Monday, January 26, 2015

This Week

Well, I am a missionary. I feel the Holy Ghost in my life. I am happy. Nevertheless, Im not going to lie, it was a rough week. Thayná decided that she didn’t want to be baptized. She’s a girl that can look you in the eyes and say the church is true. That she has a testimony, and doesn’t want to change. The adversary has a way to trick people. I see 3 main ways of desviar... adverting people from the gospel: The weight of shame, the enticing feel of sin, and just plain mental blindness. It is very apparent that the adversary is working hard here, which makes my letter a little more... unfortunate this week. It was all on Wednesday. 3 baptisms and a good investigator fell "for good" (at least for another 6 months or so).
Evellyn is 9 years old. But she has some type of learning disorder, I think. She is a normal, sociable girl. But she has the memory of 10-second Tom from 50 first dates. It’s nothing I’ve ever seen before in my life. Like, we were going over the baptismal questions with her. "Remember, tithing is when we give 10% of our income to the Lord. So if you earned 20 reais (Brazilian dollars), you would give what?" "2 reais!" "Good, Evelyn! So what is tithing?" "...I don’t know" "Remember? It has something to do with money?" "Nope. I forgot." This happened for 1 hour a day for three days. Three hours of study together, and many more with Irma Marcia (bless her heart) ONLY over tithing, the Sabbath day, word of wisdom, and "chastity" (for a nine year old - don’t date till your 16, and don’t have kids till you’re married). After many hours of study, she still had no idea about any of these principles. So she just gave up, and said she’d contact us when she felt ready.
On the bright side of things, we came in contact with 11 new investigators this week. That’s more new investigators in a week since I’ve been here. Mom says she didn’t think transfers happened for a couple more weeks. Nope. I’ve completed two full transfers here in Uruguaiana. 11 weeks. I am done with 'training.' And with that, Elder Molina is in fact leaving. Elder Mattoso will take his place. I am excited to begin working with Elder Mattoso, I hear he is a great dude. Apparently, he’s tall, looks American, is very humble and a little quiet.
Irma Marcia. She is on fire. Quit her addictions altogether, and has gone to church since the beginning of the year. She decided that when all the kids are gone, she will serve a mission. I’m very happy for her. She is so much more happy.
Update on my Portuguese: I speak Portuguese. Very rarely do I not understand someone. Often, I hear a word I don’t know, so I write it down and look it up later. Usually these words are just the little, less important words. Yesterday’s words were: Temoso - pushy. Desistir - to give up. Recaída - relapse. Tatuagem - tatoo. Grudar - to be sticky / to stick. Carrapato - tick (insect) (haha learned that one the fun way). So they're, like, somewhat important, but clearly I can carry on a conversation just fine without them.
So, although my week was rough, I am still happy and optimistic about the weeks to come. It’ll all be good.
Love you all!
Com Amor,
Élder Wassom

(1)Our district before transfers. (2)Us, Dione and Jamerson. (3)Us, Lucas (one of the gurí), and his family.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Good Week!

Dear Family and Friends,
This week was a great one! The Baptism of Lucia was a success. It was a very special day for me. And she chose me to be the one to baptize her, so that was really neat. I told Dad that teaching Lucia was my favorite thing on the mission thus far, and I’ll tell you why: Lúcia is the epitome of why missionaries do what they do. She was living life, doing her own thing, until we happened upon her house one day. She decided to let us teach her. She soon learned through her own study, and completing her compromissos (forgot English…commitments) that what we had to tell her was true. But she had some obstacles to overcome. So through much prayer and reliance on the grace given through the atonement of Christ, she overcame those obstacles and entered in the path to eternal life. It’s the perfect conversion story. I LOVE watching peoples’ lives change. That’s the greatest miracle I could ask to see. So the baptism wasn’t too well attended, but it was warm and happy anyways. Fortunately, her sister Carmen came, so that was a little familial support.

