Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 15, 2009

Oi! How are y'all?! I'm doing really well still! Things are going awesome! Still struggling with the language of course. Still impossible to understand people, but I think I am gettting a little better. Not much I can do. Everyone tells me it just comes with time. But I think my speaking is improving. I really enjoy speaking it. Everyone tells me I speak well. I guess I just have a good ear, and can sort of immitate the accent. It's a way crazy accent here! I love it! But can't understand it. There are a few people who speak English. There are a lot of people from Africa, like I said, but not all of them are from the Portuguese colonies. Some are from Nigeria (where they supposedly have a lot of different languages, including English) and also Somalia, and all over really. So it's pretty cool to actually be able to converse with people. A lot of the younger people can speak English because they learn it in school. And some claim they learned the English they know from watching TV. Almost all of the TV here is American shows, with Portuguese subtitles. But they do have a few Brazilian, and Portuguese Soap Operas. LLLAAAMMMMEEEE! We are pretty lucky to have good TV in America! Ha ha. Everything is going really well with the Companion. He is a really cool guy, and we have fun. He is a little different. I don't think I have ever known anyone quite like him. He is pretty calm, but sometimes not. I can't explain him. He is cool though. He is really good at teaching, and a really good people's person. That's another I have been trying to overcome still, is talking to people. It's especially hard because I don't know the language. But I am trying to do better with that. I can imagine the heat in Utah right now. But it's actually pretty nice here. I never know the temperature here, but I'm guessing somewhere in the 70s and 80s, and rarely 90s. Really nice. Sometimes at night, it actually gets really cool and breezy. It's really nice here. Pretty humid. I think the humidity has been good on my asthma. I haven't really had any problems with it. I'm really jealous of the garden. I'm gonna miss all the fresh veggies. So good. That's so awesome how many visits you are getting at work dad! That's way more than we got when I was there. So awesome. Is Brennan still working there? How is he doing? Is he still going to go to school in the fall? How is Kaenan? Is he starting Kindergarten this year? How are his swimming lessons? Has he gotten any new obsessions? I'm guessing he is still into Pokemon. I'm also jealous you miss fishing. I miss doing that. But I don't miss getting up early and freezing to death at Scofield. Ha ha. But I really do like fishing. That's crazy you guys got new carpet! I can't even imagine it! Is mom redoing all of the rooms too? Is she gonna decorate them and stuff? I'm excited to get home and see. Congrats on your calling dad! That really is awesome. I know you're gonna do really good at it. I'm not surprised at all about Bailey. Especially with the new carpet. I could have seen that coming. I'm glad she's still around at least. I'm glad everything is going well at home. How are Megan and Spencer doing? Is Spencer liking his new job? What is Megan doing? Still cutting hair? Or is she going to school? Or both? How is Liz doing? What is she doing? Is she staying in Mesa? Or is she going to move down to Utah still? How are Tim and Amy? What new things are happening with them? How are Griff and Gretch doing with the wedding plans? Oh, by the way, if you want to give them all my email address, I am allowed to email family. Or maybe you are just posting on my blog mom, or forwarding my emails. I dunno. Whatever you want to do. I am going to try to send some pictures through this email if I end up having time. Again, I'm doing really well. We are teaching a lot of people. Really awesome people. We are still teaching Oscar, and his soon to be wife Albertina. There are getting married on the 24th, and then Oscar will be baptized the next day! Oscar really loves the gospel, and he can see the blessings is has brought into his life. He is excited to be baptized, and to receive the priesthood one day also. We are also teaching Maria still. We were teaching her family too, but they moved with their dad to England. Hopefully they can find the church there, I dunno. She is also marked for baptism now, and she is doing awesome! She is already living the way she needs to, but she says she doesn't feel quite ready for baptism. She is worried about what her family thinks. So she is marked to be baptized in September. We also have a new investigator named Turé. He is really awesome. We have only taught him twice, but he told us that he felt really,really good while we were teaching. We are teaching a guy from Brazil named Felipe. He is only 20, but seems a lot older. He is a really awesome, upbeat guy, but he is Evangelical, and believes every single word we say, so it will be hard to convince him that this is the ONLY true church. We are also teaching a guy from Brazil named Ronaldo, who is about 21 I think. He is awesome, and also agrees with a lot that we say. But he told us that he prayed, and that the Holy Ghost told him that the Catholic church is the right church. So we are a little bit stuck with him. He is an awesome guy. He is a nearly professional football (soccer) player. His team played against the Porto team, which is a professional team. They are the best team in Portugal, and have won the world cup recently I think. So Ronaldo is really good, and might soon get onto a professional team. Anyways, doing really well. We haven't had a lot of trouble finding new people to teach. It's been really awesome. How is Sonny doing? Do you know? I haven't heard about him or from him since he left the MTC about 9 weeks ago. Anyways, I love this work. I am excited to finally be able to speak the language some day. I know this is the true gospel. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I have been reading it since I got into the MTC. I am in 3 Nephi now. I love it. I love reading the words of prophets and the stories of wicked people coming to Christ. I love applying the teachings in my life. I know this is the only true gospel and I have already seen it bless people's lives. I love this work. There is no place I would rather be now. If I had to come home, I would be devastated. I love you all! Fica fixe!!!
Elder Walker

