So, June 20th, 2017, I head home to California! The date is on the back of my ministerial card which is kinda wild cause I can see it everyday! I’ve essentially already finished about 6 percent of my mission, what?! So crazy! When I get back I'd like mom's cookies to be at the airport :)
São José is kinda like Napa and Carpinteria, California combined, and it’s really nice. Our area is super small (like Calistoga size) and most people here are comfortably well off. We eat with members most meals and we have our favorite restaurant: Frango Frito (Fried Chicken). We have a few new investigators too! We searched the Area Book and found some people who had met with the missionaries before and went and visited them. We have a bunch of lessons to teach this week too!
So this week I randomly fit 6 people into a Fiat, and saw a 3M sign on the way to a district meeting! Go Greg Biffle! #drivefastturnleft
Elder Martins, "meu pai" in mission terms, is exactly like a Portuguese Brady Hanson (cousin) in almost everyway I can think. He kinda looks like him up close (chin dimple and all) and acts much like him too, which is so funny. Brady, if you read this, I have you for a mission companion. You are my trainer. Please train me well. Elder Martins likes talking about doctrine so we have some pretty good discussions together which is helping me learn the language!
Yesterday was Stake Conference here in good ole São José, and I was hoping I’d see Irmã Correa from the MTC because her boyfriend lives here, and he’s the brother of her roommate Irmã Araujo also of the CTM. I felt a tapping on my shoulder at one point and I turned around -- Elder Miranda was whom I found. However, just beyond Elder Miranda I saw Irmã Correa! And Irmã Araujo! And Irmã Timiris, the third roommate of the bunch and all teachers from the CTM! We all took a picture together and Irmã Correa yelled to me as I walked away,"Pode fazer! Não pode recusar!"— our district catch phrases from the CTM.
Also it’s either really hot here or really cold. I was both rained on all day one day this week and received a bit of sun on my nose as well.
The work is pretty hard here, but we’re working hard. And I mean hard. We are pretty much on our feet from 12 noon to 9 at night with no stops. We contact everyday, or knock doors, though it’s really a process of clapping first, the person’s dog barks (they all have dogs). and then the person comes out. We do this hours a day. We’re definitely working off the food we eat (the members feed us really well here). One member we ate with is named João Batista (essentially John the Baptist) and he looked strikingly like Don Cheadle! We ate pickled figs with yogurt and condensed milk with him that were really quite good.
For a spiritual thought this week, I’ve been thinking of the Atonement, Christ’s sacrifice for each of us (as I think every missionary does). On our little Nokia phone we have music and a talk -- one talk to listen to. However, this talk is awesome. It’s a mix of two talks by President Eyring and by Elder Holland: “A Expiação e a Obra Missionária” (“The Atonement and Missionary Work’”). It’s in English, and everyone should watch or listen to it! What struck me in this talk is how Elder Holland talked about why missionary work can be so difficult. "If we believe in angels and in miracles and in Christ, why isn’t the greatest risk of missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font? Why isn’t it easier?" Missionary work is not easy because nothing regarding missionary work or salvation was ever easy. “How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? Christ had to plead in the night and suffer for us to even have the chance to be missionaries or have the Gospel. Christ’s mission wasn’t easy for Him, so it’s pretty clear it’s not gonna be all the time easy for us. We don’t try to say we understand the pain Christ felt because that would be sacrilegious, but we have, "in token symbolism" to quote Elder Holland, “trials to bear to gain lasting testimony of the Atonement.” Elder Holland: “I believe it’s supposed to require something from the depths of our souls.”
This talk has really resonated with me. I know that Christ’s Atonement applies to all mankind, and because of this we will all be resurrected -- anyone with any religion or with no religion. The Atonement is universal and infinite and through it we can be cleansed from sin and have peace from knowing that Christ has felt what we feel, and knows how to comfort us -- we just have to have the strength to get on our own knees and ask for help. And then move forward with determination.
Well, that was this week! I hope you are all doing well and that little Calistoga is happy and that school and seminary are going well! Love you all and 'I’m praying for all of you!
|View from the CTM|
|Me, Elder Merrill, my MTC companion, and Sister Kinnaman, all to Sao Paulo East|
|20 minutes outside of SP, on the way to Campinas temple, about 6:00am|
|District in Sao Jose dos Campos|
|Irma Correa, me, Elder Martins|