Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Interview with the Mission President -- I passed!

My new best friend...NOT!

Bauru District: (left to right) Elder Pinheiro, Moraes, Villela, Neves, Hair (our district leader) and me

This week was even more exciting than last week…ok, not really.

We are having a difficult time finding people again.

The Adão family is playing hard-to-get, and saying that they are not prepared. When then? They feel like they have to be perfect. People, it’s called FAITH! I shared a scripture in Acts 2:38-42, where Peter gave 3 commandments: repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost. In that same day, 3000 people were baptized. Now that’s faith. Unfortunately, the scripture didn’t really help them.

We had lunch with a member that told us a story about when he was a kid. He told us that he was so poor that he used to eat paper notebooks just to take the edge off the hunger. I cannot even begin to imagine hunger on that level. He did not despair, and went on to make something of himself, and is rich now. Everyone has a chance.

Our Mission President came out to Bauru and interviewed all of the missionaries in the area. When it came time for my interview, we really only talked briefly. He asked how everything was going and then asked about what I was learning out of the book “Preach My Gospel,” and to share something from my study journal. I talked about Chapter 8, using our time wisely, and how we need to leave our area stronger than we found it. He asked me how long I had been on my mission, to which I replied, “Seven months.” Then he began to compliment me. He told me that I was already speaking very well, that I know the doctrine, how to plan, and that I’m ready to grow on my mission. I feel like I’ve already progressed so much.

Elder Villela and I talked to a guy on the street who asked how we are saved. We told him through various works, like baptism and such. He told us that we need to only accept Christ through our words. We shared John 3:5 about being baptized of the water and the Spirit to enter into the kingdom of God. He told us that water means the word, or the bible. Uhhh, good luck with that one. We left him soon afterwards, but pretty sure that in Acts 8, when Phillip meets the eunuch reading the bible they didn’t go descend into the “word” to get baptized, he was already holding the word.

Pineapple is good (see pic below -- and yes, I ate the whole thing! The end. Transfers are next week...stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My New Cycling Hero!

Yo Yo!

Check out this dude in the picture! I mentioned him in one of my earlier blogs. He rides his bike like a horse, using “reins” to steer with. And that’s all he does all day long – rides his bike around town (what a life!). I’m pretty sure he’s drunk, but wow – he’s got some mad skills!

Natalia's baptism. Hard earned, but well worth it!

Finally, after a year, we were able to baptize Natalia! Good grief, that was a struggle…so many obstacles to overcome. Baptism is such an important step in life, a huge commitment and often full of sacrifice -- but a whole lot more full of blessings from Heavenly Father. Now we’re working on the rest of the family. Next up is her brother Bruno, then the father Adão, then the mom Angelica.

Unfortunately, we had to cut Ricardo, because he didn’t want give up the Snowball Church (the name of his church). It stinks to cut people, but that’s life. It is so disappointing to teach them everything, and then have them deny it. We hope that one day he will have the desire to be baptized.

Again, not a ton happened, just little things. On Friday we did a “multirão,” where other missionaries go to one area to help out, and we went to the area of Geisel, because their ward has a frequency of 45 people. Ours has 110. So they’re struggling there.

The city of Bauru, off in the distance

Monday I went on splits, where you switch companions for a while. I went to Marechal Rondon, and Elder Hair came here. I spent the day with Elder Neves, who arrived in the mission field the same time as I did. From there, I climbed on his roof and took this picture. Finally, a picture of the city of Bauru. And there, in the midst of all the skyscrapers, way in the distance, is the area of Elder Titus.

I'll be back next week!
Elder Titus

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Deep in the work of converting English to Portuguese.

Hey, mom! Can I keep him? He doesn't eat much!

A pineapple plant. Amazing!

This week has been swell!

Natural juice is really popular here, and something unique to Brazil is the flavor of pineapple-mint. It’s freaking good! Pineapple is one of the things that I have really learned to love on my mission. And speaking of pineapple, have you ever seen one growing? We have an investigator who has a pineapple plant. Interesting picture, huh?

We’ve got a couple baptisms lined up for Saturday. After much persistence and prayer, we finally were able to get Natalia’s mom to sign the baptismal form and she is set for Saturday. Hopefully, the rest of the family will follow while I’m still here (Adao, Angelica, and 14-year-old son, Bruno). I would guess Bruno will be next.

Also, Ricardo (our surfer-type guy from last week) is still progressing and is excited for baptism. But he needs to settle on one church, either “beach church,” or the Church of Jesus Christ. Which would you choose?

