Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7th - Wrap Up

Family and Friends, 

Thanks to all of you for all of the continued support during these last two years. I have felt your love and your prayers. I would especially like to thank my Mom for keeping up my blog all this time and doing so much behind the scenes work so that my life will be in gear next week. 

As this is my last week sending email to you all, I wanted to do a big ole wrap up email and talk about my mission as a whole. I think it'll be something cool to cap off the blog with. So let's go. 

All in all, I served in 6 areas spread out across 5 different cities, from start to finish being Itajubá, Valinhos, Barão Geraldo, Itatiba, Colônia, and Parque da Represa. The last two areas are within Jundiaí, so I basically came here 7 months back and never left. It's a good place though, so I'm good. My favorite area was Colônia. 

I had 13 companions in total. In order, they were, Elder Miranda, Elder Cruz, Elder Mancilla, Elder Azambuja, Elder Costa, Elder Mauricio, Elder Leandro, Elder Oliveira, Elder Larkins, Elder Moraes, Elder Azcarate, Elder Tavares, and Elder Bezerra. I trained 2 (Mauricio and Oliveira) and killed 2 (Moraes and Tavares). 

I served as a new missionary for 2 transfers, Junior for 2 transfers, District Leader for 2 transfers, Senior for 1 transfer, Trainer for 2 transfers, Senior for 1 transfer, Trainer for 1 transfer, and then Zone Leader for 5 transfers. 

I got 4 zone t-shirts after all is said and done. And they are almost all blue. Yay blue! The color of baptism!

I started the mission off at about 250. I'm now weighing in at 213. So that's some pretty crazy weight loss. I lost a lot of muscle, I'm sure, but I'm still pretty swole, so we'll see where that goes in the gym later this week. 

I don't like to say the number of people I baptized, so let's just say that I baptized all of them. All of the people that the Lord prepared for me. 

The worst food I ate was sarapatel, or maybe caldo de mocotó. Sarapatel is chunks of intestine with blood still stuck to them. Ewww. And Caldo de Mocotó is a soop made out of cow ankles. Also eww. Both of these gave me really bad diareaha too. Good times.

The best food was the churrasco, or Brazilian BBQ. I also enjoyed the many varieties of fruits that they have here. 

My favorite member of all is Fabio Monteiro, our ward mission leader here in Parque da Represa. He's an awesome guy. Honorable mention goes to Marinho in Barão Geraldo, and Gabriel in Itajubá. They were both really helpful too. 

As Paul said in his letter to Timothy "For I am now ready to be offered, the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 

Here in Brazil I have had the chance to come to know the culture and the history of this great people. Before coming here, I knew just about nothing about Brazil. Now I know a whole lot. I have really come to love this people. They are quick to laugh, and slow to anger, and they have a deep-seated love for God. I have had the opportunity to teach them in their homes, in their churches, at their bus stops, on their busses, in their squares, in their supermarkets, and in many other places throughout these 2 years. I have truly come to love this land and this people. They are a part of my life now. 

I am very grateful for this chance that I have had to pass 2 years in the Lord's service. I have seen many miracles and huge blessings come to me because of my service here. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I feel that now, I have come to fully understand and support my beliefs. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I know that He guides his church today. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God lives. He loves us. He cares for each one of us. I know that the Gospel changes lives. I know that if we persevere until the end, we can become even as He is. I am so thankful for the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the chance we have to be better each day. We may not always understand God's reasons, but there is a plan for us. I leave this testimony in the name of Jesus Christ.


Elder Murray

July 31st - The End

Family and Friends,

First off, congratulations Dave on becoming an Elder! I have had many opportunities to use the power of the Priesthood here as a missionary, and I have no doubts that it is the power of God given to men on Earth. It can do miracles according to our faith.

This week was really really trunky for me. I had my last interview ever with my mission president, and he gave me a lot of good counsels for my life. We've been knocking some doors and making a lot of contacts on the roads, and just generally raising our voice and proclaiming the Gospel. I'm really starting to realize that I'm going home next week, so I've just been trying to make the best out of my remaining time here. 

After my many, many epistles to you, I have come down to the last week of my mission. It was a long, hard fought battle, and I've got one last week to take advantage of as a missionary here in Brazil. I plan on knocking a lot of doors, eating some good Brazilian food, and packing up my bags for the long, long ride home. Next week I'll send a long, long wrap up email. 

Have a great week!

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24 - It Feels Like a Movie!

Família e Amigos, 

This week was really a pretty strange and exciting ride. I'm really starting to feel the end get here. Slowly but surely I'm realizing that my mission is running out. As you get down to the end of a movie, things start to pick up speed, the challenges get harder, and the rewards get sweeter as well. Weirdly enough, this kind of happened with my mission as well. I feel like I'm living through a story from the Liahona/Ensign, or that I'm part of some sort of church movie. Lot's of weird, climatic events are happening. 

This week showcased one of these climax events, as we had a baptism. Actually we had three baptisms. My whole mission I have prayed and taught and searched to be able to teach families, but it has been hard going. Before coming to Parque da Represa, I had never baptized more than one person at a time. But this time, the Lord stepped in. Two weeks ago, we received a referral from a man from another city, telling us that he had a family for us to teach, they were super interested in learning about the Church, and they live in front of the chapel. They came to church, we taught them, and this week they were baptized. Their names are Wellington, Rose, and Gabriella, and the little guy is David, who is only 7. Truly a miracle. Everyone at church thought that they were already members. They understood everything that we taught, and have got their eyes on sealing already. Miracles at the end.

