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

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 3rd - Killshot Inbound

Hello Family and Friends,

Transfers came around last week, and I'll be staying here in Colônia in Jundiaí, and it looks as though I'll be staying here for a pretty long time. My new companion is Elder Moraes, and he's dying this transfer, meaning that this is his last here on the mission. He's from Orlinda, Pernambuco, and he's a really tall guy, so we can't actually sit next to each other on the bus. He's my height. He talks really fast, but I'm pretty fluent, so I can usually understand what he's saying. He's got a pretty strong accent too. He cooks really well. 

What other religions do you see in Brazil?
We run into a ton of other religions here, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists, The Quadrangular Church, The Christian Congregation in Brazil, and the grand pappy of them all, Catholics. Far and away, we meet an absurd number of Catholics. I´d bet that it´s close to 75% of the people we talk to. There are little techniques that you have to remember when you teach people from each one of these religions, and you learn them as you go throughout the mission. I don´t have the time to list all the specifics. 

Tell us about a prompting you received this week. 
It's honestly hard for me to pick a single prompting moment that would be exciting or cool for you guys. I mostly receive revelation for me to say the right things at the right times so that I can bring the Spirit into a lesson and the investigator can be touched and decide to do the right things. 

What is your favorite Brazilian dessert?
My favorite dessert continues to be ice cream. Here they have a thing called Açaí, that's similar to ice cream. It's probably the best that they have here.

Have you stopped sweating yet?
I don't ever stop sweating.

How do you do your laundry?
I do laundry by putting clothes in the washer with detergent and then hanging them out to dry. Then, each day I iron the shirt that I will need that day. My pants are super pants, so I rarely need to iron them. 

How come you never send us pics?
I don't send a whole lot of pictures because it's usually really obnoxious to try and get my camera's USB cord to work with the computers in the LAN houses here. I'll send you some good ones this week though. I´ll make a special effort. The first pic is me, with my house in the background, and the other one is of an exchange we did. From left to right it's Elder Langlois (from our stake), Elder Larkins (my last comp), and Elder Tavares (old friend from my first zone).

Have a great week!

One more chance to offer all I have!

Elder Murray