Monday, May 25, 2015

Elder Farias is a Genie

Dear Family and Friends,
Elder Farias is a Genie. I will tell you why in this letter. First off, Elder Fávero finished his mission, and took off towards his homeland, Brasilia, yesterday. He really was a good pal of mine. He has a dream of heading to BYU in a year or 2, so maybe I’ll see him there! And he left me some shoes, some slacks, and other useful mission things. It is very useful having a dying missionary in your size. Other fun thing about that: Elder Anfuso is coming in to replace him! Elder Anfuso is just awesome! He’s the Argentinian that lived in our apartment in Uruguaiana. I LOVE that guy! He's awesome! So here’s where Elder Farias becomes genie. You know how at Christmas I told you that Elder Farias prophesied that he would get transferred, and that I would train? Well, Elder Farias has been called as the new DL in Santa Maria centro, and I pick my companion up - fresh from the MTC - from Santa Maria tomorrow. I’m excited. I’m nervous. But I am very happy that I have the confidence of my Mission President. Before now, Elder Molina was the 'youngest' trainer that I knew, with only 9 months in the mission. Well, I’m approaching just 8 months in. So I’m still pretty inexperienced. Still have a bit to learn. But it’ll be a good experience. Sergio told me "Pray as if everything depended on Him; work as if everything depended on you." I know I’d heard that quote before, but it’s a good one.
We have been renovating our church house, so last week, Aula de Canto (Singing Class) had to take place in the mother’s lounge. Yes, that’s right. The mother’s lounge. But it went well! Much better than the first lesson.
Other fun thing. I got my Easter Package! Woohoo! I finally have pants that fit! Including one that matches my Elder Favero Suitcoat! Yay!! And I immediately put the fudge makings to good use. The apartment thanks you for that. I also shared some of my Swedish Fish and Hot Tamales, then hid them in my E-Bola Survival Kit (that’s what I call my extensive first aid kit). The brownies I am awaiting with great anxiety to make. I am a happy boy.

The other two pictures of the food somewhat resembling a big messy burger is called a X. (pronounced like 'she's') I didn’t name it, but it sure tastes good. The first one (the 1/2 X) was called a "X Tudo" or, a "X Everything." It had just about everything. Bacon, Smoked sausage, pork, ham, cheese, eggs, chicken hearts, peas, corn, special sauce, lettuce and so on. It was very good. The other one (the originally-1/2-but-1/2-eaten-by-myself-so-1/4 X) was just like a Big Mac with peas, corn, and eggs.

We had our Stake Conference on Sunday in Cruz Alta. It was good. Our Ward Mission Leader brought a friend, Marrone. Our ward mission leader is just awesome. So is our bishop. I have pictures of them both. Remember that Bishop is the one that looks like Gpa Madsen.

The work is going great, but we failed to mark any baptismal dates. We will this week, I’m sure.
Well, that’s about it for this week. Just a little anxious with how everything is going to work out in training my companion. You know? But it’s gonna be great.
Love you all!
Com amor,
Elder Wassom
Here's some pics, including our Zone T-shirt (wheres E. Wassom?), pants and suit that fit!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Back in the Swing of Things! :)‏

