Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Gaucho In Brazil!!

So I don't ever want to leave Águas Claras (well at least for these 2 years). No seriously, if I could spend my whole mission in this area, I would. I had a few great eye opener opportunities this week that made me fall in love with this area. On Wednesday, we got to go with one of the members and teach his mom who isn't a member (that shows you how much trust he has in us, that he waited until he could find the two he trusted most to teach her). She lives out in the middle of nowhere - about 30 minutes by car just to get to her house, and it's all on dirt roads. It is the most beautiful place that I've seen here! We went at the perfect time too, right at sunset. We stopped on the highest part of the mountain (its not really a mountain, more like a big hill - like Kennesaw Mt.) and the view was spectacular! I could see the mountains off in the distance, gorgeous green fields, wild horses running around, the sky changing color as the sun set - BAH, MUITO LEGAL! The people here in Águas Claras are so nice and it's really clean and relaxed here. But yeah, I love my area much more now. Its just really peaceful here. Plus, we met the best people ever. They help us out so much and are always inviting us over or letting us in for food or water. I have Churrasco at least twice a week (when they put tons of meat on giant swords) :D Also, I've officially been recognized as a Gaucho. Apparently I have a Gaucho accent and it helps that I don't have an American last name and apparently I don't have an American face, lol. I'm happy with it. They're all super cool! I love it because you just see people riding horses everywhere. Oh hey, we saved one of our friends lives this week. His name is Rodrigo and he forgot his anniversary with his wife, haha. She was furious! She kept saying that when he got home from work, she was going to go off on him. On our way back home, we saw him getting off the bus and we told him to be careful when he got home and when he realized he forgot, he was like, "VAMOS COMPRAR CHOCOLATE!!!" hahaha! What else? Oh, the baptism didn't work out this week because the family wants it to be this coming week. It'll be on Wednesday! But the other elders that live with us had one and the person who was supposed to speak on faith and repentance wasn't there so guess who got asked 5 minutes before the baptism started to give a talk... haha. Everyone is really helpful and encouraging with the language! The baptism was cool because it was a sister of a recent convert and the recent convert, Alan, got to baptize her! SUPER COOL. That kinda opened my eyes up even though I had nothing to do with their conversion, I was able to see how one baptism opens the doors to so many more. Overall, this week was pretty good. I think I'm slowly beginning to adjust. I've kinda just accepted the fact that I'm here and my life will never be the same again whether I went home or not, so I'm just going to stay because it'll be better if I do. I've gotten a lot of encouragement from you and a bunch of really good friends on their missions in my emails these past weeks. Thanks for all the love! TE AMO MUITO!
-Elder Sanok

Monday, March 24, 2014

Prayers are answered!

Another week down! This week went a lot better. I mean, its still SUPER hard but I definitely felt a lot more at peace this week. I can feel your prayers and am greatly comforted - thank you.  I still struggle with the language but hopefully it gets better. We're starting to have some success, so I think that that's what is keeping me going. I have my first baptism this coming Friday! I'm pretty excited because I was the one asked to do the baptism. In this area, we baptize in a swimming pool because we don't have a real chapel, so there isn't a font to use, hahaha. The other elders had a baptism this past week and it was really fun because after as they have a huge Churrasco! Yum. I'm starting to adjust to the food more. Rice and beans at every meal, you can always count on that. My feet are starting to do better. Dad, thank you so much for calling the mission because the Mission President's wife, Sister Castro, hooked me up with some medicine for my feet that has really helped. This week went by fast though because we spent half of it in Porto Alegre for Zone Conference. We got to spend the night with the assistants to the mission president and we even went out teaching with them. I really like the city, its just so much busier and lively. But I do like Águas Claras, its very relaxed. Haha so guess what? Were starting an English class this coming week!  What else happened this week? Not much, we do the same thing every day. We talked to some really fun people this week.  This one guy is 21 and huge! He needs to come to the US and play football or rugby or something because he would be a tank! They're really nice and make us food when we come over. The other day he gave us some milk that was fresh from the cow - YUM! Haha he says thats how he gets so jacked, milk fresh outta the cow!  The weather here is bipolar. One day its freezing (like 40degreesF) and the next its like blazing hot! The winter is going to be freezing... I have a new favorite scripture that I've been reading every day to give myself comfort and strength, Isaiah 41:10.  Love you all!!  

I am sure he would love to receive some letters in the mail ......  

Elder Daniel Sanok
Brazil Porto Alegre South Mission
Av. Princesa Isabel, 342-B
90620-970 Porto Alegre - RS

He said there are beautiful sunsets in Brazil!

 Food, Food, Food --  He's starting to get his appetite back again :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Still adjusting to the new culture.....

It sounds like it has been another rough week as Elder Sanok adjusts to the culture in Brazil and gets his feet used to all the walking he is doing as well as his stomach used to the different food he is eating. As I was thinking over the past week after we got his last email, I thought, wait -- we had been preparing Daniel for some of the things that he is experiencing. He was sleeping on a mattress on the floor for a few weeks before he left on his mission because we moved to a new home and he didn't have a room ;)
Anyway, he also sent a picture of a beautiful sunset that he saw one night last week. After we moved down here to Florida, we have all been in constant awe of the beauty of the sky down here. We have seen so many beautiful sunsets, and the picture he sent us looked so similar to a sunset we saw here that it made me realize we are all under the same beautiful sky, even though we are so far apart right now, and that God has created so much beauty in this earth for us to see!! It was a "tender mercy" to us today that we were able to feel some sort of connection to each other and of God's love for all of us!

