September 2009 - September 2011

The Journey from Beginning to End

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Week #32: What does this week have in store? (LONG POST!)

Dear Family,

How are you all doing? I’m doing pretty well.  I forgot to bring my journal with me to the LAN house, so I will try to remember Elder Holland. It was really mostly about not leaving the church when the hard times come. He used the Mark 4 boat story with the storm. It was cool. That was the fireside the night before the missionary meeting. With the missionaries it was about the importance of the mission for the rest of your life. I promise I will note down stuff in my planner next time to write.

What’s this I hear about a Health Reform bill being passed?

To answer one of Dad’s questions I got in a letter, Easter is more of a religious holiday with a heavy Catholic influence here. It is mainly focused on the crucifixion. They show the Passion of Christ movie on TV. (No, I didn’t watch it.)

Yes, I have been using both pairs of my shoes. I think one of my legs is slightly longer than the other, because my left shoes seem to be getting all the wear and tear on the bottoms. There is a certain boot dress shoe type thing that most of the other missionaries here buy. I will probably get one of those when I have had enough. Tell Sam P. to get waterproof! I lined the inside underneath the insole with duck tape and I haven’t had a problem with water since. It’s only been a week, but that’s really good.

So, now the BIG fun part of the weekly update: TRANSFERS!

Elder Tenney has transferred from Manaus in the Amazonas state (see upper north-central map) to  a small city of about 19,000 called Senador Guiomard in the area of Rio Branco in the state of Acre (northwest area below Amazonas, bordering Peru & Bolivia)

So, I am still here in Castanheira with Elder Martins.  This sentence is false. This sentence is true I got transferred! We got the phone call on Saturday, and some fun stuff came for me. I had to have a weight limit of 23 kilos. This means get an airplane to a different state! I had to leave 3 boxes of stuff in the staff building. I only had a 20 kilo suitcase when I got to the airport. I didn’t know… I kinda wish I had brought some other stuff. I brought mostly clothes and the electronic stuff. I left my English Preach My Gospel and English Scriptures and everything in English. It’s a learn it or die for me now. I am actually reading pretty well now.

Last Days in Castanheira

Elder Tenney's Basic Lunch: Elder Martins threw up after this one:)
26 April 2010

Looks like Brazilian "Capri Suns"
22 April 2010

Visits to those he taught & baptized & their families

 25 April 2010: Suelen, Geovana, Fabio
26 April 2010: Ana Paula, Joseana, Granny

26 April 2010: Elders Smith, Tenney, Amorim, Tinti, Martins, & Nassim
So, I got to the staff building in Alvorada Monday morning, and the transfer meeting was starting at 8. One of the secretaries came to me and said, “You need to get a taxi to the airport right now. Your flight leaves in 2 hours.” I didn’t know where I was going or who my new companion was going to be. I asked, but the secretaries all forgot. I heard one say Elder Fortes or Fox or something. Started with an F. Later, found out I was going to the state of ACRE! This is part of the mission that was added on last year. It was part of Missão Brasil Manaus, switched over with the other state of Rondonia to Missão Brazil Curitiba? And then last year switched back to Brazil Manaus mission.

I weighed myself with my suitcase at the staff building. 20.8 kilos suitcase, 70 kilos Elder Tenney.  (154 lbs. ! He has GAINED about 20 lbs. from when he left home in September!  Super!)  Oh, by the way, I am going to get a big chunk out of personal soon. The money situation comes a little different because I am so far away, so the reimbursements take 2-4 weeks. That's a big chunk of money. When it comes, all will be fine, but until then...

So, I had seat number 24D. There are. . . 24 rows on the plane. I sat in the back next to the emergency supplies and I snapped a picture of the cabinet storage area thing. I was a bit worried... Jungle survival kit?!? LoL:)

27 April 2010
?Jungle Survival Kit? on Transfer plane to Acre
There was a magazine with a map of Brazil and all the flights the Airlines GOL makes. You can see the route I took from Manaus to Porto Velho (southwest) to Rio Branco (more to the west and a bit south). The next one over to the west is Cruzeiro do Sul on the Peruvian border. 

Porto Velho in Rondonia from the air - Step one in transfer to Acre
27 April 2010

Rio Branco Airport in Acre Brazil
27 April 2010
So, the flight had to go to Porto Velho in Rondonia first, then to Rio Branco in Acre. Now I have been to 4 states in Brazil. (São Paulo, Amazonas, Rondonia and Acre.) My teacher in the CTM always joked around saying that there are no people who live in Acre. Just wild animals like tigers and onças and crocodiles. He was right. There are very few people here. It's really cut off from the rest of the country.

(Editor "Mom":  I gleaned this from the internet: 
"Acre is in the far west side of Brazil, covered by the Amazon forest. Difficulties of access and tough living conditions cause the State to be scarcely populated; more than half of population is concentrated on only two cities, the capital Rio Branco and Cruzeiro do Sul; extractivism of natural resources (particularly rubber) is the main economic occupation.
Rivers are the main means of transportation. Almost all cities were built by the banks of a river; roads between smaller cities are often non-existant or are in very bad conditions; moving between them can take several days of walking (during the wet seasons, cities are completely isolated).

Public Health infrastructure is very poor. Only Rio Branco has piped water, and no city in Acre (including Rio Branco) has a sewage system. Disenteria and malaria are main causa mortis of children."

