Josh: IT´S YOUR BIRTHDAY TODAY!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Sorry I’m not going to be able to send you a present. I have no money and I don´t even know where the post office is yet! :D But I’ll write a good portion of the letter to you as my present this year! (I know, lame right? But you´re a man. You can handle it.)
I´m pretty jealous of the morph suit. I can totally see you wearing that. Blue morph suit just screams "Josh". And I’m pretty jealous of the food too. Brazilians like lots of carbs, but it´s entirely made up of rice, beans, and meats. Mashed potatoes sounds pretty good! :D
Holy cow you finally get to drive. I bet you are so happy right now! :D Actually that´s just if you pass your test. We´ll see if that happens. :D I bet you´ll pass it. I was just a terrible driver and Austin was just too cocky. You´ll pass for sure.
I remember driving being a definite turning point during high school. It gives you a freedom that you've never had before. Remember that there are very few people in the world that have that freedom at your age. Here in Barcarena, it is absolutely unheard of for youth to drive. Very few adults have a car. We have upwards of 30 investigators right now (all found by me and Elder Ramos!) and not one of them has a car. Ask Lhaylla what it´s like in other parts of Brazil. Here it´s pretty rare.
And dating...wow. Those poor guys at your high school. With Joshua Paul Gale on the loose, there will be no women left for everybody else! Tell me about the dates you go on. Make em creative!
That´s so awesome that you made the basketball team! I know how much you care about sports, even if you try not to show it. :D You are an integral part of the team, even if its only being an example to the other players how to work your butt off. And you´d better be doing that!
Your guess of 30 baptisms a month was a little bit high...but who knows, it could happen! We have tons of investigators right now, but we´re struggling to pick out who in our group is elect and can be baptized. Lots of people have word of wisdom problems, and even more people have problems coming to church.
But, this week we are hoping to have some baptisms happen. We have several moças (ladies) that can be baptized and several rapazes (guys) as well. I´m really not sure what the numbers will be, or if we´ll baptize anyone at all. We´ll see!
Mom: Sorry for the lack of pictures today! My camera is out of batteries and I cant seem to find any at the local stores around here. I´ll try to find some quickly! I know how nice it is to get photos :D I emailed you a photo of a zone conference that happened this last week.
I´ll be honest...the Christmas package is still unopened! I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to do it, and the other Elders all wanted me to open it right away, so I hid it deep under my bed and haven´t looked at it since. I think I’m going to be able to do it!
Everybody is easy-going here and there is a lot less pressure of obligations and appointments here. It´s really a good stress relaxer. But there are definitely times and places where time-laxity is not appropriate, and certain mission schedules are some of these times.
As missionaries, we have to learn to embrace the culture of the people we live with while still being obedient. Right now, and for the next two years, I am Brazilian. It´s really miraculous how much every missionary has to do this. (Another problem we sometimes have in this mission is American missionaries that don´t do this; they try to force their culture on everybody else. That is bad!)
Grammie: I´m praying really hard for you with the surgery today! I know that this is the right thing for you and that you will be glad that you did it. I know the Lord will be with you at every step! I wish I could've celebrated your 52nd birthday with you. I´m sure it was great! :D Love you!
Dad: That´s awesome that you were able to go out with the Elders in your ward! You´d be amazed at how willing to help the members in Belém are with missionary work. We oftentimes have more lessons with members than without! I believe this is one of the reasons that Brazil baptizes so much- that the members help teach and give referrals.
I´m glad that you were willing to share your testimony of the Plan of Salvation. I have to do that a lot! :D Because I oftentimes don´t know how to teach certain principles or respond effectively to the investigator´s questions, I usually end up testifying of the blessings of whatever principle and sharing my testimony. One thing that President Holm taught me is this: "I can never make other believe that what I´m saying is true. I can always make sure that others know that I believe what I´m saying is true." That helped me get more comfortable sharing my testimony. Good luck with the work in Liberty!
