Saturday, February 21, 2015

Letter #95


Yesterday I successfully fulfilled a two year mission.  awww YEAH!  And today, day 731 of the mish, we baptized Vera Lúcia Giovanini.  awww YEAH!

This past week has been pretty chill.  We got our new companion, Elder Menden, and he's been doing our visits with Elder Zolet while I stay in the office and try to organize some stuff.  There's been a bit of miscommunication from assistent to assistent, so I'm trying to organize stuff to maintain a standard.  Elder Zolet made fun of me yesterday because I got super excited when I learned how to work on Excel without using the mouse, only the keyboard.  I thought it was pretty awesome.

Speaking of rodents, I killed a rat the other day in the house of one of our investigators. I don't remember if I already told you the story.  Ask me when I get home.

Ummm, I'm not sure if I'll be able to send you a letter next week.  Next Saturday we're going to have a self-reliance course for the life after the mission.  We'll see what tips that have for me to save up money for college.

Life is good, I love you all a ton.  Can't wait to see you soon!

Much love,

Friday, February 20, 2015

Letter #94

"O fim dos tempos está chegando!  O fim dos tempos está próximo!"

There's some crazy guy that always yells this at us when he walks past us.  I guess he doesn't understand what it means that we're from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But whatevs.

This week was good.  I used all of my creative juices last night writing in my journal, so I'm just gonna type it up for you.

"These last few days have been some great ones.  I only have things to be grateful for.  Let me describe some of the missionary marvels thtat we had these last couple days.

We went to Araraquara yesterday night.  It was super weird going back to my old area and house.  We got to the house before the ZLs, so we took the liberty of stopping by Evelin's house.  When we were walking up to the house Evelin's mom was outside talking to the neighbor.  She saw me, but, not realizing who I was, continued talking with the neighbor.  When she finished, she turned to talk and was surprised to see that I'd come back to Araraquara.  She couldn't help herself and attacked me with a hug.  Apostasy.

It was a good visit.  It was a friendly gesture and I'm sure they won't forget that I didn't forget about them.

We went to the house after that, bought the pizza that we always to buy, and then prepared the training for the zone.

This morning we started off bright and early.  The training was good; nothing out of the ordinary, and I ended up leaving a little bit unsatisfied.  I felt like we weren't every inspirational, but we prepared as much as we could, so watta-ya-gonna do.

So, we bumped into a few people today.  And it definitely wasn't a coincidence.  The first group of friends that 'accidentally' found out that I was in Araraquara was Assis, Carmelita, and Isabela
(two investigators and a recent convert that live in a neighboring city).  They called Elder Magalhães in the middle of the training asking if they could meet up with me for lunch.  When I asked them how they found out that I was in Araraquara, they said that one of Assis's coworkers saw me on the bus and told Assis.  A likely story.

I also ran into Inês and her two daughters downtown.  Not a coincidence, they said that they were planning on visiting the church these days.  Hopefully I was a good influence and they end up going.

When we went to catch the bus to go to Matão we saw Marcelo, an elderly man who goes to church there.  He was going to baptized; I did his interview and he didn't pass.  He's been chilling in Matão ever since and no one was able to baptize him.  We had a nice long conversation on the bus about how all languages need to be reformed to agree so that the orthography and phonetics agree.

I went on an exchange with Elder Borup, which was really great.  My dissatisfaction that I felt after the training went away  when I was able to sit and have a one-on-one with with Elder Borup.  we had a lot of fun and I made a new friend.

We visited Sandra today.  She's and investigator that's going to be baptized next week.  I taught her once when I was zone leader here and the lesson was so spiritual that she never forgot.  Today I committed her to never, ever miss church on Sunday.  These last couple of days were great."

Much love.  See ya in two (weeks).


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Letter #93

Dear Family (scientific name: dirsus familius vaudrimus)

Things are going super well here in our area.  It's flip-tassting-ly ridiculous that I'm going to be home in three weeks.  AAAHHH!  I'm freaking out right now!  Super excited.  I got my flight plans today, I'll be arriving home at around 10:30 am on March 3rd.  What the flip?  Crazy-sauce!

Don't worry, I won't lose focus on the work.  We've got some great people that we're teaching that are planning to be baptized these coming weeks.  One of them is Valdir, who is super awesome.  We found Valdir after church two weeks ago.  He went to church for the first time this Sunday and has a baptismal date for February 14th.  Everyone's got dates for Valentine's Day, and guess what, I do too!  Baptismal date!  Yes!  Salvation!

