Elder Olivier has been so used to not sending photos while in the Missionary Training Center, that he forgot to send photos today. When he remembered, his computer time was up....so we are hoping for more photos next week.
These are the missionaries that flew to Manaus with Elder Olivier. Elder Olivier is top right.
Elder Olivier with President and Sister Castro.
Mondays are his new pday and we absolutely loved the letter we received from him today. Elder Olivier is currently serving in the city on the east side of Manaus. Here is his letter:
Hey everyone! It´s been more than a week since I last emailed! My new p-day is , so I´ll be emailing on Mondays from now on.
We arrived in Manaus last tuesday. Me, two other americans, and a bunch of brazilians landed in Manaus and then we got bussed to the mission home, where we ate a ton of food (mostly some kind of GIANT fish). The mission president and his wife talked to us for a litte, then we drove to a church building right next to the soccer stadium here in Manaus. The assistants to the president talked to us for a long time. The other two americans and I understood somewhere around 0% of it all. After that, the mission president inverviewed us and we got assigned our companions.
My companion is named Elder Galván. He is from Argentina, and, you guessed it, he only speaks spanish and portuguese. On top of that, his accent is wayyyyyy different from the accent here, so that is super challenging. The language right now is a game of accents. I can understand everything my companion says in his argentinan accent. Some people speak pretty clearly. Other people have really strong accents. Old people are by far the hardest people to understand. They sound like: shishashehshshshsieisaiashishi
It is very hot here. I sweat a lot. I think it´s usually around 40-45 degrees celcius outside.
The people here are so awesome! Everyone is super friendly. We can pretty much talk to anyone and they won´t think that we´re weirdos. Also, everyone already believes in Jesus so we can check that one off the list. Most people like talking about religion. Everyone goes to church. There are churches everywhere, in all kinds of different buildings and with all kinds of different names/people. Most of the other churches either have a rock band or a guy who yells a lot about Jesus. Sometimes both.
All of the members are so friendly! Elder Galván and I are in two areas (we walk a lot), so we have two wards. That means 6 hours of church on sundays. There are a couple of different things that people do when I tell them my name. Thing 1: They think it is pronounced "Oliver" (which happens a lot in the states too). Thing 2: They immediately recognize that it is french (which almost never happens in the states). Thing 3: They say "like Oliver Cowdery!" (you warned me, Uncle Jeff). Thing 4: They call me "Olivier Giroud" (the french soccer player). This is 80% of the conversation that I have with members. Haha.
We are teaching a lot of people. Most of the people we teach are referrals from members. We do a lot of street contacting too. We can almost choose who we want our investigators to be. It´s weird. People here are so receptive. We have a couple of people with baptismal dates in the next two weeks, with a lot more on the way. We just have to do a lot of work. Which means a lot of walking. Up and down a lot of hills.
The entire city of Manaus has an open sewer system, but it doesn´t smell that bad. I haven´t seen any alligators yet. Or many other animals other than dogs and cats. They are everywhere.
Animals I have seen so far:
Dogs - roughly 94847384595
Cats - roughly 374373
Ants - exactly 48483882837649
Lizards - 1
Cockroaches in our apartment - 3 or 4
Giant caterpillars - 1
Mosquitos - 0 (yeah, I know. It must be because it´s the dry season)
Monkeys - 0 (darn)
Giant spiders - 0 (thank goodness)
The coolest thing that we´ve eaten so far is jacaré (alligator. Ok, I lied, I saw an alligator). One of the members fed it to us. She said it was fish at first, but after we ate it she told us it was jacaré. We also ate tortoise this week. We´ve eaten a ton of different kinds of fruits. There are so many fruits here. There´s this fruit called cucuazul(?) and it´s sooo good.
This week has been so crazy. I´ve been thinking about Moroni 7:12-16. It says that all things that are good are of God, and we have the opportunity to choose for ourselves whenever we make decisions in life. When we choose good, we are blessed, and when we don´t, we aren´t guaranteed blessings. It´s as simple as that. We just need to live our lives and choose good continually, so that every day we become better and better people. Sometimes it´s really hard to try to be a little nicer, a little more patient, a little more obedient, or a little more loving. But just a little goes a long way, and I have definitely seen that so far on my mission.
I love all of you guys so much! Stay awesome!