Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27th - Baron Zion!

Family and Friends,

First off, Mother, I am really sorry to hear about your loss. Peep was a good chicken, that lived well and died nobly, defending the others from many foes. That day that we hiked the two 14ers was a rough one. I remember that all the other guys either ran on ahead or didn´t want to keep going after the first 14er, so we were stuck in the middle. We had to stop about every 5 minutes to avoid dying. It was a really good time. Have a great time in Utah!

This week I got officially transfered to Barão (Baron in English) Geraldo. The area is pretty awesome. It´s a college town, so there are a bunch of college kids that really don´t want anything that we have to give them, but there´s also a ton of good people here, so it´s not nearly as hard to baptize here as the last two areas I was in. We're already preparing a family and a guy named Luiz to get baptized here in 2/3 weeks. Expect good things! Also, the ward here gets to church really late. Normally, in other wards, 8:45 you have a ton of people there. Here, the Bishop showed up at 8:45, and we had about 20 people until 9:10 when the bishop walked in to the chapel hall and church started. Then, as I gave a talk this week, I got up to give it, and suddenly I realized that we had 100 people in the chapel. It was really rather frightening.

Our house here is about double the size of my room back home. My study table is right next to the fridge, which is right next to the stove, and if I take two steps and a hop I´m already in bed. It sure makes cleaning easy! I took some pictures, but I´m having a ton of issues trying to get anything to work on this computer, so look for more in the picture department next week or in the future. My new companion is Elder Costa. I´ve not had him as a companion before now, but he was companion to exactly half of all my other companions, so there is that. Maybe you guys are confusing him with the general authority, Elder Claudio R M Costa. He was born in Brazil, but lived most of his life in Portugal. His mission story is a bit of a weird one. He was called to serve in Portugal, so he started his mission there, but, instead of being transfered within his own mission, after two transfers he got transfered to Brazil. Pretty crazy, huh? He´s a really cool guy, although he hates eggs. Reminds me a bit of Jacob, in a way. 

I said that this week I gave a talk, so I´ll give you a bit of the topic. It was only 5 minutes, so I read some scriptures from Alma 26 

"1 And now, these are the words of Ammon to his brethren, which say thus: My brothers and my brethren, behold I say unto you, how great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started from the land of Zarahemla that God would have granted unto us such great blessings?

 2 And now, I ask, what great blessings has he bestowed upon us? Can ye tell?

 3 Behold, I answer for you; for our brethren, the Lamanites, were in darkness, yea, even in the darkest abyss, but behold, how many of them are brought to behold the marvelous light of God! And this is the blessing which hath been bestowed upon us, that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work."

I shared my testimony with the members that we can all be part of this great work. We can become instruments in the hands of the Lord. Then I asked a question, that in my last ward our mission leader asked me. He asked "Who would you like at your side in the Celestial Kingdom?" To you all back home, I ask you the same question. Who would you like at your side? And have you already invited them to be there? Keeping this in mind gives me a strong purpose here, and I´m really grateful to be here serving a mission. I want to bring the largest number of people I can with me, and with the Lord´s help, I will succeed!

Elder Murray

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20th - Another transfer!

Oi Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday Jacob! Jake with the afro-chicken was about my best moment of the week. That picture really turned out sweet. Even when life gives us lemons, at least lemonade is a tasty drink. The life here isn´t all sunshine and flowers, but you get through the hard moments and push to be happy. And the good moments are that much better when you´ve passed through some tough ones. Congrats to Andres for finally heading out! Good luck!

This week we wrapped up the transfer in classic style, looking for John (João in Brasil). This week during our district meeting, I challenged the missionaries to, along with their other activities, look for John. You had to get references for John, teach John, and invite John to be baptized. All of the people we met on the road, we asked if they knew John. And when they asked why, we told them that we had a message for John that was of eternal import, and that if they would like to learn what the message was, it isn´t just for John, it´s for them too. This worked suprisingly well, and we ended up teaching a lot of people. We even taught a buddist lady. Her son was praciticing his Jiu-Jitsu on the floor with the dog, so that was a fun lesson, although it was a little weird. In the end, we taught a bunch of people, but sadly, I will not be following through with any of them, because I´m being transferred! I will be leaving Valinhos this week, and I´ll be going to a university area within Campinas called Barão Geraldo. I´ve also been called as an assassin, as I will be serving with Elder Costa during his last transfer. When a missionary completes the mission, he dies, and the last companion is the one who kills him. Should be fun!

