Last Transfer

So it all begins. I received my companion Elder Pedrosa from Teresopolis, Rio de Janeiro. I am the District Leader yet again. I did a training yesterday for the newly called Ward Missionaries and I will make some more visits this week to train them a bit more.

Teresópolis is the countryside of Rio. His father was Elder Moroni and served together with an irmão in our ward. Elder Pedrosa knew Sister Gadberry from my CTM District. His grandfather served in the Brazil Mission. There is some question if his great-grandfather was a member. He’s the result of one of the longer Brazillian member lines. It’s all weird. There’s also an irmã in the ward who served with Matt Padilla and her brother probably served with Elder Pedrosa’s brother.One  RM in the ward has a companion of his from the Mission Juiz de Fora who married with Sister Knighton who was finishing the mission when I was arriving. This Mormon World is very small.

Guess who I met in Santo Amaro last week?
Not much more to say about my week. It was busy helping organize the ward mission organization and helping the district run well. I am getting a bit tired with back pains. My companion jokingly says it’s old age . The rest is normal running after all sorts of documents to help these people I’m teaching to get married.

Hope I catch you online. Love you all!

A Picture to Start

I am going downtown this week to the Federal Police to pick up some documents to leave the country soon.

Transfers came in last night and here is the news for my last transfer I will return to being a District Leader in my last transfer. I will also train for the 5th time in my mission. I have no clue who will be my new companion as he will arrive tomorrow from the MTC. I believe that now I have the largest posterity in the mission. Speaking of posterity my firstborn Elder Fróes has been called to be the Zone Leader in Raneri.

We’re working hard to get a lot of work done before I’m out. Talked with Bishop this morning and he’s happy I’m staying. Yesterday he started calling a bunch of “Couple missionaries” basically ward missionaries but people who will actively (very actively) work in the missionary work, since the area is now rather large with new acquisitions and another companionship is not getting sent here. Now we have to plan with Bishop training to help these people learn how to teach by Preach My Gospel because almost all of them never learned how the Preach My Gospel teaching works.

Those are the basic things of my week. Building up the ward missionary organization are the main things I’ve been working on. The new Bishop was the ward mission leader so there is a lot of focus on the work in this ward. He’s really supportive, we’re doing a ton of Family Home Evenings these days and we are getting some investigators out of it. This is how missionary work was meant to be.

Hope all is well at home and hope to talk with you all a bit today. Love you!

 

Beginning of September

Dear Family,

This week was busy. We ran all around to get our baptism to happen. We baptized a sister. Her little brother Miguel (5) wanted to get baptized too and I had to explain to him that he will have to wait until he is 8 years old.

In any case my talk with him didn’t seem to help as he jumped into the water as I opened the door to enter to grab my bag to change into my baptismal clothes. He then complained about how he got wet, go figure.

Last night we had a fireside with President Cordner about how to share the Gospel through social media. We obviously weren’t there to do the actual sharing but to help the present members do the sharing. With some fumbling,  I and some members managed to send off an invitation. I am much less adept at navigating facebook than I was before I left.

This week during interviews President made me consider my testimony. I have begun considering what this means as I end my mission. Something President told me that has been in my head all week and probably will be for a good long while: “Others will fall, but I cannot. I’ve seen too much and I know too much to fall.”

Before the mission I had no idea what world it was that I had lived in or what world I was stepping into. I’m not saying this as an Alice in Wonderland or Narnia way but the fact that we truly do live in a war. I hear more and more about some Elders, I admired in the mission, now being less active or just now returning to activity. I am not one of them and I will not fall. I’ve seen too much to fall.

I know that this is the way. We must stay in the Old Ship Zion. We are safe here and the storm does rage on, but the storm will pass and the Captain is Our Own Saviour who commands the storms be still. He will comfort us and calm us and all storms we face, inside and out.

I love you all and am glad for who I have become here in the mission. I am happy to have learned how to be a disciple of Christ. Hope to hear from you this week. Bye!

 

I Don’t Have a Clever Title for this Week… Oh Well…

Mom, you were praying, weren’t you? Because after last week’s email the rain stopped and now we are in cloudless sunny days… I think this week I will travel back to Jardim Record on Friday to be at the wedding and baptism of Bruno and Fabiana, a couple we taught in my previous area.  I just need to get permission from President.

