Friday, June 27, 2014

Letter #65

Dear Family,

So I wasn't able to finish up my story from last week.  Here's the rest.

So we showed up at the house and there wasn't any man there, so we weren't quite sure what we were going to do, because it was night time and we weren't able to call a member to come make the visit with us last minute.  So what did I do?  I said a prayer to have the courage to say what needed to me said.

So I went for it and I asked the family if we we would be able to open up the garage door, because we normally meet out in the garage anyways, and that way we could not be alone with these women.  When I asked, the mom ended up saying, "Well, we don't really like to keep the garage door open at night, or pretty much ever, because we have already been robbed at gunpoint three times here."  They had already told me about the experience, so I already knew that would be the response.

There was somewhat of an awkward pause after she said that, and I didn't really know what to do.  But suddenly Cida, the mom, got up and said that she was going to go fetch her neighbor.  My heart returned to its proper beat and location, because I just hate it when I have to disappoint people.  But she went and got her neighbor, Wilson, who came in and listened on our discussion.  It was a super spiritual lesson, Wilson participated a lot and he ended up tearing up a bit when we spoke about the Restoration of the gospel.  It was really cool.  Because I exercised some courage, God gave us an opportunity to teach another person that may not have ever accepted a visit from the missionaries.

This last week was super eventful as well, but I don't even know if I can put in words all of the miracles that happened.  I don't know if I already said, but I started recording my journal entries on the cellphone.  Ellie, I think that journal that you bought me is going to arrive here in maybe six more months, but when I get it I am definitely going to use it.  But yeah, I've been recording my journal on the cell phone and saving them on my flash-drive, so here in a few months I'll let y'all listen to a few of them.

But the highlight of the week happened yesterday night, at the every end of the week.  But I need to sum up what happened the other days of the weekend, otherwise you won't know what happened.  So on Friday night, we found out about transfers.  I was transferred.  After seven and a half months of serving in one area, I was finally transferred.  I had been in the Aeroporto Branch ever since I had arrived in Brazil, and just now I was transferred.  It was super sad to leave. 

 I ended up giving a talk on Sunday, and at the very end of my talk was when I revealed the news to everyone.  It seemed like everyone was pretty shocked to have such short notice; a lot of people told me that they didn't want me to go.  

Leandro and Tatiana put together a little farewell party for me that night.  It was super cool to see the families that I had helped coming to say goodbye and hear their testimonies.  In all, Jander came back to church, his wife Ana Paula was baptized; Sandro came back, married Jessiane, and she and her daughter were baptized; Sidnei and Ana Paula came back, and their son, Victor Hugo, was baptized; Marli came back, will be getting married on the 31st, and her husband, Sebastião, is planning to be baptized.  Their testimonies were the most powerful for me and they helped me grow so much.  I am going to miss that area a lot, but now I am ready to make more memories with more people.

I am now serving in Araraquara with Elder Nascimento.  He was serving as an assistant to the president for the last seven months, and this is going to be his last transfer.  I have a lot of confidence that we are going to have a miraculous transfer.

Thanks so much for you letters, I love you all!  Ellie, if people add me on Facebook, you can accept them.



Week #64

Hey, Family,

So this week was a trip.  We are working a lot, but we had a lot of trials this week.  It was super weird, but in the end of the week it seemed like everything just started to fall apart and we got super discouraged. But in the end, everything worked out.  And it all was part of God's plan because we learned some super good lessons.

First of all, I have a parasite, which is never very fun.  I've been taking medicine, so I'm getting better, but in general I just get pretty tired.  I've been feeling pretty exhausted lately, but it'll be over soon.  I have to take some medicine that makes my urine turn bright gold, which is pretty funny.

But yeah, when Friday the 13th came along, it seemed like a blanket of discouragement and unhappiness descended upon us and things ended up just being straight up hard.  Super weird, because neither Elder Cavalcante or I can explain what caused it, but we both got super discouraged.  But it all ended up for the better.  Because of our discouragement I ended up looking for some good counsel in my patriarchal blessing to help me out and I noticed something that I had never noticed before.

Previously I had never thought there there was a specific part of my blessing that talked about my mission, but because of this trial I ended up finding a part that explained exactly what I was needed to hear at that moment.  In this part there are two words that are repeated two times: courage and confidence.  It says roughly that my confidence and courage will lead me to go forth into the world as an ambassador for the Savior.  Interestingly enough, two weeks prior I had read the conference talk by President Monson about courage and had prayed for an opportunity to demonstrate courage.  Those two words, confidence and courage, ended up sticking with me for the rest of the day and throughout the end of the week.  

Saturday was really hard, but we had success.  I still didn't understand why I was feeling so miserable.

Then came Sunday.  When we made it to the end of the day, I was still looking for an opportunity to be courageous and hadn't found it.  But just like anything good, you normally don't receive the best part until the very last minute.  Sunday night we made our way to our last lesson of the day.

When we got there, we were expecting that the family that we were going to teach was going to have a man there, because as missionaries we have a rule that we can't make a visit with a woman if there is not a man present as well, or we have to make the visit in a public place or in the yard or something like that.  It's a rule that some missionaries have trouble with, but I've always done my best to obey it, despite a little bit of embarassment.  When we showed up, this family ended not having a man there.

