Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top of the World

19 January, 2015
          Man, p-days are so annoying.  I spend all week waiting for one day to roll around, and then it passes by so quickly!  Anyways, some cool things that happened tonight: We talked with our recently reactivate member who wants us to teach and baptized her two sons.  When we first met this lady, she was really super closed-off, but we just kept talking to her and being happy to see her and teach her. In time, she realized that we were sincere and then she started changing and listening to us. One of my favorite things that I have learned on my mission is to follow the Spirit and the Spirit will tell you that sometimes it will take a long time to help a person while other times it will be fast.  When we follow the Spirit then the conversion process is sincere, otherwise it is just convincing and manipulating people.  There are quite a few missionaries that opt for the manipulating method, but I don’t like it and I won’t do it.
20 January, 2015
         I went on exchanges with Elder D. and today was really hard, but not is a bad way.  It was hard because every single appointment went at planned which meant that we literally had to run from house to house to keep our appointments.  I am a very fast walker, in fact I have only had 2 companions who could walk faster than me.  But today, even I had to run to keep up.  Elder D. likes to talk a lot and he does not like children.  Whenever a child interrupts the lesson, he gets super serious and tells them off.  We showed up to this less active lady’s house where the grate was closed but the door was open. So the woman was just chillin on the couch watching TV without her shirt, or her bra on.  Fortunately she did have a towel that partially covered her.  We were like, “Hey,….oops…we will just wait for you to put a shirt on.” Awkward, but in the end it turned out to be a good lesson. 
         Anyways, finally we were making some progress with the baptism in our area. We have these two young men 14 and 15 who are amazing.  They are studying the scriptures every day, and living the word of wisdom.  I have never heard or seen kids this young be so interested in the scripture.  We will also be baptizing the two sons of the recently reactivated Mom. 
21 January, 2015
         There is a guy who was listening to us when we were teaching in a very sketchy alleyway.  At first I thought that he was the least likely person there to want to hear our message because he had multiple piercings, big chain necklace, and many tattoos inkling skulls with wings and smoking skulls.  Then he asked us to come teach him.  Well, today we taught him and he has a sincere desire to learn.  Then we visited a bunch of less active members who were not interested in the slightest.  I will be interesting to see who will follow the Spirit.
22 January, 2015
         One cool experience happened today when we passed by a recent converts house we learned that their Mom was very sick.  They kids said that they had no idea what to do and that they were trying to get a hold of us but to no avail.  Then we just showed up and we were able to help them out a ton. Those are some of the things that I love the most about being a missionary.
         On a light note, we made contact with this old guy who has two weiner dogs (a mother dog and her daughter!) The owner said that if he could, he would love to have 200 doxies! 
         Later that day I had one of our investigators asked< “Why do you guys believe in Joseph Smith?”  I bore my testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and because I know this to be the word of God as confirmed by the Spirit, I also know that Joseph was a prophet.
23 January, 2016
         Okay, our heavily tattooed friend is amazing!  He read everything that we gave him to read and he responded to each and every question at the end of the pamphlets.  This almost never happens and it was really sweet. His cousin was there and he wanted to learn about the Plan of Salvation which wasn’t exactly what we wanted to teach that day, but it turned out fine. Later we had a great lesson on the Proclamation to the World and the Plan of Salvation with E. and N. and ALL of their kids.  They were interested and participated in the lesson.  Sadly, N. still has to heal from her foot surgery so that she can come to church before she can be baptized.
24 January, 2015
         Today just about everything fell apart. We ended up visiting less active members who are sometimes much harder to teach than brand new investigators.
25 January, 2015
         We had three of our investigators come to church today! One of them was late because he was planning to come with a recent convert, but then when he (the investigator) went to the member’s house, the member was sleeping.  But our investigator woke him up so that he could get to church too.
         This week turned out super well and we finished it off by teaching a couple where the man is pretty wacko about the Book of Revelation, signs of the times, and conspiracy theories, and other stuff.  It was interesting, but we tried to focus on the fact that it is more important to be prepared for the second coming that it is to be worries about the details. If we follow Christ we will be ready for that day.  Both of our investigators are very musical and into singing groups so we showed them a Vocal Point video and they were impressed.  The husband said, “Those guys are Mormon too?  I thought it was just you guys walking around with shirts and ties.”

