Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"...we need to really be sure that what we teach is true and accurate."

Yoooo family
So this transfer has gone by incredibly fast!! This week I will hit my six month mark (don't know how that happened, seems like yesterday I left the CTM) on Charlotte's birthday! Then transfers will happen on Tuesday or Wednesday or Monday next week. Chances are high that I will be shipped out somewhere else. I either want to stay here (I love Cambé) or go to Foz do Iguaçu, which is actually one of the most dangerous cities in Brasil because of its tri-border with Paraguay and Argentina.
So naturally there is an incredible amount of drug trafficking and smuggling that goes through there. I talked to this one Elder that saw a dude get gunned down in front of a school! But if I go there, you can rest assured that nothing will happen to me because, well, primarily, I am a missionary of Jesus, and also because I am an incredible fighter LoL that was a joke.
But seriously, time is going by sooo fast. I'm going to be 20 in less than 2 weeks, that's pretty cool.
This week was pretty cool, we taught not a ton of lessons but we met this dude named Fransisco who is SUPER elect!! He is this 73 year old dude who is just super, super nice. When we clapped at his gate he looked out the window and got really excited and was like "Enter!!" So we went in and talked to him.
He loved the message we left with him, and decided to go to church. He is getting over cancer right now, it just kinda has left his body, so he is really wanting to find a church. He went to church, where he found out that one of his really good friends is Moacir, a super active member of the Ward. He loved church, when we visited him again yesterday he just wouldn't stop talking about how good he felt there (Which is a VERY good thing!) and talked about how he needs to always go there.
He is a really really cool guy, and I'm sure he will be baptized one day. But first he and his wife need to get married, and he needs to stop drinking coffee. It is just a matter of time, and now that he has a good friend in the Church, it will be much easier for him to accept things like the Word of Wisdom.
We have a lot of investigators right now, but not many who are progressing. We have a goal this week to teach 40 lessons. We are well on our way, with 15 in the first two days. We had a training thing at our zone conference about how we can increase the quality of our lessons by teaching more, because the more time we spend time teaching, the more time we are feeling a ton of the Spirit.
Something interesting I have noticed in this week is that many missionaries teach things that are not completely true. There are a lot of doctrines that are not really in the Bible that are used to explain the Great Apostasy (Which, unfortunately, is more thoroughly explained than the Restoration). Every bit of doctrine is incredibly important to understand thoroughly, and while a testimony can be gained without a perfect knowledge of everything, we need to really be sure that what we teach is true and accurate.
Well, I don't have a lot of news this week so far. Next week I will probably be sending my email from a different city, maybe a different state! Love you all, the Church is true, the Prophets are Prophets, follow their teachings. (Mom, I like what you said about the most important prophet is the living one, that's a bomb line)

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Memory Card Miracle

(From the mom) After Joey arrived in Londrina, after spending two months at the Mission Training Center is Sao Paulo, he sent home his camera memory card in an envelope with a letter. The card had over three months of treasures on it, including some songs he and some missionary friends (CTM band name: "Hard Boys and Heartless Moms") wrote and performed while there. Well, the card didn't come and it didn't come. He was heartbroken and we were too. But, believing God listens to even our smallest hopes, I started praying that it would find its way to us. The Post Office and experienced missionary-mom friends all assured me that it was lost for good, and that seemed to be the case, as over two months had passed since Joey had mailed it. Still, I did my best to keep the faith. Then one glorious day I opened our mailbox and there was an envelope with something hard inside. I could not believe it! I don't know where this special envelope had been for two months, nor did I care. We were so happy it had arrived and Joey was thrilled when we let him know. Now, in the global scheme of things, I guess a memory card is not all that important. But for our missionary son, and for us, it was. We are full of gratitude that we can share some of the photos on it with you.

CTM Sao Paulo, Brasil -- Joey's home for two months! August 25, 2009

Or he could rent a spot here. Sao Paulo, Brasil, August 25, 2009

The Sao Paulo view from inside the CTM. Sao Paulo, Brasil, August 29, 2009

Classic mirror shot self-portrait! Sao Paulo, Brasil August 29, 2009

Joey's closet, desk, and safe in his CTM room. Sao Paulo, Brasil, August 29, 2009

Drink, snacks, lint brush -- all of the missionary essentials! Sao Paulo, Brasil, September 1, 2009

Joey with companion Derek Titus, and Fujimoto (creator of blog photo) Sao Paulo, Brasil, September 15, 2009

We send the world our best and our brightest! Sao Paulo, Brasil, October 12, 2009

Logan, Utah friends meet up at the CTM! Sao Paulo, Brasil, October 12, 2009

Joey's district group. They walked around like this all of the time! Sao Paulo, Brasil, October 19, 2009

