Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rosa sets baptism date!!!

Two days this week were used by interviews and a service project, so it went by very quickly. To be able to fit everything I want to fit in this letter I'll get straight to the dessert.

Rosa, went to church again and when she is asked if she liked it, she always says she loved it. She said she wants to live there. We're planning her baptism for next week. E. B. Gomes, who did the baptismal interview said it was an incredible experience interviewing her. I'm so glad that after 11 months I was able to see someone being introduced to the gospel, accepting it, and then changing their life to live in accord with it all within a few weeks. We don't always get to see the "fruits of our labors". But I'm glad I was able to see at least one. I wish you all could meet Rosa. She talks so much. I never thought I would enjoying listening to someone for hours, but it happened. I hope to inform you of further progress after the baptism.
In other news...

When I have time to think, I tend to do that thing that J.D. from Scrubs (tv show) does and tilt back my head, not paying attention to anything around me. I had one of these moments on Saturday, but this time I paid more attention. We went to a member's house to finish the walls in their living room by slapping cement on them. (People are always doing construction projects here).  I have mixed cement before, but this time I learned to do it better. I mixed the cement and filled buckets.  Between batches and buckets I had time to think. The project went from 8 to 6:30. It wasn't supposed to go that long, but with big projects like this you never know, I guess. 

Next to Alex and Neide's house lives a 70yr old man alone in a little one-room house. He only has one leg and spends most of his time sitting in his wheelchair. As I worked, I watched what he did. He came out of his house at about 9 and wheeled himself to the clothesline to take down a few articles of clothing. He then put up some clothes and aligned everything very neatly, and did all this reaching upward from his wheelchair. Alex mentioned he prefers to do everything he can by himself. He doesn't want to inconvenience others by asking for help. 

He did everything very slowly and with great effort. After putting up his clothes he went back inside, switched to crutches, and inch by inch pushed a plastic chair in front of him until he reached the shade. He sat down in the chair and stayed there for most of the morning. He hardly ever leaves his yard and when he does, it is to get a view of the street from the fence and to come back. I thought a lot about what this man's life is like. I thought about how different my life is from his, and how life changes so quickly and so drastically with age. I can't imagine being unable to walk and staying in or right outside of my house all day. I could tell that the little things in his day really mattered to him. I thought about what things he must be grateful for everyday. He must be grateful for the ability to put up and take down his clothes from the clothesline, and for the shade. He must be very grateful for his neighbors that make him food everyday. 

Sometimes I wish I had more free time just to think, but he must yearn for the things I am able to do in my youth that he can't do. It was very clear to me that day as I observed things around me that our life is a training ground, or a place to learn, and a stage to act on. We all have roles to play and things to do but we are all working towards something. Some of us don't know what we're working towards, and others are just trying to survive, or waiting for something to happen. I was outside all day, watching the sun rise and set. And reflected on how free we are to do what we want with our lives, every day. Like that song by Chris Rice our family listens to "Every day is a gift." I didn't come to any sort of conclusion watching this man or observing things around me, but I just became more amazed at everything. 

I'm looking forward to hearing where Brandyn will go!
Until next week!
Elder Young

Friday, April 19, 2013

Progress in Lago Azul

This computer monitor is more cantankerous than Peeves from Hogwarts--it can't decide whether it wants to be shaded in pink, or flickering constantly, or tricking you into thinking it will stay the way it is. But there must be opposition in all things, right? Nephi would agree. Speaking of opposition in all things (great transition, right?), this week has manifested the fruit of the past weeks of work. This week we found new people, all through the means of members, that said right after the end up church "I'll be here next week too." I cannot over-emphasize the value of the work of members in missionary work. I read somewhere that over 80 percent of baptisms are of people who know members, or were referred to the missionaries by members. All three of the excellent investigators we have now, we met through members. They all seemed to integrate naturally with the members on Sunday, too. Rosa, who we met not too long ago, has no doubt that the Book of Mormon is true and that this church is true. She has had overwhelming feelings that confirm it and has had dreams that confirm her feelings. She was perceivably prepared before we met her to accept the gospel at this point in her life. She describes the way she feels in a perfect way that I wish I would have written down, or could have written down. She has so many questions and has an undying desire to learn more. 

I don't have much news this week, or super cool thoughts. We've been really busy, but things are going well.

Elder Young

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

General Conference Was Fantastic!

Bom dia!

For once in my life, something I was really looking forward to came very quickly. General Conference was fantastic as expected, and as always. I already downloaded it all to listen to it again during the week. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear the BYU Women's and Men's Choruses singing on Saturday. They sang two arrangements of hymns that I have sung before and that I love. I saw a lot of people I knew in the choir and got to watch two of my conductors from last year conducting. I have never understood why people get up to go to the bathroom during the music. It's just as much a sermon and a prayer as a traditional sermon or prayer. It's my favorite part! I also found it cool that in at least 3 talks, Daniel's vision from the old testament was mentioned.

