Monday, December 27, 2010

A snowman made out of the bottoms of pop bottles!

Elder de Jesus and me slaving over the grill

Hey there,

Well, Christmas is over, and my saudades* have been satiated, as I got to hear the voices of my family for the first time in 7 months, or in the case of my sister, Danielle, 16 months. As cruel as it sounds, I believe there is no other way to gain a greater appreciation of something you have until you have "lost it." And what could be of greater importance than your own family? Certainly I have learned to appreciate and understand the necessity of their existence in my life, and while I thought I understood before my mission, I was wrong, I could only see the tip of the iceberg. It was a sweet experience to talk with them.

Well, all things considered, Christmas wasn't as horrible as I thought it would be. (our boxes from home have been misplaced by postal service...) We spent the whole day at the home of the coolest family in the ward, goofing off. We played UNO for I don't know how long. I have come to understand that UNO is an international game. And we had a sweet barbecue as well. Good times.

I'm kinda out of time already. Oops.

If you haven't sent me a box of goodies for Christmas, don't fret, I'm a very forgiving person, and will easily be able to comprehend the reasons if it shows up late. You reading this, yes you, look into your heart, and search out your feelings and follow them. Your true feelings should be telling you that you need to have compassion on that poor little missionary in Brazil who is living in a desolate state of agony, that could easily be reduced if he received a package of American goodies. (ie. tootsie rolls, caramel treasures, reeces....etc...) And if that isn't possible, how about a belated Christmas card?

Don't be a grinch.

Elder Titus

*yearning, missing

Monday, December 20, 2010

To receive an answer from God a person must ask with a desire to know...

Elder de Jesus and me being festive


Christmas sucks so bad in Brazil! Here are 3 reasons that support my Thesis:
2- There are no evergreen trees
3- A great present to me is a box of American candy
4- Santa Claus is dark skinned and speaks Portuguese
5- My only family members are missionaries

Nonetheless, I don't really care that much, it's quite the norm now, seeing as that I've experienced it before.

Well, this week was quality. At the conference with Elder Araujo, he told us that Elder Scott once said that all missionaries will have to experience what he calls, "the hour of truth," or when you have to let your investigator know that he (or she) needs to accept baptism, or you'll have to stop teaching them. Well, after 1 month of inviting Florizia to get baptized unsuccessfully, she finally accepted. Weird.

And remember that 13 year old girl that smokes and drinks? She also is making the necessary changes so she can get baptized. Maicon, her brother, is as well, but he's not as motivated.

So, what's teaching like in Arapongas? Teaching here is great! The people here are mostly friendly, and receptive. On Saturdays we usually teach at least 7 lessons. So why don't we baptize more often? Good question. We find a lot of "mole" (mol-ee) people, which is a person that doesn't progress. Most people are very gullible. For example, we can teach the restoration and at the end I always ask if they would like to know for themselves if it is true. And almost 90% of the time, the people say, "Oh its true," which would be a remarkable answer if they truly did know. However, people here believe that any subject that talks of God is true. I remember one time at the end of a lesson, some lady said that to us, and I told her, "actually, its not true." Then we waited to see her reaction -- then she understood better what she had just said. I explained to her, it's great that you guys believe our message, I too believed it when I was taught by the missionaries, however there is a difference between believe and know, in order to know, you guys need to ask God, sincerely, if it's true.

Which is the hardest part! To receive an answer from God a person must ask with a desire to know, or else they won't get an answer. For that reason we have to help the people understand the necessity of the need to know, and how to get the desire to know.

2nd reason we don't baptize muito: Sin!! 5 substances that Latter-day saints must refrain from: drugs, tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea. Unfortunately, these are the 5 most popular substances in Brazil. And it's not even that hard to help people stop using these things, but for them to stop they must want to stop, and for them to want to stop, they must have a reason, to have a reason they need to have received and answer from God. Which all boils back down to them wanting to know if what we teach is true.

In conclusion, many are called, but few are chosen.

Hope ya'll have a Merry Christmas. Enjoy the presence of your family members, and other things that are so easily accessible to you. (ie candy, snow.....) and don't forget the real purpose of Christmas!

Elder Titus

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Lord sent you two of his representatives and you chased them away . . .

Elder Schirmer, me, and Elder Dunn

The new chapel in Apucarana


Well, this week was way good. So, Tuesday we all went to Apucarana for the open house. 6 of the 14 missionaries stayed on the street corner close to the building and invited all the people to go in real quick. It was interesting because that particular stretch of sidewalk is occupied primarily by joggers/walkers. Nonetheless, within 2 hours we were able to get 53 people to go in. All 53 liked the new chapel a lot.

