Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. Alma 26:12

Monday, March 31, 2014

I had my first Baptism yesterday!

Because of how far out I am from the mission office I get mail once every 6 weeks (each transfer day). When I get a closer area I'll basically get it right when it arrives.  

We've been looking for a new house since we got here. When we get one, we'll go from having one of the worst if not the worst house in the mission to the nicest by far. It has to be nice because we will be holding church there and it has to be big because we'll have more missionaries in this area by mid year (long after we've gone). We're trying our hardest to get a new house. We find it however we want (using realtors and just walking around). We've found the most success just talking to people. We're meeting with a realtor to go look at houses tomorrow. When we find one we have to get it approved  by the mission secretary and our area authority ( Bishop, branch president, Group President (here)). And then the secretary does the money stuff. I think it's actually pretty fun / cool. 

The language is coming super fast. I can basically say whatever I want but where I am would be like southern Alabama in the US. The people are really poor here and have an accent which makes understanding very difficult. I can basically understand everything Elder Constantiono says though.

When it rains, it pours!

Oi! Here are some answers to your questions:

  • Soooo we don't have running or clean water in our house. We have to shower in water that isn't exactly pristine. We're staying in president Zuza's old house. Its terrible haha. 
  • My city is called Salgueiro (you can google it) and basically everyone takes cards but we usually just get cash from the ATMs because its easier. 
  • Every companionship has a phone in our mission and we call in numbers every Sunday. We don't have the ability to print (at least in this area). 
  • We traveled to the zone conference in a van with like 14 other people (reminded me of car rides in grandma and grandpas old van. 
  • We went from one family in the branch to three because we reactivated 2 families.
Everton's Baptism
I had my first baptism yesterday!! It was such a cool experience. His name is Everton and he's 10ish (not completely sure haha). He is in one of the families we reactivated. I sent you guys a letter this morning with more in it. We probably walk somewhere around 15-20 miles a day (at least. Our area is an entire city haha) and every day I'm super thankful for all those trips where we spent hours and hours walking. It definitely uses different muscles than running haha. I think I got everything. Email me quickly if I missed anything haha.

Love you all so much!!

Elder Hamstead

$38 razor...everything is so expensive here!
My city.  Salguiero

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Craziest Week of my Life So Far

We found this sign while cleaning our house.
My Area - Santo Antonio

Last Pic with Elder Carlson
This has been the craziest week of my life by far. Last Monday I left the US for Brasil. After 32 hours of travel, I finally arrived at my mission home. We (about 14, 3 Americans) stayed there for a couple hours of training and then were brought to a hotel  to drop our stuff at. We then went to President Fusco's house for dinner. Brasilian food is AWESOME. We had a quick testimony meeting and then returned to the hotel for the night.

At the Sao Paulo Airport

Pres. Fusco

Chapel in Fortaleza

Dinner at Pres. Fusco's

View from my Hotel Room

LDS Church in Fortaleza

The next morning, we loaded up into a big van at 8am and went to the church. The church in Fortaleza is awesome!! We stayed there for the rest of the day for training and meals. Which was great because our chapels are some of the only places that have air conditioning here. We left for our area around 10pm - 15 hours by bus to go 250 miles (We're the farthest inland in our mission and we're about 3 hours away from the closest missionaries). 

Bus to Santo Antonio
On the Bus

Crazy.. The buses are super nice and have AC though so I'm not complaining haha. Oh ya! I forgot to say that my companion and I are opening this mission. When we got here, there was only one active family. Now there are 3 :). My birthday was our first day in the area. That was super cool. We're living in President Zuza's old house until we find a new place. It's definitely different than Georgia. The biggest difference is probably the lack of running water and showering from a bucket. Among many other things haha. We had church at our house yesterday and unfortunately had a smaller turnout than we had expected. Next week we won't be here for Sunday because of District meeting but I know that house will be full. I'll send a bunch of pics! :)

P.s. Theres no English spell check here so, mom, If you could fix this up that'd be great :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Time is flying by!

UPDATE: Christopher wrote this letter on March 16th  before he left the MTC.  He flew to Brazil on Monday, March 17th via Salt Lake, Atlanta, Sao Paulo and finally to Fortaleza.

Dear Family,

I can't believe how fast time is flying by.  I feel like ti was just yesterday that I got on that first plane.  It feels so weird to be writing my last letter in the MTC.  And it feels even weirder to think that I'll be in Brazil before you guys open this letter.  I've heard from most of my teachers and members of our branch presidency that it usually takes about a month to be able to speak and comprehend after you get down there and about 6 months to become comfortable with speaking it.  I just hope that I learn quickly enough to understand conference. I feel like it's gonna be a really good one.  I think that the thing I will miss the most are devotionals.  It's so cool to be able to hear from so many inspired men so high up in the church.  Oh!  Did I tell you who spoke last Sunday?  Elder Aiducaitus (I probably butchered his name!) You'll remember him from our last stake conference.  He was the super funny Brazilian (turns out most Brazilians are like him. Yay!) that gave that super awesome talk. I think he's probably my second favorite speaker.  Only behind President Uchtdorf.  Thank you so much for the birthday gifts!  They're gonna help so much during my 34 hours of traveling.k  Hope everything is going well back home!  Send more pics!  Love you guys so much!

Elder Hamstead

My Zone

Friday, March 7, 2014

The days here are long but the weeks are flying by!

Provo LDS Temple

Can you believe that I've already been gone for a month?? I can't. The days here are long but the weeks are flying by! This last week has been my busiest by far. 

Last Wednesday, we (my district and I) had the opportunity to host for our first time. I knew that Elder Simpson was coming in that day and I was determined to host him. Unfortunately, when my district got to our training meeting, we were reassigned to international hosting. My chance to host him went from slim to none. I finished international hosting about 10 minutes after Elder Simpson was scheduled to show and decided to just go back to my classroom. Fortunately I didn't. I went to the drop off line
With Elder Tyler Simpson
to pickup one more person. After only a minute or two of standing there, a car pulled in. I didn't recognize it and didn't pay too much attention to it until they drove past me and I heard a loud knocking coming from the rear windshield. I knew who it was right then and ran after the car. When I got down to the car, there was already an Elder there waiting to host him. I told him that I'd take this one. It was so cool to be able to host Elder Simpson. We didn't get too much time to talk because I had to drop him at the buses for the West Campus, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to see him.

Good news! Our Zone of 4 will become a zone of 10 tomorrow! We'll be getting a district of 4 Sisters and 2 Elders. Five of them are going to Portugal and 1 of the girls is going to the Sao Paulo East mission. I'm just excited to have more people. Last Sunday, we had a zone of 8 leave to Mozambique. They left early in the morning and unfortunately for them, returned early in the afternoon. Their flight had been canceled. I can't imagine how that would feel. They were finally on their way, only to find themselves heading back the way they came. They weren't very happy haha. 

The rest of my week consisted of work, work, and you guessed it, more work. All this studying is really starting to pay off though. We're gonna do our first 24 hour language fast this week and I'm happy to say that I'm actually excited for it. 

Hope everything's going well back in Georgia. We've been hearing about missionaries being pulled out of the Ukraine. WW3 could be going on out there and we'd have no idea. Let me know!

Love you all :)

The harder the conflict,
The more glorious the triumph.
What we obtain too cheaply
We esteem too lightly.

-Thomas Paine

One of my crazy professors, Irmao Laws

If you could send me a Portuguese to English / English to Portuguese dictionary, that would be great. The one that they gave me is already falling apart. I use it a lot haha.