Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"I will just use Proverbs 31 to find my wife..."

Well this week was not easy, that is for sure. 
We had everything set up perfectly for the baptism of Ari on Saturday.  He was interviewed on Saturday morning at 11 and passed with no problem.  We went to lunch in high spirits.  Then the dang monsoon rains began.  Holy dang I have not been that wet in my whole life.  So anyway, we called Ari at about 4:30 to verify everything.  He was like "Well, my wife Neide got pretty mad that I was planning on getting baptized without her, and we fought a little bit.  I don't think it is going to work out at least for today."  
Oh my geez I thought Elder Carmo was going to cry, I thought I was gonna break something.  Dang Neide with her witch magic messed up Ari´s baptism and the potential Eternal future of her entire family!!  I don't think she really recognizes that if she AND/OR Ari don't get baptized, they can not be together forever.  She is always worried about if her and her kids are going to be separated when she dies.  I, in my angry state, wanted to run over there and yell "Well if YOU don't get your act together and get baptized, and Ari does, you will be the only one left out of the Celestial Kingdom and they will all be up there partying in a cherubic manner and you will be doing who knows what in the terrestrial!!" 
Dang salvation-impeding woman.  Now I understand why my young men's leaders always taught that a dude always needs to marry a woman that will elevate him, because if he doesn't she will just be an eternal drag.  I will just use Proverbs 31 to find my wife: "She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar."  I don't really know what that means, but it seems like it would be a good characteristic. 
Well, I do have good news too.  The friend of this girl in the branch has come to church the last two weeks and really likes going to church!  The only problem is that she never is home!!  We have gone there multiple times to teach her and not once has she been available.  But we have faith that we will find a bit of time to teach her.  Also Luiz is good.  He was out of town for a while, but he got back yesterday.  We taught him a lesson about how we can be good servants of the Lord and he asked us "So what happens after someone is baptized?  Do I have to pay money or do anything weird?"  We were like "You just gotta keep the commandments!"  He is excited, and I know that he will be baptized sooner or later. 
April was the worst month in the history of my mission, only 41 baptisms.  I think that is how many people get baptized in a year in a lot of missions.  But I think sometimes being pushy creates a lot of less active members like Aunt Jayne saw in France (I didn't know she went on a mission, that's ill). 
Well, I didn't take any photos this week because it was really rainy and I didn't want to take my camera with me and have it get broken.  So sorry about that.  I'm sending a letter to Charlotte today, I don't know her address so I'll just send it to the house.  I don't have tons to say today, sorry again.
Well, keep up the good work in the gospel.  Love you all!!! 
Elder Joseph

Whatever comes up, comes out; I don´t put my hands over my mouth.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"...someone tried to hit us on a motorcycle."

This week has been super bomb!!!  Ari and Neide, the couple that got married, had a 180 degree change!!  Holy crap!!  Ari especially has decided to stop putting his trust in the Quadrangular pastor interpretation of the Bible and ask Heavenly Father.  So in his search during the last week, he prayed, read the Book of Mormon, and thought a ton about his previous baptism; if it was valid and if he really needed to be baptized again.  He got a shockingly strong answer: YYEEEEEESSSSSSSS!!!!  
He is solid as can be for baptism on Saturday!  Holy dang that is a huge miracle!!  So we are super stoked about that here in MeD.  His wife is also probably going to be baptized.  But she is really shy and for some reason thought that she would have to take off her clothes in front of everyone (this has absolutely no explanation, she already watched the baptisms of her five children, and I really hope they all kept their clothes on.).  Aside from that, she is also ready to be baptized. 
Well, aside from that we had not a ton of weird or exciting stuff. 
Something I forgot to mention last week is that someone tried to hit us on a motorcycle.  I don't think he was really smart, because if you hit two average sized males on a motorcycle, you will definitely fall off.  And then it is you against two angry 20 year olds, one of which was in the Army, the other who has a really hardcore rap crew that will fight anyone. 
But I'll explain what happened.  We were walking on this busy road that doesn't have a sidewalk.  There are these deepish gutters on both sides.  So he turns onto our street about 50 meters in front of us.  He was going normal, then started driving in the shoulder.  We didn't panic, because we assumed he would just abandon his lame joke after a few yards.  But he kept coming.  Elder Carmo was like "AAAAHHHHHHHH"  I was like "Ah come on"  then we both jumped over the gutter to the grass on the other side.  He passed right where we were walking.  So that was a funny experience, Elder Carmo got a little mad at him but I was like "ah he probably fell asleep or something". 
We have run into a sticky situation with the majority of our investigators.  They won't go to church.  So it is a little hard to keep the momentum going if they don't do their part.  We had a zone conference and talked a little about how we can maintain momentum and get people baptized while they are feeling the spirit a lot instead of waiting for a super long time and letting them lose their interest.  That was pretty good.  Zone conference is always excellent. 
I got a letter from McKay, he said that his mish and Nick´s are being partially merged, so maybe they will end up in the same one.  That would be sick.  My buddy Jim here is a zone leader with 10 months... that humble dogg is easily the best missionary in our mission. 
Well I don't really have a lot to say this week, sorry.  Things have stayed pretty much the same since the last week. 
I played organ in sacrament meeting.  I bet nobody ever saw that coming, but I did it.  It's crazy to think that I, with my minimal knowledge, am the best/only player in this branch.  But it's good to contribute what I can to help the members be happier and have more desire to go to church.
Love you all