Dad asked about service projects. I've had a lot of opportunities to do small service projects here, with people on the road, moves, and other such things. I've also participated in some bigger projects too. In Barão Geraldo, we, as a ward, built the house of an elderly woman that needed it. It took more than 9 months, and at the end, we sprinted to get it done before her rent ran out. I learned a lot about painting and electrical setups. And Brazilian construction.

Mom asked me several trunky questions. Yes, I would like to go to the temple with you guys. If it's Dave's first time or if he goes in the next 2 weeks, is up to him. 

I plan on wrapping up by bearing my testimony in sacrament meeting and cleaning up any loose ends here. And preaching the Gospel for 2 more weeks. That's part of it. 

I will really miss Tang. Here in Brazil they have a bunch of cool juice mix things. I'll miss them. 

I'll miss Jundiaí, in general. I like it here. I'll have to come back and visit some day.

This week I have my last interview with my President. Should be cool.

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

July 17th - 3, Also Dave

Family and Friends,

The number of emails that you will receive from me before the end is ticking down, slowly but surely. I'm starting to feel the sand pass from the top to the bottom, and as the last few grains tick through, I'm giving it my last gas here. 

Dave, I'm super hype for your mission call! I'm sure you are going to find a bunch of elects, and you are really going to love your mission. David A Bednar gave a great talk last conference about serving where the Lord calls us, and I know that, without a shadow of a doubt, the Lord has prepared specific people for you to meet in Fresno. Good luck with the Spanish bro! And start working on your talk.

As for my week, things are pretty good. A small miracle happened today because I found shoes that are actually my size this morning. And they were only R$60. I won't have to walk with a huge hole in my boots for the last 3 weeks! Yay! We are teaching a family here in the area, and they are preparing to be baptized this week, so you will be getting a picture next week if all goes well. Jundiaí is still a beautiful city, and I'm getting real good at doing pushups. 

As for the questions:

Did you like the shoulder bag we bought you on the beginning of your mission?
To be honest, I barely ever used that bag that you guys got me. In fact, I have it still, and it's in basically mint condition, because I almost never used it. Why did I never use it? It's just too big. I don't carry almost anything, just my small bible, a bunch of pamphlets that have the lessons, and one or two copies of the Book of Mormon to give to people. And that's it. Water we ask people for when we knock on their door, food I usually don't eat or I buy something at a grocery store. All said and done, that fits all in a much smaller bag, so I was using just a scripture case for a while until I found a small bag with a shoulder strap that looked durable and bought it from another missionary. So if you want me to bring home the bag you bought for me, I can, and Dave can use it. The bag I use is super thrashed, but I could bring it home too. 

How did the clothes hold up?
The golf pants are good because they are breatheable, lightweight, easy to wash (don't stain ever), and are really high durability. After 2 years of wear and tear the rest of my day-to-day stuff is thrashed and destroyed, but the golf pants still look almost new. That's why I like them so much. 

The shirts are nice. They've got a good feel, and are pretty durable, but they get yellow by the end. I switched out a good part of my shirts though, because I lost so much weight that I was swimming in them. 

I'll have a look at my bags this week to see any unnecessary and necessary stuff for you guys to equip Dave well. 

Thanks for all the support and love.
One last chance to offer all I have!
Elder Murray

Saturday, July 15, 2017

July 10 - One Month

Family and Friends,

I can't believe you guys convinced Dad to go camping. And it only rained for 2 hours. Really awesome luck? Weird blessings of the mission? Who knows? Getting back to nature is great. 

This week saw yet another "last" hit me, with the last missed US holiday passing by with the 4th of July. And also I started my last month as a missionary. The lasts have come. And they just keep coming. This week will be my last zone conference too. I'm trying to give it a last sprint, and a lot of last gas. I just hope I can last until the end! And I hope you all lasted through that pun.

I got some more questions this week, so here we go. 

Do people in Brazil camp?
People in Brazil aren't usually big camping fans. There just aren't any campgrounds, and if people want to spend time in nature, they usually just go to the ranch house or farm of some relative out in the middle of the woods. They don´t even have a real word for camping. 

Do they have pine trees in Brazil?
Yes, they have pine trees here, but they are the weaksauce tropical versions that are a really light color of green. They just serve to remind me of the true pines of my homeland.

Tell us about your new companion.
I already told you about my new companion last week. Didn't I? He's Elder Bezerra. He's from Rio Grande do Norte. He's short. 

Have you used any strange bathrooms while there?
Yes, I have used many strange bathrooms here. In fact, I have used more strange bathrooms here than anywhere else in my life. The worst are the trick bathrooms, that you have to know some special trick to get the toilet to flush, or the bathrooms that are a really really long ways from the house. And our house in Itatiba had a derelict bathroom with a cat living there. And there are the really small bathrooms where you can use the toilet, brush your teeth at the sink, and take a shower, all without moving from the same spot! And there's our bathroom, where the weird floor space design makes it impossible to clean. Many bathrooms.

