Monday, June 29, 2015

A Good Week :)‏

Dear Family and Friends,
This week has been a good week. Basically, Brasil law states that a wedding has to process 16 days before it happens (at the least). Other thing is that the bride and groom need an actualized (within 60 days) birth certificate to get the process started. Today, Marrone gets his birth certificate, and tomorrow Marrone and Diessica will go with us to the Registry (?) with the documents, and mark their marriage on the 17th of July, (and their baptism on the 18th). :) It will take a little bit, but hey, we're getting things underway.
They are just awesome. To give you an idea, Marrone and Diessica are about 20ish. They’ve been living together for about 4 years. Marrone has a tricked-out low-rider, and Diessica has a cat. Marrone is fairly talkative (but not too much) and Diessica is way quiet. In church last week, we were assigning who was going to go out on visits with us, and Marrone volunteered. We initially thought it was a great idea, so we accepted. But upon further thought, we decided that a person really needs to have the Gift of the Holy Ghost to deal with all the temptations, controversy, and rigor that Missionary Work throws at you. So we decided just to take him to a few less-active families. Give him the Missionary-Lite treatment. It went over alright.
I must tell you about Helmutt and Rosane (yes, it is pronounced just like Helmet - its German apparently) and their family. They are awesome. Helmutt is an ex-alcoholic. His brain is actually a little... cooked... because of his past. And so he has problems with attention, forgetfulness, and stuff like that. Rosane is a saint. She stuck with him through thick and thin, interned him, and nursed him back to health. Other missionaries had visited there 1 or 2 times in January, and gave them a Book of Mormon. But then they stopped going there, because the only way to get to their house is hitching a ride from the members and heading to Coronel Barros, a small town about 20 minutes outside of Ijuí. The missionaries at that time didn’t have the trust of the members, so those visits stopped. Well, now that we have a good ward with huge trust in us, we go out with a member literally every day. So we don’t mind the two-times-a-week 20 minute car ride. We started going there the week before last with the Bishop, whom they accepted warmly, especially Rosane. Rosane has, since February, read the book of Mormon cover-to-cover. She is literally so excited to be baptized, but refuses to be baptized without her husband, because "she's not a widow yet." She’s got spunk. He is also great, and we're pressing him to be baptized. I’m not sure what he's waiting on yet. We're really trying hard to get them to commit to the 11th of July. They’ve gone to church these last two weeks.
Speaking more on the amazing trust our ward has in us, the missionaries in Ijuí have started something called the "Referral Tree". I recommend this to the Ward Mission Leader of the McKinney 1st ward. Basically, it’s a wooden tree, and 3 fruits - Banana, Pear, and Apple, representing the 3 wards - Ijuí, Centro, and Jardim. Basically, it’s somewhat of a contest, whoever has more fruit on the tree (with names, phone numbers, and addresses) wins. I know that missionary work was never a contest, but this gives mare incentive for the members to give referrals. And I think it will work. It was my idea, btw. Vamos time pera (Go team pear)!
We had some surprise visitors to our District meeting on Tuesday. As my companion and I were giving the spiritual thought, we saw, entering from the back, Presidente and Sister Parrella! So it was an extra elaborate and powerful spiritual thought, lol. But we did interviews. And it was really good. Presidente gave me some advice that I should read the Conference Liahona and Jesus the Christ in addition to my daily study of the Book of Mormon, New Testament, and Preach My Gospel. Accepting this advice has caused that I wake up earlier and start my study each morning at 7:15ish instead of 8. It has been so awesome. Members and Non-members alike, (if you’ve got a decent reading level), Jesus the Christ by Elder James E. Talmage is the best biography of Jesus Christ that exists. If you don't believe me, read it.
Speaking of which, Grandma and Grandpa Wassom are the only ones to accept my challenge from last week, apparently. C'mon guys. :)
Yet again, I am short on time. But it suffices me to say that things are great, and we have investigators with potential. Ooh. And we played volleyball and ultimate this morning, and it was super fun. I love volleyball and ultimate.
And I love you guys.
Com Amor, Elder Wassom

I’m not sure if I already sent you a pic of our awesome chapel. The food is all stuff that our High Councilman gives us every Tuesday :) and the paper pear I explained in my letter. The other two are of a fun day of volleyball and ultimate.