Monday, January 19, 2015

A good work week!

I solved all of the rubix cubes last p-day. It took me 56 minutes. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that that was just a one-time experience. I don't feel like wasting another hour of my precious p-day time. But I thought that it was cool.

January 12, 2015
         I got to play basketball today!!!  That was pretty awesme.  Other than that, today was like any other p-day.  We taught this less active member who is having a hard time with his testimony about the restoration and the Book of Mormon.  It is hard to see members deny the faith, but what can you do?
January 13, 2015
         I am never going to eat Ramen again.  I have only resorted to eating like 3 times on my mission and I have regretted it every time.  I ate 2 packages for lunch yesterday and I woke up today with the worst pain in my stomach.  Lunch was at home and we made lasagna, which I couldn’t even eat.  I still went out to work even though I didn’t feel well, and I am glad that I did.  Today was a good day of work.  We are teaching an 11 year old less active boy who is huge for his age.  He is a super cool kid and really bright.  He is one of the kids that was baptized by the previous elders.  This is what this kid had to say about that situation, “I stopped going to church because all of my friends there always sat with their families and I felt sad because I sat alone.”  Seriously, I wish that I could give those missionaries a mouthful. 
January 14, 2015
         Tonight we had a super cool family night at a member’s house with some of our investigators.  They really liked the activity and we got to know other people from the ward better.  A ton of people showed up and it was actually a really great fellowshipping activity.  Our ward is not known for activities like that so it was great to see.
January 15, 2015
         Okay we were visiting one of the recent converts and he sayd to us, “Oh yeah, I just remembered that I have a friend who told me that he wants to get baptized.”  So of course we stopped by the friend’s house to find out about him and he told us that he felt bad when he stopped going to seminary and that he has repented from when he told the other Elders that he didn’t want to get baptized.  Now he is ready and wants us to help him.  Stuff like that just doesn’t happen very often to missionaries, at least not to me.
         We have been fasting for our other investigator who is getting foot surgery this week.  She is very nervous and she has a strong desire to progress in the church, but her foot is a big problem that is holding her back.
         We have working on that 22 page ward list and trying to update the members in the ward.  It has been really weird because many of the names on the list are actually dead, including young people.  It goes like this, “Hey does so and so live here?” “No, he died a couple of months ago….or, no, He moved after his mom died.”  It is sad in a way, but we are finding a ton of people because of this list.
January 16, 2015
         I almost cried today when I was talking to a 12 year old boy who told us, “I don’t want to go back to church because everyone here in my apartment complex talks about how you guys don’t even care about us after we are baptized.”  There are literally 40 people under the age of 18 who live in that apartment complex who are coming to church because they feel like numbers.  That kind of stuff just kills me.
January 17, 2015
         This week has been awesome.  We’re really getting into the groove and starting to teach really well. Today we were walking in an alleyway and we basically had the opportunity to teach a sermon to these people in the alley on the restoration.  It was kind of a sketchy setting, and at first it seemed like no one was paying attention.  But once we started teaching it was almost like magic and everyone just stopped what they were doing to listen to us.  They even invited us to come back tomorrow. 
January 18, 2015
         Oh my gosh….it is often hard to understand and work with leadership in the mission field. There is a family who lives right next door to the chapel and they are not coming to church anymore because someone got after them for not paying their tithes in front of other members.  Today we had lunch with a ward leader and he started off the conversation with complaining about the activity that we had this week.  He was upset that we called it a “family night” and held it on Thursday.  Then he started complaining and complaining about how hard it is to reactivate people and how it is not worth the effort.  He literally said, “When they want to come back, they will come back.”  Then we started talking about our investigators and he got upset with us for having two kids on date for baptism….yeah, they are kids in a member family that has recently been reactivated.  The bishop couldn’t even remember one of the less active members who has been to church for the past month and interviewed with him last week.  She has been reactivated after 10 years of absence and asked to speak with the bishop about coming back.  How do you forget about something like that? 
        Still, My companion and I are doing to Lord's will, and we're seeing a lot of miracles happen every day. Seriously, this has been one of the best weeks that I've had in a long time. A lot of spiritual experiences, and a lot of times that I just wanted to cry.
         Just a couple of questions for you: Could you check into the camera that Taylor sent because I still have not received it yet.  Also, could you please send me a new long sleeved white shirt so that I have something decent to wear home.  My clothes are all falling apart and my shirts are looking bad. I am not planning on bringing anything home with me other than what I will be wearing.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hard work and Happy times

