Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Homecoming . . . (more photos at end)

From Derek's mom: I am SO VERY SORRY that I forgot to post this final blog from Derek. I could make a lot of excuses at this point, but let's just say I got distracted. Having Derek home for a few weeks has been wonderful. These last two years were an adventure for both of us, and it was fun spending time with him and getting reaquainted. Oh, the stories he told! And then, all too soon, it was time for him to leave again. Last weekend, we whisked him off to attend college at BYU-Idaho. It has been an amazing three weeks! So, without further delay, here is what he wrote about a week after returning home:

My family at the airport. They got lost, and I had to search the whole place to find them.

A foot inside the front door and I couldn't wait to show them my souveniers! Kind of looks like my suitcase exploded . . .

Well, I would like to formally apologize for putting off my last promised blog. As you all know, I am home and safe. The trip was long, but worth it, and faster than I thought it would be. The layovers were quick. The hardest part was Atlanta to Seattle. Almost too cliche, I arrived in Seattle to find no one waiting for me. But I knew that could not be right, so after walking from one end of the airport to the other end, I finally saw my family. I walked up behind them as they were waiting for me at the wrong escalator (to their dismal surprise), but it was fine. I then got my long awaited French Toast from IHOP. Soooooo good!

Currently, I am adjusting to normal life, it's going better than anticipated, but I'm still not completely used to it. I'm preparing myself to go back to college soon, to tackle some of the biggest obstacles I will face in my life. However I am sure that everything will go fine because I have developed some skills on my mission that will get me through most difficulties with success.

On my mission, I was able to develop my testimony little by little and develop a rock solid foundation upon which I can securely build the rest of my life. I know that in this Church I will be able to find counsel and strength to acheive my goals.

I am so grateful that I served a mission. I have learned and grown so much. My testimony of this gospel is undeniable. I am certain of the things which I have been teaching for the last 2 years. The Gospel is true. I know that when we follow the things that we have been taught, we will be blessed. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, that He suffered for my sins and all the sins of the world, and that through Him we can achieve salvation. I know that God and His Son, Jesus Christ love us just as much as They loved the people when Christ was on the earth, and that Christ leads His church through a prophet today, even Thomas S. Monson. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church of God. It has the priesthood authority of God to administer the ordinances of the Gospel of Christ. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I have read it and prayed about it, and know that it is true. My testimony is a lot more than mere words on a page; it lives inside of me and it's difficult for me to transmit that which I know to be true, to you, a person reading this blog. However, please know that I'm grateful you are reading this, and I hope you can feel a portion of my testimony through these words.

And finally, I want to thank everyone who helped and supported me on my mission. It would have been a lot harder to do it without you guys. And... thanks for reading my blog.

Tchau blog,
Derek Titus

Grandma, Grandpa and Gaylord worried that I hadn't arrived yet. They were told by the Delta airlines people where to wait. But it was the wrong location!



Headed to IHOP!!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My feelings right now are rather tranquil.

Baptism of Raulino and Elaine

Missionary Farewell, Titus Style

Hey, My Favorite Blog Stalkers,

Welp, my last week in the field has arrived. Currently I’m here in an internet place with some bros from my MTC district, Elder Ingram, Elder Parrott and Elder Yuma. We’re just chillin in Londrina, waiting to be interviewed by President. Tomorrow is another day to do whatever and it sounds like me and Elder Barbosa are going to go to Ibipora (my very first area) to see some families since we have the whole day to do nothing.

My feelings right now are rather tranquil. I’m sad and excited at the same time, resulting in quietness. Everyone is kinda quite. There are 15 of us leaving. It was easy and hard to leave Cascavel -- by far was my best area. The members there are what make it happen. I took a lot of pictures, but this computer is so slow -- just to get the baptismal picture of Raulino and Elaine took forever, so for now, that’s all you get. The secretaries called me on Saturday morning telling me that I was going to travel to Londrina on Sunday after church, meaning I would miss lunch and the baptism. But, then they changed it to midnight. So I got to eat a nice lunch and participate in the baptismal service. I said goodbye to Elder de Jesus, my beloved, and Elder Azevedo and Elder Stinocher, and got on the bus to meet Elder Parrott and Elder Pinheiro who were coming up from Foz to Londrina. Usually it sucks to travel during the night, because it’s hard to sleep on buses, because of the bumpy roads, and it doesn’t help when they put us at the back of the bus by the bathroom again, but it was actually okay. We even got a non-stop ride too, cutting the time from 9 hours to 6 hours. That was a blessing. I even slept a little.

It still hasn’t really hit me yet that I’m going home. I know I’m going to, but it doesn’t seem real yet. Kinda like a dream, but I think that when I get on the plane it will begin to sink in.

My mission has been a great adventure, full of experiences with all sorts of emotions. Getting on the plane Wednesday morning I will leave a part of my heart behind. I love Brasil, the countryside and the people, and I would love to stay, but sooner or later we all gotta leave.

Next week I’ll share my testimony because right now, we need to leave. So until then, be comforted by this scripture in 2 Corinthians 7:6 "Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus."

Elder “for the last time” Titus


Monday, August 8, 2011

Fernanda was excited to get baptized, but . . .

One last photo of a pretty Brazilian bug. Jealous?

Baptism! Elder de Jesus, Ragny (Wanderlei's daughter), Wanderlei, Fernanda (niece) and Marlene (and me)

Staring death in the eyes (missionary death, of course).

So here I am, week 103. The last week as a full time missionary. Strange, to say the least. But it’s not over yet!

