Monday, July 28, 2014

Letter #70


Oh my heck, I can't even explain to you how happy I am.  Yeah!  I got an email from my last companion, Elder Cavalcante, and he sent me pictures of 5 more baptisms that he had in my last area, three of which were people that we worked with together.  Super cool!  My heart is super full and I can't even explain how happy I am.  OH my GOODNESS!

Wow, so cool!  I am super happy with everything that happened in that last area, and everything that is happening in this area as well.

So I'm still getting used to this area here.  There is a lot of work to be done and everything is going to turn out great.  I feel a lot like I did when I first came to Brazil, kind of unsure about the way things were gonna go down, but after getting a feel of things, miracles started to happened.  I really feel like I was sent to Franca to get things rolling for a great work to happen, and God sent Élder Cavalcante with perfect timing so that everyone could get excited and ready to work.  And now I'm in another area to help accelerate the work here.

In all honesty, up until this moment I was a little bit frustrated with the way things were going here, but now I'm seeing that the same thing happened when I first arrived in Franca; I was a little bit overwhelmed by the environment but when I got settled in and really focused on being obedient and organizing things, everything worked out.  It gives me a lot of hope that the same things are going to happen here.

I've learned some good lessons this transfer from my current companion, one of which is communication.  A lot of people have noticed that when I get offended or frustrated I'm not very good at expressing  my feelings, and just kind of close up and wait to remove myself from the uncomfortable situation.  But when you're on a mission, your entire life is kind of an uncomfortable situation, and when you are with some 24 hours a day, you have to learn how to communicate what you are feeling.  We had a good long talk about communication last week, and this week I've been doing a lot better about expressing my feelings.  I still like to be reserved about some things; I don't like to talk every second of the day saying everything that comes to mind.  

Yesterday I was walking with my companion, and I was a little bit frustrated because I felt like we were wasting our time with some activities and that we weren't doing our very best to fulfill our purpose.  He was a little sick this week, so I think that may have added to my frustration because we lost a lot of time, but also in general I felt like we weren't taking advantage of the greatest resource we have: time.  I expressed myself a lot more openly this week, and even though he got a little bit irritated (he almost punched a druggy that came up and talked to us), it helped me to see what needs to be done to make a real difference here.

We found a super great family to teach that I have no doubt will be baptized soon.  The family consists of three women, a mom and two daughters, and the three of them went to church this Sunday.  They are really liking our message because it's clarifying a lot of life questions that they have.  I love teaching the gospel!  

Love you all so much.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Letter #69

Dearest Loved Ones,

This week was pretty good.  We didn't have a ton of success, but we worked hard and learned some good lessons.  My companion is helping me learn a lot of simple life lessons that I can apply for the rest of my life, which makes me super happy.  It's been pretty different living in a house with three Brazilians, but I've learned a lot and know that with six more months I still have a ton to learn.

I think my favorite part of being a missionary is applying the knowledge that I've learned from scripture study to bless the lives of other people.  Something that I've really loved to do is memorize scriptures.  When I memorized scriptures, it seems like those scriptures turn into powerful tools.  When I teach or give a talk, it seems like the Spirit brings to mind those scriptures and I'm able to speak with them in regular conversation.  When that happens I can feel the power of the scriptures and it's super awesome.

We are teaching one lady in particular that has been having a lot of struggles.  Her name is Claudia and she is very intelligent when it comes to the gospel, but she has kind of a rough life.  She has two children and no husband and has some problems with marijuana.  But her knowledge of the Bible is incredible; there was a six-month period when she was attending church and it seems like she absorbed tons of knowledge.  But even though she has a lot of knowledge, there is still a lot that she doesn't understand.

The other day we went to her house to talk a little bit more.  We're not able to teach her inside because she doesn't have a man there, so we sat outside to talk for a little bit.  She was super chill at first, telling us that she had been reading in the Gospel Principles book when she came across the principle of agency.  As soon as she touched upon this topic, she began to cry.  

