Brazil Fortaleza East Mission

This blog will share my experiences for the next 2 years while on my mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the people of the Brazil Fortaleza East Mission.

I will start my mission with 6 weeks in the Sao Paulo Brazil Missionary Training Center (MTC), where I will learn to speak Portuguese and receive training on teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am very privilaged to be able to do this, as it will be a great opportunity for me to grow as individual, all while bringing others to Christ. My mission is to share the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of Brazil, as well as serve them as Christ would serve them. I am very excited for this opportunity and hope to do my very best.

Elder Daynen Biggs

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August, 6 More Weeks, but Who's Counting!

1 August 2016

This week was full of learning experiences.  It’s interesting how you learn the most when things are hard.  I always thought (when I got here) that after I learned Portuguese and memorized everything that I needed to memorize, everything would be way easier.  And it did in many ways, but it’s interesting how the challenges never really stop.  On my mission I’ve learned that when you passing through problems, its for one of two reasons.  1) You did something wrong and are being punished, or, 2) God sees that now you’re ready to grow.  
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27) 
These last few weeks I have seen that scripture come into play, and it is really incredible!  The Lord is never satisfied with us, he always wants us to be better.  And I think that that might be why he is the greatest parent in the universe.  Reminds me of my parents J,  If he didn’t want to help us, he wouldn’t give us difficulties or weaknesses. 

Two things that I’ve really gained a testimony of these last few weeks are the power of prayer and of the scriptures.  In this scripture it says that 
“if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.”  
It’s interesting because a few weeks ago, everything was going very smoothly, and in prayer I asked God to help me be better. And it was just after that that the difficulties started.  Boy, I am NEVER gonna ask for that again! J  But while these last few weeks have been pretty rough (baptizing, leading the zone, getting to the end of my mission, even Portuguese got harder for me, etc) I have learned to depend much much, much more on the savior than before.  I’ve seen a lot more of how the atonement works for me. And that is wonderful!  Definitely worth a couple challenges. 

I have a goal to end reading O Livro de Mórmon before the end of my mission.  I’m in Alma 39.  Last week Dad sent in his letter some pretty interesting thoughts about reading the scriptures that I even shared with my zone this week.  That when we are always reading the scriptures, God has a means to always be talking with us.  It’s incredible how we can receive personal revelation every single day.  I’ll share an example that I read this week: Alma 29:1,3 
“O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!”
“But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.” 
Basically, I wanted to be like an angel.  Able to call millions to repentance!  Baptize the whole favela!  Work miracles!  Do great things!  But while I want to do all these things, I make a lot of mistakes and am not perfect.  And quite frankly I should be happy with the calling that God has already given me (because as you know, just being here in Brazil is a miracle (Visa, making movies in places where it isn’t legal to make movies…)).  But then I remembered another scripture that I had read the day before in Alma 26:22, 
“Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance.”  
I’m a very unprofitable servant (Luke 17:10), but if I repent and use my faith, pray always and do my best, God will help me. 

And this was in just one day of personal study.  I haven’t even started about the other 6 days.
Sorry I didn’t talk too much about this week or send any photos (I took like 1 picture this week) but I felt like being all cheesy in my email J  And I also don’t want you guys to think that I’m suffering or anything.  I’m as happy as ever, Elder Kusuda and I are best friends and he is honestly one of my favorite companions. But I felt like I needed to talk about this with you guys! I’ll be sure to take more pictures this week to have some to send to you guys next Monday!

Elder Biggs

8 August 2016
Sisters... lots of Sisters...

Getting ready to leave to work
This last week I have been focusing a lot on goals.  Specifically goals to keep on working until the end my mission.  The last thing that President Fusco told me was that I needed to end my mission RUNNING!  So I have made a few goals these last few weeks to keep me running.  I have 10 more weeks.  And I need finish the Book of Mormon in Portuguese as well as baptize eleven more people. In the beginning of my mission I made a goal of baptisms and I now need to baptize 11 more to reach that goal.  So there is no way that I am gonna relax until I’ve done that!  I should start Helaman today.  Which means that I’ll still need to read 81 chapters in... just a sec... let me do math...  71 days.  So, yeah,  I gotta hurry.

Elder Kusuda will end his mission here in 4 weeks, then will be my last transfer.  I doubt that I’ll be transferred because one elder will leave and the other usually stays, and it’ll be my last transfer so.. .  But Elder Kusuda will be my 5th companion that I’ve killed.  So there’s that too.  But he isn’t trunky either. We’re gonna both end our missions RUNNING!

