6 June 2016
This week was a very quick week, so, this Will probably be a quick email J
On the mission, you learn things about yourself that you didn’t know before. Outside of the influence of your parents and friends and family, you discover who YOU are. And it’s funny to see how I’m actually not much different than my family than I thought I’d be. For example, I love to play with little kids. Babies and little kids are the best. We can’t pick kids up or even touch them, but I’ve easily won the “Best Elder award” in the hearts of a lot of kids: (these are Gabriel's 6 and 7 year old sisters. They don’t let me concentrate during the lessons)￼
Another thing I’ve learned is that I love dogs. I already knew that I liked dogs, but now I LOVE dogs. When there is a dog or puppy near (which are all over the place here) I cannot concentrate.
Here is a picture of me in my area. This is a good idea of what it’s like here in Fortaleza. That big build on the right of the photo behind me is a prison. Which is very common. We walk by there every day. Generally when it’s late at night. I love this place J￼
Here’s a pretty picture of my companion
This week we baptized a young man named Bruno. He is Waquisson’s cousin and had wanted to see how church was. His step dad HATES us with all his dark evil soul. But luckily, Bruno usually just sticks with Waquisson’s family, so it was all good.
Here in Brazil, everyone is part of one church or another. There are 4-5 types of churches here: Catholic (which is growing smaller and smaller), Evangélico (There are Hundreds of Evangélico churches in my area. I’m not kidding. It is basically every other church that isn’t Catholic or one of the following churches), Jehovah’s Witnesses (which isn’t bigger than the Mormon church, but is pretty big. A lot of people mix up the 2 here), The Church of Jesus Christ (or known as the Church of the Mormons), and then there are a couple of other really weird churches that believe in aliens, or in reincarnation or stuff like that. There are very very few people who don’t “belong” to one of these churches. And everyone believes that all churches are true. That it doesn’t matter which church you are, you’ll go to heaven if you are good. But a lot of churches teach that the Mormon church isn’t included in that list. ￼
The Catholic Church in the center of Fortaleza
But the people who live here (at least most of them) don’t believe that. They see the missionaries as complete heroes. These young men and women who throw their lives away just to serve God and the people around them. Here in Fortaleza (not just with the members), the Mormon missionaries are extremely respected. Even the drug dealers don’t allow anyone to touch us. I heard from a drug dealer who we taught, that in all of Fortaleza, if a Mormon missionary is robbed, “just tell us, and we’ll take care of it” (basically kill the dude, so we don’t tell). But this really is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and will never happen again, so I’m gonna take advantage of these next 19 weeks (I’m not counting).￼
I love you guys and will talk to you next week!
13 June 2016
This was a pretty cool animal-full week. I’ll start with a couple of photos:
This is me flirting with a parakeet at an investigator’s house. (She liked me I think)
Here is a picture of me with a giant I iguana named Maria
This one is a giant dog called Spike who just kind of lives in the road.
Remember how I said that I like dogs? Well they like me too J
This is a picture of me with a little girl named Vitoria. Her older brother is member of the church and we’re trying to help her and the rest of the family come to church. And Vitoria here in this picture (I don’t know if you can see too well) I am sitting on the ground, and she is standing up, and I am still taller, and she is 9 years old! She’s so freaking tiny, its cute as heck. We didn’t believe her when she told us, but she is actually really smart, its pretty funny.
Another baptism! The woman in the middle is named Damila. She is Gabriel’s aunt. She a single mom with a little son, Mateus. Her sister, Jacinta, has already been going to church for years, but couldn’t be baptized because her husband never wanted to get married. But when me and Elder Camargo got there, the Lord had prepared the 2, and the husband said that it was time and they’ll be married on July 12th, and baptized on July 16th. But in the meantime we’re gonna baptize her whole family!
And sneak peek for next week. This young man is Cristian. He is the son of a Pastor, and very, very smart. He went to church for the first time this week and wanted to be baptized with Damila. We had to explain to him that there are still some stuff that we need to teach him and he was like, “ok, but next week without a doubt I’m gonna be baptized!” His dad (who luckily lives in another state, and wont be able to do anything to deter Cristian) and his mom have called him to go to church with them for YEARS and he never felt that it was right. And he said that when he arrived he opened his heart and felt that everything we were saying was true. As though he had already heard it before. It funny because his best friend (who is only like 13) hates us because of the Book of Mormon. His pastor talked really bad about us and the other day wanted a Book of Mormon. But the next day Cristian said that he only wanted one to show it to his pastor. So let’s see if we got any cool Bible bash stories for next week J
Anyways, this week is the transfer and we haven’t heard anything yet. Other than that we’ll probably be getting 2 new sisters and losing 2 Elders. So that’ll be cool. But if I’m transferred Ill be sure to let you know next week.
Alright, one more funny little animal photo that I took: "what do you want?"
20 June 2016
Transfers and Getting Sick
So this week was full of waiting, and a lot of it. Usually when the transfer comes, we get a call on Sunday night telling us who was transferred and whatnot. But this time, we only got the phone call on Wednesday. So, the whole mission was just kind of like, ………, and when we finally got the news we were surprised. Our zone has 5 companionships with 4 wards, 2 companionships in one ward. Well this one ward has been complaining and hating on President Fusco a lot because a lot of Apostate missionaries have passed through there and convinced the members that President was a terrible president. So, the ward was closed last week. There aren’t missionaries there anymore. One of the companionships was moved to our ward José Walter 4, and the other one was sent to another zone. Also, a companionship of Elders were transferred and 2 sisters came in their place. So now, we have 4 companionships (in a whole zone! That’s very, very little) and 2 of them are sisters, 1 has the District leader, and the other is us. So we’ll see if something happens here in the next few weeks. But as of now, Elder Kusuda and I are staying here!￼
All of us lived in the same house for these last 6 week:
One reason that the transfer took forever was probably because the District that Trindade is a part of, The Juazeiro do Norte District, was turned into a Stake this last week! President Fusco’s dream since he got here was turn that place into a stake! And he did it with 3 weeks to spare! I didn’t go, although I’m sure I could’ve had I asked. But it’s the first stake in the inland of the northeast of Brazil! And once one gets started, the second, third, fourth, etc just start popping up!
