Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7th - Wrap Up

Family and Friends, 

Thanks to all of you for all of the continued support during these last two years. I have felt your love and your prayers. I would especially like to thank my Mom for keeping up my blog all this time and doing so much behind the scenes work so that my life will be in gear next week. 

As this is my last week sending email to you all, I wanted to do a big ole wrap up email and talk about my mission as a whole. I think it'll be something cool to cap off the blog with. So let's go. 

All in all, I served in 6 areas spread out across 5 different cities, from start to finish being Itajubá, Valinhos, Barão Geraldo, Itatiba, Colônia, and Parque da Represa. The last two areas are within Jundiaí, so I basically came here 7 months back and never left. It's a good place though, so I'm good. My favorite area was Colônia. 

I had 13 companions in total. In order, they were, Elder Miranda, Elder Cruz, Elder Mancilla, Elder Azambuja, Elder Costa, Elder Mauricio, Elder Leandro, Elder Oliveira, Elder Larkins, Elder Moraes, Elder Azcarate, Elder Tavares, and Elder Bezerra. I trained 2 (Mauricio and Oliveira) and killed 2 (Moraes and Tavares). 

I served as a new missionary for 2 transfers, Junior for 2 transfers, District Leader for 2 transfers, Senior for 1 transfer, Trainer for 2 transfers, Senior for 1 transfer, Trainer for 1 transfer, and then Zone Leader for 5 transfers. 

I got 4 zone t-shirts after all is said and done. And they are almost all blue. Yay blue! The color of baptism!

I started the mission off at about 250. I'm now weighing in at 213. So that's some pretty crazy weight loss. I lost a lot of muscle, I'm sure, but I'm still pretty swole, so we'll see where that goes in the gym later this week. 

I don't like to say the number of people I baptized, so let's just say that I baptized all of them. All of the people that the Lord prepared for me. 

The worst food I ate was sarapatel, or maybe caldo de mocotó. Sarapatel is chunks of intestine with blood still stuck to them. Ewww. And Caldo de Mocotó is a soop made out of cow ankles. Also eww. Both of these gave me really bad diareaha too. Good times.

The best food was the churrasco, or Brazilian BBQ. I also enjoyed the many varieties of fruits that they have here. 

My favorite member of all is Fabio Monteiro, our ward mission leader here in Parque da Represa. He's an awesome guy. Honorable mention goes to Marinho in Barão Geraldo, and Gabriel in Itajubá. They were both really helpful too. 

As Paul said in his letter to Timothy "For I am now ready to be offered, the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 

Here in Brazil I have had the chance to come to know the culture and the history of this great people. Before coming here, I knew just about nothing about Brazil. Now I know a whole lot. I have really come to love this people. They are quick to laugh, and slow to anger, and they have a deep-seated love for God. I have had the opportunity to teach them in their homes, in their churches, at their bus stops, on their busses, in their squares, in their supermarkets, and in many other places throughout these 2 years. I have truly come to love this land and this people. They are a part of my life now. 

I am very grateful for this chance that I have had to pass 2 years in the Lord's service. I have seen many miracles and huge blessings come to me because of my service here. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I feel that now, I have come to fully understand and support my beliefs. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I know that He guides his church today. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God lives. He loves us. He cares for each one of us. I know that the Gospel changes lives. I know that if we persevere until the end, we can become even as He is. I am so thankful for the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the chance we have to be better each day. We may not always understand God's reasons, but there is a plan for us. I leave this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ.


Elder Murray

July 31st - The End

Family and Friends,

First off, congratulations Dave on becoming an Elder! I have had many opportunities to use the power of the Priesthood here as a missionary, and I have no doubts that it is the power of God given to men on Earth. It can do miracles according to our faith.

This week was really really trunky for me. I had my last interview ever with my mission president, and he gave me a lot of good counsels for my life. We've been knocking some doors and making a lot of contacts on the roads, and just generally raising our voice and proclaiming the Gospel. I'm really starting to realize that I'm going home next week, so I've just been trying to make the best out of my remaining time here. 

After my many, many epistles to you, I have come down to the last week of my mission. It was a long, hard fought battle, and I've got one last week to take advantage of as a missionary here in Brazil. I plan on knocking a lot of doors, eating some good Brazilian food, and packing up my bags for the long, long ride home. Next week I'll send a long, long wrap up email. 

Have a great week!

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24 - It Feels Like a Movie!

Família e Amigos, 

This week was really a pretty strange and exciting ride. I'm really starting to feel the end get here. Slowly but surely I'm realizing that my mission is running out. As you get down to the end of a movie, things start to pick up speed, the challenges get harder, and the rewards get sweeter as well. Weirdly enough, this kind of happened with my mission as well. I feel like I'm living through a story from the Liahona/Ensign, or that I'm part of some sort of church movie. Lot's of weird, climatic events are happening. 

