Friday, December 25, 2015

Dec 25th - Christmas Day!

Today marks a special day in Ben's mission service  - his first call home! I was missing Ben a lot as I decorated the house this year, but I realized that it was going to be so exciting to talk to him live that Christmas was still going to be special! We Skyped Ben through our Xbox One using the Kinect so he could see the whole family at once and he was on the big screen. It was awesome!

He looked great, so happy and doing well. He introduced his companion, who he seems to really like. He would turn his head and translate something or comment to him in Portuguese and it was so cool to see him speaking a foreign language so well. He even seemed to have a hard time speaking English a bit at first.

He told us so much about the town he lives in Itajuba, he told us about the people he meets, and what his routines are. Ben said the area is really green and is known for it's waterfalls, that he has a great grocery store close to him, and that the people are really nice. He likes his mission president a ton. It's summertime there so the weather was close to 100. Nobody has air conditioners and they just use fans.

I am so glad we got to talk to him. He wrapped up with his testimony is Portuguese and we could feel the Spirit and his commitment to the gospel. I am thankful to my Heavenly Father for the blessings that have been give to Ben, and the mission he is serving.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dec 21 - And all through the mission, everybody was traveling.

Oi família e amigos!

Your week sounds pretty sweet. Finals, a boring meeting, and snow! Woo hoo! The fact that my bros got good grades is pretty great though. I´m definitely glad to hear that. I´m also hype for the Holy Grail. All of the choir stuff sounds pretty sweet too. Also, I have to ask, have you seen Star Wars yet? I haven´t (obviously).

As for me, the life here is good. No baptisms this week, and this week in general was pretty rough, with a lot of appointments failing. Everybody here is traveling, seeing as it´s the week before Christmas, so it´s tough to find people at home to teach. As a result we spent a lot of time searching out the less active members of the branch and inviting them to go to church, and to the big branch Christmas Dinner we had on Saturday. It was super cool. We did the decorations, and had more than 10 investigators there and a ton of less active members. It was a lot of fun. I wish I could share some pictures, but I didn´t get any myself, so I´ll see if I can get the branch president to send some that I can send to you guys later. I´ve been really working on my cooking skills this week too, seeing as I fried some ham one day. That´s right. Hard core. 

I had a really cool experience with following the promptings of the Spirit this week. Last week we had a bit of an issue at the house of Tereza, one of our recent converts, when her husband decided to pick a fight with us because we don´t drink coffee. We tried to keep the Spirit, so we said our goodbyes and stayed away from her house for a while. This week we were heading to contact some references in that same part of town, when I felt really strongly that we needed to visit Tereza. I told my companion this, and he didn´t want to at first, due to the results of our last visit, but he trusted me and we went anyways. When we got there, she met us at the door and told us that she had been praying that we would come to her house that night. She works for some house cleaners in the area, and she had been in the house that day of a woman with a disease that gives here really swollen hands and feet. While there, Tereza started to talk about the Gospel with her. She then told here that she would bring two special young men there to help her out. When we showed up at Tereza´s house, she took us right over, and we shared a message from the Bible. This woman then went to Church two days later, and tomorrow we´re going to give her a blessing to help her with her illness. I know that the Spirit guided me there that day.

I´d also like to share a scripture with you guys. While I´m out here destroying my shoes with all this walking, we also teach a lot of people. One scripture that we use a lot is found in Matthew, chapter 9, verse 9. It reads  ¶And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him." This scripture is from early on in the Savior´s ministry, and it´s perfect for this Christmas time. Often, the main focus this time of year is on worldly things, presents and such. Matthew too had a focus on worldly things, being a tax collector before Jesus called him. But, as we can see here, he was willing and ready to follow the Savior. When Jesus Christ asked him to follow him, he did say "Oh, I need just a little more time to know about him" or "I want to put away all of my possessions first." Matthew had probably heard of Jesus, but not too much, as it was still early in the Savior´s mission. But he had heard enough, and he recognized the Spirit. So Matthew, right away, stood, left the world behind, and followed Jesus. I urge you all to do the same. When the Savior calls, whether it´s a chance for service, a church meeting, or someone else who needs the Gospel in their life, don´t wait. Arise, and follow him. This is why I´m serving a mission. I want to follow the Savior. And with his example, I will succeed.

Élder Benjamin Murray

Monday, December 14, 2015

Dec 14th - More Baptismo!

Ben had another great week! Here's his latest letter:

Oi de Novo, Familia e Amigos!

The only housekeeping this week is that I recieved two Christmas packages, one from you and one from Gma Gentry. Finally! My companion says that next time, you should put a bunch of Catholic stickers and pictures of Jesus on it, so the people in the mail won´t mess with it. It seems to be intact though. I´m still waiting on my money card though, and I really need it. I need to buy a hair trimmer so I can cut my giant chest hair lol.

As for responses, it sounds like you guys all had a great week. Tell my brother´s my advice for finals is to be patient, listen to Mom and Dad, they´re smart, and take the test, don´t let the test take you. There´s like no Christmas spirit here, because no snow, and because like 3 people actually have decorations. And it´s like 85 all week. Oh well! I´m glad to hear that wrestling still sucks. It´s too bad that Gabe is allergic to everything under the sun, but my companion is also named Gabriel, and he´s allergic to many of those things and pineapple, which everyone loves to drink here. Hopefully that helps. My boy B Lee emailed me this week, so that was really cool to get. I´m also having a really good time. I´ve grown to love Itajubá, even with all of its strange culture and flaws, it´s a fantastic place. 

This week was super cool. I´m getting to know the other missionaries from my district a little better, even though everything is really far apart here. The weekly meetings and shipping them in for weekly baptismal interviews is helping, and I´ve got some good friends here. A bunch of the other missionaries introduced me to Chimarrão this week, which is a kind of herbal tea thing that the people from the southern part of Brazil, the Gaúchos, drink. You put it in a wooden goblet looking thing called a cuia, and drink it with a metal straw/sieve called a bomba. It looks like grass, and it tastes super weird, but I really like it. I´ve included a picture. There´s a lot of cool food here, like Açai, a berry that they freeze or something to give it the consistency of ice cream, which I plan to try and bring back to the states. It would be a huge hit in Highlands Ranch. In other news, our Mission President, President Hill, came to visit us with his wife here in Itajubá this week. First they checked our apartment to be sure that it´s up to par, then he took us out to dinner at a really nice asian restaurant called Shittake and then we went and taught lessons with him along with us all night. Check the mission Facebook page for more of my face! I was a little nervous, but it all worked out all right. Apparently this is super abnormal, especially during my training period. Especially because we´re the furthest point of the mission by a long shot. Apparently President Hill loves Itajubá though, so he made the trip. It was great. And he was able to help us out a lot with our church meeting, because . . .

