Monday, October 27, 2014

Never too tired for ICE CREAM!

If you are wondering why I never send pictures, it is because I will not have a camera for at least another 7 weeks, when my sister - who is returning home from her Brazilian mission in Rio - will send me her camera to replace the one that was stolen from me. 
26 October, 2014
         Man, I am just too tired to be writing in my journal every day…and to be honest very little different happens from day to day.  It is much easier just to note some of the interesting things that happen during the week.  We had the father of one of the families that we are teaching read about half of the Book of Mormon in 2 or 3 weeks.  He is still reluctant to pray about it, but he is still reading it.  The family hasn’t been able to read their assignments because the Dad is always reading it.  This is a really impressive family and I pray that they will pray to know the truth.
         Also we are teaching this awesome 68 year old woman who has a date to be baptized.  She cam to church this past week and loved it.  She came by herself and sat down next to a sister in the ward who happens to be the sister who always saves us at lunch time.  At first I thought that they knew each other because they got along so well. Nope, it is just like that with all the members here. Everyone loved her and included her, just like every missionary hopes their investigators will be treated. She said that she felt just like she belonged and was wanted.  This particular woman is the lady that we were impressed to stop and talk to one day. She told us that she had seen the missionaries many times before and had always wanted to talk to them, but never had the courage until we stopped her one day.  This is the type of reminder to me that I am doing the right thing.
         Weird story:  I saw a possessed dude the other day.  He was on the other side of the street and his eyes were open and staring at us, but they were completely rolled back in his head so that we could only see the whites of his eyes.  His mouth was open but he wasn’t speaking, and he was writing a bunch of stuff in the air and making signs and stuff. I have never seen a mentally ill person behave like this guy before, nor have I seen a druggy act this way. Anyway, it was both interesting and creepy and sad at the same time.
         The last story happened today and that is that we had dinner with an outstanding Brazilian family today.  In fact, I think that they are the coolest family that I have met on my entire mission.  They are a young couple with 3 little kids.  The father likes to learn to play piano (which is very rare for people to actually have in their homes here). I helped him to play and he told me that he was going to print off some Brazilian sheet music for me.  I got so excited!  That will make me really happy.  I miss music so much more than I thought that I would.  I practically live for the few minutes a day that I have to practice a little guitar.  It is such a good release of stress for me.
         Other than these few things, there has just been work, work, work!  I am really very tired every day, but I guess that is the way it is supposed to be. 
         I think that I will indulge in one of the few things still allowed on p-day…ICE CREAM!!!! I am going to go buy and eat a lot of it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NERD ATTACK - the perfect investigator

Little baby scorpion in our house.
12 October, 2014
         No one came to church again this week. Oh well, we worked hard, and that’s what counts.  This next week is really looking up and we should have a pretty packed week.  We finished planning early, and since it was before 9 we decided to throw a Frisbee around in our street.  Elder Rogers kept shouting in English fro our house’s window in his South Carolina accent and it was hilarious.  He was shouting things like, “Oh look out, that guy right there’s gonna rob ya’ll”, of “You bout to get whooped by a 5 year ole.” Yeah we were busting a gut. 

13 October, 2014
         P-day was awesome.  We basically got to stay at the house, drink coconuts, play guitar, email, and relax.  I learned Hallelujah and Back in Black on the guitar.  It is the perfect way to end the night after we plan, shower, and write in journals.  We will just play for 10-15 minutes and it helps us to wind down a bit.

14 October, 2014
         So we have this investigator who is super cool, but he almost never has time to come to church because he works so much and also attends school.  He has already made his way through a few pairs of missionaries.  He believes all that we teach him, but he just needs to work out his schedule so that he can come to church.  This week he told us that he thinks that he finally has it sorted out so that he can start to attend. 
         We also found a great family because I stopped to talk to a girl who was reading a Harry Potter book.  First of all, do you know how rare it is to find people who actually read anything here?  Secondly, Harry Potter????  Well we met with her family and Elder Yarrington has to use the bathroom so I had a few minutes just to chat with them and I found out that both the girl and her mom like Avatar:The Last Airbender.  Haha…and the girl has read all of the Percy Jackson books from both series.  NERD ATTACK !!!Anyways, the lesson with them went well and they accepted a Book of Mormon and actually showed the desire to read it.  They are also related to a really strong member family so they have a good feeling about the church. I am hopeful and excited to teach this family.

