Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 31 - Hills and Holidays

Family and Friends,

Another Saturday email, I know it´s a weird time of year and as such, things are scheduled weirdly here. As for your questions that you really need answers to, yes the See´s candy got here safely. As for New Year´s parties, they generally do a countdown and they like to send off a bunch of fireworks. I´m hoping that we see some cool fireworks this year because our back porch has a great view of the city, so we should be able to watch it all. As for free time, we almost never have free time. Usually just on P-Day, and I've taken up card games.

As for road encounters, I accidently asked a mute guy what his name was this week. That was a pretty awkward moment. Sometimes your mouth just goes on autopilot and doesn´t have any connection with your brain. There are a lot of really annoying people on the road that just walk past you and leave you there with your hand outstretched, but that´s just part of the missionary life. It feels like there are only about 300 people that actually go walking here in Itatiba, and we´ve spoken with just about all of them. 

This week one guy stopped us on the road and asked us to visit him. His name is Kevin. He was a Jehovah´s Witness until recently, and he looks like he is about 27, but he told us that he actually is only 17. It was a pretty great first lesson, so hopefully he progresses.

Tonight we are going to have a sweet BBQ (churrasco) just me and my companion. We´ve already bought the meat and the coal, now we just have to grill it up. There´s a 3 liter bottle of Pepsi waiting for us too (sorry Anthony). It should be a pretty sweet New Year´s party. It´s weird to think that next year, I go home. Sometimes it feels like I will never go back to a normal life, and that I have always been out here knocking doors and talking to crazy people. 

A challenge that we are giving to all the members here, and I guess I´ll give to you guys too, is about the new year. As everyone sets goals and makes resolutions this time of year, a good thing you can do is make a goal to become more like Jesus Christ in one way. We all know something that we need to work on. This year, let´s work on it! It will bless your life.

One more chance to sacrifice all I have!

Elder Murray

Sunday, December 25, 2016

December 25th - Christmas Day Skype

Today we got to talk to Ben for 40 minutes via Skype. I loved it! He said all his brothers looked older, and that Paul and I looked younger - which is as it should be, right?! He talked about how hot it is in Brazil and how he is always sweating. He said it also rains every day. Gabriel asked him what food he missed the most from America and there was no hesitation for his answer - Slurpees! He said there is nothing like it in Brazil, there is no way we could send it, and it would be so perfect to have in their super hot weather. His favorite Brazilian food is churassco, which is barbecued steak. He is in an area with a ton of hills and he does a load of walking. He said he wears 60 SPF so that he doesn't burn but he burns anyway and he still isn't tan, lol!  He seemed pretty happy but he did mention that he is the "hole filler" so they put him in areas where people are breaking a lot of rules or with companions that are hard to get along with. That's okay, and I am proud that he is such a good kid that the mission president would put him where he can be a leader. I love that boy!


Saturday, December 24, 2016

December 24th - Hills and Christmas Time

Family and Friends,

For the family part, I´ll see you all tomorrow. Get hype for a good skype. I haven´t been practicing my English, so break out the Portuguese translators, because you´re going to need it! I jest, I jest. I think that I can still speak my mother language, at least understandably. Not with all of my stunning eloquence from before the mission though. As for all of you that aren´t my family, these next two Mondays (December 26 and January 2) I won´t be entering on my email. My P-day will be only the 31st, and I am not fully sure if I will be able to find a LAN house open. So send your emails, but don´t get mad at me if you don´t get a response until January 9!

This week we had a half-mission conference on Wednesday, and we all heard a message from our President about the Savior´s birth and the wise men and how we can emulate them. He also showed us a bunch of scriptures that prophesy about the birth of Jesus Christ. Then we had lunch together, ate brownies and ice cream, then we watched Pets. It was a fun time, and it showed me just how much time I have passed without watching a movie. Then we all went home. 

It´s been really staggeringly hot these last couple of days here. I´ve been missing the freezing weather from Colorado. -10 is a lot better than 100. You feel like you´re inside of a microwave at times here, and I´ve been drinking a ton of water each day. At least all the sweating cleans out the pores though! 

I´m really quite excited to talk to my family tomorrow, and to open up the sweet Christmas gifts you have all sent me! I don´t have a whole ton to write today, because the week was pretty weird and we haven´t had a ton of success recently, but hopeful this tides you over until the next time I can write. Have a great week, Merry Christmas to all!

One more chance to give all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19th - Hills, Christmas is coming, and Contacts

Hello Family and Friends,

So, first off, the most important news. I will be calling you guys around 3:30 in the afternoon here in Brazil, which should be, by my calculations, 11:30 in the morning for you guys in Colorado. That gives you guys time to go to church, and gives us a substantial cushion on both sides of things if something ends up going wrong. I've already got a place to make the call ready, and although I don't know if the internet and microphone are good, I'm hoping for the best. I only have 40 minutes for the call, so let´s make good use of the time! If you have any questions, write them down. I'm not sure if I´ll be able to speak English all that well, but I´ll be giving it my best! Also, it is possible that I will be able to email Saturday, all though I´m not sure if we will be able to find an open LAN house. Same thing goes for day 31. That means that I won´t be emailing on Monday next week, or on the 2nd of January.

The Christmas spirit is filling the air, although here in Brazil that takes the form of everybody leaving town to go to the beach. It feels as though about 1/3rd of the populace of Itatiba will be leaving town this holiday season, and it feels like the city will, pretty soon, have just us missionaries here. 

