It seems like it has been years since I have talked to you. I wasn't able to last week because I left for Porto Alegre on the day that I emailed from the CTM.
I am safely in Porto Alegre. I was greeted at the airport by the President and Sister Pavan, both of which don't speak English, and the Assistants to the President. We went to the mission office, received some instruction, ate some lunch, and then headed to the bus stop where I met my companion. My trainer is an American from Sandy, Utah. Her name is Sister Wegener. She has been gone for about 14 months, but has only been in Brazil for 9 months. You see, she too, had some visa problems. However, she was reassigned to the Birmingham, Alabama mission and spent 3 months there before she was able to come to Brazil. I was somewhat relieved to know that my companion was American. I thought that would kind of help me to ease into the mission field. Haha....I guess it doesn't really matter that she is American though, because she doesn't speak any English to me anyway. She went to BYU as well, and will return for one more year after she comes home at the end of May. She is a great teacher and I have learned a lot from her.
So I guess I will just tell you a little bit about my experience so far. I am currently in an area called Novo Hamburgo. You can probably look it up on the internet. I guess it is not one of the favorite areas of the mission, but I don't know any differently, so it is fine with me! We live on the eighth floor of an apartment building. The apartment is nothing special in the least, but after a long day, you don't really care what the shower looks like, or how comfortable the bed is.....you just want to shower and sleep! Being on the eighth floor is really nice. We get some good breeze at night up there, so I sleep pretty comfortable. Ok, excuse my french, but.....................it is BUTT-HOT here!!! (Don't edit that out either, Mom). The other day it was 116 degrees farenheit here. 116!!!!!!!!!!! With 95 percent humidity. I. AM. MELTING. However, I know the Lord truly is blessing me. You know how I get really bad headaches when I am out in the sun for a long time? Haven't really had one. I have a couple minor ones, but considering how hot it is here, and how long I am out walking in it......I know the Lord is blessing me with health and strength. Some other interesting things about Brazil: They don't flush their toilet paper here. They just throw it away! That has been an adventure! Oh. So I don't know everything about this yet, but the people down here in the South are called Gauchos. They have a lot of pride in their culture and have many traditions. Gauchos often drink what is called Chimarrão. I will try to explain it. It's this metal cup that they fill with this nasty green herb that tastes like grass. Then they pour boiling water into it. You drink it from a straw that has this filter type thing at the bottom so you are only drinking the water. It is nastiest thing. I still don't understand why they drink it......or why they enjoy drinking boiling hot water in 116 degree weather. I will try to send a picture of it.
Things are going well. I am really overwhelmed though. The language barrier has been really tough for me. I really don't know how to say much, and it's really hard. Sometimes I feel like I am a child because I am in this new, unfamiliar country and I can't communicate worth a darn. It can be pretty humiliating. However, I know the Lord will help me through this if I work hard and have faith. I was having a really hard day the other day. I was super frustrated with Portuguese. I want to tell you about an experience I had yesterday. We went to the house of an investigator named Sally yesterday. She has been searching, searching, searching for the church she should join. The other day, we met with her, and she promised to read and pray about our message. She seemed very willing and we know she felt the spirit. Anyway, we went to visit her yesterday, and she had a friend sitting on her couch. The moment we got in there, this neighbor started tearing us apart. Her friend was a Jehovah's witness and was doing her best to convince Sally that our church was a load of crap. Sally was going for it too. I said a quick prayer in my heart, and the neighbor left a few minutes later. I was afraid we weren't going to be able to get Sally back after that....she seemed kind of closed and hard. But my companion started talking to her. I wasn't saying anything, because I really didn't know what to say or how to say it. Finally I just bore my testimony to her in really bad Portuguese. Sally was touched by the fact that I would leave my home, family, country to come out here and share the gospel in a language I obviously can't really speak. She realized that this gospel was THAT special to me. I think she really felt the spirit, so we will have to see what happens. Anyway, that really helped my day. It made me realize that my even my bad attempt at speaking Portuguese can touch people's hearts. However, I would still really, really, really like to be able to speak Portuguese. One of these days.....it's a process.
Family: I love you all. Being down here has really made me miss you, but I am doing fine. It's a sacrifice, but I knew it would be. I am really glad you were able to go to Ethan's releasing. I have no doubt that it was nothing short of amazing.
I found out that this is the address you are supposed to send letters and packages to. If you have sent it to the other address, it is fine, but start sending to this address:
Sister Autumn Barnes
Missão Porto Alegre Norte
Caixa Postal 13008
Porto Alegre-RS Brazil-CEP: 91010-971
You can tell everyone that they can email me. I won't be able to respond via email, but they can email me. I love you. I will write in more detail next week, but I had two weeks of email to catch up on this time.
Sister Autumn Barnes