Dear Friends and Family,
This week was just too awesome. I always keep optimistic and look on the bright side of things (almost always, that is), and I write like that in my letters, nevertheless, deep down inside, I have just been hungry to baptize. Starving, actually. I have been wearing out my companions by just walking and knocking and talking and walking, and knocking that last door at 8:55, just out of hope that it would amount to something before heading to bed. I’ve been working hard. Well, this week, we saw some serious results. :) And I have a really good feeling that my hunger will be satisfied very soon.
I will start off by saying that I saw on our weekly "President’s Newsletter" last Monday that someone was baptized in Urlandia the Saturday before Mother’s Day! Whether that baptism was Veleda or Elder Peterson's investigator that he left behind, that is still unclear. But, let’s hope it was Veleda. And let’s hope her family is coming up soon. And hope that Elder Petersons investigator gets baptized too.
Remember those two couples I said had potential? Gabriel & Andressa and the couple from 7 de Setembro? Well, Gabriel & Andressa are starting to fizzle out a bit, but the couple from 7 de Setembro (We finally figured out their names - Lúcio and Cassiane - I am so awful with names) is progressing very well. We returned there on Thursday, and Cassiane said that she really liked the pamphlet of the Restoration and that she was showing it to her kids, Sophia and Gabrielle. They really like the pictures. So we decided that the next time we visit, we will bring the Gospel Art Book I bought from the Campinas Temple (just in case I needed it). It has proved very useful. So they show some real potential.
Also, our ward has begun a "Missionary Calendar" - something that is just awesome and I highly recommend for the 1st ward. It works like this - a Priesthood member (Priest or higher) signs up to go out with the missionaries on every day except family night. It works awesome - no one is overloaded, and everyone experiences what mission work is like, insighting them to be more engaged in the work. AND we have lessons with members, something we really needed.
So our Ward Mission Leader kicked the whole thing off on Wednesday, and we went to a referral he gave us. It was splits that day. I was with our Zone Leader, Elder Eduardo Sousa. The names of the referrals are Rose and André. They accepted us well, and we taught a really good lesson. Well, that got our Ward Mission Leader excited, and we got some solid new investigators. Rose and Andre are actually so solid. I am very convinced that they are part of what the scriptures call the "Elect of God." Goodness, that’s a good family. We returned there on Friday, just Elder Farias and me, and we had another great discussion with the whole family, including the previously-absent but extremely-elect daughter of theirs, Bruna. She goes to a Christian school, and is very God-centered. She was very excited to hear about the Young Women's program. We will mark a baptismal date with them this week.
So I lied that our Ward Mission Leader kicked off the Missionary Calendar. Our Young Men’s President, Fernando kicked it off on Tuesday. So we went to a part-member family, where Tainã, a rapaz (young man) is a member. Our discussion was fantastic! So spiritual! It was one of those lessons where you could feel the spirit so powerfully that you could just stop the lesson and say "What are you feeling right now?... Yeah that’s the spirit." I love doing that! Tainãs’ parents aren’t married, so there’s a little work to do there, but this was a fantastic start.
Oh! Real quick, President’s Newsletter launched more info that yet again there was a baptism in Urlandia, so I’m quite certain Veleda has been baptized.
Good news doesn’t stop there. We picked up an old investigator named José, also on Wednesday with Elder Eduardo Sousa. He’s like one of those people that liked to just hear us, but not really keep his commitments to do stuff. Well, we talked with him very directly about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. People who know me know I can be pretty blunt. We were pretty blunt with him, to the point where I was worried that he would get a little ticked off. But, that was the way the Spirit told us to talk to him, and he told us to come back on Friday. So we did. It was like a good-cop bad-cop routine, almost. Cool thing is: HE READ the passage in 3 Nephi we left him! Yay! Other cool thing - He plays trombone! I got to talk to him about my band experience, and we bonded quite well. He even let me play his Bb Tuba he bought, and yes, mom, I cleaned the mouthpiece. I want to pick my trumpet back up when I get home - please don’t sell it. We sold the marching one, that’s just fine, just don’t sell Delilah. So there’s some serious potential with Jose, too.
Gosh this week was awesome! The good news doesn’t stop there, people. We also found a good Mom-daughter combo, Celí and Delaine, that we worked with... just a ton of new opportunities opened up. This week, we had a total of 12 new investigators, making a solid 32 over the last 3 weeks. I am a happy, busy missionary.
And one more thing, on Mothers Day, I felt good that we should make a cake for Irmã Isabel. She always is just so awesome to us, and helps us out (and feeds us) a lot. When I had a super bad cold, she took us in, gave us some tea (Berry tea and Maracujá teas - not against the Word of Wisdom Black or Green tea) and gave us dinner. Just on the spot. So we decided to give her a little thank you and made her a coconut cake. Well, turns out, we just learned that she had been suffering from pretty bad depression, and we made her day :)
I love being a missionary. It’s like the spirit is always guiding you to do things. And you don’t even realize it until after you’ve done the thing He tells you to do. So do good things. (David A Bednar talks really well about this principle in his talk, the 10 mark note.) I am super happy, especially after this week. The members are excited to help, and we have a ton of people they can help us with. It’s just a good Missionary Situation.
Bah, I’m so happy!
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Lenda da Galão Vermelho

