Category Archives: Mission

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!

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.

Sons

Transfer calls came in yesterday I will stay in Casa Grande for a fourth transfer (a total of 6 months) and receive an Elder direct from the MTC, he will be my second son in the mission. I do not know his identity as I will only learn this in the middle of tomorrow’s meeting in Santo Amaro. I remain District Leaders so… it’ll be a very busy transfer training a brand new leader and a district of mostly new people. In fact I am now going to be the oldest person in the District. Myself and Elder Santos that is but we have the same amount of time in the mission, but I have marginal days in front of him because of MTC.

I made a goal to finish the Bible before the end of my mission in portuguese something I’ve never done in english. This week I finished the Pentatuch and I found some really fun scriptures. Thought Mom and Dad would like Deuteronomy 21:18-21. Thank goodness the Law of Moses was fulfilled. I think none of us would have survived.
It is odd to believe that the mission has almost completely changed in all this time. Now I’m the old guy. I believe I heard recently that Elder R. Santos is finishing up soon. Soon enough few of my comps will still be in the mission.
We can’t even walk in our house anyways because the neighbors the floor below complain at the slightest noise. Annoying but I need to be somewhat tolerant. I can’t exactly tell them that their discomfort isn’t really important to me and that no one tells me what to do in my house because I feel like that isn’t exactly in line with being a representative of Jesus Christ. So I just keep quiet and let other elders work with them, because if I talk to them there will be problems.

But in any case…. I’m getting a good hike in each day as we are walking up to São Rafael these days to find people that haven’t had much exposure to the missionaries. Hopefully it works because days without anyone letting me in to teach is driving me crazy. Especially in the rain with winter approaching.
Speaking of which, there have been crazy storms these days. Earlier in the week we hid from a hailstorm with hailstones the size of large marbles. When that lessened up the First Counselor in the Bishopric found us and asked for some help discovering why water was filling his house after a lightning bolt fell on top of his house. It was a cool day. That and Elder Jofre almost drowned above ground as we fought to get our gate open.
I don’t get too much chocolate craving problems….. I ate two days ago corn in milk with a bit of sugar because it is the end of the transfer and no one has money. Pizza is less nowadays because everyone’s become pão duro, mão de vaca, in short tight fisted. There are even disputes about who is buying toilet papers for the house. I buy toilet paper because even I have limits.

Fortunately my pants are holding up better than everyone else. It is confirmed by members that I am at present the fittest in my house. All the other elders in the house have a problem with their pants splitting down the middle.
My area here isn’t really an area that would have [tailored slacks]. I’ll go scouting on my way to see if there is anything in Santo Amaro. I might have to take a P-Day to go hunting for a tailor in Santo Amaro. If I get a suit tailored out here it won’t be used on the mission, I’ll wait until I get home to use it. But I was thinking about how I would style it. I got some ideas.
I imagine that Jayden (L.) and Tim get along well as they now share the same interests in sports. Unless Jayden is a Seahawks fan.
Time ending now. Love you all have a great week!

Closing off the Transfer

We closed off the transfer in the District. This week in the district 5 of the 6 baptisms in the zone were realized and the Zone Casa Grande was the Zone Batizadora this week in the President’s letter. Now that we’ve got that bit of Gloria dos Homens squared away I’ll continue with the rest of my letter.

I will stay in Casa Grande one more transfer and receive Elder Jofre from Argentina (I’m told). He has more time than me in the mission in fact he has two more transfers before he ends. I found it interesting that I am receiving him as recently we have encountered a family of Bolivans that is a little hard to communicate with, given I do not speak Spanish.

This morning I finished the Doctrine and Covenants for the first time in my life, really studying them. And what’s more, I studied them in Portuguese. It was a rough few days as I spend a few minutes in Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants and I found myself pushing through the Isaiah chapters, still understanding very little there. Waiting for the clarity Nephi talks about.
Hope all is well at home! I love you all!

Crazy Life

Still here in Casa Grande, obviously the transfer just started. I got to do my first two baptismal interviews this week in my district. Neither was baptized but it was a good experience with them and we are all hoping they will continue progressing to be baptized in the future.I Voted

We Americans here in the zone are all rather anxious about the outcome of tomorrow’s election. Most of us have sanity, others don’t, all in all I remain the only one who voted. The downside I have discovered about voting absentee is I do not get an “I Voted” Sticker. And I am feeling greatly excluded in that, but what can we do? Except for fasting and prayer.

It is hard to imagine that Bishop Padilla already has finished. I feel like he was called as Bishop only a short time ago. But the new bishopric I’m sure will do a great job. They’re all pretty young guys.

By the way let Tim know I used the pocket square this Sunday, I took some pictures but the lighting is terrible because I had so little time Sunday morning. But I was the only person in the stake using a pocket square.

We had a really cool thing happen. Actually it was last week. My companion and I were asked to give a blessing. However I had forgotten my oil at home because I switched to using a new-used bag and hadn’t put my oil in that bag. My companion had his vial, but we both knew it was empty as it fell and spilled everything on the floor and we had not refilled his vial. I looked inside and it was empty. But we really needed to give a blessing. So I took the vial in my hands and said a prayer to have at least one drop of oil in the vial to give the blessing, the smallest drop of oil. When I went to anoint the irmã we spilled quite a bit of oil on her head because the vial was filled. What follows is the account that my companion shared to President Dalton in his email last week and President, after asking our permission shared it in his email this week to the mission.

What Elder Fróes wrote:

“Essa semana, estávamos na casa da irmã Lucélia e ela pediu para nós dar uma benção na cunhada dela que estava doente e com o pé quebrado. Fomos ver o óleo no recipiente e não tinha nada, estava vazio. Elder Done pegou o recipiente e fez oração para que pelo menos tivesse uma gota para que pudéssemos abençoar esta mulher. Depois da oração, quando ele abriu para dar a benção, o reipiente estava cheio de óleo e conseguimos dar a benção. Foi ótimo o espirito lá dentro.”

Love you all!

Leaving the Area Stronger

itapecerica-da-serraWell we finished off this transfer strong with our tiny district of four elders having three baptisms yesterday. My companionship had 1 baptism, making the total number of baptisms in the past 6 weeks 5. In total here in Itapecerica da Serra I have had 9 baptisms. Photos will follow when I find a suitable LAN House. We also succeeded in bringing 17 people to church yesterday, 12 of which were investigators.

We baptized the children of families that are working to be married. Hopefully, soon they too will follow.  Yesterday was also the baptism of Silvio. Although not my area his is a great story I will write on a physical letter and send it as time is running quickly here and I want to tell you more things.

I heard last week that Antonio (from Figueira Grande) is active and very excited in his calling (the usher for Sacrament Meeting) and is preparing to get the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the next month William (my first baptism in this area) will receive the Melchizedek Priesthood next month. He is preparing to go on his mission.

I’m happy for the time I spent here in Itapecerica da Serra 1A, but I’m also ready and excited for the next area. Now for the transfer news…I will be sent to Casa Grande where I will serve as the District Leader and finish the training of my new companion, Elder Froés. This District has six companionship as it appears. Well let us go with this challenge.

As I live in São Paulo I encounter a lot of people from the Bahia. It is actually a little difficult to find people that were born and raised in São Paulo; majority are from other states, like Bahia. I find Bahia food so good! I am going to get the recipe for rabada (beef tail stew) and practice making it.

Hope all is well at home. Love you all!