Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A last assignment in Abaetetuba

So, this last week has been good.  I was not transferred after all.  I will stay here in Abaetetuba for about 6 more weeks with Elder A.  We had two baptisms this week, Leiliani (19) and José-Maria (11).  I feel weird about staying here in Abaetetuba for another 6 weeks.  I really wanted to stay to see some of my investigators progress, but for other reasons I was ready to move on.  But, over all it will be a great experience to continue to work with the members here and to learn to work better with my companion. 

My companion fell asleep twice during lessons a few days ago and I kind of freaked out at him, more because I thought that I was going to be transferred and I don't want the area to die when I leave.  He isn't very involved in planning and gets lost frequently during splits.  I tried to get him to make a plan to stop falling asleep in lessons because it really hurts our image and weakens our teaching.  He started complaining about the fact that he has had this problem for his whole mission.  He kind of gave up and said that he wouldn´t change anything because he already tried.  I ended up telling him that he had tons of things that he could do to stay awake: go to bed on time, exercise in the morning, eat less during lunch, participate more in the lessons.... etc.  I told him that I would try to help him change so that he we could help our investigators better.  I don't know; we will see how it turns out. 

Our mission is in overdrive right now, preparing for General Conference and the temple announcements.  Our mission baptized 70 people this last week!  Pres. Campos is finishing his mission strong and he is determined to shape up the mission and not send slackers on to the next mission president.  He made it very clear to the mission that if they where not willing to work, they could call him and in 30 minutes he could have them in a car to the airport.  I like that.  I think it's really frustrating to work with someone that doesn't pull their own weight.  But my comp isn't going to be sent home, he wants to work but just hasn't figured it out yet.  I'm going to work with him really hard so that we both can get better. 

So I got some letters this last week and I sent 2 today.  Hopefully they get to you all this week, last week they didn't get sent ; (.   Yeah.  So, I'm really thankful for the letters you all have sent me and hope you are all continuing to work hard!  Sorry, Emma, I'll write you an individual e-mail this next week. 


We had two baptisms.  The picture with the boy and the grandpa is of José-Maria, an 11 year old boy found and baptized in less than a week (he had already gone to church a lot we just didn´t know he wasn´t baptized).  The picture with me and the fruit that looks like an apple is forbidden fruit that Eve eats.  Yup, sorry Ellis, but the forbidden fruit is not a peach.  The other pic with the darker young woman is Leiliani 19, who was baptized this week.  She found us and was super easy to teach.  And the other picture is of Ataize 17, and Izani 15.  Ataize was baptized last week and Izani hasn't been baptized yet.

Yeah, so that's all I got with pictures.  I hope they attach themselves.

Sorry something happened with the Internet, so here is only one picture (Leiliani).
Love Ben

Monday, March 19, 2012

The commandments make so much more sense here on my mission

Hey Everyone,

Hey Mom, can you edit the letters I send and forward them to my friends? It's much easier for me that way.

So, I don't have much time to write today, but this past week was really great. We baptized again (sorry I don't have a picture yet). The young woman, Ataizi, was baptized and the baptism was great. She cried during the talk (tears of joy) and then her friend baptized her. It was really great. I even made brownies for the baptism and everyone loves me here. I have really grown to love Abaetetuba. I will probably be transferred in a week and a half.

I was excited to hear that the Brandon thing didn't turn out to be too weird. But I'm am still waiting for the opinions of Ellis, Eliza, and Dan. I think its weird that Brooke is engaged.

In Brazil, people get married young. I have an investigator who has an uncle who is younger than her. They start having children early. There are a startling number of families that are broken here. I think it's sad. I really like being able to work to help these people have families that are strong and united.

All of the commandments make so much more sense here on my mission. All of them are tailored to prevent sadness, fear, hate, distrust, disrespect, and disunity. I think it's super important to understand the commandments on this level. At times we need to take a few small steps into the dark and exercise our faith, but the purpose of these steps into the dark is to find that light switch and in the end understand why God asked us to do something or not to.

So, I will continue to ramble a little bit more about this next week. We will have another baptism this Saturday. This week I really want to baptize more than one person and I hope that some of the men we are teaching will be prepared for baptism to.

Well, I'm out of time now. I haven't received a package yet. Maybe next week or the week after our transfers I will receive it : ) Thanks so much. Keep writing! I'll send a letter this week for sure!