Last night I got a shocking realization of my own mortality (here on the mission that is to say). We were teaching a couple, and they were uncertain again about if they want to get married. Obviously, this happened because today she goes to the courthouse to mark the marriage date, so the opposition threw up a big fight in their house over something, to be honest, really stupid and small. It was like being an outside observer on a few Sunday mornings at home when I would get mad at trivial things, sorry by the way.

Elder Mariño stood up in the middle of it all with scriptures open and began to read and explain the scriptures. It seemed as if he read 5-6 scriptures giving a good explanation. The best thing is I know there is no way he could have planned anything he said. It was almost like Abinadi testifying before King Noah. Ever since I came to the area I have been telling Elder Mariño to just trust in the Spirit and say whatever it is that the Spirit commands. Last night I saw very clearly that he has learned the principle.

It was in this that I ended up wishing that my trainer had taught me these things. Maybe they did and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention or they didn’t, but I realize now that things flow so much easier when we follow the Spirit. Well all this is part of the learning process, isn’t it?

By the way, it’s all funny, because I discovered a few weeks ago that my District Leader Elder Wilson was a subscriber to my blog before he came out on the mission. So there was the “oh you’re Elder Done” moment. He’s a cool guy, competent leader and self-motivated.

Audrey already got back to school? And she’s in her Sophomore year? Time passes fast. Tim got his first paycheck, huh? Did he see income taxes? Have a great week everyone!

 

I Have No Clue Where to Start

First off, Happy Fathers’ Day Dad! Hope yesterday was great! Was thinking about you yesterday!

It is so much less stressful not being a District Leader, so it is a great enjoyment to be just a trainer this transfer. My companion, and probably the one who will “kill” me is Elder Mariño from Ecuador. So it seems like he had a first transfer quite similar to my first transfer with Elder Neves. He didn’t get too well along with his first trainer (his trainer actually was sent home and the area was closed for a week before I came) and Elder Mariño started off a bit quiet and timid.
We started off the transfer as any good trainer would… with Pizza. And not just any pizza but Pizza Bis which is the best pizzeria in the mission, so widely acclaimed that I’ve been hearing about it for my whole mission. Now I can finally eat it.
This is the view outside of my window, but that isn’t my area. My area is a peninsula surrounded by a beautiful blue lake and there is always a nice breeze blowing in from the lake. It pulled a really nice area to “die” in.
So we started at the work. We have essentially cut most of the investigators that were already there and we are starting from ground zero. I’ve already gotten into the work of re-making everything in my image. In the house, we’ve re-arranged furniture, taken down the paper that was glued on the walls, make our beds daily, and all the like. The first great challenge in the area is that with the passage of time there are some in the ward leadership that have lost faith in the missionaries. Well, that changes now. We came to ward Council yesterday and distributed individual copies of the Progress Report to each member of Ward Council told them they could study it at home but that we would only talk about choice people on the report. We made specific plans and marked appointments with the ward council to go through with our plans. Elder Mariño says I do stuff a bit different than his last companion and that he likes it, we get home really tired but it is fast paced work. Well, this is Elder Done after all…
Yesterday there was very little people at church. I counted 41 people in sacrament meeting. In the absence of people I was called to give the first talk, I was notified right after the sacrament was distributed. Considering the last time this happened it was my first week in the field I think I spoke pretty well. I didn’t even have time to grab my scriptures I just went up and talked. It was pretty cool as I noticed how much I really have mastered Portuguese in this time on the mission.
The Ward Mission Leader is also the landlord of our house and lives in front of us. He has been telling me now he’ll ask President Cordner to let me stay here for 6 more months…. well….
I’ve been talking with Elder Mariño today and we’ll make a push to get me speaking Spanish before I leave. Just imagine it I leave the mission tri-lingual, speaking English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Oh, I am loving the look of my resume. Spanish isn’t actually looking too hard, we watched Meet the Mormons this morning in Spanish and I got it, so I just need to work on speaking and pronouncing.
With this talk of resume I was thinking maybe when I get home, I could apply for a job at Best Buy or another sales job that I’ll get a good commission. I had a dream today of me getting a commission from both Spanish and English Speakers on Black Friday. And then at BYU I still am not sure, maybe I could try RA?
We’re all getting ready for the Mission Tour next month with Elder Costa. It says that he will visit missionary houses (thank goodness my house is clean) and have interviews with some missionaries. I didn’t see this in the last mission tour. Should be interesting.
I hope you’ve all had a great week I hope I catch you online. Love you all so much. Have a great week!

