Honestly I don't really have a weekly letter for you guys this week. Listen to the voice recording and know that I love you guys! We baptized this week and that was awesome. I'm working hard and loving the area, companion, and the investigators.
I hope everything is going well for you guys out there. I'm doing very well here in Tenoné. Each day I'm liking the area more and more. We are starting to develop more love for our investigators and members and this helps us to be more bold and excited each day. I'm doing great with Elder Marler, my American companion. We fought a bit of sickness this last week but no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing!
This last week was super busy, which is better than not busy at all! President called in on Thursday to do surprise interviews with the Zone, so we passed the info on as fast as we could. Everybody came in and was interviewed... except us. I think he will interview us another time or something like that.
We had to do a ton of baptismal interviews, which was pretty time consuming. Honestly we almost didn't have time to work in our area this week! We are battling to hit our goal of 27 people baptized as a zone, but at 17 we are a bit far from it. We will work hard this week and hope for the Lord's help with some last-minute miracles. At least we want to bat 20 to finish the month of well. The stories of the people baptized in the zone this month are really special, as are all baptisms. There were 5 families of these 17 and so that is something very important.
We baptized a very special woman named D in our ward this week. I sent photos and an explanation I. She was very ready, excited and elect!
I had a spiritual experience this week as we neared the end of the week and realized we had hardly worked in our area...how were we going to bring people to church to baptize in other weeks? How were we going to do our contacts? Follow up with the people we already had planned for church?
All these things were very pressing, but as the week ended we saw lots of miracles. Several people who weren't even planning to go to church showed up and we even had an elderly woman who wants to be baptized. So we have plenty of work to do and I feel blessed that when we do our part as leaders the Lord will make up the other part of the work that we can't do.
A's Baptism! He's a great young man that looks like a kid but is actually 14 years old!
This last Sunday he brought other members of his family to church that we are also teaching.
Other photos of the baptism! And...a whiskey bottle?
Photos from D's Baptism! D is a very special woman who was a referral from one of the members.
We taught her over the period of 2 weeks and she wanted to be baptized! She is always very happy and smiling and makes great cake!
Just so you know, my release date is not confirmed but will probably beJune 23rd. I had a good telephone conversation with President Scisci and he even agreed with me about the date. Now we just need the confirmation of President to close the issue. I will call him today to ask that he send the Ecclesiastical Endorsement.
Just to let you guys know, I've officially made the decision that I will no longer be trunky :). The only time I'm going to think about the first weeks home will be on Mother's Day when we'll do a mini-planning session for after I get back.
Until then the subject is locked on closed lips unless I need to do anything urgent like register for classes or confirm dates or whatever other stuff there is. For the members here and everyone else, I have been out a little longer than a year on the mission. I'll be ready and willing to accept it when I get back, but for now I am here on the mission and this is where I'm supposed to be!
Even though the mission is not easy, I love it and I wouldn't give up this time for anything! I have already grown to love the people here in Tenoné and I want badly to help this ward grow! I'll do everything in my power and will pray that the things I can't do be done if it is the will of the Lord.
A mission is not a sacrifice, not a burden, but a privilege!
I'm doing very well in the area. I'm liking it more every day...although it is a very tough and muddy and physically unpleasant area. I'm already telling you, Mom, when I get back, the next day I'm going to need a pedicure. And a really good massage therapist. There are 2 years of missionary life and will probably be a year of zone leader stressed-out life that need to be resolved! :D
I feel like I'm at my absolute best in terms of knowing what to do and how to do it and how to baptize and how to help the zone baptize. We baptized this last week and will continue baptizing weekly for this whole transfer! I just find myself unbelievably tired every morning. It just comes with time I guess.
But I'm going strong! My goal is to baptize weekly for the rest of my mission. I want to break 60 baptisms if God allows it. I have to baptize 14 more to make that happen, so that's just about weekly baptisms until then.
I got the exciting news that a very intelligent young man that I taught was baptized this last week by Elder Prado. The work continues in Macapá!
