Saturday, March 28, 2015

Missão Brasil Ribeirão Preto: The Office Edition

         So I am now the executive secretary of the mission.  Last Thursday I got a call from the Mission President telling me that I was being transferred to Ribeirão Preto to work in the mission office and that I had to leave that day.  It was a bit sad because usually there is time to say goodbye to everyone when you leave an area but this time there wasn't.  I got the call at 2:00 in the afternoon and I left Franca at about 6:00.  That was a bit fast since I had to go back to our apartment, pack up all of my stuff and catch a bus all in four hours.  It was all really very fast.  I am still not completely in reality.
         My day will now go like this: I will do scripture studies as normal and then after that I will start my day in the mission office organizing stuff and doing what the president needs done until 6:00.  After that I will go and do missionary work. All of that is if there isn't any emergency.  When the president calls and says that something has to be done we have to go and do it.  Missionary work is now my secondary priority.  It’s a little bit strange to tell you the truth. My whole mission has been basically the same thing every day.  Sure, the people you are teaching are always different and where you go is often different but in the end it’s the same routine. You are always hearing that you should be doing certain things and all of the sudden all of that doesn't apply to me anymore.  It’s really strange.
         But I am excited.  There are some cool sides to it.  I won't have to walk as much now but I never really had a problem with walking.  Avoiding the heat is cool as well.  But there are lots of things that I will miss like teaching and talking to people and seeing new places and working with members.  I will still do all of the good stuff except with less focus.  But I know that I went to the mission not just to find people who want to hear me, or not just to teach those people and not even just to baptize them.  I came to do what God wants me to and if right now God wants me to be filling out excel sheets and booking travel for people and all that “officy” stuff, then I will do it.  Right from the beginning my mission call said that the mission president could modify my call as he needed, well now he did it.
          My new companion is Elder Aragão from Fortaleza, Brazil.  I am also with Elder O'Connor until the end of the transfer.  He will be training me on all the office stuff that I have to do since I will be taking his place.  I like them all quite a bit.
          I hope you all have a wonderful day. I love you all! 
Elder Russell

P.S.  My P-day is now Saturday... that is if the mission president doesn't have anything for us to do on Saturday.  If that is not the case our P-day is a different day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

He Lives

So this week we had mission tour.  This means a Seventy came and talked to us.  A Seventy is a leader in the church, if any of you are not familiar with the Mormon vocabulary.  It was very nice, the talk he gave.  He talked to us a lot about trusting in what the Mission President does and that we can´t give up.  No work is wasted.  It was interesting because a lot of the stuff that he said was almost the opposite of what the Seventy who came last year said.  At first I thought it was a little bit contradictory, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be stupid if God always said exactly the same thing.  Obviously He doesn't move, but we do.  If a father has two kids, he won't speak to them both the same way always. They are different and a good Dad will know that.  So why would God be different?  He knows us perfectly so he knows what we need to hear and when.  Sometimes he says no to one thing and we think it is forever, but really he is just saying not right now.   So the Seventy last year said what we needed to hear last year, and the seventy this year said what we needed to hear this year.  It makes sense that those things would be different. 
The rest of the week was good, too.  We didn't baptize, but the people are getting there.  I am not too sad about that, well at least not discouraged anyway.  Things happen when they are ready to happen.  I just need to work and trust in God.  And I do. 
I don't know if all of you know, but I know that God exists.  I have known that for quite a while, but I have learned on my mission that Jesus Christ really lives as well.  That is important.  He lived, suffered, died, and lives again for us.  If you don't know that, pray and ask God.  You will feel that it is true.
I love you all.

Elder Russell

Monday, March 16, 2015

Three Weeks of Baptisms

So we managed to baptize for a third week in a row.  Things are going well.  And there is more in the forecast it looks like. But that’s enough with GH.  GH stands for Gloria dos Homens (glory of men)  which is what we say when missionaries start to brag. I am not really bragging though.  I am just really happy about how things are going.
This week a man named Antonio Carlos was baptized.  He is pretty funny.  He is married to a woman who is a member.  She decided to start going to church a little while ago.  They were going to the Jehovah's Witnesses before that but decided to stop with that and come back to church. He decided to go with her and decided that he wanted to be baptized.  So he was.  It is kind of funny, he is a very nice man but when we were trying to fill out the form with all the information for his record in the church, he couldn't remember which year he was born, the birthday of his daughter, or the day he was married.  Age gets to you sometimes.

Other than that, the week was good.  However, the economy of Brazil is absolutely horrible.  The real has passed three to the dollar and there is no sign that it will stop falling.  Inflation is so high right now that it’s starting to be a problem for everyone.  If I understand it all correctly, the real has lost about 50% of its value in about 6 months.  There was some scuttlebutt that there was going to be a protest in all of Brazil to try and impeach the President. I was not excited about that.  My feelings have nothing to do with politics.  It is just that if there is a public demonstration, we missionaries have to stay in our houses which is never fun.  But thankfully nothing happened in Franca.  The city isn’t really that big after all by Brazilian standards.
Next week I think will be even better than this one.  I love you all and hope you all have a good week!

Elder Russell

Monday, March 9, 2015

Another Baptism and Cooking

So since they closed an area in the ward where I am serving (there were 4 missionaries and now there are just two) we have spent a lot of time working things out.  We have been teaching quite a lot and we saw some good fruit from that.  We had quite a few people come to church this week and we had a baptism after Sacrament Meeting.  It was quite crazy because we had five investigators that we had to keep tabs on and we had to get the baptism all ready.  But in the end, it all worked out.  She was baptized.  Her name is Ana Paula.  She was an investigator that we picked up from the other missionaries.  The first time we went there, we said the opening prayer and the first thing she said was, "I want to be baptized on Sunday." It was pretty cool. 

Today we went to the house of some other missionaries to cook the food I had gotten for Christmas.  We made cookies and pancakes and brownies and maple syrup.  It really went quite well in comparison with my other cooking experiences. The syrup was still quite runny but at least it had the taste of maple. Overall it was quite good and the other missionaries liked it too.
I love you all.  Have a good week!

Elder Russell

Monday, March 2, 2015

Transfer, Not

So the long awaited transfer came and I am staying and my companion, Elder Mendes, is as well.  I think my mission is to learn patience because I really spend a lot of time in my areas and with the same companion.  Not that I am saying that my companions are annoying because I have always had luck with that but four months with the same person 24/7 is a lot.  The other missionaries that were serving in the same ward were transferred and now it will just be us in the ward so our area just about doubled in size.  That'll be fun. 
In other news, we had a baptism.  Germina was finally baptized.  She was going to be baptized about 2 months ago but didn't feel ready, so we asked her what day she would like to be baptized and she said February 28th.  So we waited.  Her husband, who is a member of the church but only came back to the church since we found him in December, baptized her.  So that was really pretty awesome.  They have a baby daughter and are an awesome family.  They are the kind of people who know what they want to do and do it.  It was really a pleasure to see the difference the gospel is making in their lives.  Since we met them, they have only missed one sacrament meeting.  That is pretty cool. 
So it was a good week.  I love you all. 

Elder Russell