As the title suggests, this week we had another baptism! This time, it was a girl named Érika, who´s 11 years old. She had been going to church with a member for three months before this, and last week, after the baptism of Tereza, she asked if she could be next. We said sure, and this week we got everything ready. She´s super serious, but she´s really smart and she´ll really be a great church member, even being young. President Hill baptized here. It was a really beautiful experience. We also brought her mom and brother to church, and we have a huge group of investigators here, so hopefully we´ll have even more baptisms next week. I´m really seeing the power of Jesus Christ in my life. These people have all had their fair share of challenges and problems, but they´re united together under the same gospel. I´m so thankful for the Church. The support and hope for a better world that these people find really touches my heart. I´m so thankful for the chance I have to serve a mission. I plan to bring the biggest number of people possible that I can unto Christ. I will succeed!

Monday, December 7, 2015

December 7th - BAPTISMO

Sounds like Ben had a really exciting week! Here's the latest:

Dear Family and Friends,

Don´t have any housekeeping this week! Woohoo!

In response to your emails, yes, Nate emailed me! It´s pretty great. Wrestling sucks, but I guess everyone already knew that, so that shouldn´t be that big of a surprise. Sad to hear that Jacob got pinned and wrestled in the wrong weight class, but these kind of horrible stories are the only reason anyone does wrestling. So it´ll be good in the end. Just try to dodge the herpes and the ringworm. Gabe tells me that the chickens have really cool decorations. So where´s my picture of that? Also, I´m sending a picture of myself.

This week was really, really good. To begin, Elder Gomes/Miranda said his goodbyes to his member friends to finish out our PDay, and we had pizza and a family home evening at the Domingos home. It was good. Then, on Tuesday, we I rode the bus for 12 hours, and picked up my new companion. More about him in a bit. This week on Sunday, we sang "Glorious" by David Archuleta at an old folks home as part of a choir of English students from our branch president´s English school. We also ate a lot of pizza and had açai. I had a good time being senior of the area this week, showing my new companion around the town. His name is Elder Cruz, and he´s awesome! He´s a law student, and he studied at one of the best schools in Brazil. He also does Taekwondo He knows the Bible really really well, and he´s an amazing trainer. I´m super excited to work with him for this next while. We´ve got a whole new level of spirituality, and this brings me to my next point . . . BAPTISM!

This week was my first baptism of the mission! I´ve been working with Irmã Tereza since literally my second day here, and this week she finally felt ready for baptism! She really is a person chosen by the Lord. She was orphaned early on in her life, she basically raised herself from the age of 15, and now she has a big loving family, a good job, and a good home. We marked the date on Friday, interviewed her on on Saturday, and baptized her on Sunday! It was a really fantastic experience, and I´m really glad to help bring another soul unto Christ! I sent the picture out in front of our chapel here in Itajubá. We´ve been teaching her children too, and hopefully a few of them will be baptized this week. We´ll just have to wait and see. 

As for the spiritual thought, the scripture that I have chosen to "ponderize" this week can be found in Alma 26:32.  35 Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all powerall wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.  We, as missionaries especially, have a lot of reasons to be happy. We´ve been given a lot of blessings by a loving God who wants to help us be happy here. My life is great! I love all you guys, and I hope you all take care. I´m going to make these next 6 weeks awesome! I will succeed!

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30th - A Transfer Approaches

Here's the latest and greatest from Ben Murray:

Dearest Family and Friends,

As usual, I will begin with the boring housekeeping stuff. First off, what a noob lol! The fact that you sent all the stuff to the old box is hilarious and also super frustrating. I go to Campinas tomorrow for the transfer, but I´m not sure how much time I will spend there, since, it´s a 6 hour ride there and a 6 hour ride back to Itajubá. I´ll ask some of the other missionaries where the post office is there, I hope it´s close to the bus station, so maybe I can go get all of my potencial letters. If I don´t get the chance though, I´m glad you sent box 2.0, since it would be really sad to not have anything for Christmas lol. I´m not sure which address is exact, you can probably stick with the one on the Facebook page, I just had mine written up by an older missionary at the zone meeting who was actually getting mail. Hopefully I´ll actually get the stuff this time. President Hill is awesome, I´m gonna love these two years with him in charge. As for Christmas, we´re gonna use skype, and I´m not sure where yet. I think I can do it at the Branch President´s house on his comp, so I´ll furnish you with some more details after I ask next week.

