Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24th - Transfer!

Family and Friends,

This week marks the end of my time here in Barão Geraldo. After much time in the area, I have been transfered, completing my companion´s training. Crazily enough, he has been called to train a new missionary, and carry on the legacy. When you train on the mission, you are called the dad of that new missionary, so people ask you, who was your dad, and you tell them who your trainer was. As missionaries take everything overboard, you end up having elaborate family trees that connect all the generations of missionaries. As such, I will become a grandpa! How cool is that?

I will miss Barão quite a bit. It´s really a beautiful part of the city, full of trees and lakes, and the university is a really cool place. The ward is also filled with good members, and I've made a lot of friends here. One good example is our Bishop, Ivan (the good, lol) who is shown in the picture. It´s tough when you make too many friends in the ward though, because at some point you have to say goodbye and move on to other horizons. 

Elder Murray and Bishop Ivan the Good

This week we baptized a man named José Henrique, (pic included). He´s got a really interesting profession, in that he uses dance lessons to cure mental difficulties and work with less mentally able children. That´s a weird thing to do, I know, but it works. He took about three different masters in college to get this do all work out, and he´s going for his doctorate this year. He learned about the Gospel thanks to a member from another ward in a neighboring city. She took him to church one day, and he later told us that this was the end of a search that he had been on for 4 years. He decided that he was ready to pay the price to see miracles in his life, and he went through with being baptized. He's really a great man, and he'll see the blessings of the Gospel.

I´ll be heading to a new area soon, with new challenges, and new excitements. And a new companion, and a new district, and a new zone. Basically, the only thing that won't be new is my shoes. It should be a great time, and I´ll have plenty to write about. 

One more chance to give all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17 - Mission Tour and Member Work

Family and Friends,

This week, a billionaire attended my fireside. More on that later. 

Sounds like you guys back home had a good time with all them Grandparents and dogs and such to bug you. I especially liked the name Van Diesel for the dog. That´s a good, high quality name. And the fact that you guys were able to attend a temple dedication ceremony is really cool. I bet it was a really spiritual moment for all of you there. I´m sorry that I haven´t been writing with a ton of details lately, but it´s been mostly the same old same old. We knock doors, talk with people on the road, and then we teach lessons. I´ll try to give you some cooler stories this week though.

This week our Zone Leader spent a night in our house on an exchange with our District Leader. His name is Elder Sosa, and he´s mexican. I had a good time with someone else that shares my love for tacos, burritos, and guacamole. Thanks to Mom´s cooking and Dad´s love of Mexican food, It´s honestly the food type that I´m most missing here in Brazil. They just don´t do Mexican food here. You can find almost any other type of food, (except slurpees :( ), but all the Mexican restaurants are really really expensive. 

Then, to keep up the number of visitors in our house, on Thursday night the two missionaries from Itajubá slept at our house in preparation for the mission tour that was slated to happen the next day. It was weird to hear about the news from my old area, but at least the members there only have good things to say about me! 

On Friday, we had a mission tour with Elder Campos, of the 70. He´s the leader of the Eduational System of the Church here in Brazil, and we had a day-long meeting with him, and all of the missionaries of our mission together. He was a very funny guy, and had a bunch of stories about how missionaries worked together with the members of their ward to have magic happen. He told us about one little boy that he knew that always ran circles around the chapel, until one day his mother went and bought him a white shirt and tie. Then, when he got to church, he saw the missionaries there, sitting quietly, and because he was dressed the same way, he sat quietly too. Overall, the mission tour was a great experience, and I left with a lot of cool ideas about how I could work with the members of our ward here.

Then, to put these ideas in practice, we had a missionary fireside on Sunday night, for all of the members of the stake to attend. Including Carlos Wizard Martins, bishop of the Castelo ward, and the billionaire that I mentioned earlier. The Stake President spoke, then President Hill spoke, then we, as missionaries, gave small trainings on how to do missionary work as a member. Our group talked about how to follow up on commitments. It was a great experience, and the members left there very fired up about missionary work. 

