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"

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