Here are pictures of Lúcias baptism, including a picture of me and Lucia in the baptismal font. Her baptism was a very special time for me. It signified a true change of lifestyle, and a thirst for the truth.
Speaking of watching peoples’ lives change, Marcia was there at church again, for the 3rd straight week, without smoking or drinking. (Marcia is less active, remember) She is just way happier. Her very countenance is... brighter. I can be one to exaggerate stories, but I’m not kidding on this one. It is a night and day difference. So she and her family are going back to church again, and her husband is more receptive than he used to be. AND, one of her daughters friends (who’s been coming to church and mutual) wants to be baptized, so we've got that planned on Saturday.
Speaking of Saturday, I’m sure at least my family has been counting the "7 baptisms" over the next two weeks. 1 down, plus one, we're back at 7 for Saturday? Not quite, unfortunately. It’s always that last week where the adversary kicks in his last effort. But Andre and Evelyn (the friend) SHOULD be for sure on Saturday. Dione slept in through church. Thayna was excited, was interviewed by the ZLs, but slept through her interview with the bishop. Larissa had... some excuse for church. Neli... she slept through church, too. Alcivio's travels went way longer than expected. All these are still good investigators with great baptismal potential, just, not for Saturday :( That’s sad, because I think Elder Molina will miss all of their baptisms.
We're quite sure Elder Molina will be leaving us. The members are pretty sad about that. I will admit he’s a great leader, loves the people, works hard, and taught me a lot. There were also good moments in our friendship, too.
Including one day, we were walking on the street, when Edivã (Popó) stopped us and said he wanted to talk to us. We went to his house and he hung his head. He said he really messed up. He said (translated in English) "Alissom and I were at a friend’s house, and, the friend offered us a bala (a... candy drop?) so we had one, and then I realized it was COFFEE flavored! I asked the bishop if coffee flavored candies had caffeine in them and he said that they sometimes did! I didn’t know. Am I worthy to pass the sacrament?" Through the absolute purity that this gurí has, Elder Molina and I tried very hard to suppress the smiles. Instead of saying "bro, forget it, you’re fine," we took the opportunity to teach more about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the process of repentance. Then we took Popó on our next visit, lol.
Random - The flood water went back down, and everyone has a home again. We did a lot of service this week. A lot of people ride around on horse-drawn chariots, and it’s really cool.
One of our investigators, Tiago, had a cousin murdered this last week. He was very depressed about this. We had a strong impression to visit the family of his cousin. We met the mom, her name is Luciani. She was... very depressed. It was a very sad encounter. Nevertheless, we had the opportunity to bear testimony about the plan of salvation and where her son was. She took interest. When we returned, she said she was feeling much better, and that she prayed and believed in what we were teaching. Thus we see that the Gospel blesses lives. It brings peace to people’s hearts through the power of the Holy Ghost.
I want to give an update on how happy I am. I am just too happy. I get to watch people come closer to their Savior, and in turn, their families. It’s a beautiful thing. In Jacob 5, it talks about how the "Lord of the Vineyard worked with (his servants). I see that. I SEE that. Literally miracles are happening on my right and my left. The gospel is TRUE. We have a God. He is literally our father. He loves us all so much. So much, that he gave His Son as a sacrifice for us. I SEE the effects of that sacrifice every hour of every day. Both God the Father and Jesus want desperately for us to return to them. That’s why the work is hard. Because this work is God's work. And God wants each of His children desperately. Nothing lackadaisical about it.

Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Useless Word of the Week - Lança-Chama - Flamethrower.

Here’s, and here’s a picture of me and elder Molina eating watermelon :) The watermelon was bigger than it looks in the photo.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Olá de Atlantis!‏

Dear Friends and family,
No, I wasn’t transferred. I will explain.
Phew! So this week was busy. And a busy week is awesome. Therefore, this week was awesome. Rachel can use that logic in geometry next year. So anyways, on Tuesday, we had splits. I got to head out and teach with Elder Uchoa Sousa. He is the one with me and the cow slippers.This is my gift from the white elephant exchange for new years in our district.
So divisões (splits)... they were good. Elder Sousa is a greeny, so I pretty much lead the whole day. That built up my confidence as a missionary that I could understand where I’m going (yes, I did have to use a map and compass, no joke) and lead lessons in Portuguese. In fact, I did most of the talking because Elder Sousa is pretty quiet. We had some success. One of which is we ran into some pretty good contacts, which we will be excited to contact this week. Elder Molina and I already contacted Maocir, and taught a crazy good lesson, felt the spirit, he’s a great guy. When we asked if we could have a follow up lesson, he said "uhm... no." so that was a little disappointing. But more on me and Elder Sousa. Great day, but a poorly planned route. In short, we walked way too much. My clothes were rags when I finished. That also meant I sweated out all my sunscreen, so I was a red wet rag.
Then the rain came again. This summer, it hasn’t been too blistering hot, because it’s almost always raining. My first umbrella became utterly destroyed, so I have bought another one, which is now also broken. While it is nice to have some cooler (85 degrees) weather, it is not nice for the people on the outskirts of town. Their houses are underwater. That’s not too fun for them. Hence the name ‘Atlantis’.
The Zone Leaders call me "Elder Waffles" because no one can pronounce my name, except Elder Molina. The gas stations here have courtesy clerks, like back in the 50s. Super cool.
Besides the massive amount of flooding, I can call this week the "rescue week". There were some people that we cut from our teaching pool that are back and progressing.
Irmao edson- devout catholic didn’t want to change religion- now expresses interest in being baptized and sealed to his spouse and family.
Irma Elizangela never really progressed because baptism would imply her getting married to her live-in boyfriend. But while I was on splits with Elder Sousa, she just had an "aha" moment where she realized how important it was to be a member of Christ’s church. So now she plans on getting married and baptized.
Irma Neli had almost the exact same awakening. But instead of marriage, she decided that she separate from her mister. She has a planned baptismal date for the 25th.
Speaking of Baptisms... We have 7 planned for the 17th-25th. That is a good number :) On the 17th is Lúcia and maybe Thayná and André. Lucia quit smoking, came to church and is ready. We don’t know if André works, and Thayná is currently in a military brig, because her house is underwater. So she’s hard to contact. On the 24th, Larissa and Dione. Larissa will come back from vacation, and we will regain contact with her, Dione is the Aunt of Jamerson, a currently-reactivated rapaz (young man). She’s pretty set in stone for the 24th. 25th- Alcivio and Nelí. Alcivio was traveling, but will return.
Com amor, Elder Wassom
Its simple. I didn't choose the thug life. The thug life chose me. and yes, thats a V7 in F major. Or minor. Take your pick.
This is how the sky almost always looks. This is the Uruguai River and on the other side of the river is Argentina.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Family night with the family of Gildo