I don’t have any pictures of Juazeiro, but this is a picture of the state division between Pernambuco and Ceará, which is apart of the new stake
Alright, 2 cool things. 1) there’s this really cool soda here cold “Cajuina” and for some reason, they’re sold in beer bottle. Literally, it says “beer” on the side… so as you can imagine, we had to take some pictures’
I promise, there's no alcohol in this
And this here is Sidney. He’s a friend of Cristen. We found him at Cristen’s house and started talking with him. He was very open to our message and even accepted to be baptized this Sunday. But the cool part, he watches Doctor Who! He just started and is totally addicted! I’ve already gotten people addicted to Doctor Who here on the mission, but I’ve never FOUND someone who was already addicted! So yeah, there’s that!￼
Oh, and speaking of Cristen, he was baptized yesterday. He has got to be one of the smartest kids I’ve already encountered. His dad (a pastor in another state) didn’t like the idea, but his mom totally told off her ex husband, saying that we we’re helping him and that “the Mormons have done 10 times more than you and your church has ever done for anybody!” And he didn’t say anymore. So, yeah!
I'm so sick in this photo...
Oh yeah, on Friday I got pretty sick, but just kind of blew it off. The next day I was really sick, but I didn’t want to call President. Why? Because I had probably eaten or drinken something bad and the last time this happened, president forced me to fast for 24 hours and that was HORRIBLE. But then yesterday, I could hardly even sit down, I was wasted. Every part of my body was exhausted. When I baptized Cristen, I almost fell into the water with him because I almost didn’t have the strength to lift him. So I called President who told me to rest and eat chocolate! Yeah! Really! Then today I woke up much better! So, it’s all good now J
I love you guys so much and love the letters and pictures!
28 June 2016
Last Week with President Fusco
I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever had 2 mission presidents, but anyone who had a president end his mission with you, knows that it is very, very hard. It’s as though your parents had to leave forever and now you’re going to get 2 new parents. I’m excited for the new president, President Leite, to arrive, but I am completely heart broken to see President and Sister Fusco go. But I’ll talk a little more about this afterwards.
This week was a very good week. Our zone, the Sul Zone, is the smallest zone in the mission with FOUR companionships. Just to give you an idea, a zone is a combination of 2-4 districts. And each district has 2-5 companionships. The Juazeiro zone had at one point 15 companionships. And our zone has 4... A normal sized zone is able to baptize about 20 people per month, and our zone of 4 decided today that we were going to baptize 20 people in July. It’s gonna need a lot of work, but we’re determinedThis photo from last week is already behind. Sister J Santos, second from the left was transferred yesterday. But we'll take another one here in a bit.
This week was also the 2nd day marked for Jacinta and Pedro’s (Gabriel’s parents) marriage. Here in Brazil, you have to go to the court, mark a day to come back, return 2 weeks later to mark the actual marriage and pay R$200, then return the 3rd time 2-3 more weeks later to actually get married. Its such a painful process, BUT, its all working out!￼
As for Cristan, who was baptized last week, he was confirmed this week and Sidinei (his Doctor Who loving friend) was baptized! I always knew that God wanted me to be addicted to Doctor Who. Imagine if I wasn’t, Sidinei (who is really shy) wouldn’t have felt as comfortable talking to us and probably never would’ve been baptized. Maybe he still would’ve been, but I like to think that I’m know justified in the many, many hours i spent watching Doctor Who were not wasted! :D￼
Elder Kusuda, Sidinei, Cristan (with my bag), me, and
Gabriel, who is also a friend of Cristan and Sidinei
Cristan and Sidinei are also total Minecraft nerds. So they decided to make Minecraft skins of me and Elder Kusuda!
It's funny how everyone sees me as blond with blue eyes here even though I have brown hair and green eyes...
Elder Kusuda (japonese)
Speaking of Elder Kusuda:
Anyways, yesterday was President Fusco’s last conference. Tomrrow night at 12:00am President Fusco will officially pass his keys to President Leite and President Leite will be our Mission President. The only thing I can really think of is Dad’s advice to me from a couple of years ago: To love your future President no matter what. President Fusco was a lot different than what I anticipated, but remembering that advice, I was able to love him and learned SO MUCH from him. He has shown me so much about the Doctrine of Christ and how to apply it in my life. But most important, he has taught me how to love my Savior in a way that I never even knew was possible. Because of that, I am not nearly as sad as I would be. Because what President Fusco taught me isn’t that I need to love him, but Christ! And Christ will never leave. So it really won’t be THAT big of a change.
I don’t have a picture with President Fusco and Sister Fusco, but we did take one. President has it and will email it to you guys, but you need to do something Ill explain it in another email. I did however get a picture with his 2 daughters, Wilma and Teka!
I remember thinking that when President Fusco goes home, I’m not far behind. And I’m really not (16 weeks). But the last thing President Fusco told me personally was to end my mission running! Not get trunky or soft. But to end and end STRONG! So Im sure that means that there is still a LOT for me to learn in these next 4 months! So you guys won’t need to worry about that, J I love you guys and will talk to you guys next week!