Thursday, February 27, 2014

Happy Birthday Brandyn!!

We ended up not going to the zoo this week so today is my p-day. Next Monday I'll go with Elder D. Call to visit one of his old areas. This was a long week, as all first weeks in a new area are. Sobradinho is a wealthier area, meaning that there are less people outside to talk to and, generally, people are less receptive. It isn't quite like Lago Sul (the richest area in Brasilia) but the work we do takes a similar form. It is difficult to find new people to teach, especially in the afternoon. We'll have to find creative ways to use our time. 

Even though it's difficult to find people to teach, most of the people that we are teaching went to church. I really like the gospel principle teacher here. I'm learning a lot about effective teaching as I watch her.

I'm slowly getting to know people here (very slowly) and getting used to the work pace. I don't know how I could stand it if Elder D. Call weren't my companion. He is more used to working in rich areas than I am. 

The office called saying there's a truckload of stuff for me that you guys sent. I'm sure those packages mom was worried about have arrived.

Actually, as I was typing the other Elders walked in and dumped 6 packages from the mission office on the desk. So, they're here.

Happy birthday Brandyn! Eat lots of junk food!

Have a great week, 
Elder Young

Leone and his family!!

This is Leone and his family with Elder Magana and Elder Gonzalez.  Leone is a less active we found. His family got baptized a few weeks after I left Santa Maria.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Some pictures of the people Elder Young has taught and loves

shaking hands

Catching some real smiles!

New pictures of Bryce in Brazil

Elder Bell, Carlos, Arthur, Thalles, Elder Young (people in white)

The baptism

Elder D. Call eating at Giraffas

Eating at Giraffas

Elder Xavier,Misael( a recent convert who gave us a ride),Elder Bell, Elder Young, , and Elder Call before leaving Novo Gama 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy Birthday MOM

This week flew by. I sit down at the computer and wonder what happened during the week. Carlos and his four kids went to church again. He really liked it. He's had several answers to his prayers and is planning on getting baptized this Sunday. I've never seen anyone progress so quickly and solidly. 

Things are going well. I hope I stay with Elder Bell for one more transfer. Considering how much time he has been here, he'll leave soon and I'll probably stay here until May. 

I hope you have a good day today, Mom. Enjoy your birthday lunch. I love you. Thank you for everything you do for me and my brothers, even when we don't notice it all. I'm privileged to have such a wonderful mom.

Elder Young

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Another great week serving in Brazil

What a great week. Lately we've been encouraged, along with the whole mission, to reach a certain general goal of lessons taught and new people found. It's a difficult goal to attain but I have found that when we work toward it, we do more than we would have had otherwise. In the past I have been de-motivated by the high goals we're asked to attain and frequently reminded of, because I haven't grasped how the numbers we report can reflect the real work we're doing. It's been hard to find a balance in between meeting our goals just to meet them and doing things for the right reason. This week I found that balance. We had everything planned to meet the mission's goal but many unplanned service projects came up. I noticed that by doing the long service projects (that would benefit future missionaries in the area) we would lose precious time to visit people and reach our goals. We decided to do them. I learned a lesson analogous to the one that we are supposed to learn in school but we sometimes don't understand, which is: The worksheets we fill out and the tests we take aren't going to prepare us for our future profession. The worksheets and tests are merely instruments we use to challenge ourselves to reach a higher level and see what we're capable of knowing and doing. Goals of lessons taught are the same. When we do our best to reach our goal, we do things we wouldn't do otherwise and end up finding great ideas to propel the work. Once we have used the instrument of goals to climb a metaphorical mountain of lessons, we find out what we're really supposed to be doing. We were able to use our goals to push us up on top of things to look down and see what we really could and should be doing. We didn't meet our goal of lessons, but that isn't the point. We worked within our purpose, striving to meet goals, and ended up helping more people than we planned on. We were surprised to see so many people at church, including a man named Carlos that came out of nowhere asking us for help.

On Friday, Elder Opdahl came to Novo Gama and switched places with Elder Bell for a day. I don't know if Coke is doing a world cup bottle cap promotion thing in the US, but here, if you find bottle caps on the road from a coke bottle, you can turn them in and get a little coke bottle key chain. There are 20 of them, one from each country that will be in the world cup. Elder Bell and Elder Opdahl were doing it and they got me caught up in the game too. 

--about Carlos--
After visiting a few people after lunch, we decided to pass by the padaria (bakery--kind of) and turn in the bottle caps for a little key chain. As we left, a man behind us said "Elderes!". We turned around and waited for him to approach us. He told a mini version of his story. He was with his four kids buying something for them. His ex-wife is a member of the church but fell away and cheated on him. She left him with all the kids and took most of his money. He struggled a lot that year. He lost 90 pounds because of all the stress. He went to various churches but said that he didn't feel good in any of them. Because of his brief contact with the missionaries in the past, he wanted to talk to us. He said he can't stand the emotional pain and stress anymore. He wants to change. He had been praying constantly that the Lord would help him and told us that the answer he kept feeling was "Me busca. Eu te acho." (Look for me. I'll find you.) We visited him at his home later that night. He told us more about his life and we explained the role of the atonement in repentance and forgiveness. We promised him that he could find peace again. His kids´ faces reflected their sad situation. At the end we invited him to go to church. He was unsure. He hesitantly replied, "I don't think so because my girls don't have clothes to wear." We told him that what you wear isn't as important as your presence. We could tell that it would still be an obstacle for him. We told him not to worry about the clothes. He turned to his two boys, Tales and Arthur, one by one, asking "Vamo pra a igreja amanhá?" (Do you want to go to church tomorrow?). They both nodded their heads. Then he looked to us and said "yes, we'll go." There was so much sincerity in his and their words and gestures. We knelt in prayer as a family and prayed for them. Later that night, right before we went to bed, a member called and said she could drop some clothes of at their house for the little girls (Maine and Isabela). When we saw him at church the next day he said that he "just couldn't not go" after getting the clothes for his daughters. I felt so happy when I saw them sitting on the back row, all squeezed in their seats like our family usually was at church. I'm so privileged to know them and to be a part of their life. I can't wait to see their life change as they continue praying and having faith that things can and will get better.