There is a cool member family in our ward. The father, Wanderlei, used to be a Vice Pastor of a common church here, and they are really involved in missionary work. We have been teaching some of his extended family for quite some time. However, the parents were not divorced from their previous marriages, and live far from the chapel. However, their 12 year old daughter (Fernanda) became interested and went to church. And she has been to church 4 times. We were trying to get her baptized, but the parents were kinda reluctant because of the commitment to go to church every week and some other stuff. Fernanda was excited to get baptized, but then lost her enthusiasm and stopped going to church for a few weeks. Thursday morning we had an idea. We went to Wanderlei’s house and invited them to invite her to family home evening at their house. The following day (with our intention to baptize her on Sunday), they agreed and she went to their home for FHE. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ and laid 5 pamphlets on the floor signifying faith, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We had everyone stand up and said, all those who have faith, take a step forward. Each one moved forward. Those who have repented, take another step forward. Who has been baptized? Go forward, and so on. The whole family and us made it to the end representing the kingdom of God – with the exception of Fernanda. We said, “Hey Fernanda, what happened?” Anyway the activity kinda made it sink into her head the importance of baptism. We asked her if she had a desire to be baptized, and she said “Yes.” Then we invited her to be baptized on Sunday. She stayed in silence, looking at the ground, for like 2 minutes. Finally she said, “I don’t know if my mom is going to let me go to church.” We said, “But if she lets you, would you be baptized on Sunday?” And she said, “Yes.”

The next day we planned to talk to the mom, but no one was sure if she would be home. We were on our way there, when I decided to stop and pray. I asked that everything would go well; that we would find the mom at home and that she would be supportive. Almost immediately, as I ended the prayer, Wanderlei called me telling us that the mom was at home waiting for us, and was going to be supportive. We got there and she was really chill about it all. She signed the form, and all went well.

After the baptism on Sunday, a bird flying overhead pooped on my arm. Nice.

Rauling and Elaine got sick, but they are excited to get baptized this Sunday. She even came to church in a dress, which was a first.

In other news: I go home next week.

Elder Titus

Bird droppings adorn my arm. I'm definitely feelin' the love.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The lesson was waaayyy spiritual . . .

Streets of Santa Cruz prepped for paving. Elder de Jesus dodges a bullet.


My keyboard is moist . . . why is it so humid??? It has been raining non-stop for the last 4 days!!! But, in short, my complaining will have an end.

We had a very good week this week despite the rain and the lack of baptizing. However the mission has been on fire. We baptized 150 people in the month of July!!! The small zone of Cascavel baptized 10.

For many months we have been teaching a family where everyone is a member of the Church, except the dad, Josmar. He used to be really Catholic. He is not legally divorced from his past wife because she didn’t wanna sign the form. However, he called her this week and told her that he is following a new religion and wants to get baptized -- but he needs to get married first, and for that to happen she needs to sign the paper. And she agreed!!! Unfortunately it’s gonna take about another month or so for the marriage paperwork to come through. I won’t be here, but that’s fine.

With the division of the ward we got a new investigator family; Raulino and Elaine. They are what we call “eternal investigators.” They are a middle aged couple. Raulino is the husband, and wants to be baptized. However, Elaine was a little hard hearted, being a practicing Catholic, but finally, finally, she got an answer to her prayers. We did their baptismal interview Sunday after church (without them knowing) and they are both ready, but we didn’t mark a date. We went to their house in the afternoon and taught them about the atonement with the Bishop (he is their neighbor) and committed them to stop drinking coffee forever and being baptized on Saturday. The lesson was waaayyy spiritual, as we read Luke 22 about Gethsemane and what we need to do to have Christ’s sacrifice valid in our salvation. Eight months of investigating the church, having the missionaries going to their house almost weekly -- and finally making the decision to follow through now -- MIRACLE!

More good news, the neighborhood of Santa Cruz is getting un-ghettoized!!!! Another miracle! It’s getting PAVED!!!!! (Elder de Jesus in photo above, is dodging a bullet... lol.)

Holy cow, my mission is going by sooo fast.


Elder “while I can” Titus

Monday, July 25, 2011

. . . some trunkiness crept in . . .

Birthday lunch with Irmã Margarete and Irmão Nascimento

Well, the week was interesting as usual. Every week with Elder de Jesus in Cascavel is interesting. Nothing bland. Ever.

The beginning of the week was going well. We saw a dead guy laying in his driveway with a small black bag over him, in the pouring rain surrounded by cops, with his family screaming nearby. That was fun . . . pretty sure he was the victim of a gang drive-by shooting. I’m gonna miss my ghetto “free pass” aka “missionary name tag.” We’re pretty tight with the gangsters here.

William and Sabrina were excited for baptism, especially William. João (my Mini-Me) was excited as well. However, on Thursday we had to leave to go to Foz do Iguaçu for zone conference on Friday. We got back Friday at midnight. Zone conference was fun. Me and Elder Parrott gave our “last testimony.” It was intense. I almost cried, but then I didn’t. Unfortunately, by the time we got back, William and Sabrina had gone downhill due to lack of follow up, and didn’t get baptized. João had quite the adversity to deal with, but came off conqueror. His dad gave a little battle, saying he was kinda young, but I told him about me and then he said it was up to João and João said it is was he wanted. Awesome kid!

My birthday was okay. It’s kinda hard to have a great birthday as a missionary, but I don’t really care. In 3 weeks I’ll celebrate it with some Pizza Hut and a DQ Blizzard . . . ughhhhh soooo goooood!!!!