Anyways.  Here is our zone (which changes about every day).  Our zone now has 6 SISTERS and just 4 Elders, 2 of which are zone leaders and another the district leader.  Its a very strange zone, but whatever.  We baptized 4 people yesterday.
Speaking of that, I baptized 2 men this week, Raimundo and José.
Raimundo didn’t  want to be baptized but while watching another baptism, felt the spirit and wanted me to baptize him (probably just because I was sitting next to him) 
Then I had interviewed José (a pretty crazy dude) and then also baptized him.  So I baptized 2 people this week, but they were both the Sister’s baptism, so I still need to find 11 more people...
But anyway, my week was another very difficult week, but another spiritually uplifting week as well.  Saturday I was frustrated as heck for example.  But when I arrived at church the next day all my stress was taken away.  I even felt strange to have released so much stress simply going to church.  While I took the sacrament yesterday I had a thought:

Christ is the only one of God’s children who deserves a blessing.  One blessing. Any blessing!  No one else deserves anything other than punishment, because day after day all we do is break God’s commandments.  But Christ’s atonement was basically him, “trading places” with us.  We step into his spot, perfect and without punishment, and he steps into ours, punishment without end.  I don’t know how He did that, but I know that he did.  He lived a perfect life, and earned his ticket into heaven.  And he gave that ticket to me.  I hope to learn even more about the atonement and the gospel in the next 10 weeks.

I love you guys so much and I’m excited to be there with you in 10 weeks, but until then, I’m here!

Elder Biggs  

15 August 2016
Very grateful and very humbled!

This week was a very, very good week!  As soon as the week began, things were going good.

On Monday night, President Leite called and invited Elder Kusuda and I to eat lunch with him the next day.  He asked us to meet him at the mission office and we walked over to a restaurant close by and talked about the zone and mission stuff.  We also asked him about what it was like when he received the call to be a mission president, how his first month was, and what President Fusco was like on the mission (President Leite was President Fusco’s zone leader, in case you didn’t know already).  Then after that, he invited us to his office and showed us a great way to work with members.  Wow!  He is really smart!  He’s got some incredible ideas and is very creative.  We’ve already seen that he is going to focus a lot more on working with members, and preparing for the temple that will arrive here in 2018.  Then afterwards we asked if we could take a picture with him, and he was like, “Sure!” which was a surprise, because President Fusco HATES taking pictures.

Other news,  my shoes which arrived here on the mission with me have officially died...  It’s funny because shoes here on the mission last for like, 3 months, 4 months. Elder Kusuda has had like 6 pairs of shoes and my first pair lasted 21 months!  So, I sure won’t be buying any other kind of shoes for the rest of my life.  GO ECCO!

Alright, now for the good part.  For the last 6 years, the missionaries have been teaching a woman, Marcia, who went to church, participated in everything, but couldn’t be baptized because she wasn’t married to her husband.  He too had been going to church and the 2 wanted to be baptized, but he had to legally divorce before he could get married, and his ex-wife didn’t want too.  So their kids were all baptized and they were going to church, but after some years, they just kind of stopped.  Well... last week, Marcia’s husband passed away (they’re an old-ish couple) and Marcia felt so comforted by the missionaries (us) and the ward, that she decided that she would be baptized without further delay! 
There was more than 50 people at her baptism last night, and it was a very spiritual baptism!  Elder Kusuda and I, with member, Diego, sang “I’m trying to be like Jesus” afterwards, which was cool too.

And if you think all, you’d be wrong!  I didn’t even mention the other baptismal meeting after church where 5 young men were baptized!

Left to right, Kaué, me,  Allan, Allison, Gustavo, and Elder Ramirez.  Elder Ramirez baptized Allison, and I baptized Kaué (who is from our ward) then Allan and Gustavo (from the sister’s ward).  
Also there was Kaio (pronounced Kyle), Kaué’s brother who would’ve also been baptized, but was really shy, and didn’t want everyone to see.  But after baptizing Kaué, I started to leave, and Elder Kusuda said, “wait! wait! wait!, Kaio is coming, he wants to be baptized too!” And then he came and was baptized too!
The Lord really blessed us this week.  I am very very grateful and humbled for everything that he does for me.  And I am really grateful for this mission!
And if you thought that I was getting trunky, check this out!  I’ll let you guys google-translate this:
I love you guys so much and I’ll talk to you guys next week!

