Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Yo from Baurú!

mmmmm good, chicken feet!

Elder Villela, Victor, Cristine and me

This week was pretty good. Sunday we already had some baptisms. Victor (18), and Cristine (11). I baptized Cristine, and I can almost guarantee that I will baptize every girl that wants to gets baptized. I mean, what can I say? I’m an American and they love us! Just kidding. The mom and grandma will maybe get baptized this weekend if they can comply with the word of wisdom, they've improved a lot, and are working hard at it.

In general the work here is a bit slower. We walk a ton more, because our house is on the edge of the center of the city, and all of the houses are way out on the outskirts of the city. So...we usually teach about 4 or 5 lessons a day, whereas in Ibipora, it was like 6 or 7.

We live near a street called Duque de Caxias (pronounced dookie-jee-kai-shee-uhs). So, yes, for those of you who thought I would mature on my mission, you were wrong. Haha, dookie!

I’m finally in a ward. Bauru Ward, the first ward created in Bauru. 110 active members, all good. Way more than the 60 members in Ibipora, whom I still love much. Changing areas is hard. I don’t know anybody’s name and I don’t know the area.

Elder Villela is the bomb and we're teaching some people with great potential. Unfortunately you will learn that missionaries in Brazil are called “firefighter missionaries,” women and children first. Here's the thing, there are FEW men here who aren’t alcoholics. You'd have to come here and see how many bars there are, and how many are full during the nights, when they should be home with their families. Hence, we rarely baptize men. They're either drunk or rich, and if they’re rich, we're not getting past their little microphone thing at the gated fence.

We taught a crazy lady named Geni, while knocking on doors. She talked more than we did during the lesson. She even gave the closing prayer. And for about 5 phrases, she talked in tongues. Haha, it was one of the oddest things I’ve ever heard in my life. It was comparable to Indian chanting. Oh man! And then she said a normal prayer.

I finally got defeated this week by a 7th Day Adventist. He didn’t believe that Peter, James and John could have been resurrected because Jesus was the only one to have risen until the second coming, hence he did not give Joseph Smith the Melchizedek Priesthood. I didn’t have a scripture at the time. But, I do now - Matthew 27: 52-53 which reads: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” I really want to return, but I don’t think we should.

Portuguese lesson for the week:

Manga - mango
Manga - sleeve

Sou - I am
Só - Only
Sol - Sun --- L's are not really pronounced here.
Sul - South

Ouro - Gold
Oro - I pray

Elder Titus

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I Got Transferred!

Anyone want a banana?

Isn't he pretty?

OK, the odds were against me for getting transferred. So, yep, never trust the odds! I’m out. I’m actually in a different state right now. I was in the state of Paraná, but now I’m in the state of Sáo Paulo, in the northern most zone of our mission. The city is called Baurú (bow-roo, with a rolled “r”). It was a boring 6 hour bus ride to get here. It´s hotter here, too. I’m in a completely different area than Ibiporã, called Baurú Centro, or in the center. It’s a pretty big city, with sky scrapers and stuff, and we’re right in the middle of the city, so it's very different. My companion is Elder Villela (Vee-leh-luh) from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He seems cool so far. We’re in a ward, not a branch, so that’s a nice change, and the area baptizes which is unique to our mission. President Leal shut down many areas because they weren’t baptizing. He shut down at least 5 that I know of -- at least for a while, until we get more missionaries.

This past Sunday, all went well with our family of Fernando. All 5 were baptized. I baptized Jefferson. And a few people I was teaching back in Ibipora will be baptized this week, including the wife of that guy that had a dream where he saw the two sides while he was sitting on a wall (see 12-14-09 blog).

Elder Carter will be training a new elder named Elder Santana from Bahia, and Elder Galdino will stay in our old area with Elder Barbosa. I was informed of my transfer at 9:30 last night, so I didn’t get to say goodbye to anyone from Ibiporã. I’m a little bummed about that.

Yesterday we were in the office, and I got to meet the 2 new American elders that arrived. Elder Galdino asked “Para onde voce vai?” (where are you going?... like what area were the new elders being sent to) and one of them responded
“Duas e.... thirty,” (which he was trying to say duas e meia, or trinta, which means 2:30, which was WHEN he was leaving, not WHERE he was going). Then Galdino said, “Não,.onde?... não quando.” (no, where? not when.)


The downfall about being in Baurú is that I probably won't get mail but every 5 or 6 weeks, then it's about another 3 weeks for it to get to the states. So yeah, sorry. But don't let that stop you from writing!

So that’s it for now!

Until next week,
Elder Titus

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Great Week in Brazil!

This is how NOT to play "torta na cara" (from 12-21-09 blog)

Another great week in Brazil! I realized not long ago that for speaking MOST sentences in Portuguese, I don’t have to translate them in my head first. I don’t know how it works, but it’s cool. Same thing with hearing it.

