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

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