Monday, February 28, 2011

Yo, Transfer Day AND a Mission Birthday!!!

Another beautiful sunset in Arapongas

The awesome family of Otavio and Nilva, who pretty much make up half the branch.

Marcos Paulo and my cool self.

Last week I hit my 18th month mark! Whoa I’m old!

So, on p-days (Mondays) if you’re going to be transferred, they call you and let you know. Then the transfer takes place on Tuesday. However, missionaries who will be training newbies know about their new calling on Sunday because they have to leave on Monday to go to Londrina. It’s always one of the “Assistants to the President” who calls on Sunday to let you know. Anyway, yesterday I got a phone call from one of the assistants (usually a bad thing), but it wasn’t bad. He called to tell me that I will be TRAINING!!! Yeah baby, 2 times in a row! There are some ups and downs to this. I was hoping that President Tavares was going to call me to be zone leader (hehehe), but he has a bad habit of calling young missionaries to be zone leaders, and instead of rotating them, keeps them in for long periods of time. So my chances are pretty much shot. BUT, in the words of President Tavares, he says that a trainer is more important than a zone leader. So while I’m disappointed that I wasn’t called to be zone leader, I’m honored to be training again. Today at 5:30 PM, I will be going to Londrina with Elder Fonseca (from my district) to pick up our greenies tomorrow. Only 3 elders and 1 sister will be arriving. Oh, and that also means I will be staying here for at least one more transfer which makes it at least 6 months in Arapongas.

In other transfer news: Elder de Jesus will be going to Marilia, and Elder Schirmer will be going to Assis, my previous area. Elder J. Lima will take Elder Schirmer’s place, and ELDER MCCOMBS will be with Elder Shaddick in Apucarana, which is MY DISTRICT!!!! (I’m still the District Leader.)

Other news: unfortunately Olivia, our sweet elderly lady, did not get baptized. On the day of her interview, her children called to tell her not to get baptized, and 2 of her sons who actually live with her told her that if she got baptized, they would abandon her, because she would be cheating on their father (passed away) because he died Catholic. I once again got super frustrated, to the point of ALMOST losing my cool. But I held it in and didn’t commit murder. Speaking of murder, we were almost witnesses to a murder, but I can’t go into details because my mom is reading this too.

On Thursday I did a division with Elder Shaddick in Apucarana. Wow, there are hills there! (As a cyclist, I loved hills -- and feared there were no really good ones to be found while on my mission. However, now that I've found them, I guess it's rather pointless since I have no bike . . .) Oh, and they're cobbled, too!

So I finally read “The Doctrine and Covenants” this past month, in Portuguese and the “The Pearl of Great Price.” I know for myself that they are true books of scripture because I could feel clearly and undeniably the Spirit while I was reading them. I had never read them cover-to-cover before and it was cool to read them quickly and get the story line. I found them to be very interesting, too. Next, I will be reading the “New Testament” and “The Book of Mormon” together (in Portuguese, of course).

Well, tchau!!!

- Elder Titus

Monday, February 21, 2011

...our week improved a lot...

Elder de Jesus and me after a hard day's work

Jackpot! Blueberry jam in Brazil!


So after an incredibly difficult week last week, we decided it was time to switch our area of strength from Flamingos to Sampaio, which is located closer to the church. This last week, we worked really hard to find new investigators, knocking doors, doing street contacts, and talking to some members. We marked 10 people for baptism, taught 33 lessons, received 40 addresses, and had 4 people at Sacrament Meeting. Needless to say, our week improved a lot. We got one false street contact address and when we found the house, the person that lived there doesn’t exist, but the number exists. To our surprise it was a rich house with an interphone as a doorbell. We buzzed, and an older, wealthy man, Mendes, answered. He told us that Roberto didn’t live there. So, we took advantage of the opportunity and asked if he would like to hear our message, and to our surprise he let us in. We taught his family, wife and 10 year old daughter, and they all paid attention -- and my favorite part about these people is that they understood the message, and accepted baptism for the 6th of March. HOWEVER, they didn’t go to church because Mendes has his own business, and sometimes has to work on Sunday mornings. Boo! But, we´re not going to give up.

