This has been a solid week. Tons of good experiences and a lot of growth. We are growing every day in the way we do our work. We found out about transfers this week, and thankfully Elder Rock and I get to stay together for at least one more transfer. He has already been here in Franca for a super long time, so it was somewhat of a surprise that he was able to stay. But things are really getting figured out, moving forward, and we are going to rock this transfer!
Some of the difficulties that we have had here came to the forefront this week and we are working out how we want to approach them. I would have to say the hardest thing about Brazil is trying to keep your white shirts white, but that's trivial.
The challenge that is going to be hardest to face is our relationship with the members, especially the youth. I think as a result of the culture and the past missionaries here a lot of the youth expect the missionaries to act like their best friends rather than missionaries, which can be somewhat detrimental to the work. There were a couple experiences this week that kind of brought that out. The first was with Ytalo, a recent-convert that Elder Rock baptized before I got here. He's twelve years old and was really into the church just a few weeks ago, but hasn't been going for a while. We thought it was because his twin brother had been traveling with his godmother, but when we finally found him at home he said that it was for a different reason. We had to coax the reason out of him, but finally he mustered up the courage to write on a piece of paper why he hadn't been going to church. It was directed to Elder Rock, this is what it said, more or less:
"This is how it is, Elder Rock. I don't want to go to church because I hate Elder Vawdrey. He's really annoying and I don't like that you changed the way you acted when he came. It's just because he's an American."
That was a bit of a dagger in the heart. But it didn't help that when he said the closing prayer he decided that it was prudent to also let God know why he wasn't going to church. "Sorry I'm not going to your house, God, but I really hate Elder Vawdrey." I didn't really have anything to say, and I probably won't be going back there during my time here in Franca unless he has a change of heart.
We have another situation with another young man who spends a lot of time with us on splits. Our situation with him isn't nearly as strong, but the principle is the same: misunderstanding of what missionaries are here to do. This young man sometimes gets frustrated with us, especially me. I was talking with him yesterday and he said that sometimes I can be annoying, and after he asked me about himself, I told him that I get frustrated with him sometimes as well. He said that we could talk about things later as friends, instead of as missionaries, but that's the whole issue. I was called to be a missionary, which entails some professionality and diligence. If I was just called to be his friend, we wouldn't have a problem, because I really like him and he's a good guy, well-founded in the gospel. I hope that I don't sound arrogant or like a black hole to anything fun, but I don't think he understands the importance of our calling.
Outside of that the work has been really good. We had an amazingly spiritual experience yesterday with Marcelo. He recently began working again, so it has been hard finding him at home, but we finally caught him at home yesterday. He is preparing to be baptized this week, and we were talking with him about his preparation. He still had some doubts about whether he was ready or not, so what did we do? Took it to the Lord! Right then we all kneeled down, me, Elder Rock, Marcelo, Willy, and Wedsom, and had Marcelo offer the prayer. He asked God specifically if he was ready for baptism. Then afterwards we just sat in silence for a bit and let the Spirit work. It worked. He feels ready. The Spirit was the strongest that I have ever felt up to this point, and I almost didn't want to leave. I would have rather just sat there and soaked it up some more. We left in really good spirits, because we know with a surety that he is ready. Isn't that the best? We did all that we could and afterwards the Spirit just engulfed the room, and in that instant eating up all uncertainty. Revelation through prayer is real!
Elder Rock and I get along really well, and I'm going to be said when we have to leave each other. We have similar interests and work well together. We're learning from each other and also have a lot of fun. We have an awesome idea for a missionary activity that we are going to have next week, so I'll update you in a couple weeks.
Thanks for all your love, you are the best!