I'm going to have to tell you the rest next week.  Sorry!  No Time!



Monday, June 9, 2014

Week #63

Dear Fam-alam,
Sorry my letter last week was so poopy.  I got caught up watching the Bible Videos on the church site and ended up eating up my hour of computer time.  Sorry.

Hey-ski, I've got a challenge for y'all.  If you haven't already, put as your internet homepage.  That way, every time that you go to use the internet, you'll start things off thinking about your beliefs and something cool will catch your eye.  I just watched some cool videos on the church site about religious freedom.  Watching the church videos is a great way to increase your understanding of the doctrine of Christ and how it applies today.  So the challenge:

1.  Put as your homepage.
2.  Look for something new to watch or read every day.

So this week has been pretty good.  We are finding a lot of new investigators to teach.  We are trying this new way to get referrals from members.  In the past, every time that we asked for a referral, the response was always the same: "Oh, Elder, I've already talked with everyone that might want to accept a message, and nobody wants it."  So instead of asking, "Do you know anyone that would like to hear a message?" we ask "What's your neighbor's name?"  They give it to us, and then we go there, preferably with the member.  So far it's worked really well.

My Portuguese is getting a lot better because my companion helps me a ton.  Elder Cavalcante is way cool, and he's helping me learn a lot more about the culture here.  For example:  I don't know why they taught us how to say please (por favor) in Portuguese, because nobody says it.  They just tell you what to do.  I still say it because I want to be polite, but I don't get as offended when it seems like my companion is commanding me in everything.  

We are still teaching Jamil, who is getting ready for baptism.  That man is a straight up goofball.  Thankfully he is learning to control his language in front of us, but every once in a while he lets slip a swear word or two.  He is really anxious to be baptized, and we're doing our best to get him ready, but he loves to talk and it's going to be difficult to teach him everything before this Saturday.  Last night we took away his pack os cigarrettes, crumpled them up and wet'm down in the sink.  He's getting there, little by little.  

We found a few more people pretty strong in the faith, so we will be having some more baptisms this month.  We are also working on reactivating a few people, because with two more Melchizedek priesthood holders, the branch is going to become a ward.  Super cool stuff, and I got to witness it all.  

Like you know, I've been in this same area ever since I've arrived in Brazil, and during this time there has been a lot of growth in the branch.  There was one night when a quick arrogant thought passed through my mind that it was me that made such a big difference.  But I quickly banished that thought when I realized that all the experiences that God has given me and the investigators that he prepared had nothing to do with me.  He did all the work.  I didn't make this area, this area made me.

I love you all so much, you are great!



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Week #62

Dear Family,
Sorry to be so sucky, but I don't have a ton of time to talk today.  We had some legit baptisms this week, and I sent you some pictures of the five baptisms that we've done here in our area.  I hope you have a blessed week, and I promise next week my letter will be way better.



Week #61

Dear Family,

So I'm going to continue my account of what happened last week, just so you don't miss the rest of the story.  When we left off, Elder Hanley was really down and embarassed on the bus, and I started to notice that something was wrong.

"I gripped his shoulder a bit and when he turned I saw that he was crying.  He explained to me that he has been frustrated in general about the language and everything, and it has been very discouraging.  Because of the experiences that I had been having those past few days, I was able to have some real empathy and talk with him.  I could tell that it made a big difference for him.  For anyone that passes through a trial like that, the most important thing that you can do is trust in the Lord.  Let Him be your crutches.  Lay off your yoke and take His yoke upon you because He wants to push with you."

Sadly, Elder Hanley wasn't able to stay in the mission.  I found out yesterday that he had to return home because of psychological problems.  Hopefully he is able to return at some point.

"The day continued to imrove as we prepared for the three baptisms that evening.  All six of us missionaries met up at the church in our area, and Ana Paula, Jessiane, and Kemily were all interviewed at the same time.  I was a little bit anxious, because just as I explained to my companion, I have issues with relinquishing control.  It's kind of a mixed up psychological issue that I have.  I think perhaps it's a fear of failure.  I'm basically like this: I almsost want to be pulled out of situations before the final test comes, because somehow that exempts me from any potential failure.  But if I am still a part of the process when the final judgment comes, I hesitate to relinquish control for fear that I have not fulfilled my part.  It's somewhat complex, and it's definitely something that I need to master.

"So that's how I was feeling.  Gratefully the three of them passed their interviews and were cleared for baptism.

"The baptismal service was such a great experience.  We had a mountain of  people there, including a ton of investigators who had never seen a baptism.  Jander baptized his wife, Ana Paula, Elder Cavalcante baptized Kemily, and I baptized Jessiane.  It was sucn an amazing experience.  The three of them have entered in the gate, and are not only procuring their own personal salvation, but are acting as shepherds, leading their friends and family towards the true Church.  These were my first baptisms here in Brazil, and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father blessed me with the opportunity to work with them.  They were truly elect women chosen by God."

Really good experiences, and even more great ones happened these past few days, but there's not enough time.  We'll just have to talk after the mission.