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

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12 - Another Week at the Park

Family and Friends,

Good week to all of you. Thank you for all the emails and support. You guys rock! I'm excited about your sweet trek week. I'm glad that you guys had some very spiritual experiences and some epic stories to tell. My trek experience was quite a bit different. I walked a lot more and saw less stuff. It seems like we had less devotionals too. I actually don't remember all that much of trek. I just remember the Martin's cove hike, the dances that didn't have any girls present, and the guacamole burger. And eating a lot of dust. And pushing the cart. I was a baller pushing the cart. 

This week we've started working with the ward directory. We go visit all of the members that we have on the list, and because of the large number of inactive members and part-member families, and the number of people who moved but weren't updated, we find a bunch of people to teach. I've done this in every other area, so I'll do it here too!

I recieved a few questions this week, so let's go.

What is your favorite restaurant in your new area?
I actually haven't eaten in hardly any restaurants this transfer because cash is tight and I'm trying to eat healthier. We have a Burger King in our area, which is rare and cool, but I haven't actually been there yet. We also have a member in our area who is the owner of a small restaurant. We go there every so often. Other than that, it's just brown rice and various other things at home. I've learned to cook decently well. 

Do you ever go shopping?
We actually have a mall in our area. I haven't done a whole lot of shopping though, because missionaries don't usually have a whole lot of money. I do plan on buying some shirts that aren't extremely huge, and a suit to go home in, because after two years of constant wear and tear, your stuff gets really beat up. I'll look for some budget options. 

What do you eat for breakfast?
For breakfast I eat eggs. And whatever other random food we got from a member. But the base is really hard boiled eggs. 

What do you and your companion laugh about?
My companion is a really funny guy, so it's not hard for us to find stuff to laugh about. It's a lot of situational and mission humor, and it's in another language, so it's basically impossible for me to translate for you guys. I spend the whole day laughing though. 

Tell us about your new apartment.
My new apartment is in a small building, I'm on the second floor up. It suffers from some really bad planning, so it's impossible to clean the bathroom floor efficiently, and the kitchen has a bunch of unusable space. When I got here, we didn't have light bulbs in about half the house, so I went and switched them out. As for furniture, we have the usual missionary stuff. Beds, metal clothes hangers, and tables, and some chairs. That's about it. It's honestly pretty nice. We've got wood flooring too! That's a plus. 

Well, that's a little bit about my area and my current work strategy. I live next to the dam here in Jundiaí, and it's a really beautiful area. Lots of trees and the like. I'm happy and working hard.

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

Elder Murray

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5 - The Cycle Continues

Family and Friends,

One more week is in the books here in Jundiaí. I'm pretty excited to hear about your trek stories next week and to hear about your epic bowling adventures. I still don't know why you guys decided on bowling as your summer hobby, but it's as good as any and it's pretty cheap, so it's a good one. 

Honestly, my week was rather vanilla and unexciting, with the few different moments being bad experiences that I'd prefer not to recount. One of the only different things that happened this week was that we went and had an exchange with the Assistants this week. We stayed the night in Campinas and it was a rare opportunity for me to room with some Americans for a night, and a not so rare opportunity to teach English. And yes, I've taught English in all of my areas up until now, and I will start teaching it again here in Parque da Represa next week. 

I'm going to ask you guys to send in some questions, because I'm really out of ideas. The week was just super normal. I hope you guys all have a great week! I know the Church is true, and I've seen, more than ever before, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and He loves us. 

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray