March 26, 2012
I've really started to love
missionary work. I get to see people's lives change, start over, and
become a part of a big family. I feel like I have come to understand
myself and my purpose in life. Before my mission, I wasn't certain about
a lot of my beliefs, but now more and more of my doubts have left. I
know that God is our loving Father in Heaven. He has a plan for each of
us, a plan of happiness. I'm far from home in a strange country where
it's hot and people don't speak my language, studying, teaching, working
12 hours a day. But I feel good about it. When I work and share my
happiness with others, and teach the gospel, I feel happy, loved. It's
tough sometimes when people don't understand or don't want what I have
to give or when I just can't seem to explain in a way that they
understand. But every one in a while, I find someone that is prepared
to hear, that wants to learn, and it's priceless.
have been teaching a 30 year old man (Edson). He is separated from his
wife (they weren't married, but had 3 kids). He had problems with
drugs, poverty, and lack of opportunities, but he is really
intelligent. His two sons, Joemerson and Endleson, I got to baptize.
He is still preparing. But, I have seen him change. When I met him he
was a bit rough, would only listen at times. Now he is excited to learn
more and make a better life for his family. During one of our lessons
he was talking about his plans for his sons, to start a new like, build a
house, get baptized, and he started to cry. I couldn't hold it back
completely either. (Picture a stocky construction worker -- Edson.)
I've been blessed to be able to serve here. I know that Jesus Christ is
our Savior, that God is a god of miracles, and that Jesus Christ
restored his church to the earth.
April 2, 2012
Today has been pretty crazy. P-days, I think should be days more relaxing, but somehow they never work out like that. We study like normal, then 10:30 we go to the bank and the internet cafe. We usually eat lunch with a member family then go back to the apartment. There at the apartment I clean, wash dishes, mop the floor, clean the bathroom, wash my clothes by hand (we have a washing machine but it doesn't really wash clothes), then use the washer, and write letters. I'm doing this stuff while my comp sleeps. It's nice just to think about family, without distractions.
Today is a bit different, we are going to Villa dos Cobanos to have a zone p-day. We will watch a movie and eat lunch and then return to Abaetetuba. The problem is Villa is 1 1/2 hours away. I don't think that this p-day will be very productive.
I did get to read a few of the e-mails you all sent me (I will read the rest a bit later). Wow! Ellis, you're getting married? That's crazy! I wish you two the best! Our family is changing. I'm excited to see how our family will change and adapt, meet and overcome challenges. Sorry about my writing. I'm riding on a bus half on the road because there are pot holes everywhere.
The other day, I ran into an old family of investigators. We had stopped visiting them because they never went to church. I shared with them Ether 12:16 where Moroni talks about faith. Faith in Christ will allow us to hope for a better world with an assurance that it will arrive. I have read this verse a lot in Portuguese. It's interesting how verses at times give slightly different meanings in Portuguese. The verse reads (vs. 4) "Por tanto todos os que crem em Deus podem, com seguranza, esperar por um mundo melhor, sim, vem pela fe e e uma aneora para a Alma dos homens...." [alot of accent marks, etc... missing -- my fault (Sue)]. Esperar means to hope OR to wait in Portuguese. I thought that was interesting. It makes you think about it more and in a slightly different light. I think it's the same in our situations. I'm on a mission, Ellis is getting hitched, Eliza is going to leave for college! All these things can be scary or challenging, but if we do all these things with faith in Christ we can hope/wait for a better world to come.
A few of you asked about my Portuguese and how it's coming along. Well, it's getting tons better. And I have been much more confident when speaking to people. I don't really dream with words very often, but yes I have dreamed in Portuguese. I think a lot in Portuguese. When I write, I translate from Portuguese to English at times.
April 16, 2012
Well, yesterday I had a frightening experience. I was walking down the street with Elielson during a split (almost 9 p.m.) heading towards the pad. We were walking by an entrance to some sort of rave/party/concert (really horrible music) and some woman walks by us and grabbed/stroked my shoulder and made indescribable you-know-you-want-it gestures. AAAhhhhh! Needless to say we got out of there fast. That is definitely an area that I will not walk at night again.
Well that's my scary story for today. I have been really engulfed in Jesus the Christ by Talmage. I read it every chance I get at the apartment. I really love how he explains everything that the Lord says many times in church or seminary when I came across some of the sayings of Christ, I feel like he is too harsh or I understand the meaning of his words in the wrong way. But in the book, Talmage explains the contexts, everything, and I find it much easier to understand and grow from Christ's words rather than be offended. I think that it is really important (understanding). At one point in Christ's ministry, he reproved John the Baptist who was at that point in prison; he said, "Blessed is he who is not offended in me." A quick glance at the words Christ used may give the impression of disconcern, but he meant consolation, support and loving correction.
Love you guys. I'm really focused but I think of you all often!
April 23, 2012
I have been reading your weekly letters and trying to think of things to say but its getting tough. I've decided that I don't want to live in a place that is really hot and humid. Mold grows surprisingly well here. Almost all of my companion's clothes have mold growing on them (his garments are gray), and with time the smell spreads
I am multitasking right now watching Joy to the World and writing. You know, it is really entertaining for a missionary on P-day.
So, I just remembered a story. I was taking a shortcut with my comp and the short cut was through a deserted lot, a street that is almost never used and in front of a "Boca de Fumo" (mouth of smoke), a drug trafficker's house/establishment. So, it was super raining they day before and one of the streets had become more like a lake of mud. I had dried on top so it looked safe to walk on. I went, and before I knew it, I was sinking. I ended up covering my shoes with mud. Amazingly, I didn't get mud on my socks. We had to walk through first an overgrown deserted lot, then the section of road that was more like a lake of mud. When we got half way through the lake of mud we discovered a man hidden in the vines next to the brick wall on our left. Yeah. That was freaky. It's almost for sure that he was doing drugs back there. So, after that experience we decided to take the longer routes, and not use the sketchy shortcuts.
I will be doing an exchange this week with another American who has less time here in Brazil than I do! in Barcarena. I think it will be fun and interesting, even though I don't like sleeping in other people's beds. I think I'll bring my hammock. Wow, I've been using a hammock for almost 4 months now.
Mom, lots of exciting things are happening over there. Ellis, maybe you are right. I can now accept that Brandon reminds you of me a little. I would just like to put it on the record that I have had the idea to craft a ring for my future bride for years. Yeah, rosewood and maple sound nice. I imagine some sort of yin-yang effect. Be careful not to break it!!! It's good that he did a "take 2" on the proposal [proposed twice, once over the phone, and a second time in person with a ring].
Well, I've been getting super fat. You know when I used to say that at home? Well, if you didn't believe me then you should believe me now. "Zuko, your hair! It's out of control!" "But Uncle, your belly! It's out of control!!!" Yeah. That's how I feel. I think I need to pull an Uncle Iro and start doing crazy workouts. i even have a metal gate/grill outside our door that I can use to help set the mental scene. [references to anime series, Avatar, the Last Airbender]
I'm so proud of what you all are doing. Emma, great job on the ISATs and track (7:16!!! that's pretty fast). I want to go running with you when I get back. Keep training! Eliza, I haven't heard too much from you personally, but I hope you have tons of fun with the cousins and I hope you are showing Hightower who's boss. Ellis, don't stress, just go with the flow. Dad, keep winning those hearings. Mom, keep being one good woman. Daniel, keep playing hard and I hope that your egg hatches a swan [referring to an abandoned "goose egg?" Dan found at Spring Valley Reservoir].
With love, Elder Clark