Monday, December 28, 2009

"...being there to help people, being put in their path (or vice-versa)."

So we all talked on the phone like three days ago, so I don't have a whole ton of information to pass on. But last week was Christmas! That was a party. We got to sleep in until 9:30, which felt weird. Then we went to lunch with Margarete at her house, which was good, but really not super fun. We left there and went to call you guys which was FANTASTIC!!! Limiro had his whole family over, so we hung out there for a while. That was pretty cool, they had a grandson there that was super cool. After that we were walking and someone yelled something that we didn't understand, and called us over. Then he told us that his family members were members of the church. So we went and talked to them. That was cool, they had moved in on Christmas Eve. So we told them where the church was and stuff and they went on Sunday. That was a cool example of being there to help people, being put in their path (or vice-versa).
Oh yeah, on Wednesday we had Christmas conference with all the missionaries in our mission!! That was super fun to see everyone. I saw Landen Mortensen from Logan, Jim, and all my friends from the MTC that arrived with me. Everyone has been to the dang hospital from my group!! I am very thankful for my excellent health. We got a microwave, a CD, and a photo, and a bunch of snacks from the mission for Christmas. We went to the cancer hospital too, and I ALMOST got on TV (I think) but no cigar. We got to talk to cancer people, who were a little incoherent but grateful for the visit. President and Sister Leal spoke to us also, that was nice! They had a lot of helpful things to say.
I loved the Christmas gifts!! Thank you all. I am going through the candy at good rate but still not finished!.
Aside from the festivities, we didn't have a very eventful week. We didn't teach much on Christmas Eve or Christmas or Conference Day or P-Day, but we still taught 19 lessons this week.  We only found one really cool family, but they are REALY cool. Daniala is getting baptized on Saturday at 7! That will be cool, she is super ready!!
Well that's about all I have this week, it was fun but mostly just relaxing.  For my birthday, I would like a Spanish Book of Mórmon from the distribution Center. That would be cool. Maybe like some brownie mix or something too.  But just send one of those small boxes that you sent me in the MTC. I don't need a lot of stuff, it's better to have just a little surprise than a festa em caixa . Thanks for all the support, I'll talk to you soon!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

"...if I want to see miracles every day."

On Tuesday we had a mini-zone conference and I received the excellent surprise of receiving the Christmas package! Logically I couldn’t wait until Christmas to open a few things (Only the ones that weren’t labeled “On Christmas” or “Christmas Eve”) and I quite enjoyed eating some good old peanut butter cups (Super good!), Sour Skittles and Lindt. I saved most of them for Christmas, but it was great to eat some solid American delicacies.
I'm stoked to play some Blink and win (of course) and it's gonna be great to practice my prophet knowledge with some Go Fish! The basketball hoop is great, but dang… I am TERRIBLE at basketball!! I'm excited to open the rest and see what other surprises await!
This week has been another very good week as far as the work goes. Genivaldo is kinda losing some of his desire, but Daniela is firm for baptism on the second of January! She is a friend of the returned missionary in the ward, and her testimony is really strong on all fronts. Me and Elder Thrapp are working a ton and teaching loads of lessons, its been so awesome. We have started working a lot with less-active members in the ward (there are a lot more of them than there are active members) so that’s been cool. Back in the time of Dad I think people got baptized for lesser reasons than a testimony of the truth. We found this lady that said she was baptized 20+ years ago because her friends were all members, so she never received a testimony. So basically she needs to get it in gear now of suffer the consequences!!
But they (menos ativos) ALWAYS have non-member family members, so we hope to activate many people and baptize others along the way. We are finding a lot of really awesome people, but not a ton of ready-to-go elects. I was thinking about that, and I received that I need to make more sacrifices and be more obedient if I want to see miracles every day. I have stopped lollygagging in the morning and I just get up, pray, iron, exercise, eat, shower, dress, and study. It is a lot better that way and already my study time is a lot more eye-opening and helpful in our teachings throughout the day.
Also I saw a dude get hit by a car on his bike the other day in front of our house, that was nuts. The dude who drove just kept on driving, I think that is actually the normal thing for people here to do. He was alright, but his bike broke.
Christmas here will be interesting! We will eat dinner at the house of Margarete, the member with no family, on Christmas Eve, then return for lunch on Christmas, so that will be pretty nice. President Leal said that we can stay out until 10:30 on Christmas Eve (WOOOOW!!!) but I don’t know if I will, I get so tired around 10:15. So we will probably just hang out a bit, visit families, and hopefully we can get some kind of dinner with the homeless organized.
Hopefully we can eat with our friend Adriano the homeless dude who we now know for sure deals drugs (he fulfilled a deal while we were talking to him on drug street in Tupi the other day) or something for dinner on Christmas. But I'm stoked for Christmas, it will be fun for sure. We will talk to you from Irmao Limiro´s house. I am still working on my Christmas project for you guys. It should arrive before Spencer´s birthday.
I finally found out what our mailing address is here. It is:
Elder Joseph Burt
Rua Pará 172
Cambé-PR 86181-240
That should make mailing letters and stuff a lot easier. Sorry it took me so long to get that figured out.
We have conferencia de Natal on Wednesday with ALL of the missionaries in our mission! It's gonna be so so so sick!! It will be cool to see all of my friends and stuff. We still don’t have a cell phone, and we have had several times when we really needed it. Hopefully we get a new one on Wednesday.
Well that’s pretty much all of the news I have. I hope everything is great with everyone there. The last four days have been super super hot here with no clouds, it's been tough. I love you all, and wish everyone a super merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Aside from getting robbed it's been a really great week."