As for you guys, I´m glad you had a good week. Dave´s got a new job, and I´m sure he´s raking in the dosh. Why´d he decide on Old Navy? I never saw Dave as a shirt salesman, but I´m sure it will work out well. I´m also glad that Jacob´s still hanging in with wrestling. There are a lot of people who quit. Jacob´s made of tougher stuff though, and apparently tougher stuff than me, since I could never bring myself to wrestle. I´m not sure what to say about your Hunger Games marathon, but I´m glad it went well, and I like how Dad said " It was a good movie to end the trilogy (although they made 4 movies)" gave me a laugh. So did the image of Mom as a witch trying to dress like a muggle, and Gabe´s failed Star Wars marathon. There´s this machine in a store near us that sells really really ugly Harry Potter figurines for 2 reals, so I´ll probably buy a few some day. Also, the Subway, only American restaurant here in Itajubá, has a Star Wars promotion going on, and every time I walk past it it hurts a bit. It´ll still be there in two years though, so I´ll get to see it eventually. I´m also super pumped about the Dota 2 special on ESPN. Evil Geniuses won it all this year, and they´ve been one of my favorite teams for a while now. Go EG! USA USA.
As for me, this week was really long at first, then it zipped by. Two members of our 10 man zone are leaving for home this week, so we said some goodbyes on Tuesday, and my companion is being transfered tomorrow, so I´ll finish out my training period with another missionary. I have no idea who he is, but I´m sure he´ll be just fine. I´ll miss Elder Gomes/Miranda though, as I know exactly where I stand with him and how he works, and I´ll have to figure out everything new again tomorrow. I´m sure it´ll be a good experience. Still no baptisms here, but we´ve got some investigators that are basically ready, they just have to find the courage to let us set a date. We´ve been finding new people a lot this week, so we walked a ton. My companion says that every single Elder that comes through here loses a bunch of weight. As for me, I entered the CTM at 112 kilos, or about 240 lbs. I now weigh, as of 2 days ago, 102 kilos, or 224 lbs. Walking for 7 hours a day all week will do that to you. I have, however been experimenting with cooking a lot recently in addition to eating Dave levels of cereal (1st picture for 2 weeks worth), so get ready for the first installment of:
Ben´s Cookbook for the Cooking IneptBen´s Super Basic Breakfast Sandwiches and Chips
2 Potatoes
2 Eggs
Some Oval-Shaped Bread (I use Pão Frances here, but hoagie rolls should work)
Oil (I used Soybean)
2 liters of tang (optional)
1. Feel sad about not having Thanksgiving dinner with your family
2. Decide you´re going to try something fancy today3. Peel potatoes (don´t cut yourself)
4. Slice potatoes into pieces about 1/4 inch width (cut yourself this time)
5. Put oil in a frying pan on the stove, enough to cover the bottom, but not too much, add more if needed
6. Turn on stove
7. Put potatoes into the hot oil, frantically dodging the popping oil
8. Fry potatoes until golden brown on both sides (or burn some, undercook some, but make the average golden brown)
9. Yolo an egg into the same pan (still oiled (two ways to yolo the egg, either scramble it in a cup first, or just crack and chuck, I tried both, little variation)
10. Frantically fold the egg together while the pan nearly explodes
11. Fry egg until golden brown (for real this time)
12. Repeat with other egg
13. Put egg and salami on oval bread
14. Eat and enjoy, with a tasty drink (tang)
15. Forget about turkey, football, and pie for a while
16. Do dishes
I highly recommend this dish. It´s filling, tasty, and dirt cheap here. Makes 1 serving. Especially good when you´re tired of rice and beans.

I plan to add more recipes as I figure them out.

For my thought this week, I´d just like to share what President Alex (Branch President) shared with us for our 5th Sunday discussion this week. He began by putting a big line on the board. On one side he put pain (dor) and on the other side, he put pleasure (prazer). He said that most humans struggle to avoid the pain end, and get to the pleasure end, and you can put a lot of things that people to somewhere on this line. But we, as people who follow the Gospel, strive for something greater, called joy. He spoke for a bit about how joy is a far more lasting, durable sensation than pleasure, and how it comes from inside ourselves, not from the world. He then drew a pie chart on the board, and asked for some of the bare minimum things we need to be happy. The usual suspects were called, such as family, work to do, some form of education, good health, and money. President Alex then crossed off each of these things and gave examples of people he knew who were happy and had joy in their lives without these things. He then put a big p in the middle, and said that the real thing that will give us happiness here is principles. When we have principles, the basic building blocks of our gospel and our lives, we can be happy even in the toughest of times. I´ve really noticed that here in Itajubá. It´s been a tough road here, literally and metaphorically. I´ve had a lot of hard times, and a lot of really hard experiences. But right now, I´m still happy, and each day, I have happiness in my heart, because I´m living the Gospel. I´m here to bring happiness to people´s lives, and I´m sacrificing my time and talents to make the world a better place. And I´m following my principles. And as such, I´m happy. This week is sure to bring a lot of change, and although in the past I have hated change, this week, I plan to be happy throughout. And I will succeed!

Elder Benjamin Murray

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23th - Stomaches

I guess I have been sending packages to the wrong address! I used the address the church sent me and the one Ben sent today is completely different. I have never seen it before. Bummer!!!

"As for me, this week was a little long and boring. My companion, Elder Miranda, ate something bad or something like that, and was having a really really bad stomach ache. So we went to the hospital this week, and they gave him a lot of antibiotics. He was feeling really bad for a couple of days, so we spent a lot of time in the house, but eventually the medicine kicked in and we got back on track. We´ve been having a lot of trouble finding people at home to teach this week. We knocked a lot of doors (clapped in front of a lot of gates), without anyone letting us in. We also tried to find a number of the less-active members in our area and visit them, but it seems like everyone took a big vacation to São Paolo or moved a while ago. I´m sure next week will be better. People drive crazy here in Brasil. I got a ride with a couple of members for various reasons this week, and when people tailgate here, it´s like 1 foot behind the other car. The road is also full of potholes and speed bumps, so people swerve around all over the place, pedestrians cross randomly, and guys on motorcycles weave in and out of traffic like nuts. I really really wish I could drive here. It´s so cool! I had an interview with President Hill this week, and it was great. I really love him; he´s a very wise man. Next week transfers happen, so I´ll see where we end up. I could get a new companion, or change areas, or really anything! We´ll find out. My Portuguese is really developing fast. I neglected to mention it, but I´ve basically been fluent since like week 3. I´ve been reading a lot in just straight up Portuguese, like the Old Testament institute manual, and I´ve been working on neutralizing my American accent. There are still a few people that I don´t understand, and I´ve still got a ways to got to get my vocabulary anywhere near my level in English, but it´s going really well. I can express myself almost fully, and I´ve been thinking in Portuguese basically full time. It´s all about the Gift of Tongues here. Also, I´ve finally figured out what food to buy here, and I´ve got some brand loyalty going on, as you can see from the picture. Life is good.

As far as a spiritual message goes this week, I´d like to draw your attention to the book of Genesis. It´s really hard to understand some times, and there´s a lot of weird stuff too. But there are also some really good parts. Particularly right after Noah disembarks from the ark. The Lord then shows him a rainbow, and says this  13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.  
I don´t know how many rainbows you guys see back home, but we get a lot here in Brazil, and the next time you see one, think of the beauty the Lord has given us. Think of this wonderful Earth the Lord has put us on, and the covenant he made to never again cover the Earth with a flood. God loves us. We are his children. When we follow him, we will be blessed, as we have been blessed with this beautiful Earth. Life here is beautiful. It´s easy to get caught up in all of the hard things, all of the challenges and difficulties, but remember to look up sometimes, and see all the beauty there is. I love my life. I want to bring this same love to all the people I meet, and in part, I know, I will succeed.
Elder Benjamin Murray"

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16th - Working hard and Walking hard

I was going to call this post "The Burger Miracle" but I decided to use Ben's title instead. He seems to be doing really well and we are so glad to hear it!

