Ring Out, Wild Bells

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Hope everyone has had a fantastic year. I remember when this year started, and I thought to myself, “Well here goes my one complete year on the mission.” It’s crazy that it already ended! But it’s been a great year here. Lots of work and definitely a roller coaster of feelings, but definitely feel like I’ve learned and grown this past year! I don’t know how much I’ve changed… one of my companions here told me that you are always the last person to see your own changes, so I guess I’m not a very good judge of that.

It was so great to see you and speak to you on Tuesday! Sorry about the technical difficulties, maybe Mother’s Day we’ll have to just talk on the phone, to get more conversation in. Christmas here was great, as I mentioned. We spent 2 days more or less just eating, which was kinda awesome. The members treated us very well. Here in this ward there are a good number of missionaries returned, so they know what it’s like to be on the mission during Natal, so they weren’t about to let us suffer. My goal is to be that kind of returned missionary one day.

After 2 busy and crazy days of Christmas, we were able to get back into the routine of things rather quickly. We all decided that speaking to our family on Christmas all makes us want to be better missionaries, so we sure worked pretty hard this week. And it paid off! We were able to bring some investigators to church yesterday, and the members gave them a very very warm welcome! All of them told us that they loved the visit, and that they are going to try to bring the rest of their families next week. The members sure play a huge part on the conversion process. I’m glad that the members here recognize that and play their part well. It sure makes things easier for us. Now we just have to make sure that we keep integrating the members with our investigators in our lessons also.

Let me think of something else exciting or different this week… oh I saw a monkey! I thought it was cat in the tree the first time I glanced, but then I did a double take when I realized that cats don’t jump from tree to tree. That was pretty cool! I don’t think I’ve seen an uncaged monkey here before, so that’s a first.

Well have a wonderful New Year, and a great first week of the year. Love you all so much, thanks for everything you do for me. Until next year!
Sincerely,
Elder Maughan

P.S. I’m sure Eric was devastated when he realized that “Ring Out, Wild Bells” isn’t in the Portuguese hymnbook. Poor guy!

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Yay for Skype!

Brazil-Santarem-1The very best Christmas present for a missionary family is hearing from their missionary! We definitely had our share of technical problems today, but it was still great to be able to hear and see Scott. Dad, Mom, Melissa, and Craig were on the computer in New York (with guest appearances by a few extended family members like cousin Janet and uncle Bruce) and Eric, Noelle, and James P were on the computer in Utah. Quite the group!

Scott sounds like he’s doing really well and is happy to be serving in Santarém. He told us about a wonderful baptism in the ward, and a little more about what he’s been doing lately. It was great to see him speak with the other missionaries there, lapse into Portuguese LOTS of times!, and give us that Scott smile! We sure do love our missionary!
Brazil-Santarem-2Brazil-Santarem-6

Christmas = new exotic foods!

Brazil-SantaremDearest Family!

Happy Christmas Eve/First Day of Christmas! I don’t remember if I explained this to everyone last week, but all the parties and celebrations are on the 24th of Dezember at night, so this is going to be a great day! Tonight we’ll be teaching special Christmas message to a member’s neighbor, then we’ll have to find a way to pass by all the houses of all the members who want us to come eat their food tonight. Yes, it’s a tough life. I’m expecting to gain a few kilos by the time this holiday season wraps up, but that’s okay!

Glad to hear everyone had a nice week. I loved the picture of the Eagle Court of Honor, that’s awesome! Wow I hadn’t realized that all of us grandsons are Eagle Scouts, yes that’s way impressive for Grandpa! I’d have to say that being an Eagle Scout has helped a lot on the mission (and not just because I make a lot of square knots). I feel like it really helped me to gain many new experiences, make and reach goals, develop leadership skills, and learn to talk to people and deal with them. So parabéns, Craig and Dave!