Elder Clark

Batismo! (letter from March 12, 2012

Hey, so this week was very interesting.  I had a division with my zone leader Elder V. Martins, who trained my trainer.  He was also trained by an elder who was trained by Elder Farnsworth (Ellis´ friend from BYU).  I think it's kind of funny how these sorts of things happen.  Apparently I have a pretty amazing heritage here on the mish  (when you train an elder they become your "son," so Elder Farnsworth was my "great great grandfather" here on the mission).  

I hope you all understood that.

So, I worked really hard and prayed and walked and taught all week.  Friday night we didn't have a baptism that was firm, but we ended up with a miracle for Saturday.  I baptized Thiago, he is nine years old, super smart but has a hard time paying attention.  His mom (Nete) is in active but coming back (almost completely active now)  and we are teaching his step dad Pedro.  Hopefully, Pedro and Nete will get married before I get transferred.  They are tough to teach, but that just means I need to use the Spirit more. 

Earlier in the week, I thought a lesson to get permission to baptize a 17 year old girl who has been coming to church for over 5 months.  Her name is Ataizi.  She read the Book of Mormon in 2 weeks the first time and then a second time just to pass off a Personal Progress requirement.  She hasn't been baptized yet because we haven't been able to talk with her father, and her father is super-Catholic and drinks a lot, and work/ fishes all the time.  He is also a bit  rough and every one is a bit scared of him.  Yeah, so I talked to him one day when we walked in front of their house and he was super drunk, but I scheduled an appointment with him.  I ended up teaching with Elder V. Martins and we watched the restoration video with them then talked while eating cookies and soda that we bought to help make a good impression.  And it turned out well.  He was really open and we helped answer his questions and make him feel more secure.  He said they would talk and then Ataizi would talk to us again at a church activity.  So, I hope things will work out : ).

Oh, and we met an amazing investigator the other day. Perfect.  She has a date marked for baptism (24th) and we walked with her to church (more than 2 miles).  There was a stray dog that followed us all the way, but we didn't want it to come to church with us too, so we walked in street with other dogs that are mean.  Unfortunately, the other dogs didn't chase the stray away (afterwards I felt kind of bad for trying to incite a dogfight to get rid of the stray).  In the end, I ended up throwing rocks at the dog and chasing it a few blocks to get rid of it.  It was pretty funny.

So that's all I have time for.  Love you all!

And, thanks for all the letters and e-mails!!!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Hey, how's it going?

I got my camera back this last week just in time to take this picture!  Baptisms. The little one on the left is Endleson and the other shorter one next to me is Joemerson. The other kid in the picture is their uncle.  We baptized Joemerson and Endleson on Saturday.  It was a good baptism I worked really hard to set everything up, organize everything but no one ended up showing up.  Well, there were a few people but that ended up being unimportant.  We started anyway and people ended up trickling in.  I gave a talk after the baptisms.  I had an object lesson inspired by you, Mom, remember the one about the Holy Ghost where you have a mouse trap and a candy bar one at each end of the table and then have someone whispering promptings to the person blindfolded while everyone else is making noise or trying to misslead the blindfolded person.  Yeah, that turned out really well.  I could only find rat traps or rat poison so I decided to make do with two different candybars one of significantly greater value.  It was pretty fun and I'm pretty sure they will remember the lesson.  

This week was really weak in all other respects.  We had training an hour bus ride away Tuesday through Friday so we had to get up at 5:30 each morning to catch the 6:30 bus to Vila dos Cabanos (about one our away by bus).  I think that the training was good, but a lot.  We had to drop a lot of our appointments because we didn't get back to Abaetetuba until 2 most days.  I got pretty upset with this.  I think some of our investigators suffered because we didn't follow through.  It makes me angry when our leaders don't tell us in advance that we have these sorts of things.  We lose a lot of confidence with our investigators.  They told us about the meetings a day before and we had already made plans.

I also have a story.  So first off we walk a street frequently and about a week ago I saw a man with a baby sitting in front of his house, smiled and greeted him in passing and I felt like I should contact him and make a visit later but I didn´t because we were pressed for time. This happened again and after that I resolved to talk to him the next time I saw him.  This past week I made the contact and set up an appointment.  We arrived to teach the next day.  We gave the first lesson and I taught the restoration and about how Joseph Smith had the first vision and all that went great and I invited them to be baptized.  They didn't accept baptism but said that they would pray about it, OK.  Then I looked over to my comp to switch off, to talk about the preparation.  I guess he was sleeping and he ended up inviting them to be baptized again.  It destroyed the lesson and I don't know if we have a chance with them again. 

So, that's my story.  Sorry I am out of time.

Love you all, and remember to stay awake during lessons.