Monday, December 31, 2012

December Letters

December 12, 2012

Thanks, Mom, for finding shoes.  I got my Christmas package but not the flat package.  Tell dad that the fudge was delicious.  

I am not really surprised that Liz was called to Moscow, Russia. I always told her that she would become a Russian spy so this is just the beginning....

Man, I don’t know what I will do with all that money that people sent me.  I don’t really buy things a lot here and I already have a lot of weight to lug around because of all the books.  I think that maybe I will send some books home because I don’t use a lot of them.  

I found a member family that will let me use Skype at their house for Christmas.  What time would be best for me to call?

You know, Mom, I really want to minor in 2 things when I get back.  The first one is Portuguese and maybe Italian (Italian is close to Portuguese and might help when I look for a job if I work specifically with cars) and the other is music.  So there is a very good chance that I will join a choir when I get back.

I love you Mom!!

Your son, Ben

Another letter, still December 12, 2012:

I’m so sorry I didn´t write a letter last p-day.  We had to go to the mission office and so our p-day was pretty lame.  But we helped a member get married to her non member husband and her husband is preparing to be baptized this Saturday.  This will be a challenge because he needs to stop smoking. We will help him with this.  

So when we got back to our area we went to the LAN house and the internet was down so we got permission to send emails today.

Being a zone leader is interesting.  I think the work load lightened up a bit but there is a whole lot of responsibility.  I interview the district leaders and their comps and give talks and train the missionaries.  And every week I report to the assistants about our zone.

This past week our zone (which is the largest in the mission with 20 missionaries) brought very few people to church which was really sad.  And we only had 2 baptisms this last week in the zone.  So that was not good.  The zone had a really hard time being effective in the work.  So we prepared a zone meeting to help the missionaries start working harder.  

I think it worked.

Last night at about 8:30 we were walking home from a lesson that fell through and we saw a family moving clay shingles into their house.  So we stopped to help (there were a lot of shingles to move) it was really nice we worked hard for about an hour and moved a butt load of shingles inside the wall of the property.  That was pretty fun and we marked an appointment to come back and take them to church and teach them.  The father tried to give us $40 realis which is a lot of money here. Obviously we refused to take the money.  It was a good experience. We got home really late but it was worth it.

I love you guys and hope that your week is wonderful!

Elder Clark

December 18, 2012

Arggg. I wrote a letter and was almost done but the computer froze and erased the whole thing. 
So, starting over …

This week was good started slow but got better and better.  I feel like me and Elder Carvalho are working better together.  We had some really powerful lessons with people this week and we got 8 people to come to church this week.  Unfortunately, I was waiting for 17 people to come and 9 of these people didn't come.  But we are counting our blessings and we will work with these others so that they can come to church next week.  

We went caroling with a family from the ward. We piled into their car and visited a bunch of members.  We sang for them and left a short Christmas message with them.  I played my harmonica in some of the arrangements it turned out pretty well 

Oh, Mom, can you see if you can find instructions on how to bend notes on the harmonica? I have yet to figure out how to do that on the harmonica.  The stuff you sent me about bending was great but didn't explain how to actually bend notes.

We also sang a song in sacrament meeting (I used my harmonica again and it turned out great, but I don't know if the manual would have agreed with the use of a harmonica during a sacrament meeting). I figured it would slip by because we sang with the First Counselor of the Stake President.

I also gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting that turned out really well despite the lack of prep time. I prepared during the sacrament because the talk I had prepared before the meeting wasn't coming together in my head.  It would have been about faith using stories about clouds and cairns a you know those piles of rocks that people use to mark trails usually in sub-alpine areas.  But I ended up talking about service in missionary work.  I used three scriptures: Mosiah 2 (serving others is serving God), Mosiah 4 (to maintain a remission of sins we need to serve others with material goods as well as spiritual and emotional nurturing), and the last was 4 Nephi 1-3 about the results of applying Christ’s teachings (peace, happiness, equality).  It was one of the best talks I have given.

I am great and I love you guys!!!

Merry Christmas I can’t wait to talk to you all!!!

Elder Clark

p.s.  I haven’t gotten the flat package yet but I think that it will get passed to me at the Zone Conference Thursday.

December 24, 2012

So first of all, Happy Birthday Mom and Emma!!  Man, you two are getting really old.

I had a really stressful week but it was good.  I attached a photo of the caroling (I found a cousin here in Brazil.  I call the blond kid in the picture “primo” or “cousin”).  We had the Christmas conference here and it was really great.  We got to play soccer which was fun but it took a few days for my muscles to stop hurting.  I got to see a lot of old companions and it was especially great to see Elder Gonzalez, who is a really good friend.  My soccer team was pretty good.  I was called to be a team captain and we took 2nd, only losing to the mission office team (they stacked the team).  I played keeper and made a goal as well.  I got a soccer jersey for a secret Santa gift and gave a moto taxi shirt to elder Souza (I was his secret Santa)  

We had to help some of the sisters in our zone because one of the new sisters had a grand mal seizure. So we went to the hospital that is really worthless, picked them up and took them to a private hospital that helped and took a MRI.  She was completely recovered when she was released from the hospital at 12:00 at night.  I had to pay for the taxi going to Belém and it was 80 reais.  So there goes my Christmas present.  But it was nice to help.

We had 4 baptisms this week: 3 little girls (Fernanda 9, Raynara 10, and Clivia 11 years old) and a 48 year old man Renê.  We helped Renê get married a few weeks ago.  We had 6 people in potential at the start of the week but one left town and the other didn’t pass the interview (needs a little more repenting to do).

That was a bit sad for us that our baptisms fell through, but we will continue to help them.  Our zone is having a lot of problems as well, but we are resolving them.

I will talk more Tuesday!!!

Love you guys!!!

December 31, 2012

Hey Dad,

It was really great to talk with the fam for Christmas.  I didn’t feel home sick afterwards, just a bit sad because I don’t think I said goodbye very well.  

We didn’t have very much success here this week getting people to church or baptizing but we had a few miracles.  The other day, Magno from Laranjeiras saw us and stopped to talk and that was really great. 
I’m sorry, but I am really short on time and will have to compensate by writing a long letter today.  

I think that I will buy running shoes for Elder Carvalho as a Christmas present so that we can run in the mornings (thanks, Grandparents).  I am also attaching pics from Christmas and an apple pie I made that was really delicious.  Oh dad, how do you make a pie crust? I just improvised and used margarine and flour, but it wasn’t perfect.

I love you guys and hope that the holidays are being spent well.  


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