I am Now Quite Old in the Mission

Last Tuesday I was invited to participate in the Executive Council of the Mission. Here are the photos:

I was impressed that I am now quite old in the mission. Many people who were leaders when I came in have already gone home and those who were ending training when I arrived are now getting ready to go home. Elder Munhoz who was my Zone Leader in Casa Grande has gone home and Elder R. Costa (my second companion) goes home this transfer.

There were many baptismal interviews to do this week and I spent a few hours behind a desk in a nice little interview room in the chapel. I never thought how tiring interviews could be, must be why President Dalton is so tired on Mondays. In the end, Gilvan, an investigator of the Elders in my district got baptized and confirmed this week.

The work was a relentless charge this week to hit the standards of excellence. We destroyed two of them and yet again lacked people in the chapel. But now we are working like a raging fire. This week will be a success.

I talked a lot with Elder Friere about the subject of leadership in the mission and really in the Church. In the mission, I think I have learned to see how a person truly can lose themselves and be lost to “power”. I watched this happen with myself in the last transfer in Casa Grande and now I’m trying to learn more about how to be a leader, and truly a leader. I was impressed by the lesson on leadership that there was in the Book of Mosiah during my studies. It seems a constant study on the characteristics of leaders, both good and bad. King Benjamin, King Mosiah, Alma, King Noah, Amulon, Gideon, Ammon, all of them. I was impressed how the kingdom of Mosiah grew and prospered as his people loved him, and also why they loved him. They grew to love him because they felt a genuine concern that he had for them, and he didn’t have to micromanage the generation of wealth in the kingdom, it occurred naturally. Meanwhile, King Noah, he started off with an excellent kingdom, yet tried to manage everything and artificially generate personal gains through taxation and his deceiving priests. His kingdom prospered, yet was in a constant state of decay. This same duality I think can be applied to the drama that played out in the premortal life. Lucifer looked to force everyone into exaltation through micromanagement, making something natural artificial to produce unnatural results. The Savior instead looked to let the natural tendency of each individual soul to return to their celestial home drive the results. And the results are natural. These are things I think I only can have learned on the mission. As I talked with the other Elders last night about Moroni 7 I found myself supporting the idea that man and his soul is naturally good and inclined to do what is right. It is the flesh that seeks to do wrong, but the flesh is not the soul, rather a tool and instrument to be dominated by the soul. This in itself is a great change from my pre-mission ideology that man is a naturally evil creature that must be dominated and ruled over. The things we learn when serving; I’m grateful for the chance I have to serve!

You Must be Missing My Face

Time continues its ceaseless grind forward. This week was a fight, and I take it that we are to continue fighting. I do not know why now the difficulty to take people to sacrament meeting is so much greater. Well, actually, I know that it is just opposition. Elder Andrade and I had an emergency planning session Sunday afternoon and made a few plans to do a whole lot of things different. It basically includes restarting a teaching group and keeping maybe two or three people from the last group. It was interesting to see that everyone ended up going to the hospital Sunday Morning/Saturday Night…
We have Renata who is a really old investigator from when I was arriving in the mission. Her friend Bruna is a member of our ward who recently got her mission call to Brazil Belém. We hope to baptize Renata this week.
My area is fauvella, so I don’t take photos in the street. The other night it was cold, so I threw on my trench coat. As I was walking through the street I noticed a ton of people passing money quickly and hiding in the shadows as I passed. For the rest of the night, I returned to my old custom of walking with my coat open tapping on my name tag. I tap of my name tag because a story came down to me once that the Police in Rio de Janeiro once busted up a ton of fauvellas entering disguised as Mormon Missionaries, but they used fake name tags made of metal. I don’t know if that has happened here but I heard the missionaries in Rio tap the name tags to show they are real. Just to be safe I follow their lead.
Here the guessing that I am Asian is less. Now as time in the mission progresses I am more South American. The current favourite guess is that I am from Chile. Everyone says that the American Elders never get the accent right, but my accent is able to blend pretty well. I am happy for that.
The hardest thing I can see here currently, maybe it is a general problem, is that change is really slow going. Any type of innovation that gets suggested is really hard and slow to implement because it goes through a thousand meetings and still everyone tries to make it like the old way and not like the new way. That’s even hard for me because the General Authorities have said that the focus now is to teach more youth, I have such a hard time teaching youth. Like in Ward Council meetings everyone has to throw in their idea and make their speech. It’s almost the same problem I felt in MUN, I still feel it would run a whole lot smoother for one person to make a decision,  instead of endless debate and opinions.
It is interesting because sometimes you see people taking their traditions from other churches and almost adopting it, it’s somewhat interesting to see the cultural bleed. For example, one time a counselor in the bishopric started the meeting with the opening prayer. His opening prayer started by reciting The Lord’s Prayer, then continuing the prayer as normal. It was odd.
I had the opportunity this week to read over Jacob 5 and the Allegory of the Olive Trees. I found one passage interesting talking about how the grafted branches drew strength from the roots of the natural tree which were good. I took this to reason that it is important that we should always be looking to the good things that our ancestors did to strengthen us in our days. Even for converts, the work of Family History is important to help them receive strength from the other side of the veil and do the work for their dead so those “recent converts” on the other side can support them as well.
 I hope this letter finds you all well. Never stop reading the Book of Mormon it truly has the fullness of the gospel because it talks about the Atonement of Christ in a way that no other book of scripture does. Without the Atonement of Christ, what does the rest of the principles of the Gospel do for us? Without the Atonement even the Law of Moses remains dead because it is a dead law, it is only through the Atonement that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has a life.

It would seem my training at politicking is paying off as I was able to propose and defend an idea and a format to run an English class in the chapel meet potential investigators. It’s a new idea as our Noite da Integração is with quite little success at bringing anyone.

I am writing this earlier than usual because the Elders have arranged an opportunity for us all to play a game of RisK Imperial Rome Edition this P-Day so…. how could I say no?

I’ll attach some pictures as I got the feeling you all might be missing my face. Here’s the baptism of Canamarí I attended two weeks ago, some of my recent converts in Casa Grande came out to see me when they heard I would be passing through. Here’s the baptism of Ana some weeks ago too. And myself and Elder Andrade at the last temple trip.