Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25th - Pictures!

Hello Family and Friends,

And welcome to one more fantastic week on the mission. Back home, sounds like you guys really enjoyed youth conference, finding a sweet Poke Gym when Dave stopped to use the bushes on the drive, and the Murray family reunion is once again in swing. I bet you guys are really partying it up. Here in Brazil, I sure am! Even as you guys are in Zion there in Utah, I´m in Zion Geraldo here.

This week we were visited by the senior missionary couple that pertains to our mission here in Campinas, and, exactly as they did in Valinhos, I have been commanded to wash the walls. And otherwise git rid of all the grime of years and years and years of missionaries in the past. This time I´m a little bit better practiced though, and the apartment is a lot smaller, so we were able to burn through the job quick and get back to work. It was really pretty disgusting though. When there´s so much grease on the tile that it turns into a paste when you try to get it off, it´s a really fun time. I'll probably get transferred and have to do this again. 

Some views of Ben's apartment. I guess this is his walk in closet, as in, you walk in the room and there is the closet.

I'm guessing this is his laundry room?! Please tell me he's never slept on that mattress . . . 

Tile everywhere!

I learned a few new recipes this week, but I still have to write them up coherently. Don´t worry though, Ben´s Horrible Mission Cookbook will not die with one recipe alone!

I was sitting in the bus station the other day when I had a marvelous experience with the gift of tongues. Although I have studied 4 years of Spanish, even with Cohen´s best efforts it was still really hard for me to understand spoken Spanish. But two days ago I was sitting on a bench and the guy next to me asked what time it was. I told him the time, and we started to talk we talked for quite a bit about the Gospel, the Church, and our dedication to helping the poor, uneducated, and afflicted receive help. It was only as I left to catch the bus that I realized he had been talking in Spanish the whole time. I´m not sure exactly how I understood everything that he said, especially as he used some pretty big words, but it´s really a strong demonstration for me of the gift of tongues. For some reason, the Lord worked through me that day.

I know that the Church is true, and that this really is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  I thank you all for all your support and remembering me back home. Have a great week! I will succeed!

Elder Murray - see more pictures below!

Ben's companion, Elder Costa

The hills around Campinas.

Ben's district on p-day. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 18th - Barao Bronchitis

Hello My Beloved Friends and Family,

Ah, the week of scout camp. It´s always one of the most fantastic, amazing weeks of the year. And Mom, if you thought that the family dinner was bad, you should know that that´s always the best food of the week. I´ll never forget that one time that we had eggs that you had to cut with a knife. Thanks for being available to feed the missionaries when their dinner fell through. It´s these types of families that are the most important to have. Also, how cool that we have a Brazilian missionary in our ward! Find out what part of Brazil he´s from, and I can teach you some of the characteristics of the Brazilians from that particular part of Brazil.

This week here in the Baron we knocked doors, taught people, and did the usual missionary routine. Here a lot of the time the ladies of the church can´t give us lunch, so they give us money, and we hit up one of the cheap restaurants around here. This happens a lot. So much that Elder Costa and I have visited 8 different restaurants. We've almost visited all that there are in Barão Geraldo. We´re saving up now with a goal to go to the expensive steak house one day in the future. We´ll see if it happens. 

Marriage here in Brazil is a complicated process. First, you have to go to the Government office and mark a marriage date for a specified time in the future. This usually costs a lot, and you have to mark the date for many days in the future. Luckily, here in Barão the period is a little bit smaller, so it´s only 17 days. And this Wednesday we went to the office and paid the fee to mark the wedding date of Timoteo and Euzine! Thanks for the prayers, they worked out well. 

We´ve been feeling the effect of the adversary this week, and he´s been attacking through a rather strange medium, bronchitis. Remember how I told you last week that Luiz couldn´t be confirmed because he had a bronchitis attack that night. This week, on the day we had planned to mark the marriage date, Timoteo had, you guessed it, a bronchitis attack, and had to go to the hospital. Then, the wife of our ward mission leader went to the hospital on Saturday night. This one was just food poisoning though, not bronchitis, so there´s that. I blame all of the attacks as of late on the fact that it´s a dry period here, and the government has taken advantage of that fact to clear the plant growth away from the highway. How do they do that? They burn it. So we´ve had a ton of ash landing on our front porch all week. Every single day this week I´ve had to sweep away ash from our front porch, and the ash also falls on your white shirt and turns it black, so there´s that too. In other news, I swallowed a coin this week to look for some latent ironpushing ability, but no luck. (Sanderson anyone?)

Last night we had a cool experience. We´ve been praying a lot to get references from the members here, but we hadn´t been getting much success. Then, last night, a young couple of members from a ward in another stake here in Campinas called us up and asked if we could visit the man´s father with them. The live in a ward 1 hour away, but their father lives in Barão, so we went. We had a very spiritual lesson, especially when the son shared with his father how much more unified their family is because of the Gospel. I know that the Lord answers our prayers, and that He wants us to succeed. With His help, I will succeed!