Hello My Beloved Friends and Family,

Thanks once again for all of your well wishes and prayers. I love you guys, I love reading your emails, and it´s definitely good to hear that everything´s going well back home. As for Dad´s question "Why do you have to spend so much on bus fares" We live really far away from our district center, 1.5 hours or 22 reals one way by bus. We can file reimbursements for Zone Meetings, Interviews with the President, etc, but the reimbursements take a while to activate and we can only file them at certain times each month. We also receive a huge additional amount of cash at the beginning of each transfer to help with bus fares, so in the end, it works out almost exactly and we get the same amount everyone else gets, but I´ve got a bunch of reals tied up in bus tickets that I have to file a reimbursement for. Thus, I don´t have a whole lot of liquid cash, but I´ve got everything figured out now and money is less tight. Also, in the picture last week, Gabriel is the local guy in the background with the Pizza, and my companion has the juice. Just for reference.

It´s also good to hear that you guys got some snow. It´s pretty quente (hot) here, but this week´s supposed to be rainier and colder, which is some darn good news in my book. I hope Dave get´s better fast, being sick sucks! I still haven´t got the package, but we have interviews with the President this week, so maybe we´ll get mail then? IDK. Also, yes, the relatives have to send everything to the mission home, it´s a rule here in Brazil, I´ve heard that they have really stringent customs policies. I will get the letters, and eventually I´ll have a night where I open them all at once or something similar. 

As for my life, things are going good. It was another long week, with an absolutely absurd amount of walking, but I´m getting pretty darn good at it. My companion walks really fast, but I´ve got longer legs, so pretty soon, I´ll overtake him. Last week Pday we climbed up a high mountain and I took a picture of all of Itajubá that I have included here.

I also tried the Açai berry thing that´s really popular here and it was awesome. We had a couple of crazy experiences this week, so I´ll share them. Basically every missionary here in Brazil works straight through the dinner hour, so we don´t eat dinner usually until really late, and even then, not a whole lot. We´ve been eating more this week because we´ve been working a lot with Rodrigo (pic included), a 20 year old local guy who´s preparing to go on a mission himself. This has upsides and downsides. He knows what seems like everyone around here, so he´s useful for finding people to teach, and his mother helps make sure that we have food here at nights, but at the same time, he lives in Cruzeiro, a location 30 minutes away from our house that´s probably 500+ feet higher than the rest of the town. As a result, I´ve been climbing hills a lot. He´s good to have around though, and a big help.

One day this week, I was way hungrier than normal for some reason, and was praying a bit that I´d find some help. Then Elder Gomes/Miranda started having really bad stomach pains. We took him to a member´s house, and while there, his pain got even worse. At this point, we were worried about his appendix. We called the Branch President to take us to the hospital, but when he got there, he said "I´ve got another idea I´d like to try first". Then he took us to a burger restaurant and bought us giant burgers with bacon, chicken, lettuce, tomato, and even corn on them. It was incredible. Within about 20 minutes after eating, my companion´s pain lessened, and then we went home and slept, and the next morning, things were right as rain. I also got to listen to "Human" in his car on the way home, and man, did I miss that song. 

Then, this Saturday, we went to help the branch mission leader place a new patio in front of his house. Since my companion knows how to make cement, among a bunch of other hidden talents, we did a solid job. I also moved a giant 5 foot high pile of sand with a shovel. It was fun, until I realized that, after diligently applying sunblock every day, I had forgotten to put any on on the worst day possible, and I was burnt to a crisp. It was rough. I have aloe gel though, so I´m healing quick. Afterwards the mission leader took us to a hidden waterfall in the mountains here, and I wish I had had my camera. It was beautiful. 

We´ve taught a lot of first lessons this week, trying to find more new investigators, and I´ve also left a spiritual thought at the house of a lot of members. As I studied this week, I found in 1 Nephi 4:1 this verse 1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands? While Nephi and his brothers were getting the brass plates from Laban, they began to fear Laban´s wrath, that he might send his armies after them to kill them. But Nephi, here, demonstrates the principle that I´ve been loving this week. The Lord is mightier than all men, so if we trust in him, we need not fear reproach or rejection. Our Branch President also shared his favorite scripture with us this week, and I´d like to share it too. It´s Matthew 10:16   16 ¶Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Good advice, huh? I´m working on developing these attributes, and I´ll tell you how it goes. I´m sure that with the Lord´s help, I will succeed!

Elder Murray

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9th - The Gift of Tongues

Hello all! We got another letter from Ben this week.

"As for me, life is good. I´m really getting into the swing of things here. I had an exchange with the Zone Leader, Elder Cochran earlier this week, and I went to his area. It was a super awesome experience. We taught a recovering crack addict and a bunch of other investigators and less active members, and I got to talk a lot about the transition from English to Português. They have four missionaries in their town, but their branch is actually smaller than ours. Elder Gomes thinks that they´ll put four missionaries here pretty soon. That night we ate pizza. It was a really cool experience overall, and I learned a lot. At the end, I brought back new name tags for my companion, who is now Elder Miranda, because we have to put the very last name on the tag, and he has like 6 names.

This week we did a lot of searching for new families. We went on some splits with a few of the local young men, and although I was worried about my ability, it went really well and we´ve added a few new families to our teaching pool. We also finally succeeded in locking down Kariny, the Portuguese professora, for enough time to teach her the first lesson. We´ve got a baptism date marked for her, and she´s been going to church for almost a month now. Irma Tereza, the mother of that family we taught the first couple days here, is still fantastic. She asked us if there was any way she could pay tithing, well before we taught her about tithing. It´s crazy. The work is progressing quick here in Itajubá, and now that my feet are basically healed up, life´s going good. 

I also have a bunch of pictures for you guys. I´ll explain the ones that need explanation. 25 is me and Elder McGladrie at the Sao Paolo Templo. 50 is us at the Campinas Temple. 59 is our district. From left to right, top row first, Elder Herbert, Elder Ellis, Elder Flores, Elder McGladrie, Elder Ponder, Elder Westenhaver, Me, then bottom row left to right, Sister Christiansen, Sister Almgren, Sister Trejo, and Sister Brown. 104 is my birthday party.