Transfer Calls

Hey there Mom, just got here. I’ve been washing clothes all morning and packing my bags preparing for the transfer tomorrow. I’m off to train a greenie again in Grajaú! Grajaú is on the other side of the mission so I don’t think I’ll have any time for a quick go over in the morning on my luggage so I’ve been packing

So what do you think of the flight plans? Is it too close or do you think the church knows that I’ll have to clear customs? At least the airport floor is flat and not a crazy mountain like the streets here. 😛   I will leave a lot of things in Grajaú in this next transfer. I decided today that upon my departure I will torch most of my clothes  So I think that’ll make my bags smaller. But there’s quite a bit of books I have acquired here in the mission that I will not leave do you think that’ll slow me down?

I’ll be a trainer (I wanted to train a few more missionaries before I left) and I can now focus on my own area because I will not be the District Leader there. I discovered my new companion whom I will train will be left alone in a house with me. He will have six weeks to become just like me. I am so excited! 😀 We also have the ward all to ourselves.

All the other times there were other Elders in the house this time it’s just us. Elder Bowcutt (who left this morning, going home) was the ex-assistant of President Dalton. He believe that I have been called to finish this training because there is some belief that I am the best trainer in the mission. Apparently there was a problem with his last trainer so President called me Friday to extend the assignment. I was surprised to not be called a leader any more but I realize that it’s not because of a shortcoming, it’s just that the Lord wants me to do something different this time. I got a confirmation on this thought in President’s letter to the mission. I’ll send it portuguese but I think you can translate it:

Sinto-me tão agradecido por estar aqui trabalhando lado a lado com todos vocês no trabalho do Senhor. Estou aqui com você para construir o reino do Senhor e não o meu.

Dois dos principais atributos do Salvador podem ser vistos na forma como ele sempre se dirigiu a Seu pai. Você lembrará que Ele sempre disse: “…porém não se faça a minha vontage senão a tua” e a frase que sempre seguiu este “…Seja tua a glória para sempre.” Nessas duas frases curtas, eu posso aprender muito sobre como eu posso ministrar e servir da maneira do Salvador. Qualquer outro caminho é o meu caminho e não o caminho dele.

Gostaria de agradecer a todos vocês que aceitaram responsabilidades e chamados para servir de forma que você não esperava. Como reorganizamos as zonas da missão, isso foi necessário e muitos de vocês fizeram sacrifícios para que isso acontecesse pois não se importam da sua própria vontade, mas da vontade dele. Eu te amo por isso e vou pedir que as bençãos do Senhor a estarem com você por serem tão obedientes! Amo vocês muito!!

 

New District, New Lessons

This week was a shock of a lot of new things to be learned and experienced. My new companion Elder Costa is from Belém, Pará. So far, it seems our companionship is going well. At present in the first week of the transfer my district is leading the mission so we are doing great.

Before I forget the Ward Mission Leader here is asking if I could leave him a baseball as a keepsake. And I only have Bella, Dad’s baseball and I’m not too fond of the idea of leaving Bella here. Can you please search to see if there is a store in the mission that sells baseballs?

One of my new elders in the district is Elder Bowcutt, formerly the ex-assistant to President Dalton. At the beginning of the week I found it very easy to feel uncomfortable leading him. Then I got along to reading the talk given by Hugh B. Nibley at BYU called Leaders and Managers. I found this talk while searching for resources to help me become a better leader on the church website. It helped me realize how to be a leader here, that while a manager feeds on mediocrity making everyone less than him, a leader promotes those below him with their abilities because a leader is caught up in a greater purpose and devoid of personal agenda and ambitions. It was and is a good talk to study. Would recommend.

Nothing much else happened. I’m fighting my way through a ton of food that the members gave us this week so we are all eating well. Also Elder Costa’s uncle and aunt were visiting a family friend in Embu das Artes just a bit south so they passed by with food from home for him. Blocks of frozen açaí from Pará. Maybe now I’ll see what my other companions paraenses wouldn’t stop talking about.

I’ll send the photo from our district shirt at the end of last transfer. I organized the shirt deal and learned yet again that one inspired leader is much more effective than the endless debate of democracy. Results are better and everyone is happy in the end.

Love you all have a great week!

The Beginning of the End

Transfer calls came in last night and the verdict stands. My district has almost been completely dispersed, I remain almost a sole survivor of transfers. Only I and Sister Perkins remain, the Elders in the branch were transferred and two new elders will take their place tomorrow. Elder Andrade is being transferred to Palmaires in the Casa Grande Stake. Later today the t-shirts we made as a district will arrive and we will take photos. I’ll send them along next time.

