Monday, December 22, 2014

First line of business - clean graffiti off chapel!

December 22, 2014
         I have been so busy that I haven’t had time to write in my journal this week. So much has happened that I don’t even know where to begin.  First of all, I got transferred which is a good thing because it is hard on missionaries to stay in the same place for a long time.  Unfortunately, we were just getting ready to baptize several people and starting to finally have some success in teaching.  I will miss Elder Yarrington and I hope that he will be okay.  Anyway, now I am in Conjunto Ceara.  A good way to know what kind of area it is to picture what I saw when I went to church for the first time.  They actually have a nice little chapel (much better than not having one at all like in my last area.) Somehow someone got onto the secured church grounds and painted graffiti all over the front.  Yeah it left me with a bad first impression. My new companion is Elder Ferrao.  He said that it has been on the church for over a month now. I am planning a service project with the Elder’s quorum to clean it up.
My companion is a great guy from Rio Grande de Sul, which is a part of Brazil that is right on the border with Uruguay.  He said that in one day he has crossed the border at least 6 times because there is no regulation of the border in that part of the country. He is the youngest of 8 kids and all of his siblings have served missions (or are serving.)  He said that ever since he was 6 years old his family has had a member of their family gone for Christmas.  We get along super well and I am very blessed because he is the only missionary left in this area from the last transfer.  He helps me to find my way around and to meet people.  This area is a bit difficult because we have no teaching pool and everyone we meet says they don’t have time to talk to us until next year…in other words, after the holidays. 

The other elders living in the house are Elder Anderson – from Michigan and Elder Dorneles from Brazil.  Elder Anderson is teaching me a few tricks on the rubics cube.  He served in Oklahoma for almost a year as a visa waiter, but finally made it here a little while ago.  He is doing really well with the language and is the senior companion.  I have known Elder D. for a while now.  We were in the same zone a long time ago, then we were transferred into the same zone again, and then we were moved into the same house and served in the same ward, and now we were both transferred to a different area together.  Now I am his district leader and it might be a challenge because we know each other so well.
I don’t have much time left, so I will close with letting you know that I am happy and that I am looking forward to my new challenge. I can’t wait to talk to you on Christmas!!! Please send pictures of Taylor’s reunion.  I am glad that she is home for Christmas with the family.  Believe it or not, I am not trunky – I am feeling strong and ready to work. 

Monday, December 15, 2014


This week is AWESOME! I love p-day! I'm getting transferred, my family is doing great, and I'm a missionary!!! I'm also going to be a district leader again, and I'm once again going to another dangerous area... I'm just convinced that this entire city is dangerous. It'll all be fine. I still haven't been robbed yet, so the Lord is on my side!

