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

Sunday, October 2, 2016

September--Going Back HOME!

5 September 2016
I’M GOING HOME!!!!!!!!
Mine and Elder Kusuda's Farewell
Elder Kusuda is sitting right next to me, but here in a few hours he’ll be heading to the mission office, then to President’s house to eat dinner, then the next day will be heading out.  I am officially the oldest missionary in the mission with Elder Wedekind!  There is also another Elder, Elder Larson, who will be coming home at the same time who is from Mesa.  So we’ll be arriving at the airport at the same time.  So that’ll be cool.
Alright.  Now for the big news....  Last night were transfers and I already knew that I was going to be staying, because Elder Kusuda is going home.  And when they called we were informed who was leaving:  Elder Kusuda, Elder Ramirez, and Elder Biggs.  I made them repeat, because I didn’t believe it.  I absolutely love this ward, and really wanted to end my mission here.  I then asked where I would be going, and they told me that I was going to be zone leader in...
ARARIPINA!!!!  If you guys don’t remember, Araripina is the neighbor city to Trindade! Which means that I’ll be ending my mission as Zone leader of Trindade!  WOW!  I got so sad, then SO HAPPY in a matter of seconds!  When I left Trindade, it felt like I was leaving home for the 2nd time.  Now, I’m going home!  My companion will probably be Elder Torres, a Mexican, my first Hispanic companion.  I’ll take advantage of this and learn Spanish with him.  I don’t know him, I think that maybe I’ve seen him once or twice, but I’m SO excited to be going back to Pernambuco to end my mission.  You can forget being trunky!  I’m way too happy to be thinking about home right now!  I couldn’t even sleep last night because I was so happy!!!
But ok... Here’s some pictures to top this letter off! 

2 weeks ago Elder Pasqualini marked 1 year on the mission on the same day that I marked 1 and 9 months.  So we bought a pizza and he took this picture.  He didn’t know about my “9 meses” (9 months) until afterwards :)
We all bought matching shirts for our zone.  
If it's not easy to see, it says, ZONESUL (Sul (South) Zone)
And this here is the Sul Stake Center. 

This is Bishop Dos Santos, one of the best Bishops I've ever seen!
Sister Marcia and her daughter Thais.  Marcia who we baptized and Thais who we reactivated.

Speaking of Cristen, he got a suit!  Let me tell you, it is super cool to see your recent convert in a suit.  This week we had stake conference, and we had a Seventy visit.  Afterwards I learned that The Seventy was a convert and the missionary who baptized him was our stake president, President Lima.  So it was probably pretty cool for the stake president to see HIS convert as a seventy visiting his stake.  Then the person who told me said “how cool would it be if one of your converts became a seventy one day? “ And I looked to Cristen sitting right next to me and said, “Yeah, Cristen will one day!” So, I’ll be maintaining contact.
I also learned that a recent convert's daughter moved to Gilbert, AZ when I left on the mission, and that she just came back. So we had a good little talk about how awesome Arizona is. Cool coincidence!

This is a pretty bad picture, but while we were teaching a family, the 5 year old daughter wanted to paint my nails, so I let her paint my pinky.

Anyways,  I’m SUPER excited for this next six weeks.  I don’t know how the internet will be there (just think of the first few months when I couldn’t even send pictures) but it should be fine.  I love you guys so much and will let you know how it goes next week!

Elder Biggs

PS:  Mom, if you wanna let Elibrauli, Charles, Wedja, etc, that’d be alright!
12 September 2016
Monday night I got on the familiar bus to Juazeiro do Norte for the first time in exactly 1 year (and 2 days) and arrived there the next morning.  Then at 9:30 am I reenacted my first days on the mission riding on the much lesser quality bus to Araripina.  It was probably pretty funny for the other people in the bus to see an American so happy to be passing by a tiny little town like Trindade.  It hasn’t changed a bit.  Maybe a little dirtier  :P  But I was super happy to see it again.