Ben's 19th birthday. Love the dudes in the background!

Ben and Elder McGladrie at the temple

Overall, I´ve been loving the mission so far. It´s truly a fantastic experience. I´ve been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon, and thinking about how fast I´m learning Portuguese. So I went to Moroni 10: 8 And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.  15 And again, to another, all kinds of tongues;16 And again, to another, the interpretation of languages and of divers kinds of tongues. 17 And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.

 I know that I would not be here today doing the things that I am doing, speaking the language as well as I am speaking it, without the gift of the Spirit of God. I´m so grateful for this. As for my definition of success, it´s not number of baptisms, or leadership positions held, but being able to go home and say that every day on my mission, I worked a little bit harder, did a little bit more, and learned a little bit more that the last. If I give it all I have and make it two years, I will return a changed man, a better man, and I will have shared the Gospel with everyone I met. And that to me, is success. And with God´s help, I will succeed.

Elder Murray"

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2nd: Blisters

A new message from Ben:

Friends and Family,

Thank you for all of your kind messages this week on my birthday. I really appreciate the support. I really would love to give longer, more personalized emails to each one of you, but time is limited, so this blog mail will have to suffice. I´m really sad to hear about Gabe´s game, that must have been a rough one. I´m glad they battled it out til the end though. I really want to send some pictures back to you, but our normal LAN cafe is closed today because it´s a holiday and really rainy, so I can´t get the SD card reader to work. Next week. For all of you worrying about my food situation, I´ve basically got it ironed out. I got some eggs and ramen, along with a bunch of milk and juice at the store this week, and we received some other food that I´ll discuss later on. I also got a multivitamin, so good there. We also eat lunch with the members basically every day, and now that we´re not moving houses anymore, I´ll be getting my stuff together. If you guys have any easy, cheap recipes that make use of basic supplies like ramen, other pasta, eggs, and other cheap stuff, I´m all ears. I´m slowly but surely settling in to the new area, new customs, new people, new language, new lifestyle, and new companion, and pretty soon I´ll be getting this thing well figured out. I suppose I have to, because I go on an exchange with the Zone Leader tomorrow, so I better know my stuff.

As for this week, it was all over the place. Not only were the emotions all over the place, I´ve been all over the place. I can´t even tell you how much we´ve walked this week. I began the week with a blister that was about two inches long stretching across the ball of my right foot. Then, I got a huge blister on the other foot too, and a bunch randomly distributed around the toes and the heal. They were hurting a lot, and then I walked more, and they spread. When one of the members noticed I was limping, I realized it was time to do something about it, so I got some advice from the Relief Society President ( the one who noticed). I cut off all the extra skin, rubbed a ton of bacitracin on the horrible looking under part, and whenever I had to wear shoes, I´ve been putting gauze on them. And they´ve healed. I still get a bit of pain whenever I walk, but it´s much much less than before. It´s truly a miracle, especially when I´ve been walking on them ~5 hours a day. The power of God is real, and he looks after missionaries. 

The members here in Itajubá really are fantastic. They all want to help with the missionary work, and it´s never hard to get a member to join us for a teaching appointment. One member in particular, Gabriel, has been doing a ton of work with us, knocking doors, and joining lessons. He´s one of the young men in the ward, and he´s great. We also did a split with some of the local Priests. I found some frustration when we taught a woman who for some reason couldn´t understand my accent, so I´d say part of the lesson in Portuguese, and then the Priest with me, Isaque, would repeat the exact same thing, word for word, and she´d get it. Sadly though, despite the fact that many people are willing to hear the message, most are very non-committal. They don´t want to come to church, they don´t want to accept challenges, and although we taught a lot this week, we´re suffering in the New Investigators department. It´s alright though. As long as we´re putting in the work, eventually we´ll find those that the Lord has prepared for us. We´ve also got some good appointments set up for later this week to teach our progressing investigators, and hopefully we´ll start to see some more baptisms soon here.

As for my birthday, we celebrated by buying a couple of pizzas at the local supermarket and cooking them in our apartment. I ate a bunch of pizza and drank like a liter of banana juice, and it was good. I have pictures, but alas, I cannot send them. I also still haven´t received your package, although hopefully I will tomorrow at our district meeting in Pouso Alegre. I´ve been missing you guys more than normal this week, being my birthday and Halloween, normally one of my favorite times of year. I also remembered the anniversary of my last, disastrous high school football game. I miss disc golf, and basically all types of media too. But that´s alright. I can make it.

This Wednesday our branch had a musical training activity, where we all learned how to lead hymns, and we talked about the spiritual power of music. After, we had popcorn and Guarana. On Halloween, we had the opportunity to help the Branch President and his wife throw a Halloween party at their English school. I got to converse with a bunch of the Alumni in English, and I also got to help a younger class practice singing Glorious for a choir event they´ll be doing in December. Elder Gomes and Gabriel helped a lot with setting up chairs and tables, and we got to eat a bunch of cake. We also took home all the leftover refreshments, so our kitchen is well stocked with bread and cakes and juice. It was a really fun experience, and I got to speak my native tongue for a while and share the gospel purpose that brought me here to the South side of the globe. 

As far as the Spirit goes, I´ve been praying a lot this week. Prayer and Ibuprofen got me through a lot of the days with the really bad blisters, and it really is a miracle that my feet are healing so fast with the amount of punishment I´ve been giving them. I´ve looked a lot to 1 Nephi 3:7. Kind of a classic verse, yes, but it holds a good, robust message of hope. Through the power of the Lord we can do all things, no matter how hard. I´ve also really, really been enjoying Jesus the Christ, and I recommend that if you haven´t read it yet, you should start. It´s awesome.

Things this week were hard, but not nearly as rough as last week. I´m relying on God and slowly getting better and better at living the missionary life, and I know that soon, great blessings will follow. It´s tough, but with God on my side, I will succeed!