Tell us about a miracle this week.
This week we had a small miracle happen here in our area. We worked hard all week, and Saturday night we had very little success, and no one to take to church. The Lord saw our hard work though, and blessed us. A man called us from a neighboring city, and told us that he was preparing a family for us to teach. He had already taken them to church in his city, but, as they live less than one block from our chapel, they would be going to our ward. As such, we had a family at church on Sunday, and we will be teaching them this week!

Have a great week!
One more chance to offer all I have!
Elder Murray

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26 - My Companion Died Wet!

Hello Family and Friends,

I come to you once more with another one of my great and famous epistles. My parents had a great time in Hawaii, and I enjoyed reading about their epic islander adventures. I especially enjoyed the story about Uncle Matt saving that guy. Cool stuff!

This week was pretty eventful for me. My companion was on his last week as a missionary, so once again I killed someone. This was a good week though, because we achieved the last-mission-week dream, dying wet! That´s when you baptize on your last week as a missionary. 

This week were able to baptize 2 young men, Davi, and Dennys. We were searching for less-active members from the ward directory, and we stopped an older lady to ask her for help finding an address. After she answered our question she said "I was part of this church over 30 years ago. I really do miss those days. I'd like to start going to church again." We took a hold of that golden opportunity, and took her and her 2 grandsons to church the very next week. The 2 grandsons accepted baptism, and they learned about the church really quickly. 

The pre-baptism selfie!

Baptism of Davi and Dennys by Ben's companion, Elder Tavares.

This week I plan to dump a whole lot of pictures for you guys, because it's been a while since I've sent any. So, here we go. 7926 is Elder Batista, one of the guys that lives with me, enjoying a glass of orange juice. 

7921 is a pic of my shoe after a particularly intense game of soccer on pday. 

7912 is my companion, at left, and Elder B. Gomes, a guy that lives with us.

7908 is the early morning exercises paying off. 

Thanks for the love and support. Have a great week!

One more chance (transfer) to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Sunday, June 25, 2017

June 19 - In the Trenches

Family and Friends,

Well, as my parents party it up in Hawaii, normal life goes on for the rest of us. This week was one of my most normal weeks in all of my mission. Not that many weird things, no trips to Campinas, just good old missionary work. 

My companion is going home next week, and let me tell you, nearly at the end of my mission, sending home a companion is hard work. It's not easy to not get trunky and think a lot about home when your companion is going home in a week. I'm alright though. It still hasn't clicked for me that I'll be home in 2 months. It just seems like I'll go to another area and keep working. It's weird. 

I recieved some questions from my extended family this week, so I'll answer them. 

What are the beaches like in Brazil?
I have never seen a beach here in Brazil. My mission area doesn't include any beaches, although the beaches of Santos and Rio de Janeiro are a quick 4 hours away by car. But, as I am a missionary, I stay in my area. All of the missionaries from the northeast of Brazil tell me that they have some really, really sweet beaches there, some of the best in the world. But I will have to wait a while to go there.

Are there homeless people in Brazil?
Yes, there are homeless people in my area. Less than in Colônia, my last area, but there are always some hanging around. And they are really, really aggressive in asking you for money too. 

Do you have strange fruits?
There are a ton of fruits here that you don't see in the U.S. I'll give a quick list: (portuguese names because I don't always know the english translations) 
graviola, goiaba, jaca, carambola, acerola, jabuticaba, groselha, and so on.

What is you favorite memory of Uncle Rico?
One of my favorite memories of Uncle Rico, (among the many) would be that time that we went ice skating, and he suplexed me with a Ramses mask on in the middle of the lobby. It was one of the weirder experiences in my life, but it sure was funny, and memorable. 

What moment stands out to you this week?
My most stand out memory this week was when we to the favela this week, as is our custom, to teach about the Gospel. While there, one of the evangelical churches on the road got called upon for a drug seize, and was invaded by the police and their canine unit. One huge police man, holding an M4, stopped us and asked us if we were missionaries, and we said yes, and showed him the Bible and the Book of Mormon that we carry, and he believed us. We decided to move to another neighborhood before things got tense. 

What are your goals for the week?
Our goal this week is to baptize two young men that we are teaching. I would also like to find a family to teach. 

What do you admire most about your Dad and Grandpas? (In honor of Father's Day.)
I really admire my dad's dedication. It's one of that things that we most need in life. When Dad says that he'll do something, he does it. That's a great quality to have. 

As for Grandpa Murray, I will never forget the sweet Santa Claus appearences at every Christmas that I spent at the Murray household. Santa Claus is real! He lives in Bountiful.

And for Grandpa Gentry, it was always fun to watch him talk with all of the people. And as he talks with everybody, he's a good example for missionaries, as we also need to talk with everybody.

Thanks for the support!

One more chance to sacrifice all I have!

Elder Murray

Elder Murray

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12 - Another Week at the Park

Family and Friends,

Good week to all of you. Thank you for all the emails and support. You guys rock! I'm excited about your sweet trek week. I'm glad that you guys had some very spiritual experiences and some epic stories to tell. My trek experience was quite a bit different. I walked a lot more and saw less stuff. It seems like we had less devotionals too. I actually don't remember all that much of trek. I just remember the Martin's cove hike, the dances that didn't have any girls present, and the guacamole burger. And eating a lot of dust. And pushing the cart. I was a baller pushing the cart. 

