Monday, November 30, 2015

14 months‏

Dear Family and Friends,
Sorry, this week I didn’t take any pictures. I brought my camera to the chapel this morning for our district volleyball game. But it fell through, unfortunately.
In respect to the work here in Vila Rica A, It’s been alright. Maria and Patrique ended in a shocking turn of events. Estefan, our Branch Mission Leader, did visits with us on Tuesday. When we showed up at Maria's house, she abruptly said "I was just going to church because of the boy (Patrique), but now that he's gone, I don’t want anything to do with the church. Bye." When we followed up with her on Saturday, she still remained indignant about the situation, and expulsed us from her front lawn. Net, net - I think Patrique’s parents re-gained custody of him, and I think this has Maria stressed out.
These things are tough on a young pup like Elder Sales. Speaking of Elder Sales, he changed his mission name to his preferred last name. He is now Elder Alves. So from now on, I may refer to one name or the other, but just know he's the same guy. Anyways, he does (rightfully) get frustrated with these things (I do too, but not as much as him). But he’s taking it really well. In fact, he's sort of funny about it. The other day, we saw a man without legs. He said "FINALLY. A man who's not gonna run away from us." haha
It was a sort of weird week, to be honest, because we wanted to do a "filter" of our too-large, too-weak teaching pool, but it turns out, almost no one was at home. So. We did a lot of door clapping, and we found some good new investigators, thus enlarging our teaching pool even more. So that’s good news, and bad news, I think, haha.
Yesterday was yet another day without any investigators in Sacrament Meeting. We had everything worked out perfectly, and we left our house at 7am to search, (wake up) and pick up everyone at their houses and walk with them to church. BUT. "Não deu" (It didn’t work out).
At the end of this somewhat sad letter, I will say that this week, I am much more optimistic. When we trip, (or in this case, when other people trip us,) we just have to get back on our feet and keep going. This’ll be a good learning experience for Elder Alves.
Big news - starting on this last Thursday, our whole focus shifted towards re-activation. Presidente Parrella, Presidente Maicá (our stake president) and I had a conference call (Talk about a nerve-racking conference call) about what to do with respect to turning this Branch into a ward, because the Sacrament Meeting attendance, and other key-indicators are ward-worthy. Our focus now is to re-activate the Melchizedek Priesthood holders. So we have started to work with a list of these prospect re-activate-ees. We called the Branch President for him to pray to find 6 names of men to pass to us and the Sisters. The Branch President came up with 7. And during the week, we were able to contact them all, and a lot of progress was made on most. Some of them, including Ricardo and Derlei, went to church on Sunday. It was pretty special.
Actually, Derlei wasn’t even on the list. We were clapping doors, when we saw Derlei, a 19-year old less-active, watching over Tiago Brolo's house. (Tiago Brolo went on the temple trip) We decided to pay him a visit. Turns out, we talked to him about him serving a mission. It was a good lesson. At the end, I flashed back to the beginning of the mission when Elder Molina showed "The atonement and Missionary work" for me in a sad time in my mission. So I did the same. At the end of the clip, Derlei and my comp were in tears. Derlei offered the closing prayer, and thanked God for his "Power to Answer Prayers." It felt good to be part in the answer to someone’s prayer. I know God guides us. He went to church on Sunday, had an interview with the Branch President, and is preparing to serve a mission now.
I love the Lord, and all He does for us. I have a strong testimony of His Power.
I love you all.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Monday, November 23, 2015

