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Letter 66: Christmas in Brazil

December 30, 2014

This week was super special. I love it here in Brazil. The people are awesome. Christmas is awesome. Last Christmas I spent the day at my Ward Mission Leader’s house back in Yucaipa, California. That was an awesome day. This year I had a completely different experience.

Think about Jesus Christ for a second. How did he celebrate his birth? No room in the inn, and he’s in a stable. Let me tell you, I smell stables here all the time and it’s not a great thing. He’s sleeping in a manger. Super scratchy. But there he was, King of Kings, sleeping in swaddling clothes, without even a pillow. Talk about humility.

I’m not going to say that we had an equivalent experience to that which Jesus had on the day of his birth, but we got a taste.

Our lunch on Christmas was supposed to be at the Bishop’s house. He’s pretty well off, so it promised to be a great lunch. But he cancelled the Sunday before, and said that we’d eat lunch at a guy named Diogo’s house. Well, in our ward, there exists a region called the ‘grota’. This is basically a spot between two hills that a million people have built houses just big enough to lay down in. Diogo lives in the grota. Diogo is our Ward Mission Leader. We went to his house, and just talked for a little while as he got the food ready. He works scrapping fridges and repairing them. He makes 150 reals a week. This isn’t a lot (about $55). He works Monday through Saturday 6 AM to 7 PM. He works literally all the time, so he isn’t able to do anything related to his ward mission leader calling. He only gets two days off a year, Christmas and New Years. And he asked Bishop if he could spend Christmas with us.

We arrive, and he hands us a fruitcake. “This is for you guys to eat tonight.” It was a normal lunch, chicken, rice, beans, pasta. But it was really good. We went there and he starts apologizing right off the bat. “I made a cake for you guys, but I’m sorry it’s a little crooked. I think it’s still yummy.” He apologized the whole time, even though it was all perfect. He only has one knife in his house, because he hasn’t had the money to buy more. His house he said was made out of just wood, but his mom saved up money for 3 years to build his house out of bricks. We eat, and he just keeps putting more and more food on our plates. I’ve never been so full. He sent us home with some of the delicious cake on two of his nicest plates, using one of his plastic bags and plastic wraps that he’s saved forever.

I got a little emotional, I’ll admit it. A man so humble, giving almost everything he has to us to make us happy. He said “I know I’ve been an awful Ward Mission Leader, not going out with you guys, but I will try to help you out. What else can I do for you?” This man took his only day off to spend time with us, spent a ton of money that he didn’t have on food for us, and wanted to know what else he could do. We read the Christmas story with him, and just talking about humble Jesus brought a tear to my eye.

I loved this Christmas. It was different. But I loved it. I’m going to remember it and commemorate it for the rest of my life.

Happy New Year!

Elder Connor Weeks

The Grota

The Grota

Diogo's House

Diogo’s House

Inside Diogo's House

Inside Diogo’s House

Diogo

Diogo

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