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