I want to share something Drake’s Dad shared with him: "A mission will teach you to ask God for help; to trust the help He gives as sufficient, and to take it like a man. You develop thick skin on your mission and a real sense of who you are, and what you can do, AND WILL endure for the gospel to spread. Think about the calluses on your hands. The thick skin on your hands that came from lifting things a normal person could not do. Those calluses came from a lot of pain and pressure. Eventually, those hands could grasp 500lbs without failing. Now think about your spiritual calluses. You need to grow through a lot of pressure as well as pain."
Sunday the 17th: Sister Overson, the wife of the first counselor in our CTM ward bishopric, talked after I did (usually you speak your last week in the CTM. I spoke on the atonement in Portuguese and finished with the currant bush talk in English.) I also shared the quote from Grandpa Faust, "There are only 2 types of missionaries in this world,..those who serve in Brasil, and those who wish they did!"
Sister Overson spoke on a story about Grandpa ironically. She said in 1940 Grandpa converted the very first family ever in the city of Curitiba. Now that city has a temple, an entire mission, and thousands of thousands of members there. Her point was that one person can make a difference. GRANDPA MADE A DIFFERENCE. I was very emotional during her whole story. I just felt so proud of Grandpa! That I was related to such an amazing man and how lucky I am to be able to serve in Brasil, the place that Grandpa did so much for and how highly respected he is here. EVERYONE knows President Faust. It made me imagine him up in heaven, watching me and every time he sees me doing the things I should or he sees the success I’m having, or when I overcome something difficult, or I learn his language, Portuguese! Up there I can imagine him cheering for me, "That’s my grandson down there! Serving in the best country in the world! Making a difference! Answering the call to serve!" I can imagine him up there being proud of me. That is one of the best feelings in the entire world.
Wednesday: Yesterday was crazy. I met the President Farnes and his wife! They are so loving and sweet! I love them so much! At the mission home I ended up meeting that Elder, Elder Hatch who served in my mission that my grandparents know. He was leaving the day I was arriving haha, more irony. I arrived and received my new comp, Elder Medina from Chile! He speaks extremely well, but no English of course haha. He knows what he is doing, he is extremely diligent and knows what to say always. He is very good with the people. He is also 18 years old and he has been out 7 months. He is also very loving and supportive and helpful, and he pushes me just enough to help me. I seriously could not have asked for a better companion!
It’s funny what has been said about my new area so far. I am in the city of Brasilandia. It is one of the highest baptizing cities in the mission. The reason for that is because it is mostly favelas! My area is extremely, extremely poor. The first night we went out and in 3 hours we had 13 street contacts!!! So many people talk with us and are interested! We also taught 2 lessons! All of that in 3 hours!
Brasil is madness but I love it! I am still having a hard time understanding because of all the different accents and because they speak so fast. I was able to help a bit during the lessons and talk on the street but it is very, very hard. But I know this is where I am supposed to be, and this is what I am supposed to do.
Also during a lesson Tuesday night...We were teaching the Restoration and our investigator just whips out her boob to feed her baby during Joseph Smiths first vision. She didn’t even try to cover up or anything, so I was teaching and I was like um, um, uh...but we finished the lesson.
Everyone here calls me Wolverine (pronounced: "volverriny" here) or the muscular Edward Cullen! It’s like the 8th grade all over again! Or together, they say my companion and I are Edward and Jacob! Lololol!
It’s difficult with food here, also, there is no time to make food here, so everything needs to be quick, so that means breakfast was weird tasting milk and cookies.
Studying was terrible, very boring, very hard to focus, we wake up at 6 most mornings to go use weights at a members home, but the weights are tiny and they don’t do much for me, but it’s better than nothing. We go with 2 other sets of missionaries. In our apartment we have one other pair with us. One is an American who will be leaving soon, and the other is a Brazilian. I like them both. The American elder speaks no English to me, unless he absolutely has to for a few words, as we have been instructed to do that so I will learn faster. It is 100% Portuguese here all the time.