This week went well for us also! Lots of Christmas festivities going on in the ward here. Saturday night was the ward party, lots of members brought friends! The Primary put on a presentation, and just before the start of the activity the Primary presidente asked if I could play “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” for them… so I learned how to play that song in 15 minutes! I never would’ve been able to do that before the mission. So that’s one more blessing I’ve received on the mission: learning piano music more quickly!

Anything else exciting this week… oh yeah, guess when I ate yesterday! Grilled armadillo. Haha that was awesome. If only I had my camera. This past week I also tried out a typical dish from this region, made from a venomous plant that you have to cook for a week or it will kill you. But I haven’t died yet, and it way actually pretty tasty!

Well, I’m super excited to talk to you tomorrow! I’ll be sure to make a list of exciting things and other experiences to tell you about. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and a very Merry Christmas! Love you all so much, take care!

Com amor,
Élder Scott Maughan

Photos from last week’s zone conference, thanks to Sister Grimnes:
Santarem zone conference

Scott enjoying zone conference

Gooooooooooooal!

Dearest family,

It’s almost Christmas! I hope all of you are excited as well! Our house is all decorated, we have plenty of music bringing the Christmas spirit, we have sooo many sweets (thanks Grandpa and Grandma Watson!), and the presents are under the tree. Elder Paiva is extremely interested to know what he got. Speaking of which, I tried once again to send a photo of us, but I can’t ever seem to get this internet to upload the photo… sorry!

So to explain why I’m writing you on Tuesday… yesterday was our zone Christmas conference! That was really awesome. So let me clear up mom’s zone/district question first. There are 2 districts in the Zone Santarém. The first is the Oriximiná/Óbidos district, and the other in the Santarém district, which has 5 companionships (including the zone leaders). So yesterday the 14 of us got together with Presidente e Sister Scisci also for our big Christmas party. Before lunch we played volleyball, basketball, and soccer. Oh get this: I made a goal! Haha it was pretty sweet, not gonna lie. Even all the Brazilians complimented me on it. Now I can cross “score a goal playing soccer with Brazilians” off my bucket list. After all that playing and running, we’re pretty exhausted and sore today… I had totally forgotten how that feeling is, it was a nice reminder.

After playing we had a huge lunch at a nice BBQ restaurant, which is just like Tucano’s in Provo except that it REALLY Brazilian. The meat (and roasted pineapple) was sooo good. After, we watched Ice Age 4 (I didn’t even know there was a 3rd…), opened secret santa presents, played card games, and played the piano and guitar until finally returning home late at night. It was a really nice break! At the end, President Scisci gave a nice, short, motivating “let’s get back to work” talk, so now we’re pretty rested (more mentally than physically) and excited to start this week and finish off the year on a high note.

So here’s a fun cultural difference. Here, when someone speaks about Christmas, they mean MIDNIGHT between the 24th and 25th. Everyone celebrates at midnight with fireworks, and the giving of presents, and all of that. All the Christmas parties are on the 24th at night. So technically our plans for “Christmas” are to just sleep and wake up when people start to light fireworks. But we already have a few invites from the members to come over on the 24th at night. So that should be a fun night! Not sure if the Presidente Scisci will let us stay out a little longer or no, we’ll see.

Well, thanks for all the letters and the love, I really appreciate it! I hope everyone is having a wonderful and happy Christmastime. Until next week, take care!

Com amor,
Elder Scott Maughan

Going Bananas for Bananas

Querida família, Thanks for the emails! I appreciate everyone taking the time to write, even when I know all of you have pretty busy lives. But glad to hear that everyone is doing well (especially Melissa and her exciting news!) and that Mom has managed to put up a few of the Christmas decorations also!

My second week here in Santarém went well also! We are getting less lost in our area (we should probably get a map…) and we’ve been getting the know the members much better also. It stopped raining and started toasting us again, but that’s okay! Other random things that happened this week: Elder Paiva taught me to solve a Rubik’s cube, a lady from the ward made me eat half of a giant chocolate cake (after I said that I really liked it, so I didn’t complain!), I was rudely reminded that I have to watch out for the bus when there are big puddles of water in the road (oops), and I bought 15 bananas for R$1. So far so good!