Whatever comes up, comes out; I don´t put my hands over my mouth.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"...we are going to have to be even more creative to get these people to taste the magic."

Primarily, mom do not worry about the lack of candy!! I didn't mean to be a complainer at all, it was fine to not have candy. Certainly don't feel pressured to send me anything if it is inconvenient in the least!
Also you don't need to send me the updates of Matt, Philly, or Mckay, I already receive them. Nick´s updates are always very interesting, sounds like that city is absolutely full of boss people.
Dad, it was great to get your email in Portuguese! Looks like you have remembered just about everything from the mish.
The weather here has leveled out. It used to be absolutely frigid, but has become more temperate. We finally fixed our shower, so now it is warm water rather than ice. But I was beginning to like those freezing showers, It made me feel like an Eskimo. Now I just feel like a normal person (lame.)
I got my birthday letters from everyone on general conference day, along with a card from G&G Burt and letters from Philly, Nick, and a bud from the CTM. Sounds like everyone is doing good.
Well, we have had a pretty low quality week. Ari and Neide were married last Wednesday, but both decided that they are not ready for baptism and it appears that they are pretty uninterested as of right now. They are the couple in the photo from last week, with two of their six children. They have not been to church in a while, and are a little hostile when we talk to them about the church and their necessity to be baptized. We are hoping and praying a lot that they will get it in gear and stop messin around.
Our other families have slowed down a little. Carlinhos and Tania were planning on going to church with us but they decided that they were not ready. But we are still teaching everyone. The family that has probably made the most progress as of late is Valderesa and her children. They have all accepted the Book of Mormon as scripture, and are doing well. They too are nervous about going to church, that is our biggest plight right now. It appears as though we are going to have to be even more creative to get these people to taste the magic.
Elder Carmo and I have a weird but functional way of working together. I read a while ago one of Josh´s letters about his comp and dogs... Elder Carmo is the same, but with small children. For example, we will be talking to a family in the square and a kid will fall down 25ish meters away. He will stop mid sentence and run over to the child, who has two fully capable parents, to verify its functionality. He has a weird thing for kids. I don't really like small children that much at this point of my life, so I stay responsible for conversing with adults while he does stuff with children. He likes to hug them and at times they try to hug me, and I'm like nooooo just a handshake! Speaking of that kind of stuff, a girl tried to kiss me the other day. We were sitting on the curb eating a snack talking to her when she struck. I gave her a little push away and was like “Aahhh nah nah we´re missionaries!” Then gave her a handshake. Elder Carmo was just dying at the hilarity of the situation LoL, it was pretty dang funny I will admit.
This branch is self destructing. The Young Men and Young Women presidents asked to be released on Sunday morning and there are very few (if any) worthy candidates for their replacement, and even less willing candidates. The Elders president and his wife, a Relief Society counselor, are facing a divorce situation. President is getting a little bit discouraged. We asked him what we could do, who we could visit, and he was just like, "Oh elders, just do what you want. I think we just need to keep doing what we are doing." He has a ton of pressure on him, he is the only thing holding this branch together and is in the process of starting a business. And his wife is the Relief Society president. He said something about moving to Curitiba, where the church is strong, because his kids are simply not happy here. I sincerely hope that doesn't happen, or I fear that the branch here might close.
Well, we are doing our best here. Thanks for the help and support, it helps a lot!
Love you all
Tudo que faz, faz com amor.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"We hope that the parents will now energize their kids and help them reactivate."