This was a rather hurried week for me. Thursday we had our mission conference, our last meeting with President Dalton. I took a photo with him, and I dug up my old photo when I arrived here.  The comparison follows:

Okay, now you are probably be thinking about the subject line. Well, this was the name of the video that the mission made for President and Sister Dalton and presented at the conference. It was a slideshow of photos from his birth to his mission to his family to now set to music. At the end of the presentation, President Dalton stood up at the back of the chapel and announced that he felt as if he had watched his own funeral. It was a sad occasion, bidding farewell to President Dalton, even though he will remain in the mission until the end of the month.

I reflected on how it is a sunset time in my life. A chapter is ending. Now, of course, all endings are the start of a beginning as I look forward to working under the direction of President Cordner in a few weeks. I reflect on all that I have learned with President Dalton and how crucial it was that he was my Mission President for this time of my life. It wasn’t even in big things really that made all the difference. It was the small things that just made everything seem to click. It was that small “I love you buddy” that always ended our interviews that I needed to keep me going even when times were rough. Those small details that made him like a father to me in this time, those small details that made me feel like I was his favorite elder, even though I logically know that such a thought is probably less than truthful.

As I write this I remember a feeling I once had in the temple, I cannot seem to remember if I had shared this with you already. I sat in the chapel waiting for the start of the session and I just sat, listening to the hymns being softly played on the organ and I pondered looking at a portrait of the Saviour. I reflected on how He is My Older Brother, that at some time in the Premortal Life I sat and talked with Him. How my loyalty to him in the War in Heaven wasn’t a passive loyalty or a loyalty motivated by fear of the alternative, but it was a loyalty driven by love for My Older Brother who managed to make me feel like I was His Favourite Brother, despite the countless other brothers He has, He made me feel like His favourite.

And as My Older Brother, He must have taught me some things that I needed to know before coming here. We all came here to Earth pure and straight from Our Heavenly Home. We remembered all that we had been taught. With the course of events in Our Mortal Life we forget some things we had been taught, so then we must re-learn them. In such a thought I remember a quote of Jean Jacques Rousseau: “Man is born free, everywhere else he is in chains”. Maybe to an extent that is true. When we are born we are pure, but as we draw closer to the world and hence farther from things more heavenly we add chains to ourselves; we forget who we are and what we have learned. That is why a temple is a place of learning because it returns us back to where we were before we were born, making us freer, reminding us of what we may have forgotten.

I am very grateful that My Older Brother had taught me and each day is reminding me what I had learned before. The mission is where we can learn how to be close to Him and practice what we learn. I am grateful He gave me a way to be free and that He loves me and keeps pushing me along despite difficulties and trials.

I hope you all had a good week. Congratulations Tim on your graduation! Good luck getting a job and starting your studies. In a few months, I’ll be back to help you out. Audrey, good luck in all the summer camps get some great stories and share them with me afterward. Mom, Dad, congratulations two down, one to go! I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Save Ferris

Shortly after last week’s email, I went down. Tuesday around lunchtime I was caring for Elder Andrade still recovering and then I came down with the same thing. Tuesday morning for us was funny as Elder Andrade’s mom got into contact with literally every member of the church in the state of Sao Paulo to search out her sick son. We got calls from people we have never seen asking if Elder Andrade was well. It was very much like Save Ferris, a reference I frequently made and no one understood.

Well, I didn’t get out to work again until Thursday. So there is not much to report on the work front this week. But all the action happened Tuesday night. I was much worse than Elder Andrade and ended up going to the hospital at about 9 pm. I am really grateful that Bishop Cabral took us to the hospital and stayed with us until we got out the next morning at almost 6 am Wednesday morning. I ended up using my personal card to pay for medicine that we will get reimbursed for since a lot of my remaining money went to buying Gatorade (which is really expensive) to keep myself and Elder Andrade hydrated.

I got permission to start looking at possible courses for BYU so I started glancing at what to do when I get back. I went off to Santo Amaro today for two reasons. Elder Freire had an eye doctor’s appointment and I had an interview with President Dalton to renew my temple recommend.