Another Good Week!

Dear friends and family,
This week was another good week. The work is coming along great. That being said, the baptisms of Lucia and Thayna have been postponed yet again to the 17th. We are really working hard with them, it’s just last second things always come up the day before church. For this, we have 5 baptisms planned between the 17th and the 24th. Lúcia, Thayná, André, Alcívio, and Larissa. Lucia is progressing great, and is ready and eager to be baptized. Thayna. She seems to finally be getting the hang of the repentance process. This week she showed another burst of desire to get baptized, so we´re praying that continues. Andre has always been ready and eager. In fact, he was supposed to be baptized on the very first weekend that I was here. Just, his work ALWAYS gets in the way. He is a good man. Alcívio is a very special guy. He’s about 75 and barely a couple of teeth in his mouth. But he too is excited to be baptized. Larissa is awesome. One month ago from yesterday, we met her. Yesterday, we got a call that she finished the Book of Mormon. So Let’s just say she is eager. The problem, they have been on vacation (yes, she even reads on vacation), and we have not gotten in touch with the father. We can only hope and pray.
I will throw two semi-unimportant facts in here, so I don’t end with them, lol. So here, they have an apelido (nickname) for the number 6. It threw me off for the first two weeks. The real word is "seis" but a lot of the time, they use the word "meia", which actually means "half" so for the first sacrament meeting, I was confused why there was a hymn #120+1/2. When I asked why 6 was called half, they just looked at me and said, like: "Because 6 is half of a dozen. Everyone knows that." Should’ve known. Also, I had a really good lunch yesterday. The wife of Bispo knows how to cook. I may be 35 pounds thinner, but I still like food. Some things never change. :)
Yesterday, we had a really special time that really touched my heart. There is a man in the ward named Gildo. He is a service oriented, extremely friendly and outgoing guy. He cuts our hair. He is less active, only because he, until recently, was an alcoholic. And he was always ashamed to go to church. (To members of the church - reach out to these members. They need friendship, and acceptance.) So anyways, he made it a New-Year’s resolution to stop drinking and go to church. So that’s what he did. And while he was at church, we asked him if we could have a family night with him. He said we could. Another cool thing about Gildo- and I swear, it’s in his patriarchal blessing somewhere, if he has one, that he is blessed with awesome kids. He has 8 of them. They are all awesome, well behaved, courteous, and accepting. Most of them are teenagers. So the cool thing was when we showed up, he thought that we were going to run everything. But we insisted that we just had the message, and that he preside the family night. You could tell, because of his alcoholic past, that he wasn’t used to being a patriarchal figure. He was really shy and nervous. But as the night progressed, we could tell he had the feeling of "This is my family. This is my family, and it is mine. I have been blessed to be in charge of this wonderful family, and until now, I have wasted a good part of it. But I’m not gonna waste it anymore." I don’t know how to put it in words, but all of us could feel the spirit very strongly. I was always blessed with a strong family bond. And we got to share that blessing to a very awesome family. I am happy :)
A lot of other people had the same New Year’s resolution. For this, we had 93 people (a good number) of people in Sacrament Meeting, contrasted to the meager 56 and 50 of the last two weeks. Marcia, another less active member, and her family were also there. We always have faith in our people who we teach, but Marcia is one of those ladies who we just didn’t count on being there. What was more, is she bore her testimony. And it was powerful. And it made us happy.
Tomorrow, I go on splits. I only went on splits once before, and it was with a zone leader. Tomorrow, I go on splits with a greeny. So I’m excited, and a little nervous. He’s a good guy. His name is Elder Uchoa Sousa.
I love you all.
Até a Próxima Semana,
E Sempre Com Amor,
E. Wassom