The potential for a major set-back for me occurred Sunday night when we went to a member’s house with the intention of scheduling a Family Night with them for Tuesday. When we walked into their home, they were watching the last 5 kilometers of the last day of the Tour de France. (I have been trying so hard to stay focused on missionary work these last few weeks – even to the extent that I forbade my mother from giving me any news about the Tour. Do you realize how hard that is for me? Focus. Focus. Focus!) I can’t believe Cadel Evans won. But whatev. Anyway, some trunkiness crept in as I explained to them why I was on the verge of hitting the TV. But I’m better now. I took a picture with him (below).

Well, gots to go,

Elder Titus
Me and Cadel Evans, winner of the 2011 Tour de France

Monday, July 18, 2011

He really, really, reminds me of me when I got baptized

Ugh, unfortunately I am not going to baptize consecutively my last 7 weeks. Fernanda didn’t get baptized this past weekend, but this coming weekend is looking excellent. Alex took two friends to church, Sabrina and William (siblings) and they are going to get baptized on Sunday.

This week we were given a less active member reference for Irmã Marina. She has a son who is not baptized yet. His name is João. He is nine years old and is a super cool kid. He really, really, reminds me of me when I got baptized. I was baptized when I was nine years old, also. I don’t remember why, but for some reason, my mom was not going to church at the time and when I turned eight, she didn’t push me to get baptized. She said it was my choice and I needed to make that decision when I was ready. So, I waited, and then at nine, I was taught by the missionaries and chose to be baptized. However, unlike me, João has a Catholic dad who we still have to go through for him to get baptized on Saturday, but I know that everything will turn out just fine.

Unfortunately, the computer lab lady is going to lunch in 1 minute and I have to log out.

I’m doing great. Every day that passes, I’m less trunky. Elder de Jesus is helping a ton.


Elder Titus

PS: And, sorry, I forgot my camera cable, so no pictures today. I know, I know, I’m lame.

PPS: 4 weeks! . . . hahaha

Monday, July 11, 2011

Baptism of Suzana

The bishop of the new Coqueiral Ward, Bishop Marcos Tasso.

"O Dedão," which translates to "The Thumb."

Yo yo yo 5 to go,

This week was boa to say the least. Let’s start with Suzana’s baptism. I think she was one of the most elect people I’ve taught so far on my mission -- especially when it comes to “feeling” the Spirit at church. She said that she got goose bumps during the closing prayer at Sacrament Meeting and that the entire time it felt like she was floating. She told us last Sunday that the sooner she could get baptized, the better. Now that’s something every missionary dreams of hearing. Wish granted to her. Her boyfriend baptized her and I confirmed her.

Other news: Cascavel 1st Ward has officially divided!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW! If that is not an achieved goal in a missionary’s life, I don’t know what is. Elder de Jesus and I will probably be part of the new ward since it’s in our area, named Coqueiral Ward. (coke eh ral - roll the “r” once – it’s a type of coconut tree, but also the name of a neighborhood here). Everyone is excited, except the young women who were crying during the entire Sacrament Meeting. Oh, and one 15 year old young man, too, was sobbing. hahahaha. The Lord is doing a marvelous work and a wonder here in Cascavel. 1st Ward had an attendance of 198 and 3rd Ward had an attendance of 126! Usually it’s around 95. That will make 3 wards with an attendance of 100 each, which is a really good headcount for Brazil. In 3rd Ward, Elder de Souza and Elder Ealey baptized a lady whose daughters have been members for 14 years, but has always denied baptism for herself. It has been and continues to be fun to watch miracles happen here in Cascavel. I remember in Apucarana everyone were rivals it seemed like, (the members) completely un-united, and the Lord did not bless them. But here in Cascavel, everyone has one thought and one mind: growth. And the Lord is on our side. President Tavares made a goal for the mission that every companionship can baptize this month of July, due to having 5 weekends. This is a goal that has never been achieved in our mission. Not to brag, but Cascavel Zone was the first zone to have all its companionships baptize. Boo ya! I’m so grateful to be a part of this work! It is epic. We’re growing, and growing faster than ever.

Tcau, later,
Elder Titus

Monday, July 4, 2011

5 more “Tchau's” until “Oi!”

Elvis, Elder de Jesus, Alex, me

Finally we had some success. 9 days ago we were looking for a “less active” member named Elvis, but he wasn’t home. Instead, we found his 14 year old younger brother Alex, who was kinda intimidating with his gang style earrings, but I felt strongly that he would be baptized. So we taught him, and he became interested in our message and accepted baptism for July 3rd. Last Saturday we taught him and Elvis. Alex read the parts of the Book of Mormon that we asked him to read, and he prayed too. Sunday, the two of them took a long bus ride and went to church. Sunday night we taught him about the “Word of Wisdom.” He doesn’t use any of those substances, in fact he has a dislike for coffee, which is hard to find in Brasil. We taught him everyday this last week and he passed the baptismal interview on Saturday and was baptized on Sunday. He even took out his earrings.

There is a recently returned missionary in our ward named Eduardo, who is dating a non-member named Suzanna. She will probably get baptized this week too.

The weather has been pretty nasty here lately. Tuesday it frosted!!! Everyone was going nuts. Then it rained 4 days straight, but it wasn’t horribly cold. And now it’s back to cold, but this morning it didn’t freeze. However, it’s supposed to tomorrow. Keep in mind that we don’t have heaters and the walls are made of hollow brick, and I sleep on a foam mattress on the floor because there are only 5 beds, and 6 elders. It’s okay though -- in just a few weeks I’ll be in my OWN bed.

