Monday, April 21, 2014

Week #56

Hello, parental and familial units,

Things have been going super well here in Franca.  This transfer is flying by really fast, and probably one of the strangest feelings possible is that this is potentially my second-to-last area in Brazil.  I'm probably going to finish up training my companion here in this area, and after that I'll only have 7 more months, probably in one more area.  It's so crazy!  Where has the time gone?!

So I've been profiting a lot from my Brazilian companion, concerning language development.  In the little planner that I carry around I started writing down words that I don't recognize and he teaches me what they mean later.  Looking back on my list most of the words I've written are absolutely useless when it comes to teaching lessons, and pretty much useless in general.  For example, I probably won't need to use the words tamborine, mare, or catheter in the near future, but these are among some of the words that I have written down.  But who knows, maybe knowing these words could be the determining factor in the salvation of some Brazilian, or maybe just save me from confusion and awkward situations.

Did you know that Brazilians don't have a word for awkward?  

We have had some really good success during these past few weeks.  Ana Paula is still struggling a bit with her cigarrette addiction, but she is doing a lot better.  I love that family so much, they are so great.  We have another family that we are working with, Jessiane and Kemily, who are doing really well, too.  They are setting some solid goals for baptism and firm activity in the church, and I love to watch them grow in the gospel.

I don't know if it seems weird to y'all that I don't write a ton about our lessons and spiritual experiences.  I don't know what it is, but it almost seems like the amazing things, all the miracles that happen during our visits with people, almost seem like the norm.  Why wouldn't somebody love and accept the message about Jesus Christ that we have to share with other people.  There will be plenty of time to talk about those experiences after the mission in the right setting.

Thanks for the letters and your support!



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Week #55

Dear Vocês,

First of all, some serious business.  So my second journal is running out, so I've been on a search to buy a new one to keep recording my insights and crazy experiences, but I can't seem to find one here.  All that I can find are a bunch of plain notebooks, but nothing that would really last that I could cherish for the rest of my life.  So I had an idea.  Instead of me continuing my fruitless search while my journal runs out, and instead of y'all going out and buying one and then going to the trouble of packaging and sending it, you could just find a Brazilian internet site that sells quality journals and have them send a journal directly to the mission office.  Maybe Amazon has a Brazilian branch or something like that.  If y'all could do that for me, it would be great, because I'm running out of space.  And if you have to search in Portuguese, maybe Brother Easton or Brother Edmunds would be able to help.  If that's not too much trouble, I would really appreciate it.

So here's the scuttlebutt for this week.  I got my very first Brazilian companion, Elder Cavalcante.  He is a super good guy, and I am really enjoying his company.  But I've learned something about Brazilian and American culture that's pretty funny.  Many of the members here have told me that they think Americans are annoying because they don't like it when people touch them.  For me that seemed a bit ridiculous, I never really had a problem with that.  But now I have a Brazilian companion, and I understand why.  Brazilians are super touchy-feely.  He touches me way more than any American would ever touch anybody.  One way is not right or wrong, I think it's just something that I'll have to get used to.

So we are still being super blessed here.  I hope that I stay in this area for a super long time, because I am loving it here.  This week we had a lot of really spiritual experiences with various investigators.  I nearly cried the other day when Ana Paula told us that she had only smoked two cigarettes the entire day.  And I was super happy inside when Kemily, during one of our lessons, came straight out and said, "Elder, I want to hear more about baptism".  We marked a baptismal date for her and her mom.  

Probably one of the most powerful experiences this week was with Maria Aparecida, another investigator of ours.  She has been progressing really well, up unto the  point that she knows with surety that the Book of Mormon is true and that she wants to get baptized.  She is an elderly lady that previously had a lot of doubts and questioned us about every piece of doctrine that we shared with her.  For example, she wanted a clear explanation about what it means to have an "incircumcised heart".  But our last visit we had to speak pretty openly with her about marriage.  She is not married to the man with whom she is living, and she cannot get baptized if she doesn't get married first.  When we broke the news, she got really sad, and my heart wrenched with her.  We still aren't completely sure of the difficulties that they have that could impede their marriage, other than that it is a really big decision.  We are praying for her and know that she can get there soon enough.

Love y'all, I'm really grateful for everything!

Week #54

Dear Fams,

I don't have a ton of time today, I'm in Ribeirão Preto again and I have to go with one of my companions to his therapy.  We're her in Ribeirão because my last companion was transferred and I am going to get a new one tomorrow.  My new companion is going to be brand new, and from what I understand he is going to be Brazilian. I am super excited.

The work going on in our area is boss.  We were able to really get firm with our investigators, and we have a few that are preparing to be baptized.  I will send a picture of every one of their baptisms as they come along.

I am really grateful for my last companion, Elder Woolstenhulme.  He is a great example of humility and Christ-like love.  We entitled the last transfer "Transfer of the Burro Moment".  A Burro Moment is when you simultaneously feel stupid and empowered because you learn a great truth about missionary work and then realize that people have been telling you all along.  I learned a lot, and I really appreciate that Elder Woolstenhulme never took advantage of my weaknesses.

Like I said, I'm super excited to get a brand new companion.  There's a special spirit about missionaries fresh out of the MTC; they have a fire that drives the work.  We are gonna go to work.

I love y'all super much, and hope things are going well with work and school and hobbies and all that jazz.  I know that y'all are always way busy.

Love you the most,
Elder Vawdrey

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Week #53

Why, Hello...

Sorry for my somewhat poopy letter last week.  Like I said, I was being a bit ungrateful for the blessings that we've been receiving, but I'm a lot more optimistic about these upcoming weeks.  

We've had a pretty eventful week.  I think the highlight was probably our multi-zone conference with President Brum.  I'm gonna be honest, that guy scares me.  But he's the only man I've ever met that scares you at the same time that you want to give him a hug.  He's very stern and strict with obedience, yet shows that he really cares.  I think he is a very good example of how it is going to be like arriving at the judgment day in front of Heavenly Father and our Savior.  They don't tolerate any sort of sin, which can be scary, but at the same time you want their approval of your work.

We've been teaching Ana Paula and Jánder some more, and things are going really well.  Ana Paula's commitment to quit smoking is stronger than ever, and I'm sure that she'll be able to get things worked out.  They are absolutely great; probably my favorite family that I've met on my mission.  They have so much faith and are already doing missionary work to help bring other people to church.  It's super cool.  We were super blessed to get the chance to teach them.

So I am currently in Ribeirão Preto.  I thought I would mix things up a bit and join the mission choir, and today is our first practice.  After some somewhat stressful traveling issues, my companion and I arrived here late for the practice, but it turned out really well for us.  Elder Woolstenhulme isn't going to sing, so he is with some other missionaries, probably chilling at the mall.  I think it'll be good to throw a little bit of color on my missionary canvas, if it wasn't already colorful enough.

We've also been teaching a family of three, Cármen, Franciele, and Francisco, which has been going pretty well the other day.  We were reviewing the Restoration the other day, and I realized how strange our message can sound.  If it wasn't for the Spirit, and if it weren't the truth, I think we would be in trouble.

Oh, btw, I had an idea for a book.  I get a lot of book ideas on the mission.  But I can't tell you, because it's a secret.  Can't be throwing out ideas for book pirates to nab up.

Y'all are the best,