Hello Family and Friends,
This was my first week in Santa Maria, the headquarters of my beloved mission. It is a very pretty city. It is surrounded by mountains which are covered with green trees, and it is my first area which is almost completely flat. Which is a nice change of pace, although my worry is that I will become chubby once more because I have become lazy in my work outs. I figure that walking up hill everyday, all day would keep me skinny and it has, but now I am in a valley, and a flat one at that. I will just have to break out the jump rope.
Right now I am loving my new area. It is called Salgado Filho which translates to Salty Son or Salted Son. I really do not know why it is called that, but once I figure out why they call it that I will let you know. Right now my companion is Elder Rafael. He is from Santos which is a city on the beach of São Paulo. For those who have lost count that makes 4 our of my 7 companions up until now are from São Paulo. The Chruch is very strong there. He is a good guy and always willing to work so that is a plus. He is really funny as well. I think that he and I will get along really well this transfer.
My area is "friggin' great." It is, as my companion puts it, "a model for Rio Grande do Sul." In all fairness it really is. The people here are really warm and recepting, and also they are doing really well in the ward. They have a frequency of 150 to 175 member who go to church on Sunday. They said that that had dropped however from last year which was 200 plus. I cannot believe that because their chapel is tiny. I do not know if you all remember our chapel in Ohio but it is smaller than that. It is however the strongest ward in the mission. I feel great here. I feel as if I am a part of the family.
I am also liking our apartement, which is actually a duplex. It is just my companion and I in this huge place. It is really nice. My last apartement in Cruz Alta was tiny and we could never keep it clean because there were four of us living there. I feel much better now.
I really do not have much more to add to that. Thank you so much for all that you guys did for me. I hope that you all are doing well.
Elder Caleb S. Carriere