A good, tiresome week

Hey family and friends,
This week went over well. The baptism of Alexandra and Juliandra was super special! The branch pitched in, and the service was awesome. Elder Sales baptized Alexandra, and Lucas Vargas baptized Juliandra. Then we had cake and sandwiches and juice. We tried to be all fancy and make juice with sparkling water, but I think it would have been better without.
Unfortunately, looks like we might have to push back the baptism of Patrique and Maria, but we'll get after it.
I talked really briefly about my comp last week, so I’ll share some more fun facts. Sure he's fun-sized, but I don't dare mess with him, as he is a Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai champion. He’s really creative, and gives really good ideas on how to teach our investigators. AND he laughs at my corny sense of humor. Elder Capistrano and I got along very well, but my humor was almost intolerable to him. I still smile at the idea that he’s with Elder Sena right now.
On Tuesday, I went on Splits with Elder Pierce (yes, AGAIN) in Santo Angelo. That left my 1-week-expirienced trainee alone to lead the area for 2 days. I was concerned that this would be a tough time for him. BUT... When I got back, we had a ton of new investigators, and great progress. But the splits turned out good. We had a good time.

There’s a couple that we're working with named Cristiano and Daiane. They’re super awesome. Daiane has more questions than anyone I’ve ever taught. Cristiano had a super neat experience to tell us, and I’m not sure if I’ve already shared it with yall. When we started teaching them, they both started asking us a load of questions about the Book of Mormon. Eventually I had to ask why they were so interested. Cristiano said: "One day, the Mormons gave us the Book of Mormon, and immediately, everyone was telling me about how awful of a book it is. Some people even said it was the foundation of a cult! Even my wife told me to just throw it away. I’ve tried several times to throw it away, but there’s always an outside force prohibiting me to do so; and I physically cannot bring myself to throw the book away. Over time, I realized: How can this book be the foundation of something so terrible, if its bearing a name so powerful on the front and back cover!? (Points to the letters: JESUS CHRIST)" Pretty cool story, huh?
So I gotta go. Love Yall!
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom
Yet again, I’m not particularly fond of how our hemi-zone picture went, as the 10-second-timer-photo I haven’t quite mastered. But at least it shows a few things, such as the stature of my comp. haha.

But I HAVE mastered the 100 seminary scriptures in Portuguese, woohoo. And the baptism! Woop!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Caraca Muleque!‏

Dear Family and Friends,
As my title suggests, and only Brazilians would understand, my new comp is from Rio de Janeiro. It’s the Carioca version (version from Rio) of saying "Whoa, dude!" For example, in São Paulo, you would say "Nossa, Veyy" or in Ceará, "Nossa, Vete!" Here in Rio Grande do sul, they say "Bah, Tchê!" Well, in Rio, it’s "Caraca!" My Companion is named Elder Sales, He’s probably about 5 feet tall, maybe less, and has got a very thick accent. He’s super cool, and really humble. We're already really good friends.

Elder Alvarenga’s new companion, Elder José Silva, seems pretty cool. He's from Recife, up north.
Sisters Porter and Da Silva’s investigator, Israel, was baptized and the meeting was very special. It made me super excited to hold a baptism this Saturday for Alexandra and Juliandra :) My new comp and I also went ahead and marked another baptismal date for the 28th - Maria and Patrique. We're super excited. It should be a good time. :) It’s also good to be showing the members that the work is progressing in the branch, because this makes them more confident in us, and more willing to serve with us. Baptisms three weeks in a row might just do the trick. Can we pull 4 weeks, ladies and gentlemen? Let’s see... because other than the baptisms realized and marked, Missionaries in Ramo Vila Rica have hit a slump. Nevertheless, we will keep working hard. So I think 3 weeks in a row is all we're gonna get right now.
The first few days in the mission for my comp have been interesting. We ran into a lot of unique people this week. Among these are:
A guy who was drinking pineapple vodka in front of us as we were teaching. He offered us some "juice." We said we were fasting.
A guy who stopped us in the street, spit in our face, and yelled "The King of the Cross is Resurrected!" We walked away in a quick fashion. He dropped to the floor and started crying.
A man who asked us if we had a map of Mecca. I said that we didn’t have one with us. So he "predicted" a massive terrorist attack in our city. He gave us 20 reais. We gave it back, telling him that it would be priest craft if we accepted it.
That’s all the time I’ve got. Love yall.
Com Amor, Elder Wassom

Monday, November 9, 2015

Filho Numero Dois‏ (Son #2)