What a lovely place...)

So my companion, he is American. We are the only couple of missionaries in the State of Acre that is two Americans. All the others are 1 American, 1 Brazilian. Oh, his name is Elder Fox from Las Vegas. He has just 3 months left until he goes home. He has been here in Acre since August. He served in the area we are in now first, then got switched around to all the others and is back here. He looks kind of like the Wainwright twins to me. Just a bit.
Elder Tenney's new companion - Elder Fox from Las Vegas NV

So... My area: It has been closed for the past couple of transfers due to the lack of missionaries coming in. Elder Fox was in a different area last transfer, so there is a teaching pool of 0. Thankfully, from what I have seen in the last day and a half, the ward is pretty strong and excited to do work. I am just thankful it’s a ward. It’s a small chapel, though. It might *just* qualify as a ward. I really like it here. There are no hills at all. Some things are a bit more expensive, though. Oh, before I forget, it’s called Senador Guiomard.

The house: That’s right, this time I have a house. A bit bigger than my last apartment. The Zone Leaders have a giant house with two floors and many rooms. I think there are 6 missionaries there. Elder Fox and I live out in a municipal outside of the capital Rio Branco. The taxi from the airport to all the areas and dropping off people was R$165 (paid by the mission). Yeah, we live far. There are only two other areas further than mine from the Mission office in Manaus, out in the next city. My last district leader got transferred out to one of them. It's in the next city of Cruzeiro do Sul on the Peru Border. He had to wait on the plane for a 3rd flight to get there.

Here is our house. I haven't taken anything of the area yet, but it is really really flat and muddy. Lots of bikes. Oh, by the way, the pictures of the house are after we had cleaned. I didn't want to see it dirty again, so I didn't take any before shots. Believe me, it was a nightmare. Just one small fan for now, but we will buy another one next week.      

Not even the local people here know the names of the roads here. Everything is done by reference point.

Elder Tenney's 1st Abode in Senador Guiomard - Acre
27 April 2010

Elder Tenney's Kitchen in Senador Guiomard - Acre
27 April 2010

Elder Tenney's Bed in Senador Guiomard - Acre
27 April 2010
Oh, the house! So, since nobody was in it for the last 3 months, there were a bunch of spiders! AAAAUUUGGGHHH!!! And the missionaries who were here last left everything dirty like the dishes and just everything. We already deep cleaned once and it’s a lot better now. We just need to buy some bug killer to get rid of the giant spiders. They just knock the shoes out of our hands. No, I’m kidding, not that big, but still… Also, there were 2 energy bills to pay from the months that didn’t have anyone that total to R$175, but we cleared that out with the landlord already. My last area didn’t have utility bills, but this one does. A lot of them do, actually. We get reimbursed for this kind of stuff, thankfully.

Oh, and all of my clothes are holding up fine. We have a washing machine here that we have to partially hand wash, but we should be getting a new one within the next month. This area is going to be goooooooooood.

Oh, I do know one thing about the last missionary that was here. He had to go to the hospital because he got sick a lot in this area. They did a blood test and it was 52% bacteria in his blood. Then the nurse accidently pulled out the vein in his hand. All during this time, the guy in the next bed was already dead. I am really excited now. Such amazing adventures.

Hope you are all having a great time. I am waiting for President to give the all clear signal on the phone calls, and then I will update you as soon as possible. Sometimes missionaries just have to call home really fast to give the number, then hang up, then the family calls back.

Send munchies, like jerky and gummy things. Acre is a little cooler, and I think chocolate can handle it. Somehow, last year during July it got down to 15 degrees Celsius. One of the elders said he worked in his suit coat the entire day once, the only time on the mission. Too bad I left mine in the staff building.

Oh, Lamisil, too. 3 tubes. I just have enough for another week, I think, then I have a couple different things I got from the doctor in the CTM that kind of work.

I have hot water in the shower now! I just had 5 months of only cold water. I’m saved!

In order to answer the pleas of a worried mother, I am looking for pictures I have of me.

By the way, all of these photos are at Presidente Figuerado (I don't remember how to spell it) from the ward activity last transfer.
Bus Ride to Ward Activity
27 March 2010

Scary Bus Ride?? Elder Tenney says the driving is crazy in Manaus.
27 March 2010

Elder Tenney having fun @ Ward Activity
27 March 2010

Elder Tenney in blue next to Elder Martins in red
Ward Activity @ Presidente Figuerado
27 March 2010

Woops! Elder Tenney dropped his camera in the mud....
27 March 2010
Sad....but the camera turned out fine after it dried out. :)
27 March 2010
Now I am done. The Lan house here is $R1.50 per hour so it's a bit more expensive here. The computers are better and faster, though. Just a bit.
I had to leave all my letters in a box in the staff. Please conserve paper and space. Write two letters in the same envelope or something. Maybe three. And don't send a box until we talk on Mom day. Love you all. Send Hershey kisses! That's what I need! Yes! Brain Blast! (Jimmy Neutron) The white chocolate oreo type! And a bag of caramel filled. And a bag of raspberry- (I think it was snozberry actually (Willy Wonka) -filled. I am actually quite hungry right now, so I am just asking for food. The white chocolate oreo if you only send one. Thanks.

I love you all a bunch. Hope ya know that!

I love you, mom. Don’t worry too much. I’m having a blast.
Elder Tenney leaving his mark in the Amazon!