Elder Biggs

22 August 2016

Two more weeks until Elder Kusuda goes home.  We’re both counting the days (literally).

On Tuesday, we had a meeting with all the zone leaders and President Leite which went until about pm. Then afterwards, President interviewed Elder Kusuda for the last time, then we had to go to the mission office and grab some medicine for a missionary in our zone.  But we had to wait or a few hours for the medicine to arrive.  So while we waited, President Leite grabbed his guitar and started to play and sing for us.  WOW!  He plays and sings REALLY well!  There was another missionary there who was a professional singer in his country and the two sang a bunch of hymns together.  It was actually really cool!  Then after all that, we got back to our area 8:30 that night.  And to get where we work, and then get back would be enough time to get home at 9pm.  So we stopped by the church where the youth were playing basketball and volleyball.  So, for the first time in my mission, I played basketball.  Yeah Dad!  1 year and 9 months, I played basketball for the first time on my mission.  

On Friday, Elder Pasqualini completed 1 year on his mission and I completed 1 year and 9 months.  So he wanted to go on splits with me so that we could buy pizza that night.  It was funny to see the difference between 1 year and 1 year and 9 months.  With the extra nine months you find that your skills as a missionary are much better, but your desire to work, work, work is much less.  Physically that is.  I started thinking, “wow, I’m getting old for this.” “My knee hurts” “my back hurts” etc… I’ve seen this in the 5 companions of mine who were ending their mission, and it’s weird to see it happening to me too.

This week we found an old man sitting in front of his house, and we decided to talk to him.  His name is Francisco, but he calls himself "Reis" (pronounced Heys) which means "Kings." This isn't a normal name here either.  But whatever!  He told us that he had already gone to church a couple times, and when we talked about baptism, he just said “Ooh! I wanna do that!” and we were like, “you do?” And he responded, “Let’s go for it!”  He is 76 years old and not very quick in the head, but we taught him everything and this Sunday we baptized him.  I don’t have a picture of him because I don’t have my camera with me right now, but next week I’ll send a picture.

Other than that, my week has been pretty normal.  I’ve got 8 weeks left, which is very little, but at the same time, a LOT!  I’ve still got my goal to reach as well, 6 more people!  So I can’t get comfy yet!  There’s still a lot of work to do and a lot to learn still!  I love you guys and will talk to you next week!

Elder Biggs

29 August 2016
A Bible, I have got a Bible, and I need no more Bible! -2 Nep 29:6

This week was another week closer to Elder Kusuda going home.  It’s funny because when one of my companions is going home, I get all excited for him (and maybe a little trunky for him too) and then when he leaves I get all excited to work again.  But this time, I don’t have much time after that.  So we’ll see how this goes.

On Monday we went to the center of town to set a marriage date for a couple that we’re teaching, then afterwards we found a giant market place where I bought a couple stuff, including this dashing hat!

Speaking of the center of town and marriages, we’re teaching this couple, Bruno and Daiane right now.  Bruno is a less active member of the church and Daiane is investigating the church.  Actually, she is very excited to be baptized, but they need to get married first.  They have 2 daughters already, one of which (2 years old) absolutely loves us, which is really cool.  Anyway, on Thursday we went to the place where marriages happen (cartório in Portuguese, I don’t know what we say in English) with them and they signed the paper and on the 8th, will be married!  They’re both really excited so that’s really cool!

Not much else has happened this week.  Our friend Reis (Kings) was confirmed this week and we even arranged a deal with an inactive member who happens to be his neighbor to take Reis  to church and back every week!  Kill 2 birds with one stone.  I don’t have a picture of Reis yet, but I’ll send one next week.

Other cool thing.  The church has not had the legal clearance to print and sell Bibles in Portuguese until this year.  And so I’ve been using a Bible that I bought in a random Christian Library.  But 2 weeks ago I went online and bought one and today, it arrived!

Oh boy was I the most popular Elder in the mission office today, everyone wanting to see my new Bible!  And I just went around citing 2 Nep 29:6 
“A Bible, [I] have got a Bible, and [I] need no more Bible”

I got pretty happy for that!  Now I’m all excited to read the bible more in Portuguese!
Anyways, that was my week.  I love you guys and will see you here in 7 weeks!

Elder Biggs