We ended up eating at our house a lot this week, and our favorite food to make: Monster subs!!!! They're actually super super good! Happy times
January 6, 2015
         We had lunch today at a less active member’s house.  She is very nice but during lunch she was talking about how when she was in young women’s, her leader would always tell the girls that they should get married instead of serving missions.  Then she started talking smack about sister missionaries, which prompted me to tell her about my three sisters.  My oldest sister is inactive in the church, the next oldest got her education and married in the temple to a returned missionary, and my third sister just returned from a mission to Brazil.  I told her that there are valuable things that are learned on a mission that can’t be learned anywhere else.  She didn’t really accept it and I didn’t want to offend her, so I just backed off.  That’s not the end of that story though, because Elder D. being the way he is, was goofing around a lot so this member started calling him Elder Chaves (after an elder known for his hyperactivity.)  Elder D. really didn’t like that and kept insisting that he wanted to be remembered as Elder D….yeah, he is definitely going to be remembered all right.  Elder D. started telling this less active member that he came on a mission because his bishop said that he would help him with college if he did.  Then he went on to say that he doesn’t think the Book of Mormon is true and left a scripture that other churches use to prove that the Book of Mormon isn’t true.  At that point I had to cut in and reprimand him.  The members actually said, “ Okay, he’s been in the mission for over a year, he’s got to be pulling our leg, right?” So I say, “Yeah, the sad thing is that he has been on his mission for over a year and he still acts like this!”  Yeah, we had a little talk about that teaching moment afterwards. 
         Anyway, let’s talk about some good things.  We ran into a less-active member who we had just about given up trying to find, but Elder Ferrao said that we should try him one more time. We talked with him and his girlfriend and she actually seemed really interested. We left the Book of Mormon with them and she seemed excited to read it.
January 7, 2015
         Another new couple that we are teaching are doing really well.  They are reading what we leave with them and they are eager to come to church.  However, the wife is very sick and is home bound.  She reminds me a lot of my mom, especially her personality.  After our visit with her, she told us, “When you came here, I remembered the parable that Jesus taught about the seeds being cast into the rocks by the side of the road, or into weeds, or into fertile soil.  I wanted to let you know that the seeds you are planting are falling on soil that has been very well prepared.  We keep everything you two say in our hearts.”
January 8, 2015
         One thing that is really hard about being a missionary is the fact that people feel like they need to confess their sins to us.  It is annoying and seriously wrong.  When there is gossip or something going wrong, we are the first to know, but whenever it is actually something important, we come in last place.
         Anyway, on to another more positive story, we visited with a family who is less active because of a complication following the birth of their child.  The husband is a very nice guy and said that he will teach me some guitar on my p-days.  We were reading some scriptures with them as a couple and they really seemed to appreciate and understand the scriptures well.  It will be fun to strengthen this awesome young couple.
January 9, 2015
         Today I went on exchanges with Elder A. and it was really cool.  He said that it was the best day of work  that he has had since he has been in the area.  His companion is difficult and Elder A. just wants to work hard and be a good missionary.  Our day started a little rough because we had a bit of a Bible bash.  We were teaching the restoration to a lady and out of nowhere this lady’s mom appears right as we are talking about the first vision.  Oh boy, she went on a five minute rant about how “no man can see God ad live!”  We showed her many scriptural examples of how prophets of God have seen him.  She wasn’t accepting anything we said and she even got to the point where she herself said that the Bible contradicts itself. We just decided that it was better to bear our testimonies and leave, rather than to argue with her.  Then after we bore our testimonies, she ‘prophesied’ that we would one day be ashamed of the testimonies that we had born and that we would abandon our religion.  I just couldn’t leave it at that so I read her 2 Nephi 33:11 that says, “An if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye – for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.”  I told her again that there is no doubt in my mind that the Book of Mormon and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christ’s church restored to the earth. 
January 10, 2015
         One of our families told us today that they had prayed and received an answer that the church was true.  They said that they want to be baptized, BUT -  they still haven’t been to church.  The wife has to have a foot surgery next week and then she said that she would come to church after that.  In the meantime, we will continue to teach them and help them. 
         Overall, this week has been great.  We have worked a ton and made some great progress.  I just hope that a few people come to church tomorrow.
January 11, 2015
         Shocker….no one came to church.  Well, actually, a couple of the less active members we have been teaching came and that was great.  We have a lot of work to do in this area to help those who should be in church but aren’t coming.  I am loving the work even though it is really hard. This is our list of members in our ward. There are 22 pages, and there are only 92 people that show up for church each week.