MONDAY, MAY 11, 2015

I would like to share with you the legend of the red chicken. This is a well-known fable by all of the missionaries belonging to the Brazil, Santa Maria Mission. There was a city boy on a business trip in a small town. He asked the hotel clerk if there was anything fun to do in the town. She told him that the only thing there was to do in town was to attend the cockfight downtown. So, the man thanked her, and attended the fight. He showed up very unexperienced, as he had never attended a fight before. But he could see there was a white chicken and a red chicken being prepped for battle. Before hitting the betting booth, he decided to ask an experienced native for advice. He said, "excuse me sir, which chicken is the better chicken?" The man responded "The better chicken is, without doubt, the white chicken." So the city boy obliged, and decided to bet on the white chicken. The fight starts, and in seconds, the white chicken is just thrashed by the red one. Disappointed, the city boy looks up at the booth to view his advisor collecting prize money. So he said, "Hey, what’s your problem, man? You told me to bet on the white chicken!" The man responded "I said no such thing. You asked me which was the better chicken, and I responded correctly. The white chicken is a fantastic chicken. Well-behaved, cute, and very friendly. The red chicken is a FEIND!" Presidente Parrela likes to use this parable to describe us. At times, we need to be the red chicken. That is a sentence that, as Brian Regan would describe, I can’t believe I had to organize and aim at another member of our species. Anyways, so instead of telling people perhaps what they want to hear, at times, we have to tell them what they need to hear. Yes, we do need to be friendly, and work to build the confidence of the members. But we also need to put effectiveness over friendship, and, instead of seeking to be everyone’s favorite, be Ezekiel's "voice of warning."
So that’s that. Happy Mother’s Day to every mom out there! I sure had a fantastic one! I got to talk to my momma over skype! It was awesome. It’s always hard to hang up at the end, but we sure had a good chat.
This week was much better than my first two here in Ijuí. We had 10 more new investigators. The trick is, to turn these investigators into investigators that progress. That trick is GETTING THEM TO CHURCH…not quite happening yet. Sad, but we'll keep working on that. We are working really hard. Walking a lot. In Ijuí there are a lot of hills. Big ones. I’m getting my workout in, believe me. Cool thing is. It seems like the last 45 minutes when we're just exhausted and want to go to bed - those are the 45 minutes that we're having the most success. For example, both of our couples that show a lot of baptismal potential (Gabriel&Andressa, and The Couple on 7 de Setembro) were found between 8 and 9 at night, clapping doors.
As some of our pictures show - I say some pictures because the computer is way slow today, I have more - We had a little expedition last p-day. First, Sergio (recent re-activated member - same one that let us use his computer on Mother’s Day) wanted to take us to "Ijui springs" I was excited to go, thinking that it would be a pretty place for pictures, so I brought my camera along. However, we stopped at a bottled water factory, one that we couldn’t go inside. Sergio then directed us to a spicket outside the factory, and proudly said, "This is where people come to get good fresh water!" and we cupped our hands and tried some. It was good water, but it wasn’t worth driving 10 miles outside the city. Haha.

I was less excited about the second half of the expedition.

However my lowered expectations were elevated again when we stopped at a really cool cultural village. Every October, there’s a festival where all 12 of the "cultures" that comprise Rio Grande do Sul are presented. For example, there’s a Germany house, where there’s German dancing and German food. And there’s a Latvia house, where there’s lots of Latvian food, Latvian Dancing, and so forth. It was abandoned when we showed up, but it was still really cool.