P.S. Thanks for the perfect pancake recipe! I am totally making them tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 8, 2009

Olá Família! Portugal is still going awesome! I'm still loving it! It's really cool to be here in Europe. A lot of things are different. But I'm also surprised how many things are exactly the same. American culture has a lot of influence here. Pretty cool. I'm still struggling with the language, as usual. It's really, really hard to understand everyone. Especially the Africans, and the Brazilians. Especially the Brazilians. Brazilian Portuguese is way different than Portugal Portuguese. I heard they are even thinking about making it into 2 different languages. Our new Mission President arrived last week, and I had my first Zone Conference on Monday. As you know mom, his name is President Torgan, and he is from Brazil. He seems really awesome. Before he was called to be mission president here, he was about to be like, Vice Governer of some state in Brazil or something, pretty crazy. And he was also the leader of like 16,000 police or something like that. The reason I say he only seems awesome, is because he made a new rule that at all of the zone and district meetings, it will all be in Portuguese. And as I said, Brazilian Portuguese is way hard to understand for me. So, sadly, I didn't get much out of Zone Conference. But I am doing well with speaking, I think. I feel like I am improving. I just need to be able to understand other people, so that I can actually converse with them. I feel behing, but my companion tells me that I'm not. And he tells me I have a really good Portuguese accent. So I am doing well. Everything else is going great. I'm getting to know the area pretty well. The other day, Elder Markarian had to go give a baptismal interview, so I had to go on divisions with another missionary, who actually came here with us and is as new as I am. But he was already fluent in the language before he left for his mission. We had to go out and proselyte together! It was way scary! And it was my area, so I had to find our way around. But I did really well, and got on all of the right buses and stuff. Crazy. Thanks for the recipe mom! Tuna casserole is actually exactly what I had in mind! And they should have all the ingredients here. They have most of what we have in the states, I think. At least the same food. Not medicine. I am glad I bought all that stuff mom. They don't even have simple things here like ibuprofen, or tums. Crazy. Anyways, another really useful recipe would be Perfect Pancakes. Mmmm! I miss those! The only ingredient we wouldn't have for that, is Mapleine. They don't have maple syrup here! Or mapleine, so I can't even make it. But they have vanilla, so I can make vanilla syrup. Yeah, and any other recipes you can think of mom. Thanks! So my comp has a flea problem, which is crazy, because I haven't seen or felt any at all. Supposedly I was bit once, but didn't feel it, and it never itched. So his mom ended up sending him some flea bombs (they don't have anything for fleas here either.) So hopefully that will stop. That's crazy about Mike and Cam! I had no idea either of them were engaged! Crazy! And I'm way excited for Griffin and Gretchen! I could easily have another niece or nephew by the time I get back, eh? That's awesome you guys are going to Italy! Way soon! We will be using the same money at least. I don't know what else is similar. The socks are great mom. Thanks for sending them. I actually had way too many, so I gave a lot of my old ones away before I got here. I had to give quite a bit of stuff away so my bags wouldn't be too heavy. So far, the work is great here! Elder Markarian is awesome! We have 2 investigators marked for baptism, one on the way, and a few new investigators. Pretty cool. I don't do a whole lot in the lessons, other than testify. I can't exactly teach, and ask questions yet. But things are going good. I'm loving it. Sometimes it's stressful. Just the language usually. And we walk a lot. So I come home pretty exhausted at night. It's good though. I'm getting the best sleep of my life here! I don't have trouble falling asleep at all. Unlike at the MTC, or basically my whole life before the mission. It's awesome. It is a little loud around our house though. We live pretty close to the airport, so there are a lot of planes flying over all the time, and that's way loud. But I have gotten used to it. Also, there are TONS of dogs everywhere. Some stray, but mostly owned. So we here a lot of barking. It's crazy. Most of the dogs are mutts. Rarely do I see purebread. I haven't seen the same kind of dog twice. Crazy. I don't think I really need anything sent. I imagine it's pretty expensive anyway. Oh, by the way. You don't have my address yet. Ok, here's the deal. You can send stuff directly to our apartment, and supposedly the mail is reliable here. It's supposed to be really good. But it's best if you send it directly to the mission office. I will get it at the next transfer/zone conference. I will be in this area for at least another 4 weeks, unless I get transferred to a new area. So if you don't know, it will just be safe to send it to the mission office. If you are going to send a package, send it to the mission office, not the apartment address. Probably get stolen or something, I dunno. So here are my addresses.