This place I'm in has as many literal ups and downs as it does figuratively, as it is very very hilly. The ward is very small and the members are pretty discouraged. There is a lot of work to be done to make it stronger. We met a lady named Rosa last week. She was introduced to us by a new convert, Edmundo, who helps the Elders a lot. She has been to many different churches and has almost given up on finding the right one. She is a wonderful person. I always say that I learn a lot from the people I meet and that I meet wonderful people so I'll explain at least one thing I've learned from her. The first day we met her we got talking about all the signs we have on the earth that evidence the existence of a God. It reminded me of Alma 30:44. She related that some days she enjoys sitting and watching the leaves. The way she told us her perspective was beautifully poetic--I can't relay it perfectly, but she marvels at how the leaves (along with tumbleweed), without having arms or legs, or any means of moving themselves, jump and fall in the air with a gust of wind. She said that she gets emotional just thinking about all the beautiful creations there are on the earth. Not too long ago in my life, I might have laughed at how something as simple as leaves falling could evoke tears in anyone, but the older we get, the more we are touched by the little things that we never stopped to notice before. 

This scripture also came to mind. One of my favorite hymns, Consider the Lilies, was created from it

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin
And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
(Matthew 6:28-30)

And here is Alma 30:44
But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will yetempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me sign, when ye havethe testimony of aall these thy brethren, and also all the holyprophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all thingsdenote there is God; yea, even the bearthand call things that areupon the face of it, yea, and its dmotionyea, and also all theeplanets which move in their regular form do witness that there isSupreme Creator.

Rosa was excited like no other to see conference but she got sick the day of. She wants to see a baptism and has many questions. She called us last night and told us about a dream she had of us. She is continuing to read and pray and is feeling more and more that the Book of Mormon is true and that the Restoration is a real event. 

Have a good week!

Elder Young

PS There is no functioning post office where I am, so I probably won't be able to send mail for awhile!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

New Pictures of Elder Young's New Area -Lago Azul

Elder Young's New Companion is Elder Lima 
A church in Lago Azul on a rainy day!
                                            The roads with asphalt on them -which is a delicacy!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hello From Lago Azul


I am now in a place called Lago Azul. These names are so ridiculous. There is no lake and if there were, it wouldn't be blue. It's nicer than Aguas Lindas for sure. The roads have asphalt on them, which is a delicacy. This is already my favorite area so far, as far as working goes. The physical features of Lago Sul still win the prize of most beautiful, but I really like the members I have met here. I live in a house with just Elder Lima, my new companion (who sneezes as loud or louder than dad does). There were 4 missionaries here in the past, but they were moved to  other areas and this place didn't have missionaries for awhile. We were sent here (that makes it sound like mission impossible or something) to start the missionary work again. Our area book has almost no one in it, so this week we focused on getting to know the members and finding new people to teach. Thank you, mom, for asking the questions that led to that description of my new area, haha. This week felt like the most productive week I've had so far. My companion teaches very well and has a desire to work. He's probably my favorite one so far. We have a huge area to cover because there are only 2 of us, so we're still getting to know where everything is, where members live, etc. There are many less-active members here and a decreasing number of people in the ward. Many of the converts get attached to the missionaries instead of the members, so after the missionaries that baptized them leave, they have a big probability of leaving too. Aguas Lindas had this kind of problem too, so I feel like what I learned in Aguas Lindas will help me to see things here with the right angle. We're having success in finding new people to teach by visiting less actives. Many times find wrong addresses but teach the people we find there anyway. One example:

When we left the chapel in Aza Norte where the transfer took place, we took a bus to the central bus station and then waited 1.5 hours for our bus to arrive to take us to Lago Azul. Not many buses go there. We got in and started talking to this cool looking strong guy from the army that wears glasses and braces. He plays saxophone in the army band. It turns out that he knows a majority of the people from the ward in Lago Azul that are on missions. He also knew where our house was. I don't know how we would have found our house without him. We got his number and address to pass by later. Later during the week we went to the address he gave us (or we thought we did) and asked if Jackson was home. He came outside to meet us, but it wasn't the same Jackson. It was a skinny Jackson. We entered anyway and started talking to him. After a little small talk we stopped and asked "So you're Jackson? Is there another Jackson that lives here?" He said of course I'm Jackson and said that he's the only Jackson that lives there. He had talked to the missionaries once before and gave them his address and everything. He said that we were lucky to find him at home. I said "Well we called and you said this would be the best time, right?" Then he was confused and said that no one had called.  We were all very confused but we said "WELL ANYWAY! CAN WE SHARE A MESSAGE WITH YOU?!" or something like that. His sister and aunt and a bunch of other people participated in the lesson and really liked it. They all committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. Later we found out that there are two addresses that are basically the same that are in different parts of Lago Azul. It's so crazy that something like this happens almost everyday. 

I have a question for you all that will help me with teaching people this week (maybe this would be good for family home evening):

How have you been blessed by being obedient to a specific commandment? (like tithing, keeping the sabbath day holy, etc.)

Also, we´re trying to start family mission plans with the families here. If you have any ideas about how to make a family mission plan, let me know! (this would be good for FHE too...)
A family mission plan is just a layout of how your family is going to help with missionary work. It involves setting goals and making plans to achieve those goals.

Elder Young