Monday, June 22, 2015

It is Cold.

Dear Family and Friends,
It is cold. We're waking up near freezing point everyday now. 6:29 AM has just gotten harder to get out of bed.
So Marrone and Diessica are just awesome. (I learned that it is spelled as with a Di instead of a J. Makes sense because it sounds like how an American would say Jessica) Marrone asked for Diessica's hand in marriage yesterday, and she accepted. We begin the ugly legal process on Wednesday. I really don’t like working with the government. It’s bad here too. But learning that I will not be coming home to Blue Bell classic vanilla ice cream in October 2016 is unacceptably devastating, and I detest that movement. Who cares if some people got sick: they died happy.
But anyways, they are just awesome.
On Thursday, we talked about his earring and her nose ring. I was a little nervous, because I knew they really liked their respective piercings. But as I told them it wasn’t ordained by God, they, without hesitation, removed them without saying a word. We began to commence the process of promising blessings from their faith that they were showing, and he just said "Calm down, it’s just an earring." And then they fed us dinner.
I love that family so much. I can see them being leaders in the church. There’s nothing holding them back. Tithing? No problem. Word of Wisdom? Time to throw out the Coffee. Chastity? Let’s get married. They have not yet failed to complete a single commitment nor assignment. They are there waiting for us at every visit, and show up every Sunday to church.
This is what missionaries call the elect of God.
We had our June-fest on Saturday. That was pretty fun.
Blake - I’m gonna call you out on this one. I had a dream that you were firing up your résumé for a few jobs, and I noticed you were sending some résumés for some Musical Theatre companies. I looked at your résumé, and it had some serious pictures of you looking off in the distance, and said: "Blake Wassom - Meet the very man who starred as "Harvey Johnson" in MNHS' Legendary 2007 production of Bye-Bye Birdie." I woke up laughing.
Gotta Go. Love yall
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

This morning, I finished reading the Book of Mormon Cover-to-cover in Portuguese for the first time. As I finished, I pondered quite a bit over what a fantastic book the Book of Mormon is. Reading it daily has been one of my favorite privileges I have as a missionary. I get to see myself grow closer to the Savior, and also get to use what I learned to teach the people. It’s one of the only books that has a promise that applies to everyone in every circumstance.
Therefore, I, Elder Mitchell Wassom, as a member in God's army, am taking a little bit of the battle on the home front. I make a challenge to everyone - Mormons and Non-Mormons alike, to read the Book of Mormon. Those who accept this challenge, who will be reading it for the first time, email me to let me know that you have accepted the challenge.
As a representative of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (I will really miss using that phrase when I no longer am one) I promise each of you that reading this book will bring you to know your Savior better. It will bring you to understand more of who you are and why you are here. You will come to a knowledge that it is true. It was written by ancient prophets that lived here on the American Continent. As you receive a confirmation of the truthfulness of this book, you will know that the heavens are open again, and God still speaks to his children today.
Please read it. And as you read, pray about it. Find out for yourself. That's all any missionary can ask you to do. Ask any local member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for a copy, and they’ll get you one within a week.

“No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.” Elder Jeffery R. Holland Oct 2009, quoting George Q. Cannon

Pictures: It's really Cold. We had our "festa Juinina" as a ward.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Really Fast Week

