Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 58: The most emotionally exhausting and satisfying weekend of my mission.

Hey guys!!

So, as the subject reads, its been a CRAZY week, especially this weekend. I know that I normally have the same format for my emails (how my investigators are doing, other notes, etc.), but this week, Id like to do something a bit different, which is basically just to explain this ridiculous weekend. Just know that, aside from this, there wasnt a whole lot of progress with my investigators. But here we go.

So, the whole week was planned around getting Debora and Leandro married, and subsequently baptized. We were visiting them almost every day, and things were going incredibly smoothly. We just lost a bit of progress on the way. While we tried to visit our other top investigators at the same time (Luan, Tainá, Matteus), we werent able to get ahold of them during our very short time working close to them. But, on Thursday night, Debora and Leandro were interviewed, passed, and they told us that they were ready for baptism. We had to continue getting everything together, including getting some members at the church to watch the wedding (a lot of people in the ward, not realizing that they had been going to church for 3 months straight and just missed 2 Sundays recently, said, "Well, how can we support people that we dont know?") But, by the end of Friday night, everything was going well. We had members helping us, and it was all good. Leandros family was coming to the wedding, but Deboras family wasnt able to make it.

Then Saturday morning comes. Our lunch was with a woman, Maria Rosa, who, with a heart of gold, loves to talk. A lot. Shes been coming back to church recently, and she loves the missionaries gets angry when we go there and dont spend a lot of time there, so we went to her house on Wednesday night to explain that we would be eating quickly on Saturday, but giving her some of our time on Wednesday to make up for it. But on Saturday, she seemed to forget that we had a wedding at 2:00. So she talked. Until 1:30. We ended up having to RUN to get to the wedding in time, and although we showed up late, when we got there, Leandro was talking to the Bishop and Debora was still getting ready. Leandro came out and talked to us, saying that he didnt want to get baptized today. We asked him why, and he gave the excuse that he simply wasnt feeling like he wanted to that day. Hed still get married, but he wouldnt get baptized, but perhaps Debora still wanted to get baptized. But, we werent able to talk to Debora before the wedding started, so we watched the whole wedding, incredibly nervous. The wedding was simple but nice, and the happy couple seemed to like it. There was cake, coke, and salty snacks, so we were all pretty happy. But, Elder Berrios and I found the right time when people stopped congratulating the bride, to ask her if she was ready to switch into baptismal clothes. Incredibly casually, Debora told us, "No. Me and Leandro are moving today to a different town. We dont have time to get baptized." This was a giant surprise, since they had told us that they werent moving until the end of the month. "Well, the baptism is just 20 minutes, it wont take too much time." "No, I dont want to get baptized today." She then stopped talking to us. She honestly wouldnt have told us this if we hadnt have asked Honestly being a bit enraged, we both left the room and went to cool off. It was one of the lowest and worst feelings that Ive had on my mission. Speechless, we watched as Debora and Leandro, 2 people that Ive been working with for over a month and the missionaries have been working with for 3 months, left the chapel, with a free wedding, not even making eye contact with us as they left. Luckily, we got their new address, so well send the missionaries over there, but it was honestly a horrible feeling, almost as though we were taken advantage of and abandoned.

Me and Elder Berrios stayed at the chapel for a bit, as he had to play piano for a baptism of a child in the ward. While we were waiting, I did a prayer and simply recognized that this isnt my work, but the Lords, and the idea came to my head that this weekend wasnt over yet, but I didnt know how. Then we talked to the Bishop as the ward was preparing for a ward dance. Somehow, the subject came to how we were feeling. The Bishop then said, "So how are the other investigators? Hows Tainá?" We told him about how she wanted to go to the temple on the 27th, but that her Dad still hasnt let her be baptized (as he hasnt let her do for 3 years.) The Bishop then said, "You know, Tainá is here right now helping prepare for the dance. Why dont you guys go talk to her? Just give it a try, you never know what will happen." We went and talked to Tainá, and asked her if she had talked to her dad recently. She said that she asked him recently, and that he had started to seriously consider it. At that moment, Elder Berrios and I didnt waste any time, seeing a last opportunity. We called an Elder to come and do an interview for her at the church, which he did and she passed. We gave her the baptismal form and said, "You are going to call your Dad TODAY, and tell him that you want to be baptized tomorrow. Its going to happen." But, we went home, and prayed incredibly hard that we could see this miracle happen.

