Monday, April 28, 2014

Mistakes On Purpose

28 April 2014

So this week was good but a little tough because all four of us missionaries here in Votuporanga caught a cold.  So we were all sniffling our way through our lessons last week until today when we can sleep a bit since its P-day.  But we did have a baptism this week!  It was a very cool story which I shall tell you all right now:
We met Annalice about two weeks ago.  I have actually already written about her.  We met her on a Saturday night in the house of two investigators that weren't really very interested in the message but they had invited their neighbor, Annalice, to listen as well.  We invited them all to Church the next day.  Annalice said she would go but I didn't really think it was all that likely since she didn't seem that interested.  But, like I related a few weeks ago, when we got to church the next day she was already in the Chapel waiting for the meeting to start.  
The next Tuesday we taught her and invited her to be baptized and she accepted.  So we marked a date for April 27th because I forgot that Saturday was the 26th which would have been better because then she could be confirmed the next day. But I mixed up the days and we marked the 27th. This will become important in the story later.
        The following Friday we returned to teach her again and to see how she was doing.  We had asked her to read two specific chapters of the Book of Mormon because she liked to read.  When we got there, she had already read the two chapters and had started from the beginning of the book and was now in Chapter 58 of Alma, which is more than half way through the book for those of you who aren't familiar with the BoM.  
          We then asked her what her favorite part was (which we often ask people to see if they really are reading) and she related to us the entire story of the 2000 Stripling Warriors with lots of details.  She really read.
The next Sunday she didn't go to church because she has insommnia and couldn't sleep the night before.  This was a problem because a person has to go to church at least two times before their baptism.  So since the 27th was the date for her, it worked out after all.  It turned out the 27th was her birthday.  So she was born to the earth and to the gospel on the same day.  Sometimes we make mistakes on purpose.

I hope you enjoyed the story.
I love you all.

Elder Russell

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter in Votuporanga

So Easter in Brazil is kind of strange.  In the first place there ends up being a holiday on Friday for Good Friday and one on Monday for some dentist who was a revolutionary in Brazil.  So there was a four day weekend or feriadão, as they call it here, which just means big holiday.  This also meant that basically everyone left town and everything closed because unlike in the United States, people observe national holidays and nothing opens.  We were lucky to find a LAN-house opened. But this also means that not a whole lot happens to observe Easter except the giving of monstrous chocolate eggs, often between people who are in some kind of romantic relationships which makes it kind of like Valentine's Day at the same time.
I think that it is important that we remember what Easter is really for--the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  His Atoning Sacrifice is very important and most of the Catholic festivals and rituals that are observed in Brazil (and in the Catholic world in general) are centered on this.  But as Mormons, we remember that every week when we partake of the Sacrament.  Easter is to remember a different gift that the Savior gave us, His triumph over mortal death.  He died and rose again, never to die again.  And because of that, all of us, regardless of how we live, will be resurrected to a body of glory, without physical pain or sickness.  That is pretty awesome.
The week has been pretty good.  This week we have a picture of the Votuporanga District (and Thales, a member of the branch who stole a tag for the picture)  wishing you all a happy Easter.
I love you all and hope you had a great and meaningful Easter.

Elder Russell 
Votuporanga District

After watching General Conference

Monday, April 14, 2014

First Impressions

It’s pretty funny.  When I first got to Brazil the only thing I wanted to do was learn the language.  That was my biggest desire.  It was crazy for me to think that eventually learning the language would become a thing that was just in the background.  Well, it happened.  I am not saying I am fluent but I no longer fear that I won't be able to understand someone or that they won’t understand me.  I have begun to realize that there are things much more difficult about a mission than a language.  Not that it is a stinky experience, but nobody in their right mind will tell you a mission is easy.
This week was good.  Since our last baptism we have been having trouble getting anyone to come to church and then out of the blue, a person that we had talked to for probably 20 minutes, and didn't even give a whole lesson to, comes. I have learned that you can never count people out when it comes to missionary work.  We had four people who were saying Saturday night that they would be in church the next morning.  Of the four, this woman was the one who I personally thought was least likely to show up, but she was the only one who did.  You really have to be careful.  Sometimes, first impressions are completely and totally wrong.
I hope you all have a good week.  I love you all.

Elder Russell 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Vacation for General Conference

They didn't broadcast General Conference in Votuporanga so we had to spend the weekend in Rio Preto where we could watch it at the Stake Center.  Since we were out of our area the entire weekend, we couldn't really do a whole lot of anything so it was almost like a vacation this weekend. Let me tell you, I don't ever want another vacation again!  Man, it was so annoying to not be able to do anything.  However, Conference was really good.  We weren't going to be able to watch the Priesthood session (because it starts at 9 pm here)  but at the last minute the Mission President changed his mind and let us watch if we could get a ride from a member back to our houses, which we managed.  It all worked out pretty well.
Also this week was transfers.  Elder De Oliveira and I are both staying here.  In fact, the entire zone is staying.  Nobody left.  I guess we must be doing something right here.  The only difference is that we got 2 more missionaries for Votuporanga!  It is going to make things a lot easier since we won't have to work in such a large area.  It is still big but it used to be bigger.  I am pretty excited for this transfer.  
That is about all I have to say for today.  I hope you are all having a good time wherever you are. I love you all!

Elder Russell