Dear Family and Friends,
As the title suggests, I will be training again! I love training, and am very excited to find out who will be my new companion tomorrow! As for Elder Capistrano, I laughed very hard when I learned his fate. He will be transferred to Urlandia B as a Junior Companion to Elder Sena. Not only is he a little disappointed to be Junior to a guy who showed up at the same time as him, both he and Elder Sena were somewhat terrified about getting transferred to Urlandia, due to the marvelous stories that they had heard from, uh, me. For those who don’t remember, I too, served in this very area... and those were a few interesting weeks. But, to calm their fears, this morning, I’m sending a "Elder Wassom's guide to surviving Urlandia B."
Sister Chaves is also getting transferred to Parque Pinheiro, Santa Maria. Oddly enough, she too had been fed some horror stories by her companion, Sister da Silva, who had served in Parque Pinheiro the transfer prior to Santiago. I promise you that the mission is a whole lot bigger that it seems through my emails, but there’s just a whole lot of "coincidences." Sister Chaves will be replaced by Sister Porter.
Elder Bicudo went home after 2 years of dedicated service, and Elder Alvarenga will train. With all this info, Elder Alvarenga, Sister Chaves, Elder Capistrano and I will all take the same bus headed to Santa Maria at 7am tomorrow.
This week started off pretty tough, but then blessings just seemed to fall from the sky. On Friday, we were walking in the street when a young girl who I didn’t recognize ran after us and said to Elder Capistrano: "Hey Elders! My mom told me to tell you we're getting baptized on Sunday!" "Really? Where?" "At the church!" "Which church?" "YOUR church!" After that conversation, I had to ask Elder Capistrano what that was all about. He too, was slightly dazed. He said "That was Juliandra, daughter of Alexandra. They are former investigators that told us 2 months ago that they weren’t interested at the moment, but told is that they would 'call' us if anything changed." "Well, Elder," I said, "It looks like something may have changed." Surely enough, Alexandra and Juliandra showed up at the activity on Saturday, went to church on Sunday, and, later that afternoon, accepted the challenge to be baptized on the 21st.
Then, at church, a rapaz and his aunt, Patrique and Maria, whom Elders Capistrano and Moore had cut from their teaching pool, showed up at church, also with the desire to be baptized. We learned that afternoon that this was because of the services rendered to that family by the members after the hailstorm.
These miracles served as a good lesson to teach Elder Capistrano. I told him what Elder Soares da Silva told me in Urlandia. "You can always count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can never count the number of apples in a seed." Elder Capistrano worked hard here in Santiago, and is very loved by the people, judging by the great emotion arisen at his farewell.
I love you all. I am happy. I know the Church is true.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Haha my Bombachas came in ;)

An activity that we did with the Branch, involving ice cream that had quite a few leftovers:

Saying goodbye to Elder Bicudo:

Elder Capistrano saying goodbye to Jefferson and his family:

My District before the transfers and the city of Santiago:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hopefully an Actual Letter!‏

