Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Good Bye Aguas Lindas!


Things changed and tomorrow will be transfers instead of today. This change is nice because now I can use P-Day to pack everything. I won't know where I'm going until tomorrow morning. Things are starting to pick up right when I leave. We just found an excellent family and 5 golden people to teach. That's just the way it is (Bruce Hornsby). [then think of the piano riff that follows]. That's what's going through my head now. 

While being here in Águas Lindas I've felt that one of my responsibilities is to help the less actives. I was luckily to find a well prepared record book made by another missionary who passed through here to help me with this. Even though success with less actives isn't as noticeable as success with new investigators, I am happy with what my companion and I were able to accomplish visiting many less actives. I've made many friendships with various members in this ward and they will be hard to leave. 

This week I have been continually grateful for the things I learned growing up in my family. Because of the traditions and way of our family, I am able to relate personal experiences with gospel learning in the family with other people. For example, we ate ice cream all the time at night. And because we all happened to be around the table, we took the opportunity to read the scriptures as a family. I was able to offer suggestions to a family this week on how they could find time to read the scriptures together because of that tradition we have as a family. Also, in visiting many families, I have learned tons more than I expected about parenting. I don't even seek it! It just follows me! I don't know of any way to thank my family enough for the positive influence they have on every part of my mission and life. 

Next week I'll tell you about my new area and companion, and everything else that matters.
Have fun going back to school everyone! 

Elder Young

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nescau and Seeing Others as They May Become

Well hello,

I find it funny that this little cubicle where this computer lives is my portal of communication in between us. Because I've always been so immersed in the technological world, I've never really perceived until now how odd it is that we can enter a virtual world of connections through this little box that sits behind this screen. I only use a computer one day every week, so I think that's helped me extract myself from my constant connection to computers, haha. Sometimes I feel like I've gone back in time a little bit because at least in this part of Brazil, not everyone has a computer, and most people have cell phones that I would say are "so 5 years ago."
I'm happy that this computer runs on Windows XP instead of Vista, though. That's comforting.

Unfortunately, our working time this week was shortened because E. G. Santos was sick again. It's not anything bad or contagious, but the mission doctor told him that he should rest.
Elder Reese and Me -- Enjoying Fudge-Covered Oreos

These days I'm drinking a lot of chocolate milk. That must be a surprise to you, Mom, but I really like it now. I really like a lot of things I didn't like before... I drink chocolate milk almost everyday for breakfast. The 3 missionaries I live with and I have discussed buying a cow to economize. I noticed one day that a good sized plastic cow is always on the corner of a supermarket we pass a lot. I have been tempted more than once to pick it up and take it with me on the way home. The only thing that impedes me is the size and weight of the thing. Even though it's plastic, it looks super heavy.
Plastic Cow Statue

The milk here isn't very tasty, so the only way to enjoy it is by mixing Nescau in it. For those who are wondering, and also for those who weren't even wondering, the rooster that has been waking me up early for the past 4 months didn't make a sound this morning. It was glorious. This is the extent of my unimportant news.

This week isn't very newsy, but you probably would like to know that I spoke in church again yesterday. I was asked on Saturday if I could speak for 20 minutes along with E. G. Santos. I prepared a talk pretty quickly with the time I had on Saturday night and Sunday morning before church. When I got there I was told it really only has to be 10 minutes, so that was a relief. I really enjoyed preparing and giving my talk. I enjoy public speaking more and more the more I do it. I think it's an interesting art, seeing that much of the teaching done in the church is through this medium. I based my talk on the words of Thomas S. Monson's talk last conference in the priesthood session, "See Others as They May Become." I really like that phrase and described the implication it has for our roles in this life (as parents, as brothers, as spouses, as members of the church, etc.) and gave examples of how Christ saw others as they could become (choosing fisherman to be great leaders, giving us the chance to change through the atonement). I read Alma 31 to show how Alma saw people in this light as well, which relates the Alma's effort in bringing back the apostate Zoramites. I could tell as I talked that people liked an example I used from my childhood: When I was learning to play piano, mom and dad always encouraged us and gave us praise in a way that helped us see our potential. I mentioned that I made many mistakes while learning piano and I was sure it wasn't preferable for my parents to hear a song over and over and over for hours, but they never made negative comments. They always commented that I played very well and that they enjoyed hearing me play. They saw me as the pianist, or person, I could become rather than the kid that won't stop banging on the piano and making a lot of noise. I was grateful that they called on me to give a talk because I acquired a deeper understanding of the phrase "see others as they may become."

Happy Spring Break!
Elder Bryce Young

Member Family and Elder Reese Smilin' for the Camera

Elder Young with Brasilian Family in front of Mural

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Greetings from the southern hemisphere

Greetings from the southern hemisphere,

Tell the primary thank you for all of their letters and drawings! I appreciate them very much. I am keeping them all. And the shirt they sent is perfect. I wear it a lot when I'm at home.

This week was a little slow. My companion was sick for about half of it, and missionary trades, interviews, and the dentist took up two days of time too. As a result, I was able to finish Jesus, the Christ again. I've never been so thankful for long books. It will take a long time for me to ever get tired of that book. This time, the sections that talk about the primitive church, Zion, and the second coming impressed me the most.

Talmage makes the following comment about the early converts of the primitive church (in the time of the original quorum of 12, not long after the ascension of Christ) "So devoted were these early converts, so richly blessed with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost was the Church in those days, that the members voluntarily disposed of their individual possessions and had all things in common. To them faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was of greater worth than the wealth of the earth. Among them, there was nothing called "mine" or "thine," but all things were theirs in the Lord. (Chap 38)

A common ownership of property is one of the characteristics of Zion. Like the people of Enoch and the Nephites in 3 Nephi, they were "of one heart and of one soul." I like imagining how living in a community of Zion might be. This system of unity has already been revealed in our "dispensation" in the Doctrine and Covenants. Keeping in mind that we are tasked with becoming citizens of Zion in the future, it is wise to think about how we can do our part in developing characteristics like the members of the primitive church had, contributing to the building of Zion.

