Hello hello everyone, hope everything is snappy fresh.
Things are going very well here in Curitiba. Busy, insane, and almost always hectic and pressed, but good. I am learning more and more daily about how to really deal with pressure and adversity and use it in a meaningful and effective way.
First of all, we had a baptism on Sunday (Jennifer Carolyne dos Santos Falcão, 10 years old, girl) and another on Tuesday (Afrânio Gianini Kansas Cenra, 20 years old, man). Baptisms really are freaking awesome! There is a reason why we want people to be baptized and I´m learning more about that daily. I have a goal to baptize at least one person every week of my mission, and so far only my first week and one other haven´t had one. We will have at least 2 more on Sunday.
I would like to share on thing that I have learned that I think will help all those who are wondering how to learn to learn, teach, and serve better, whether in the mission field or not. There are three things we need to do, and they are successive: Obey, Go and Do, Love. I´ll explain: -When we Obey, strictly, almost Nazi-like, we will have the Spirit with us. If we don´t obey, we won´t. It´s almost too simple, but some missionaries just can´t figure out why they aren´t having success. When we have the Spirit, it will teach the people that what we are teaching is true. Also, when we obey we will receive confirmation that we really are doing our part
- When we Go and Do, we carry that Spirit with us to the people that we teach. Then they will feel something different within them and wonder what it is. Also, when we Go and Do, instead of Sit and Stew (remember John Bytheway), there will be no trunkiness, there will be no homesickness, there will be no whining and crying little boys and girls. There will only be good missionaries.
- When we Love, people will understand why we are here and want to follow us – or rather, the Savior – to Baptism and beyond. People can understand when they are loved and when they are not. Love cannot ever possibly be artificial, and when true love is expressed and felt it is a miracle to behold. Also, when we love, the people will love us back, and we will receive yet another confirmation that the things we are doing and the Gospel we are preaching is true.
Those are the Three Things. I think unless I learn another huge thing out here (which I don´t think I will...not! Sucka!) I would like to use this topic for my homecoming talk. Let´s not worry about that now, though; lots to do between now and then.
In other news, Brazil is another country. Seriously. The team here in Curitiba, Coxa (which means thigh, like on your leg. Yeah, it´s not quite as intimidating as the Dragons or the Axé-Murderers, but ya know.), lost the other day. Nothing really bad happened, just some busses were lit on fire in the middle of the road and some people in my área blew up a bus stop. Yep. Good stuff. I´ve also seen more jiggling midriffs and awkward cut-lines than I´ve ever wanted to see. But I´ve also met some of the nicest, most humble people in my life here. There is a Sister in the Ward, Irmã Daysi, who is probably the best member missionary I´ve ever seen. We taught 30 lessons last week (which is a LOT, and hard, but great) and probably about half were with her. This translated to a lot of lessons with a member and a place on the record books for the week! Woo hoo! I know that records aren´t why we´re here, but they sure are a great incentive.
Also, Portuguese is coming rapidly. I was talking the other day with some of the other Elders and one of them asked how long I had been in the field. When I told him less than a month he about fell over. There are some Elders here who have been here over 6 months and I feel like I´m already clipping their heels. One thing that is very important, though, is to remember why this is happening. It isn´t because of me or my greatness. It´s because I decided to be obedient, work hard, and let the gift of tongues do its work. I´m about able to understand everything people say and getting better at expressing myself.
One thing that has been a little frustrating has been study time, or more accurately the lack thereof. Since my companion is the DL, I have to go to a lot of meetings with him and that takes away some time. Also, choir has been a little nuts. We only have it during Christmas, and I can see why. We basically don´t have PDay – we have Choir day. And I have been a little scared because I have a rather large part in our program; I´m singing O Holy Night, Be Still my Soul, and I Wonder When He Comes Again with a Soprano Sister from Ponta Grossa. It´s been more than a little intimidating, especially with O Holy Night, but the faith and trust that President Araújo has shown in me has been miraculous. He has quite an amazing voice – we sang a song together during choir practice and we blended very well. I´m excited to be able to sing for the mission.
Another thing I´ve learned here is to not compare yourself to others. This is something that I´ve had to work on a lot here. It´s very difficult not to get down on yourself when you can´t speak the language, can´t sing as well as you´d like, or hearing about others who were so much better. I have learned that if you “thrust in your sickle with your might”, you will be qualified to the work (See D&C 4). My voice has improved (it´s much more manly now; I can really belt the big notes and the vibrato has finally arrived in its glory), the Portuguese is coming daily, and I can feel a physical and spiritual change in the increased strength of my testimony. I was thinking the other day after we taught the Plan of Salvation, and it occurred to me – it will actually happen! Wow! I have a testimony of this Gospel. Pray when you want to speak with God, and listen and Read the Scriptures when you want to hear Him answer. I love you all more than a lot.
Elder Jacob Brown, Brazil Curitiba, Área Santa Felicidade