Today is officially transfer day. We lost Elder Griner and Elder de Oliveira. Elder Stinocher and Elder Guimarães will be arriving soon. Today also marks the official 6 week countdown until teleportation back to real life.

Only 5 more blogs too! I hate to say this but, I’m so happy about that! I’m not a big blogger and will probably never do this again. However, I hope you all have enjoyed them -- there are only a few more to go!

5 more “Tchau's” until “Oi!”


Elder “I’m not thaaaaat trunky” Titus

Monday, June 27, 2011

Did anyone think that it could reach 40 degrees in Brazil?

Well this week sure was interesting, to say the least. So, transfers are next week, however, we had an emergency transfer in the mission and a few missionaries in our zone were switched around -- including my companion, Elder Cavalcanti. Wednesday afternoon, we got the call from President Tavares informing Elder Cavalcanti that he would be transferred to Apucarana. He was told he would be leaving Thursday morning along with Elder Mortensen and Elder Tew. Elder Mortensen was made zone leader in the Presidente Prudente zone, and Elder Tew went to an area called Cia Norte. Thursday afternoon Elder Ribeiro arrived from Apucarana to be comps with Elder K. Santos. And then Thursday night at 10:00 PM, Elder de Souza and Elder de Jesus arrived. Elder de Souza will be district leader and comps with Elder Ealey and Elder de Jesus will be my new companion, and will be trained as a new zone leader. For those that don’t remember, I trained Elder de Jesus, opening Arapongas last November and we stayed together for 3 transfers. He then spent one transfer with Elder Yuma in Marilia, then 2 in Tupã. In Tupã, he became a trainer, and district leader. He has been in the mission for 8 months, and is already a zone leader. Needless to say, he´s good. Duh, he had an amazing trainer. hehehe. President Tavares called him to congratulate him and asked if we had argued at all in Arapongas, and he said no. Then president said, “Well, I think it’s about time then.” Haha, not gonna happen. Well, looks like he´ll be my last companion on the mission to kill me. I’m way excited to work now! He´s excited and ready to push out of me all that I have left to give.

So there is a huge cold front that is hitting Cascavel right now. Did anyone think that it could reach 40 degrees in Brazil? Well, it did. And tomorrow it’s supposed to hit freezing. Saturday night we took a little rain bath and right now I’m kinda sick, but I’m okay. Cold weather in Brazil has power to condemn, because 50 active members didn’t go to church on Sunday. Silly fubecas.

Well, my fingers are freezing to the keyboard. Tchau!

Elder Titus

Monday, June 20, 2011

-- it is an incredible feeling.

Ahhh, soccer!

A partial view of the city of Cascavel, with our apartments off to the right hand side

Elder K. Santos and I found a fresh water spring!


Unfortunately, not much has been going on lately. Elder Cavalcanti is still sick, but we're doing okay. President Tavares said that due to his sickness he can’t be zone leader anymore because our numbers are really low, so it’s certain that I will get a new companion here in 2 weeks. I told president that for this last transfer, I want a companion who will push me until my last ounce of energy is gone. It’s so weird to say that. I never imagined this day would actually come where I would be confronting the dreaded "last transfer," but alas, all must go through this process. Getting ready to go home definitely has some mixed feelings. I’m excited to go home and all, because I haven’t seen my family or friends, or ridden my bike, or eaten American food in a long, long, long, long time. But at the same time, it’s sad and can even bring me to tears thinking that I will never be able to represent the Lord as a full time missionary again -- that I will never be able to wear my name tag. But it’s part of the deal. Anyway, I don’t really know why I’m writing this, I still have a lot of time left on my mission. OK, well, maybe not a LOT.

Nothing is really new here, except just one thing. I found out that Jefferson, the first person I baptized, got his mission call! He’s going to MANAUS!!! That is up in the Amazon and maybe he’ll be baptizing some Lamanites. It’s interesting because his cousin, Edson, who always used to help us out when we were serving in Ibipora, is also serving in the Manaus mission. Jefferson leaves July 5th, so unfortunately, I won’t be able to see him before he leaves. I’m so excited for him! That news has brought some of the best feelings that I think a missionary can feel on his mission. It’s such an awesome experience to bring a person to the waters of baptism – but to know that same person is now going to go out into the world to teach and to baptize -- it is an incredible feeling.

Well, I’m going to the church to play some ping pong with Elder Griner.

Elder Titus

Monday, June 13, 2011

I found him to be a very humble, and nice man.

Can you say "YIKES!"

Out in the savage jungle with my crew. (And glad the snakes are hanging on the wall at the zoo . . . I hope. . .)

Well, sorry for the lack of blogging last week. We were using the internet at the bus station while we were waiting for our bus to Londrina for the zone leader council. We got into Londrina late Monday night, had the meeting all day Tuesday, then left early Wednesday morning and got back late-ish that night.