This week we've started working with the ward directory. We go visit all of the members that we have on the list, and because of the large number of inactive members and part-member families, and the number of people who moved but weren't updated, we find a bunch of people to teach. I've done this in every other area, so I'll do it here too!

I recieved a few questions this week, so let's go.

What is your favorite restaurant in your new area?
I actually haven't eaten in hardly any restaurants this transfer because cash is tight and I'm trying to eat healthier. We have a Burger King in our area, which is rare and cool, but I haven't actually been there yet. We also have a member in our area who is the owner of a small restaurant. We go there every so often. Other than that, it's just brown rice and various other things at home. I've learned to cook decently well. 

Do you ever go shopping?
We actually have a mall in our area. I haven't done a whole lot of shopping though, because missionaries don't usually have a whole lot of money. I do plan on buying some shirts that aren't extremely huge, and a suit to go home in, because after two years of constant wear and tear, your stuff gets really beat up. I'll look for some budget options. 

What do you eat for breakfast?
For breakfast I eat eggs. And whatever other random food we got from a member. But the base is really hard boiled eggs. 

What do you and your companion laugh about?
My companion is a really funny guy, so it's not hard for us to find stuff to laugh about. It's a lot of situational and mission humor, and it's in another language, so it's basically impossible for me to translate for you guys. I spend the whole day laughing though. 

Tell us about your new apartment.
My new apartment is in a small building, I'm on the second floor up. It suffers from some really bad planning, so it's impossible to clean the bathroom floor efficiently, and the kitchen has a bunch of unusable space. When I got here, we didn't have light bulbs in about half the house, so I went and switched them out. As for furniture, we have the usual missionary stuff. Beds, metal clothes hangers, and tables, and some chairs. That's about it. It's honestly pretty nice. We've got wood flooring too! That's a plus. 

Well, that's a little bit about my area and my current work strategy. I live next to the dam here in Jundiaí, and it's a really beautiful area. Lots of trees and the like. I'm happy and working hard.

Have a great week!
One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5 - The Cycle Continues

Family and Friends,

One more week is in the books here in Jundiaí. I'm pretty excited to hear about your trek stories next week and to hear about your epic bowling adventures. I still don't know why you guys decided on bowling as your summer hobby, but it's as good as any and it's pretty cheap, so it's a good one. 

Honestly, my week was rather vanilla and unexciting, with the few different moments being bad experiences that I'd prefer not to recount. One of the only different things that happened this week was that we went and had an exchange with the Assistants this week. We stayed the night in Campinas and it was a rare opportunity for me to room with some Americans for a night, and a not so rare opportunity to teach English. And yes, I've taught English in all of my areas up until now, and I will start teaching it again here in Parque da Represa next week. 

I'm going to ask you guys to send in some questions, because I'm really out of ideas. The week was just super normal. I hope you guys all have a great week! I know the Church is true, and I've seen, more than ever before, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and He loves us. 

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, May 29, 2017

May 29th - The Flu Exists in Brazil Too!

Family and Friends,

1 more week down here on the other side of the globe! It's good to hear that you guys are all enjoying life, and that summer has started up. That means that I'm really getting close to the end of things here. Crazy thought. As I am killing my companion again, it's hard not to get trunky, but I'm doing a pretty good job of it. I'm still focused, and I'm not in any hurry for things to end here. I'm going to make the best out of all my time that I have left!

As the title suggests, yes, I got sick this week. Two times. The story goes like this. Two weeks ago it rained a lot. From proselyting in the rain, I got a bit of a chill which weakened my immune system, and I got an obnoxious cold at the start of this week. It was weird in that, when I sneezed, it was actually painful. And all of the other guys in the house got it. But I got better, and on Thursday, I was actually pretty well again. then we went to zone conference, and everyone got the flu vaccine. And I don't know if you guys remember, but I have a weird problem with the flu vaccine that every single time I take it, I get the flu. This time didn't fail, and I got sick, again. It sucked. Today was the first day that I woke up well in a long time.

I've been knocking a lot of doors these days because my companion really likes knocking doors for some reason, but it´s worked out pretty well. We've found a lot of cool people to teach. I'm also working on some other, alternative plans to find people. I will be teaching English for the 3rd time on my mission, and we will be doing a ward barbecue as well. 

Overall, life is good, the Church is true, and I keep moving forward. It's good to be a missionary, even when sickness messes things up. Have a great week!
Elder Murray

May 22nd - Last Area, Let's Go!

Family and Friends,

Congrats on the graduation Dave! You made it! High school is over. Welcome to life's next round, mission. It starts with mission prep right now and then actual mission afterwards. Go for it! Congrats to Jake on the Eagle too, and on the grandparents for getting home safely after being snowed on at the end of May. Weird stuff. I also liked Dave's epic fast. That's some good self-discipline. You're going to need that. 

I'm going to be honest, for one of the first times on my mission, I got really trunky reading email this week. Sometimes it feels like everyone's progressing back home and I'm stuck in a time lock out here. But then I remember that I'm serving the Lord and that it will pay off big dividends when I get back home, and for the rest of my life, and I get happy again.