When I arrived in Araripina, my companion hadn’t gotten there yet (again, like the first time I arrived in Trindade) and after about 30 minutes he arrived.  My last companion is Elder Torres from Mexico.  He is my first Hispanic companion.  We’ve gotten along really well, and as of right now are very good friends.  He will be doing one year and 6 months next week.  We also decided that he is going to teach me Spanish while I teach him English.  We’ll see if I come home fluent in 3 languages!
It is very strange to be coming back here, because you realize all the differences between Pernambuco and Ceará that you didn’t catch before.  The people talk different, the roads are different, the houses are different, the food is different, even the smell is different.  But with little time on the mission, there was no way for me to tell the small differences like these.

The other strange thing about coming back is that I feel like I’m starting my mission all over again.  I’m feeling everything I felt went I first arrived in Trindade with Elder Young.  But this time I’m not a greenie on the mission.  I’m an expert.  Literally the oldest on the mission.  You know how return missionaries always say that if they could start their missions over, but knowing what they now know, they’d have way more success?  Well that’s true.  And in a way, I’m kinda doing that right now.  But because of that, I’m not trunky anymore, I’m not obsessed with thoughts of home, and I’m not dying to make movies.  In fact, the idea that I won’t even be speaking Portuguese here in 5 weeks scared me a bit last night.  I’m so happy to be able to end my mission here.  This (so far) has really turned out to be a huge blessing!

This week we baptized a young girl name Tamirez.  Her whole family has already been baptized and this week she decide that she too want to be baptized.

Its still a branch here, and its in the middle of nowhere so we don't have a chapel. So we do the baptisms at the Branch President's house in a huge bucket of water:

Elder Biggs
19 September
Well this was quite the week!  I had just gotten back from Fortaleza and last Monday after writing you guys, we had to go BACK to Fortaleza for the mission council with all the zone leaders.  16 hours one way to Araripina,  16 hours back to Fortaleza, then on the same day, 16 hours back to Araripina.  The worst part is that we arrived in Araripina on Wednesday at about 2pm.  So we ate something small when we got here, then we went out to work like any other day. Completely wasted, but to be honest, it was probably the day when the Lord blessed us the most this week.
This here is a photo of us with the zone leaders of Juazeiro do Norte heading to Fortaleza.  Elder Occon front left, served about 6 months in the United States because of visa problems.  And when I asked him where in the USA he served he told me the Gilbert, Arizona mission! So when I was telling everyone that at my home it gets to be 122 degrees and no one believes me, Elder Occon says, “no its true.  We’ve had sisters pass out on their bikes because of dehydration.”  So that’s cool.
One super cool thing about the mission council:  Afterwards, President Leite interviewed all the zone leaders accept for me and Elder Wedekind (Elder Wedekind is a zone leader now!) and Elder Larson (because he’ll be interviewing us here in a couple weeks) and Elder Torres was the last one.  So after his interview, President played some really cool hymns for us on the piano (He is REALLY good) then asked us how far from the stake center the mission office was, and we told him about a half hour walking.  And because he had let Sister Leite use the car that day, he walked with us.  The whole way we just talked about normal stuff with him.  He is very approachable and very humble.  Very different than President Fusco.  He isn’t better or worse than President Fusco, but way different.  Just to give you an idea, as we passed a fast food restaurant, Elder Occon’s companion said, “Hey President, do you like fast food?”  and president just said, “Lets go!” And he went in and bought us dinner!
Anyways, for the last month or so, the missionaries have been teaching an awesome family that was recently baptized, Mom, Dad, Daughter, and Grandma.  They have also been teaching 2 friends of the daughter, Kathly, who live down the road who are twins.  Kaylane and Kalyne.  They’re 12 years old and ADORE 1 Direction and are extremely talkative.  EXTREMELY!  I filmed them talking one time, and I’ll have to show you guys when I get home (4 weeks couch cough).  The first time I met them, Elder Torres told me to brace myself.  And wow!  They’re crazy. 
Usually when I come to a new area, or get a new companion I’m pretty quiet for the first few days to try and give a good impression.  Anyways, the second day that we went there, I too decided to be crazy with them and… It worked!  You talk with them about one direction for about 5 minutes and then start to talk about the gospel and they stop talking and listen.  We left and Elder Torres told me that they had been progressing very slowly because they don’t take anything seriously and don’t stop talking, and that I was the first to get them to stop.  Anyways, they had been preparing for baptism but were very nervous, so they didn’t want too.  Their mom is also a member and was baptized in Trindade about 8 years ago, but has since fallen away from the church, so we are also reactivating her.  She helped a lot motivate the twins to be baptized until the very hour.  Sunday after church we all walked to the Branch President’s house and Elder Torres and I were pretty nervous that they would give up at the last minute.  1 chose me to baptize her and the other chose Elder Torres.   
So there we are, one of the twins standing on the other side of the yard with me already in the water tank calling her over.  She slowly climbs in saying “I hate water. I hate water. I hate water.” And me explaining how the baptism will work, then as I finished the prayer and put her into the water she yells, “Is this really happening!” And BOOM! She came out of the water screaming “THAT’S IT!?  THAT’S WHAT IVE BEEN AFRAID OF THIS WHOLE TIME!?  I DON’T BELIEVE IT!!!” And everybody just laughing their heads off!  Then the other was baptized and after coming out of the water saying “Alright!  Alright!  You all saw what you wanted to see!  I’m getting out of this water now!”  
After they changed cloths and everything, they were much more relaxed and we ended the baptismal meeting with a very strong spirit with the testimony of the young women’s leader and the closing prayer by their friend Kathly (who had only been baptized 3 weeks earlier).  We talked with the two afterwards, and they thanked us for literally throwing them in the water  :D
Right now I’m writing this from a city called Salgueiro.  It’s about 4 hours from Araripina and is the furthest place from Fortaleza in the mission.  It is a part of our zone, so we came here to have a zone meeting with them.  We’ll sleep here, then go back to Araripina tomorrow night.  Yeah, there’s no such thing as a normal week in Araripina, you travel like crazy!
But alright then.  I’ll send some more pictures in another email, but I love you guys so much and I can’t believe that here in 4 weeks I’ll be getting ready to come home.  Until next week!
Elder Biggs
26 September 2016
This week I was finally able to do what every missionary wants to do: visit their first area!  On Friday, we went on exchanges with the missionaries in Trindade and… well… It was pretty great!

