Monday, November 12, 2012

A Tough Week in Outeiro

So this week has been really tough.  We worked out the marriage of José and Lourdes but unfortunately Irmã Lourdes got really sick with a super high fever on Saturday and so the batismo was cancelled. That caused a few problems and the Assistants and my Zone Leaders where thinking seriously about closing our area!  That was not good so I had to explain to them the situation and all that.  I will have to work really hard to help this area stay open and progress.  My comp is having some problems.  I think that a lot of these problems originate with me.  Unfortunately, his first companions didn't not train him effectively and he is really stubborn and doesn't accept a lot of my ideas or counsel from the local leaders of the church or our zone leaders.  I am pretty frustrated with him.  I think that he has good intentions but he thinks that he knows everything already.  I have started to actively move my comportment [Portuguese translation "for change my behavior"] for example, if I'm really mad at him I don't pout or walk around looking sad or angry, I try to smile more, say hi to people in the street and act more happy.  I have found that this helps me be more happy.  Depression is a choice,  I have chosen to be a happy person especially when in difficult times. We are now going to church at a chapel that is a half hour bus ride from Outeiro.  That is a bummer.  Our attendance in the sacrament meeting was about 36 people, with 4 missionaries and representatives from the stake.  Many of the members don't have money to pay the bus fare for everyone so a bunch of people didn't come. I have been talking to the mission president to resolve a few of the problems here with the location of the branch, but it looks like there is a fault of money [Portuguese translation for "lack of funds"] to reform [Portuguese translation for "renovate/fix"] the new location or God is testing the members here in Outeiro.  It has been hard to invite people to church, especially with the location moving all the time.  

I love you guys a lot,  I really wanted to say that.

I have found a lot of help in the lessons that have been given in Sunday School and the Elders Quorum.  It's like God is talking to me through these lessons.  I have tried to pay more attention during talks and the lessons in Church meetings.  I have received a lot of inspiration from the speakers.  This last Sunday we had a lesson about how we need to correct people in a way that they will feel loved and change.  Afterwards, there were a few scriptures shared from Proverbs 15, Matthew 6, and Ephesians 4,  I think, that talked about how we should act towards others and how we should not judge or be hypocritical in our corrections, always applying the things we say to ourselves first. I'm trying to apply these things in my work and especially in my companionship.  I was raised like this and I am really thankful for that influence in my life.  I am amazingly lucky to have been born into our family in the gospel.  This gives me a lot of responsibility to work and share these blessings with others.  

Thanks for the letters

Elder Clark

P.S. Oh I was a bit surprised when Obama won.  I thought that more people were going to vote for Romney.  I really had no bias towards one or the other because I don't know what they want to do.  Here in Brazil, people were a bit interested in the election.  But a lot of people here wanted Obama to win because Brazil has good relations with Obama already.  It looks like a lot of the world likes Obama.  

P.P.S. Today I made pancakes and maple syrup and improvised chocolate chip cookies for José and Lourdes and Gabriele.  They really liked my cooking!  I think that cooking will be a great life long hobby of mine.  Mom can you send me a recipe for chocolate chip cookies?  

Love you all again!

Elder Clark

Monday, November 5, 2012

Teaching in a Island Paradise

October 29, 2012

Hey, Everybody,

So this week was interesting.  We walked a lot and we found a bunch of people to teach.  This area is really weak but we are helping the members get back on their feet.  There is some sort of problem here with organizing the move to the new branch location, but that won't stop us from baptizing people.  A lot of members say that they won't go to church until they move to the other building.  I think it's really sad because the location should have nothing to do with whether you go to church or not.  In the history of the Church the members were persecuted and at times killed for their beliefs.  We should develop the faith to overcome these challenges.  Do you think that at home if the church buildings in town all caught fire and were destroyed, the members would be strong enough to keep supporting each other, and continue functioning even without the buildings?  I hope so.  If not, we should prepare ourselves.  In Mosiah there is a very interesting story about Alma (the father) who organized the Church in the forest and baptized them in the waters of Mormon.  The small group of saints leave the area because of persecution and build a city in another area.  They follow all of the commandments and have "peace for a season."  But then, they are found by the Lamanites and they become slaves.  Even though they were doing everything right, they had a great trial.  They were put to death if they where caught praying.  But after they proved their faith and received strength from the Lord, they were set free.  I think this is a story that we can apply frequently in our lives and especially in my area right now.  We should not let things of the world interfere with our spirituality. 
I had an interview with President Scisci this week.  It was pretty good.  He gave some really good advice about how I can have a good relationship with my companions.  Oh, and he said that he has been bragging about me to the rest of the mission.  So, I will have to keep on working hard.  Overall, it was a good interview.
So this week has been better with Elder Sotomayor.  I have gotten to know him better.  Almost his whole family are members of the church, but his dad and step-dad are inactive and they serve in the Bolivian military.  He has never had a job but was spoiled by his hard working mom, step-dad, and father.  He had a souped-up Toyota Celica and did street races like the Fast and Furious.  I'm not sure if i understood correctly, but I think he was part of some sort of gang (but not a violent one).  He works hard and is a nice guy.  I will try to send pics of Outeiro soon.
But I love you guys!!! 
Elder Clark
P.S.  If you haven't sent the packages yet, could you send a lot of peanut butter and honey?