Elder Murray

Monday, July 11, 2016

July 11th - Yea for baptism!

Family and Friends,

This week was quite the party here in Barão Geraldo. Although nobody here celebrates the 4th of July here, we still had some festivities. Every single member of our family that wrote me this week said something about Pokemon Go. It must really be awesome, or at least cool enough that it made a bigger splash in our family than anything else this week. Maybe it´ll still be around in a year, but by then I should be so far behind as to make it impossible to play, so who knows?

I say that we had festivities because we played court soccer on our p-day last week with a bunch of guys from our district and some members. I was pretty awful, but I got a lot better as our tournament went on, and I had a really good time. I can now officially say that I have gotten the full Brazilian experience! (Although I still chanted USA USA when I scored a goal). This week we did very little studying because almost every single day during the morning we had to do something. Tuesday we had a Zone Meeting, Wednesdaywe had a Zone Conference with President Hill (I had to watch it in another zone because I would have missed ours, so I got to see Elder Azambuja again), then on Thursday we went to the Federal Police station. I got a renewed Brazilian Document and Elder Costa got a new Brazilian Passport (because he has double nationality). All in all, I now have a fresh paper that shows that I am legally here. It also works well as a before and after photo, because I have one from when I was really fat when I got here, and one from now, a bunch of weight later. It was a pretty long week in the end, but it went well because . . .

This week we baptized Luiz! (The guy in white in the middle) Luiz first came to church wanting to learn English during our free English course on Wednesday nights. After the second time he came, we invited him to go to church on Sunday and he went, and loved it. He´s a very timid guy who likes to read a lot and works making furniture. He overcame all of the difficulties that stood in front of him, and was baptized Saturday night. 

I´ve been reading a lot these last few weeks about the parables that Jesus Christ used to teach. As I teach people here on the mission, I do my best to emulate our Savior´s method of teaching, but it´s really impossible to get anywhere close to the level of mastery that He used when He pulled examples from the daily lives of people. All of the parables that he used were exactly tailored to the age, background, and mindset of his audience, and all of them bring true principles that help us in our lives. I´m thankful for the example our Savior left, and if I keep trying trying to follow his example, here in the mission field I will succeed.

Elder Murray

Monday, July 4, 2016

July 4th - Oh Wait - Today's the 4th of July?

Oi Family and Friends,

I actually had forgotten that today was a holiday until I saw one of the other American missionaries on the bus, and he reminded me that today is the Fourth of July. How weird is that? I´ve spent so much time living here among the brasileiros (nearly 10 months!), that I don´t even remember the holidays of my own country. Happy Birthday America! I hope that you guys all eat some BBQ and some homemade ice cream, and launch some sweet fireworks in my rememberance. It´s on the holidays that you most miss home on the mission, but don´t shed any tears for me, I´m doing just fine. 

I hope your ride with Bro. McDonald was a good one. Generally when you think of giving someone a ride it´s just to their house, or to the school, or something like that, and not to another state, but there you have it. Also, congrats on the sweet EFY experience, brothers Dave and Jacob. It´s always a fun time to take a trip to BYU and have some spiritual experiences. In a way, it´s similar to the mission, expect that when you serve a mission it´s 2 years, you´re way longer from home, nobody speaks your language, there are no dances, and you have to do your own laundry. And you have to knock doors. Okay, maybe there are a ton of differences.

This week here in Barão Geraldo we went after less-active members and we held a ton of Family Home Evenings in the houses of various members. The funny story of the week would have to be the moment when I went and clapped in front of a house (how you knock doors here in Brazil), and there was a little girl standing on the front patio. When she saw us approach, she turned and fled, and ran away screaming. It was an interesting representation of the way that people treat us here, although generally the people aren´t so up front about it. I had some good laughs with my companion. This week we´ve been trying really hard to help a young couple that we´re teaching get married, and if they can, we should be able to baptize 4 people from their family. Put Timoteo and Euzine in your prayers. 

This week I thought a lot about the reasons that people leave the church and why they often times lose their testimony in the process. Generally, they leave because of 2 reasons. 1. They don´t want to live the commandments. When a person doesn´t want to go to church, or keep the law of chastity, or the word of wisdom, or any of the other commandments, generally they feel ashamed and stop going to church, or they rationalize away their problem, and they lose their testimony in the process, and then stop going to church. The other big reason would be 2. They fought with a member. A lot of people imagine that the church should be filled with perfect people. People that don´t ever make errors, people that don´t ever gossip, and people that don´t have a bad side. Although this would be great, as in any other group setting, there will be some people that don´t get along. Then, when the person sees this, they stop going to church. It´s a really sad moment. Both of these problems come from the same conception, that the church should be filled with perfect people. Once, Nelson Mandela was called a saint, and he responded " I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying. " This is the definition of saint that we adhere to in the church. None of us is perfect, but we try each day to be better.  The church isn´t a place for perfect people, but for those who need to improve. I really see this here on the mission. I hope that we can all remember this, and try to be a little better each day. In this, I hope that I will succeed.

Elder Murray