Its been a very awesome week in the mission!! As you know, Filadelfia went home on Tuesday and transfers were on Wednesday. So Monday was spent hanging out while Elder packed his stuff. I didn’t have to pack or anything because one missionary always stays in their area to have some fluidity in the work. So I already knew I would stay in Cambe for at least one more transfer. But we stayed Monday night at the house of some elders in Centro in Londrina, with like 6 other missionaries (I don’t know why they were all there, but it was fun!) Then he left in the morning at like 9 or so to do some seminars or something with Pres. Leal and have interviews and stuff. So I worked with Elder Alem on Tuesday. He is an old dude, 22 months or so on the mission already. But that was cool to work with another missionary and see how it is with other people and their teaching styles and stuff. His was slow and frequently interrupted by return trips to the house to use the bathroom. But it was a fun day.
I found out that day that my new comp would be arriving the next day at 6 AM and we needed to meet him at the bus terminal. So we woke up extra early the next day and collected my new comp, Elder C. Thrapp! He is an American from West Jordan! He is super rad. He was working in Cascavel before arriving here. He went to USU the year before me and is an Ambassador like Scott Laneri! We have been working like crazy in these first four or five days. We taught 25 lessons in our first 3.5 days, which is comparable to a very good week in most areas! Things are very good, he teaches with the spirit and I think we are really working well together. Americans and Brazilians are very different for sure. It’s awesome to be able to experience the two methods and mentalities.
Genivaldo has kinda stopped progressing. He has not started reading the Book of Mormon yet, which is a real stumbling block. Hopefully he gets himself in gear soon and gets himself a testimony! But we taught a lot of good people already. We found a couple of teens who are ill, Enzo and William. They are super cool really, and have an awesome desire to find God in the right way. Also, our returned missionary, Thiago, pretty much has this girl Daniela ready for baptism. She already has testimonies of the Book and of Joseph Smith… we will baptize her on the 26th! The work is going really well here, and its so easy to see the blessings of sacrifice and obedience when we really dedicate ourselves.
Im SOOO disappointed about the memory card! I was moronic enough not to back anything up on a DVD or anything, so now some jerk postal worker probably has all of the photos that I took for the first three months of my mission!! GREAT!! But we are used to getting robbed by now: we got held up yesterday on the way to lunch after church. This dude pulled up on a motorcycle and started asking us about our church and stuff. He was speaking poorly and had a helmet on, so I couldn’t really understand him. But he was chill until all of a sudden he said he had a gun under his shirt (he obviously didn’t, it was like a trash bag or something) and to pass him our cell phone. So Thrapp gave it to him and he left. That was pretty lame, but luckily he only took our 20 dollar phone. It sucks to not have our phone though, cause we need to talk with the zone leaders and stuff every day. Hopefully we get a new one soon. In the future I'm not gonna deal with fools stealing stuff from God. If someone pulls that crap just walking on the street, it’s a kick to the face; if he's on a motorcycle I'm gonna play the American card and say ´No entender` and hand him a Livro de Mormon or something.
Aside from getting robbed it's been a really great week. Next week I will talk to you guys on the phone!! That’s super rad huh!!! We are going to go to the chapel and talk to you from there. So we will get the phone number from the bishop and I'll send it to you next week. Elder Thrapp said its very difficult to find an international calling card here, so it's easier if you will call us. I think if you call at about 11 AM your time it will work out well. But I'm so stoked to talk to you all!! If you can't all be there at that hour let me know, we can change it. But that’s what we have planned.
I'm so sorry about all the photos! So dang crappy. Maybe it will show up. But meanwhile thanks for all the support, love and friendship! Stay in the faith and work it spiritually always. Moroni 8:3.
Love Joey

Monday, December 7, 2009

" I throw down doctrinally on them regularly!!"

This week was pretty good. We found a lot of people that are really cool, some of them are elect and ready to go, others need some big changes (MARRIAGE is a constant problem, nobody is married for real!!)
Genivaldo is really sick. He has no problems with the word of wisdom, sabbath, chastity, or anything. He is liking the messages a lot. He just needs to do his part and read the Book of Mormon. Others are comin along too, Emerson, Ana Paula, and Noemia are dong great. Really it's going so fast here it's hard to remember what happened this week and what was before that. But this is the last P-Day of my first transfer! It flew by holy dang! I have learned a ton of stuff, I'll list a bit of what I've learned in my highlights.
WOW I can speak now!! It has come so far since I arrived, I am able to teach so much more and converse casually too. It really is such a blessing that the Lord has given to me, because a lot of people really struggle with it. And I have only known the language for 3 months, so I have a lot of hope!!!
2. Courage
It is not uncommon for people to try to reject an invitation to church before we can give it. I am progressing now and have raised the courage to frequently ask people that say they have a religion “Why don't you want to learn more about Christ?” or “Are you afraid that our church is true?” And other such things that seemed nuts to me recently. Honestly I never spoke to strangers before the mission, and now I throw down doctrinally on them regularly!!
3. Patience
I already talked about this, but being with one person non-stop for 5 weeks requires a lot of patience. It's so so important to remember the big picture and that we are working for the same goal. Throughout this, things are a lot more simple and honestly more enjoyable. This needs to be applied in all parts of life: to look past tiny faults and find joy, good, and truth in all things.
4. Happiness
I'm so DANG stoked to be here!!! It has been marvelous so far!! I really hope so much that the memory card arrives soon. The photos are so fun for remembering the things that have happened already. I'm sorry I haven't sent any to you through email, I need my cable!! I'm trying to send a couple today if I can find a way.

It was great to hear from the whole family this week!! Everyone has such different writing styles and lives, it's ill to read how your lives are going! I love you all very much and hope the best for you!! Pray for the memory card!