Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30th - All of the sports!

Hello Family and Friends!

This week was a pretty standard week of work. Monday we played all of the sports we could, basketball, volleyball, and soccer, knowing that we would have to wait a week before we could get the energy out again. It was a pretty great time. Then Tuesday we visited people and knocked doors. And the rest of the week. The other real change was on Thursday, when we had our trimonthly interview with President Hill. We had a really good time taking our trip to Campinas and eating some popcorn in the mission office. Then I had a great talk with President Hill, and I left with some good fire and motivation that I´m still feeling today

During this interview, we talked alot about following the instructions of the Holy Ghost. It´s interesting that, at times, we don´t think very much about not following the Spirit´s instructions. Sometimes we recieve a strong prompting, and we know that we have to follow this prompting, but we just don´t do it. As President Hill put it, this is basically ignoring a command from God. He´s sending us this message directly. If Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared in front of us, we would all follow what they have to say, but when we recieve a prompting from the Spirit, we are much much slower to follow. I would like to quote 2 Nephi 33:15 where he says in the last line "For the Lord hath commanded me, and I must obey." It´s really that simple. Sometimes we don´t know if the thought is coming from the Holy Ghost or not, and sometimes we absolutely know that we´re recieving a message from the Lord. And in that exact moment, we have to put away our own desires and follow what the Lord says. I know that as we follow the promptings and the whispers we receive, we will recieve many blessings in our lives. We will be guided by the Lord in all of our major decisions. We will receive knowledge, happiness, and peace. We will do the right thing. We will be like Nephi, tools in the Lord´s hands, to help many people. I will do my best to follow all that the Spirit tells me to do, and if I can do this, I will succeed.

Elder Murray

Monday, May 23, 2016

May 23 - Rednecks

Hello Family and Friends,

This week I came to an undeniable conclusion. We´re rednecks. Don´t deny it! Mom helped the school learn to breed chickens better, you guys spent all Saturday "workin' in the fields", and what does Jake bring back? A gallon of milk. It´s time to face the facts and buy a farm or something. In other news, it sounds like graduation season is in full swing. I have some fond  memories of last year. Trawling the parties with Dave and the boys.

This week the email won´t be super long, because I´m low on time, so I´ll just describe the two major events of the week. The first was the visit of our senior missionary couple and our mission President´s wife to our house on P-Day. Luckily, we´ve always cleaned the house pretty well, so we didn´t have any problems, but they did give us a bunch of suggestions, and said that we had to deep clean the house so that we could move to another place. As such, we spent all of Tuesday cleaning and Wednesday and Thursday morning. We had to wash all the walls, all of the furniture, all the kitchen appliances, and in the end, the whole house smelled like bleach. And guess what? They came back on Thursday and said that we did such a good job, they don´t plan to switch the house anymore. ARGH! At least they told us that we have the cleanest house in the mission. You should be really proud Mom. 

This week the other significant event was a baptism! We´ve been teaching a couple, Nei and Cleide, for some time now, and they are going to church frequently, but they aren´t married, so they can´t be baptized. But, their daughter, Juanna, turned 8 two weeks ago, and told us that "Life isn´t easy. I need to be baptized." We taught her all the lessons, and she gained a pretty strong testimony of the Prophet and the Restauration of the Gospel. She committed to live all the commandments, and really is one of the smartest 8 year olds I know. 

Sometimes, the kingdom of heaven really is more fit for the children than for us old folk. Someday, we´ll all have to turn a bit more like little children so that one day we can enter into the Lord´s kingdom. Have a great week! I will succeed!

Elder Murray

Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16th - My future's so bright . . . I gotta wear shades.

Family and Friends,

I love you all and thanks for the letters and love that you always send. If you´re not sending me anything, stop being a slacker and write me an email (looking at you Dave). This week sounds pretty baller for you guys. Good luck with all the finals, and the planting, and remembering why the Hindenberg didn´t work too well. You guys really have a talent for writing funny emails. I always laugh a lot.

This week was a rather special week, in various aspects. First things first, the transfer came and went. Our district basically didn´t change, we just swapped one of our 4 Sisters for another. Everybody else stayed. Everyone´s excited to work together, and we should have a good time these next 6 weeks. 

Last week I bought some glasses without any augment on the lenses so that I can use the transition lenses like sunglasses. This week they came in. I look pretty awesome with glasses, don´t you think (pic included). 

This week I also spent two days waiting in the hospital because I got a nasty sinus infection that was bugging me a ton. I´m on antibiotics now, but the hospital trips ate up a lot of my work time this week. Here in Brazil, the wait to use the hospital is really long, I waited 4 hours the first day and didn´t even get seen, and the second day I waited 2 hours and actually got in. I had a blood test done and an x-ray done on my head, all to tell me that I have a sinus infection, then they sent me in for an intraveneous medication too. It was actually pretty sweet. Then he perscribed me antibiotics that were really expensive, but luckily the mission pays for them. 