When we got to Londrina we went to drink some açaí juice, like normal, but there was a really black guy there and the juice lady pointed to us and said to him, “Their names are elder, too!” Turns out the man was named Helder, a pastor from Angola. We got to talking quite a bit, drinking our juice together. He will be in and out of Brazil for 4 hours, studying theology and preaching. I found him to be a very humble, and nice man. He spoke English well, but we opted to speak in Portuguese (Angola’s national language is Portuguese). Although he had a different accent, we understood each other perfectly. He had no intention of bible bashing (thankfully!), and was very professional, which is very unlike pastors in Brazil. Some other elders showed up and Elder Cavalcanti went to talk to them and I kept talking to Helder. Our conversation turned to our church and I taught him the first lesson in 3 minutes and spent more time on the Book of Mormon, to which he gratefully accepted. He seemed very interested, and he said that when he goes back to Angola he will search out the missionaries and investigate the church.

Like normal I’m out of time, but those moments with Helder made my week and I thought I would share that story with you all.

2 weeks ago we went to a zoo, where we saw some freaky anaconda skins (how’d you like to have one of those slide into your sleeping bag with you?). We also spent some time in a grove-like area and took a replica picture of the first vision. It was quite fun.

Elder Titus
This was actually a great experience, and a photo that I will treasure, for reasons that are difficult to explain.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The zone is immaculate and enthusiastic

Entertainment on a recent bus ride.

A local park in Cascavel.

Our Zone: (back row) me, Elder Mortensen, Elder Tew, Elder L. Shaw (front row) Elder Ealey, Elder K. Santos, Elder Cavalcanti, Elder de Oliveira, and Elder Azevedo (Elder Griner wasn't there that day).

Wow I’m tired!!!! Tired of sitting around! So, (name withheld) is notorious for being ill, and he is having a bunch of problems lately; fever, body pain, swollen throat . . . the doctor told him that he needed to stay at home for 4 days (that was on Saturday). I´ve never had to stay home before, it sucks. Needless to say I’m catchin’ up on some reading. Nonetheless, the future looks bright as he seems to be anxious to work tomorrow.

President Tavares came to Cascavel on Saturday and did interviews. It was cool to be on the “inside.” The zone is immaculate and enthusiastic, and many baptisms await us.

I forgot to mention that my adopted brother´s mission finally ended. Remember Elder Galdino? I’ve mentioned him before in previous blogs. I got an email from him today and he sounds like he´s doing great. Elder Villela was also in the group of elders that was recently released (he was my companion from a year ago, in Bauru), and Elder Carvalho, my old zone leader for 9 months. All became great friends. The mission will miss them, but life goes on. Soon it will be my turn to leave.

In other news, my son, Elder de Jesus is training! I’m a grandpa!! He´s also a district leader now.

The number of missionaries in our mission is 178. Just 4 months ago it was 135. Brazil is responding to a Prophet’s call.

The division of our ward here in Cascavel was approved by the First Presidency!!! It will divide in July or August!!!!

Well, gotta go. Falou!
Elder Titus

Monday, May 23, 2011

We had our first missionary scandal . . .

This past week has been okay. Elder Cavalcanti has been suffering a bit from high blood pressure and migraine headaches, so we didn’t work as hard as in previous weeks. Hope we can ramp it back up soon.

The visit with the lawyer couple I told you about last week was cool, but they're pretty devout Catholic. We hope that one day they will go to church, and then all should change.

We went to teach English at a special English school called “Wizard,” which is the biggest chain of English schools in Brazil. It’s owned by a Latter-day Saint guy. We sat in front of their 12 teachers and answered their questions. It was fun. They all spoke English very well. They asked questions about religion, and what we think about Brazil, and what it’s like in the States. They even made us some apple pie and it was pretty good for not being American!

I cannot imagine how difficult it must be to be a zone leader over a large area, like Bauru, or Marilia. Thankfully, it's not nearly as hard when the area is smaller, like here in Cascavel, especially when all of your elders are obedient. However, yesterday we had our first missionary scandal unravel. It was interesting how Heavenly Father used us as instruments in His hands to figure out what was going on, and how to resolve it. He put us where we needed to be, at exactly the perfect moment, and helped us ask exactly what we needed to ask, in order to be told some news that was NOT good. But it needed to be discovered, and handled, and it was. It turns out there was an inappropriate relationship going on. Because of divine assistance, the issue was dealt with and said elder is headed to Londrina today to talk with President Tavares. Today was transfer day, which made it a little easier. On the flip side of this ordeal, we’re excited to be getting a lot of new missionaries, and as far as I know, there are no problematic ones. We’re super excited for the month of June

Last p-day I fulfilled another mission long dream. We went to the lake and we saw Capivara -- the world’s largest rodents!!!! They’re pretty awesome! They’re like guinea pigs on steroids!!! But, they were tame and lazy.

Well, tchau!
Elder Titus

Monday, May 16, 2011

The outside of our apartment in Cascavel

Awesome sunset!


We had a quality week this week! Principally, because of the news that we get one more companionship of missionaries! They will be arriving in Cascavel next week. That will make 3 companionships in our ward. This is mainly because of the preparations being made for the ward being divided. President Tavares has been very impressed with the work that has been going on here in Cascavel. Elder Cavalcanti and I, had a meeting with the stake president last week and he is also very excited to work hard, and work together with us. When we told the bishop that one more companionship was coming, he hugged us really tightly. We will be the only ward in the mission to have 3 companionships.

We are currently teaching Beatriz´s daughter, Laurissa, and we are doing our best to get her ready to be baptized this Sunday. There is also a lawyer couple that is interested in our message. There is a member of the church who works for them as a maid, cleaning their house, and she asked for our assistance because the lady lawyer has cancer. Elder Cavalcanti went there and gave her a blessing, and two weeks later her doctor told her the cancer is gone. We’re going there tonight to see how she is feeling, and to find out if they would like to hear our lessons.