So transfers were announced yesterday, and both Elder Carmo and I will be staying here for this transfer! I'm stoked about that because we have a really good group of investigators that are progressing a lot. We tend to teach the restoration over and over here because people rarely progress. But we have about 4 or 5 families that are studying the Book of Mormon as we speak (maybe) and others that are ready to receive it. It has been a really awesome time here, we are absolutely ripping it up and having an awesome time.
Today will be the wedding of Ari and Neide! Everything is in order, so they will be married at 4 today and baptized on Saturday. We are really excited for them and they are really excited to have finally arrived at this point. Their kids were baptized well before they were ready, and a few of them have gone inactive. We hope that the parents will now energize their kids and help them reactivate. I have been reading in Alma a lot and when he was doing some home teaching he rippped the people and said it was more tolerable for the Lamanites than for those Nephites who had been baptized and then turned away. A lot of missionaries here do not recognize this. I remember one time Dad and I were driving through the canyon by Mantua and he was talking about exactly this, that if they can't keep the covenants they should never make them. I am still going with that, and while I have very few baptisms I do not feel like I have been doing things wrong. I am in good standing with the Lord, so its cool with me.
It has gotten COLDDD here! Dang, one day it was super hot and then the next day it was really cloudy but didn't rain for the whole day. At night I had to bust out the blanket for the first time since like last April! I woke up the next morning and it was frigid!! I threw on a shirt and sweater and some pants right away because I didn't have the courage to shower (our shower head is broken so the water is really cold, we are working on getting that fixed.) It warmed up a little the rest of the day, but still was cold. It is weird to not have heating in houses and businesses, vents and furnaces have still not made it here. One day...but for now I am reduced to relying on sweaters and tea. It is fine, and I am excited to not sweat so much. We are in one of the coldest parts of Brasil, I have heard it gets as low as like 5 or zero degrees Celsius! Oooh!!
We only got to watch the Sunday morning session of conference because it is not broadcast in Medianeira. So the branch rented a bus and everyone went to Foz to watch the session. It was super Ill, I watched it in Portuguese (apparently ALL of the Americans aside from me were watching in English in another room, and I have to say the church needs to improve technically on their transmition in other languages) and especially liked the talk of Elder Scott. Most of the talks were translated by people who speak Portuguese. But Scott speaks a little (very little) Portuguese, so he recorded it in Portuguese beforehand. LoL his Portuguese is very poor, but it was really cool to see the love he expressed for everyone giving the talk directly to as many people as possible. It is a huge blessing to have all of them talk to us in our natural language, I never recognized that until Sunday. But I was a little sad to see only one sesh. So if you could somehow mail me a copy of the General Conference edition of the Ensign/Liahona it would be great. I would probably never get one otherwise because I am far from Londrina, thus far from materials. But I like reading the talks almost more than I like watching live. That is about my only request, the conference talks.
I think this was the worst Easter of all time as far as food goes. We failed to gain any chocolate and unfortunately also failed to eat after breakfast because we left before lunch and got home after, so nobody was eating/wanted us to eat with them. Also we had zero food in our house, so we struggled a little at night. But it was all fine, I marked a huge map of the city with ALL of the members and investigators, marked in different colors representing active, inactive, progressing, baptism marked, and leadership. It is interesting to see how many members there are. If all of these people were active there would be at least two wards here, but as it is we have one branch, so we are gonna keep working on it. I also completely neglected April fools, actually I didn't really notice that it was April until yesterday. But there is a weird holiday here on the Friday before Easter where nobody works and everyone eats just fish. It was alright, but the fish we ate was pretty bad.
Well I love you all, I sent a letter to Spencer a few days ago, one to Dad today, and Mom and Char will get them in the next little bit. Well keep everything classy, it's good to hear from you!

Tudo que faz, faz com amor.