It was such heavy reading that Elder Ferrão and I ended up falling asleep on Sunday afternoon. We had lunch at home, so as it was cooking we were looking at the list, and the other elders were so kind as to take pictures of the result.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year, and Happy Birthday to me!

January 4, 2014
         Elder Anderson got me hooked on his rubix cubes and that means that I have been not writing as regularly as I should in my journal this week.  So I have decided to write first thing in the morning.  I have mastered the cubes up to 7, and I am now trying to learn that one.  It is a fun way to keep your mind a little more active in our spare time. Don’t get me wrong, it is not interfering with our studies, planning, or proselyting. 
I went souvenir shopping on p-day.  Taylor warned me that you aren’t given any time, or you don’t have any time at the end of your mission to do this, so I had better work on this a little at a time now. I blew some money on one big thing and one little thing for each of my family members.  It was fun, but also annoying because I was looking and looking for something for my mom and couldn’t find what I was looking for.
We had a great week this week even though it was a holiday week.  I think that I am going to rip out the part of the handbook that says that the holidays are the best time to contact families because they are home.  Yeah, not true.  Well, actually they are home, but they are either drunk, sleeping it off, or hung over.  We are not even allowed to work on new year’s Eve here because it is so crazy. 
         We did have a “special” zone meeting on New Year’s Eve that was announced two days before.  We watched “Ephraim’s Rescue”, or rather we tried to watch it, but due to poor planning we weren’t able to. I did, however, get a bunch of new religious guitar music from some other Elders in my zone and that made me very happy.  I also really liked the training message which was about bearing our testimonies.  He gave us the situation where the person is rejecting us and we just bear our testimony and leave.  Knowing that we will never likely see that person again, we often bear a strong and powerful witness.  Then he asked us, “Why don’t we bear our testimony like that every time?”  That made me think for a while and I decided that I am going to bear my testimony every time as if it the last chance I will ever get.
         The last couple of days we made up for lost holiday time and have been super productive.  W found some new families to teach that were both miracles.  The first family is a family of 5 that we found we found when we were trying to contact some of our recent converts.  We were trying to find a certain road so we stopped to ask directions from this couple.  As we asked for directions we talked to them about the church and they were very interested in learning more. We taught them the next day and the lesson went super well.  They had read the pamphlet that we left with them the day before and had questions for us.  The Mom is getting ready to have surgery on her foot and she told us that she would be to church as soon as she could after her surgery.  She seemed very committed to us and I just feel that this family is a special family.
         Our second family that we found was a result of listening to and acting on the promptings of the spirit.  We passed by their house and I stopped and did an about face and just knew that we needed to teach the family in that house.  So we clapped and contacted them and they actually invited us in.  We got to know them and it turns out that they have already been taught by other missionaries, they have a Book of Mormon, but they recently moved and haven’t had the chance to talk to missionaries since their move.  That was a great experience for me of the importance of listening to the spirit.  I am excited to teach this family and see how it all turns out.
         My 20th birthday was super chill. I almost forgot that it was my birthday.  Absolutely nothing happened.  Last year I baked my own cake, but this year I didn’t feel like doing it.
          This Sunday was kind of frustrating because our ward council meeting was so chaotic.  After the meeting, our ward mission leader pulled us aside for another meeting where he told us that we are not going to get a lot of help from the council, but that he knew of a few families in the ward who would help us and he was going to help us coordinate it.  Poor Elder Dornales was so frustrated by the whole complicated mess that he almost cried. But, we are going to keep working and doing our part and things will work out!  Although none of our investigators came to church on Sunday, we did have 3 less active families that we have been visiting with come to church.  So far, our work with the less active members has been our greatest success.  I am feeling pretty strong and I am happy. 
         Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that I got my return date this week….JUNE 8th…WooHoo!  
Oh yeah, and so apparently one o the ladies in our ward doesn't like giving food to the missionaries and this was how much spagetti she gave to 4 full grown men. Taylor can show you guys how the portions usually are here. Luckily we had leftovers from some other more generous members here.  It is always the same food, spagetti, rice, and beans.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