We got a new ward mission leader this week and he’s excited to help. We set a goal to baptize weekly. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Unfortunately, I’m a bit on the busy side today, and nothing super exciting happened this past week, so I’ll keep it short today, and close it up here.

Elder Titus

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Happiness . . .

Attempting to teach my hair how to have a part

Two classy looking missionaries!

The edge of the downtown shopping area

Hey, hey!

This week went pretty fast for being 8 days long.

It was a good week. We had 7 investigators at church. Will has testimony problems now, and it’s not looking like he sincerely wants to fix them. He hasn’t gone to church for the last 2 weeks.

We’ve been teaching a surfer type dude, named Ricardo, who is progressing a lot and has a baptismal date for March 20th. Also Luana, the daughter of Mercia (who was inactive for 30 years), she is also progressing, may be ready for the 20th, too. We’re on a serious dry streak, but the work here is improving. A month ago when we baptized the Dos Santos family, we had to clean the dirt out of the baptismal font, so... yeah, it hadn’t been used in while before them. We don’t want to let the dirt build up again.

Everyday we have to do at least 30 street contacts, and usually we like to spice them up by asking questions. Usually, we’ll ask “What is something that is most important for you in the world?” Usually they say God, or family or health. Some say money, or “Me.” Then we expand and tell them how the Gospel can help them in those areas. One day, we made a contact with a mom and her little 5-year-old kid. While she was thinking about it, her son responded “Ser feliz,” or “be happy.” Coming from a child, that was quite profound. And I also have thought about this question and after he said that, I am going to have to say I agree, and that would be my response. Yes, family is important, but even family boils down to one being happy. Happiness, in my opinion, is what is most important in the world. At least as a foundation, and all other things are built upon happiness. Happiness is an interesting thing though; happiness is a state of mind that only you can be in charge of. You allow things to make you happy, or on the other hand, you can let bad things not make you unhappy. Happiness is a choice that you’re completely in charge of. No one can make you happy, and no one can make you unhappy. I’ve had a lot of chances to develop this attribute, and I’ve come to really appreciate being happy. And I’m constantly learning how to stay happy, even when times are rough, even during a day of rejection. Ultimately, I am the one who chooses my mood. It’s tough, but do-able. Something that I like to do after getting rejected is to smile as big as I can (in the other direction, of course). It’s ridiculous, but it makes me happy.

So, let’s all try this week to be more happy -- especially when its hard, and let our light so shine, and help lift up other people as well.

Elder Titus

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

6 Month Anniversary!

Six month celebration

My new friend, Mr. Vulture!

This is the local internet cafe where I send my emails from

Yo yo, man, I forgot to mention that I celebrated 6 months last Friday!! Times flyin!

Last p-day, we went to the zoo. It was a small zoo, so kind of lame, but still an adventure. And because I’m so smart, my camera died there, so no cool pics to show off (except for the vulture). The lions were sleeping, bummer. But, they had a lot of parrots and monkeys, which was pretty cool. Other than that, it was a typical zoo.

For the first time in my life we had zero investigators at church. Not sure why. We are working our butts off here. Will (an investigator) didn’t feel prepared, even though he’s cigarette free, so he didn’t get baptized. And as all was looking down, we had an amazing day teaching on Sunday! I’ll mention some names next week after we see who is really serious and goes to church.

Something that we really depend on here is street contacts. We stop people on the street, give a brief overview of our message and try to get their addresses. The thing that sucks though here, is that because we’re in the center of the city of Bauru, most people live outside of the center, in areas that belong to other missionaries, which is great for the other missionaries, but not for us! For example, in 2 days we wrote down 8 addresses, but only 2 were in our area, and 1 didn’t exist (so that’s fun). But yesterday, life got better as we crushed our previous record and got 7 references in our area, in one day. Let’s keep it up!

Sunday too, I gave a talk in church, about reading the scriptures daily. I used a lot from the manual “Preach My Gospel,” chapter 2, about effective study. 10 minutes. If you think giving a talk in regular church is bad, try it in another language. OK, it’s really not that bad, I’m exaggerating.

Interesting thing - in the MTC, I bought a can of pure mango juice thinking it would be good, but later found that I could only drink two gulps, it was horribly thick. This week a member gave us the same brand of juice at lunch and I downed 3 full glasses without blinking…I guess you could say I’ve become acclimated.

Transfers were yesterday. I’m staying with Elder Villela in Bauru for another 6 weeks, so that’s all good. Elder Yuma is going to Marilia; Elder Neves took his place with Elder Hair. Elder Neves arrived with me in the field, he’s cool.

So that’s kinda what’s going on for now, I think next week should be better.

Elder Titus