Hopefully this email hits your detail quotient! It helped that this was an eventful week. Next week, I´ll know the transfer results, so I´ll be able to tell you if I´ll be staying 1 more transfer in Barão or if I´m leaving! One more chance to give all I have! Have a great week!

Elder Murray

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 10 - And, after much time, a baptism!

Family and Friends,

It sounds like life is chuggin on back home. I left the house and everyone decided to start singing. Pretty soon, I´ll be the only one that isn´t in any choir. Then I think about it for a moment, and I remember that I participated in the choir here in Barão for our ward conference here a couple weeks back. Looks like I´ve been infected as well. It´s part of it all.

I´d like to give a quick shout out to the amazing bus system here in Brazil. These last couple of weeks we have been using the bus a lot, and it really is amazing how the system is set up here. There are busses for just about every single part of the city, they all pass with extreme precision and speed, and the ride is almost comfortable, if you don´t hit to many bumps. In general, Brazil is a lot more pedestrian friendly than the US. There are supermarkets all over the place, so you don´t have a huge trek to buy food, and the amazing bus system makes travel fast and economic. It´s really something cool that they have here.

This week we had a baptism! This young man´s name is João Vitor. He has been going to church faithfully for over a year. His father wouldn´t authorize his baptism because he didn´t want his son to make any rash decisions, and join a church that he would later regret. Even when it became apparent that João was serious about his decision, his dad still wouldn´t let him be baptized. A slew of missionaries had already passed by his house and tried to convince João´s dad, but we knew that this wasn´t the right tactic. Instead, we helped João Vitor grow his own faith and testimony through prayer, scripture study, and fasting. In the end, João went and talked to his father on his own. I don´t know what happened in that conversation, but his dad authorized the baptism! It was a great moment!

I´m grateful for all your support back home, and I hope you have a great week! One more chance to give all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, October 3, 2016

October 3rd - Many Conferences

Familia e Amigos,

Mom, your letter this week was really awesome. I laughed a lot with the story about the sweetest cross country meet ever, and I enjoyed your camping story. Our family really is cursed, isn't it? It rains every single time we try to camp. I have a related story here too. I really missed conference bingo once again, because eating all of the candy even when the speaker didn't say anything on the list was always a good time. And listening to the Brazilian translator isn't the same thing, even if you understand anything. General Conference always makes me a little bit homesick. It's weird that I only have one more conference here too. 

As for my rain story, it goes like this. Here in Brazil, nobody uses clothes dryers. It's all drying line here. And sometimes, you get to live in a house that doesn't have a clothesline in a covered area that lets you dry your clothes out without danger of weather, or this covered area is really small. So, what do I do? Put my clothes out on the outdoor line and hope it doesn't rain long enough for my clothes to dry and for me to take them off the line. You´d think this would have a pretty high chance of working out right, especially when the whole week didn't rain, right? WRONG. The first week in my new house here, I put the clothes out Monday afternoon, planning to put them away Tuesday morning. Then Monday night it rained. So I had to put the clothes in the washer again, and put them out again. They dried, and I took them down. The next week, I did the same thing, put them out Monday afternoon, get them Tuesday morning. Monday night it rained. This cycle continued for FOUR WEEKS. IT ONLY RAINED ON MONDAY NIGHT! I cried one day when I woke up and saw wet pavement. We're cursed.

This week we had many conferences, including zone conference with President Hill, and General Conference, with all of the leaders of the church. I spent a lot of time sitting in the stake headquarters watching great leaders give talks on how we can be better members and better people. I especially liked Elder Oaks´ talk about how now is the time for missionaries and members to work together to grow and help the church. Interestingly, earlier in the week, our President gave us a training on how we can work better together with the members of our wards. For those of you listening back home, support your missionaries. There´s nothing better here than the friend of a member to teach, and that member´s presence in the lesson. Together, we can spread the Gospel much faster than the missionaries can alone. 

I thank you all for your support and prayers back home. Keep up the good work!  One more chance to give all I have!

Elder Murray