Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marlene and Kids Got Baptized!

Elder McCombs, Isabella, Marlene, Guilherme, Diego (you have to be 8 before you can be baptized), Juliano and me

We found this sweet little secret spot

Almost as good as the shower at the apartment


This week was super! Started out with the sweet baptism of Marlene and kids. In the past, Marlene was taught the lessons, but didn’t get baptized because of coffee. But from Sunday night until now, she completely stopped cold turkey, and they were baptized!!!! Yeah! It went super well. The branch president’s wife gave a talk on baptism and enduring to the end. Elder McCombs baptized Guilherme first, who was freaking out because the water was cold. Then I got in and baptized Juliano, who also was freaking out. He descended the first 3 steps but refused to descend the last, so I had to pick him up and get him in position. Then I baptized Isabela, who didn’t fuss at all. Haha, shes a toughy! Then I baptized Marlene, and it was awesome. Then on Sunday, with the confirmations*, the ward secretary confirmed Marlene and Guilherme, and I confirmed Isabela and Juliano. That is the first time I have confirmed anyone. It was very cool. Marlene is soooo much happier now. It’s nuts. We visited them yesterday. The gospel has the power to completely move people's lives, I have no doubt about that. People completely change. It’s amazing. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to help these people.

So, the U.S. lost to Ghana, what the heck? But, Brasil beat Chile 3-0. Woot!

Figured out that Assis has 98,000 people, so it's not as small as I thought. We also take care of 7 other cities, but only visit one or two occasionally. ie, our area is as big as the Seattle Mission... and it’s all ours.

On Sunday two people came to church alone. Dora (mom), and Agosto (son), who is 19. And they are super interested and live behind the church. Yes, baptism is marked for July 17th. We already ate lunch with them.

Me and Elder McCombs went on a cool adventure. There was this river under a bridge, and we went down there and it was way sweet! It looks like paradise (just with some litter). It was a neat discovery.

Had my first boo-boo in Portuguese last night. Some dude said he was from Sao Paulo, on the street while contacting him (because he didn’t know where the church was) and his girlfriend said “Só detalha,” which means “Only a detail,” but what does that sound like? To us, it sounded like “Sou da Italia,” or “I’m from Italy.” So we were like, “Oh cool, where in Italy?” and she got confused. It was awkward.

The end.

Tchau, boa semana. (Bye, have a good week)

Elder Titus

*Confirmation: When you have repented, and are baptized by one with the priesthood authority given by God, you receive a remission of your sins (Acts 2:38). After the baptism, you are confirmed. Confirmation is an ordinance in which a person is confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One or more authorized priesthood holders lay their hands on your head, confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and bless you to receive the Holy Ghost.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Spiritual Farewell to President and Sister Leal

A farewell photo with President and Sister Leal. They will be greatly missed!

A peek at downtown Assis

My new brother, Elder Galdino -- seriously, my mom has adopted him!

Meryellen wants to wait a little more to be baptized, but Marlene and family are looking good. We took away her coffee and gave her this substitute called Cevada that tastes like coffee but isn’t. We all had to drink it, and it’s gross. I have avoided it up until now, but since we were raving about it, we couldn’t get away without tasting it...yuck! Her family is so cute. I just figured out this week why they are so united. The little girl Isabela (11) has cancer, but at the moment, it is in remission. I always wondered why she wore that hat…

I gave the Gospel Principles lesson on Sunday. And without any preparation because President Jorge, our branch president, didn’t come to church. It went well though. Definitely guided by the Spirit in what to say.

Last Friday was good at our zone conference. It was super spiritual. All zone conferences have a theme and this time it was about Jesus Christ. This last transfer we have been studying His attributes in order to know how to better apply them in our own lives. And it was during this transfer that I discovered a talk by Dallin H. Oaks, called “The Challenge to Become,” that is amazing! I would challenge all of you to read this awesome talk which can be found by clicking here. We had a two hour long testimony meeting with all the missionaries in the area. When it was my turn, I testified about this very talk, and how we have an amazing opportunity to apply and develop these attributes on the mission, and how I’m excited to progress. One of the parts of the talk that I liked, I shared with everyone, summarizing it like this in my testimony: “It doesn’t matter what we do in this life, but what is more important is what we’ve become. We can have all of the gospel knowledge in the world, but if we have failed to apply deeply these Christ-like attributes throughout our lives, (charity, humility, patience, diligence......) we have accomplished NOTHING in this life.” I also suggested how we need to strive to do our best, and how I intend to do better. When we apply these attributes it is then that our testimonies grow and we grow closer to our Heavenly Father. These were all honest testimonies, too, not phoney ones. There is no other way. Then President and Sister Leal both bore huge testimonies after everyone else had a chance.

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior! I know that He suffered for our sins so that we don’t have to. All we need to do is do what He says and His grace will take effect in our eternal salvation. He loves us! Why else would He go through all that He did? He has always showed His love for us, and continues to show it. One way is by calling prophets in these latter-days. How privileged we are to live in the last days where the fullness of the gospel has been restored. Let’s show Christ that we are truly grateful for what He has done for us and continues to do for us, by becoming more like Him. And by doing so, we will figure out what it’s all about.

Have a great week!

Elder Titus

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Things are Progressing Well in Assis!

Testing out the organ in the Assis Branch chapel

Road construction + heavy rain = cool red waterfall!

My "monkey face" pizza from last week

This week was pretty good!