Austin: Wow that football stuff sounds pretty interesting! Not. I´m still happy that the Gamecocks beat the Chiefs that one time...I think?
Ben: I always appreciate your calm and well-reasoned letters. I´m afraid that I am losing my English bit by bit in these weeks-months of Portuguese! Lots of other Elders cant speak or write fluently without thinking of what word it is in English or how to say it. It´s pretty funny.
I miss playing you in chess too! We´ll have to have a game when I return...in 2 years :D You be practicing! Let Tanner win every once in a while. It´s amazing how that keeps people wanting to play with you ;D. Miss you Ben!
Brindi: That´s awesome that you are starting basketball! Go and get em! Lots of people like basketball and have shirts with basketball stuff here, but nobody plays it. It´s pretty funny. You´ll be great!
Tanner: Carson or a bunny? I´ll have to spend some serious reflection on that prophetic dilemma...Good luck with basketball! You´re a soccer star and now a basketball star!
Lhaylla: Oi! Estou tão animado que voce esta gostando as Sisteres e nossa igreja. Realmente, sei que essa igreja e evangelho pode fazer uma grande differencia na sua vida. Pode mudar sua vida. Tudos nos falamos que "Sei que essa igreja é verdadeira", e voce sabe porque? È porque tudos nos já fazemos uma oração especial e pergunta Deus se essa evangelho e igreja e o uníco igreja completament verdadeira. Sei que Deus sempre responde a nossas oraçoes. Sei que Ele vai responder a suas. 2 Timoteo 1:7.
Sei porque voce tem saudade por comida Brasileiro! Gosto muito de essa comida :D Também, tenho uma pouco saudade por a comida dos Estados Unidos...mas não importante! Boa sorte com escolha e vida nas Estados Unidos!
Events this week: We had an awesome conferençia de zonas this last week! President Scisci spoke, as well as...Elder Fernandez! He is a member of the quorum (spelling?)of the 70! He gave a really exciting talk! At least...it sounded exciting. He talked really fast, and I bet he used lots of specific words that I haven´t learned yet in Portuguese. So I understood very little of what he said. But everyone else said that he was fantastic!
I had a great time getting to see my friends in the mission. I have not yet seen Elder McCrea. He is serving in Santarém, which is one of the farthest zones away from Belém. To get there, you have to either take a plane or take a 2 day boat ride. Usually most missionaries end up serving there, so I´m looking forward to it!
Some of my other friends in the mission are:
Elder Daines and Sister Hymas, missionaries from a different district in the MTC that waited with me in South Carolina. Elder Paoletti, another American. Elder Ritchie, the cousin of Wade Ritchie that is serving in my mission. I met him by chance in the line for lunch and now were good friends! He only has 9 months so far, so I´ll be with him for a while. Elderes Cedráz, Texiera, Dos Santos, Bravo, and I cant remember the others names. Other Brazilian-Bolivian-African missionaries that arrived the same time I did. And lots of other missionaries. Everybody is super close here and I love the other missionaries I get to serve with!
Anyways, when that finished we went to return to Barcarena. We took the last boat of the night which ended up being a pretty scary experience. We had to go through the coast-sea line of Belém, and the waves were very rough. I swear the boat nearly tipped over. The missionaries sang "Mestre, o mar si revolta" - "Master, the Tempest is Raging" and it gave a whole new meaning to that hymn. I asked one of the rapazes working on the boat if this happened often, and he said "every night". Fun stuff!
Really the same things are happening with our investigators. We had 9 come to church yesterday, which was good but we were hoping for more. The van that usually takes our investigators to church broke down, so that made things a bit hectic for us. I miss that 15 seater van right now! :D
Like I said, we´re hoping for some baptisms this week. Keep me and my investigators in your prayers! E boa sorte a tudos de voces! Sei que os principios e dotrinas na essa evangelho são inspirados! Sei que Deus sempre responde a nossas oraçoes.
Chamado para servir,