Our “trio” has had its difficulties. Some times I feel like the 3rd wheel, other times, it's good. One thing that is different with us is the presence of the Holy Ghost in our companionship. With Elder da Silva we never had it, because we didn’t like each other. What converts people is not the things we say, or the logic we share, but the feelings put in their hearts by the spirit we bring, and when there is contention with us, the Spirit is not there. In 3 Nephi 11:29 it says, "...he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another." Consequently, we never found anybody solid. Now that we have the Spirit with us, we are finding people like crazy! I briefly mentioned the family of Fernando last week. They´re nuts! Man, some of the most spiritual experiences so far on my mission have been with them. Fernando, the dad, Margareth, his wife, and their kids: Jeferson, 17, Fernanda, 13, and Graciela 10. They are going to get baptized this Sunday!!! The mom, Margareth, was initially hardhearted in her Catholic ways, with many questions like worshipping Mary and the Saints, and reciting the Lord’s Prayer, but we got her to pray one day and it was way good. She thanked the Lord for the presence of the elders and the change that had happened in her family. Bam!

We are teaching a 17-year-old girl, too, named Bruna. Her boyfriend is a member in Londrina. She will get baptized too. Maybe this week, maybe next week.

So what happened to everyone else? It starts with them saying they will go to church and then not going. Then they become harder and harder to find, and then we have to cut them from our list and stop going there. What makes the difference? Prayer. Pure and simple. Of course, mostly on their part. First praying, and second, really asking to know if this is the true Church of Jesus Christ; third recognizing an answer when it comes. 99% of people can’t do this. Why? I don’t know yet.

So we’re all super nervous about transfers this next Tuesday or Wednesday. 11 elders will leave this week and 4 will arrive, so we’re thinking that only 1 companionship will stay in Ibipora. In which case, I have a 66% chance of getting transferred. On the other hand, we’re baptizing here, which is something that the mission as a whole, is not doing. Last week, the entire mission (all 133 elders) baptized 8 people. That’s bad for Brazil. Londrina is already one of the least baptizing missions in all of the Brazilian missions because southern Brazil is more rich. That is pretty bad. The northern missions can sometimes have more than 200 a week.

Where was this kind of fun when I was a kid?

So, we decided to go on a little hike in the jungle just outside the city borders. HOLY SPIDER!!! This thing has fangs! Although it doesn’t appear so, its body is about as big as a caterpillar, and the legs fill out the rest of your hand.

Isn't he cute? (go in closer and check out the fangs!)

Have a great week!!!
Elder Titus

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Moving Forward into 2010

Help! Elder Carter is going to squish me!

Turtles make great front yard decorations

Hey, mom, can we have something like this in our front yard?

Oi pessoal! tudo bem? Feliz Ano Novo! English: Hey guys, all is well? Happy New Year!

This past week was great!

I never got a new companion. I was just attached to Elder Carter and Elder Galdino until January 18, when real transfers happen. I will probably stay in Ibiporã. Probably forever. BUT, at this point that wouldn’t be a bad thing. I talked to Elder Gregory who was here for 6 months before me, he was a rockin’ elder, one of the best. And he only baptized 2 people. This month in January, we are going to baptize the world. We had another baptism this week, a lady named Rita. We are teaching FAMILIES NOW, not just people. One thing that is important, no, ESSENTIAL in every companionship is the Holy Ghost. This is dependent on the relationship. I did not like Elder da Silva and he did not like me -- did we have the Spirit to direct us? No way. Hence, we didn’t baptize. However, we have the Spirit now, and we are rockin’ it here.

“Elects,” are what we call them, well, “Elect people.” They are the people who want to hear what we have to teach. “Molies,” are the people that don’t care. About 1 in 25 people are Elect. And about 1 in 10 Elects get baptized.

Family of Vanderlei and Selma have two kids. They are an amazing family that know people in the branch.

Famliy of Angelica, also knows many branch members.

Devonier, flirt-to-convert baptism. He is way good. He went to church, and is in love now. He would have gotten baptized anyway, but now its almost guaranteed.

I was just informed by Elder Galdino that Fernando and Margaret, and their 3 kids want to get baptized on the 17th.

…and some others, but that’s about it for now.

New Years was boring. We were home at 9:00 PM, and had a little barbeque, then went to bed. We were woken up by fireworks and gunshots at midnight.

I’ve been in Londrina with the AP’s (Assistants to the President) and the Zone Leaders. Elder Coca was with da Silva in Cornelio (next city over) and I was with Elder Nelson in Londrina. It was way fun. The AP’s and Zone Leaders live in a nice house, in the best area. Their ward has 180 active people. We have 50 in our little branch. Elder Nelson is a stud! He was my first companion in the field for 3 days. He is so excited around people and everyone loves him. His family are professional singers, and he is way good. I’ve never been too bad myself, so during one lesson we sang, “Lord I Would Follow Thee” to one family (in Portuguese, of course). It was awesome. Unfortunately, I can’t do this much, because I’ve only met 2 Brazilians that can hold a tune. Elder Nelson goes home in 15 days. Bummer.

On New Years we found one stalker lady. We were walking through the square and this homeless lady started asking Elder Carter questions about me. She asked these questions: how old is he, does he have a girlfriend, does he think I’m pretty, and ask him if he thinks I’m pretty, and tell him I like him. It was kind of awkward, but also kind of funny, first, because I could hear her and second, because she was quite old. We talked to her for awhile, and then I let her down gently.

Elder Titus