Speaking of being happy, I'm really happy with the way that transfers turned out. I left Colônia, in one of the two stakes in Jundiaí, and went to the other stake, Jundiaí Represa! I really love this city, so I was happy to go from one side to the other. My companion is also a good friend of mine, Elder Tavares. You guys have already seen him a few times, as I have served in 4 zones with him, he's this missionary with whom I most did divisions, and he's from the same stake as that guy I trained, Elder Oliveira. And he trained a guy from our stake, Elder Langlois. So it all fit perfectly together, and now I'll be the guy to send him home, as it's his last transfer. Weirdly symmetrical. 

As I only have 2 more transfers left, it's very likely that this will be my last area. I'll be giving it my all to see if I can make a difference here before I go home! Have a great week!

One more chance to offer all I have!
Elder Murray

Sunday, May 21, 2017

May 15th - Sprint to the End

We got to talk to Ben on Mother's Day. What a joy! He talked a lot about his life on the mission. He is a Zone Leader, and his mission was the most baptizing zone in the whole mission, despite being half the size of most of the other zones. He bore his testimony of the gospel, and it was really wonderful to hear. He has grown as a person on his mission, and his testimony has grown as well. We love him and we are so proud of him!

Family and Friends,

I really enjoyed my Skype with you of my more immediate family yesterday. It was great to see you all again, and everything worked out well so that we could talk quite a bit, one with another. As I just talked to you all yesterday, I'm really without a whole lot of ideas for stuff to put into my letter this week, so expect this letter to be a little bit smaller.

Although we haven't received the transfer yet, it's looking like I will be leaving Colônia to go to another area to end my mission. I have no idea where I will be going, but I'm sure it will be a cool place, and there will be people there for me to share the gospel. You don't need too much to be happy as a missionary. As long as you've got a house, people to teach, and food, life is good! Next week I'll have the information about my new area and my new companion. Stay tuned!

This week we saw some awesome miracles with people receiving answers about the Book of Mormon. One of our investigators asked in prayer if the Book was true, and he heard a voice. Although he didn't understand it, he felt his hair stand on end, and he knew that it had come from God. Another investigator was having a disagreement with her family, and a scripture she had read came to her mind and calmed here down and gave her a solution to the problem. The Book of Mormon is true! It works!

Thanks for all the love and support! Have a great week!

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 8th - In a Tropical Country, Everyday's a Holiday

May 1st - We didn't get a letter from Ben last week. This week we find out why!

Dearest Family and Friends,

Lamentably, I was unable to send you guys an email last week. Brazilians love partying, holidays, partying, eating barbecue, partying, time off work, and partying. As such, they have a ton of random holidays here. Last Monday was "Worker´s Day," and nobody went to work. Everything was closed. Everything. We almost didn't even find anywhere to eat lunch. Luckily though, the mall was open. We tried to get some other missionaries together to play soccer, but they were all being lame, so my companion and I went to the Botanical Gardens here in Jundiaí. Sometimes you have to do some touristy things on P-day, and I thought Mom would approve, so I went. I saw some monkeys, and some flowers, and I mocked a statue, Dad-style. It was a good time. I'll send pictures as soon as I can.

This week we had to spend a lot of time in Campinas because my companion had some problems with his visa, and he needed to go to the capital, São Paulo to get it fixed. I stayed in Campinas with the mission secretaries while he went and got that sorted out. Combine this with the holiday, and this was a really weird week overall. We still got some work done.

Last week we were able to baptize a man named Isaias (Isaiah in Portuguese, power name). He was one of the best investigators I have ever had. Really smart, understood everything really quickly, went to church on his own, and even made us tapioca one night. Over all, he's a really cool guy. I'm sure he'll be bishop some day. 

You asked me what kinds of questions the members ask me at meals. I have a ton. I've heard just about everything (Are there dogs in the US?), but I'll just send you the more common ones. 

Do you guys eat rice and beans in the US?
Is American BBQ really hot dogs and hamburguers?
What do you think about Trump as a President?
What kind of food do you eat every day there?
Why do you only eat McDonalds in your country? 

And so on. They all love to ask about American dietary habits and then call Americans fat. LOL.

Thanks for the dedication and patience, and your many prayers. I know that the Church is true, for I have seen evidence after evidence here as a missionary. I'm grateful for the chance to be a missionary. This will be the last week of the transfer, so next week I'll have news! 

Have a great week!

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24th - LET"S GO!!!!

Hello Family and Friends,

Mom, thanks for all of your planning about when I get back home. It lets me focus my mind on my mission, knowing that everything´s being taken care of for my future. As for your deep reflection, yes, two years is a really long time. You feel the time pass each day, but as you look back, sometimes you catch a glimpse of eternity and it seems that everything that happened was just yesterday. And then you can't remember what anyone actually looked like, so you realize that it actually was a long time. 

Also, Happy Birthday to Dave!!! My young brother is now officially an adult. Sweet stuff! Now you can sign documents, and you are a real person now. I hope you got some pretty sweet stuff, although you'll probably have to leave most of it at home because you're going on a mission. Now if you would just send me a letter, you noob. 