This week was also stake conference, which was awesome. It was actually a multistake satelite transmission from the conference center, the speakers were sooo good! Elder Ballard was presiding and gave a great talk, but the Seventies also gave wonderful talks. One was Elder Ardaikis (or something like that, I don’t have my notes) who spoke directly to the youth about what they need to do to have a successful and joyful life in the future, especially obedience, education, a mission, and tithing. But he also spoke about how it’s never to late to start planting these seeds to be able to gather the fruits later in life. It was a really spiritual conference, and a few of our investigators were able to attend, which made it even greater.

Well, have a wonderful day and a great week! Thanks for the letters, emails, music, packages, decorations, and candy. It’s making for a wonderful holiday season so far. Hope this holiday season is just as merry for all of you! Love you all, take care. Until next week!
Love,
Elder Scott Maughan

Whoa this is a long one…

Happy first week of Dezembro! Are you guys in the Christmas spirit? Will Mom and Dad put will the Christmas tree tonight alone? I’m just about in the Christmas spirit… the Christmas music sure helps! And if I pretend that the rain is snow, that helps too! Expect we’d definitely have 3 or 4 feet of snow by now. People told me that it almost never rains in SANTArém (haha thanks Craig), but looks like we’re making it rain here… haven’t seen the sun in days, it’s strange.

So to start to answer Mom’s questions, I’m loving it here in Santarém! First off, yes it’s awesome being able to see other missionaries again, haha. In my district we have Elder Paiva and me, and then 3 companionships of Americans being trained (yes, including Sister Grimnes still, and 2 more that just arrived this week). So we’ve got a pretty fun district! Elder Paiva is super cool, he’s from São Paulo, he’s been out 8 months, likes sports, speaks English (even did a foreign exchange trip to Utah), and his dad is the owner of Mr. Cheney’s Cookies in front of the CTM! We get along super well, he’s the man. I’m really excited to be working with him.

Santarém is a beautiful city also! Like I said, it’s just been raining since we got here, but I hear that’s atypical. There are 4 wards here in the city, so it’s a pretty big city (much bigger than Oriximiná). Most of the roads we walk are just dirt and sand (mud this week), but I’m looking forward to learning how to use whitener on my shirts as I wash them by hand! But we actually have a smaller chunk of the city to cover, so I don’t think we’ll be walking too too much. Everyone once in a while we grab an onibus to meet up with other missionaries also.

The ward here seems really great also! Like I said, they had spent a little while without missionaries before we arrived here, and it seems like just our arrival seemed to cheer them up, and get them excited about missionary work! We’ve already made a good ward mission plan, and the members seem very helpful. They even give us rides in cars when we’re caught in the rain! That’s probably a big difference between this wards and others where I’ve served: the people here seem a little bit more well off. It’s much less rare that a Church member has a car here. But I’m looking forward to getting to know them better. We’ve already got a few Christmas party invite from the members, so that’s a good sign!

Oh yeah, just before I left to catch the boat to leave Oriximiná, Izaura was baptized! Wow that was so amazing. After having taught her for almost 6 months, she finally was baptized in my last hours in the city. And she was so excited about the baptism! She the lady in the macaxeira cake photo that I send last week. And because she wasn’t able to leave her house due to her handicap daughter, we did the baptism in her backyard in a giant tank of water! Haha it was just a great experience, and I have a few sweet pictures, but this computer isn’t letting me send any… next week!

Wow did this letter beat the record for longest letter until now? Haha hope I answered a few of your questions. Love you all, thanks so much for the letters! And the packages also, mom, although I haven’t actually received them yet (but they’re in the city). Until next week!

Com amor,
Elder Scott Maughan