December 8, 2014
         One of our investigators  bought us a 1 kg. bar of delicious chocolate so I decided to make chocolate chips our of it and then I made chocolate chip pancakes!  Talk about divine!
         This afternoon we taught a huge group of evangelicals and it turned out pretty well.
December 9, 2014
         Today we did something highly unusual when we did a service project for one of our investigators.  We painted two grates in front of their home.  Since there were two of them we decided to each take one.  I finished mine and then I turned my attention to the other one……face palm, Elder Y  did a lot of painting but in a very random pattern.  He tried to explain to me the details of his intricate method, but I couldn’t follow his logic. 
         Our cool miracle of the day (as Levi would say), happened when we were walking past this house and I just had to stop suddenly and go back to talk to the people there. It was a family of 3 and they let us in to teach them.  The mother of the family told us that it was her dream to get married and have her child baptized.  It was a pretty cool experience and they accepted our help in getting married.  I love it when I get to be a part of things like this.
December 10, 2014
         Our zone is doing a musical presentation for the Christmas Mission Conference and one of the kids in the zone leader’s ward is SUPER musical.  He wrote an arrangement of the First Noel, Silent Night, Hallelujah, and Mary did you know.  It is going to be totally awesome!  We have a lot of great singers in our zone and there are some sweet solos.  Needless to say, I will be on the piano. Thankfully I have been able to practice on the member’s keyboard in my spare time.
         We had 2 really good lessons with members today.  In one of the lessons, the member sang “Away in the Manger” and that left a really nice spirit with our investigator.   In the other lesson, we took our investigator to a members house for a lesson and the member was able to help a lot with encouraging  our investigator to live the Word of Wisdom and the law of chastity. 
December 11, 2014
         Everything fell through today but we did some pretty cool contacting, and I made some more chocolate chip pancakes which saved the day!
December 12, 2014
         Elder Percival and I went on splits today.  We ended up teaching only new investigators and they could all be really good or not. In between teaching assignments, we saw this old man who was just sitting on the side of a road in a rocking chair.  He looked exactly like half naked Santa.  Seriously, he had a huge perfectly white beard, and shoulder length snowy white hair.  It could have been Santa resting up for his busy season.  I asked Elder Percival to take a picture of his sometime for me.  It made my night!
December 13, 2014
         Today we taught a 17 year old girl and it was really difficult because she lives with and extremely drunk and mentally ill aunt.  The aunt will not leave her alone and will also not keep quiet.  Let’s just say that she was very irreverent, loud, and funny.  In the end of the lesson, Elder Y. moved to sit next to the aunt to distract her so that I could finish teaching our investigator.  It was next to impossible, so we wrapped things up quickly and our investigator promised to come to church on Sunday so that we could teach her another lesson after church.
          We confirmed with 13 people that they would come to church tomorrow.  I hope that everything works out, but I am not holding my breath. 
December 14, 2014
         The only investigator to follow through in coming to church was our 17 year old girl.  We were able to teach her a good lesson after church and she has already accepted to be baptized, but first we need to teach her all of the commandments.
After the lesson, some other elders taught us how to roast cashews. The nuts literally burst into flames!  It was pretty sweet. 
Later on I had a discussion with my zone leader about one of our investigators who has set multiple baptismal dates, but never comes to church so I keep postponing the date.  My zone leader thinks that we should still baptize her even though she never keeps this commitment.  I told him that I didn’t think it was a good idea to baptize her before she was really ready.  He responded with, “Elder, are you scared to baptize?”  Oh boy, if he would have said this to me a couple of months ago, I would have flipped. But instead, I calmly explained to him what it teaches in Preach my Gospel about baptism.(which we were told had been declared by the First Presidency to be scripture.) He didn’t like that, but he stopped arguing with me.  Later on in the day I felt that I should call him to clear the air so that there were no hard feelings.  As it turned out, he called me first and apologized to me and told me that he was wrong.  That has never happened to me before.  In the end everything got resolved except for the fact that our investigator is still not progressing.  I am definitely ready for p-day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A week of HIGHS and LOWS