15 October, 2014
         Well I am pretty dang thankful for the power that prayer has. We were teaching an investigator yesterday when she started sharing her thoughts with us.  She doesn’t really have a testimony and she doesn’t really want to change.  Anyways, I decided to pray specifically about her to receive guidance on what she should do. Today she told us that God just answered her prayers and told her that she should keep pressing forward. Then we set a date for her baptism and she immediately started to obey the word of wisdom.  It is really hard for people here to obey the word of wisdom, especially coffee drinking because it is such a common thing to do here.  I am so thankful that both of our prayers were answered.
         Also today was our zone training with only 1 of the 2 districts in our zone which is kind-of strange.  President Bonini is really cutting off communication between missionaries. It is kindof sad.  Elder J. Silva (a former companion of mine) is in my zone now.  He seems to be doing well now. 

16 October, 2014
         Okay, so just a quick miracle today: we went to a member’s house because we needed another man to teach a lesson with our investigator, but he couldn’t leave with us.  Theyn we went to another member, but he couldn’t go with us either.  I was a little upset and didn’t know what to do, then we literally ran into another member who was right next to where our appointment was.  He came with us and the lesson went really well.  The girl we taught committed to being baptized on November 1st.
17 October, 2014
         Nothing happened today.  Seriously , we went to Albierta for interviews that were scheduled for 5:00. We showed up 15 minutes early just to make sure that everything was ready.  Yeah, the interviewer didn’t show up until 6:50.  We finished around 7:30 and we didn’t get back to our area until about 9:15.  It killed our day!

18 October, 2014
         I am dang tired after this week. It was super tiring.  Well, today didn’t help any, that’s for sure.  So we were going to get a ride with one of the few members who has a care to look for our investigators before sacrament meeting, but, yeah that fell through.  So we were at the church (which is outside of our area) and we had to come up with a way to get back to our area and pass by all of our investigators that said that they would come to church.  Our brilliant idea was to RUN. Yeah, we ran in our shirts and ties for probably 40 minutes total and man I am wiped out. We had 1 investigator come to church, but she is the one who is committed to baptism and it was worth it just for her. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

MIRACLE STORY: How my lost scriptures were found

October 11, 2014
         I have a lot to write about, but the most significant and important thing is the miracle of finding my stuff…or most of it.  To recap, I lost one of my bags (my messenger bag that I bought from the mission office) during our last move.  It must have either been left on the sidewalk when we had to transfer all of the bags from the broken down truck into another car.  I was with the group that pushed the broken truck and another set of Elders was responsible for reloading the bags and transporting them in the other car to the new house. When we got to our new place, my bag was missing and I was so disappointed because it had my scriptures in it, not to mention  my camera, journals, photos from home, and a ton of stuff that is only meaningful to me.  I went about a week without my things and was just super stressed about it.  After lots of prayer (my family at home included), I decided that I needed to look for my stuff.  So we went back to our old neighborhood and started asking every single one of our neighbors if they had seen my bag.  While I was doing this, I received a very strong impression that we should knock on this door that I have never really noticed before.  I asked the man who answered the door if he had seen my bag, and he said that he would ask his wife.  I don’t know why, but right then I said a prayer that God would soften their hearts.  SOFTEN THEIR HEARTS?? Yeah, kindof weird to ask for that, but after about 10 minutes the woman came to the door and handed me all of my stuff in a plastic bag.  I didn’t ever tell them what was INSIDE of my bag, but there it was.  Everything (except the actual bag and the camera).  I am sure that they pawned all the valuable stuff, but why did they keep all the other stuff for over a week, the stuff that is meaningless to other people but invaluable to me?  I am sure that was a miracle, and believe me I was ECSTATIC!  God really does care about the details of our life and he will answer our prayers, specifically.   He also expects us to do our part in following inspiration and working to solve our problems with all the tools that we have available to us.
         Some of the other things that I missed out on writing this week: Elder Yarrington bought a guitar for me.  I gave him some money and when he was on splits in the city, he found a guitar!!!  It is the best buy of my whole mission.  I am loving it, especially in light of our new p-day rules. Also, we don’t have a piano in our area so I can’t even practice that on p-day.  We do have an electronic keyboard organ for church, but we don’t have keys to the building so I can’t practice.  I get to play almost every Sunday because the organist is less active, which means that I am getting good at site reading hymns and playing organ (minus foot peddles)
Our president has a bunch of new rules: no soccer, movies of any kind, meeting with more than 4 other missionaries, playing any sports with members, card games of any kind, all types of martial arts, and basically everything else that is fun to do on p-day.  There are a LOT of unhappy elders right now, but I'm just glad that I'm not one of them. Not being able to meet with a bunch of elders on p-day is a rule that's been in place ever since I came to Brasil. I think that it's because a lot of elders were seriously messing around big time. My bishop has met a couple times with the MP and the bishop said that our president likes me, but I still have yet to see that. Haha, we'll find out soon because we're having interviews with him this week.
Another fun thing that we did today was go in on some ice cream.  Prestigio, black forest, pineapple – everyone got their favorites and we bought 15 liters for only about 4$ each.  Transfers came out this week and we were almost unaffected as a zone.  Only one person left.  I am glad because Elder Yarrington needs more time to learn the language before he is sent to a new area.  He is making really good progress, but I don’t want him thrown under a bus without language survival skills.  I always feel protective about the missionaries that I train, probably because I wished that someone would have taken better care of me when I was new.
Well, I have taken up most of my personal study time to get caught up in my journal. I really missed having it and I am so grateful to have it back. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Staying and moving at the same time