I feel as though you guys would like to know a bit about my daily life, so let me tell you about the clothes that I use on a daily basis. I've got a pair of security boots (my second pair so far), that are really durable and hit the missionary dress standard requirements, so they work well. I got some sweet Brazilian dress shoes after my Sunday shoes broke down, and they are tight. They look like snake skin. I'm still using the golf pants that I've had up until now, and I've added a pair of khaki pants that I got for 3 bucks in a thrift shop. As for shirts, I ended up getting rid of almost all of my original shirts when they turned really yellow and I've lost a lot of weight, so they were all really big on me. I've got a mix and match of other shirts that I bought, or found in one of the houses that I lived in. They are still pretty sweet, although the stitching is dubious. My suit has officially gotten way to big for me, and it looks like a I robbed an obese man to get my Sunday clothes. As such, I will be looking for new suit that's reasonably priced. You can't have your home coming wearing a suit that's way, way too big.

I have some pictures to send you this week! 7857 is a baptism that I had a few weeks ago, and I never sent to you. 

7867 is an exchange that I did in Varzea Paulista a few weeks ago, with my old comp, Elder Moraes. The people pictured are me, Elder Moraes, Elder Tavares, and Elder Langlois (that guy from Highlands Ranch).

Then, you have my new comp, Elder Azcárate and the chocolate pizza we made for Easter. Hope you enjoy!

This week our zone is close to accomplishing something that has not been done in all of the time that I have been here, baptize one person per missionary in the zone in a month. We have nine baptisms, and we have one Sunday to baptize three more people and hit our goal. I have really seen the fact that this is the Lord's work here. He wants his kingdom to grow here in Jundiaí. Last night we gave a training to all of the ward mission leaders in our stake, and we have been able to see that the Lord wants us to succeed here. Pray for us! I know we can do it!

Have a great week!

Elder Murray

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April 17 - New Comp New Me (Not Really)

Hello Family and Friends,

I hope that Easter weekend treated you all well, and that you all had a good time remembering the Savior and his resurrection. I had a pretty good time here. I've got a new companion, I'll tell you more in a bit, and my zone is having a ton of success here in Jundiaí. I'm really enjoying my time here. I'm glad to hear that my family is still ballers, but you didn't send me any pics of the Tusken Raider costume, so I got sad. Also, will the CRV return to my ownership when I get back home, or will I have to buy a bike? 

I received a new companion this week, and his name is Elder Azcárate. He's from Argentina, so I have yet to repeat an origin on my companion. I have had companions from Cabo Verde, Goias, Chile, Rio Grande do Sul, Portugal, Bahia, Alagoas, Fortaleza, Georgia, Pernambuco, and now from Argentina. I've lived with people from all over Brazil and the world. Cool stuff! Elder Azcárate likes making pizza, rearranging the furniture, writing stuff down, and EFY music. I hate the EFY music, but in the rest, he's a cool guy. He's also a professional photographer, and he cuts hair. I'm also learning Spanish. 

How do the Brazilians celebrate Easter?
This week was Easter, and, as almost all the other holidays, Easter is pretty lackluster here in Brazil. They just don't have the commercialization that makes things awesome in the United States. Here they celebrate Easter by eating chocolate eggs that are EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE and going to mass. And when I say expensive, I'm talking 20 bucks and up, converted. They are really really pricey. Some of them you can actually buy in 3 rounds on the credit card. There aren't any cool egg hunts, and nobody paints anything either. So it's a hard life. To celebrate, my comp and I made a chocolate pizza. It was pretty sweet. I have pictures, but it's really hard to send them here in Jundiaí, so I'll have to wait. 

How are your suitcases holding up?
My suitcases are still doing pretty well. They're a little small for all the crap I have to lug around, but they aren't broken, like all of the other missionaries. 

Do they have Walmart or any other recognizable store in Brazil?
Walmart does exist here, but it´s really rare, and I haven´t seen one since the MTC. It's also one of the most expensive places to shop here, weirdly enough. The only other places you would recognize are McDonald's and Burger King. And they really aren't the same here. They are really pricey, and on a missionary budget it's hard to spend a lot. 

As one member said to us this week "We Mormons remember the Savior and His resurrection every single week when we take the sacrament, but it's good to have a day off and get to eat chocolate". That's the Easter thought I'd like to leave with you. We remember Jesus Christ every week, and this is but one more chance to think of him. I love you guys. Have a great week!

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray 

Monday, April 10, 2017

April 10 - Variety is the spice of life

Family and Friends,

I thank you all for your exciting chronicles that you send me each week, and I hope this letter finds you all well.

This week brings us to the end of yet another transfer cycle here in the Brazil Campinas mission. As such, Elder Moraes will be leaving, and in fact, he'll be going home. This was his last transfer as a missionary. It was a weird experience, being the last companion to the guy, so I've had to work pretty hard to not get trunky and start thinking too much about home. I survived though, and I'll be getting a new companion tomorrow. In this area, I will have 3 transfers and 3 different companions. That's a bit of a rarity. I'll tell you guys more about my new comp next week. I'm quite happy that I'll be staying here in Jundiaí. It's a pretty great city, and this area is one of my favorites that I´ve passed in.

For Mom's questions,

I forgot to write down the Brazilian sayings. I´ll be sure to write some down this week though.

What is the first book series you will read when you get back home?
I think the first book series that I'll read will be the Stormlight Archives, by Brandon Sanderson. I read the first two when I was at home, and knowing the rate that Sanderson writes, there should be 1 or two more now. They were really good, and also really big. So I'll have plenty to enjoy. And I've remembered them a lot here in Brazil. They were pretty good books.