Hey Guys!
So I finally have some time to actually write you guys a decent letter! I'm super excited, because I have been a little on the luckless side while here in Santiago. So while I’ve got the chance, I'll go ahead and say, the church did end up sending some new "brazilites", or, roofing supplies to the poor this past Sunday. The Priesthood took that as an "ox-in the mire" opportunity, and brought instant relief to a large number of those in need. I am glad to be a member of this really awesome church.
As for the work, it has been rather hard, to be honest. It seemed like we worked really hard, and had a lot of good lessons, and a lot of people with a lot of potential to be baptized, just that on Saturday, everyone seemed to get the "Missionaries are horrible people - Hide your kids, hide your wives, and hide your husbands" bug. So a lot of those awesome new investigators completely dropped. This was really sad, but hey. I’m a missionary. I’ve had to get used to it.
However, we did have a blessing "fall from the sky" that same day. After a long and stressful day, Letícia, a returning-to-activity member, told us "hey, so I just adopted a 15-year-old girl, and want you to teach her" So. We will start teaching her today. I’m pretty happy to have this opportunity.
So, as in seemingly all P-Days recently, today was hectic. First off, during Companion Study, a car wreck occurred right in front of our house. It seems like a little car passed on the street when it wasn’t his turn, and he got slammed into by a pickup. The cars are pretty damaged, but thankfully, it was on the side that the drivers weren’t on, so both the drivers are unharmed. But that’s the minor thing. The major thing. This morning, Elder Alvarenga asked me to give him a blessing. He said that he was feeling really cold, despite the warm temperature, and that his bones were hurting. So I gave him a blessing. Then, we went to the bank. When we were waiting in line to pull out our grocery money, Elder Alvarenga started leaning on me. He said "call an ambulance now." I thought he was kidding. But then, he started for the door. He dragged me with him as his sort of support. It sort of looked like I was dragging a drunk guy around. He went right up to a parked cop car and asked for a ride to the hospital. The cops called another car, and Elder Alvarenga and I were rushed to the Hospital. His well-being deteriorated fast. By the time we got to the hospital, I had to tell the doctors and the front desk everything that was going on, as the speech of Elder Alvarenga became incomprehensible. He was then taken to the doctor, and in 5 minutes, he was diagnosed with a horrible virus, and was given two really painful shots right in the place that painful shots are usually taken. I could tell that they were painful, one, because Elder Alvarenga groaned and then talked about them, and two, he walked super stiffly for a while. However, the effects of the virus were quickly gone, and he was able to waddle back home. He is now on medication.
On a good note, I did get to pre-view my custom-made bombachas today. The waist is just a bit big, so the lady is bringing it in a little. It should be ready tomorrow or Thursday. They do look pretty fly. I am super satisfied. Photos next week are certain :)
There’s a lady that we call "Baixinha," or, "Little tiny one" she’s 3-foot-something, and really funny. Anyways, she made us a dinner the other day, and told me "eat more." I said "I’m stuffed, thanks" So she took my plate, and put a mountain of more food on my plate for me, haha. I was then forced to eat. I’m surprised I survived. More on her, certainly another day.
I'm doing well. I really am liking my companion. Iv'e been pretty lucky with my companions. There have been companions of mine whom I have disagreed with or argued with, but I haven't "suffered" with a crappy comp yet. The teaching is a bit slow right now. I think Gabi is hiding from us. That makes me sad. We only had 2 investigators at Sacrament meeting. So we're doing a lot of finding lately. We found some good prospects this past week, so lets see. 17 moving onto pre-area again--Boyd always rocks at getting people post-region. I would be interested in knowing some of the advance-ees. Weird to think though- that I could only know the Seniors and a couple of Juniors. I don't get to sing publicly much, but I practice a bit in the shower, road, etc. I've got the reputation as "the happy missionary with a weird bounce in his step, snapping, singing, talking, and laughing to himself."
We are working on a massive project to get the public schools involved in the Family Search website, helping kids maintain the rich Gaucho culture, and helping us to find new families to teach. Let's see how it goes. One of the happiest moments in Santiago.... The other day my companion told me, "I can't WAIT to be transferred!"
"Elder, I know Santiago is one of the tough spots in the mission, but you've gotta enjoy the experience of being here!"
"No, no! I didn't mean it like that: I meant I can't wait to arrive in another area and change everything, you know? Work hard, set trends, animate the members--just like you did when you got here! I wanna be sent to other tough spots. Just to make an impact and put into practice everything you taught me!"
So, I'm not saying this for personal glory, but this really touched me.
So, it is Tuesday, November 3rd, and I'm about to send this letter off to yall. I hope it at least in part makes up for the past weeks of bad letter writing. I love you all, I know the Church is true!
Gotta go.
Com Amor,
Elder Wassom

Pictures of: Our district at the cemetery, and my comp thinks he's heading out of Santiago - so he started packing 8 days before the actual transfer.