Elder Murray

Monday, October 26, 2015

Week 6 & 7 - The Longest Week

Ben is out of the MTC and in the field at last! I got a chance to speak with his mission president last Tuesday. He calls all the moms to make sure they know their child is well. What a considerate thing to do!! He is in a small city called Itajuba. His mission companion is from a small, Portuguese speaking island off the coast of Africa. It sounds like the first week out is rough. Here's his letter:

"As for me, this last week was probably the hardest week of my life, but the spirit of the Gospel and of adventure was strong enough to carry me through. Things have finally settled down now, and the work is starting to pick up. Since we last spoke, I got a haircut on that Friday at the MTC barber, and it was really cool. He was a super Brazilian guy and he did a pretty solid job overall. It was a test of my Portuguese ability, but it went really well. Then, that night, I started to feel sinus problems coming on. The next day, I felt pretty awful. I had a headache, I was running a low fever, and my nose was running hard. That was our last normal day at the CTM too, so we said goodbye to our instructors, which was really sad, and I cried profusely when Irmao Facinetto and Irma Correa bore their testimonies. But, both of them are trying to get into BYU, so I hopefully will see them again. Then, that Sunday was normal, but really long, seeing as I was super sick, and that day I had really bad nausea too, so I couldn´t eat hardly at all. Monday sucked hard, because they lock you in the auditorium all day for a really long training/orientation session that doesn´t really help you a lot, all spoken in fast, true Brazilian Portuguese. It sucked. We also got to take our last pictures with our district, some of which I will be including here. Then we said goodbye. Tuesday we left that morning, and headed for the field. The CTM really is cruel. You are stuck there with the same people, 12 hours a day, for 6 weeks, that you will bond with a ton and never see again. You learn just enough Portuguese to get by, then they launch you out the door with the worst ending ever. The guy who led the orientation was super doom and gloom too. Just like the first couple weeks of school each year. It was rough, but enough of that. I´m putting it behind me.

Tuesday I took a van for an hour and a half to Campinas, to the mission home there, where we met the President and his family and took pictures, that you´ve probably seen. Check out the Brazil Campinas Mission 2015-2018 Facebook page, it´s cool. Then we had lunch, had some interviews, then we went to the mission office and parted our separate ways. As you´ve learned, I´m now stationed in Itajubá, the furthest point of the mission, a 6 hour bus ride away. It´s so far, in fact, it´s not part of the state of Campinas. It´s part of the state of Minhas Gerais (spelling). My companion is named Elder Gomes, he´s from Capo Verde, Africa, and he speaks no English. Our first two nights we stayed in our old house, which was a complete dump. It sucked. Holes in the walls, piles of broken appliances, it was bad. It was also a 30 minute walk from the center of town, and anything useful. Now though, we have a swanky new apartment much closer to the center. We did the move on Thursday, but the real estate company lied to us, and we didn´t have any power until Saturday. This stressed out Elder Gomes a lot, but we´re doing better now. Our shower head is still broken too, but I´m learning to enjoy the cold showers. I´m slowly buying food too, as we usually only eat once a day, and I do need a bit more than that to keep going. It´s getting better though. Today we´re going to get more organized and get some more needed supplies, and even without power, this house is way, way better than the last one. We walk an absolute ton here. I´m getting used to walking about 4 hours a day, minimum, usually up and down hills.. I´ve absolutely destroyed my feet, with giant blisters and I bruised one of the toes super bad. I´m also still recovering from the illness. But things are only going to get better from here. As far as Portuguese goes, I´ve already improved a load since I got here. My thoughts are getting more complex, I´m losing my accent slowly, and I can communicate with the members and investigators way more.

Now for the good stuff. The members here are absolutely fantastic. Everyone is super friendly, and we have a couple of them that are really, really engaged in the work. We´ve had a member at every single appointment with an investigator so far, even though we only have ~50 active members here in this branch. We´ve had a couple of great meals with them as well, and two of the local young men, Rodrigo and Gabriel helped us a ton with the move. The food here is basically rice and beans with some sort of random topping, be it chicken, or spaghetti, or anything of the sort. I wish we ate more often, but when we do eat, it always tastes great. We´ve also been teaching a family of investigators, and the mother is named Tereznha. They baptized one of the daughters and her family last week, so now we´re teaching the extended family, and the mother is an elect. She keeps commitments, she´s been to church twice, and she talked with her daughter and decided to stop drinking coffee of her own volition, even though we haven´t taught her the Word of Wisdom, or even mentioned it. Elder Gomes is great at teaching investigators, and I´m learning a lot from his teaching techniques. Tereznha also had a dream last week after praying to know if the Church is true. It had a lot of similarities to Lehi´s vision. We´ll have baptisms here soon. We´re also teaching a woman named Karene, who´s 28 and a professor of Portuguese. She sought us out, and went to church last week. Overall, I´m really excited.

As for my spiritual experience, it´s been a hard week. I´ve looked to the scriptures a lot for comfort. A particular verse that really helped me is 2 Timothy, 1:7. It basically says the Lord has not given us fear. It´s spooky, being here, so far away from assistance, speaking a different language, but I know that the Lord will give me strength if I am obedient and I know that I will help do some mighty things here. Also enjoy D & C 122:7-8. It´s really good to hear that you guys back home are doing missionary work, because the help of the members really helps us. I love you all, and I know that whatever challenges come my way, I will succeed!!

Elder Murray"

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Week 5 - The Gift of Tongues

Another letter from Ben and one of the last we'll receive while he's in the MTC:

"Querida Familia,
Good to hear from you again! I also got a card from Grandma Gentry, but I haven´t had time to open it up yet. It´s been super busy lately. Glad that Jacob is still winning and Gabe has a shot to get to the playoffs. I believe in Gibby! I like the Halloween costume idea too, although we´ll see if I can actually do it. They don´t celebrate Halloween a whole lot here. They have a bunch of other random holidays though, like Dia das Crianças (Children´s Day) on October 12. They dressed up our whole cafeteria with balloons and stuff, and all the lunch ladies wore colored afros(??). We also had really good food that day. It´s too bad to hear that your eye is acting up. I´ve also got a weird eye problem, where my eyelid twitches really hard at random times. It´s super annoying to me, but nobody else notices it unless they are looking super closely at me, so it´s not really that bad of a problem. Just weird. I´m also glad that you rennovated my room. Change is good sometimes, and I´m sure all the brothers are enjoying the space. Also, what are you doing with my computer? I worry about it.