Miracle keyboard from a member to help me with my assignment to accompany the choir at the Christmas devotional.
December 1, 2014
         IT’S DECEMBER!!! I can’t believe it.  Time is flying by for me.  I went to Aldeota with Elder Rodgers to practice for a choir piece with Sister Evans.  I am getting good at sight reading, but overall my piano skills are really terrible.  I suppose that is to be expected when I never have the chance to practice. I am kindof worried about how I will manage at the U in the music school after my mission.  After that, we went to lunch at Burger King which is a tradition for missionaries in Aldeota.  So much so that I ran into Elder Curty and Elder Zuniga.  That made my week super awesome because Elder Curty in finishing his mission on December 15th and I wouldn’t have had a chance to say goodbye to him before he left.  He was basically my trainer when I first arrived in Brazil and I am sure that I would not have survived without his help.  I found out that my actual trainer is dating a 16 year old from his last area in the mission. Yeah, there are lots of stories about him and I am just blessed to have had Elder Curty to get me through that time. Anyways, Elder Curty will be going home to Rio and he lives very near where Taylor is currently serving so he is going to go and see if he can go on some teaching appointments with her before she leaves on the 17th. That would be awesome!
December 2, 2014
         Lunch today was rather interesting.  We didn’t have another man with us, so our investigator called one of her friends so that we could eat with them.  And…this friend was way out there.  Haha….the missionaries had already taught him in the past so he recounted the Joseph Smith story in a rather interesting manner.  He told us that Joseph came out of the jungle and was basically this mysterious forest man until one day a man appeared to him and told him to start a church.  Pretty weird, and when we tried to tell him the true story, he was convinced that he was right.  The rest of our lessons kind of followed suit and were mostly annoying.  We are going to have to drop a lot of people.
December 3, 2014
         I am concerned about M.  He is a great investigator and already believes everything.  But he never comes to church.  Anyways, we taught his 17 year old girlfriend about the Book of Mormon and it actually went a lot better than I thought it would.  She is holding him back though because every time he has a free Sunday, she wants him to do stuff with her. 
         Probably our only solid investigator with a baptismal date, postponed her baptism again because she is planning on going out of town this weekend.  It is getting harder and harder to get her to keep her commitments. 
December 4, 2014
         We had an investigator that we dropped a while back. He has read a good part of the Book of Mormon but he never has prayed about it and he doesn’t go to church.  Well we just stopped by to say hello and we had a chance to teach him a little about prayer.  We read 2 Nephi 32:8-9 that talks about how it is an evil spirit that teaches a man not to pray, and also 2 Nephi 33 when Nephi talks about how Christ himself will show you that these words are true.  Well, surprisingly he committed to come to church to learn more.
         We visited another investigator C. who is really dedicated and progressing well, but can’t make it to church because she visits her daughter in jail on Sundays.  We had a lesson with her and her sisters and nieces and nephews, but basically none of them except C. were interested.  When we talked about sacrifice and how God blesses us when we put Him above all else, we challenged her to go to church again.  She told us that she would visit her daughter this Sunday just to let her know that she would not see her the following week because she was going to go to church with us.  That really made my day!
December 5, 2014
Elder Y. didn't want to take the shirt off to iron it...he is lucky he didn't get hurt.
         We taught I. this morning and his wife about eternal marriage and he seemed a bit off.  It always happens when his wife is around. Anyways, she actually got a bit more interested and we ended up having a good lesson.  Right after that we went on splits with Elder Gustafsen and we taught a LOT in his area.  Some of the lessons were good, but others not so much.  When I got back, it turned out that every appointment in our area fell through and Elder H. and my comp only did a few contacts.  What???  He is our zone leader out with my greenie and they didn’t do any contacts.? Uggh.
December 6, 2014
         Boring and frustrating Saturday. Our investigator C. was going to get baptized, but didn’t show us. She was super excited to be baptized and was ready and everything. BUT when the time came, we couldn’t find her.  We were waiting outside her house when she finally showed up… hammered.' She just walked past us into the house and refused to talk to us. She said that we should pass by only on Monday. Yeah, what is sad is that she didn't have a problem with drinking, she just decided to go out to a party with her friends and have a good time right before her baptism. Oh well, she knows exactly what God wants her to do. Sadly, we can only lead a horse to water, but we can't make him drink. (apparently Satan gets them to drink from another well.)
December 7, 2014
         Finally someone came to church today.  It was one of our investigators sisters….and she ended up liking it a lot. We found out after church that this lady had an interest in the church about a year ago, but stopped coming to church because the missionaries made some self righteous remarks that offended her.  We talked to her for a while and she is going to read the Book of Mormon again.  After church we had an awesome dinner with a great family.  They happen to have an electric keyboard that they let me borrow for the next week so that I could practice for the choir…YEAH, this was a miracle that I really needed.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thanksgiving Pizza

November 23, 2014
         I am feeling much better.  A. came to church today! It was a small victory for us.  She is super nervous about her baptism this week.  We finally started working on Sunday nights because President Bonini changed the weekly planning to a Thursday instead of Sunday night.  We had this super cool activity with the ward where we taught them the missionary lessons and prepped them to do contacts.   It worked really well and they gave us 24 referrals.  Too bad I was in the other Elders area.  Next time, it’s going to be in our area.

