Monday, November 26, 2012

Oi, familia e amigos!!!
   It sounds like Thanksgiving was a real blast for y'all and I'm so glad! It's strange to hear about and see the pictures, because it's truly the middle of Summer here. Good thing, too, or I'd probably die of homesickness. Thank you, blazing sun!
   I spent Thanksgiving as I spend every day here: climbing hills, teaching people about the restored gospel, sweating, and marveling at the beauty of Bahia. As I was climbing up the millionth hill of the day (Mussurunga is literally built into a land of rolling, steep hills. My legs are going to be incredible by the time I'm done here), and thinking about how grateful I am for my sandals that were designed for climbing mountains, I realized, "By golly gum, I do believe it's Thanksgiving Day!" And I was right. And so, in honor of the holiday, I tried to explain it to my companion. I don't think I did very well. All she understands now is that Americans are crazy and like Indians. Next, I wrote a list of what I'm grateful for. My shoes, my family, this awesome opportunity... there's just so much to be grateful for right now! But most especially, as I'm missing my family during this Holiday season, I am SO grateful for the knowledge that my family is eternal and that, though I'm away from them for this short time, I will be with them for the rest of eternity! How amazing is that?! There aren't words to describe my joy! Not in English, not in Português.
    This last week sure was exciting. It started off with a man going on and on about the blood and water that gushed from the side of Christ when He was crucified, and how that blood and water makes me unworthy to be a missionary. He really liked describing the gushing and using big hand gestures. Don't worry, he's reading the Book of Mormon now.
    We're also teaching a beautiful family with 4 teenaged boys who are all so sweet and good-mannered. They absolutely love learning about the gospel, and coming to church, and Marcos (one of the sons) devours everything we give him to read like Delilah with a piece of Thanksgiving turkey. The members in our ward here are amazing, too! They scooped these boys up immediately and Sister Rosado and I found them in the chapel after church one Sunday, where all the young men were eagerly teaching them how to pass the sacrament. Amazing! It's moments like that that make me love being a missionary.
     We're also teaching two sisters, Dandara (13) and Larisa (11), who melt my heart. They are so sweet! Larisa reminds me of Risa so much that my heart aches. She lights up every time she sees us, and rushes to hug me and hold my hand and sit by me during the lesson. Now we just have to get them to come to church. They're mother says she's all for it, but she keeps coming up with reasons why "next sunday would be better".
     The longer I'm here, the more I love these people and the more I wish I understood what they're saying. I know I'm learning all the time, but I get so impatient with myself. It will come. It will come. It will come.
      I like it when people have a pet dog. I realized this past week that the dogs and I understand each other. Neither of us know what anyone's talking about, but we're just happy to be there, greet everyone, and then settle into our corner for some silent observation.
       Speaking of dogs, Sister Rosado has SIX back home! She has a photo of each one and every time she shows members and investigators her photo album, they get to look at 6 sets of droopy, light-reflected red eyes first. It makes me laugh. And it makes me miss Bowser. He would wet himself if he could meet the dogs here.

    I love you all more than Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the other holidays combined! Be happy and write to me about all your adventures!

-Sister Whitaker

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