Something else really cool - Aline and Clayton invited us over for an American Food dinner. Presented by yours truly, haha :) They asked me "give us something that we've never had before. So I made Navaho tacos :) They were really good. I had to improvise, though, because I talked with Aline in the afternoon to make preparations, and I can’t just say "hey can you have a bowl of homemade bread dough ready to fry up in a few hours?" So we used French toast instead of scones. It did the trick.

Hey. So I love you guys a whole lot. I’m super happy. My knowledge and burning testimony of the realness of Jesus and His Church grows every day. It's crazy. Until next week, people.
Com Amor,
Elder Mitchell Wassom

A pair of shoes...gone!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Can’t wait till Sunday!‏

SO as you can imagine, I can’t wait till Sunday to skype with my family. Unfortunately, there are still no baptisms from Urlandia. I’m starting to worry that perhaps Veledas desire to be baptized left with us missionaries. I got the Les Mis playbill. To be honest, it was greatly appreciated, but it did tug at my heartstrings that I wasn’t there. It did, however, provide me with some info in reading the cast bios. Such as – Coop’s heading to UNT, Emmalee’s heading to OBU, and other cool stuff like that. I AM going to be skyping in at 7 Brasil time. Sergio, a recent - reactivated member is letting us use his house. Shout out to Blake, congrats, Bro. Keep on troddin through the PCAT study. Fun things that happened this week: I had COBBLER for the first time in a while. I gave the recipe to Aline, and Aline surprised us with the finished product. I love IJUI :) SO we did a service project at a farm lá (out) in the outskirts of town. It went great. The recipients are the parents of Geoberto and Suni, two recently activated youth. The parents always despised the church and especially the missionaries, but with our offer to help , we were happily accepted and they opened up to us. It was super cool. As with super cool stuff, naturally, I forgot to bring my camera. We'll have to go back to take pictures of the pet peacocks! I also learned that when you whistle at a turkey, it gobbles at you. They also gave us fresh tangerines from the garden and homemade bolachas (cookies)!
SO voice lessons. On this one, I will quote the wonderful Ms. Logan. "Set your standards really low, and you’ll never disappoint yourself." But, I think maybe it went well, maybe they had fun, and maybe there’ll be investigators next time. Bishop came in and sort of saved the lesson. Until he walked in, no one opened up, and they were all really timid. Timid-ness is not a good thing in the performing arts. But bishop pretty much said "Alright, this is how a MAN does it." and he sung, nothing holding back. He is actually pretty good. I was impressed. From then on, people opened up more.
On Tuesday, we had our Zone Conference in our neighbor city, Cruz Alta. It went well, but I must admit, our ZL training was pretty awful. But I just have to trust that that was a one-time deal, and I will have to continue trusting our leaders.
SO here in Rio Grande do Sul, there’s two soccer teams: Grêmio and Inter. It’s like BYU and Utah. Big rivalry, Well, they played yesterday, and Inter won. The only way I know that, is as we were walking, a bunch of bottle rockets (the loud ones) went off, then people started driving around with Inter banners and honking like crazy. Despite the distractions, we did have a really good lesson with Michel and Teresinha. Michel (pronounced like Michelle, only he’s a guy. I think it’s supposed to be the Portuguese equivalent of MITCHELL, but I never admit that to anyone, because I refuse to be known as Michelle) was a contact that we made in the street, and we returned there yesterday. The father seemed really unenthused that we were there. However, Michel and his mom, Teresinha listened attentively as we talked about the restoration of the gospel. At the end, she asked if we could "do a prayer" for her to get over her cold. SO we then asked if we could do a Priesthood blessing, and she obliged. So that was neat.
Com Amor,
Elder Mitchell Wassom

Here’s some pics. Among them include the recipes, voice lessons, and a selfie with our bishop that looks like young Grandpa Madsen. Tell me if you agree.