"I'll be Home NEXT Christmas"

 December 23, 2014

         So just about everything fell through today.  We were visiting some investigators with member, but none of them were home so he took us to visit with all of his friends in that area and we got a bunch of referrals from everyone.  Out of all of the referrals, the most interested two people was a young couple who are living together…..like really really young (the guy is 19 and the girl is 15.)

         Anyway, we went to a baptism tonight for a former member of the church.  One of our investigators was there and she seemed to have a good experience.  I still haven’t met her because her schedule has prevented her from making an appointment.

December 24, 2014

         Talk about a hard day! The only thing that was good was the lunch.  We had turkey for our Christmas Eve dinner.  Lunch was in the condominium complex where the were 40 children under the age of 12 baptized by one set of elders. (all for the sake of playing the numbers game) That is so ridiculous that NO ONE in the complex wants to talk to us.

         Everyone, even the members, was too busy to talk to us.  That is just the way it is in Brazil at Christmas time. I am super excited for my Skype call home tomorrow!

December 25, 2014

         We tried to get everything set up in advance for the call, especially since last year my call  was a major fail.  The owner of a Lan house promised he would open for us to make our calls and then he didn’t show up.  So we ran around like crazy at the last minute to find a member who would let us make the calls. Wow, talking with the family is really kind of sad.  You wait for six months, or more, and then you only get 40 minutes.  I have looked forward to this for so long and then it just flies by and is over.  Elder Anderson and I played our guitars and sang, “We’ll be Home NEXT Christmas.”  My favorite part of the day was getting to talk to my brother Levi in Chile.  He got super emotional and I even started to tear up with the things he was saying to me.  I am really proud of how well he is doing and how quickly he is learning to be a missionary. 

         After our Skype calls, the zone had a barbeque (with special permission from the president.)  It was pretty all right I guess.  We ate a lot, but is was a big waste of time. Elder Anderson made cinnamon rolls but no one even bothered to thank him.  The zone seemed a little bit dead to me. 

         Funny story, back in the day of the randomly baptizing missionaries, there was a young guy baptized who thinks that we are all Gods and that we can just pray to ourselves.  My companion says that when he has taught him in the past, it is just completely crazy.  He really is so ill that he cannot possibly make decisions for himself.  Most of the time he is very drunk and never comes to church, but we still try our best to help him.

December 26, 2014

         So we talked to one of our investigators who is reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it.  He is very receptive and has a lot of questions for us.  One of his friends is a pastor and he trash talks the church all the time.  That is very hard for us, but we never criticize other religions.

         I finally met and investigator who has been taking the lessons for a long time.  She is keeping the commandments but is afraid of committing to baptism.  She has some good friendships with members of the ward, so that helps us in our teaching.

December 27, 2014

         We went on exchanges today and I wasn’t all that impressed with how the work is going in their area.  The companionship is getting along better, but their planning needs work.  In the beginning of my mission, the one good thing that I learned was that you have to “plan with your head, and not your legs.”  That day, they definitely planned with their legs.  Everything fell through and we ended up walking from one side of the area to the other and back again trying to talk to some of their old contacts/investigators. 

         We also had our meeting with the ward mission leader.  We have a really small ward of about 80-120 members in attendance.  What I learned was that we have over 500 members on the ward roster!!!  So there are more than 350 inactive members.  We actually have a very small area that our ward covers.  We can walk from one end of the boundary to the other in 40 minutes.  Basically, all of the doors have been knocked.  So, we will be focusing on reactivation and hopefully we can have some success.