Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Dad!

First of all, Happy Birthday Dad! I hope skiing is a nice present for you. I miss skiing a lot. I still remember those skiing classes in Utah though where I learned about pizza and french fries. You must feel honored that everyone around the world is celebrating your birthday tonight. One of our investigators is inviting us over for dinner in fact, just to celebrate your birthday. He mentioned new year or something too, but I was surprised he knew it was your birthday.

It was so nice to talk to you all last Tuesday. It felt so unreal after not seeing everyone for about 7 months. I'm still laughing at the fact that mom had three pages of questions ready to ask. And of course she wrote it in permanent marker on printer paper like she always does. That made me happy to see. And I'm glad Pete still feels at home in our house. I remember when he used to stand outside our front door to connect to our Internet so he could download things quicker. Now he's already a part of the family. Thanks for telling me that you guys are going skiing. I'll be missing it like crazy over here in the heat. The closest thing we got to snow came yesterday. It hailed (sp?) like it never has before here in Águas Lindas. Luckily, during the storm, the whole ward was having a big lunch together and we were all safe inside the church. Speaking of, this storm was another one of those "coincidences" you see every day on a mission. There were many investigators and less actives at this lunch event and they would have left sooner if it weren't for the storm. Because it was raining like crazy, no one could leave, and we (the 4 missionaries of the ward) had a chance to have great teaching opportunities and conversations with those people. I continue to love the openness of the people I meet. As a missionary, it's not rare to get stopped on the street by someone and have a deep, nourishing conversation with someone you don't know. I like the fact that people speak what is, and they don't pretend. For example, if someone is fat, they describe them as fat. That's a harsh example (although true), but because of this cultural norm, people are more open about their beliefs and--at least in my experience--more true to themselves. It's so easy to get to know people and to open up to them. I've noticed that here family and friends take precedence over the things that normally crowd our lives with triviality, which I like a lot.

This week something crazy happened. A lady, Isabel, whom we met just a week ago, died of heart problems 3 days ago. We passed by on Saturday to talk to her but chairs were set up in the yard and her friends and family were there. They were preparing some kind of funeral service. It was shocking because we had no idea she had health problems. We had planned on teaching her that day but instead found her friends and family there. We told them that we had met her that week and had come to share a message with her. We explained what we do and asked if we could pass by later and share a message about life after death. They said we could come back in a week. The most poignant feeling from that experience comes from the memory that I had prayed the night before to know who we should visit and what we should teach. I hadn't even thought about visiting Isabel until I had prayed and asked for guidance. Maybe it didn't make a different that we passed by exactly that day instead of any other day to talk with her friends and family that were united there, but it's humbling to know that one prompting led to a potential opportunity to share the wonderful message of the plan of salvation to people that are in the midst of sadness and confusion about why things like this happen. It's not an exaggeration to say that prayer is a conversation. The Book of Mormon and words of the prophet and apostles teach us how God responds to our earnest, prayerful requests. Upon studying the resources we have been given and applying them, our prayers will become infinitely more meaningful and useful. They will become less of a checklist of petitions and more of a conversation with a loving Heavenly Father. They will create our days instead of completing our days. They will guide and accompany our daily actions instead of following them.

Every day is a testimony builder in some way or another. And often I don't realize that until I start to say what I have learned. Even the burning sun and crazy rain storms have many things to teach us. No two days are the same, so every day has something different to teach. It's such a cool thing to finally realize.

Well! Have a wonderful Dad's New Year and drink some sparkling grape juice for me! I hope life is dandy.

Elder Bryce Young

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

We just talked to Bryce!!!!

We were able to skype Bryce today!  It was so wonderful being able to talk to him.  He looks great and is doing so well.  We talked with him for about an hour.  We all asked him lots of questions and his brothers played Christmas songs for him on different instruments.  He listened to Jingle Bells on the trumpet, ukelele and accordian and Braxton played How Great Thou Art on the piano.  We sang other hymns and Christmas songs with him.  Mom didn't even cry until we sang the hymn Hark The Harold Angels Sing before we said goodbye.
He is really enjoying his new area and is really happy.  It was fun hearing him speak in Portuguese.  We will be able to skype again on Mother's Day. We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

Pictures From Elder Young

                                    Helping the lady paint everything GREEN!!!
                                     Feliz Natal -Elder Young and Elder Reese
                                                    A beautiful sunset
                                               Bryce's typical breakfast

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Feliz Navidad!