Things are going great! I apologize for the short blogs lately, but I’m using a lot of my p-day internet time to work on my college registration -- so please forgive me!!!! Hopefully I'll have it figured out soon. (And yes, I have permission!)

Have a great week!

Elder Titus

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It was something I will never forget.

Yours truly.

Sister Tavares, President Tavares and me. I just can't stop smiling!

Elder Galdino, my adopted brother.

Some of my buddies from the MTC (left to right) Elder Burt, Elder Titus, Elder Parrott and Elder Yuma

Hey blogger buddies -- I only have a couple of minutes, but I wanted you to know

Surprise!!! I went to IGUAÇÙ FALLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was a surprise for all of us! On Monday we had a zone leader council meeting, and instead of traveling to Londrina, President Tavares held the meeting in the City of Foz do Iguaçú, and for p-day, he took us to the falls. It was SO COOL! Every elder that comes to this mission wants to go there, but it seldom happens. Finally I got my chance and was able to put my face in those classic pictures!! It was something that I will never forget. It's so massive! There are multiple falls, and all of them are huge and absolutely beautiful.

On Sunday we had the baptism of a lady named Beatriz. She is the fiancé of a member named Adenildo. The baptism was cool. It was funny though, because she was sooo nervous to get baptized and was even trembling in the water, but when she came out she said, "Wow, that was fast!" How tight! (que massa!)

Believe it or not, I'm out of time -- but hope ya enjoy the pictures.

Elder Titus

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

. . . and many were the words which he spoke unto us.

Elder McCombs gets a new blanket

Elder Thiago (zone leader from Iguaçu) drinking LOTS of açaì juice


At the moment, I’m quite dead. Elder Cavalcanti and I, just got back this morning from a zone leader meeting in Londrina. The bus was nice, but the ride was horrible. It stopped every 20 minutes, in every little city, causing the trip to take 9 hours!! We left last night at 8:30 PM, and drove all night, and most of the morning. I got the last seat on the bus, right next to the bathroom, of which everyone and their mom used, consequently, I didn’t sleep very much.

BUT, the meeting was good. We were with Elder Araujo, of the Seventy. He was on special assignment from the First Presidency. He talked about how us zone leaders need to step up our game and not focus so much on doing divisions, unless our area is exemplary first. He also told us how leading by example is a lot more important than leading by words, because we´ll be able to show our zones that it’s possible to meet the goals of the mission . . . and many were the words which he spoke unto us.

At the end, he shared a story about when President Kimball came to Brazil. Elder Araujo was a missionary at the time. President Kimball was there to dedicate the Sao Paulo temple, and Elder Araujo was chosen to help escort President Kimball. One day, President Kimball was at the mission president’s house, taking a nap and the mission president had to leave, so he asked the missionaries to keep an eye on Presdient Kimball, and check up on him every now and then. Elder Araujo said that he went to check on him and he carefully opened up the door and saw President Kimball sleeping on the ground due to his back problems. He said that he had the greatest desire just to hug him and kiss him, but finally just shut the door. He went back outside and fell asleep on a chair. A while later, he was awakened by President Kimball, as he put his hands on Elder Araujo’s face. Then President Kimball hugged him and gave him a kiss, and then said “Lets go study the scriptures Elder.” He told him to open up to Alma 29:4, which reads “I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.” Then President Kimball said, “Was it not your desire to hug me and kiss me?”

Crazy. Then Elder Araujo told us that we need to have “just*" desire in our lives, and the Lord will grant them unto us.

Elder Titus

*just: morally correct (done, pursued, or given in accordance with what is morally right)

Monday, May 2, 2011

(from mom) Derek warned me last week that he might not get to a computer today due to a zone leader conference in Londrina (which is a 6 hour bus ride for him). But, two weeks ago was similar, and he got a chance to pop into an internet place for a few minutes on Tuesday -- so, I guess it wouldn't hurt to check back tomorrow evening and see if he was able to send something. As always, thanks for checking his blog!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Everyone knew about the baptisms, except the people who were to be baptized!

Note from mom: Last week Elder Titus didn't send his blog on Monday, as he usually does, and I left a note that said he had not blogged -- however, he sent it the next day. So, if you missed reading last week's post, be sure to check it out. It's a good one!

Easter lunch!

Baptism of Vitoria and Jennifer

Awesome birthday cake we made for Jennifer

Wow we had a GREAT week!!

President Tavares challenged the Londrina mission to have the best weekend that our mission has ever had, and it happened! We set a mission record of 38 baptisms in one week! Guess what the best part of that is? Seven of those came from the tiny little zone of Cascavel, and five of those came from me and Elder Cavalcanti. There is a city 2 hours away from here called Palotina that has a chapel, but no missionaries, and they wanted an elder to go there because they had some non-members who were attending church. So Elder Cavalcanti went there with the stake president and walked away with 3 baptisms. Everyone knew about the baptisms, except the people who were to be baptized! The stake president told the branch that they were going to have a baptism that weekend. So, the branch president called everyone and they filled the font. Then he walked into the house of the people who had been attending church, carrying 3 white baptismal suits and they accepted baptism. Amazing faith. Crazy!

Meanwhile, I stayed in Cascavel where we are teaching a family of five, but the parents aren’t married, and it’s taking forever to get it ready. They have 2 daughters that are baptismal age, Jennifer and Vitoria, who were so excited to get baptized on the 30th, but I asked the family, “Why wait until the 30th? Let’s do it this Sunday!” And we did. We are working hard with the parents to get everything ready so they can join their daughters next month. The baptismal service for the girls was really spiritual and everyone was crying. It was also Jennifer’s 11th birthday and we made her a cake. She told us that it was her best birthday ever. ahhh.

