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.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Week 2 - New shoes, hot room

It sounds like Ben is super happy at the MTC. Here are parts of his email this week:

"As for me, I am loving it here. I´ve been here only 2 weeks, but it feels like so much longer, and I can carry on full conversations in Portuguese. I´m really learning the language and culture fast, and we´ve been teaching lessons in Portuguese since day 2. I´m nowhere near fluent yet, but I´m getting better and better. I bought a pair of the sweetest shoes of all time last week too. They are made for indoor soccer, and they fit perfectly. They are blue with pink and white highlights. I´ll send a pic once I can. Shoe shopping in Brazil was a crazy experience. I barely knew enough Portuguese, but it all worked out. They cost 100 reals, like 30 bucks, so a pretty sweet deal. I also saw the coolest snakeskin shoes of all time. Maybe the coolest thing I have ever seen.
Luckily, I got a sweet district, and everyone here is super friendly. We said goodbye to the set of Brazileiros (Brazilians) that entered the MTC at the same time as we did, and it was bittersweet. Among them were Elder Arujo, our roomate, Elder Tobias, the most competent man ever, Elder L Silva, our English translator for a lot of conversations, and Elder Leite, the absolute worst volleyball player that the world has ever seen. I´ve still got my whole district of English speakers, 36A, though, and we get a new trio of elders from Provo this week whose visas finally got in. Additionally, I got a really good companion in Elder McGladrie. He´s from Cincinatti, Ohio and he´s a great guy. Really on top of everything. This week, Elder Westenhaver made himself a splint out of part of his binder and and ace bandage. It worked, but eventually he just went and got a real one from medical. We also sing all the time, Dave would be proud. Just about any song you can think of.
In other news, it´s been really, really hot in our room, and we´ve taken to calling it the oven. I´ve been sleeping in just shorts and my g´s, with no covers on and no blankets even on the bed. I basically wake up sticky from sweat every morning, but I´ve been drinking a lot of water and I´m slowly but surely adapting. We´ve also had to fight the sisters in our district for control of the AC unit in our classroom, as all the elders want it to be way colder, but all the sisters want it hotter. Slowly but surely we are figuring it out. . .  At least the food is really good here. It seems that each time I eat, it´s the best meal I´ve ever had. Sometimes it´s sketchy, but the good food is so good, it´s hard to beat.

As far as the gospel goes, it´s been super enriching here. All of the instructors are awesome, especially our two main instructors/teachers, Irmao Facinetto and Irma Correa. They´re mercy and justice, respectively. Facinetto is more laid-back and funny, and I beat him in a push up contest the other day, and Correa is extremely focused and almost violent in her teaching, which is funny, because she´s like 5 foot 1. We also have a whole other host of teachers, from our branch presidency to just the general instructors, like Mario Dias, the manager of training for the whole MTC, or classic Alan, the general manager of something. When we asked him how to conjugate a verb one time, he just looked at us, spread his hands, and said "Magico". One of the best of all is President Swensen, the President of the whole MTC. He´s a really firey speaker, and gospel doctrine with him on Sundays is awesome. Also, did you hear that Richard G Scott died? Looks like we get three new apostles at conference in 2 weeks. I´ve really had some chances to dive into the scriptures, especially the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and the Spirit. I´ve gained a newfound love for Ether 12 while I´ve been here. It´s truly an epic chapter. Read it some time this week. I´ve also got some choice quotes. "Don´t accept things as they are. The grass is always greener on the other side, because you are the gardener. You can change the world." That one was just from Elder Westenhaver. I don´t have my notebook with me or I´d send more. Also, read the missionary purpose together as a family. All of that stuff that we invite investigators to do, I invite you guys to do too. Learn more about the gospel, come unto Christ, have faith in him, think about the covenants that you have made, repent, and use the spirit a little more. It will be worth it. I´ve already seen it in my own life."

His emails are really getting spiritual! But that's to be expected from where he is, and we love it. Ben would love to hear from all of you, including his friends, so be sure to stay in touch!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Week 1 - I'm in the MTC now!

Move over Friday, Wednesday has become my new favorite day! I love looking forward to hearing from Ben via email. He doesn't get much time on the computer, so after reading all his emails there isn't a lot of time left over to write. Ben asked me to go ahead with the blog so everyone that writes could hear the news.