To not associate with the opposite sex is a non-issue for some missionaries! Sao Paulo, Brasil, October 19, 2009

The exercise facilities--NO SOCCER ALLOWED! IN BRAZIL?!? Sao Paulo, Brasil, October 29, 2009

View of Londrina from the plane. Londrina, Brasil October 30, 2009

In Londrina!!! Londrina, Brasil October 30, 2009

Londrina, Brasil, October 30, 2009

Don't know what this is, but he thought it looked cool, agree. Cambe, Brasil, November 2, 2009

The coolest phone booths ever! Cambe, Brasil, November 2, 2009

The Twin Towers!!! Cambe, Brasil, November 2, 2009

Street view in Cambe, Brasil, November 2, 2009

Greenie surrounded by green! Cambe, Brasil, November 6, 2009

Joey and Elder Filidelfia enjoying beverages in bags--yum! Cambe, Brasil, November 27, 2009

Awesome weather and awesome son. Cambe, Brasil, November 7, 2009

Did they know she was in the shot? Either way, it's funny! Cambe, Brasil, November 7, 2009

This bird speaks Portuguese and English too! Cambe, Brasil, November 8, 2009

Apartment kitchen -- Joey's mom wants that cupboard! Cambe, Brasil November 9, 2009

Laundry facilities

Joey with USU Koch Scholar friend Jim Allred Londrina, Brasil November 10, 2009

Cambe, Brasil November 11, 2009

Just like Joey's red car he left for us to sell! Cambe, Brasil November 11, 2009

Awesome store, or basement, or...? Cambe, Brasil November 11, 2009

"I'll go where you want me to go..." Cambe, Brasil, November 16, 2009

He's been doing this since he was about two years old! Cambe, Brasil, November 16, 2009

Cambe, Brasil, November 16, 2009

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"... I accidentally lit my hand on fire while burning a cockroach."

Hey everyone, this week has been another good one.  It’s Carnival, so we have to be home by 9 instead of 9:30.  I don’t really know why, here in Cambé carnival means nothing beyond stores and banks being closed.  Hey Dad, what was it like in Rio during Carnival?
A lot of really rad stuff happened this week.  First, we found a bunch of really cool people that we can help this week after a long time of kinda grinding our days out with mediocrity and little success.  We found a lot of families, which is really cool.  There is one really cool family that Elder TeNgaio and Thrapp found when they were on a division together.  Unfortunately elder T recorded the wrong address so we lost them for a while.  But we felt one evening that it would be an excellent idea to go find them, so we went and found them at home.  They are really cool, accepted the Book of Mormon and are reading it and feeling the spirit like crazy!  So that’s something really Ill that has happened.  
I don’t know if I already told you or not, but I accidentally lit my hand on fire while burning a cockroach.  I poured rubbing alcohol on its dead body (I don’t know why we do that, but every missionary does) and lit it.  Unfortunately I had spilled a little bit of alcohol on my hand and it caught fire.  So that was an interesting moment.  All of this happened while I was going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, so I wasn’t completely alert.  But I wasn’t injured, just a little blister on one of my fingers.  
Vinicius and his family have kinda started to lose focus.  They have not been able to hear a lesson in a while because of sickness and Carnival and stuff like that.  Hopefully we can get them back on track.
We had a zone conference on Monday that was just absolute bliss.  President Leal and the assistants dropped us a ton of ridiculously good stuff to help us out.  
Turns out I have not been putting NEARLY enough influence on what Jesus did while he was here. Normally we explain that the church that He organized was destroyed, and stayed lost for many centuries, setting people up to appreciate the Restoration.  But something important that I had overlooked is that if someone thinks Joseph Smith was a prophet, but doesn’t know that their sins can be washed away and they can have eternal life, they really can't partake of the atonement.  So now I have started teaching a lot more about the atonement in the first lesson, and it has become a lot more spiritual.
Something else President Leal suggested is something I think is ILLL and I think it can help people here and there too.  It would be really cool if you guys (specifically the family, but really anyone is welcome) could send me an email sharing and explaining your testimonies of and any personal experiences related to:
1.      God is our Heavenly Father, and loves us
2.      God proves he loves us by calling prophets in all dispensations
3.      Jesus is the Messiah and we can gain exaltation through him
4.      The Restoration

I would like to hear this stuff to help me and to share with people we teach too.  Feel free to send in English or Portuguese, I can translate LoL (not funny, don’t know why I wrote LoL).
Love you all much, Happy Valentines Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Every person has their agency, that is something we rejoice in."