What is Valdir like?  He is the perfect example of why we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.  He's from Minas, and by the way he talks you would think that he was a redneck that didn't know how to read very well.  He reads like a champ.  He shares a room with a less active member, is a cement worker, and is super dedicated.  We brought him a white shirt and super wide tie that we found in our house for him to wear to church, and he loved it.  He's awesome.

We had a really awesome lesson with Valdir the other day.  We invited Brother Oswaldo to visit him with us, and it was the first time that Oswaldo had gone on splits with us.  Valdir has been a little bit hesitant about praying with us, so we were determined this time to help him pray.  When we got there, he explained super simply and powerfully about everything that he had ready in the Book of Mormon and loved it.  Up until now he's been asking us to share "the doctrine" with him, so he loved the doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31.  The lesson was sweet, simple, and well understood.  He said the closing prayer.

Super awesome!  Much love to all of you!


Letter #92

Dear Family,

This has been a pretty fantastic week, funny to the point that you want to tear your hair out.  It seems like all of our investigators have one personality-trait in common: they talk soo much.  It can sometimes be a little bit frustrating, but when I think about it it's actually pretty funny.  Either God is messing with us or he knows what kind of people we need to teach, for us to grow and because the investigators need it too.

We have one investigator, Valdir, who is a little bit quieter, but some random guy name Marcos that lives in the same house decided that he wanted to participate in our lessons too.  I've included a dialogue to illustrate some of the things we hear when we visit them.

1st scenario

E. Vawdrey: "So, Valdir, what do you know about the Creation of the world?"

Valdir: "Well, God created the Earth and put Adam and Eve with the animals in the garden--" (abrupt interruption).

Marcos: "Yeah, God created the Earth with the four elements: water, fire, air, and...

E. Zolet: "And earth."

Marcos: (Ignoring Elder Zolet) "And life.  Yeah, that's what's up, life's the fourth element."

2nd scenario

E. Zolet: "So here in this scripture it says that we partake of the bread and wine, but nowadays we use water instead of wine."

Marcos: "Alright, that's chill, no problem.  God'll forgive you."

These are some of the people that we're teaching.  It's been an absolute treat.  We have a few baptismal dates set for these next few weeks, which should bring some great results.  Gotta finish off well!

Much Love,

Monday, January 26, 2015

Letter #91

Dear Fam,

This week has gone really well.  Our baptism went well last week and Valdenice is firm in the faith!

This week went by really fast because we were dealing with transfers and traveled for the rest of the week.  Transfers was nuts, super taxing on the body and spirit, but we were able to get everything worked out.  After we got everything worked out we went first to Catanduva and then afterwards to Birigui, two cities that I'd never visited on the mish.  We went on a short exchange in Catanduva and then went on to give a training in Birigui with the zone leaders.  Pretty cool.  We had to catch a bus to come back to Ribeirão Preto midnight, and we slept on our way back today.  Life of adventures. 

We're gonna be traveling to a few other cities in the next few weeks, which should be pretty eventful.  Exciting stuff!

Much love, hope things are well,

Friday, January 23, 2015

Letter #90


My beloved people!

Things are going super well here in Ribeirão Preto.  Super weird and all over the place, but still super awesome.

So what's been going down here. First of all, we've have running around trying to get one of our investigators ready for baptism this week.  Valdenice is an investigator that we contacted on the street, actually it was in a bakery.  Elder Zolet is a serious snacker, so we stop in the bakery on a regular basis, but about three weeks ago it really paid off.  We were about to leave when this investigator walked in and gave a friendly smile.  I wasn't sure if I was going to talk to her when all of a sudden Elder Zolet's credit card didn't work and it gave me a minute to talk with her.  She was super nice and accepted a visit for the next day.  Ever since then she's been preparing for baptism, went to church three times and is going to be get baptized today!  It's been a short road, but a pretty hectic one at the same time.  We had to learn how to adjust our teaching for someone that had a lot of health problems and treated us more like psychologists than missionaries, but after all was sad and done, it worked out.  Her interview is going to be today, and Elder Young is going to do it.

The two missionaries from my group, Elder Young and Elder Gardner, are going home on Monday.  They've been spending the last few days with us and it's been a blast.  Elder Young was my companion in the MTC, and even though it's sad that we won't be going home together, we've been catching up on old times.  It's funny because we both served the majority of our mission in Brazil, but we always talk a ton about Florida and the experiences that we had there.  It's just another testimony about how we were prepared to serve where the Lord needed us to.