This week was kinda bland compared to some of the others, but it still had it´s sweet moments. Some guy named Elder Farnbach on our floor bought a travel Chess set from one of the stores around here, so I´ve been putting my >1 hour of free time a week to good use. This same guy also had a huge chunk of the granite counter top in our floor´s bathroom fall on his foot completely out of the blue one night while I was brushing my teeth in the bathroom. It was super random and strange. They´ve fixed it up now though. We got one last new Elder last week added to our district, named Elder Flores. He´s a 23 year old Mexican guy who´s also going to Campinas. He´s really cool. Some come and some go every week, and this week we said goodbye to our two Brasileiro roomates, Elder Rocha and Elder Correa. They were kinda weird, oddly inconsiderate, and they liked to stay up super late, so I´m not super sad to see them go, but that means less people to practice my Portuguese on, so that´s a bummer. We had a party with cake to celebrate our 1 month here in Brazil earlier this week. Other than that, it´s really just been the grind. My Portuguese is getting better and better, and I´m ready to head out to the field next week. It´s hard to keep from plateauing here, so I´m hype to get out and speak with actual Brazilians all of the time. I leave next Tuesday, and I have no idea when my P Day will be in the field, so IDK when you´ll get my next message. 

I´ll end with some more spiritual stuff again. First, we had a great story a week ago that I forgot to share. This speaker at our devotional, Irmão Braga, who works at the CTM now, was telling us how they called him the freezer missionary. One of the companionships in his zone when he was a zone leader was struggling to find people to teach, when they recieved a new freezer that week, during his exchange with them. He had a spiritual prompting to keep the box, so he did. He then got a crazy idea. They´d show up at people´s homes with the freezer box, and tell them they had a gift for them, if they´d listen to their message. Then, when they agreed, they´d open the freezer box and give them a Book of Mormon! The next week, that companionship baptized 10 people. 

The other story is from my own life. I have been here for 5 weeks now, and that´s not a lot of time, but I have learned so much Portuguese it´s insane. At last night´s devotional, normally we use headphones with an english translator, and I was sitting there listening to the translator, and I have a thought. The Spirit told me to take off my headphones, and try and understand in Portuguese. I had no idea if I could, but I followed it. I understood more with the headphones off than with them on. I could understand his whole message, in a language I have spoken for 5 weeks, and it was the best discurso I have heard here so far. The Gift of Tongues is real. I know it is. I´m so grateful for the opportunity to be here and to serve a mission. Eu sei que esta Igreja é verdadiera. Eu sei que Jesus Cristo vive. I know this coming week will be one of the hardest of my life once I hit the field, but with the Lord, I can do anything. I will succeed!

Elder Murray"

I am so glad he is being blessed with the language! That can be a huge difficulty for lots of elders or so I hear. I am looking forward to hearing from him once he's in Campinas!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Week 4 - Conference Time!

I almost named this one "Drunk Guys and Witch Hunts" but we are focusing on the positive! Here's the news from Brazil this week:

"As far as stuff I´ve been doing here, life is pretty good. This week was pretty cool, so I´ll break it down day by day. Quarta-feira, a week ago, we bought some random stuff in Brazil, then enjoyed pizza night. Not too exciting.

Quinta-feira not a whole ton happened. We mostly just refocused on our goals to speak more Portuguese. Kinda boring.

Sexta-feira was awesome. To prepare for the epic occurence later, we did a jejum de ingles, or an English fast, where we didn´t speak any English all day. That day was our first time going out into the world and proselyting! We were each given three Livro´s de Mormon, so six per companionship. We went out to this market on top of this massive bridge that people walked over. We gave out all of ours in like 35 minutes even though we had a whole hour. We mostly talked with older men who weren´t moving too quickly, as they were the majority of the population up there and the most likely to talk to us. Our first Book of Mormon we gave out to a super drunk guy who was leaning on a wall so we didn´t notice it at first, but then he moved and he nearly ate it on the side walk. He gave us both hugs as thanks for the gift, and I checked all my pockets to be sure he didn´t steal my crap. It was a really cool experience overall. The buses in this city are absolutely crazy too, they just yolo all over the place, right next to people, cars, anything, and all the roads are super bumpy, so it´s like surfing if you try to stand up at all. It felt really great to go out and do actual missionary work, even when some guy faked a phone call so we wouldn´t talk to him. We also got our first member referral, as some guy was just walking along with his friend, and he turned around and came up to us and said that he was a member and his friend wasn´t. We got to give him a LDM and share our testimonies in Portuguese. It was really cool.

Sabado was mostly General Conference. We watched both Saturday sessions that day, and I really enjoyed a lot of the talks. Holland´s talk about Moms was fantastic. You should really check it out. We also nearly got in a fight with the Hispanics on our floor because they have no idea how to follow the laundry schedule. They took all of our clothes out of the drier and combined them on the washer so that they could dry the clothes that they should have been done with 3 hours before. We posted a guard by the drier and then later, when I had lost three g-tops and we had found a bunch of random clothes in our pile, we went on a witch hunt for the guy who left his shirt in our pile. He never fessed up, which was good for him and for us because it´s not very Christ-like to beat up another Elder in the MTC. We made up with the hispanic guys in the end, and hugged it out but I still have no idea who stole my clothes cause they´re all like 5 5. 

Domingo was even more Conference. We watched Priesthood that morning, and both other sessions. Nelson´s and Bednar´s talks both nearly made me cry, and I think Bednar´s talk is maybe the most powerfully I have ever felt during a talk. Really really really good. I also enjoyed Schwitzer´s talk, you should check that one out again, cause he´s just one of the seventy, but it was a great talk. Overall, Conference here at the MTC was a really really cool experience. It´s rare that you can focus that hard on Conference, and I feel like I got a ton out of it, spiritually and knowledge wise. That night one of the toilet´s in our bathroom flooded and there was poop water all over the floor, you couldn´t get to the sinks, the showers, or the bathroom proper without stepping through it. Some guy mopped it up, but guess what, some random Braziliero flushed the same toilet again the next morning. It was rough, but good news was yet to come.

Segunda-feira we were told that we were getting a room change! There are so many Sisters now that they moved us up to the 5th floor to make more room for them next week. We had to pack all of our stuff and move in yesterday. Crazy stuff, but that means we didn´t have to be in the bathroom with the flood toilet anymore!!! Sweet deals! Other than that, we spoke a lot of Portuguese and taught a lot of lessons. 