Well my time on the computer is even shorter now because I have to pass the numbers on to the secretaries, amongst other things.

Have a great week!
Elder Titus

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

. . . the winds of change shifted again!

Top row left to right: Elders Finato, Edimicio, Griner, Ghormley.
Bottom row left to right: Elders Ealey, Titus, Cavalcanti, de Oliveira

Olá friends,

I’m here in Cascavel. This week has been one of the most hectic weeks of my mission. So last week, after arriving at the bus station in Londrina with Elder McCombs, I called the Assistants to the President and asked where we would be sleeping, and they didn’t know, but said they were on their way. Then Elder Ayres gets all excited and asked me if I had heard the news. I said no, then he said, “Cascavel is no longer a district and because of the arrival of new missionaries, it has turned into a zone!!!” I said “Yea! Cool!” Then he waited a few seconds and said “and you have been called to be a zone leader!!!” . . . Well, so that’s probably some of the craziest news I’ve heard on my mission. I was hoping NOT to be one because it's tough work! But now that I’ve been called, I’m committed to give 110%. I’m zone leaders with Elder Cavalcanti (cav-aoo-cahn-chee) who is in my “leaving the mission group” (we all leave on August 17th). There are only 4 companionships in our zone, but we are united, strong and determined to baptize... a lot.

After that, we met up with some other missionaries and headed to the house we would be sleeping at. Just outside the bus station was a tribe of Indians, cooking dinner over a fire and making baskets to sell. We approached them and got to know them. They speak Portuguese and a native language called Guaraní. They are pretty civilized, but still live in villages. They are even Christian. So we took the opportunity to teach them about the restoration. They liked the part about the Book of Mormon, but unfortunately they don’t know how to read. Dang it! I wanted to baptize a Lamanite!

The next day we went to the trainers meeting and the assistants were busy with something else, so President Tavares chose me to translate for him, which wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time on a large scale basis. There were some 50 missionaries there, but it was really fun.

Then we had an 8 hour bus ride to Cascavel. Cascavel is a cool city, modern and clean, with about 300,000 people. There are 2 strong wards. Our ward is the biggest ward in the mission, with an average attendance of 190 members,and they are making plans to divide the ward, so everyone is stoked to work hard. The members are super nice. I wish I could talk about the investigators we have here, but I’m short on time. Needless to say we don’t knock doors here because we get a lot of member references.

On Saturday, the assistants came here to do some splits with me and Elder Cavalcanti. It went well. I went with Elder Ayres, and it was cool. He’s a great missionary! He has an uplifting personality, and is really excited.

On Monday morning we got a ride with President Tavares to the city of Iguaçu Falls for zone conference. It’s another 2 hours away. Let me say that the city of Iguaçu Falls is the hottest, most humid place that I have ever stepped foot in. Elder Ghormley calls it “a living hell on earth.” It has something to do with the falls and the monstrous lake the dam makes. They say it changed the climate forever. Either way, lets just say I’m glad I’m not serving there.

On the way back we took a charter bus, and just outside of Iguaçu Falls the cops stopped us to do a drug test because it’s on the border of Argentina and Paraguay, and there are no border police, so it’s a port for drug trafficking. A really mean looking cop opened the door and unleashed his German Shepherd, and he went running and sniffing through the bus and the people, including getting a good whiff of me in a strange place. Thankfully there weren’t any drugs, and we were let free. Had there been drugs all of the passengers would have been taken to the police station and interviewed.

So, here were are now. Currently Elder Cavalcanti is in another city that doesn’t have missionaries, but has a branch, called Palotina (shut down by my trainer Elder da Silva.....). I guess they are preparing some people to be baptized!!

Well, I wrote a lot! So hope you have a great week -- more details next week!!!

Elder Titus

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sorry . . . again. No email from Elder Titus. And no hints about what is happening from other missionary moms. Let's hope we get to hear from him next week. My guess is that for some reason, he was very busy today. Thanks for reading! And check back next week. -- Mom

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Winds of Change are Blowing!

Did you know that the Tropic of Capricorn passes right by Arapongas?

This is the entrance into Arapongas. A fitting photo for my last day here.

Sorry for not writing last week. I was at a leadership conference in Londrina and we only had time to write a few sentences. However, if it helps you feel better, I can say that it was a very spiritually uplifting meeting.

So, I just found out that I’m getting transferred!! I’m going to Cascavel! (Titus Pronunciation Guide: cahs-cuh-veu), which translated means “Rattlesnake.” Yes! Arapongas has been good to me but it’s time to move on to greener pastures. The weirdest thing is that I think it will be my LAST AREA, seeing that I only have 3 more transfers to go! That’s a crazy thought. This coming Sunday marks 4 months until I go home. It’s passing by too fast. There’s still way too much to get done!!!
Anyway, so there are also a ton of changes happening in my current district. Elder J. Lima is going to take my place as district leader (he only has 9 months left!). Elder McCombs is going to TRAIN!!!! And Elder Morris is going to take my spot with Elder Siqueira. They are brothers since I trained them both. Elder Morris is also now turning "senior." I’m so happy for him. I still remember when I first got him. He has changed so much. However, I still think that people from Mississippi shouldn’t speak Portuguese.... haha. It confuses the Brazilians.

