This letter looked longer on the post-it note

Dearest family,

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for the ADK calender, that’s coming in really handy. Sounds like the holiday was a little crazy for our family with everyone in a different place, but I’m glad everyone was still able to enjoy it.

Well, this was my last week in Oriximiná! I’m definitely going to miss this city. I learned so much! Plenty of challenges and trials, but I suppose that’s how we have to learn and improve. Maybe I’ll be able to come back to visit one day! I won’t be going too far; I’m on my way to the Tapajós ward in Santarém, so just up the river. I’ll be staying in the same zone, no plane flight for me yet! My new companion will be Elder Paiva, and we’ll be new together in the area, so that should be a fun and unique experience.

But my last week here was rather enjoyable! I sent a few pictures, with highlights from the week. First off, we made Macaxeira Cake with Izaura, one of our investigators. That was a blast, and super tasty! Took a little while to grate 4 kilos of macaxeira (which is a root, kinda like potato), but it was definitely worth it, even if I won’t have any fingerprints for the next little while… Turns out that we always end up getting food from members the last week before transfers. Cakes, mangos, other fruits, even homemade pizza! I sure love the members here, they are the best.

Also, all the work with the young women in the ward has been paying off, including a baptism Saturday night! Even though Julia wasn’t very interesting in the Church when her older sister was baptized just before I arrived here, over time she came to church a few more times, and she was rather excited to get baptized this past week! It was great baptismal service also, with lots of support from the other youth.

Well, have a wonderful rest of November, until next month! Thanks for the love and support, you all are the best. Take care, and next week I’ll be writing you from Santarém!

Love,
Elder Scott Maughan

It’s easier to type without accents

Querida família,

Good morning from Oriximiná! I’m glad to hear everyone is doing well, especially Grandpa! That’s a bit scary he had to have heart surgery, but I’m glad it went well. Also, I loved the picture you sent of him, which is more or less hilarious. I had to show that to my companion, haha.

This week flew by! Which also means it was a great week, because only the great ones fly by. To answer Mom’s question, no I didn’t dig any pits for my neighbors this week (what’s the harm in that?). No, there is no rule that says he have to do a service project each week, but I love doing service projects so usually I ask and ask until finally someone gives us something to do. While we didn’t have any projects planned for this past week, we were able to find a few opportunities to help out: pushing a car out of the gutter, fixing the cell phone of one of our investigators, and typing up a few school reports for a ward member. I’m definitely thankful for my 8th grade typing class! That being said, trying to type what someone says (all this in Portuguese) for almost an hour really fried my brain.

Church yesterday was really great, for 2 reasons. First, there were lots of young women there! Haha okay, now let me explain why. This past we’ve been working a lot with the young women and their leaders to visit and reactivate many of the less active young women and their families. Yesterday in church they managed to more than double their usual attendance! Of course, this is much more due to the work of the own members than to our help, it made me feel a bit accomplished also. It also made me realize that small visits really can make a big difference.

And second, I had a pretty interesting experience: During the Sacrament hymn, the Bispo came over to inform me that I would be the opening speaker and that I would speak on love for 15 minutes. Haha yeah… so I had 1 minute to pray asking for help and 2 minutes to prepare a quick outline (and bless the sacrament). But I actually think that it ended up going very well! It was one of those moments where I could feel the promise of the Spirit putting words in my mouth being fulfilled. That strengthened my testimony of the fact that the Spirit really can strengthen us, and that we need to rely more in that power than in our own abilities.

Well I hope this email made up for a few other short ones… have a wonderful week, I love you all and I really appreciate the support and inspiration from you all. Até mais!
Com amor,
Élder Scott Maughan

Elder Manga Masters the Manga

Good day! It’s your favorite missionary in Belém again! Hope you aren’t tired of hearing from me… I agree with Mom, that this week really passed by quickly. Let me think of what I can say about this week that will make the letter more appealing…

Zone conference was this past week! Although the trip is always rather tiring (2 consecutive nights of sleep on a boat does that to you), it was super great and refreshing. And revigorating! It’s nice having zone conference with just our zone, because President can talk more specifically about our zone and our specific challenges. He seemed to say so many things that were exactly what I needed to hear, questions that I had that I hadn’t asked him, but he still managed to answer. It’s good to know that he really is called of God and inspired! It was great to see all the new faces in our zone also, since had been 2 transfers since the last time I had seen everyone, and there were lots of changes.