The first thing that happened getting out of the van, and walking to the house was see João Vitor walking down the road!  We were both without words!  We talked for a bit and he said that he’d be at an activity that night that we would be going to as well, so I didn’t take a picture with him there.  But just for you to know, he hasn’t changed a bit.

After that we visited a few people then headed over to Elibrauli and Tereza’s house!
I don’t know if you can see too well, but she’s a couple months pregnant!

We then visited and worked quite a bit until the activity that night.  It was funny because I knew the area better than my companion who had been there for almost a month! I also got to show him a bunch of people who I had visited, so that was cool!
Just before the activity had started I learned that Wedja had moved to another house close to the church.  So of course I didn't hesitate to run over there.  When I got there, Ana Luisa (her now-8-year-old-daughter) answered the door with a huge, "HUH! Elder Biggs!  MOM! MOM! MOM!" Wedja told me later that she thought her daughter had gone mad until she came to the door to see for herself.

We had a great little visit and marked another visit here in a couple weeks before the end of my mission.

After that visit, we headed to the familiar chapel and met a lot of other members there including:

and Mattheus and Daniel!

It was so cool to see everyone again!  Except I didn't get to João Vitor, who didn't show up for some reason, but Mattheus, João Vitor and Daniel are all preparing to serve missions now that Karol, Marcelo and Jessica Weidya are all on their missions.

Finally to wrap everything up, the next morning, I went to visit Francisca Barbosa and Jorge Allan!  Jorge Allan was my very first friend here in Brazil, so it was cool to see how he had grown so much!

But it was really a great experience to visit Trindade again!  I really am lucky to be able to do that.  I don’t know of many other missionaries who have.  That’s all I’m gonna write today.  It’s crazy to think that I’ll only be writing 3 more times and the third will be as I am leaving.  So let’s make this next 3 weeks count!
Here are some comparisons from last year and today:
Matthew And Daniel:
 Allison and Denis:

Elder Biggs