We also found a sweet elderly lady that came to church, who accepted baptism for this Sunday if everything goes well. Her name is Olivia

In other news, we stopped by an “all natural market,” and they had blueberry jam!!!!! Ohh, heaven in a bottle! For R$ 11.00, I splurged and bought it. Blueberries don’t grow in Brazil, and they are expensive to import, so I have never seen them in Brazil before.

Today we´re going to give up our P-day and go to Londrina to participate in a conference with an Area Seventy, named Elder Tobias. There´s a rumor going around that in April, Elder Neil L. Anderson will be coming to Londrina to talk to us missionaries (it’s been 6 years since an Apostle has set foot in Londrina).

Elder Titus

Monday, February 14, 2011

It’s been an interesting week to say the least.

The Arapongas District

Wooo hooo Baptism!!!!

Friday night the Zone Leaders came in from Apucarana, and Adriano passed the baptismal interview, and was all set to be baptized on Saturday by his neighbor Fapricio. Saturday morning in anticipation of the big event, we went to the chapel and cleaned the baptismal font and filled it so it would be all ready by 5:00. When 5:00 rolled around, no Adriano. I called Fapricio, and he said that Adriano wasn’t at home. Time passed, no Adriano. Evidently, he got cold feet and flaked on us. We talked to him the next day and he acted like everything was normal. To try again, it would require the Zone Leaders hopping on the bus to come all the way out here to do another interview, and for us to fill up the font again, and the other people involved to show up also. Consequently, I’m not going to go through that experience a second time.

Adriano is missing.

Well the weather is definitely summer now. It has rained a little bit every day for the last 2 months -- usually around 4:00 pm, for 20 minutes. Then it gets humid when it all evaporates. Consequently, since Brazilians don’t like rain (or chuva, in Portuguese) everyone hides at home. This was the case when we were going to distribute pass along cards in the Centro on Saturday, but no one went to the Centro because it sprinkled. Also we didn’t have any investigators at church, because it also rained a little bit on Sunday. Wait, that's not totally true -- Elder Schirmer invited a homeless man to church, and he came, but he came asking for 10 reais.

It’s been an interesting week to say the least.

Welp, tchau!
Elder Titus

Monday, February 7, 2011 looks like it’s finally paying off and the Lord is blessing us for our efforts.

View of Londrina from the Mission Office

Londrina Mission Office, featuring our hard working Assistants: Elders Bower, Sorenson & Allred (left to right)

Getting ready to go bushwacking . . . ok, maybe not

So this week was actually quite good. Arapongas has been a very good city to me regarding low rejection rate, but it’s not really a city known for baptizing. We have gone several weeks with few to no investigators at church, which destroys the possibility of one’s progress towards baptism. But finally we got 4 people to come to church with us, and Elder Schirmer got 6. We are teaching a member’s neighbor, named Adriano, who went to church as a young man (now he is 30) and he has great potential to be baptized this Saturday, which will be a great relief because our mission is on fire right now after over a year of mediocrity. In January, the Londrina mission baptized 105. The highest number I remember was January of last year, which was 78, that being the highest high, since usually we´re in the 50´s. That is bad for a mission with 140 missionaries. The hardest thing about this “mile marker” was not being able to participate in it! I wanted to die, but things are looking up. We also had a guy named Anderson go to church, he is a big black guy who got out of prison recently for a mild crime, but is now humble and seeking God. He´s way cool, and way interested, but he needs to get legally married, which he wants to do. We´ve been working harder than ever these last few weeks to be part of the mission success, and it looks like it’s finally paying off and the Lord is blessing us for our efforts.

Last week I went to Apucarana to do a division with Elder Carvalho, the Zone Leader, and Elder Allred the Assistant, and it was way good. We had a lot of success. They initially brought me there because they thought I didn’t mark any baptismal dates, but then they realized the mission numbers had a typo, and I showed them we had actually marked 7 dates, so they felt nice and dumb, but hey, that’s life.

Well. Tchau
Elder Titus

(Mom's comments: In a letter I received from Derek today, he closed with the following: "And yes, looking back I can honestly say it was the best two years of my life. What I didn't know and understand is that it's not always just joy and fun, but the "bad" experiences are just as much, or I think even more important than the "good" ones.")