We moved our houses this week and I had to push the pickup truck that died.  In the process, I think that one of the other elders grabbed my bag that had my camera in it and isn't telling me where it is. Bottom line, I lost my camera and my journal and worst of all, my scriptures. I don't think that my bag was stolen, but we'll find out in the next week. I think that my bag will show up soon, I have faith, but I personally think that it was the only brasilian in our district because he's kind of crazy and I think that he would think that it would be a funny kind of joke. I'm not very happy because it's already been 3 days and I'm missing my scriptures more than anything..... It's almost a year and a half of diligent scripture study and note taking lost.... argghhh!
            Anyways, I'm staying here this transfer with Elder Yarrington. Elder Yarrington is super stressed and still trying to learn Portuguese. It's coming along, but I think that it's actually more stressful to train someone how to speak than it is to learn. It requires a LOT of patience. Like a lot. I wasn't so nice with him this weekend because I've been super stressed since losing my bag, but I think that he understands that. I think I'll ask him sorry about that (is this English?) . 
Some little annoying thing have been happening in our mission. 1) We are prohibited from practicing martial arts, AND 2) we can't watch movies anymore on p-day. I know what you are thinking mom, and the taekwondo thing has nothing to do with me.  I talked to my president this morning and he said because it makes noise and people living underneath the missionaries complain about it (not me specifically, but other elders.)  I haven't ticked off president or anything, on the contrary, I think that he actually likes me now.  So, I'm going to buy a guitar and learn how to play the guitar on p-day because that's the only thing I can do now. P-days are really boring in our mission.
 I loved conference, and I was able to learn a lot and I'm going to change a couple of things in my daily routine now.  I can understand everything in Portuguese now.  It is interesting to mark your skill in the language by how much General Conference you can understand.  I have set new goals to study the scriptures even more diligently, talk with more people that I see. I'm not talking with EVERYONE, but that's what I'm going to start having to do.
So this week we lost a lot of working time. It was actually pretty fun, but as far as actually working it was a total bummer. We ended up doing almost all of our weeks work on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because on Thursday we spent ALL day at the police department. Well, Elder Yarrington and Elder Percival did. They were finishing up the VISA process and Elder Benitez and I got to stay in the mission office all day. We talked with all of the missionaries leaving in the next couple of days and it was SUUUUUUUPPPPPPPEEEEER trunky! haha The other elders found two Nigerians who were fleeing the country and passed their referral onto the other missionaries. Pretty cool! Then we used Friday to move, General Conference was on the weekend, and that was our week. Yeah, it was pretty hard to get anything actually done. I got a letter from my recent convert Evaldo and he's going to baptize his brother and his family this week! So Cool! I love you guys, don’t worry about me, I am doing great.