Yooo this week has been the jam, I have learned a ton of stuff!!  During personal study time I have been in the habit of using just The Book of Mormon with a little Bible thrown in for good measure. But every transfer, Pres. Leal gives us a study guide.  In this one he suggested studying Preach My Gospel for 40 minutes of our 60 minute study time.  I pretty much saw that and ignored it.  Then one day Elder TenGaio suggested that I study PMG to get the insight that President obviously knew we could get from it.  So I was like “Ok” and tried it out.  Basically the next study time I did was the most effective I have had.  I read something in PMG about applying everything we study to the investigators, not to us.  That works sooo well!!! Dang I found a lot of stuff for them, and on the journey I found a ton of stuff that can help me personally.  It really is ILL how well the scriptures written anciently and by modern prophets can help us in our difficulties.  I am still reading Jesus the Christ too, and I keep learning such cool stuff in there too.
Well, we have not really found a ton of really cool people here recently.  We will keep working diligently to find better new investigators.  Its weird, people will accept a baptismal date the first time they meet us, and the next time we visit them they want nothing to do with us!!  Its so whack.
It really is important to have the people in complete focus, just concentrate everything on them in order to get them what they need.  Stephen Jensen (my friend from Alpine from my group in the MTC) sent me a really cool email that has helped me a lot in the last week.  He talked a bunch about how important it is to give everything to the people.  It's so true, and as I have been thinking about that, I have realized how much dislike there is from some people toward the other people, and especially toward other churches.  One person here used to said something rude about every church we walked past, using the word “Apostasy” incorrectly.  Elder Thrapp was cool, understood the need for the restored church, but didn't bash others (we even stopped to watch bits of other church services at times, and it was really interesting to see how they worship).  
It's important to not have the self-righteousness that can be present among some missionaries.  Yes, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only church with ALL of the truths of Christ.  Yes, it is the only church with Priesthood authority to perform saving ordinances.  But just because someone does not want to listen to our message does NOT mean that they are an evil, devil worshiping, Telestial-bound son/daughter of perdition.  
Every person has their agency, that is something we rejoice in.  They might reject an answer to their prayers and continue in their less-correct ways, but that does not EVER give ANYONE less than Jesus Christ the right to judge them or condemn them.
Seeing some judgmental hypocrisy has made me do a lot of thinking.  I remember a song that I used to listen to a lot, “Us” by Brother Ali.  It talks a lot about how important it is that we never judge anyone because of their beliefs, color, style, speech, or anything else.  “The same color blood runs through all of our veins” is something I really like to think.  
I guess the moral of the story is just don't judge.  Do what Jesus would do and break free from the chains of the natural man.  Because your enemy is of the same nature, he just does something a little different with what it gave him.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"...that is the most I have ever taught in a week..."

Hello everyone, this week has been solid.  Vinicius and his family all went to church on Sunday, so that's a solid victory.  They said it was really different than their church, but they liked it.  We are going back there tomorrow to teach them again, and hopefully finalize a baptism date!  Eloisa just needs to stop smoking, that's going to be the real battle.  We don't have a big pool of solid investigators right now, so we have been a lot of searching lately.
We did exchanges with the zone leaders on Monday, that was pretty cool.  I was with Elder M. Almeida in their area.  He is learning English really well, but it is kinda a pain to talk to him in English because it's a lot slower than Portuguese.  But he is a cool guy. He wants to go to BYU after his mission.
Hmm what else has happened lately... well I read a scripture in Mosiah that made me give money to this beggar lady who asked me for money while breast feeding her child in the shopping area where there are a ton of people.  Normally I just don't give them money, just like a pamphlet or something, but I decided she was a good cause.  
I have pretty much adjusted to sleeping from 10:30 pm to 6:30 am (finally after only 5 months!!) and the days are a lot more enjoyable and productive now.  
Something I enjoy more and more is personal study time in the morning.  I have basically just stopped reading lineally (word?)  and read by topic, so I jump all over the place but find a lot of greeeat information!!  That is by far the best way to study, in my opinion.
Are a lot of people inactive in America?  We just run into inactive members all the time.  I think they don't really understand what baptism means, what the sacrament represents, or something else because they often times start going to different churches.  Something interesting about the evangelical churches here is that during prayer, they always mutter stuff about Jesus and say amen and stuff during the prayer.  Some people do it really loudly, and it gets distracting.  But if it helps them feel the spirit I guess its ok.
Well it has been a pretty uneventful week to tell they truth.  Just a lot of new people and a loooot of duds that are not really too interested.  We taught a total of 34 lessons last week, that is the most I have ever taught in a week, so that's exciting.  I hope we can break the record this week too.
Well that's about all I have to say.  Time here goes by sooo fast, when I started the days seemed really long, but now it's like lunch, oh dang its already 5, or crap its 8, ah it's 10:15, then ah 6:30 already... it is the best!!  
As long as we missionaries focus on what we are doing and what we are teaching, we forget about trivial things like time.  Well, love you all, keep CTRing!