The next day, we went to church, and incredibly nervous, we called Tainá to see what happened. And...her dad finally approved. After 3 years of hard work, her dad finally let her be baptized!! We got incredibly excited. The Bishop, who has been pushing for this for a long time, decided that he wanted her to get confirmed during that sacrament meeting, so we ended up doing the baptism during the Sunday School class before sacrament meeting (the Bishop ordered it, so we followed.) It was such an incredibly rewarding experience. And, to top it all off, Divina, her grandmother who weve been trying to get back to church, finally came in for the first time in a long time to see the service!! Tainá was baptized, confirmed, and shes going to enter the temple this weekend. Without a doubt, I was able to see the glorious hand of God in our lives this week as we came to understand that, through simple things (faith, obedience and diligence) that we were able to see a giant miracle happen. It was phenomenal. God is good.

So yeah, with that, while it was an incredibly rewarding weekend, it was also emotionally exhausting. It was like being on one of those roller coasters that you only go on because the line is short, and then you see that its short because, while fun, it also whips you around a lot and you feel exhausted afterwards. So Im going to have a very relaxing P-Day.

Alright, thanks all for your support! On to individual emails! Love you!!

Elder Youd

Week 57: One of these days, we'll have a week where everything goes right!

Hey guys!

So its been a pretty good week for us here in Jaraguá. We unfortunately didnt have any baptisms (more on that later) but weve got some good things going for us, and I continue with the hope that were gonna have success super soon! Here is some of the information of our area:

Matteus: So, he wasnt baptized this week. We visited him on Monday, and he was acting super different and said that hes not ready to be baptized. We tried everything, but he wouldnt budge on the fact that he didnt want to this week. We ended up talking to his adoptive dad, and it seems like theyve been fighting about stuff recently. We gave them some space this week, and were gonna try to visit him this week.

Tainá: Basically shes ready to be baptized in whatever moment. The last thing that we need to get is her dads signature. Her grandma, Divina (who is the funniest old lady in the world, and yes Mom, she takes super duper good care of us missionaries) told us that shed "put a hit in his face and get the signature" or that she wouldnt let him back in the hosue. So well see what happens.

Luan: Still the same. Were still working with him :P

Debora, Leandro: Our bright spot for the week. Weve been helping them get ready for their marriage (this Saturday!) but theyve been skipping church the past few weeks. We called them on Sunday morning to confirm that they were coming, and Leandro said that Debora had a fight with her family about the marriage, and she didnt feel like going to church today. After this rough week that we had been having, we went over to their house to talk to them. We talked a lot about how, even if her parents arent happy with her decision to follow God and get married, that God is incredibly happy with her, and that she doesnt have to feel alone in this, that there are a ton of people ready to comfort her at church. They still said that they wouldnt go to church on Sunday, but we told them that, if they felt like they really wanted help, that church was until noon. We got back, super upset that they didnt come with us to church...when 20 minutes later, they show up!! Its an uphill fight to get these two married and baptized, but we know that its possible! Please pray for my investigators!!!

Other notes:

The zoo was freaking awesome last week. I took a ton of pics (sorry, these computers are sketch so Im afraid to put my pictures into here), but it was a super nice day. Today, were going to a place called 25 de Março, basically a street where they sell a bunch of super duper cheap stuff. So its gonna be a fun P-Day!!

Sorry that this letter is a bit short, but were a bit short on time. We had a service project today that we were promised would be 5 minutes of our P-Day, but we all know how service projects go. But, its all okay! Im happy! Have a great week everybody! Love you all!!!!!

Week 56: Every day a different place to be

Hey everybody!!

So, as the title suggests, this week has been ridiculously busy for us. Weve basically been to the opposite sides of our mission, having some sort of situation every day. Ill explain this weeks adventures, then our investigators, then other things:

Monday- Normal work day, but we were exhausted because we didnt have our normal P-Day.
Tuesday-We went to the temple, which isnt even in our mission.
Wednesday-It would have been a normal work day, but Elder Berrios got super sick. Basically, he has this thing where he cant eat fast, but that day, he forgot about it and started eating fast. And then 1 hour later, he was in our bathroom, letting everything out. I wont give you any more details, but we stayed home that day.
Thursday-We had a meeting with mission leadership in Sorocaba, the city where I was for 6 months (Júlio de Mesquita).
Friday-We went to a different area/city right outside of São Paulo (called Franco da Rocha) to do a baptismal interview.
Saturday-We returned to Franco da Rocha to do yet another baptismal interview.
Sunday-We went to a different area (called Perus) by request of the Stake President, to talk to less actives in preparation for their ward conference.

