Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Letter to the Crestwood Ward (but you can read it, too!)

A beautiful sunset in Assis

We don't have a dryer -- so this is my best "quick fix" for wet socks!

To my beloved Crestwood Ward,

‘Tis I, Elder Titus, speaking as one crying from the dust to proclaim to the world that I, indeed, am still alive. Yea, the very same Elder Titus who left your presence one year ago and headed to a foreign land situated on the other end of the globe. Remember me? Good. Well, I’m doing great, and the work is just swell. Brazil hasn’t changed at all, and it's still hotter than it should be. We’re in the dead of winter here, and yesterday was 93 degrees. Nonetheless, the work moves on.

Currently I’m living in the middle of nowhere, in a city called Assis, population 100,000. And Area Assis is the biggest area in the mission, or to put it in perspective, my area is the size of the Seattle Mission. District meetings are a 2 hour bus ride away. We cover 10 smaller cities each 30-45 minutes outside of Assis. I’ve travelled to only 5 of them. There should be churches in all of them, but I’m afraid I have to quote the Savior in Matthew 9 when He said “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” In conclusion, we need more missionaries, until then, there will only be a church building in Assis. As for the progress here, it's kinda weird; On a good Sunday we have an attendance of 80, which isn’t bad, but seeing as though the church has been here for 20 years, it isn’t really good either . . . nevertheless we are making good progress here, and the majority of the people are working to turn the branch into a ward.

Well, my last companion was Elder McCombs from Puyallup, so that was cool to get to spend some time with somebody from my own neck of the woods, but he was transferred. At the moment, I’m training Elder Morris, who is from Mississippi, he’s only my second American companion. Good guy, big heart. We are doing super well together and teaching well. Currently, we are teaching a lady named Jozi, who was recently a Catholic missionary and sings in the catholic choir, and she and her family are progressing super well. I’m not leaving Assis until I baptize them! You can ask my mom what happens.

Well, much has been accomplished in this last year. I have walked approximately 3,300 miles, eaten the same lunch of rice and beans everyday, talked to around 7,500 people about the gospel, and been an instrument in the hands of God by administering the ordinances of salvation to many of His children. I echo the words of Alma when he said, “I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy. And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.”

But my phrasing is in the present tense, for the Lord hears my prayers and His merciful arm is constantly extended towards me (oh, if I could only tell the stories, but can’t because my mom is listening), and my soul is being filled with joy, because I am seeing God’s children come unto Him. Such joy can only be experienced as a missionary, and while negative experiences occur almost daily, they are always for our profit and learning, and in the end, if we endure it well, we become stronger.

Brothers and Sisters, this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I know why I’m here. I’m here to declare to Brazil our unique message, which is: Through a modern day prophet, God has restored knowledge about the plan of salvation, which is centered on Christ’s Atonement, and fulfilled by living the first principles and ordinances of the gospel. It is the most important message in the world. I thank my Heavenly Father daily that I have the privilege of sharing it daily. I love my Savior, for no other reason would I do this for 2 years. In fact, I love Him so much that I hope to get an extension to my mission, we’ll see though, it’s a political problem.

This last year has been great, but I’m no pessimist, my mission is not half empty, it's half full. I have much yet to accomplish, and as far as I’m concerned, I’ve only just begun.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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