How is the family of five investigators doing?
The family of 5 is doing well. At the moment, they're still undecided about being baptized because they feel as though they haven't fully received an answer yet. We are going to try a few lessons with members this week to see if we can help them get their answer and be baptized.

Has anything funny happened lately?
We had several random drunk guys shouting about "The Mormons!" this week whenever we walked by. I don´t know if you'd call that a particularly funny thing, but it really happened a lot.

What's the best meal you've had this week?
The best meal I had this week was yesterday, at lunch. Rice, a mixture of calabresa with farofa, salad, and chicken. With Brazilian Coke to drink. And desert was manajar with a plum sauce. It sounds really weird to you guys, but it was good!

Do sing in Portuguese and do you sound good?
Yes, I can sing in Portuguese. No, I still don't sing well, but yes, I still do sing a lot. 

Tell us about a scripture you used to teach this week?
I really like Luke 2:52. It talks about the Savior's learning process as a boy and how he grew. It is also our example of how our learning process should look. We too must grow.

What do the youth do for activities there?
The youth have a camp every year close to carnival to help them avoid all of the evilness of that part of the year. Other than that, it's the standard schedule of dances, seminary, and church.

Thanks again for all the support back home!

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray

Monday, April 3, 2017

April 3rd - The Lasts Begin

Hi Family and Friends,

Happy Birthday Gabe!! Congrats on hitting 13 years old! My youngest brother is already a teenager. I've become an old guy now. 

On the subject of becoming an old guy, this weekend marked for me one of the firsts of a long series of lasts that I will be passing through here on the mission. First comes the last General Conference, then the last Skype with my family, then I will be transfered to my last area, then I'll get my last companion, then the last week, then the last day, and then I'm home. So the lasts have started this week. Last Conference!

While we're on the subject of General Conference, we had some really, really fantastic talks this weekend. I especially liked Elder Uchtdorf's talk about fear and Elder Joaquim E. Costa's talk just for investigators. As I had a full family of investigators, in exactly that session, it felt as though the Lord had sent that talk exactly for me, exactly that day, at that exact time that I needed it. It really was a fantastic talk for all of us who are long time members to remember or learn the process that a new investigator passes through. I heavily recommend the study of this talk to all of you, my Mormon readers.

Honestly, I have very little else to say to you all this week. I've been sitting here for like 5 minutes trying to think up something cool that happened in my week. But it was really just normal. I hunted after less-active members with the ward directory. I had an exchange on Tuesday. I ate rice, beans, chicken, and eggs. I met some Tolkein fans yesterday, that was pretty cool. There's a guy in our ward who has a bunch of LoTR figurines. He plays DnD too. That was fun. And we watched general conference this weekend. We are preparing a family of 5 for baptism, hopefully they are baptized this week, and that's about it. It was a good week though. I enjoyed it at least. 

Have a great week!

Elder Murray

Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27th - Another One Down

Family and Friends,

This week nothing really that interesting happened. We taught a lesson together with our President, so that was cool. He's a very spiritual kind of guy. We've been working with two families of 5 people, and this is one of the few times that I have been able to work with families on my mission, so it's a rare treat. I'm enjoying teaching lessons to children and adults together. One of the families we are teaching has some child-raising philosophies that always remind me of my own parents whenever they start talking about it. Being very open as a family, teaching the children to work and not be lazy layabouts and things like this in general. I'm reminded of my childhood.

Mom sent me some questions so I'll get right into those.

What makes you laugh in your area?
There are a lot of things that make me laugh in my area. My companion is a pretty funny guy, and I like to think of myself as a funny guy, so I get a lot of laughs. There's a really successful graffiti artist here in Colônia called Bixo Solto. He's written his name in every wall, in every neighborhood, ever. And every time I find a new, hidden Bixo Solto, I get a good laugh.

Tell about a time you got answers to a prayer.
I get answers to my prayers every single day. we pray a lot, so it's easy to see the results. For example, I had been praying to find a family to teach, and I found 2. The Lord blesses us.

Tell us about an inside joke.
I have several inside jokes, but that's the problem with inside jokes. You have to be inside to get them. And without explaining a lot of context and translation rules, it's pretty hard for you guys to be inside. So I can't really explain any. 

What is your favorite thing to do on p-day?
On P-Day I like to write email to my family. It's the most constant activity, and it's my favorite. 

Describe a good smell on your mission. Describe the worst one.
My favorite smell is found in the "House of Cakes" that sits on our main road. It's a pretty incredible bakery, and the cake smell always makes you want cake. It's really, really powerful. But I actually don't buy a lot of cake. The worst smell is the horrible stench that comes up from the forbidden monster below our drain in our shower. Sometimes you're there, washing yourself, and your nostrils get assault by an incredible putrescence. It's bad. 

I´ll write down some sayings and send them to you next week. 

Describe a time that the Lord protected you as a missionary.
Once I was walking down the road in Itatiba, and a really ripped guy with no shirt passed us. Two houses after us, he kicked in the front gate, ran inside, and people started screaming, glass started breaking, and the police were called. I don't know why that guy was so crazy, or what manner of demon he was, but he walked right by us and didn't even see us. The Lord hid us.

Have a great week!