This week showcased one of these climax events, as we had a baptism. Actually we had three baptisms. My whole mission I have prayed and taught and searched to be able to teach families, but it has been hard going. Before coming to Parque da Represa, I had never baptized more than one person at a time. But this time, the Lord stepped in. Two weeks ago, we received a referral from a man from another city, telling us that he had a family for us to teach, they were super interested in learning about the Church, and they live in front of the chapel. They came to church, we taught them, and this week they were baptized. Their names are Wellington, Rose, and Gabriella, and the little guy is David, who is only 7. Truly a miracle. Everyone at church thought that they were already members. They understood everything that we taught, and have got their eyes on sealing already. Miracles at the end.

Dad asked about service projects. I've had a lot of opportunities to do small service projects here, with people on the road, moves, and other such things. I've also participated in some bigger projects too. In Barão Geraldo, we, as a ward, built the house of an elderly woman that needed it. It took more than 9 months, and at the end, we sprinted to get it done before her rent ran out. I learned a lot about painting and electrical setups. And Brazilian construction.

Mom asked me several trunky questions. Yes, I would like to go to the temple with you guys. If it's Dave's first time or if he goes in the next 2 weeks, is up to him. 

I plan on wrapping up by bearing my testimony in sacrament meeting and cleaning up any loose ends here. And preaching the Gospel for 2 more weeks. That's part of it. 

I will really miss Tang. Here in Brazil they have a bunch of cool juice mix things. I'll miss them. 

I'll miss Jundiaí, in general. I like it here. I'll have to come back and visit some day.

This week I have my last interview with my President. Should be cool.

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

July 17th - 3, Also Dave

Family and Friends,

The number of emails that you will receive from me before the end is ticking down, slowly but surely. I'm starting to feel the sand pass from the top to the bottom, and as the last few grains tick through, I'm giving it my last gas here. 

Dave, I'm super hype for your mission call! I'm sure you are going to find a bunch of elects, and you are really going to love your mission. David A Bednar gave a great talk last conference about serving where the Lord calls us, and I know that, without a shadow of a doubt, the Lord has prepared specific people for you to meet in Fresno. Good luck with the Spanish bro! And start working on your talk.

As for my week, things are pretty good. A small miracle happened today because I found shoes that are actually my size this morning. And they were only R$60. I won't have to walk with a huge hole in my boots for the last 3 weeks! Yay! We are teaching a family here in the area, and they are preparing to be baptized this week, so you will be getting a picture next week if all goes well. Jundiaí is still a beautiful city, and I'm getting real good at doing pushups. 

As for the questions:

Did you like the shoulder bag we bought you on the beginning of your mission?
To be honest, I barely ever used that bag that you guys got me. In fact, I have it still, and it's in basically mint condition, because I almost never used it. Why did I never use it? It's just too big. I don't carry almost anything, just my small bible, a bunch of pamphlets that have the lessons, and one or two copies of the Book of Mormon to give to people. And that's it. Water we ask people for when we knock on their door, food I usually don't eat or I buy something at a grocery store. All said and done, that fits all in a much smaller bag, so I was using just a scripture case for a while until I found a small bag with a shoulder strap that looked durable and bought it from another missionary. So if you want me to bring home the bag you bought for me, I can, and Dave can use it. The bag I use is super thrashed, but I could bring it home too. 

How did the clothes hold up?
The golf pants are good because they are breatheable, lightweight, easy to wash (don't stain ever), and are really high durability. After 2 years of wear and tear the rest of my day-to-day stuff is thrashed and destroyed, but the golf pants still look almost new. That's why I like them so much. 

The shirts are nice. They've got a good feel, and are pretty durable, but they get yellow by the end. I switched out a good part of my shirts though, because I lost so much weight that I was swimming in them. 

I'll have a look at my bags this week to see any unnecessary and necessary stuff for you guys to equip Dave well. 

Thanks for all the support and love.
One last chance to offer all I have!
Elder Murray

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 10 - One Month

Family and Friends,

I can't believe you guys convinced Dad to go camping. And it only rained for 2 hours. Really awesome luck? Weird blessings of the mission? Who knows? Getting back to nature is great. 

This week saw yet another "last" hit me, with the last missed US holiday passing by with the 4th of July. And also I started my last month as a missionary. The lasts have come. And they just keep coming. This week will be my last zone conference too. I'm trying to give it a last sprint, and a lot of last gas. I just hope I can last until the end! And I hope you all lasted through that pun.

I got some more questions this week, so here we go. 

Do people in Brazil camp?
People in Brazil aren't usually big camping fans. There just aren't any campgrounds, and if people want to spend time in nature, they usually just go to the ranch house or farm of some relative out in the middle of the woods. They don´t even have a real word for camping. 

Do they have pine trees in Brazil?
Yes, they have pine trees here, but they are the weaksauce tropical versions that are a really light color of green. They just serve to remind me of the true pines of my homeland.

Tell us about your new companion.
I already told you about my new companion last week. Didn't I? He's Elder Bezerra. He's from Rio Grande do Norte. He's short. 