Written: Monday, June 15th, 2015
Dear Family and Friends,
This was a really fast week. It felt like just yesterday that I was writing yall. And we had a couple of special fasts. So it was a really fast week.
We tracted into a completely drunk guy the other day. That’s always funny and scary at the same time. It happened a lot in Uruguaiana. It’s like the whole conversation with them, you are always trying to find a way to leave without being rude. I know that sounds somewhat mean, but people who are wasted are somewhat dangerous and completely useless to a missionary.
So our conversation was like this:
"Hello, Sir!"
"Heyy guyys..."
"I’m Elder Wassom, and this is my companion Elder Sena"
"Hey wait a second... Don’t you wanna... baptize me?"
"We do want to baptize you. But Baptism comes after repentance. And we know that repentance is possible through the sacrifice that Jesus did for us."
"You shouldn’t tell me that right now."
"Why not?"
"Because I’m Judas Iscariot."
"Oh really? So you’re a traitor?"
"Yep. I'm J-u-d-s JUDAS"
"Awh, man. You shouldn’t be doing that, brother. It’s against the commandments. Take care, brother."
So I was all pumped to see how the whole Marrone/Jessica thing would turn out. It also turned out anticlimactically. Seems like they didn’t understand the whole "Pray about getting married" thing. But we made it very clear on Wednesday. And we will follow up today. They’ll get married, I’m sure of it. They went to church again :)
So there’s a few families with Avocado trees. All at once, their fruit ripened, and everyone started giving us sacksful of avocados. We received probably 40 some-odd giant Brazilian avocados in two weeks. Fun Fact about Brasil - They only eat avocados sweet. Like, the idea of Guacamole, and Avocado Burgers, and so on repulses them. It is used only in desserts. So I had to make Guacamole for my companion. He liked it :) Then I made avocados Brazilian style. My favorite way to eat it sweet (until now-I’m still experimenting sweet recipes) is sticking it in the blender with a banana and orange juice. It’s Delicious! I’ve also tried Brown Sugar and cinnamon, Maracuja (it’s like some sort of passion fruit) and Sugar+Lime. It’s surprisingly good. But the avocados here are different... they’re big, green, and less creamy.
I like food.
We've been working really hard. Elder Sena continues to be a beast. We keep finding new people to teach, but they just kind of die off quickly. Not very committed. Our list of Progressing Investigators is getting a little smaller, unfortunately, but we are making plans to counteract that.
So other good news! We entered into contact again with Rose, André, and Bruna! We taught the Restoration, and challenged them all to baptism! They said that they’d read, and pray, and if they received an answer, they’d commit! Yay! We return there on Wednesday.
Today, we helped in the move of Irmão Jaír and Irmã Janaína. It was a good move. Fairly quick, and just one story homes.
I'd like to express my love to my family and friends. This week was a week where I thought a bit about home. Trunky, no. But I miss yall. I think about you and pray for you. I love you. I love the Lord, too, and that’s why I’m here. I love Ijuí, and the people in it. I love being a missionary.
Com Muito Amor,
Elder Wassom

This week’s photos:
There was a banana cobbler I made, a short tie, a lot, but definitely not all the avocados we received, and some men at the move this morning

Monday, June 8, 2015

A really good week

Amados Amigos e Familia,
This week was just awesome. I love watching people’s lives change. I’d like to first comment on Marrone and Jessica. Not sure if I wrote about them briefly, but they are friends of our Ward Mission Leader. They had expressed to him their desire to change their lives for the better, and we had begun to teach them last week. This week, we had two fantastic lessons with them. On Monday, we taught about the Restoration with them. The spirit was so strong, even Marrone was crying. On Friday, they commented that they had read the pamphlet and the passages of the Book of Mormon that we had left them, and felt that it was true. And so we committed them to prepare for baptism, and committed them to pray about getting married. They accepted. I await anxiously for Wednesday for their response. They also showed up to church yesterday, along with 5 other investigators. That’s right! 7 at church yesterday, whoop whoop! But yeah I really do think that they will accept this new challenge in their lives.
Shout out to my not-so-little-anymore sister Rachel, she's turning 15 tomorrow! Hope Louisiana serves you a good birthday. Eat some Cajun food, because it doesn’t exist in Brasil. Saudades... (I miss that...)
Today I was talking to my companion ELder Sena about the concept of stress dreams. So for those who do not know this concept, it is when you’re stressed out and that night you have a fairly realistic dream where unfortunate things happen? When I’m stressed out, I have a dream where I just show up late to things. I hate being late. Well, as the start of a mission can be stressful on a missionary, my companion told me about his stress dream. He said "man, I had a dream where we went to the cybercafé, and my parents didn’t write me anything!" Hehe, looks like he’s already becoming a missionary.
So we had our Zone meeting on Tuesday, so I took another bus over to Cruz Alta. The meeting was awesome, and I learned a lot... got me supercharged-up for the week to come. Like I said, our week was really good. We had a good number of lessons with members. That’s always awesome. Almost without fail, they are just better than lessons without. The only exception to that rule that I’ve seen was in Uruguaiana, when we taught Tiago and Jaqueline at Irmã Delmací's home. I love Irmã Delmací, but she LOVES to talk, and gets distracted way easily.
We went to Alberto's house yesterday. Alberto is the father of Sonny and Gilbeto, two men in our ward. Previously, Alberto hated the church, and especially the missionaries. Well, a few weeks ago, remember how I said we had a service project on a farm with peacocks and stuff? Yeah, that was Alberto’s farm. We decided to gain his trust through service. A couple weeks ago, I forgot to write you about the super spiritual experience that we had. We went there with the purpose of delivering a Book of Mormon. We showed up, and began to talk about families. He said "you know what? I have seen the change that your church has had on my two sons, and I’d like to thank you for it. It’s truly been a miracle." Elder Farias (as he was still there at the time) bore a powerful testimony over the changes that the Gospel has on the lives of God’s children, and how the Book of Mormon is a testimony that the Gospel is restored today. He reluctantly accepted the gift, but his curiosity grew, and shortly thereafter, he promised to read it. At the end of the meeting, Bishop Trage closed the meeting with a prayer. At the end of the prayer, Alberto raised his hands high above his head, and in a loud voice cried out to God, tears streaming down his face, thanking Him for sending the missionaries and the Bishop to his house, and for the Book of Mormon, and for the impact that it had on his children. There was not a dry eye in the group. His wife especially was bawling, as she had been an "Abish" since day one… Always knew that the church was true, but never dared tell anyone but the missionaries and her kids, lest her husband find out. We left that meeting, still in tears. As we drove back home in Bishops car, we stopped along the side of the road, and said another prayer thanking God.
Somewhat anticlimactically, Bishop got a call from Albert, saying that the print was too small to read. So bishop promptly bought an extra-large print copy, and we delivered it to him yesterday. So we're anxiously awaiting his response.
But. That was my awesome week. I am loving my new comp. He’s just too awesome. Way teachable. Makes me realize how terrible of a greenie I must’ve been... lol jk I didn’t think I was that bad. Just. Elder Sena is awesome.
And so are you guys. Love you all. Pray for yall. Happy Birthday sis.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Nothing funner than a chicken plucking excursion with Luiz!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Elder Sena and Me