She began to express to us a lot of inner hurt that she has because she doesn't understand why a loving God would let his children suffer.  She doesn't understand why children in Africa suffer for things that aren't their fault.  She said that she would rather have stayed in God's presence as a prisoner without agency than have come to the earth to be a prisoner of her own wrong choices.  It's a pretty serious dilemma, but we showed her a ton of scriptures to help her understand.  It's interesting, because I remember very vividly what she said, the difficulties that she was passing, but I can remember very little of the things we said to her.  I guess it's just kind of that way when you speak by the Spirit; it's not you teaching, it's the Spirit, and it seems to just pass straight through you.  It's edifying and humbling at the same time.

Love you all.  Mom, let me know as soon as possible what USC says.  Do everything you can to persuade them to let me go back in Fall 2015.  The secretaries in the mission office are getting ready to by my flight, so let me know next week if you can.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Letter #68 (6 MORE MONTHS TO GO!)

Hey, Famalams,

We had a good week this week.  It was somewhat difficult because we had to stay inside our house during the world cup games when Brazil played, which kind of sucked.  When Germany beat Brazil I was a little bit scared to leave the house, but it turned out alright, nobody threatened me.  A few people did ask me if I was German, but no threats.

Here in a week I will have only 6 more months on the mission.  It's crazy how fast it's gone by, but I've only just begun to grow.  I think my favorite part of the mission is learning how to rely on the Spirit, and it really is an adventure when you are chasing after spiritual promptings.  My companion is helping me to gain a lot more perspective about everything, which is great.

Mom, if you could follow up with USC as soon as possible, that would be great.  Were you able to find my student ID?  Here in a few weeks the mission office is going to be sending my flight information, so I need to get in touch with them as soon as possible, just in case I have to come home a month early because of college.

Love you all so much,


Letter #67

Hey, famalams,

So I'm not as stressed anymore!  Thanks for your patience with my last letter, but this week improved a lot.  So I was assigned to be a zone leader, which has a little bit more responsibility than my last position as trainer and district leader, but now that things are nice and organized, I am really enjoying.  I always tell my companion that my one true joy in life is teaching, and I'm starting to realize how great it is to not only teach investigators, but teach other missionaries as well.  It's awesome!

These past few weeks I've been focusing in a lot on memorizing scriptures.  If you don't usually memorize scriptures, start now!  There's power in reading a scripture that you already know word for word.  You get much deeper meaning from it.

We had a solid week this week.  We found a bunch of new investigators with potential, and within a couple of weeks we should be having a baptism.  I really miss the people in my last area because I was there for such a long time, but now I am beginning to love the people here as well.  The accent here is a bit different, but I think it's sick.  I'll probably start to pick it up.

My parasite is gone!  If I remember right, I think it was E.coli, but now I'm clean.  Thank heavens.

I felt the Spirit super strong this week because we were teaching a lot of great lessons about the Restoration and invited a lot of people to be baptized.  BAPTISM!

I know that I sound really excited.  It's because I am.  And I don't have a ton of time so I'm typing at lightning speed.

Love you all so much, thank you for your letters and pictures!  You're the best!



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Letter #66



I'm a little bit stressed out.  So I was assigned to a leadership position in Araraquara, and I'm pretty freaking stressed out.  Give me a week to get used to things, and I'll be alright.

Last night we had a few meetings with the bishop and with the stake president, and when we came home we had to collect all the numbers from the missionaries in our zone.  Thankfully I have a really patient companion who helps me out a lot.  He got the numbers from the missionaries that I am taking care of and let me rest.  I went to pray for comfort and I got it.

I went into the other room to pray alone.  When I kneeled down I started to pray, and the only two words that I was able to get out were, "Heavenly Father".  Instantly a rush of comfort came over me and I was able to relax a bit.  I wasn't able to say anything for a few minutes, but I didn't even want to.  I just kneeled in silence for a little while and let Heavenly Father take away the stress.  It was a pleasant experience and gave me enough strength to help my companion finish organizing the numbers.

I'm still a little bit stressed, but your letters always help.  And a restful, studious P-day  is going to help too.  Y'all are fantastic, and I hope that you have a great week.