Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"We work work work!"

Dear Mom and Dad,


"Parabéns pra vocês! Nesta dia querida! Muitos felicidades! Muitos anos de vida!"

That´s the birthday song in Brasil, ha ha. I´ll have to send you pictures of the cake we made! We made a giant strawberry cake on Saturday night, at first because we just wanted cake, but then I remembered your birthday, so we dedicated it to you and Sam, ha ha. It was super good too! We sang Happy Birthday and everything! It was a blast. It´s really difficult to find a place where I can safely  upload pictures. I really really want to send pictures home, but I  don´t want to get a virus from these lanhouses. This week I´ll try to see if we have a member that can help.

This week was super good! The only sad thing is that our baptism of Mayara is being delayed because we need a signature from her mother, and she never seems to be home. Literally. So we´re doing the best we
can to take care of that! But besides that, we´ve been working super hard. In this mission we have what´s called a pattern of excellence, which means we have certain goals for the key indicators that we have to reach every week. It´s basically the minimum standard for all missionaries in the mission. The pattern is 25 lessons, at least 10 with a member present, 10 new investigators, 3 marked for baptism, and 3 at church on Sunday. Elder Castro and I have a goal to reach the numbers for lessons and new investigators by Thursday every week. So by Thursday, we have to have 25 lessons, at least 10 of those with a member, and 10 new investigators. That way on Friday and Saturday we can focus our efforts on confirming the firm investigators for church, contact and teach our new potentials, strengthen less-active members and recent-converts, and service. It´s a great way to work, really. We work work work the first half of the week, and then the second half of the week... we work work work, but it´s a little more relaxed and enjoyable.

I had my first dream in Portuguese!! It wasn´t much, but I distinctly remember one part of my dream where I was speaking Portuguese! I hope that means that my brain is converting over. It´s still very difficult, to be honest. I thought I´d be farther along by now, but I guess the Lord wants me to stay humble and patient. I´m slowly learning, little by little. The important thing is that my testimony strengthens as I experience the day to day miracles in the work of the Lord. It´s a blessing to serve. 

Sounds like the whole family is doing awesome! I really miss yáll a whole lot. This week seemed to have been extra hard for me, as far as homesickness goes. But it hasn´t kept me from focusing on my purpose.
Just know that I love you all and I pray for everyone in the family every day!

Almost out of time. I love you all! Keep well! Hopefully winter ends soon!! You can send the snow down here, ha ha. On that note, this past week was a lot wetter. It rained just about all day Thursday and Friday. Today is sunny and hot though... Hope it rains tonight. Anyway! Until next week!

Amo vocês!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"I´m picking up Portuguese a lot faster now.."

On March 10, 2014 Elder Kamilos wrote:

Dear Mom and Dad,

It´s really been a great week! But man, it´s exhausting. I found that I´m picking up Portuguese a lot faster now, but it´s still difficult when I want to communicate something but I just don´t exactly know how. But all is well here in Valentina! And those landmarks you described sound right. The church building here is right next to Mercado São José, if you happened to see that at any time. Of course, there a ton of evangelical churches everywhere, haha. I don´t know how it was for Matt in São Paulo exactly, but here it seems that evangelical churches dominate. Of course, almost everyone we talk to was born/baptized Catholic, but as far as activity goes it´s much more towards the evangelical denominations.

I had a very strong spiritual experience the other night in one of our lessons when we were teaching Mayara, one of our investigators. Towards the end of the lesson, we were going to leave a chapter in the Book of Mormon for her to read, but before we did, we had to ask her if she knew how to read (unfortunately, a large percentage of the population is illiterate, so we always have to make sure). The father of the member-family we were with seemed to really make a big deal out of it, and it got to the point where I could tell that Mayara was starting to be uncomfortable. Suddenly, I just felt such a strong force of the Spirit moving through me, and I opened my mouth to talk. I told her that it doesn´t matter whether she knows how to read or not. The feelings that come through the Spirit are much more important. The Gospel is a message of happiness, and we want her to feel good when we have discussions. And then I asked her, "Mayara, how
do you feel right now?" She managed to crack a smile and she replied, "good." Then I smiled and asked, "are ya happy?" She said, "of course!" And then I bore my testimony that that is exactly what the Gospel does for us. We learn much more from our feelings through the Spirit than by what we read.

It was in the very moment following that I realized everyone had their eyes fixed on me, and it seemed that the noise of the world seemed to be silenced. We had truly entered into a spiritual state, and I can´t describe exactly how it was, but it was real.

Sounds like the Springdale Zone is on fire right now! That´s awesome. My comp and I are working super hard right now, and I´m loving the area and the people. We seem to do a lot more work with members here,
and the unity of the membership is just wonderful. And to answer your question, "white-washing" is what they call "shotgunning" in the OTM. It´s when both Elders are new to the area, exactly how you said.

Also, funny thing. You said that we should´ve set our clocks back in February, but to be honest, I forgot about daylight savings. I don´t think they actually do it here. At least, I haven´t heard anything, haha. The cool thing (and I forgot until yesterday) is that here, we´re the first people on American soil to see the sun! I think that´s pretty awesome. Sunrise is about 5 AM here, haha. It was hard to get used to after Utah, where sunrise was about 8:30 due to the mountains and what not.

Anyway, sounds like it´s been a great week! I look forward to the adventures of this week to follow!

Até mais!
Elder Michael