Wednesday night there was some crazy riot. Tons of cops, wreckage, and tons of fire; we had to change our walking routes because they were closing the streets down. We later found out that a bomb had gone off and huge, huge gunfight had taken place! Wow! Super wild!!!
Also, we don’t eat dinner here.... In Brasil we have a HUGE lunch in members homes everyday, but no dinner. So we work from about 1pm after lunch to 9pm without food. Interestingly though I stay pretty full even though we walk SOOOOO much!
My diet is out the window here. You honestly are lucky to get what you get, so we eat as much as possible when we can. We buy stuff from the store, but again, our time is very limited, so cookies and milk or whatever is quick we eat.
Also very cool, every Thursday morning we go to a farmers market and buy fresh fruit. Tons of interesting Brazilian fruits! I will try to get pics next week!
Thursday: I was feeling a little sad and unmotivated during study, but everything always gets better when we go to our lunch appointment and start our work for the day. We ended up having 20 street contacts, 7 new investigators and we taught 5 whole lessons. I also saw more of how poor the area is. Some people’s homes in the favelas are smaller than my room in the US. Also, it is difficult to get any pictures of the favelas because it is not safe.
My favorite time here is in the night, there are always parties going on, tons of music, lights, and fun. Everyone is out and about and we are able to talk to more people. And it is cooler outside! But again, no pictures of the night for safety reasons. I am in a pretty dangerous area in Brasil. At least our area is.
We visited a single sister with young children, she was telling us about how lonely she was, she was crying. We also went with the ward mission leader named Irmao Dilermando; he is super cool! He is an older man, but he wears super swagged out clothes and he is SUPER spiritual.
In my broken Portuguese I told the woman the same thing I’ve said before when someone said they were lonely, "God is always with you, because Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. He has felt every pain, suffered every affliction, He knows exactly how you feel, every temptation, everything, I can testify that you are never alone; He is always with you; He is with you no matter what and I KNOW this is true.”
"Why is this so hard? Because Salvation is not a cheap experience," in the words of Elder Holland. I also heard Elder Holland spoke at the CTM the day I left.... come on...
I had to bear my testimony and introduce myself to the ward during sacrament meeting, and to make it more stressful, President Farnes and his family made a surprise visit to our ward. I did alright. Church is similar here, but not as organized or as strong, but there are still great faithful members.
After church we went to work, we ended up teaching the Restoration to a group of 18 people in the middle of the street. I was nervous, but I prayed and when it was my turn to take over the lesson I spoke well and bore a very strong testimony. A lot of them were hard looking muscular guys. Crazy experience.
There are also these super sketchy apartment buildings we don’t like to go in because they are owned by the drug cartel. If we go in, guys with guns and walkie talkies tell the other people in the building that a muscular American and a smaller Chilean have entered the building. SUPER Sketchy! We have had no problems with anyone yet which is good.
Soooooo, last night we were leaving a lesson in the favelas, and there was a crazy dog and my companion and I were trying to leave. I miscalculated my jump to escape and I rolled/strained my ankle pretty bad. I had to be carried back into the house. It was bad enough that we had to call someone to pick us up because I cannot walk and we were over 10 miles away from our apartment. It was also very difficult explaining to my comp in Portuguese my previous ankle issues from football. I was able to call someone official from the mission and talk with them. I am able to walk, but very, very slowly and cautiously.
Overall, I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE BRASIL SOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH. My companion has taken such good care of me. I am making such amazing progress.
From Tuesday night to Sunday, we had 95 street contacts, 1 confirmation, 5 investigators with baptismal dates, 6 investigators who attended church, 7 lessons taught with a member present, 18 other lessons taught, 30 new investigators. I also forgot to say, on my first day I invited 2 people to be baptized and they said yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My shoulders are narrowing, my body is shrinking, but my Spirit is growing huge. I want to lose myself to find Christ; I will gain my muscle back when I return, but the things I am learning here are turning me into a better future husband, father, and Son of God.
This is truly amazing, But I will say it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT every single day. It is very hard for me, but I just love it so much!
I love you all!