Well my friends, I have to go pack and get ready for my trip. First I’m going with Elder McCombs to Londrina, then I’ll be meeting up with Elder Finato to go from Londrina to Cascavel, a stones throw away -- just a 7 HOUR BUS RIDE!!!!!! It’s the second southern-est city in our mission, an hour north of Iguaçu Falls (a 7th Wonder of the World), bordering Paraguay and Argentina.

Elder Titus
Check this out! I have my own line of jeans and didn't even know it!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sorry, Elder Titus did not email us today. I heard from another Missionary Mom that there are 24 incoming elders from the States, arriving tomorrow (Tuesday, 4/5) and the Londrina Mission is opening up 6 new areas. If that is correct, then I'm sure the existing elders were very, very busy today. With all the Visa troubles, this is very exciting news! Be sure to check back next Monday and hopefully we'll get some details! Thanks for reading! (mom)

Monday, March 28, 2011

His countenance has completely reversed . . .

Making a phone call from Apacurana (the "Hat" capitol of Brazil)

Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high . . .ok, maybe not.

Highlights of the past week:

I did a division with Elder Shaddick in his area in the city of Apucarana (“Hat Capital of Brazil,” hence the hat pay phone), and it rained all day and we got soaked. During the day we taught some random elderly lady who refused to understand baptism*. I told her baptism means a remission of sins, and asked her if she thought children have sins, to which she said “No, no.” But then she said, “Wait, yes they do! Just by breastfeeding they are sinning!” And I was like, “What?? How?” And she said, “Yeah, a child sins by breastfeeding.” She couldn’t be dissuaded, nor could she explain why she felt that way. It was so frustrating. Then Elder Shaddick said, “Wait! Did Jesus have sins? Didn’t Jesus breastfeed?” She kind of just stopped talking. Then we prayed with her, and left. That was such a random lesson.

Later that night on the way home, we were in the middle of nowhere, stopped because of a slow moving train in our way. That’s when I decided to fulfill a lifelong dream. I ran next to the train and grabbed onto the ladder and rode it for like 50 yards, then jumped off. I did that like 5 times. It was soooo fun, even at 5 mph!!!! (Good thing my mom´s 6000 miles away, right? No pictures though, sorry.)

Elder Siqueira is doing good, but his feet are horrible, covered in blisters. He´s a real trooper though, usually only complains 2 or 3 times a day. Unfortunately, that’s kind of what he gets for bringing 2 pairs of new shoes to start off his mission, especially in an area where we walk a lot. Been there, done that.

That guy who got baptized last week has changed a lot. His countenance has completely reversed from being weighed down to now being bright and smiling. That’s what the gospel has the power to do in people’s lives.

Well, gotta run!

Elder Titus

*Our belief in baptism, as explained in the "4th Article of Faith": "We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."

Baptism by immersion is a symbol of the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. In a similar way, it represents the end of our old life of sin and a commitment to live a new life as a disciple of Christ. The Savior taught that baptism is a rebirth. When we are baptized we begin the process of being born again and become spiritual sons and daughters of Christ.

Little children do not need to be baptized and are redeemed through the mercy of Jesus Christ. They are not baptized until they reach the age of accountability, which is eight years of age.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I could feel the Spirit guiding me . . .

A porcelain resting spot perfectly placed for the weary traveller.

We stumbled onto this photogenic little stream.

Elder Siqueira next to the stream -- notice the left bank, and how high the water has been after a storm.

This week was rather normal as far as a week in the life of a missionary goes; not super interesting, but always a little different than the previous weeks.

Elder Jackson got a package from his family. They sent him some “curry” mix. So on Monday, he made up the sauce and put it with rice. It smelled pretty good, so I ate it – and I actually enjoyed it. However, it was a bit spicy for me. Here´s something I think most people don’t realize; Brazilian food is NOT spicy. Hence, I have not eaten anything spicy for a long time. In conclusion, it made my throat really dry, making it hard to sleep. This condition lasted for 2 nights, with little sleep – which makes for rough days of work. Also, it caused my body to increase in mucus activity, making me kind of congested, and to this day my body is still making excess mucus, all from one plate of curry. Maybe I’m allergic to the stuff?

Friday night I had an intense baptismal interview with one of Elder J. Lima's and Elder Jackson’s investigators. We learn in D&C 20:37* of the requirements of baptism, mainly a broken heart and a contrite spirit, or in other words, humility. Someone during a stake leadership conference asked President Tavares how we will know if a person is truly humble and ready for baptism, and he had an elder stand up and then he had an elderly member stand up and said to us, “Now imagine this full grown man confessing his sins to this boy -- can you get any more humble than that?” Anyway, my interview was an interesting experience, that tried me in an area to which I have little experience, but I could feel the Spirit guiding me during the whole process and it went well, and the investigator was baptized.

Saturday morning we had an appointment with a family that just wanted to teach US, and it was really frustrating. To every question and doubt they expressed, we had an answer in the scriptures. However, they refused to accept anything we said. At one point, he was talking about how the devil can transform himself into an angel of light, and talked about Joseph Smith’s first vision and how that could have happened in that instant. I quickly responded with my testimony about how I know that was not the case, and humbly invited him to do what everyone must do to know, and that is to ask of God. However, he then continued to argue, and for the first time in my mission, I stood up, shook his hand, said “Tchau,” and walked out of his house without saying a prayer. The spirit of contention is of the devil.

Elder Titus

*D&C 20:37 "And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism — All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church."