It's hard to think about voluntarily disposing of my individual possessions. It really shows me how much learning and experience I need to gain to develop that desire. I think I'm going to start with my ties. A lot of missionaries like to trade ties. The trades are never fair, but I'm trying to gain the point of view of a citizen of Zion and just go with whatever people want to trade. I'll probably end up with a bunch of ugly ties going home, but at least I'll know I'm closer to Zion, haha. I'm thankful for all the things that happen that stretch me. I hope to become more and more malleable in character every time something hard happens. 

I don't have any super cool stories today, sorry kids. But I do know that the best stories take time to write. Maybe one day we'll all look back at our lives and realize that we were in a much cooler story than we thought we were in.

I guess I'll put down my closing remarks.  I'm just putting down my thoughts and experiences, but I hope all those who read this can be edified in some way. I know that as big and difficult our life may seem, it is only a step in the story of eternity. All the events that pass, whether they be thrilling or devastating, work together to form our future of best possible development. I know, more than I ever have in the past, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not a "cunningly devised fable." No man could have created a device as simple, or as perfect as the Doctrine of Christ. The scriptures lay out a straight and narrow path we must follow to return to live with our Heavenly Father and receive eternal life. We can choose to follow it or not. It is available to everyone. It's the perfect insurance plan that no one has been able to copy. Because Jesus Christ completed His Atonement for the sins of all mankind in a way we still cannot completely comprehend, we are free to accept his sacrifice for us through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I still marvel at how it can be so simple but also all-encompassing. I have no doubt that it's true and that the gospel was restored after being lost. Anyone who wants to know if scriptures are true can know by prayer and action. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful week 

Elder Bryce Young

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It's already March!

Hey fam,

Oh boy I do enjoy getting your emails. Sounds like not too much has changed. Aguas lindas still isn't very linda (beautiful) but the work is getting better as we go. This week went very well. We found many people and 9 people said they would for sure go to church on Sunday but only 3 went. It's hard to discern sometimes who has real intent and who doesn't. Sometimes it seems like you had the best week you've had teaching, but the people you taught don't end up doing what they said they would. It doesn't get us down though because we know we did what we could. It's just part of the work. Our job is to invite people to act on what we share with them. 

This week we had a missionary zone conference with one other zone. The trainings were very useful this time. They were about asking inspiring questions and about efficient planning. President Gaertner mentioned in his talk a lady from his home ward that always made homemade bread for the sacrament. He used her example to illustrate the nature of real service. It made me miss Mom's homemade bread and reminded me of how service-oriented Mom is. 

It's funny that you said you prayed that I would have a peaceful and restful day on Sunday because my companion was actually sick and we had to stay home. It was actually extremely peaceful and very restful. I am happiest when I'm working, but I was also nice to have a little time to relax and study. I like hearing that sacrament went long because ours almost went short. There aren't many people, first off, but also this ward still has a lot of growing to do. I was called to fill in some of the time, haha. I'm enjoying and feeling more and more comfortable speaking in front of everyone. I'm grateful that I can even learn about things like public speaking while being here.

I wrote in my journal about an experience I had at the dentist but I haven't told you all yet. We arrived at the dentist pretty early last time we went for them to fix my incredibly discommodious tooth (don't worry, it's all good now) so I sat in the waiting room reading the ensign that I finally got...in English!!! finally. While reading I had a very pressing feeling that I should talk to the receptionist. I kept reading but I couldn't get myself to pay attention because I felt that I just had talk to the receptionist. I knew my mind would not let me focus on what I was reading until went to talk to the receptionist. I thought to myself, "How am I going to casually bring up the gospel in this conversation" (which isn't a good way to think anyway, we shouldn't be ashamed, we should talk to people with our first purpose being to share the gospel). I continued to stay seated and felt like a game of pong was being played in my head. And the little ball that goes back and forth kept speeding up. It turned into a pong battle. I then remembered that I actually needed to talk to her because I needed to change the phone number they had on my record. I still couldn't get myself to get up because I know that I needed to give her the plan of salvation pamphlet too. It wasn't just a quite prompting. It was a very consistent feeling and I knew what I needed to do. I could tell she was curious about what we do and I had already wrote our names and number on the pamphlet because I knew that after awhile I would make myself get up and give it to her. I ended up getting up and asking her to change the number on my account. After she changed it she had to attend another person so I went to sit down. I felt like I had failed because I didn't talk to her more. But after she finished attending the other person, she turned to us and asked "What do you two actually do?" I was so glad she asked that question. We then started to talk and I ended up giving her the pamphlet. When I had gone up to change the number on my account I noticed she glanced at my little name tag and that piqued her interest. Sure, she may have asked us what we do and started the conversation even if I didn't talk to her, but even so, I know I was being tested to see if I would get up and attempt. I'm thankful that Heavenly Father has patience with me and is willing to teach me even when I have just barely enough courage. I don't know why in that moment it was more difficult to talk than normal, but I know that the feeling I had was a prompting from the spirit. It's funny that when I went back to reading the ensign, I got to the part in Elder Scott's talk that mentions the joy you receive in answering someone's prayers by following a prompting of the spirit. It's something small, but it taught me a lot and made me grateful for the learning opportunities I receive every time I look for them.

Have an delicious week!

Love and ice cream,
Elder Young