As for Brazilian Christmas traditions, they really like to do a secret Santa sort of thing here, where everyone gets someone to send a present to. They also like to have a party on the 24th, and everyone eats a lot of grapes in this season, because it´s the season that grapes get cheap. Outside of that, there isn't a whole ton of tradition built around Christmas here. 

We have recently been given a goal by our mission leaders to invite 300 people on the road to hear our message, per week. If that sounds like a lot of people, that´s because it is. Talking with 300 people per week means that you have a lot of crazy experiences, because there are a lot of crazy people on the road and you usually hit 3 or 4 of them when talking with 300 people. This week we met a guy that said that he received the same name as me (Murray), but in Portuguese (Marray), when he was baptized into the Masonry. yikes. He then proceeded to talk for over 45 minutes, and although we tried everything short of just leaving, we couldn't get away from the conversation. Later in the week, a guy stopped us on the road and said "Hey, you guys are the Mormons?" To which we replied, "Yes, we are. Would you like to learn more about the Church in your home?" His response, "No, I'm an atheist, but I've seen you guys on the internet, and I never saw you guys in real life before, and I didn't know if you actually existed. Cool stuff!" I thought about giving him an autograph, but you´re not supposed to mock people on the road, so I didn't. 

This week I have learned a lot about what makes up the Bible as we know it today. For those of you who have never really looked into it, the story of the King James Bible, all of the work of translation that went into it, and the process of selection as to which books go into it really is a fantastic story. The Spirit of the Lord inspired men throughout the ages to give to us the Word of God today. It's incredible. Look it up. Have a great week!

One more chance to give all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, December 12, 2016

December 12th - Hills and a Noob and a Baptism

Hello Family and Friends,

It´s good to hear that you are all feeling the Christmas Spirit! I enjoyed the pictures too. As you have skinnied up now Dad, you really need to buy some new clothes. You´re looking like me. Enough clothes on for two other guys. I´m sorry you all didn´t get to see my pretty face in the ward party, but they told me last week as I was leaving the lan house, and as such, I didn´t get time to make a video. I am really quite envious of your cold weather back home. Here, things are getting incredibly hot, with that epic Brazilian summer really showing it´s stuff. Even when it´s not that hot out, the amount of humidity in the air keeps me sweating constantly. 

This week I recieved a new companion, straight out of the MTC. His name is Elder Oliveira, although that will quickly be changed to Elder E. Oliveira, to not have any confusion with the already established Elder Oliveira. Brazilians love to all have the same last name. Elder Oliveira is from Fortaleza, a state in the north of the country, famous for it´s beaches and weird food. They like to eat all of the animal, and that´s a lot of intestine, foot, and even cheek meat. Weird stuff. He´s 18 years old, and as such, is my first companion that is younger then me in terms of real life age. He´s still getting used to the hills.

We had one more baptism this week, of a young man named Mikael. For those of you keeping track back home, unhappily, his name isn´t Jacob, because last week I baptized a guy named Gabriel, and the week before, a David. Sorry Jake. You´ll just have to wait it out.

Mikael is a cool guy because he has blue hair, likes to take pictures of himself doing gangster poses, and received the Gospel very quickly in his life. He knew the truth when he saw it, and embraced it quickly. I was very impressed yesterday, when he had to travel to São Paulo. He didn´t know what time he would have to leave, but he wanted to go to church. So he went, watched half an hour and, then his family came to pick him up. When a good number of old members of the church would just skip church all together, Mikael went and watched all he could. That´s conversion. 

This week we had a special multi-stake conference with all of Brazil together.  We got to hear, live, the messages of Elder Jeffery R Holland and two Elder Costas of the 70. It was cool to feel the love that the international church has. The Gospel really has gone to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. It´s a great thing!

One more chance to give all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5th - Hills, a Transfer, and Some Baptisms

Familia and Friends,

I hope that you have all had a great week. Mom and her lego-based adventures, Dad with his vegan-based adventures, Dave with his singing-based adventures, Jacob with his hair-based adventures and young Gabe with his Christmasy ones, and it sounds like you guys are all having a great time. Here in Itatiba I´m still climbing up the crazy, crazy hills, and this week brings a bit of news about the future.

Sadly, Elder Leandro will be leaving the area this week, but not so sadly, I will be training a new missionary again! It´s always a fun chance to help a new missionary learn how to be a missionary and to start his mission off on the right foot and not waste any time in the Lord´s service. I´ll have more information for you guys next week about who he is and where he´s from. I´ll miss the chance to buy cosmetic products half price from Elder Leandro, especially because that´s something you don´t find too often. I hope the new guy is ready to climb some hills as well, becuase Itatiba is not an easy area on the legs.

Ben tells us that many Brazilians go to the beach as the way to celebrate Christmas! It's summer there!

This week and last week we were able to partcipate in two baptisms. Last week, we helped a young man named David get baptized. He was already in our teaching group when we got here in the area, and he hadn´t been baptized yet because his parents were certain that he wasn´t ready. While other missionaries had gotten there and used a lot of scriptures trying to convince them, we simply showed up, talked calmly, and boldly marked a date. They accepted. David was baptized.

This week we helped baptize a young man called Gabriel. He is from Alagoas, the same state as Elder Leandro, and we found him when we were teaching his cousin, who will hopefully be baptized next week. We are taught, as missionaries, to boldly invite people to be baptized. As such, in our first contact with Gabriel, we asked him if he would like to be baptized the way Jesus Christ was. He said he did, and one month later, it became reality. 

I know the Church is true. I´m thankful for the chance I have to be a missionary.

Have a great week!

Elder Murray