Today is my 8 month mark. It was weird, because the other day, Elder Bispo dos Santos had splits with Elder Italo Silva, then I realized - I was the "oldest" in the house at the time. Elder Anfuso (yes, he’s sharing a house with me again) still has me beat by 4 months on a normal day, but still. It’s weird not being the newbie. As I would say, 8 months is two dad-sized slices of German chocolate cake.
But speaking of the real new guy around the house, my companion is called Elder Sena. He is from the state of São Paulo in a small town called Conchal. Fun fact - of my 5 companions, Elder Farias is the only one not from São Paulo.

A little bit about him - he can be classified as an awesome greenie. Green, yes, but very powerful. He has a gift of speaking to people in a manner that makes them comfortable. He grew up in the church, had 4 years of excellence in seminary, always looked forward to serving a mission, so he knows the doctrine, and is very... animated about being here and teaching the gospel. He’s got, to a large extent, that greenie zeal, which is really, really good, and we hit the ground running. He's 100% obedient, just like (almost) all of my other companions, so we're getting along nicely. So nicely, in fact, that he is already up there with Elder Matoso on the "favorite companions" list. He’s so concerned with obeying all the rules, that there was one day where we needed him to be a witness to the marriage of Alex and his wife, Elder Jordan Peterson and Elder Bispo dos Santos' investigators, (because Americans can’t be witnesses) and he was so nervous that he would be breaking a rule in doing so, that we had to appeal to the Zone Leaders to make him feel more comfortable. He’s a real good chap.
I headed to Santa Maria on Tuesday to pick him up Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, I stayed at a Hotel with Elder Garcia and ELder Cotrim, other trainers-to-be. I learned that Elder Garcia was in São Pedro do Sul, District Urlândia, so I asked him who was baptized there in Urlândia. He confirmed to me that it was, in fact, Veleda and her daughter Julia. Yay!
Okay, so the Cyber Café people just said they’re closing for lunch break, so I have to be fast. But in short, the work itself was a little sad. We found some good new people, but still couldn’t mark a date. Believe me, we tried. And, to pour salt on the wound, only 1 investigator went to church. But. We pick ourselves back up and try again, right? Love you all! I’m doing well as a trainer, it’s easier than I thought it would be, but that’s because my comp is a beast.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom