Dear Family and Friends,
Wow the weeks are passing really fast since I got to the field. This week I want to write about my first time ever baptizing someone. Yesterday after the first session of conference I baptized Larissa. Elder Bangerter and I met here because she was a reference from one of the ward missionaries. She was good friends with this ward missionary and told the ward missionary that she would like to be baptized! So Elder Bangerter and I started teaching her and she was really receptive to the gospel. She accepted all of the doctrines and commandments very quickly. Even after the first lesson she was always trying to bring her friends with her to be taught as well. This last week leading up to the baptism she was really excited and talked about it to all of her friends. She lives with her Grandma but her Dad lives pretty close by and was not very fond of the idea of her being baptized into our church. However he permitted her to be baptized (although we didn´t really need his permission because she lives with her grandma and her grandma already authorized it). Because yesterday was conference weekend we had to go all the way to the stake center to see the conference and everyone in the zone was supposed to have their baptisms there. We were a little worried about this because it was so far and Larissa had never been there before. Elder Bangerter and I were planning on riding with Larissa and her family to the stake center for conference/baptism but we word that morning that someone in her family had been injured and that she and all her family were in the hospital however they were still plannning on coming to the baptism. We got a ride to conference from someone else and then waited for them there. We were really worried that they weren´t going to show up (we had been concerned that the Dad would try and do something to stop it). But Larissa, her parents, grandparent, aunt, cousin, and friend from school all showed up just in time for the baptism. The service went fairly smoothly all though I think it was clear that it was my first time baptizing someone. In fact looking back on it there were a lot of signs that I am a greenie hahaha. For one that morning I was in a nervous rush to get out the door and I accidently grabbed the suitcoat that didn´t match my pants. Also I was so nervous during the baptismal prayer that my voice was shaking like crazy. And I almost slipped in the water and just about baptized myself as well hahaha. But all in all the baptism went really well and was a great first baptism to have. She was strongly supported by the members in the ward and by her family so I think she has a good chance of staying firm in the church. I don´t have too much to time to write more but the baptism was a really spirtitual experience and I really hope that all the rest of my baptisms can be as good as that one was. I will send pictures soon.
The announcement about the new age for missionaries was crazy!! I think a lot of the missionaries out here right now with younger girlfriends are kind of upset about it hahaha. In fact like half an hour ago my zone leader Elder Cleveland was on the computer watching the announcement made by President Monson about the new age for sister missionaries. After President Monson made the announcement the camera turned to look at the crowd´s reaction. They zoomed in on two girls who were crying and hugging each other because they were so happy and one of them was his girlfriend!!!! hahahahahaha. Man it was funny. I don´t know how much hope he had of seeing her still there when he gets back but I think right now he has a lot less hahaha. Things are going pretty good here in Vila Galvão, we are working a lot with the members and receiving good references. My portuguese is improving every day.
Are the Brazilians pretty friendly to Americans? Tough question. From what I´ve noticed there seems to be two attitudes concerning americans. The brazilians either hate us and are really rude to us or they are think we are the coolest people they´ve ever met. Although sometimes I can´t tell if the bad treatment we get is because we are american or just because we are missionaries, or probably its a combination of the two. However for the most part the people who don´t like are just jealous but most of them warm up to us once we tell them that we live here and are going to stay here for two years and are just trying to teach the gospel. In that way it´s really similar to the story of Ammon and King Lamoni (but don´t worry mom we haven´t been tied up or thrown in prison). However the vast majority of the people are really friendly to us and are curious as to why we are here. The members love us and are really great. So I guess the answer to the question is that it depends on which one.
Got to go. Thanks a lot for your emails and letters.
Elder Caleb Anderson