So its been nuts. Due to this extreme lack of time to work, we unfortunately werent able to get anyone baptized. But, we still have people that are ALMOST ready. Here they are:

Matteus: Hes completely ready to be baptized. He knows the stuff, he believes, and he wants to be baptized. We just have to help the parents out. His father doesnt want him to be baptized until November (for his birthday, but a LOT of things can happen in 2 months) and his mom is an incredibly busy woman, so weve gotta work around her schedule. I miss the days when I focused on the spiritual preparation of people. But we have his date marked for this Friday, if everything goes right.

Luan: He was supposed to be baptized this Sunday, but he has been panicking, in particular about the Law of Chastity. In his (very, very blunt words): "Look, I have a strong desire to be baptized. I really, really want to be baptized. But I also really, really want to have sex. I feel bad, but I dont feel repentant!" "So why dont you marry the girl?" "I dont want to marry her! I dont love her!" So weve gotta help him.

Nicolas: He was all ready to be baptized this Sunday with his friend Jaqueline (who would be part of another ward) but Jaqueline freaked out at the last minute and didnt want anything, and Nicolas has been in hiding since then. Well see what happens.

Debora, Leandro: Leandro finally openly said that he wants to be baptized with his wife. Theyre happy, and excited for the wedding on the 20th. I am also excited for them.

We have some other investigators, but those are the most important in this very short week. Other notes:

-Im going to the zoo today! Actually, after we write these emails, were gonna head over and do whats called a Safari at the São Paulo Zoo. Ill send photos when Im at a less sketchy LAN House that wont try to get rid of all of my photos on my camera. So well see what happens.

-The meeting I had with Elder Aidukaitis 2 weeks ago was super good. He talked about a lot of things to us, but here are some of the ones that I remember the most:

-When you get married, find somebody that loves God more than you. If he/she loves you more than God, theyre not very intelligent.
-Planning is a necessary part of our lives. Everybody, including God, has success only through making plans and fulfilling them to the best extent possible.
-God is happy with the obedient, but that doesnt mean that He is satisfied with our work. He always wants us to be doing more, and working harder than we think that we can work.

Alright, so thats been my week! On to individual emails! Love all of you! 

Elder Youd

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 55: Running Late!

Hi All....Michael wanted me to convey his apologies for not writing a regular weekly letter, but he had spent the day at the temple and they didn't have much time at the LAN house for emailing. He has asked me to send a few of the highlights from the letter he wrote to me (because he knows that no matter what lack of time he has, he'd better write to his old mom!!)

Its been a super busy week. Ill give more details next week (again, a lack of time is at hand here), but we had 2 different meetings with Elder Aidukaitis (he spoke at the last conference, with a funny accent and said, "One shouldnt roam in garbage."). He was kinda burning the fact that nobody is using their time super wisely, but it was still a super good 2 days, and I learned a lot. And, he has a funny accent in Portuguese too.

As Tiffany has experienced, I am just a little bit sick this week. Basically, the weather keeps on switching between blazing hot and freezing cold, so my throat is starting to hurt. But its alright.

Well, we didnt have any baptisms this week, but we have at least 2 people planned for this week (one of which is super duper firm), so keep on praying for me!  I like my new companion a lot.  We're getting along well. He's super obedient, which is good, albeit at times tiring because he also likes to walk a lot. But, Im keeping up and doing good. And he's funny, and he loves to speak English, so Im happy with my life :)  He was born in Honduras, lived in Belize, but then lived for most of his life in NYC and North Carolina. 

Being a Zone Leader is basically the same thing as District Leader, but President Farnes trusts in me more. I have more responsibility, and he even talked to me specifically about what my job here is. He said that Jaragua was the highest baptizing zone a couple years ago, and for some reason its gone to crap. And now its my job to repair and turn it into a monster again. So, he trusts me, so thats cool.

Sorry that I havent sent pictures lately! The LAN Houses in this area are trashy, and Ive heard rumors that these computers have erased memory cards, so Im honestly afraid to send pictures while Im here! 

Something that we learned this week from the visiting General Authority... If we dont establish specific goals, asking God to help us with these goals, we should have nothing to be sad about because we didnt have any expectations ruined. So make a goal, and decide what youre going to do to achieve that goal.

I will write a longer letter next week!