The people here are wonderful, loving people. When greeted and when saying goodbye, the women embrace in cheek-to-cheek kisses. The men lean slightly toward each other and shake hands with everyone when coming and going. These are beautiful, genuine customs. The people are not at all slow or backward. They live in a lower economic area. BOY! can they talk fast! We are surrounded by Portuguese-speaking people, who are so patient with us, as we fumble to find words and phrases. Dennis is doing great. I speak v-e-r-y slow, and try to talk around and act out words until everyone catches on, gives the correct word, and nods with understanding and approval.
The LDS Church is a small “GROUPO” right now—not even a branch—started 6 mos. ago, with three solid families and four young elders who are trying hard to develop into a branch. The church is a house near the center of the city, which was donated by one of the church members here. Last Sunday there were 60 people at Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting. Dennis and I are helping wherever we can: We teach Seminary 4 days a week to 3-6 teenagers, put on Family Home Evenings every Monday and teach an English class on Saturday evenings. I help with the music in Primary (one tiny classroom of 12-17 children, all ages, with one teacher). Dennis is going to volunteer to teach a Sunday School class.
The roads are in poor shape; it's hard to negotiate between mud and potholes, big gravel patches, rough blacktop, old unrepaired cobblestones and broken-up concrete. Dennis walks about 1 hour every morning, and thrives on it, as usual. This has been very hard for me, as you can imagine, but without a car--like most people in town--I seem to find energy needed to walk about 4 miles a day to get things done. At night ,we both crash and can hardly move. There are some nice cars here, but most are small run-down, half-working cars with missing parts, dragging pipes, etc. The houses are painted with bright colors, but most are very small and in poor condition. There are clothes hanging everywhere, since no one has a clothes dryer. Since it is so humid, most people open their windows in the morning and air out their bedding. After we washed clothes last week, it took 4-5 days for them to dry, hanging from a large indoor drying rack--with the help of our little heater. There are dogs everywhere, none on leashes! Interesting--very few dog fights.
The weather? It's is winter here and very chilly, especially in the house (58 degrees our first morning). No one has central heating. So we hover around our little heaters and wear extra layers. It either rains or is misty all day It rains in torrents, and either stops after 10-15 minutes, or continues for hours. This will continue through August. We'll master this challenge too!