I cannot believe how the time here passes by! It seems like I say that every time I write home, but it’s really true. It feels like yesterday I was sitting here doing the same thing. Anyway! I guess now would be a good time to start talking about my week.
Last Friday morning my Mission President’s family came into town. They live in Boise, Idaho, which is really close to where he lives. We got invited to his house to have dinner with them that night. It went really well! I enjoyed the time we were able to spend with them.
With them being here, I had a really cool experience this past Thursday. We had a meeting that we call “Nova Força” or “New Force” that we hold for the new missionaries at the end of their first six weeks here. President’s family was there so that they could see and be a part of a mission function. I had the opportunity to sit behind them and translate throughout the whole meeting. In the beginning, I was really worried about how I was going to do. It’s difficult to think in one language and speak in another at the same time. But, it turned out being a lot easier than I thought it would! I was doing it for a solid 2 or 3 hours. My only complaint is that my back hurt a little bit after being crunched over so they could hear my voice. As the meeting was drawing to a close, they let all the missionaries get up and bear their testimonies as well as President’s family. I got to stand beside them as they talked in short phrases, and then translated those phrases so that the missionaries would be able to understand. It was a really neat experience. The grandson, James (Tiago in Portuguese), said, “I grew up in the church. I always just went to church and stuff because that’s what my parents wanted me to do. Being here and seeing you guys do real missionary work has made me have the desire to that as well.” It was so cool to hear him say that! I guess that sometimes we can have an affect on other people even when we don’t even have a clue about it.
This Friday (P-Day), we went to Independence Park here in São Paulo. It has a huge monument with the crypt of the guy who declared Brazil’s Independence in 1822. He later became the first Emperor of Brazil. In the early 1900s they built this huge museum called Museu Paulista that looks like a big European palace. Unfortunately it’s closed for reform so we couldn’t go inside. But we were able to look around outside the museum in the gardens as well as inside the monument. So all is well! We had lunch at this little food truck on the other side of the street. I had two hot dogs, loaded up with mashed potatoes, ketchup, and batata palha (which is like little tiny super thin fried potato pieces), which is MUCH better than it sounds. All-in-all it was a nice relaxing day! Every now and then it’s nice to have one of those.
People we’re teaching: This last week or two we’ve found some really awesome people that are accepting our visits. We’re teaching a young guy named Moises (Moses) who is going to be baptized next Saturday. He’s a REALLY awesome person. He lives alone with his mom. It’s very evident that they have a lot of difficulties in their lives, so I’m grateful that we’re able to help them out. He’s 14, so right around the age when most of the teenagers here get off track and start doing things they shouldn’t. Being in the situation he’s in, I imagine it would be easy for him to get led away. So, being able to have a positive influence in his life as well as introduce him to an environment that will make his life SO much better is very satisfying.
Like I’ve said many times before, I love seeing the difference that the Gospel can make in people’s lives. The very first person I baptized on my mission, Katia, was once convicted and sent to prison for body-trafficking drugs. Now, she’s had a complete change of life and is much happier than she ever had been before. Just about every person I’ve ever taught has, at one point or another, said, “since I started talking to you guys all I’ve seen in my life is blessings.” I think that’s amazing. Like, the instant that someone accepts the true Gospel of Christ in their lives they’re blessed. God gives so much and requires so little. The things on this earth end, but His eternal influence and love DON’T! I think at times we don’t realize how much of special thing that is.
I love what I’m here doing. It’s really hard. There are a lot of things I have to do without and a lot of things that I have to “fast” from for the time being. But, it’s worth it. I can see myself changing. I’m learning more about myself and other people. I’m learning how to look past differences and faults and focus on the things that are really important. I’m learning how to be grateful for the blessings that I have in my life. I’m learning that complaining really isn’t an option because there are a lot of people that have it a thousand times worse than I do. I have a loooot more things that I need to learn, so I’m trying to use my time on my mission wisely to do so.
I love you all, and I’m so thankful for all the help and support that I receive from home. I love all the letters, notes, and pictures that I get, all proof that I have people that love and support me backing me up on this wild adventure that I’m on.
“Deus vos guarde com o seu poder, sempre esteja ao vosso lado.”
– Elder Chapman Tew