I need to bring my journal with me to the cyber, to remember what I’ve done during the week… Oh I achieved my goal of picking a manga from the tree and eating it! I also wanted to do that, since there are so many mango trees, but every mango I see always looks too green to eat. Finally I asked the members to help me know when a mango is ripefor the picking, so now I’ve got that covered. When I was the a members house yesterday I saw a mango ripe! So I grabbed a huge wooden board (that the member had just to pick the ripe mangos out of the top of the tree), and I knocked the mango out of the tree and caught it! I’m not totally sure why, but I felt really accomplished. Mangos are much sweeter when you pick them yourself.

Well sorry for the not too exciting letter! I’m trying to download music from Mom at the same time, it’s a bit tricky. But I’m really exciting to hear all this new music. Considering how much we listen to music at night and in the morning, it’s always great to hear a new song everyone once in a while. So thanks so much for that! I love you all, hope you have a wonderful week. Until next Monday!

Com amor,
Elder Maughan

P.s. Did I tell you that almost everyone here calls me Elder Manga? It’s much easier for them. Also, since my companion is Elder Rosa, we become Manga Rosa, which is a delicious type of mango.

High Adventure!

Querida família,

Glad to hear that life is good for everyone! I was also glad to hear that Sandy didn’t wash our house away. Sounds like everyone sure is keeping busy at home. Not too surprised! This past week was also rather busy (and tiring) for me also.

Happy Halloween! Kinda forgot about that… Melissa asked about how Halloween is celebrated here. Bad news: that holiday doesn’t exist here, unfortunately. Well, at least here in the north. I’ve heard that down in São Paulo they have some sort of Halloween with treats and everything. But while all of you were trick or treating, I was on a boat in the Amazon River on my way to a weekly district meeting. So I guess that’s kinda cool too!

This last week we worked a lot with the young men in the ward! Well actually they aren’t “in” our ward (yet), but hopefully they’ll be members soon! It’s amazing how much the Young Mens program has grown since a president was called. When Rodrigo and his wife, a newly wedded couple, moved into our ward, there were 4 active young men. When Rodrigo was called as the president, he started doing activities almost every other day in the church, inviting many other young men to come practice for a dance presentation, and the active young men also invited their friends. Soon there were 20 young men at the activities!

He’s also been including us in all the activities. On Tuesday we taught 14 of these young men the first lesson, and Rodrigo invited us to participate in a young men outing on Friday also, which was awesome! We went more or less deep into the jungle to the camp of one of the ward members, where he had a “pool” of river, a barbaque, a sand volleyball court, and a nice little house. There we had the chance to teach more of them, and a few of them seemed genuinely wanting to be baptized and become a member of the Church! It’s great to see the effect that the gospel can have, even on the younger guys. Afterwards, we “integrated” with the young men (volleyball!), had lunch, and then Elder Rosa and I headed back to the city to get back to work. It was rather tiring, but really rewarding!

Well, have another wonderful, productive week! Love you all, thanks so much for the letters and the love and the support, I really appreciate it.

Until next Monday!
Sincerely,
Elder Scott Maughan

Pass Along Cards!

Dear family and friends,

I hope everyone had a wonderful last week! Sounds like this next week will be interesting for everyone, with this storm on its way. I hope everyone stays safe!

Mom, I loved the pictures of your vacation. Really, all those sites look unreal, and so beautiful! I agree with you – our family has to do something like that when we’re all back together. Which will be… summer of 2015? Mom and Dad, how would you feel about having a child on a mission for 5 straight years? We’ll definitely deserve some sort of rewarding vacation after that.

This past Saturday all of Brasil did a missionary work activity, giving out pass along cards about the church. In a 2 hour span, we gave out more or less 250 pass along cards as a ward here in Oriximiná. I really enjoyed this activity! Elder Rosa and I gave out 50, and we had a great opportunity to talk with all sorts of people about their families. The family is such a great starting point to do missionary work, because it’s so universal and something that everyone cares about. It also gave us a chance to speak with many people in the street who probably haven’t talked to us or don’t know too much about the “Mormon” Church. At least now they know we care a lot about the family! We’re hoping to receive many references from the media from this activity; let’s see how that goes! Elder Rosa especially enjoyed this activity, because his family was actually baptized because of a pass along card his dad received on the bus one day.