Terca-feira was yesterday, and it was really pretty uneventful. We´ve been doing 150 pushups a night, so that was pretty good. In fact, if Dad wants to send me that 100 pushup challenge pamphlet it would be cool. We also spent about an hour while we swept the patio for service trying to figure out the opening to Love Comes Quickly by the Pet Shop Boys, and eventually Elder Westenhaver remembered it. 

Today we went to the Campinas Temple this morning, and it was absolutely jaw-dropping. It´s on this huge hill that overlooks the city of Campinas, and seeing my mission area was really cool. The inside was really beautiful too, with one stain glass wall that was like 45 feet high. It was super awesome. I´m getting tons of really good pictures that I´ll send as soon as I get to a computer where I can send them. I plan to see if I can find a hair trimmer for cheap somewhere around here, maybe I´ll learn to cut my own hair. I am now completely out of time."

Wow, love this email! Ben keeps it real, no doubt. I am glad he got to experience General Conference in the MTC. I think that's a unique experience. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Week 3 - Big bugs and Brazilian soda

While we are waiting for autumn to arrive, we got another email from Ben. Another week into the MTC experience and he is still doing well.

" It´s also rough that the weather is so hot, but it´ll probably cool down soon there, while I get to look forward to another ~6 months of summer. Wooo."

Did we ever mention that Ben really hates the heat? Lol.

"Too bad your letter didn´t get here, but it´s a little
funny because I have to check the mail box twice a day here, and we´ve
literally only had one letter. I joke that I keep checking just to
make sure we don´t get any mail. With the
district this week we got three new elders, Elder Ponder from Boulder
with the worst hair of all time, Elder Ellis from Kansas who looks
like a 40 year old man, and Elder Herbert from Jersey who is a black
dude that is totally ripped. They are all pretty cool, and they fit
right in. We also get to go proselyting this week on Friday
(Sexta-feira here), so we get to go give out Livros de Mormon in a
square somewhere in Sao Paolo. I´m looking forward to it, but it´ll be
a little freaky because my Portuguese is still kinda of weak. Still
going to be a cool experience. It´s super crazy living here in Brazil.
We see all kinds of giant bugs, from cochroaches to mosquitoes, to
this one bug that was flying around that was, I kid you not, the size
of a baseball. It was huge. The food here at the MTC is also pretty
awesome. It´s incredibly hit or miss though. Sometimes it´s the best
meal I´ve ever had, like this taco thing with mustard or this
schnitzel style chicken, and sometimes you bite into an apple and find
a giant brown ball of rot that sprays all over your shirt. Overall
though, it´s really really good, and I´m almost coming to like the
rice and beans with every meal. The drinks are great too. There are
all kinds of weird natural juices, from basically any fruit other than
a banana. The pineapple (abacaxi) is one of my favorites. As far as
weird soda goes, we have Sukita here, which is basically orange Fanta,
and we also have Guarana, which some of the guys have taken to calling
battery acid. It´s really good, but it gives me acid reflux like 70%
of the time I drink it. That can actually help me stay awake in class
though, so it´s a mixed blessing. I also watched the Guarana instantly
kill a bug, so IDK what´s up with that. We also had a fast Sunday this
week, which was super weird, because here in the MTC they fast for
dinner the night before, then only breakfast the next day, because
lunch is the big meal here. It´s also taking some time to get used to
the 24 hour clock and metric scales. Portuguese itself is coming along
really well. I´m nowhere near fluent, but I can hold a conversation
with a lot of the Brazileiros in Portuguese, at least if they don´t
have that bad of an accent. They say it´ll take about a month and a
half for you to become fluent once you´re out of the CTM, at least if
you´re pretty good at picking up languages. The gift of tongues is
really real though. Every so often, I´ll just understand everything
that someone says, and it feels crazy. As far as sleeping goes, it´s
cooled down a bit this week, no more mid 90´s with humidity too, so
I´ve been sleeping a lot better. A lot less waking up in a pool of
sweat at least. We´ve been doing a ton of pushups lately, and we´ve
also been solving a bunch of riddles that this one guy, Elder
Farnbach, gave us. Try this one, you have 12 balls and a balance
scale. One of the balls is heavy, but you can´t tell by touch. You
have three measures to get it 100% accurately. If that sounds too
easy, what about if it is either heavier or lighter, and you don´t
know which one. It can be done. This Monday we got to watch the
funeral of Elder Richard G Scott, which had some great talks, even if
the auditorium we stay in is like ~85 degrees farenheit. D Todd
Christofferson spoke about him, and he actually served under him as a
missionary while Richard G Scott was a mission president in Argentina.
It was really cool. We also got to watch Richard G Scott´s last ever
MTC devotional, in Provo last year. That one was pretty hard to stay
awake in, because it is Richard G Scott after all, but I gave it a
good fight. I´m really excited for Conference this week, and I know
it´ll be a super awesome experience. It´s pretty easy to feel the
Spirit here. We´ve been teaching anywhere from 1-4 lessons a day to
"investigators", and Elder McGladrie and I are really getting good at
teaching in Portuguese. We´ve got a great flow, and we´ve already got
our 2 that we teach every day on date for baptism. We also had a great
devotional on Sunday night by President Farnes, the president of the
Sao Paolo Norte mission. He was a great speaker, and his motto was
LiVE. It´s Little Victories Every day, with a little i because the
emphasis is on giving to others. It was a great talk, and I got a cool
bookmark to go with it. I´m nearly out of time, but if you could post
Galatians 5 22 with this on the blog that would be great."

Galatians 5:22 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is lovejoypeacelongsufferinggentleness, goodness, faith,

"I´m really feeling the fruits of the spirit here, and I´ve been able to love
those that I would have hated, and I´ve been able to resolve
conflicts, where before I would have snapped. Every day I strive to
become more and more like Christ, and it´s really paying off. I love
the people I am with, and I feel like I have a family here too. I can
hardly wait to get out and start teaching in the campo! Eu sei que a
Igreja e verdadeiro, e eu sei que Jesus Cristo e meu salvador."

I am glad that Ben gave a riddle to solve, how funny! It's so fun to see his progress.