Visiting Paranapiacaba

Hi Everyone,
There are a lot of cool things about my area (Rio Grande da Serra.) In the little road side shops you can usually find an assortment of dehydrated leaves, sculptures, fabric dolls, decorated boxes, ornaments, jewelry, paintings, and in general lots of cool and quirky things. The people here all know eachother becuase the town is small.

At the southeast side of the town there is a long road decorated with old destroyed cars, a chemical powerplant, a rock quarry and hundreds of train tracks. After about 20 minutes of travel by bus down this road, you arive at the village-city of Paranapiacaba. The town was founded when a British company built a railway line to export coffee beans from the area to the sea port at Santos beach. The village-city prospered for 30 years, until automated machinery replaced the need for the trains´s compliacted travel systems.

When the village’s population suddenly declined and many of its buildings were abandoned, the city was left untouched with a lot of cool history sites and camping areas… (see the end for photos, I visited Paranapiacaba today)

In order to preserve the heritage status of Paranapiacaba as a well preserved railway town, the government of Brazil decreed it to be a historic district and initiated further steps to preserve its heritage status and encourage its development as a suburb of São Paulo and to promote tourism. The objective of the project was to preserve the natural, cultural, and industrial heritage and ensure economic progress of the town in particular and the region as a whole.

(I learned all this from the assorted signs throughout the town)

As far as missionary work this week, I taught a ton of cool people and found two really good families that my companion and I are now preparing for baptism. The highlight of this week, though, was when I went to the temple and got to baptise my recent convert Julio for his deceased father and confirm him as well.


The assorted photos I attached are the cemetery,


Me jumping off of a rock bacause it looked cool,


Me sitting in the jungle rocks,


Me drinking water from a fountain at Paranapiacaba,


Me on a bridge


Me with elder McGary (who was another missionary from the Interlagos mission who I met in the mtc),


A church in my city,


and some water I found.



I think this upcoming week I’ll probably have a few baptisms as well!! 🙂

Godspeed and until next time,

Elder Westenhaver

Shopping and Subways

Hi Everybody,

I don’t have much time left so I summarize this week by saying:

We baptized Erick,
York Baptism Erick
Saw a floating cross outside a Catholic church,
York Floating Cross Brazil
Took a picture with some other missionaries and had fun in general.
York Ribero Pires Missionaries

We already have 4 baptisms confirmed for this month so I’m pretty stoked for these upcoming weeks.

This week was kind of difficult because I had a really bad stabbing pain in my foot, but yesterday it went away so that’s good.

In general in this area is pretty nice; it’s very rural so I get to be away from all the commotion that takes place in the city. The area where I am is really more of a county really because there isnt any city-ish area here. Its technically part of Sao Paulo but it’s the last stop on the farthest away train.

The people here work and do whatever normal Brazilian people do.  It has areas that look just like where we used to go camping in Texas and it has areas that look more or less like suburbs. There are a lot of little stores where we can buy food and toilet paper, etc. but there aren’t any Walmarts or anything like I had in my last couple of urban areas.

York Brazil Market
The architecture here is mostly the same as in the city but as a general rule the buildings are larger because there is more space. Air conditioning is relatively nonexistent.

The people often sit in bars and drink all day playing dominoes because the government gives money to the “underprivaledged.” Alhough that term proves a little ambiguous here since every social class here is underprivaledged when compared to the US.

I don’t take public transport very often here becuase its 4 reals (which is the currency here. It’s pronounced kind of like “HAY-eye”) so I can’t really afford it. But we did get to take the subway last week.
Sao Paulo Subway
Tomorow I´m going to the temple so I’m excited for that. Other that that nothing really happened this last week here.
Next week I promise to write more!
Love, West

Welcome to the Jungle (sort of)

This week was the first week in the “jungle.” As demonstrated by the pictures that I´ve sent you, its not really all that jungly all though there is a part my area that actually looks exectly my old scout camp (you know, dirt roads, and cattle, and donkeys, and LOTS of mosquitoes biting you and snakes and rats and stuff like that).

 The weather here in this area is really really hot and humid so that’s a major bummer.  My new ward is a lot bigger than my others with around 200 active members. It’s probably going to split. My area here is the second biggest in the mission so we´ve been doing a LOT of walking.

I have currently about 100 mosquito bites, at about 1000 I think that that statistics are going to start working against me for contracting dengue or yellow fever or something. Luckily I bought the brazilian equivalent of OFF deep woods so I should be fine, I think.
This week I taught a few good people who are preparing to be baptized. Saul and Samuel are two young boys whose father is causing their baptisms to take forever. He’s a returned missionary but he hasn’t been to church in years. He keeps telling us that he want the baptisms to happen next month or next week–some time in the future. Of course he doesn’t really have a reason to delay the baptisms, he’s just bieng a burden so it’s annoying.
Also we have a young boy that were teaching who’s really receptive and I think were probably going to baptise him this upcoming week if everything goes well. Unfortunately he lives really REALLY far away.
This week our house started raining water when when I arrived one night. It was really sketchy because the whole stairway looked like a waterslide and we had to climb up it to get to our rooms to see what the problem was. Turns out the buoy in the water tank reserve above our house broke and the refill mechanism went haywire and overfilled the tank.

Anyway, its all good since the houses are made of brick not wood so there’s no water damage or anything. I attached some pictures of my house and my area and of my new companion. And one of the train station that’s in my area that I used to arrive here in Rio Grande da Serra.
I almost got robbed this week because someone told us to give them our money when we were wandering around late at night. I just walked around them and told them in really bad portuguese “I dont understand you, I dont speak portuguese.” and they didn’t follow us or anything. Must have been some angels protecting us!
Thanks you guys for reading and godspeed,
E. Westenhaver

Humbling Myself

So I loved watching General Conference. It was cool because I got to watch it in English as well. My favorite talk was the one by Elder Oaks in the last session. I don’t know why but everything he said was exactly what I wanted and needed to hear.

I’m being tranferred today to the most jungle-ish part of my mission which everyone says is really cold. I’m being put with somebody named Elder C. which means Elder Butcher in English. But everyone says he’s cool so hopefully we’ll get along.
This conference when President Uchtdorf  talked in the Priesthood session, he said that as you grow older you begin to appreciate the work that your parents did more every day. Nothing has proven truer to me over these past 7 months of the mission.
I never really thought until recently what it must have been like to be in you guys´s positions. I almost have 20 years under my belt and in 5 more I bet I´ll already probably have a kid. Its wierd to think that the parenting era of my life is almost here. I feel extremely overwhelmed already.
Thinking of the stress and all of the work that you must have put into raising us kids in truly incredible. Often times when I was younger I remember running up to my room and fuming to myself about how I thought you guys were bieng unfair and how I was always right… now I understand that you were just doing what you thought was best.
Becuase of the past emotional, spiritual, physical, mental and age disparities between you and me I never really understood you all that well. (adults in general for that matter) But now that I am almost 20 years old and am finally living on my own I’ve begin to truly realize the value of the teachings and help that you´ve left me with.
In particular I remember how you were always so supportive to me in all that I ever wanted to do. You went to all of my shows and sports things. You helped me do my projects for school and pushed me to do my school work. My only regret is that I didnt embrace the advice you gave me to always work hard, especially in high school.
Because of my slacking off and laziness during those 4 years of high school I will not have a scholarship at college and that makes me mad that I didn’t just listen to what you were telling me that whole time. Luckily I plan on applying for scholarships like crazy when I get back so that you guys dont have to break the bank because of my lack of foresight.
Love you!