Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Staying in Lago Sul

Well hello!

Today is another transfer day where some people stay, some people leave, some people--well that´s about it actually. I´ll be staying in Lago Sul with E. Parada for at least another 1.5 months and I´m excited. I´ve gotten a better hang of how things work around here and I´m so happy to be visiting the people we´re visiting. Cida is progressing and, after she gets to know the ward a little better, she said she wants to get baptized. Leo is opening up and really liking the Book of Mormon. He says he knows it´s true but we´re trying to help him understand the importance of prayer and a response from prayer. 

One potential hang up (I don´t think I´ve ever used that phrase, hopefully it works in this context...) is that these people live closer to the church in São Sebastião than the church in Lago Sul. The boundaries for our area are poorly defined. As of now, this condominium where they live is in our area so we´re working there (no missionaries have ever gone there). We´d like to take them to Lago Sul so we can work with them and the ward at the same time, but this is difficult for them (and the type of people are a lot different). We talked to the Bishop about what he would have us do. He´s going to talk to the Stake President about the boundaries and maybe re-dividing things. So we´ll see how it all works out soon. As of now we´ll continue working in this condominium close to São Sebastião and the other condominiums closer to "Lago Sul" Lago Sul. 

E. Parada and I had a cool experience yesterday. Preface: last week we ran into a nice married couple in Lago Sul. They said they would like to have us over and gave us their number. We tried calling them a few times but their phone was always turned off. After trying 3 different times, Elder Parada thought "I think this 6 is supposed to be a 4" so he tried the whole number with 4 instead of a 6 and no one answered. 10 minutes later someone called back and asked who was talking and why we had called. E. Parada said we´re missionaries and explained what we do and said "Honestly, I´m not quite sure why I called you". The guy on the other end then explained that he is getting a divorce with his wife and is having a really hard time. He said he had been praying just before we called that God would help him because he had no where to turn and is looking for a new start in his life. We wrote down his name and address to pass to the missionaries that live in his area. I´m grateful for experiences like this that act as reminders of the power of prayer. It is common to pray for the same things everyday, such as the safety of one´s family. Sometimes I forget to look back and see how my family really has been blessed with safety. The things we pray for are never trivial for the Lord. Keeping track of what I pray for has been one of the strongest faith building habits I´ve ever learned. I remember in general conference someone said "Because we see things often, we see them less and less". This principle applies to the answers to our prayers. As soon as we start looking for how our prayers have been answered, we´ll find out exactly how.

Take excellent care of yourselves, (even you, Blake)


Sunday, October 14, 2012

General Conference is GREAT!


What a great General Conference we just had. I don´t think anyone gets as excited as missionaries do around conference time. Sometimes it´s funny to watch. I´d love to talk about all the talks given because they all have interlaced messages and all work together to apply the principles of the gospel to our time. I loved the emphasis on family and on children that many of the speakers conveyed. And I´m so happy that Dieter Uchtdorf and Thomas Monson mentioned the importance of enjoying the journey and stepping back to witness the beauty around us. I thought of Mom when Uchtdorf said "Find joy in the journey" because we have a little sign (Actually it´s big where everyone can see) in our house that says this and we can see it every time we leave the house. She reminded me of it in one of her letters and I can never forget it. Life is not meant to only be appreciated in retrospect, and we don´t listen to music just to hear the last note. Be happy now and look "less with your eyes and more with your heart." Thinking about Uchtdorf´s talk reminds me about what Henry B. Eyring reminded us-- the joy in spending our time with those we love is not in the activity, but with the feelings that come with it. 

Cida is reading the Book of Mormon and really likes it. She says she can feel that it is true. She is excited to go to church this week. 
We met a few more people in this new place, Itaipu. A guy named Leo, his sister, and his cousin. We have only talked to him once, but we´re going back tonight. The first lesson we taught them went really well. I´ve been trying to take the advice of Elder Holland in not thinking ahead of time what I´m going to say to people, but instead, listening 100 percent and trusting that you´ll know what to say to help that person. That´s what made this lesson so good. I was able to ask questions more naturally and converse more naturally. I also applied this to talking people I meet just walking on the sidewalk. It´s so cool watching people open up as you just listen to them, not thinking about anything you might say next. Thoughts will come to your mind, as it says in the doctrine and covenants. And the really cool part is that the thoughts that come to your mind, questions to ask that come to you, are your own--they´re genuine. 

Things are great over here. I sent a few pictures I took this week. One is
on the edge of Lago Sul (you can see the bridge deep in the background) and the other is

a picture I took while walking through Cond Itaipu (Elder Parada walking diligently ahead). 

