Thursday, December 31, 2009

P-days Have Been Changed to Wednesdays...

Sorry, no blog from Elder Titus will be posted on Monday...his day to visit the internet cafe has been changed to Wednesdays. See you then!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Transfer Comes Through -- Relief Sets In!

Sample of local wildlife

Another sweet storm rolls in

This week was pretty exciting! Indeed Elder da Silva was “emergency transferred.” So, as of this past Thursday I’ve been in a trio with Elder Galdino and Elder Carter. I have yet to receive a new companion. When one of the people in our branch heard that da Silva had been transferred, he yelled with pumped fists “Halleluiah!!!”

I actually got to take a day off this week. On Tuesday I got a rad fever of 104 and got to stay home. By the time we got to the hospital and got through the line, my temp had settled back down to not-a-super-emergency-temperature. And by night time, I was back to normal.

Wednesday we had our mission Christmas Conference at the Londrina Stake Center, which is the only conference during the year where the entire mission is re-united. It was quite the feat since north to south spans over 10 hours of driving with 133 missionaries dispersed all over the mission. It was really great to see all my buddies from the MTC. In the morning we all went to the "Hospital of Cancer" in Londrina and taught little messages and handed out treats. It was pretty neat. Then we just chilled in the church the rest of the time and ate, sang, watched a play, and heard speeches from President Leal. Elders Gibbons and Vogeler from the MTC both got the swine flu. Elder Vogeler also got pneumonia at the same time and also got hit by a car (not at the same time). He’s having a good mission so far! However, despite the trials, he’s in good spirits.

Christmas was pretty uneventful, kinda because about the only one that writes to me is my mother!!! (hint, hint! Thank you to those few who have written. Your letters are a total treat!) But, the best part is that we all get to talk on the phone with our families, it was sweet! I truly enjoyed hearing family voices once again. The hour we are allowed went by way too fast. It was very hard to say goodbye. Other than that we just kinda chilled around.

On Saturday, one of Elder Galdino and Carter’s investigators, Camila, finally got baptized after getting permission from her mom. I was also able to teach her a lot.

Camila's baptism

And, yet another sweet storm passed through town.

This just in: Breaking news is now hitting America . . . Postage for Brazil really doesn’t cost that much! (98 cents for a regular letter) . . . hint, hint!

Since it is Christmas time, I feel compelled to say a few things as I close out this week's blog: I'm very grateful for this time of the year when people care more about giving than receiving. We can really see the impact that Jesus Christ had on the world, and I'm grateful for the life that He lived and for the example that He set. I know that He loves us and is our Savior. He lives today and guides us in our actions.

I hope everyone’s Christmas was enjoyable!

Até maís. (uh teh - mice): until more, or loosely translated: see you later.

Elder Titus

Monday, December 21, 2009

Feliz Natal!

Elder Titus showing off his mad climbing skills

A moment of silliness (can you believe it rained so hard that my umbrella broke?)

This week was good!

Elder da Silva and I went to the hospital to teach short Christmas messages to people that are having a rough time. It was a humbling and very spiritual experience.

We usually have activities at the church on Wednesdays. This week was called “torta na cara,” or pie in the face. Similar to Family Feud, but with a pie in your face if you get it wrong. There was also a ridiculous sunset that night too. I had time to upload the sunset, but not the pie in my face photo – maybe next time.

Awesome sunset in Ibipora

I made a street contact with a lady bum. She told me that she didn’t want to die without God in her life and that she wanted to stop drinking but she couldn’t. I told her to pray for strength and just do it. I told her you’ll feel better and save a lot of money. At the end of our conversation she told me that she was ugly and looked horrible. I told her she was a beautiful daughter of God. She then double clenched my hand and gave it a nice long kiss...

Finally we're getting some good investigators. We have 3 solid families that we’re teaching. Family of Angelica, and Selma, and Antonio. Why are these families so special? They have member friends. It’s like night and day.

We might get an emergency transfer in the next few days due to some flirtation done by someone in my apartment. He didn’t do anything bad, but they want to make sure he doesn’t do anything worse. Is it bad to say I’m happy?

Portuguese lesson for the day:

edificio (ed jee fih sea-oo) = building
é dificil (same thing) = it’s difficult

There’s also a verb called “fartar.” It means to be satisfied; like “eu farto” which would mean “I´m full.” To say that out loud, well, it’s just weird. Usually we say “estou satisfeito,” or “I’m satisfied.”

Feliz natal to everyone! I get to call my family on Christmas Day!!!!! The first of only four phone calls home that are allowed during my two year mission. Next call, "Mother's Day!"

Elder Titus

Monday, December 14, 2009

No Transfer -- But I'm Working Out the Kinks!