November 5, 2012

Hey, so this past week was very interesting, Happy and stressful.  

So, I got a call from the assistants to the president on Monday and they asked how many people I would baptize in Laranjeiras the next day.  I was a bit surprised and informed them that I had no idea because I was in a tropical island paradise.  So they got a little confused and then said that my zone leader would call me later.  So, it turns out that the mission was trying to close the month with a few more baptisms and the president sent me to Laranjeiras to baptize Katia, a single mom I taught before I was transferred.  It was really nice to see people I knew and taught get baptized and it was an honor to be able to baptize Katia.  I also got to see Elder Gonzalez again which was nice.  He is a really good missionary.  

We slept in Laranjeiras and the next day I went to Belém with the elder that replaced me (Elder F. Lopes).  We went to a training meeting for leaders.  It was really nice to see other elders I have worked with and especially Elder R. Silva my trainer.  He is going home at the end of the transfer. Oh, and he already has plans to get married in January.

So, we were away from our area for two whole days and that was hard.  But we did have a miracle happen.  We taught a guy that lives in a super big, super nice house close to the beach.  His name is Celho and he is Catholic (but not for long).  Before I got here, Elder Sotomayor rang his doorbell and contacted him.  We finally got to teach him Sunday and it was really great.  He understood everything really well and accepted my invitation to be baptized.  He said that he wanted us to talk to his wife as well!!!  Unfortunately, they are not married.  He is really cool and intelligent.  I think it is interesting to see a lot of missionaries work in areas that are very poor.  This is great, but that is not all we should do as missionaries.  Our priority should not be either poor or rich but to help the society as a whole receive the gospel.  When Elder Mazagardi (the 70 in charge of our mission) talked to us last, he said that we should search for the rich the educated, and the people in positions of power to teach.  He shared a scripture with us in Doctrine and Covenants that says exactly that when referring to the infant Church's missionary efforts.  We also see this with Paul and Agrippa and Ammon in the Book of Mormon.  So, we are applying this in our area.

Outeiro is interesting because it has a lot of rich people and poor people super close together.  We frequently walk close to the sea shore, but we only walk close to the beach early in the morning because the beach is a really bad place to be if there are a lot of people here.  There are a lot of people that come to visit Outeiro and go to the beach on holidays and at the end of the week.  In all, it is a nice place to work but at the same time a bit difficult because of the tourism and the beach.  

Dad, last week you sent a letter talking about the birth rate in Brasil dropping from a lot to 1.6 (or maybe it was mom that sent the letter I don't remember), but I  was thinking about this and thought that that was definitely not the impression I have had in the last year I have lived here.  That is because the population here is very young.  Unfortunately, when I started to think about it more, I started to realize why the population is so young.  It is really hard to find a woman here that is between 25 and 35 that is pregnant.  That's because almost everyone that has a baby is between 12 and 20 years old.  Almost all of them are single moms.  It is super hard to find a couple that is married.  This shows a great need for the gospel here and some other political and social reforms (for example more focus and incentive for education and careers, rethinking family stimuli from the government, education and incentives for married and practices that support and strengthen families).

I think it's a huge blessing to be able to work here in Brasil to help these people through the Gospel.  I love it here despite its imperfections!  Oh, and the next time you see Andy Carmen tell him that ``Eu Estou Ajudando Brasil Vai Para Frente!!``

Elder Clark