Fastest week so far. It started out on Monday with a family night in a members home. There were a bunch of people and I felt like I was at home. As bare as the surroundings were, the cozy feeling of being with family was there and nice to be a part of. We even had popcorn for a snack afterward. For once, we weren't the ones teaching the lesson, and so I was able to sit in the chair of a quiet observer and watch how spending time as a family really brought those people together. Spending time with family--setting time apart for family, is crucial these days. I was so grateful that day for my family home evenings in the past.

Tuesday was one of those crazy days I will never forget. After eating lunch with one of our investigators, her friend asked us to help her with a little project in her house. She said it would take no more than 30 minutes. We started walking to her house with her, and on the way she mentioned that the project she had in mind was painting her refrigerator. When we got there we observed without difficulty that anything that had the capacity to be green or be painted green--was green. She told us she would like her fridge and her cabinets to be painted green. (she was running out of things to paint green). It ended up taking 4 hours, just painting things green. Haha. I laughed the whole time but my companion was just ready to go because he couldn't believe we were actually doing this. It was a funny experience. And there was no reasoning with her or leaving early because of an appointment -- she had her mind set, haha. Sometimes you just have to let go of your preoccupations, your worries, and submit to the task. I actually enjoyed it, because it was hilarious, and I learned a little more about how to relax in the midst of a busy routine and a busy mind.

Wednesday was a busy day teaching and trying to find people at home. Some days you just have bad luck and no one is home. 

Thursday was spent mostly at the Christmas conference for all the missionaries in our mission. We sang Christmas music and sounded even better than it did in the choir rehearsals. Then a few discourses (talks? oh boy, In portuguese it's discursos) were given about Christ and the significance of his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. Afterward, I went with the choir to sing in the main bus station in Brasilia. We sand Christmas music for around 2 hours and many people stopped to listen and ask who we were, etc. It was a good opportunity to invite people to learn about the Restoration of the Gospel and learn that we're not just weird people who walk around with a white shirt and tie. I enjoy seeing the success of activities like this because missionary work can and should be so much more than knocking on doors or just stopping people in the street. It was also nice to feel more of the Christmas season here.

Friday we finally got in contact with Cida, who was moving to a new house while we passed her house. We wouldn't have known to where she was moving unless we had been there in that moment. So I'm glad we found her. She has committed to be baptized already, but after the other missionaries that were here left, shyed away from it a little. We were at least able to help her move and talk a little about how she's doing. I hope we find opportunities to talk to her more. Friday night there was a Christmas ward activity and many people showed up. I got to be all cool and play Christmas music on the piano while people conversed. I felt like one of those people at a fancy hotel playing as people lounge in the lobby. Edson and all his family came to the event and liked it. I also overheard Edson explaining to his son the importance of priesthood authority, marriage, and the temple. He understands the doctrine of the church very well and is wants to keep paying tithing even though he isn't a member yet. He has to get married before being baptized, so that's the only thing that's taking time. He has accepted all the invitations we have offered him and is living the commandments. I just hope to be here when he get's baptized with his family. 

Yesterday E. Queiroz was sick so E. Reese and I went to work together. We visited as many less active members we could that we found on the member list. Almost all of them had moved, but we made good contacts with the people that are living there now. In Preach My Gospel, it says that there is almost always someone that has been prepared to hear the gospel in the family of whom you are teaching, or in the neighborhood or the house next to whom you are teaching. It's clear, also, that there are people prepared to hear the message of the restoration in the houses of old members who used to live there. The feeling of being guided to where you should go is humbling. Yesterday E. Reese and I felt that feeling strongly and knew the people we talked to we didn't meet by mere coincidence. It was cool to be able to talk to E. Reese while we walked in between appointments, too. Because we are both learning so much at the same time, the conversations we have are always edifying. 

In church yesterday the Bishop gave me the opportunity to translate for the father of someone in our ward who was visiting. He had such an awesome testimony so I felt pressed to be able to convey it accurately in Portuguese. Thankfully, he knows German, and knew how to make the job of a translator a little easier, so all went well. He was born in Germany and joined the church in his youth while living there. Because he joined the church, his family kicked him out of his house. He left for America and was adopted here. He grew up with the liberty going to church and choosing whether or not to serve a mission. He sent in his papers to serve a mission and got sent right back to Germany. He had great success there as a missionary and bore his testimony with powerful conviction of the truthfulness of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was clear to see how loving he is and that he lives what he believes. 