This is our APARTMENT:

Rua Miraflores Lt. 496 R/C Dto
Bairro da Fraternidade
2695 São João de Talha

This is the OFFICE:

Rua Jorge Barradas 14C

I guess that's it. I'm doing great! Hope everyone is there too! Eu amo vocês! Fica fixe! (Stay cool)
Elder Walker

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Greg's First Letter From Portugal

Olá Família! I'm finally here in Portugal! It's crazy to finally be here! I've been here a week, and I'm sort of getting the hang of things. My new companion's name is Elder Markarian. He is from Reno, Nevada. He is 21 and has been out here for about 1 year and a half. He is really cool and really good at the language. We live just the two of us in an apartment in an area called São João da Talha. Our proselyting area is Sacavém, which is just north of Lisboa. It's a pretty cool place. And there are tons of Africans! I had no idea! I knew there would be some, because our teachers told us and stuff. They all come from the countries that used to be Portuguese colonies, such as Mozambique, Angola, Guinea, Cape Verde and I think there are others but I can't remember what they are called. All of our investigators that we have taught since I have been here have been African. And more than half of our ward is African, including our Branch President. It's really cool! They are awesome people! Elder Markarian says he loves the Africans, because they are really humble people and always nice, unlike the Portuguese who are supposedly really arrogant. I wouldn't really know, I can hardly understand anyone! The language is hard! The hardest part is understanding. I can speak ok, but everyone talks so fast! Elder Markarian says I am doing well though. He usually has me at least bear my testimony, and I have taught small portions of a couple of lessons. I have also spoken to people at their doors, but I can't say much, so Elder 'M' has to take over. But I'm loving it! Even though I can't understand most of what they are saying, I love the people! I love our investigators, and our members! We are teaching a man named Oscar, and his 'girlfriend' Albertina. They are awesome! They live together, and have a few kids, who actually live in Africa right now. I'm not sure why. Oscar is from São Tomé, which is an island off of the coast of Africa. Elder 'M' and his companion last transfer found him doing street contacts. He is so cool, and he loves the gospel. He is marked to be baptized in August, and he and Albertina are getting married next month. It's really awesome to teach them. We are also teaching a woman named Maria, and her daughters Jú, and Conçeição. They are from Angola. They seem to like the gospel as well, but her two daughters are moving to England soon to live with their dad. Neither of them speak English, so we don't really know what will happen with them. There are others we have been teaching too, some of them inactive members. It's really cool, but I really need to get the language down. It's pretty crazy living here. But not as different as I thought it would be. Supposedly, Portugal is considered a 3rd World Country, because of some of the areas. Our area where we live, and where we proselyte seems really nice. Right now we are and an Internet Shoppe at a mall in Lisboa called Columbo. Supposedly, it's the biggest mall in Western Europe. After this, I think we are going to go bowling, which is cool. They have a lot of the same food here, it seems like. I haven't eaten anything gross yet. But we have only eaten at members houses like, twice. The first time we had chicken and rice. Really good. And the next time we ate this kind of soup-like stuff called Cachupa. It was really good. It had a lot of beans, and meat, and stuff. Tasted pretty good. It's actually food from Cape Verde, because the member's house we ate at are from there. Really good, but it's a tradition that when they make cachupa, that they eat the entire pan, and they made a ton! I ate so much! And then they told us that because it was our first time eating it, we were going to have diarrhea that night. And sure enough, when we got home, Elder 'M' had to go! And then the next morning, I woke up and had to go! Crazy! We have had some crazy days. Especially this morning. I was taking a shower, and suddenly the lights went out and the water went cold. The power went out. And as far as we know, it's still out. It was when we left the house. Then, Elder 'M' was about to take the trash out, and found maggots all over the place! Ahh! Don't worry, our house is really clean. We don't live in a dirty, nasty place or anything. Our house is actually really, really nice. It was our own fault, because we hadn't taken the trash out for awhile. It was crazy though! Then we missed a bus. Crazy morning. Oh yeah, we do a TON of public transportation. That's how we get around. We take the bus everywhere. And we do quite a bit of walking. The weather is really nice here. It really is a lot like So-Cal. Pretty humid, not too hot, not too cold. Really nice. Oh yeah, there are fleas here. Elder 'M' gets bit almost every night. I have only been bit once. It wasn't bad. I guess they don't like my blood or something. I'm not too worried about it. Elder 'M's mom is sending him flea-bombs. I don't really know if it's bad or not. You can't really see them. Oh, mom, guess what cereal they have here... Nesquik cereal! Your favorite! We bought some today! I dunno if it's the same. We haven't tried it yet. I have been eating really well though. Elder 'M' is a really good cook. This next week is supposedly my turn to cook, I don't know what I am goind to cook. Maybe you could send me some simple recipes or something mom. Well, I am really loving it here. I love being here. I love teaching people. I know the language will get better, I just need to keep studying and trying hard. How is everything going there? How was tour mom? Hope it went well. How are the wedding plans coming? How is business going dad? Did you get the gazebo up yet? Did you paint the fireplace mantel? Anyways, hope to hear back from y'all next week. I'm gonna go bowl! (Bowling, in Portugal? What is this?) I still don't know if I am going to be able to send pictures over the internet, or if I can get them developed anywhere. I'm going to try to next week. Paz e amor! Até logo!
Elder Walker