there are way more missionaries than just us here. In fact I think there’s more than one stake in Ananindeua. But my new district leader is also American, and there are two other Americans in my zone. One just arrived from Provo actually, so I’m no longer the newest in the zone! I met Elder Glenn last week and told him my mom talks to his mom, and he just laughed. I’ll start asking more Americans if their moms are part of the ‘club’ too.

Sorry, I can’t really think of anything too exciting to say! Eric asked if I was gaining weight, and the answer is probably yes, but I don’t know for sure since I haven’t touched a scale since the 3rd week in the CTM. It’s kinda the same thing with thermometers and the temperature — I’m going with the don’t ask don’t tell policy. But I don’t think I’m gaining too much weight! I’ll attach a picture of what keeps me at least a little more in shape. Oh and I have a picture of where I teach English also! I usually do that once a week; it’s pretty fun and funny. Yesterday I spent a half hour with one of the guys in the ward trying to teach him how to make the “th” sound. I never realized how hard English was, or how much it lacks consistency in its rules. Sorry, people trying to learn English!

Well I hope everyone has a fantastic semana, até mais!
Com amor,
Élder Scott Maughan