Have you used any strange bathrooms while there?
Yes, I have used many strange bathrooms here. In fact, I have used more strange bathrooms here than anywhere else in my life. The worst are the trick bathrooms, that you have to know some special trick to get the toilet to flush, or the bathrooms that are a really really long ways from the house. And our house in Itatiba had a derelict bathroom with a cat living there. And there are the really small bathrooms where you can use the toilet, brush your teeth at the sink, and take a shower, all without moving from the same spot! And there's our bathroom, where the weird floor space design makes it impossible to clean. Many bathrooms.

Tell us about a miracle this week.
This week we had a small miracle happen here in our area. We worked hard all week, and Saturday night we had very little success, and no one to take to church. The Lord saw our hard work though, and blessed us. A man called us from a neighboring city, and told us that he was preparing a family for us to teach. He had already taken them to church in his city, but, as they live less than one block from our chapel, they would be going to our ward. As such, we had a family at church on Sunday, and we will be teaching them this week!

Have a great week!
One more chance to offer all I have!
Elder Murray

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26 - My Companion Died Wet!

Hello Family and Friends,

I come to you once more with another one of my great and famous epistles. My parents had a great time in Hawaii, and I enjoyed reading about their epic islander adventures. I especially enjoyed the story about Uncle Matt saving that guy. Cool stuff!

This week was pretty eventful for me. My companion was on his last week as a missionary, so once again I killed someone. This was a good week though, because we achieved the last-mission-week dream, dying wet! That´s when you baptize on your last week as a missionary. 

This week were able to baptize 2 young men, Davi, and Dennys. We were searching for less-active members from the ward directory, and we stopped an older lady to ask her for help finding an address. After she answered our question she said "I was part of this church over 30 years ago. I really do miss those days. I'd like to start going to church again." We took a hold of that golden opportunity, and took her and her 2 grandsons to church the very next week. The 2 grandsons accepted baptism, and they learned about the church really quickly. 

The pre-baptism selfie!

Baptism of Davi and Dennys by Ben's companion, Elder Tavares.

This week I plan to dump a whole lot of pictures for you guys, because it's been a while since I've sent any. So, here we go. 7926 is Elder Batista, one of the guys that lives with me, enjoying a glass of orange juice. 

7921 is a pic of my shoe after a particularly intense game of soccer on pday. 

7912 is my companion, at left, and Elder B. Gomes, a guy that lives with us.

7908 is the early morning exercises paying off. 

Thanks for the love and support. Have a great week!

One more chance (transfer) to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 19 - In the Trenches

Family and Friends,

Well, as my parents party it up in Hawaii, normal life goes on for the rest of us. This week was one of my most normal weeks in all of my mission. Not that many weird things, no trips to Campinas, just good old missionary work. 

My companion is going home next week, and let me tell you, nearly at the end of my mission, sending home a companion is hard work. It's not easy to not get trunky and think a lot about home when your companion is going home in a week. I'm alright though. It still hasn't clicked for me that I'll be home in 2 months. It just seems like I'll go to another area and keep working. It's weird. 

I recieved some questions from my extended family this week, so I'll answer them. 

What are the beaches like in Brazil?
I have never seen a beach here in Brazil. My mission area doesn't include any beaches, although the beaches of Santos and Rio de Janeiro are a quick 4 hours away by car. But, as I am a missionary, I stay in my area. All of the missionaries from the northeast of Brazil tell me that they have some really, really sweet beaches there, some of the best in the world. But I will have to wait a while to go there.

Are there homeless people in Brazil?
Yes, there are homeless people in my area. Less than in Colônia, my last area, but there are always some hanging around. And they are really, really aggressive in asking you for money too. 

Do you have strange fruits?
There are a ton of fruits here that you don't see in the U.S. I'll give a quick list: (portuguese names because I don't always know the english translations) 
graviola, goiaba, jaca, carambola, acerola, jabuticaba, groselha, and so on.

What is you favorite memory of Uncle Rico?
One of my favorite memories of Uncle Rico, (among the many) would be that time that we went ice skating, and he suplexed me with a Ramses mask on in the middle of the lobby. It was one of the weirder experiences in my life, but it sure was funny, and memorable. 

What moment stands out to you this week?
My most stand out memory this week was when we to the favela this week, as is our custom, to teach about the Gospel. While there, one of the evangelical churches on the road got called upon for a drug seize, and was invaded by the police and their canine unit. One huge police man, holding an M4, stopped us and asked us if we were missionaries, and we said yes, and showed him the Bible and the Book of Mormon that we carry, and he believed us. We decided to move to another neighborhood before things got tense. 

What are your goals for the week?
Our goal this week is to baptize two young men that we are teaching. I would also like to find a family to teach. 

What do you admire most about your Dad and Grandpas? (In honor of Father's Day.)
I really admire my dad's dedication. It's one of that things that we most need in life. When Dad says that he'll do something, he does it. That's a great quality to have. 

As for Grandpa Murray, I will never forget the sweet Santa Claus appearences at every Christmas that I spent at the Murray household. Santa Claus is real! He lives in Bountiful.

And for Grandpa Gentry, it was always fun to watch him talk with all of the people. And as he talks with everybody, he's a good example for missionaries, as we also need to talk with everybody.

Thanks for the support!

One more chance to sacrifice all I have!

Elder Murray

Elder Murray