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