November 24, 2014
         P-day was pretty great today.  Super busy, but we had a good time. I. made lunch for us which was super good. There was very little food, but he cooks very well so it was delicious.  After that I made this super cool family night activity that we did 3 times in the same night. It was the corn starch object lesson where you make a comparison of the starch to faith.  If you don’t do anything the starch and water combination will turn to liquid, but if you keep working on it, and molding it, then the faith will stay firm.  The point is that you never reach a point where you can say to the Lord, I’m done, there is nothing else that I need to do.  Until we stand before Him on judgment day,  we still have work to do to endure to the end.
November 25, 2014
         Oh my gosh, we had this crazy lesson with a man who has been to jail and now wants to be a pastor.  He was a deacon in another church and he was praying over the pulpit and he said that he had a revelation that the pastor was upside down and naked.  He called the pastor to repentance and told the congregation what he saw in a vision,  and then pastor called him to repentance…yeah.  We closed the lesson.
Those are all pictures that our super cool investigator  took after one of our lessons. I love his dog! He's not even a year old and he's freaking huge!
November 26, 2014
         District meeting was interesting today. We didn’t have the keys to the chapel so we were trying to figure out what to do.  Elder Benitez was in chare and he wanted to call the zone leaders to see if we could have the meeting in our house.  Elder Ricks just looked at him and said, “you’re the leader, take charge.”  Yeah, Elder B. is a really good guy, but he struggles taking the reins of leadership.  All I can do is support him and the decisions that he makes. 
         A. is super nervous about her baptism and she wants to delay a week.  She says that she still wants to be baptized, but she is fearful about it. 
November 27, 2014
         Finally we talked with L. who is R.’s husband.  Their entire family wants to be baptized, but we still needed to get the husbands permission for the kids to be baptized.  Everyone told us that this guy is rude and a brute and that we should be careful about bothering him.  But, I felt that we should take the time to respect him as the head of his household.  I must admit that he was intimidating at first with his long hair, mexi-stache, and construction worker body.  It turned out that we hit it off really well and he told us that he wanted to come to church with us.
THANKSGIVING PIZZA!!!!!!!! That was the best thing that we could have done for Thanksgiving. I know that Taylor sent a bunch of spiritual thankful quotes.... but... Yeah, she's always been better about that kind of stuff than I am. I know that I'm kind of a goof, so that's just who I am!
        It’s THANKSGIVING today and you know what I am thankful for?  PIZZA!  Yep was absolutely awesome to have pizza for thanksgiving.  We bought 4 large pizzas to split with 6 Elders.  I miss traditional food, but pizza was a good substitute.
November 28, 2014
         Wow, I. made us the most delicious brunch for us today.  He loves us!  It is nice to be treated well by someone because there is plenty of rejection in our work.  It was also a blessing because our lunch appointment fell through.  We spent all day trying o confirm our investigators baptismal interview, but it fell through.  Ugghh!
         I went on divisions with Elder Percival today and I realized how much I have gotten out of the habit of contacting.  I am going to improve on this in the next couple of days for sure. 
We were fasting one day, and let's just say that I'm kind of killing my companion at the pace that I'm setting! Haha, I thought that he was starting his fast after lunch and he started to pray, and pray and pray... After about 20 minutes I figured out that he was sleeping. I never know because he always prays in this position, even when he's not tired! (all this mess is his side of the room. I try to be more orderly).
November 29, 2014
We worked really hard this week, but still no one came to church. Well, we did have this 17 year old girl and her cousin come, but they mixed up the times, got there at 7:30 instead of 9, waited for 10-15 minutes, and then left. BUT they did at least try to come!
I don't think that I sent this picture nor the video about how the cashew is actually a fruit! This is how it looks and it's pretty tasty. You might not like it on the first bite, but you grow to love it. There are so many here, that you just throw stuff into the trees and they'll fall right down. We have a lot of coconuts, mangos, and cashews here in the northeast. It's pretty cool.