I'm reading the Book of Mormon and am going to finish before I go home. It'll be the first time in Portuguese.  I wanted to mix things up a bit so I started in Mosiah, read to the end and am now about halfway through 1 Nephi.  Instead of hitting the Isaiah chapters in the second book, they'll be some of the last chapters that I'll be reading.

6 more weeks.  When I wrote it down I realized that it was one digit. But I'm not worried about if I'll be effective or not.  We are going to be travelling the mission to give specialized training to each zone.  The training that we've done so far has been super good, so I'm sure that it'll be a lot of fun.  I'm finally going to see the other side of the mission and get a taste of real Brazilian heat.

My friends, thanks so much for your letters and all the prayers.  I love you all so much!

Elder Jack Vawdrey

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Letter #89

Fams and Friendily,

I hope that you are doing well!  Things are going really well here.  We have two investigators preparing to be baptized next week, Vera and Valdenice, which is going to be super great.  The members are helping us out well, so I don't doubt that it'll work out.

Mom, thanks much for the letter.  I'm going to cherish it forever and I'm excited for the next one.

I had a cool experience this week.  Actually, it was last night.  I was a little bit confused about what is the best way to act, because there are two great counsels that I've heard my entire life, but the other day it seemed like they contradicted each other.

1. Counsel number one:  Always be yourself.
2. Counsel number two:  Repent, change, stop doing stuff wrong, strip yourself of the natural man, become converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So how can I be myself if I'm naturally prone to make mistakes? 

One one end of the spectrum we have the people that just want to be themselves. I think this argument is one of the biggest reasons why some people like to denounce personal responsibility and accountability to God and any other governing organization, in an extreme effort to be yourself.  Your own, worldly, decaying self.  But your firm in your conviction.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the changer, who is ridiculously flexible to the point that never develops or unleashes a true, lasting personality.  His personality belongs to other people; he analyzes every situation and acts accordingly.  He is not firm as a valley, nor does he run to righteousness.  He flows in whichever direction that he is tilted.

So where do we need to be?  Just like the majority of personality spectrums, we want to be in the middle.  From what I understand, we need to change to be ourselves.  Inside of us we already have a conscience, we already know what is right, it just needs to be searched for and then followed.  We're like a rock that starts at the top of a creek and as it rolls down, remains the same rock but is polished and smoothed to reveal it's true nature.  I made a goal to grab my patriarchal blessing and right down some attributes that I already have and then to live up to them.  

That's my schpiel for now.  Much love,

Letter #88

Dear Fam,
This week has been goood.  It's been super busy because President Brum asked us to prepare some trainings for specific zones in our mission and it turned out really well.  It was cool because we taught with the Zone Leaders specifically according to the needs of that zone and were able to have some super spiritual experiences.  I wanted to share one of them with you.

So one thing that I think a lot of people don't know about me is that I have bouts of depression that I have to deal with sometimes.  I think a lot of people imagine that I'm always the super happy Jack with a smile on my face, which the majority of the time I am.  Smiling always makes the day better, and I'm always sincere with myself, others, and God when it comes to my emotions.  But these last few weeks I've learned some new stuff about depression that I never had realized before.

First of all, it's a lot easier to deal with if we're willing to admit that we are going through it.  There are times when we literally feel a weight of guilty, deep sorrow, and stress that seems to be triggered by something small that doesn't really even matter.  We don't need to feel guilty for being sad, especially if it is depression.

Second of all, there's a difference between being discouraged and being depressed.  A person that's discouraged might be lax about the work or sad because things didn't work out the way planned.  A person that is discouraged is normally discouraged because there's something that he did or didn't do that he or she needs to repent of.  Discouragement could be godly sorrow that is put off too long, not repented of, and can turn into worldly sorrow.  In essence, discouragement can be controlled by our agency.  So then what is depression?  Depression is a feeling of deep sorrow that comes upon us independent of our agency.  We can be born with a tendency towards it, or develop it because of a traumatic experience.  For those who have it may end up becoming sad even at the best of times, just because of our fallen nature.  

So if depression comes upon us independent of our agency, is there no hope of prevent it?

Perhaps depression isn't necessarily something to be prevented, but avoided by healthy living and good habits.  We need to promote good homeostasis to return to a normal state when we are hit by the depression bus.  But from what I have studied and personal experience, the best way to deal with true depression is following the way that our Savior Jesus Christ did.  Christ became extremely sorrowful, even unto death, and what did he do?  If you want to know the answer, I would invite you to grab your Bible and read in Lucas 22:39-46.

Much love,
Elder Jack Vawdrey