So, the World Cup finally began last Friday. On Thursday night I got a call from my District Leader saying that the Area President of Brazil has prohibited ALL missionaries in Brazil from watching the games. Of course, you still have your agency, but I will not leave my blessings on the ground. It was tough. Yesterday was the Brazil vs. North Korea game. The city was a ghost town, but it was not quiet at all. We decided to go home and take a nap, because there is literally nothing else to do. Score was Brazil 2, North Korea 1. Those 2 goals included screaming, fireworks, honking of horns, and possibly gun shots. Anyway, it was madness. People were celebrating until past dark. Nuts.

Everything is looking good for the baptism of Mery Ellen this Saturday. She and her family live in a close-by city called Candido Mota. So, 3 times a week we have to go out there, but they come to Assis every Sunday, for church. $2.50 each way by bus. That adds up. But it is worth it!

Also we are teaching a cute little family: Marlene (single mom), Guilherme (12), Isabela (11), Juliano (9), and Diego (6). They were a reference from Irma* Katerine. They are progressing really well. They have read the assignments, went to church, and now have a baptismal date marked for next weekend.

This Friday, we have a zone conference in Marilia, so that’s always fun. It’s actually a 4-zone, zone conference; everyone serving in the São Paulo cities go to Marilia for zone conference, so it will be good to see so many elders all in one place.

Funny thing happened -- we knocked on an elderly lady’s door and she told us right before we left (we didn’t get in), “Que moços lindos,” or “What handsome young men.” Haha, kinda strange, but whatever.

Just got a notice from Elder Campelo (previous companion) that Genesis was baptized last Sunday! Remember him? He’s the one whose mom expelled us from their house? Then the next day we found him in the downtown square in Bauru? He prayed that an angel would visit his mom and chill her out so that he could get baptized. Opa**, looks like it happened! I’ll try to get a picture. Genesis is a special young man. Nothing tops the sincere prayer of a 14-year-old. Remember a certain 14-year-old who prayed with the same faith?
Until next week!

Elder Titus

*Irma = Sister
**Opa = Wow

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My First Week in Assis...

Elder McComb, Miria's mom, Miria and me

Homemade PIZZA!!!

...and CAKE with ICING! Happy Birthday Elder McComb!

What’s up?

Good quality week here in Assis (pronounced “Ah-sees”). Elder McCombs is “bom demais!” He is an excellent companion. And I had at least 4 or 5 people this week ask me if I'm Brazilian. I can't tell you how good it is to hear that. I really think I've got the language down now.

Started out the week with the baptism of Miria. She was tough to convince, but she did it. She had failed the baptismal interview the week before, because the district leader didn’t handle the interview very well. It was his first time interviewing. He asked way too detailed questions like, “Do you believe that God is our Heavenly Father?” That IS one of the questions, but then he asked, “Why?” So Miria felt insecure. Any way, the district leadership was switched to Elder Dunn, and she passed the “re-test.” It was Elder McComb’s first baptism, (he didn’t baptize last transfer). He was stoked! It was cold water too!

Actually, we went through several “firsts” this week together. His first Brazilian churro, first baptism, first bowl of açai berries, and first pig ear ever eaten. Haha. Good times!

After the baptism, I made pizza. That's the first time in over 5 months. I made it in the shape of a monkey face. It tasted awesome! Life is good.

We don’t have any potential baptisms this week, but Elder Gibbons (arrived with me in the mission) was here about 3 months ago and baptized a family (Rosimeire (mom), and Guilherme (son)). But he didn’t baptize Mery Ellen, the other daughter (20-ish years old), because she wanted more time. Now she’s ready, and set for the 19th. They live in a nearby city, so we have to travel a bit. Rosimeire has a brother too, but so far, I’ve only met his daughter.

Also, there’s another lady, Marlene, and her 4 kids that should get baptized before I leave Assis, but no fixed date yet.

It was Elder McComb’s birthday yesterday. We made a sweet cake, thanks to the package his mom sent. Well, they do have cake mix here, but it was the icing that did it in for me. Ohhhhh sooo good!

Well, that’s about it for now.

Peace from down south,

Elder Titus

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I've Got Transferred!

Practicing with Elder Hair before the big game.

Our district.

Packing up for the transfer to Assis

Welcome to Assis!

Finally, after forever, I was transferred from Bauru and I’m in Assis now. It is a small city outside of Marilia. It took 2 hours to get to Marilia, then 3 hours waiting at the bus station, and 1 hour to get to Assis. I got here like 20 minutes ago. It’s a cute little town, with a little branch. I’m here with Elder McCombs. I was privileged to stay senior companion. There’s been a shortage of missionaries lately, and there are more seniors than juniors. I stayed senior, so that must mean that President Leal still likes me. Elder McCombs is on his second transfer now, so he’s pretty new. Crazy thing is, guess where he’s from? Amost incredibly unbelievable -- he’s from Puyallup! haha. I’m stoked. He seems like a good guy.

Alright, so about last week: Futebol was awesome. The Americans won 11-9 (the Brasileiros did not take it well). Yours truly made a ridiculous amount of goals. Elder Neves and Pinheiro both played barefoot on the concrete court. Crazy. It was intense. Prophecy of the world cup? Maybe.

So yeah, the baptisms fell through...again... but they’re not done yet. Genesis is scheduled for the 12th of June. His mom is getting a little more tolerant each time we visit. Wilson’s little daughter is supposed to get baptized on the 5th. We also are teaching a less active member’s girlfriend, who is scheduled for the 12th, also. But of course, I won't be there. Slightly bummed.

I got a job offer at an English school... haha. Too bad I was transferred!

So yeah, I’m stoked to serve here. Change is good. We’ll see what 2 American gringos can do here in Assis. As always, stay tuned!

Até mais,

Elder Titus