Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week #33

Dearest Family,

We had a pretty epic P-day today.  We ventured over to Tom Brown Park to do some mountain biking.  We've done it before, and it's super fun, even though I have to do it on my mission bike.  I look like a clown riding on that bike that was made for a missionary about half my size.  But it's still super fun.  We got a touch lost, so we ended up making about a seven-mile loop, but it was still super legit.  

We got a new investigator this week, and he's actually somewhat famous in these parts.  His name is Drake Anderson, and he actually plays Chief Osceola, the FSU mascot who comes into the stadium and throws the spear into the ground.  He was a referral from a member.  We are also going to be working with a less-active member this week who apparently played Jesus is one of the old church videos, so we're going to see if he has it and watch it with him.  And then we have LaiTaras, of course.  That's pretty much our teaching pool right now.  We're having a lot of fun.  And Elder Burnett and I are learning a lot better how to work with each other and be patient with one another, so we've made a lot of progress.

I've been trying something new that I really like that's super simple but makes a big difference.  Every night when i write in my journal I write down five new things that I'm grateful for.
Yeah, I'm sorry that I don't really have much to say this week.  We've just been in the office.  Doing boring but important stuff.  Elder Burnett is editing away on the other computer, so I usually just have to search for ways to fill my time effectively.  That includes writing essays about the best way to do missionary work using social media, organizing missionary choirs, logging all of our potentials in our area book into a digital form, eating some peanut butter M&Ms here and there.  The supply closet is all organized, so that doesn't occupy my time too much anymore.  If you can't tell, I'm kind of disillusioned with office work just about now.  It's time for me to get back out proselyting full time.  At least I want it to be time.  I want to teach.  In Portuguese, preferably.

Hope everything is going well.  Thanks for all of your pictures and kind notes.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week #32

Dear Family,

I wrote another poem.  I think I wrote this a couple of weeks ago.  

God sees us better
Than we may now see ourselves
Both inside and out

"A companion? Why?
I know me better than he.
I think my own thoughts."

But "in" is just half
The eternal equation;
We need insight out

No mirrors can be
Used to reflect our actions
Like somebody else

Their eyes reflect us
And we know our own thinking
God's sight comes through both

I see him,
And he sees me.
We see ourselves
As God would see.

I wrote this poem because a thought came to mind one day about the way that God sees us.  We always say that God knows us better than we know ourselves, and I think that I know why.  Not only is he perfectly pure in his judgment, and knows where we're coming from, but at the same time he not only sees us from the inside but also from outside.  He can see how we act from the eyes of another person, whereas we cannot.  So I think that's why it's super important to surround yourself with other people because we can't really become our best selves without someone else letting us know how we appear from the outside.

So we had an interesting week this week.  Especially because of our fast and testimony meeting yesterday.  Good night, it was a sight to behold.  So I told you about LaiTaras Stokes, the black man we've been working with every week for like the past three weeks.  Since we've been meeting with him he's progressively gotten better and better at communicating, but it's still going to take some time to get him to speak clearly in a public group.
So he came to church on Sunday again, and it happened to be fast and testimony meeting.  We're not allowed to drive him, so we had a member bring him to church.  He sat with that family, a few rows in front of us pretty close to the front.  As soon as the first counselor turned the time over for testimonies to go down, LaiTaras stood straight up, preceded only by one person who had also jumped the gun.  Elder Burnett and I waited anxiously for LaiTaras's turn, and then it came.  He stood up and started preaching.  This is how he started: "Belief...(pause)...Belief...(pause)...Belief...(pause)..." and with his last pause I thought he was going to say it again.  After that he went into kind of a spew of words that didn't make sense together, and then he finally started making sense, made a few powerful statements, sang a line from "Amazing Grace" and then went and sat down.  The funny thing is that as soon as he sat down, both Elder Burnett and I had the thought, "I wonder if LaiTaras would dare stand up again."  Well, he did, and my heart dropped into my stomach as soon as he stood up.  That is the first time that I have ever seen someone stand up twice to bear their testimony.  Apparently he had not finished his thoughts, so he walked up their.  Brother Bishop stopped him and spoke with him for a sec, and then let him finish his testimony, which wasn't too crazy, just kind of out of place.  So that's went down, we had the gospel preached to us by a Mormon with a Baptist Preacher attitude.  

That was probably the highlight of the week.  We're going to see LaiTaras again today, and we're hoping at some point to be able to meet with his entire family.  We'll see what happens.

Thanks for all of the pictures of little Penny's baby blessing.  That little kidney bean is super cute, especially in her humongous dress.  That's way cool that that used to be Addie's dress and now little Penny is wearing it.  Super cute.  And Dad, congrats on your colonoscopy, I hope it was an enlightening experience.

Thanks much, you goons.  Keep being awesome!



Week #31


This week has been a good week.  Especially because of yesterday, our Sunday was super boss.  Sister Beal finally came to church, even though she has told us at almost every meeting that we've had with her that she doesn't think that she will ever come back.  Liar!  But yeah, she came, and the LaiTaras Stokes came to all the meetings.  He is doing super well and we are getting a long ways with him, so I'm super happy.

So here's the scuttlebutt.  Within one week my visa went from step one to step four.  So it is technically ready to be picked up, meaning that the church probably will be jumping on that lickety-split.  Judging from my very precise calculations with absolutely no foundation whatsoever, I will probably be going to Brazil in a couple weeks or so.  Super exciting.  I should be staying in the office up until that point, with Elder Burnett as my companion, which should be fun because we are learning to get along really well.  Like I said before, we are both very particular about the way that we like things, and those things happen to just be completely opposite.  Our differences play upon our similarities.  So I almost have to try to be different than him so that I can be closer to him.  Super weird stuff.

So we attended a Marvin Goldstein performance this week, which was super cool.  He is in our stake and invited all of the missionaries in the Tallahassee area to attend one of his concerts at TCC, so we all got to go for free and hear some crazy piano-key magic this past Tuesday.  Something cool about him is that he actually plays on a regular basis at that church up in Brighton Canyon that Grandpa Copier built, and I actually talked to him about it.  It was a super cool performance, and I loved it.  

Hmm...I don't know what to say.  I feel like working in the office I never have anything to write to you all about, simply because it's pretty mundane.  Every so often I'll have some epiphany with some profound truth about something.  One thing that was pretty cool that I found in the Old Testament that I never realized before was how much in talks about baptism and the sacrament symbolically in the Book of Exodus.  Crossing the Red Sea under these huge heaps of water is like passing into the waters of baptism, leaving behind captivity in the land of Egypt and coming out into the promised land.  And then when the Israelites forget who had saved them, God makes sure to remind them by giving them bread and water, the sacrament.  It's all there!

There's not really anything else of too much significance.  Been setting lots of goals and moving steps closer.  I love my mission.