Christmas is coming! Thanks for the packages and music! I'm looking forward so much to talk to you all on the 25th. I feel like because there is so much to say I'll end up staring blankly at the screen wondering what to say. Haha. I'm sure you will have questions though and stuff. Especially with so many people to talk to, the time will go fast I'm sure.
Have a very merry Christmas! And listen to all the Christmas music we always listen to for me. And eat some cinnamon rolls for me too.


Elder Bryce Young

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas in Brazil

Excellent afternoon fam,

It's so weird that today starts the third week of this transfer. It's almost half way done already. And Christmas is sneaking up on me faster than Fox grabs any given character in Smash Bros 64. 
It doesn't feel like December at all. It's nice and hot, and the only notion of Christmas I've seen so far is red ties and an occasional Jingle Bells playing from the radio of a car whose driver accidently picked a Christmas station to listen to. BUT I did see a huge blow up Santa Claus on the roof of some big store in Asa Sul a month ago. Elder Queiroz and I already have the 24th planned though. And it will be a great Christmas. 

Elder Reese was sick for half of this week so I took turns staying home with Elder Golzio and Elder Queiroz to accompany him. I had a lot of time to study, which is always nice. We taught Edson and two of his boys. I don't remember if I talked about them yet. Edson is committed to get baptized at the end of this month. Rayanne also committed to get baptized at the end of the month too. Because we only had 2 available missionaries at a time to work in both areas, there wasn't much time to visit our investigators. Sunday was a special stake conference at which we heard from M. Russell Ballard. He emphasized the link between knowing and doing, relating to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He emphasized its simplicity and applicability.

The bishop here is young and energetic and ready to try some new things to help the ward. We're anxious to teach the members how to share the gospel with others in natural and simple ways. There's nothing better than having a member invite their friend and being present in the lessons with them. 

I've gotta go sooner than normal today because only one computer is working.

Love you guys!
- Elder Young

Saturday, December 8, 2012

New Photos from Elder Young in Aguas Lindas

                       Elder Young with city Aguas Lindas, Golas in the background
                                                 Bryce chasing a cow!!!
                               A family Elder Young is teaching and other Elders
                                        Elder Reece tracting on the dirt road
                                      Elder Young and a family he is teaching
                     Bryce on a dirt street -he says it is hard to keep his shoes clean!
 The Elders have rigged the shower so it now has hot water!  They are afraid to turn it on.
                           A rainbow just outside of Bryce's window one morning.
 The name Aguas Lindas suggests beautiful water, so Bryce took a picture of the "beautiful water"
                                           A rainy day in Aguas Lindas

Thursday, December 6, 2012

First week in Aguas Lindas, Golas


I love it here. Yeah, the water isn't really beautiful as the name of the place suggests, but being here is. I like the creative opportunity that being in a new area affords. The only thing I don't like is the rooster next to my window on the roof of the neighbor's house that screams at me every morning at 6am. 6am! 30 minutes before I wake up. Elder Queiroz and I work well together and we already met many of the members and found 5 people to go to church with us yesterday. One of them was so excited he said he wanted to pay tithing the first Sunday. Towards the beginning of the week, we went around the neighborhoods close by the church to members houses to get to know them. A lot of the addresses we had been given were old and many of the people we sought had already moved. Consequently, we found new people to teach! We also just ran into a lot of people by chance that have either gone to the church and gone inactive or have an interest. It's really interesting how many coincidences you run into just walking around. In fact, on Sunday when church was starting, through the window in the chapel we spotted three people walking in the front doors. They came by just to use the bathroom but we talked to them about the church and invited them to the meeting. They were really curious and accepted that we visit them this week to talk a little more. 
To sum this week up, we found a good amount of new investigators either by reference or by running into them in the midst of looking for old contacts the other missionaries did. Edson, the guy who wanted to pay tithing, brought his whole family to church and really liked it. Also a girl, Rayani, missed her soccer practice and rehearsal to go to church and said she enjoyed it. I'm humbled by the sacrifices these people make. Not just in going to church, but the sacrifices they make in service and in family matters.

Until next week!
- Elder Bryce Young