This week we baptized a young man named A. He's pretty spunky and 14 years old. I'll send you a picture later.
You should hear Elder Marler and me speaking together. One minute we are speaking in English and the next in Portuguese. Or he's speaking in English and I'm speaking in Portuguese and we're speaking together. It's really confusing!
Sorry I didn't have much time to write today--Elder Marler was sick and we had to go to the doctor.
Here's a picture from the devotional with Elder Cook:
The work is going great here in Tenoné. I am still getting used to the area but I'm feeling more confident now in the ward. Our ward is really small and growing, but our stake is really strong. We are working with one of the best Stake Presidents that we have on the mission, Pres. Dario, and so we are working with very strong leadership.
One defining characteristic of the Icoarací Stake is that it is the largest stake as far as number of wards, but still one of the smallest as far as number of missionaries. Every one of the wards and branch have only 1 companionship working there, which is very different. In Macapá, for example, there were the same number of missionaries that worked in the Stake but there were only 5 wards. Here we have 8 wards and 1 stake.
We are putting in practice a plan to train the new ward mission leaders to help them understand their role in the stake. I will be visiting with the high counselor responsible for missionary work or with the stake counselor or even with the stake president to assist the missionaries coordination meetings with the LMA. We're hoping this type of follow-up can help them to have efficient and regular meetings.
I'm fighting to focus hard on the work. It's hard going to a difficult area when you are on the end of your mission...but I am sure the Lord wanted me to make a difference in this area. This last week we had an attendance of 70. We are not in a very pretty place as a ward and have a lot of work to do. I surprised the ward by playing violin early as a prelude and throughout the meeting which helped to break the usual tradition. We just need to excite this ward and I'm sure we will have success.
We live far from our chapel, so it is hard for us to get people to church particularly because it is a very poor area. When we get an attendance of 120 I believe we will be approved to start the construction of a chapel in our area. The land was already bought...now we just need sufficient members!
I will continue working hard! Endure to the End! I love you guys and miss you and am thrilled to be so close to seeing you! 4 more months!
I'm sure you're all just dying to know where I am...and if you weren't able to hear in the voice recording, I'm back here in Belem!...more or less. I was transferred to Tenone, in the Icoaraci zone. It's an awesome area that I am liking a ton! Within Belem, it is the farthest zone that exists.
My current companion is Elder Marler, from Hawaii! Yes, an American--my first American companion in Brazil. It's refreshing and very different having an American companion...I'm really looking forward to this transfer! He will finish his mission one transfer before me, so I have no idea if I will kill him or if I will just stay one transfer or what. I'm just in it for the ride.
Tenone is super humble. I think it is the most humble area I've worked in. Only Pioneiro came close. It's mud all over....within the Tenone county there are no concrete streets, only muddy and wet paths. The members are great but to be honest I'm missing Santa Rita a ton. I'm sure I'll get used to the area and learn to love the people here and the members.
The ward is recently divided and I'm seeing that they are in a really desperate moment right now. We participated in the ward council and I was able to share some ideas and I think the Bishop got excited, so we'll see if we can get some progress. Our main problem is Priesthood holders. We have 7 worthy men in the ward that can and are willing to work in callings...and one of them is leaving the ward right now. My personal goal is to help the attendance get from an average of 80 to 120 until I leave. We'll see if that's possible.
Our teaching group is really small...we are basically starting our teaching group from nothing. But we'll find people to teach! We are receiving a lot of referrals, which is awesome! We had several miracles with people bringing investigators to church on Sunday. It was our Stake Conference and we had President Costa with us...he was fantastic! He emphasized the importance of Family, which I think was perfect for the members of our area.
The details about the devotional with Elder Cook were fantastic. I hope you've listened to those.
Love you guys a ton! You can count on me that I won't let "trunky-ness" get in my way of being a great missionary. I know that there is a special purpose for me here in Tenone...I have to achieve all that the Lord has in store for me.