Oi gente! Todo bem?
It´s been another boring week here in Brazil. We aren´t working at all, everyone speaks English, and I´m eating all the candy and lollipops I want. Also I get to play basketball every second. Haha. Wouldn´t that be more like a mission of another religion…whoops, didn´t say that. Life has been busily excellent, as I like to put it, here in Curitiba. We had another Baptism (Alan, 9 years old) and Jéssica was confirmed a member of the church. It´s amazing how differently you see everything in sacrament meeting when you feel like your head will explode because of all the things you still have to do – where is so and so? Where are the papers for the baptism? Why is the chorister insane? All these things. But, again, the church is true and Heavenly Father only lets us become so crazy before helping us out of the hole. That´s always a healthy reassurance.
Português is coming pretty quickly, something I know isn´t possible without the help of Heavenly Father and His Holy Ghost. The gift of Tongues is most certainly real! A lot of members keep commenting that it sounds good and that I don´t have an enormous Texan or Utahn accent going on, which was a major goal of mine. My other goal is for the only thing that will give me away for being American is my blonde hair – the Portuguese will be fluent and my arms and neck will be tan. Won´t that be the day.
Also I´ve been really blessed with my companion, Elder Duarte. First of all, he´s Brazilian, so Portuguese is a must for conversation – even though he understands English well. Second, he´s a hard worker and not a fubeca, which is good because if he wasn´t he would have road rash on his pants from me dragging him everywhere. But ´tis not so, all is well. Third, he is very funny and is a good missionary. I have some roommates that are, um, interesting, and they seem to be more interested in pizza than their missions. But, we will help them daily and all be edified together. The only problem that I have right now with my comp. is that he doesn´t seem to mind if we´re late, something that is very irksome to me. I don´t like to get ready, be on time, and then have to wait and arrive late at our meeting because of that. I will just continue to be on time, though, and I´m sure it´ll get better.
Studying here has been absolutely awesome. I´ve already read How to be an Extraordinary Missionary, The Day of Defense, Our Search for Happiness, Our Heritage, and I´m almost through with Jesus the Christ. There´s honestly not much else to do than read when you have any down time (which is obviously very limited), but it´s very enjoyable and relaxing and I´m learning a lot.
Also I´ve developed a new way of marking my scriptures, and it´s very thoroughly detailed. I think that if others wanted to read them they would need the Urim and Thummim, there´s a lot going on. I organize things into history (black), doctrine (red), principles – if, then, etc. (teal), scripture mastery or miracles of God (blue), people (dark green), places and times (light green), definitions (purple), and things I like a lot (pink). It works well for me and I encourage everyone to do the same, it´ll help you pull a lot more out of the scriptures. A few days ago my companion was pretty sick so we stayed home, and hence I had a lot of time. I am really starting to understand what it means to “hunger and thirst” for the truth; once I see something I like or that I haven´t noticed before it´s exciting! I encourage everyone to read 1st and 2nd Nephi again, thoroughly. You will learn a LOT.
As far as teaching, it´s been amazing. Obviously my teaching right now is limited because I´m not fluent in Português yet, and that´s sometimes a little frustrating because I know exactly what I want to say, but not how to say it. It´ll come, though. It´s been cool to learn from my companion and see how he teaches, and also be thinking later about how I might´ve done things differently. It´s sometimes a little frustrating when our lessons tend to be the same way every time, but I will continue to learn this language until every person has their own unique experience with the lesson, and I won´t feel like a vain repititioner.
I´ve also noticed something else: it is incredibly depressing to watch someone feel the Spirit and to testify of it to them, and then have them not want to learn any more. Also it´s difficult when the tiniest excuses get in people´s way of hearing our message, being baptized, coming to church, continuing to smoke, not getting married, etc. It´s tough, but such is the mission field, as I am beginning to learn. For every experience that makes you want to give up we will always be provided with another experience, equally or more powerful, for the good. That´s been reassuring, and I´m learning to find the good in the day even though it really is the same thing for 2 years. The good news is that it´s the best thing that I can be doing: bringing people to the Gospel! We have a goal to have a baptism every week, and we´ve had one the last 2 weeks. Let´s keep this train rolling! I hope Thanksgiving was good! It was definitely a little difficult for me to think about turkey and crown jewel (I´m sure it was excellent, Mom), and being with the family. One thing I´ve learned to do is every time I think of family or something back home, I let that motivate me to continue. I think, “what if they could see me right now? Would they be happy or disappointed?” So far I can honestly say that I have worked every day, my best. Obviously there are things I can improve on daily, but that´s what the 2 years is for. At the end of our missions we should be our best missionaries, and then Heavenly Father sends us home to preach there. That´ll be good, and I hope that all of you are taking missionary work more seriously now. Bring people to church! Talk to them about how happy you feel and why! Ask them if they want those blessings too! They will, usually. Then bear testimony and let the Spirit convert them.
Irmãs e Irmãos, eu sei que Jesus Cristo realmente vive. Eu sei que O Livro de Mormon é mais do que verdadeiro, é real e as coisas que O livro fala sobre realmente vai acontecer. Eu tenho um grande testemunho sobre O Evangelho de Jesus Cristo. A missão è uma lugar muito especial, porque eu posso sentir o Espirito sempre. Eu espero que vocês podem também.
I Love you all! Work hard, pray hard, and smile throughout!
Elder Brown, Curitiba Brazil, Santa Felicidade.
And Yes, mom, I´m ok. Shoes, comp, everything. Ask Lala for the address to the mission home, she has it.
Italian immigrants started arriving in Brazil in 1875 and in Curitiba in 1878. They came mostly from the Veneto and Trento regions, in Northern Italy and settled mostly in the Santa Felicidade neighborhood, still today the center of the large Italian community of Curitiba.