Have a terrific week!


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Metro-Gospel Metaphor (Photos added!)

Hey Family!

What a nice avalanche of emails I see. My inbox is just over-flowing with elation from you guys. I´m glad to know people are happy and life is just as busy and crazy as normal. I´m looking forward to the pictures you sent! And I loved the ones you sent through email (especially the Halloween one. Thanks Ben, haha) Home hasn´t changed quite yet.

    Before I forget--
Mom, you´ll love this-
Today I was walking down the street on the way to get some lunch and someone parked on the side of the road said "Hey! over here! Come here!" I didn´t even notice what they said because I was in Portuguese mode--it takes a second to switch. But I looked over and a nice lady was getting out of her car with a huge smile on her face. She said "Missionaries! I´m from Utah!". She was so happy to see us (Elder Parada, Elder Dos Santos, and Elder Higbee) walking by. She said she is visiting her daughter who lives in Lago Sul and couldn´t pass up talking to the missionaries when she saw us. She said she does this everytime she sees missionaries. She took a picture and said she wanted to call our parents to tell them how we´re doing and that she saw us. I laughed and was so happy because at dinner Dad used to always take a picture of the missionaries and mail it to their parents. Her name is Carol and she´ll probably call you soon. Her son served a mission about 12 years ago and she started crying just talking about it. She is so nice and reminded me of Mom. She asked all the same questions Mom would ask about how we´re doing and such. So be be on the lookout for someone with a strange number calling you asking about me and asking for your email.
(See photos above and below.)
E. Young, E. Dos Santos, E. Higbee, E. Parada, Morgan and son
This week we visited a lot of people in Itaipu. We found a lot of new people to teach, which is exciting. We met two people, Cida, and her husband (not sure how to write his name), and invited them to church. They live closer to the church in São Sebastião so they went there instead of Lago Sul. The other missionaries that live with us accompanied them at church though. Cida said she has really good feelings about what we´ve shared with her about the restoration. It´s also been a cool experience watching people pray for the first time. It´s so great because you know they´re learning something that will bless their lives significantly. I´m also so humbled by the people that live in Itaipu. They work so hard just to provide for their family. And Cida and her husband don´t judge anyone. They are honest, genuine people.

Saturday I went with E. Moreira (Zone Leader who lives with us) to Gaurá for a baptismal interview with Antonio, a guy that wanted to get baptized that Sunday. I didn´t know Antonio but I met him that night. For those who aren´t familiar with what a "baptismal interview" is, it´s just a time to get to know the person getting baptized and to talk to them about their feelings, beliefs (or testimony, as we say), and to see how their doing in their commitments to follow the commandments. Antonio can´t read or talk and he can´t understand very well because of a mental condition he´s had since birth. E. Moreira related his experience having a baptismal interview with him. His Mom acted as sort of a translator because she understands him better than anyone else. E. Moreira talked to her and she would relate it in a way Antonio could understand. If it were a question, Antonio would reply to E. Moreira. E. Moreira said he couldn´t understand what he said, but he didn´t have to because he could feel so strongly what he wanted to say. Just meeting him, I could sense Antonio´s happiness and spirit. He might not be able to read or write or understand very well but I´m pretty sure he could feel better than anyone that was there. I know the gospel is for everyone. No one is excluded from the blessings of it.

On the way home, because of this, I was in a more speculative mood than normal. We took the metro back home and I thought as I looked out the window as the metro beside us left the station. While it was moving, I couldn´t tell if our metro was moving or if it was staying still. I thought of all that point of relativity nonsense I learned in school for a little bit and then I shifted my attention to a different window where a cement pillar was stationed. When I saw the pillar, and that we weren´t moving away from it, I knew it was only the other metro that was moving and my mind finally stopped messing with me. Because I was mixing my thoughts from this experience and thinking about Antonio, the metaphor machine in my brain started churning and I thought about the relation that cement pillar had with the gospel. The standards and commandments given to us by the prophets and apostles act as a stronghold and a point of reference for us while we move quickly through the tunnels (haha, metro/subway tunnels) of life. Without the pillar as a point of reference I really didn´t know if I was moving and I felt unbalanced and uncertain. Because the scriptures and the modern revelation of our day are ever present, they act as an excellent guide for our lives.

Speaking of modern revelation, General Conference is coming up and I´m super excited. I think I´ll actually get to watch it in English too! Don´t forget to lay out my conference bingo card and tell me if I win!

Have a delicious week,

Elder Young