This week on Saturday, we got to have a meeting with our full mission, the Piracicaba mission and 4 general authorities of the Church, Elder Claudio R M Costa, Elder Richard G Maynes, Bishop Waddel, and non-other than Elder Jeffery R Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve. It was, all in all, a fantastic meeting. A few choice quotes:

"After forty years of this I don´t have blood in my veins anymore, I have the Gospel." Elder Costa

"The Book of Mormon is the most powerful conversion tool we have." Elder Maynes

"You leave for the mission as a child and return as a man or a woman. Every day for 53 years I have thought about the things I have done on my mission." Elder Holland

"You are all apostles. Before you tell your parents that I just called you to the Quorum of the Twelve, that´s apostle with a little a, not a big one. You do the same things that I do. Every day you wake up, you think about what you can do to help others with their salvation." Elder Holland

"I can deal with stray sheep. Give me any number of stray sheep, from 1 until 99, I can deal with that. But it is not too much for me to ask to not have any problems with the shepards! We need you to stay faithful!" Elder Holland

Then, yesterday, we got to see Elder Holland again here in the Campinas stake. It was the first time that an Apostle has visited the stake in 39 years. And I was present. It was an amazing day. Elder Holland spoke about different titles for Jesus Christ that mean a lot to him personally. I left that meeting with a lot of fire to go out and preach the Gospel. I´m excited to go out and share Christ´s love with people. Have a great week, because I´m trying to, and I will succeed!

Elder Murray

Monday, May 9, 2016

May 9th - Mother's Day Call

We got to talk to Ben yesterday - hooray! It was really good to see him. Unfortunately the connection kinda stunk, so we could only hear the first three words of every sentence. I was pretty bummed out, but I have come to really enjoy his letters, so I will be fine. Plus it was great to see him laugh with his brothers and dad, since he could see and hear us perfectly well. He still got to write us for p-day this week, so here is his letter:

Allo Family and Friends!

It was great to talk to those of you in my direct family yesterday. I miss you and love you, but I´m all good here in Brazil. Weird that Bishop Cutler isn´t Bishop any more. Things always change when you´re gone for a while. 

Another transfer has passed me by, and I have stayed here in Valinhos! Also, today breaks the 8 month mark on my mission! I´m officially 1/3rd of the way done. It´s a weird thought, because the time does pass pretty quickly here. You get in the routine and the time melts away. I´m really happy that I have this marvelous opportunity to serve as a missionary. It´s an experience that´s really unlike any other.

As for Mom´s questions this week, the weirdest thing I have eaten in a while I ate last night. It´s a soup thing called mokoto, where they throw in all the bad parts of a pig, like the fat, the ears, the nose, the head, and especially the joints. It was really nasty. Thankfully it was optional. My companion and I laugh a lot about the antics of the new guy, Elder Azevedo, our epic Uno battles on p-day, and the really random answers that we get from people on the road when we teach. We have a lot of fun actually. When you´re a missionary and you talk about such serious subjects like salvation all time you find every little thing really funny. 

This week we will go to a meeting with 4 general authorities of the Church. It should be fun. I´ve been really feeling a lot of love for the Bible this week. My knowledge of the Bible has grown exponentially during my mission, and it really is incredible. The teachings of our Savior are so flexible and perfect that they fit in every situation you can imagine. I encourage all of you to read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John again. I especially like Matthew 10, which hold´s Christ´s instruction for the apostles. It´s fantastic.

I didn´t write a lot today, but I´m kinda burned out. I´ll write more next week. Have a great week! I love you all. I will succeed!

Elder Murray

Monday, May 2, 2016

May 2nd - Cold Front Coming!

Hello Family and Friends!

Sounds like your week was less epic than mine, although there are a lot of shared characteristics. Being honest, I don´t understand the pun in Dave´s fortune cookie. Maybe I´m losing my English. Also, Gabe´s joke was solid. Poligamy jokes are always good for a quick laugh.

This week it got really cold here in Valinhos. It hit the incredibly low number of 57 degrees, and I´ve been doing my proselyting with a sweater. Also, everyone in the house caught a cold, because it´s really cold all of a sudden. I´ve really gotten used to the heat here, which is honestly pretty strange for me. Now it´s gotten the tiniest bit cold, and I´m freezing. At least winter finally hit here. The 90 degree weather every single day without fail was getting strange. 

This week I had a companion exchange in Campinas 4. It´s weird there, nobody walks on the road in that part of the city, so it looked like a ghost town. I worked with Elder L. Souza and we had a pretty good time. He´s going home here in 6 weeks, so he´s quite a bit more experienced than I am. Afterwards we returned to Valinhos, me and Elder Azambuja, and it was a relief to see people walking on the roads and driving cars, and open stores.

This week our ward did an activity! It was a country music dance/party with giant blow up toys and a mechanical bull, and also a ton of free food. We took our best chance to bring a ton of non-members to the activity to show the people that we´re not a scary cult and that we like to have fun too and not just stand around looking serious in suits. We actually got a ton of investigator participation, and a bunch of the members invited their friends, and we´re teaching them now. It was a great night for missionary work, and for the members of the ward to get a little closer together.

People are really tough to bring to church here in Valinhos, so I spent a lot of time this week praying that I would find someone that actually has desire to go to church. We talked with a lot of people this week on the road, including this one guy who´s 19 named Caio. We couldn´t ever actually find Caio at home to teach him, but we did get to invite him to come to church on Sunday. I didn´t have a whole lot of hope that he would go, even though he said he would, but I felt strongly that I needed to pass by his house at 8:45 Sunday. We got there at 8:46 and he wasn´t there, and we woke up his sister who told us. I got pretty depressed in the moment, so we turned and went towards the church building. As we walked up the hill to go to church I was really dissapointed that, in all of our investigators, none of them were going to church that day. Then, as we crested the hill, we found Caio standing in front of the chapel. "You guys were late, so I went on my own." He had a great experience. Sometimes the Lord gives us much more that we expect. I´m grateful that I could be here serving a mission and watching as people find more happiness and the answers to questions that they have always had. I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers, and that every sacrifice we have to make now will be worth it in the end.

Have a great week, and I´ll see you on Sunday. Let´s see if I can actually speak English still! I will succeed!

Elder Murray