This week I’ve been thinking about my email last week. How I was able to grow from service, and how this week I have been able to learn from being served. I didn’t want to let Bishop take us to the hospital and stay with us the whole night but I learned why we did it. We did it for the same reason we ask others for a priesthood blessing. We cannot serve ourselves partly because we need to learn that we are dependent on others and they need the opportunity to serve as well. President Dalton once told me that the great secret of missionary work is that it is more for us than for others. That Heavenly Father calling us to the labour is like a father calling his son to help him mow the yard. The Father knows it will take him two more hours to get the job done, and maybe it would not even be done so well, but he knows his son will learn how to do it. God can convert people faster than we can, but he knows it will help us learn and grow.

Grateful to learn to serve and be served. Especially grateful that Christ served me in atoning for my mistakes so that I can be better each day. Tim, have a great graduation tonight and keep moving forward. Always read your scriptures. Always say meaningful prayers. Always look to learn from serving in the Church. If we do these things we never will fall away.

 

Have a great week everyone. I love you all! Until next week.

In the Service

I’m writing this a little late in the afternoon. We had a bit of a hectic morning. Elder Andrade got rather ill last night to this morning. He woke up at 11pm and threw up a little. I remained asleep at this hour. Around midnight he got up again and he woke me up as he basically also fainted leaving the bed. I offered the best of my medical skills, recognizing his low blood pressure and throwing a bunch of salt at the problem. His pressure returned to normal and I gave him a priesthood blessing. Then we returned to sleep. Then at 6:20am I woke up with the odd impression it was raining. Well it is raining now, but at that time Elder Andrade had thrown his head over his bed (he sleeps on the top bunk of our bunk bed) and began to vomit incredible amounts of brownish liquids. He got my sandals and our bags and splashed my beddings but thankfully the rest of the damage was minimal. I was waiting for an excuse to wash my beddings anyways. Got him out of bed, put him in the shower and mopped up the mess the good part of the morning. Washed the beddings of us both and disinfected the house. Put him into some of my warm clothes and put him back to bed.

As I kneeled on the floor mopping I was made to think of how Christ washed the feet of the apostles. While my cleaning up of the floor was nowhere near the sacred importance of that event I thought of his example of loving service. My first thought when I realized that he was throwing up this morning was a same whisper of anger from the adversary wishing that I respond with anger for making a mess on the floor. But as soon as it had come the thought was washed away by a feeling of love and care for my companion that I don’t think has yet  been this sick on the mission. I remembered how sick I got in February when I got here on my mission.

I thought about how much Christ must do this for us. How we make mistakes and he doesn’t yell at us or hit us in anger. Like Elder Sabin said in the conference a GPS doesn’t yell at us “You fool”, when the Saviour gives us course correction He guides us in how we can be cleaned and cleans up the results of our mess. That is the joy of serving, we learn more than we would have just reading, we learn in doing.

This week we also had an experience in overcoming the opposing whispers from the enemy as I received a prompting to go to a far-flung road that had never been visited and we had no clue what there was there. It was the longest walk of my mission, as we travelled down the avenue (and it really was a 5 minute walk) my mind was full of reasons not to go. I had no clue what there was there and I was trading valuable time to work on an unknown. We got to the corner of the road, it was night and we saw no house on the road. It appeared to be just a road with a school. I heard in my mind “well great, see you’ve wasted your time, now go back to work”. I decided I had already come all this way I might as well see what there was on this road. We got to the end and found a closed gate condominium with only an intercom. “Rich people, they’ll never listen to you, especially at night they won’t answer the door” the voice said again. I rung Number 7 and the man there left. He wasn’t much interested to hear us. “There you go see, proof no one will hear you here” the voice said again. I turned and then just felt, well we’ve come all this way, why not ring one more door? We rung Number 14. No one answered. As we waited a woman came to the gate to enter and asked us what we were doing. We responded we were looking for someone to share a message about Jesus Christ. She said we could share it with her so we gave a quick 3 minute explanation about The Book of Mormon. Before we finished our presentation about The Book of Mormon she asked if we could tell her more about The Book of Mormon and explained that she had a friend who had served a mission and had moved to the US recently and that she had been wanting to know more about The Book of Mormon but had since lost contact with her friend. We will return to teach her tomorrow. I’m glad I learned to persevere even through the discouraging whispers of the enemy.

Well that is my email for this week. I hope you are all well and I am excited to see you all again in November. Have a great week. I love you. Tim have a great graduation! Attached is a photo of the elders in our house with President Dalton at his last Interviews Meeting with us. I am wearing my new suit. Enjoy! Love you all be great!