Mom, did you just call me a “returning Belém missionary”? Haha you can’t do that, not even close! But I can’t really think of any good advice for missionaries on their way to Belém… I’d recommend lightweight things. Or to just leave bed sheets at home, because you’ll probably end up sleeping in a hammock. Although that’s probably not always true… haha I’ll try to think of wiser advice next week. Oh I heard there was a new American Sister in our zone, but I haven’t met her and I don’t even know if I’ll end up meeting her, since our zone is so spread out.

Well I hope everyone has a great week, I hope that every stays safe in this storm. I love you all and I’ll keep you in my prayers! Thanks for all the love and support. I really appreciate everything.

Com amor,
Élder Scott Maughan

Yum… reptiles…

Dearest Family,

I hope everyone has had a wonderful week! Mine was great also, plenty of adventures here. Yesterday was the ward conference, which was a great experience. Since there’s no complete stake conference here (the stake is too large), ward conference is a rather big deal. All the stake leadership came to Oriximiná to train the members, and the president gave an awesome talk in Sacrament Meeting. The members seemed all excited and optimistic after the meeting, it was really great.

We’ve been helping out with the Young Men lately, who are going to putting on a dance show during a ward activity on Thursday. Is “Freestep” popular in the United States? I hadn’t seen it before, but maybe it’s new. Either way, it’s really fun to watch 10-15 14-year-olds doing this crazy “Freestep”. It’s sure helping to excite the young men and the rest of the ward!

First off, this certainly was an interesting week as far as culinary goes! Last week I found mix to make BLUEBERRY Jell-O and I got really excited, because I miss blueberries, despite the fact that in general the fruit here is much better. So instead of making blueberry Jell-O I’ve just been adding blueberry flavor to everything, especially oatmeal and pancakes. Melissa said last week that she made blue pancakes, so I thought I’d imitate her. They turned out extremely tasty. But if blueberry pancakes are too American, then I evened that out eating two foods that we sure don’t eat too often at home: crocodile and turtle! My companion was too scared to try the turtle, but when one of our investigators offered us turtle, I figured there was no way to say no. While I can’t say it’s the yummiest meat there is, at least it was a neat experience.

I’ve decided that I like to try new things. If I doesn’t work out well, that’s okay! I’ll have that much more experience, and no one will make me have to do it again. And usually I learn faster from my mistakes anyway.

Well have an awesome week, love you all!
Elder Maughan

They don’t like me. They just like Mom.

Querida família,

So transfers came and went, nothing is changing here! I’m excited about that; this will be my 4th transfer here, making it almost 6 months here in Oriximiná. I’ve gotten pretty attached to the members here, so it’s nice to have 6 more weeks here to help them out the best I can. And I’ll be staying with Elder Rosa also! But Elder Stacy is leaving Óbidos, which unfortunately means that after 10 months of being in the same district, Presidente is finally splitting us up.

So in behalf of the members here I also wanted to thank Mom for her help to strengthen the Oriximiná Ward! In an effort to excite and encourage the youth here, I ended up giving away just about all of the sweets that she had sent to them during activities, and that actually seems to have worked more or less well in encouraging the youth to participate in the ward activities. The DVDs are also helping to strengthen the ward! Elder Rosa and I have already been putting them to good use in ward activities and with the youth, and they’ve all been asking for copies of the DVDs, which we are happy to make. They  seemed happy that I’m staying for one more transfer, but I think that’s just because they are hoping that I receive another box like that again… haha.

Saturday night was the baptism of a youth man also! Iudice is the friend of the Deacon’s Quorum President and the grandson of a member who was inactive in the Church for 16 years… but he’s been baptized and his grandma is coming back to church! He’s an incredible learner (I definitely wasn’t that bright when I was 12), who really understood what the baptism meant and was eager to make that covenant. What a great feeling! He had tons of support at his baptism, especially from the young men in the ward, and his grandma is also getting a very warm welcome in the ward again.

Well does this make up for forgetting to send a large letter last week? Haha I hope so. Thanks so much for all the support and love, I really appreciate it. Have a wonderful week, love you all so much!

Sinceramente,
Élder Scott Maughan