Thursday morning, we were all to catch a bus to go to Londrina. We were supposed to leave at 6:20, but it didn’t show up until 7:00. Meanwhile, me and Elder Schirmer went into a Catholic church and watched a part of the mass.

Well, at the conference on Friday, I got to see all my buds from the MTC (Mission Training Center), minus Elder Gibbons. Everyone is doing really well! Elder Soares received a last minute assignment by the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Araujo from the Area Seventy took his place. We were disappointed at first, but he turned out to be WAAYYY good. This guy is a legend. He served as a mission president in Portugal in the 90´s. Before he got there, the record for baptisms in one month was 17!!! After a little while, he had one month where they baptized 250!!!!! He said the average for his 3 years was 117 a month. To give some comparison, the northeast missions of Brazil are some of the highest baptizing missions in the world with the record of 450in one month in Recife, but now they have an average of 250. WE here in Londrina last month baptized 44. In conclusion, the dude was a monster of a mission president. Lisbon, Portugal will be getting a temple, too.

Elder Araujo is super funny, big and kinda scary. He shared many, many stories, but I don’t have a lot of time to share them. However, one that I liked went like this: There was a set of elders and they knocked on one door, and an old man was clipping his hedges, and then he ran after them with his clippers. The next day, one of the elders was transferred and the elder that remained was given a greeny to be his new companion. To show him what it’s like, as a joke, he went back to this man’s house and let his new companion knock on the door. The man came out, and after a pause, started crying. Turns out his wife had died the day before, and that night after he had chased the missionaries away, he had a dream and in the dream his wife said, “The Lord sent you two of his representatives to help comfort you, and you chased them away. What were you thinking?” Then he prayed to the Lord that He would send them back. The rest is history. He ended up getting baptized.

Lots of stories like that.

Then he asked a question: “Is God happy with our mission?” We all thought, then shook our heads. Then he said, “Indeed He is happy, but He´s not satisfied.” He offered us some suggestions. He told us we are lacking courage, and also that we need to heed the prophet’s call of getting more missionaries, which means we need to baptize more willing young men between 17-24. Which reminds me: Last January I baptized a young man named Jefferson along with his family, I got news last week that he has sent in his papers!!!!!! There is no greater satisfaction than that.

One last thing; at the Christmas Conference we had on Saturday, we had a cake contest. Everyone else made temples with their cakes. We made a butterfly.

I’m out of time now.

Elder Titus

Our awesome butterfly cake!

Monday, December 6, 2010

There is a ton of advertising for the open house . . .

Beautiful sunset over Arapóngas

Read about what happened to missionaries walking by this church . . .

Well, today we have a “p-morning,” because “p-day” will end at 1:00, due to the conferences this week. Thursday all the missionaries serving in Paraná (ie, from Londrina, Apucarana, Maringá, Cascavel and Iguaçu Falls) will go to Londrina to participate in our special Zone Conference, featuring Elder Soares from the Seventies. And then all the missionaries will sleep in Londrina. I have no idea where they will put us all! Then on Friday, it will be our Christmas Conference. I’m stoked, because I´ll get to see a lot of people I haven’t seen since last year’s Christmas Conference, like Elder Burt and Elder Parrott, and a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time, like Elder McCombs, too. Should be fun.

Tomorrow, the missionaries from Arapóngas and some members from here, will go to Apucarana to run one of the days for the open house of the new chapel there. Some missionaries will be outside inviting everyone to go in (it’s smack in the middle of downtown). And some will be running the exposition and getting addresses. The members will be greeting people and showing the chapel. There is a ton of advertising for the open house, it’s in the paper, on the radio, and the TV, not to mention the 10 missionaries in Apucarana constantly talking to everyone on the streets. Should be fun, too! I´ll take pictures.


The church in Apucarana is 50 years old! The church is Arapóngas is 13 years old, and is 20 minutes from Apucarana. What took so long? We found out this last week, thanks to Juan, the guy from Argentina. It turns out that in 1973 there WERE missionaries in Arapóngas. However, one day the missionaries were walking by THIS very church to go home, when all of a sudden people came out of the church and started throwing rocks at the missionaries. Whether they died or not we don’t know. Probably not. But either way, it got back to the First Presidency, and they shut down our church in Arapóngas for about 33 years. This church is 100 yards from our apartment. haha. But, there are no more problems. In that time, everyone was Catholic, so there wasn’t much they could do to go to court with the church. Now-a-days, most people are non-practicing, or evangelical.

Well gotta go!

- Elder Titus