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

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