Elder Murray

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20th - Baptism and Weird Weather

Family and Friends,

It seems as though I have ran out of good title ideas. It's rather hard to think of something new, week after week, for more than 70 weeks. Even when I cheated a bit in Itatiba and just put hills in the front of everything, at the end of it all, you run out. So forgive the weak sauce title. At least it's got alliteration!

My immediate family has gone to California to pass Spring Break. I'm sure you are all having a good time there. Drink some Cactus Coolers for me. They have that in Sacramento, right? And when (or if) you make the Leatherby's run, I want pictures. The ice cream here in Brazil just doesn't fill in the hole all that well. 

This week had various events worth noting. We had a Zone Conference with our President, and we talked all about planning. It was a rather long meeting, but a lot of planning was done. He also got a good laugh from everyone when one Elder who got up in front said that he only wanted to have 2 children. Our President then reminded him that it's "multiply and replenish the earth" and that 4 kids is the minimum we have to have to guard the commandment.

Another cool thing that happened was the weather. Here in the more mountanous region where we are, the weather goes from really really hot to rather cold from one hour to another. On Saturday we had about a 35 degree temperature swing that leaves your body feeling really strange. Then you get used to the cold, and wake up this morning sweating because they turned the heat back on. And that's not even saying anything of the rampant storms that flash in from the sides and drench you, and then the ground becomes a steam cooker in 30 minutes when the sun comes back out. It's a really weird climate here, but I've gotten used to it. 

The best thing that happened this week is that we had a baptism here. The name of the man that was baptized is Antonio. He's a very cool guy that we met just doing street contacts in front of the supermarket. He accepted the Gospel very quickly, came to church, and honestly received a testimony after one visit. He was one of the fastest investigators that I have ever had the priviledge of teaching on my mission. I will be sending a picture as soon as I can.

Have a great week!

Elder Murray

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13th - Trying not to get trunkey

Family and Friends,

One more week has passed us by. Many sports have been played, work has been worked.

This week we worked quite a bit. We got hit by an absolutely massive amount of rain on Monday and Tuesday, and it actually flooded some of the lower parts of the city. Missionary Work doesn't stop for weather though, so we toughed it out in the rain. My rain jacket really doesn't work all that well though, and as a result of being wet for so long, I got sick. And I'm still kinda sick. That's the price you have to pay though. This week we found a family of 6 that have been looking for a true church to go to. Sacrifice paying off!

Do you have any mission goals or slogans?
As for mission wide goals and slogans, it's a little hard to explain. Our mission is a very "living" mission, in that things are being changed and tweaked almost constantly. We have a mission hymn, but we sing it very rarely. A good part of the zones have hymns too, but it seems like I am the only person that knows the words to these songs. The slogan that appears on our symbol is "Hard work. Dedication. Love." But this slogan is rarely used and the logo is rarely seen. In the end, is just "Missão Brasil Campinas". That's our slogan. That's all we need.

Do you have weekly contact goals?
Let me tell you the history of the weekly contact goal. We had a goal of 140 per companionship, shortly before I arrived. Then President Hill got here and got rid of the goal because people were just handing out cards without any explanation just to hit the goal. A time passed, and the missionaries stopped talking to people on the roads, so we stopped baptizing as much. President then came upon a plan to change this. He implemented 50 "principles" per companionship per week. A principle is like a contact, but you have to teach the person some sort of principle of the Gospel. That way, you can't cheat around it. But our mission still had problems with baptisms, so our AP called up Curitiba (the most baptizing mission in Brazil), and asked what they were doing. And they said lots and lots and lots of contacts. So, we received a goal of 300 contacts per companionship per week. This one was pretty hard to hit consistently. Right as I figured out how to get 300 contacts per week, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve gave a transmission for all of the missions of the world and cut our number of key indicators down to 4. As such, we can no longer have a contact goal. 

Do you play sports on p-day? Are you getting better at soccer?
I play soccer every p-day. I still get wiped by all of the Brazilians, every single week. I'm persistent though, so I keep playing. 

If you could any souvenirs for yourself, what would they be?
As for souvenirs, I think I'll just get some cool soccer shirts that they only sell here, and I've already got a gaucho cuia. I think I'll just look around for cool Brazil-only things. 

Do you have any good restaurants in your new area?
Our area doesn't really have any cool restaurants like some of my other areas did. In this area, I've just been eating at members homes and cooking. I've learned a lot of recipes though!

Tell us about some of your ward members.
I'll tell you about some of the cooler members of our ward. There's a guy here called Walter. He gives us dinner at least once a week. He has a huge family of six and all of his children are rather crazy. He's a more or less recent convert (1 year and a bit as a member), and he's an endless fountain of wisdom and intelligent sayings. I'll write some down and send them in our letter next week. He's also not afraid to call the other members to repentance if they are being slackers on home teaching. Another member here is semi-recently returned missionary called Thais. She sets a personal goal to bring non-members to institute. As such, she gives us a lot of referrals. Another cool guy is Washington Pastana. He's like a gospel library. He's read just about all of the books that Bruce R. McConkie and Neal A. Maxwell have ever written. He's got a crazy, crazy knowledge about the Gospel. 

Thanks for supporting me all back home! The Church is true! Have a great week!

One more chance to offer all I have.

Elder Murray