Monday, June 17, 2013

An Americano in Osternackistan

Hello everyone and welcome to Osternack! e ai! (what up!) pronounced: E eye E

It is the most southern area in the Curitiba South Mission and it is nothing like you have ever seen. Well, maybe you have seen stuff like this in movies or if you have visited the Favelas of Brasil but this area is wild! There are parts that are slightly affluent, but all of the homes are connected to each other and are built with a copper pipe and cement with some fiberglass on top. It is also the area with the highest number of assaults on missionaries. Generally Americans. I love it. My lack of Portuguese knowledge shows but I do know how to keep a very simple conversation going and to testify of Jesus Christ. That's about it other than the Brazillian Portuguese I learn from my companion, Elder Bastos. He hails from the far away land of Sao Paulo,  4 hours away from Curitiba. He speaks very little English so our conversations are always ending in laughter because I usually can´t understand him...well at the beginning of the week it was a nightmare because I had little to no idea of what he was saying. Now I understand so much more. We can actually communicate with one another and I learn so many new words and phrases everyday. Sometimes I have to ask over and over what words mean and after the 4th time I get it, but so far I have been a pretty decent sponge. I am learning how to be patient reallllllly fast. Everyone should look up Patience in Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel (Christlike attributes). It explains patience really well. Heavenly Father has trusted me to preach the gospel in Brasil and in his own time I will learn the language. I just need patience and the knowledge that His will is much better than mine. I have much learning to do and growing as a person. I am so grateful I have this opportunity to struggle a little bit.... alot. I have already see my patience level increase as I struggle with the language and a new way of life.

Oh yeah, my first day in Curitiba we got to the Onibus (bustop) and the incoming bus rammed into the bus station. It was a nice surprise for a fresh Americano. It took some significant damage. We all had to leave the bus station and walk what seemed like several miles to another bus stop.  With my 2 bags. 

And another thing! There are dogs covering the streets. They really are covering the streets. But they are nice unlike the Peruvian dogs. I am pretty sure they all breed with one another. because they all look slightly different but all have the same stubby short legs. and sleep in abandoned tires.  These are pictures from my apartment:

Every meal is rice and beans with other various foods and the trusty guarana. Holy mother it is good!  Members and non-members always ask me to say the prayer over the food or before the lesson because it's ''easy''. Even though it is easy my grammar still is atrocious. I guess I don't give myself enough credit. From my point of view I sound like an idiot but the members give me lots of comfort and support when I try. I don't know if they are being nice or not but they say my Portuguese is very good for a first week Americano. The key is to get out of my comfort zone and talk to random people on the street about our message and if there is another day we can share our message in their house. It's kinda scary that most of the time people say "yes." They are too nice. I think it is because of how humble they truly are. They know what it is like to live in the slums and feel like life can go no-where. It brings so much happiness to my soul when their faces light up when they hear how special our message truly is. It's like it's an echo of a testimony they once had? I definitely think so. They all came to this earth to work toward and return to live in the presence of our Heavenly Father. I may not speak the language very well but I have been able to connect with people by telling them that I love them and so does their elder brother, Jesus Christ.  I love locking eyes with them and showing them the pure love of Christ. The only way this is possible is through the spirit. The language of the spirit never changes when one goes from English to Portuguese. Everyone has the light of Christ in them, we just need to let them know they can recognize it through the love that our Heavenly Father has for all of His children. Some people even cry because they are so grateful for someone to come down from the United States and help them specifically. This is truly an amazing work and I feel so blessed  to be apart of it for 2 short years. 

The town of Osternack is right next to the jungle and we can see MONKEYS! I never saw one in the wild of Doylestown. I'm surprised it has taken me this long to spot one;) But really....monkeys, everyone. Monkeys are flying above my head as we walk with purpose to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel legit all the time. There are wooden bridges crossing over streams full of trash, tires and gasoline. There is graffiti sprayed everywhere. Including the outside walls surrounding the Church. Nuts. People are smoking pot in broad daylight and there are random broken down cars all over the streets. This sounds like a Hollywood set but I am not exaggerating. There are parts like unto the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro.  Women feeding their babies in broad daylight while talking to 7 of their friends... everything is exposed. Shield your eyes Elder Forsyth. Osternackistan (Osternackistão). I haven't witnessed a murder but I have heard gunshots. 

Walking by random soccer games is fun too! Why do they all have to be so legit at this sport? Soccer Gods. Oh yeah, and everyone is so pumped for the world cup in 2014. Everytime we walk into people's homes soccer is on. Brasil just beat Japan in a conference cup or something like that. I need a jersey and a team to root for because everyone asks me what club i support. Elder Bastos is a Santos fan (A club in Sao Paulo) so I will roll with that answer for a little while until I know the language well enough to talk soccer. I can't even do that in English. Someday I will be able to, I hope.
We have a family of 5, and 3 will be baptized after the father has an interview with the Mission President over past transgressions! We are so excited for them! They read The Book of Mormon every week and are so excited to finally get to be baptized. His name is Teófilo and his wife and daughter are going to be baptized too! They also have two little boys Gilermi and Lucas who are so cute but they are under 8 years old. I got to sit next to them in church yesterday. It was heaven. They rock and say the funniest things in their cute little boy Brasilian accents! We also have another baptism set up for the upcoming weeks. It is strange to have baptisms, quote unquote, lined up. These people are so humble and ready for the gospel to change their lives. 
I love you all and stay strong in the US. Let me know what's going on because all I hear are strange Brasilian covers of Jason Mraz songs. no joke.
Elder Forsyth
p.s. stay sweet ...and I just realized that this letter might stir some worry in you for my well being in Osternackistan. Especially my mother. Don't worry, I am very safe;) and the Lord will protect me as I stay obedient. I love Osternack. Look it up on google and tell me what it says.

Ed. note:  I did and the pictures were similar to this one in the Wiki definition of a favela. Should I really not be worried???
(from Wikipedia):  A favela (Portuguese pronunciation: [faˈvɛlɐ]) is the term for a shanty town in Brazil, most often within urban areas. The first favelas appeared in the late 19th century and were built by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Some of the first settlements were called bairros africanos (African neighbourhoods). This was the place where former slaves with no land ownership and no options for work lived. Over the years, many former black slaves moved in.
Even before the first favela came into being, poor citizens were pushed away from the city and forced to live in the far suburbs. However, most modern favelas appeared in the 1970s due to rural exodus, when many people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Unable to find a place to live, many people ended up in a favela.


  1. Don't worry, the favelas aren't too bad. I spent many months in them and the worst I got was fleas. (well, fleas were pretty terrible. like... really terrible). Some of the greatest people I've ever met, I encountered while tracting a favela.

    1. Thanks Hikari! I will sleep better tonight with that reassurance. --Liz