April 13, 2009

You can tell Bishop Boyer that I'm very excited about speaking on the topic he gave me and it will be an honor to be able to speak. And if Bishop Sandstrom would like I would be very happy to speak at his Singles Ward too. Will that be my Singles Ward? I'll be honest, I'm a little freaked out about regularly going to a Singles Ward. I might need to get married as soon as possible to avoid that.
The only problem I foresee in speaking at Church when I get home is that I have NEVER given a talk in English!! For all the experience I've gained to giving talks over the last two years, none of it has been in my native language. I might have a hard time.

Changing the subject, before I forget, I would like to make a special request please:

To help the members here, I'm wanting to get my hands on some Church history stories. What I would like everyone in the family to do this week is search around the internet and books and ask others for interesting Church history stories, and send them to me in this next week's e-mail. Don't mail them. Copy and paste as many as you want. I'm going to print them out and translate them into Portuguese and use them in lessons with the members in their homes. People here love Church history even though it is not their ancestry.
Why I'm wanting to do this is because we've come to the conclusion here that missionary work does NOT work in the way we try to do things here in this mission. I mean, you have success every once in a while because God isn't going to allow the work to stop. But we know that it can be done in a better way---together with the members! Feel free to get on the Church website and watch the talk by L. Tom Perry in the Sunday afternoon session on the fancy Church video player thing. He articulates exactly what I feel about missionary work and the way it needs to be done. Some missionaries don't try to change from the way it used to be. We're trying to come up with new ways to help the members be more involved in the work.

I want to help complete families prepare to go to the temple and be sealed forever. That is my desire. I know it is President Pizzirani's desire as well. The problem in the mission is that a lot of missionaries are still trying to use all those old techniques but with new vision. It doesn't work. We're only going to have success if we work together with the members. It's as clear as day to us now. We can't do it alone, just the missionaries. In the last two transfers we've met a lot of really great people but no baptisms yet because we haven't figured out a good way to really work with the members well. We've got some new ideas now though, and we're going to put it in practice this transfer. Things are going to be really different, but I'm excited. My goal is to leave this area ripe for the harvest when I leave. Pray for us and for the members that we'll have success together in building up the Church here.

No one was transferred!! Elder Brown and I will stay together another six weeks. I'm really happy about that. I love him like a brother. And he'll kill me! In doing so he'll be orphaning two children, but I'm sure they're okay with that. Elder Brown's excited to be getting his first taste of blood in the mission. I don't know what I would have done had he been transferred. He helps me a lot and is an inspired missionary.

Someone mentioned Joao's family two weeks ago I think. He has not been baptized yet because we are waiting on the marriage. Joao needs his birth certificate to be legally married and he does not have it. We asked for a new one to be sent to him from his home state. That was two months ago. It still hasn't come. Our Branch President has decided that he and the Branch Mission Leader are going to drive 100 kilometers into Goias to get his birth certificate so that we can finally get the ball rolling. That's needing to happen because I haven't been feeling very good lately about Joao and his family, they seem to be getting a little stagnant with the lack of progress with the marriage and everything. We're running out of things to teach them. I believe things will turn around soon and they'll be married and baptized by the end of this transfer.

Stella is another person on my mind a lot. I get so happy when I think about her. Bel says she is always reading the copy of the Ensign (Liahona) we gave her. She's being taught by the sisters in a different city. I hope all is going well. The only thing I worry about is that she has a lot of questions. Not that it's bad to ask questions--we should all be courageous enough to ask the important questions. But if we're not careful it can be like building a huge house without any foundation. Each piece of wood is another question, and when it's answered it fits into its place in the house and helps build up something beautiful. But when the wind and the rains come, if there's no foundation then none of it matters because it won't stay grounded. Our knowledge of the gospel, great as it may be, can all come crashing down if we don't have the foundation of testimony. For every bit of knowledge we seek, we should seek testimony to go along with it. A lot of our investigators need to understand that, not just Stella. But I mention her because she has the ability to learn so much, and it will end up profiting her nothing if she does not gain a testimony.

It's important to remember that testimony is simple. All a testimony is is a confirmation by the Holy Ghost of gospel knowledge. Knowledge can be gained by the human mind alone, testimony can only be gained by the Spirit. That's why scripture study and prayer go hand in hand. We learn about the Book of Mormon by reading it and pondering its message, we gain testimony of its truthfulness by praying and feeling the way that Alma describes in Alma 32:28. It makes sense in our minds, it feels right in our hearts, it's peaceful. But that is not enough for a lot of people. That's why I worry. Not just for Stella and our investigators, but for Jonny as well.

OK I'm really, really, really, really excited about this trip business. I better get some information on it, quick! I'm hoping to get my last package this afternoon when we go to Asa Norte for the little transfer day family night with President. Which reminds me, two of my companions are going home tomorrow. Elder C Nunes and Elder Tenorio. I'll miss them. Next family night it will be me going home. Freak.

OK don't forget, Church history stuff. I love you guys.

ps: Tell me how the itinerary looks on my arrival home. What time I'm getting in etc. I'm sooooooooo curious!

pps: Tell Uncle John hi from me. Is he still dating the girl who doesn't shave her legs or arm pits? I'll be sure to pray for Eric and Sam, and especially Grandma D.

ppps: Tell Gma Hoon I hope she has a very happy 77th birthday! She deserves it more than anyone. Also, please ask her if she and Grandpa have gotten the letter I sent to them several weeks ago.

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