I´m grateful for this opportunity I have to serve a mission. I´m thankful for all the blessings I have been given here and I´m excited for the new area! Let´s baptize! I will succeed!

Elder Murray

June 13th - Return of the Cold

My Dearest Family and Friends,

I hope that those of you in my immediate family are enjoying your trip to California. You guys look pretty happy in the pictures, so it seems like you are doing pretty well. I ate at that exact same Panda Express as you guys did when I went to Universal Studios on that Band trip so many years ago. How the times change! And yet, everything stays the exact same.

This week here in Valinhos it got cold. And I mean actually cold. Even for me! It hit 40 degrees this morning, and with the incredible humidity here, you really feel it. Luckily I have a good sweater and a good jacket, so I´m not too cold when all´s said and done. The Brazilians are hurting though. Especially those from the hotter parts of the country. Elder J. Nascimento has been sleeping with jeans on! The weather has been really weird!

To answer your questions, yes, I did get the package! Thanks for the candy! I´m teaching several families currently, one is the parents of the girl that we baptized a few weeks back. They are really closed to being baptized, they just need to get married first, and marriage costs a ton here and you have to wait one month after you mark the marriage date. We´re also teaching a single mother with 3 daughters and a son who died recently. Thankfully the Plan of Salvation holds a lot of hope for her. The mission has various themes, mottos, and other slogans, but the biggest one is really simple, but powerful. "Let´s baptize!". Our three values are hard work, obedience, and love. I have a t-shirt from my first zone, but I haven´t gotten a new one since that. I ate Mocotó recently at a members house. It´s a soup thing where they put in a bunch of fat and animal parts. It was really nasty. The Brazilians dress a lot like Americans, they just have several different stylistic choices. Almost nobody uses tie-dye though, sadly. I haven´t seen any amusement parks, but I think that they do exist. I know that they at least have a Zoo, close to here. For vacation, they usually go "out to the ranch" or to the beach, which is less that 3 hours from here. They go whenever they have a chance really, especially on Sundays (argh)!

This week we were visited by President Tad R Callister, President of the Sunday School for the church. He spoke a lot about the fall of Adam and Eve and then the need for us to be consecrated missionaries. We really have to give it all we have and leave everything else behind so that we can go forth with the right mindset. He said that he would rather have 20 consecrated missionaries than 100 mediocre missionaries. This makes a good point in our lives too. The Lord´s math isn´t always our math. Sometimes our small acts of service seem really small to us, compared with the big ones that people always imagine, but they do add up. I´ve really seen that in action. Every day I strive to be a consecrated missionary. Have a great week! I will succeed!

Elder Murray

Sunday, June 12, 2016

June 6 - Humid

Hello Family and Friends!

I hope that those of you in my family are having a fantastic time in California, land of palm trees and In-And-Out Burger. One thing that you guys really have way better there in the US is fast food. McDonalds is almost a luxury restaurant here. It´s like 30 R$ a combo meal. It´s a rip off. Sounds like Mom´s girl camp experience was a fantastic one.  Every day you learn something new!

This week it rained a bunch. My clothes really haven´t been dry since last P-Day, because the air is so humid that they don´t even dry inside the house. A lot of the time I have to dry them off with the iron. It makes it quicker to iron though, I don´t even have to use the squirt bottle! Weirdly enough, even with the rain it´s actually gotten quite a bit hotter here than the weeks before, so I don´t have to use a sweater all the time. We taught a ton of lessons this week, but we didn´t really have a whole lot of success. It´s really pretty hard to convert to the church. You have to give up all of the worldly things and move to a completely new culture and way of life. It really takes a lot of commitment from people. I see every part of the conversion process and it really is a miracle. 

This week I really learned a lot about the power of a testimony. People love to challenge the Church in the middle of the road. Some quote Bible verses that don´t exist. Others quote Bible verses that do exist. A lot of people get really angry because we knocked on their door. I know all of the Bible verses that I would need and all of the arguments I could make to fight them, but I don´t because fighting takes away the Spirit. The best method we have to deal with these people that don´t like us, don´t like the Church, and even those that don´t like Jesus Christ is just testify. It´s very hard to argue with a sincere testimony of the truth. I know that Jesus Christ is our savior. I know that Thomas S Monson is a prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has the fulness of the Gospel. I´m grateful that I have the chance to bear this testimony to all who will listen. I will succeed!

Elder Murray

P.S. Don´t hesitate to send questions if you have any.