An old lady took three pieces of casserole from my hand on Friday and tried to give me 5 reais. That made me laugh. I almost didn't even mention this because crazy things like this happen all the time, but it's probably fun for you to hear about this stuff.

Have a great week of (hopefully) snow days!

Elder Young

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Elder Young and Elder Bell sharing the gospel In Santa Maria

I had the privilege of working with a new Elder this week in his area. We walked forever in the rain, but one lesson made any physical trials worth it. We visited a referral of a recent convert. It was the first time he went there, so as usual, it started a little awkwardly. This Elder has been on the mission just a few months and that day had the daunting task of leading me around the area and taking the first steps in breaking the ice and starting to teach. As we started to teach the restoration, I could tell that the people we were teaching were more focused in proving us wrong where they could instead of listening. I couldn't really understand why they talked in a tone of disagreement as we explained the role of the Jesus Christ and God in our lives. I believe they were a little surprised that many of our Christian beliefs were the same as theirs. Before my companion got to the part about Joseph Smith they had talked quite a bit and already left the room--I guess because they couldn't find a point on which to disagree with us. I marveled at my his patience in responding their loaded questions and in calmly explaining what we believed. As he did so, I began to feel something take the place of the anxiety and impatience I was feeling. I felt compassion for him and for the two others. I really just wanted them to know that we loved them and wanted them to feel the truth of what we were saying. I felt compassion for my companion as well, seeing him defend himself with calm charity. I had only felt this quality and quantity of feeling in a lesson with a family in Santa Maria that rejected the Book of Mormon. I still wonder how my feelings changed so quickly and calmly from impatience to love and sincere care. It's incredible that while witnessing blatant indifference to our message, all I felt was compassion towards those that were demonstrating it. I now understand a fraction of a little bit better how the Savior could ask his father for forgiveness on the people's behalf, even as they crucified him. Or how Mormon could continue suffering for an indolent and bloodthirsty people as they killed their own race. There's no way I could muster that compassion by myself. It comes from an outside source, which I know is Heavenly Father.

I mentioned Silvério last week. He is 75 and recently got out of prison. I was humbled by his diligence on Saturday. He heard last Sunday that there would be a meeting at the church on Saturday. He didn't hear what the meeting was, though. Even though he lives far away, he walked to the chapel and got there fifteen minutes before 5, when it would start. We teach English classes at the chapel at 5 every Saturday. We saw him waiting there close to the chapel when we arrived. He just said he heard there was a meeting and wanted to be there for it. We explained it wasn't a church meeting, but an English class. He smiled and said it was alright and that he'd see us the next day. 

I always repeat that I wish you could meet the people here. Katiane and Fabrício haven't got baptized yet but they're basically members. They've been going to church for months. They just have to get married before getting baptized. We asked them if we could do a family night in their home last week. Yesterday when we got there we were surprised at how many people came. They invited so many people! Their family is wonderful and I love seeing how much they've changed since being taught by the missionaries. 

I attached a picture of the people that were there.

Elder Young

Elder Bell, Daniel, and Elder Young

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Missionary work going strong in Santa Maria

The picture I sent is of Daniel. He's hilarious. He is only six but he talks like he's 10. When we were talking about missions, he ran to his room and put on his paper missionary nametag. He never stops talking.

We found Erica at home a few more times last week. We got to know her friend too. They both said for sure they'd come to church, but didn't go. 

Out of the 15 or so people that we invited to church, 2 went, so I was happy. One of them is Celiana. She has a baptismal date for January 26th. One of the less actives we are working with went to church too. 

Two of Leone's kids were baptized this Sunday. Maciel's wife and Leone's wife came to church as well. It was great to see them at church, even though they're not part of our ward.

On Saturday we taught an English class in the chapel. It went well. It's nice to do different things every once in a while. This week we planned a few things in the chapel to be able to integrate our investigators with the members.

Last night we met a less active family and set goals with them to do family prayer and scripture study. I felt at home as we knelt with them to pray for their first time in years. I love working with families. There is nothing better.

I found a funny name this week you guys might like. "Krishnamurt". 

I forgot to talk about Steven. He is 75 and got out of prison last month. He was put in prison for 3 years for something he didn't do. He suffered many sicknesses and beatings while there. He told us of many miraculous experiences he had while in prison. He explained how without God's help he would be dead. The first thing he did when he got out was go to church and pay his tithing. I listened to him tell his stories but it's impossible to relate to such a difficult life. I feel like I don't have the capacity to understand everything he went through. It's a privilege to meet someone like him.

Elder Young