It sounds like he is doing really well! He writes:

"I am having a great time. The food here is awesome! Lots of randommeats and beans and rice with every meal, and also great fruit juice. I got super lucky and got a really great, funny district of 3 other elders and 4 other sisters. Last Sunday I was called to be the district leader, so I get to plan some meetings and help set some goals. It is pretty cool...My companion, Elder McGladrie is from Ohio. We get a little bit of physical activity each day, but mostly we learn Portuguese. So far, the immersion technique has really worked some wonders. It is still hard to learn the language and to understand the natives, but we`re getting a ton of practice, especially with our two Brazilian roommates, Elder Arujo and Elder Rocha. They leave in just a week, which is sad, but we´ll get some new roommates then."

Ben shared a cool story about his companion:

"We've  already had one major crisis this week, when Elder McGladrie had a stone in his salivary gland. It was like a kidney stone, but it made his neck swell up a lot, and it got a little infected. His mouth hurtso much he couldn't eat or talk. We saw the medic and got him on some antibiotics, but that did not work well, so Saturday night we gave him a blessing and they took him to the hospital while I became part of a trio. An hour or so later, he came back, and they had poked at it a bit and gave him some more antibiotics and told him if he had to, he could come back in two weeks. The very next day, his stone popped out while he was brushing his teeth, and it was huge. I would send a picture but we can`t while we`re in the MTC. It was pretty awesome to see the healing power of the Priesthood less than 4 days in. I was able to help give him the blessing, and it was a pretty scary, but overall, a really spiritual experience."

I was worried he would be really badly homesick, since this is his first time away from home, so I was happy to hear the following:

"I get a little homesick sometimes, but it´s hard to have
time to, and I've tried to just focus on what I´m doing. Each time I
look out the window of my room at Brazil, it gets a little better. . . 
miss you guys, but it´s okay. I was called here to bring souls to the
gospel and to the Lord, and I will succeed!

Love, Elder Benjamin Murray"

I love hearing from Ben! It really makes my week. We are so happy he is doing well, and want to thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I hope they call me on a mission . . .

In April of 2015, my son got his mission call to Campinas, Brazil. The smile on his face when he read out where he was going was priceless! You can watch it here on youtube.

I felt a true feeling of peace. Brazil seemed like a perfect place for Ben. Or maybe, it was just that the Lord had called him there, so it was perfect.

Going through the visa process was not for the faint of heart! Luckily we already had a passport for him from when we went on vacation over spring break. That made it easier. Somehow we got all items he needed signed and sealed. The church travel office was great and he got his visa two weeks before his mission.

We sent him off yesterday. We all did well at the airport. We watched as he went through security and he stopped and gave us the most awesome "Captain America" style salute and smile. Jacob caught him right before he did it. Great pic!

I didn't realize how tough it was going to be when I got home. There are reminders of Ben everywhere! No one could bear to go in the basement that first night (Ben's domain, lol). Every time I went in his room, I started crying. Man, we love this kid!

Today we received our first email. He arrived safely! I was so glad to hear from him! Here's an except: 

"I nearly missed my second plane because the first one ended up being delayed by so much, but I managed to get on it just in time. I ended up coming with a pretty large group of elders and sisters, who were all on the same flight as me. Some of them have already spent 2 weeks in the Provo MTC before their visa arrived, but most of them are completely new like me. I`m looking forward to getting to know them, as it seems like we have a pretty cool group of guys. I haven`t taken many pictures, but I´m not even sure that these strange computers we are on have an SD card reader, so I can`t really send you any anyways. They call Sao Paulo the endless city, because it just keeps going and going, with tons and tons of apartment buildings. It`s like a concrete forest. Apparently this is the third most populous city in the world, at 17 million people, just below New York City and Tokyo. It`s going to be awesome! I love you guys, and I hope you are all safe and well at home."

Hooray for email! Later today we got more excitement, an email from the mission president from the Brazil MTC, that they send out for the parents of the new groups that come in. What a great idea!

It's really tough to think about two whole years and how much we will miss him! But we know he is doing a wonderful thing, for himself, and for all those he teaches. He has a powerful testimony, and I think he will be a fine tool in the hands of the Lord. I like to remember the scripture "I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me." We will both need it!