Monday, August 25, 2014

Letter #74

Why, hello...

Dear Family,

Things are going really well here.  We have been in a trio for the last three or four weeks, which has been pretty trying, but thankfully tomorrow the stress will end.  Well at least the stress relative to the lack of a companion.  We're gonna get an American that was serving in the US waiting for his visa.  We're gonna pick him up tomorrow, so tonight we are going to catch a bus to Ribeirão Preto.

It's good to hear from you and get the pictures of Penny.  I think 7/8 of the pictures I get are of Penny, which makes me a little jealous that she still doesn't even know who I am.  But it doesn't matter, I'm still gonna be her favorite Uncle Jack anyways.

This week we has some more opposition, simple because we have very little time in our own area.  We go on splits with another companionship at least once a week and we also have to travel to to baptismal interviews, which is pretty time consuming.

Want to here something cool?  The word for jungle/weeds in Portuguse is "mato", which means literally, "I kill".  We have a city in our zone that is called "Matão", which means "The Big Kill You", basically.  That's where we went to do interviews last week, and we are going back this week, too.

Yeah, I don't really have anything too special to tell you.  Everything about the mission is special, so I think when I come home and see the difference between missionary life and normal life it'll be easier to tell stories about things that have happened.  But my constant search is to do things that are unprecedented, not so that I can show off, but to be more like Jesus Christ, becuase that's exactly what he did.  There's a video that the church published a while back that is super cool, it's called "Because of Him".  You guys should look it up because it basically talks about that, how Christ did things that know what else did or could have done, even though we has a carpenter, teacher, and outcast.  Super cool.

Love you all,


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Letter #73

Dear Family,

We had a good week this week, but with some serious opposition.  Number-wise, the week didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but there were a lot of good lessons learned.  

I did a baptismal interview this week that was super amazing.  The man didn't pass, but it was amazing to see how the Spirit was able to lead me to say what needed to be said to help him understand.  It's an experience that I'll never forget, and it will be interesting to watch when I get the chance :).

Like I said, we experienced some serious opposition this week.  We found a family of five to teach this week, taught them the Restoration, and marked a baptismal date with all of them.  When we went back two days later to follow up with them, we were met by the house owner, who said that she had sent them away with one day´s notice because she wanted the house for her son.  I sincerely believe that she sent the family away because she didn't want us to come back; she was pretty rude to us.  

Because of this and other experiences, I've been pondering quite a bit about opposition.  I know that opposition is necessary, and that it is part of God's plan so that we can learn and grow.  But because of the things we passed through, I really want to gain a deeper understanding of why we have to be tried and tested.  It's one thing to say and believe that we need to have opposition, but I really want to understand so that I can help others understand as well.

I'm hoping to have a restful P-day, because I'm needing it.

Tell Tanner "happy birthday" for me.

Love, Jack

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Letter #72

Dear Family,

My first week with Elder Souza was super good.  We got a lot of good things done and are ready to work our butts off.  Or our feet, because we walk a ton, but we getting to work!

So here's the scuttlebutt.  In the mission we have a standard of excellence, which is basically a mission-wide goal for the number of people we talk to, teach, bring to church, and baptize.  The standard is pretty high, and up to this point on my mission I've only been able to reach the standard a few times in a few of the areas.  But my companion and I started a new project in our zone.  Every week we are going to focus on a few of the key indicators and the entire zone is going to do their best to reach the standard for those indicators.  We're starting off on the indicators that we can control, like contacts and other lessons taught, and by the end of the transfer we hope that we can all be hitting the standard for baptisms and confirmations.  After one transfer here in Araraquara, we haven't baptized anybody yet, but pretty soon here we are going to be having some serious baptsimizyzing.  Be ready.

This week we focused on contacts on the street, and we were able to hit the standard.  It was the first time in my mission that I had reached the mission goal, and it was super sick.  I got super pumped.  Every day I get a bit more excited to do missionary work.

We had a seventy visit our mission a few months back, and something that he said really marked me.  He said that every day of our mission should be an adventure, and I'm starting to understand why.  The mission is just like a secret agent film:  you've been trainded, you wear nice clothes, you carry your weapon (scriptures), you know the deets of the organization (the ward), sometimes you have to be discreet, you have to investigate, follow trails, sound people out.  And the best part of all, there's the Chief Boss Man in charge that sends you hints and extra help when you get stuck.

It may be sacrilege, but I'm starting to visualize the mission this way.  And I like it.  You have to be super focused and attentive so that you don't get caught in a bad spot.  And it helps me remember that you can't ever give up.  At the moment when it looks like the world is going to end, the bomb is going to go off, the world is going to explode and the bad guy is going to win is when the story really gets interesting.  That's when the thrill factor comes into play, and you have to be ready for it.  On your toes, listening to the Spirit, ready to respond any question or comment that your rival might throw at you.  Stressful yet fulfilling

Elder Cavalcante, that goon over in Franca, sent me another picture this week.  He baptized another person!  That goofball is on fire!

(to the tune of Barbara Ann)
Fa fa fa, fa famalams
fa fa fa, fa fa fafala-a-ams


Elder Jacko

Letter #71

Dear Family,

I was having a little bit of trouble deciding if I should return a transfer early to go to school quickly or not, but I prayed and fasted and I am going to stay on the mission until January 19.  Just make sure that when I come back I can be super involved, because I don't want to cool off.  I want to keep working hard and stay focused on the future.

Oi, I need President Fenton's address and email.  Can you guys send it to me in my next email?

This last week was my companion's last week on the mission.  He left Friday morning, leaving me to chill with the other companionship for a few days.  My new companion, Elder Souza, arrived today, but we are going to continue in a trio because one elder from the other companionship left and the new missionary isn't going to arrive for another four weeks.  It's gonna be another four weeks of stress, because we're going to half to take care of the entire ward, which is a pretty huge area.  If it weren't for the strict organization and daily routines on a mission, things would be a lot more difficult.  But thankfully we have ways to organize our numbers, our investigators, and our time so that we can stay focused on what's most important.

I had a super special experience this week that helped me to grow in faith that God really is preparing His children to receive the Gospel.  We got a call from a member that said that there was a less-active lady that wanted to return to church.  We went there the same day and it was super boss what happened.  

Milanese, Adelita's husband, is not a member.  When we showed up, we introduced ourselves to him and he was super nice.  After sitting and talking for a little while, he basically told us that he wanted to be married in the church, wanted to be baptized, wanted to become a full member.  Boss-mode.  We taught him the Restoration this week and marked a date for August 23, Tanner's birthday.  It's gonna be sick!

Not only that, but he said that he already received an answer to his prayer.  Two days before he met us, he was telling his wife how much he felt that they were being selfish and needing to serve more.  He said, "We need to be more like Jesus, who washed the feet of his apostles."  That Sunday, when he came to church, every class talked about service and charity.  When he walked into the classroom for Gospel Principles, there was a painting on the wall of Christ washing the feet of his apostles.  When we opened up the manual, the topic was service, and the picture was of Christ washing the feet of his apostles.  It immediately caught his attention, and he is super prepared.

Love you guys so much, chillski.  See ya in a few months.