This week was a super roller coaster. Wednesday I found out about transfers.... I was not transferred (which was my preferred choice), but guess what? Neither was Elder da Silva! I almost fainted when I heard that there were no transfers. I just need to endure another 6 weeks, and then its pretty much guaranteed that Elders Carter, Galdino and da Silva will be transferred out since they have been here for so long, and I will stay here because someone needs to know the area and current investigators. I hope I can last -- imagine a person that you absolutely can’t stand.... and then imagine living with them 24 hours every day for 3 months – constantly being within sight and sound. Yes... pity me. BUT, I will survive, I’m determined to somehow make the best out of this situation. After this experience, I will be the most patient person in the world.

Elder Carter and Elder Galdino also were not transferred. That is a blessing.

I have found something that makes me incredibly happy here in Brazil. All houses here have a gated front yard, and all people have at least 2 dogs, all of which hate missionaries. I find incredible joy out of taunting them, and trying to get my shoe bit through the fence. You would have to be here to fully understand. Random note about Brazilian dogs: even the dogs eat rice and beans... serious!

Cool story: last week at church there was a family that we´d never seen before. Elder Carter and I visited them later in the week. The guy, Rafael is a member, but stopped going to church when he was 11 (23 now). He had a dream a few days before Sunday. In his dream he was sitting on a wall. On one side was the church and the members, he distinctly saw the name of the church, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” And on the other side were his old friends that were bad influences in his life. Needless to say he came to church the next day. His wife will be getting baptized in January.

There was also a sweet storm this week. For those that have seen the movie, “Independence Day,” remember when the space ships are rolling in and the land beneath them slowing begins to darken as the clouds surrounding their ships block out the sun. Same thing happened here, minus the space ships. This enormous black swirling oval shaped cloud came rolling in, it was sweet. We had to run to a member’s house to wait out what the storm delivered.

Storm Approaching -- Run for Cover!

País - Country (emphasis on the ´i´, pie-eece)
Pais - Parents (pronouced pie-z)
Paz - Peace (pronouced pie-z)

Paz to my pais from the país of brazil.

Elder Titus

Note from Derek’s mom: Along with the blog information, Elder Titus usually sends me another email each Monday, which contains more personal stuff. I thought I would share something from his email that I received today:

“Miracles are happening mom. See picture. The day after the picture of my feet was taken, they were back to normal. At that moment of the picture I can’t describe to you how hard is was to walk. The pain was in the bones and massaging was useless. Before then, I was determined to let it take its course hoping the blisters would become calluses, but that night I had had enough. I prayed (begged) for relief. Next day, sem dor (no pain). On the tip of one toe* I have scabs, meaning that it was bleeding. I never felt it. That next day, the blisters were gone. I would like to see a doctor explain that. (*notice blister even at the tip of the toe to the left of the big toe, left side of photo)


Also, at the MTC, I lost all of my leg strength. I sat all day for 2 months. I have yet to have any, any, pain/sore muscles in my legs. Every day we walk 12-15 miles, and that one day we walked 18, all on uneven hard pavement – yet, no pain. The next day I feel fresh.”

(Back to mom: I feel blessed that Heavenly Father is looking out for my son, and despite the rough conditions and sometimes unpleasant circumstances, he is adapting, and doing well. Thank you all for your support and friendship!)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pizza and Tan Lines!

Typical Brazilian Lunch of Rice and Beans

A Major Storm Brewing

This week was better. I found that the best thing to do in my companionship is just to keep my mouth shut and let him think that I’m listening. Just smile and nod (albeit with clenched teeth).

Well, I won’t know about transfers until tomorrow. I’m praying, pleading, and begging for a companion exchange. I think I might die if it doesn’t happen.

We found a family while tracting (knocking on people’s doors) that let us into their home to teach them. They happened to know a sister in our branch, so that’s going well. Our next lesson will be with her there, also. Those are the best types, when the people already have a friend who is a member of the Church.

Rui went to church finally. And at church we had the biggest turn out I’ve seen so far. About 85 people. Yeah!

Elder Galdino and Elder Carter (the other companionship in the apartment) celebrated 6 and 10 months in the mission this week. We celebrated by me cutting their hair. First time I’ve cut hair with scissors! Then I made a couple of pizzas from scratch that were INSANELY good. See picture (rockin that Brazilian missionary tan-line)

Pizza: The Perfect Food (and an awesome example of a missionary tan line)

We also got to attend cançoes esquecidas (forgotten songs), which is a Christmas musical that the Church is putting on in Londrina. It was pretty cool. I got to see Elders Webb and Gibbons (they were in my district while at the MTC) so that was cool too.

Words for the week:

queijo – cheese
queixo - chin
queixo is more of a shh sound.

Ahhh…I’m nervous for transfers! I’ll let you know what happens next Monday!

Paz e amor (peace and love),
Elder Titus