"I have to admit, I miss home, family, America, everything that Brazil doesn't have. It's a beautiful country, but its not home to me. Last Monday we just stayed in for the night and ordered a pizza and watched the movie, 17 Miracles. The rest of the week was a lot of walking and a lot of work. This is so hard physically, emotionally, and mentally. We walk miles every day in the blazing hot sun and I'm getting a really funny "missionary tan." We taught many lessons this week. I really had a hard time when we were teaching the Plan of Salvation to this one woman because we were talking about how families can be together forever and I decided to pull out a picture of my family and bear testimony that I know I'll be with them forever. I broke down crying and it was so hard to go on, but I told her that I wouldn't be here if I didn't know that this was true. I wouldn't leave my life behind for two years if this was a joke. A missionary is someone who leaves their family behind for 2 years so that they can teach others how they can be with theirs for eternity. I know that these things are true, but I have such a hard time expressing my heart in Portuguese. It's really difficult being in an environment where everything around you is so different. We are teaching these three sisters and one of them out of the blue the other day told us that she prayed about what we've been teaching and she wants to get baptized. Her two sisters took on our challenge to pray about it too so we will see what happens there. Oh, I also went to McDonald's this week. That made me happy. I miss you all so much."

Monday, March 10, 2014

Elder Sanok Arrives in Brasil

Well this past week has been a bit unnerving as we have anxiously awaited word that Daniel was safely in Porto Alegre.  We just assumed no news was good news as hard as that was!  We were happy to be able to talk to him last Monday while he was on a few of his layovers on his long journey from SLC to LAX to MIA to Porto Alegre (with a stop in between at another city in Brazil I cannot spell let alone pronounce).  He sounded excited yet nervous at the same time to get to Brazil but eager to get started :) 

He said they picked them all up at the airport and he was the only American out of like 20 and then they met their trainers and headed out.  He said the mission president is really nice but he doesn't speak a lick of English.  He is in an area called Águas Claras (about an hour from the city of Porto Alegre). This is the land of the Gauchos.

Here is his latest update for us:
Oi! Well, just in case you were wondering, I'm still alive. I've got to say, this is definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm going to need your prayers more than ever right now as I struggle to adjust to the culture, language, and new lifestyle of mine. My living conditions are way different than I'm used to (I sleep on an old mattress on the floor, and bugs and lizards crawl on me when I sleep, ewwww). I have at least 5 blisters on each of my feet (we walk approximately an hour each way just to get to where we work), my stomach is trying to get used to the food, and the language is so overwhelming (the people speak like 1000 miles an hour). Fortunately, my companion and another elder living with me are both American so I'm able to speak English with them.  I'm doing a pretty good job though. The ward is really good and the youth like me because I teach them English words and can play guitar. They love it when I play American music.  The weather is a lot like Florida: hot and humid. When it rains, it comes out of nowhere and just pours and then is bright and sunny 15 minutes later.  There is no A/C in Brazil. Also, you don't flush toilet paper. And we have a washing machine but Brazil doesn't do dryers, so you have to hang dry everything. I had all my clothes hanging today and it rained while we were at lunch and got all my clothes wet again :(  The members are always feeding us, so once I get used to the food, Ill never go hungry. I usually just eat a little bit and then fill myself up on fruit or juice. I love this one soda here called Guarana! The coke here is way better too. 
-Elder Sanok

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Last Day in the USA

I'm down to my last two days here at the MTC before the whole mission life becomes real! I'm pretty stoked! Not really nervous anymore. I'm just not looking forward to that plane ride. I'm hoping that maybe I can sit next to a Brazilian on the plane and practice my Portuguese. In two days, I won't be speaking English for two years haha. My teacher thinks that I'll be fluent in 3 months, so that's pretty cool to hear. It's crazy how far I've come in just six weeks; only knowing "Oi", "Tchau", and "Desculpa" before I got here is crazy because now I know tons and can have full on conversations in Portuguese, but I know that once I get to Brazil my mind will probably blank and I'll forget everything, haha. It's pretty crazy that in just a few days, I'll be walking around the streets of Porto Alegre, Brazil. I'm so excited for the food and the culture! This week has flown by; actually these past 6 weeks have. But this past week probably went the fastest and I thought it was going to be the longest! Saturday was a good normal P Day filled with laundry, email, naps, pigging out, etc. The rest of the week was just filled with classes, as usual. I was happy to get a letter from Nana and more donuts from the Provo Cannegieters and Hazel! Please tell everyone that I love hearing and receiving things from them but I honestly don't have enough time to hand write letters to everyone. I'm sure I will once I get to Brazil, but they keep us so busy here. Please tell everyone I'm sorry and I'll try to get more letters out. It's actually a rule that we can only write letters on P Days. I'm sorry, but I'm just trying to stick to all the rules, even if they're dumb. Nothing super interesting happened this week. But I know that once I'm in Brazil, I'll have tons of stories for you! Thanks for all those DearElder letters throughout my time here at the MTC. My stack of letters from that site is like 4 inches thick. They probably had to cut down an entire tree just for me. Haha but it was nice getting letters. They won't come as often in Brazil but weeks go by so fast on the mission so P Days don't really seem that far away. Hope all is well! Tchau, tchau for now.
-Elder Sanok