Here’s what went on this week:
We had a baptism of a man named Joel. He´s 34 but he has some mental disabilities and his thought processes and understanding are that of someone who is 10 years old. We weren’t sure whether or not he really needed to be baptized, but prayed about it and felt like it was the right thing to do. He was really excited to go to church and be baptized. We showed up at his house on Sunday with a member to give him a ride to church but he wasn’t home. The night before, we had drilled into his mind to STAY IN THE HOUSE until Sunday morning! So we were very sad going to church without our baptism. Then, in the middle of second hour of church, he showed up!! He had walked all the way to church by himself (That is a LONG, LONG way. He lives at the very end of our area). We were so happy to baptize him. Teaching him was a really good experience. We had to teach SUPER Simple so that he could understand and remember. It was good for me. I have a picture of the baptism. (I promise people here are excited to be baptized. I don’t know why Brazilians look like they´re attending a funeral in pictures. The only funeral we are attending in this picture is that of his sins. This really is a happy occasion! For some reason they just NEVER smile for photos. But I promise he was very happy to be baptized, haha.)
(Carson couldn't get the picture uploaded - computer problems. He said he would try again next week.)
I have run into a problem, Mom. My pants, are getting tight! If we had bought the size down we were considering, they wouldn’t be fitting anymore. I am definitely gaining a caboose. I am sure it is a combination of all the muscle I am building walking miles and miles a day and then there is all the food... I was doing a ´´leg day´´ in my workouts (squats and things) earlier in this area but not anymore. I really am getting self-conscious and need to be watching what I eat. I don’t want to get fat!! And I NEED my clothes to fit me!!! I will keep you updated. I have made the decision that at lunch with members I will not be taking seconds (or thirds) and will keep doing other exercises to try and stay slim.
Something funny about this area - supposedly it is one of the most dangerous parts of Joao Pessoa, (As Elder Sork’s mom, I don’t find that so “funny”) but as of yet Elder K and I haven’t had any problems with our safety. I know we are protected here. The gangs of the city have some pretty interesting names... one is Al Kaida (not sure if that’s how you spell it) another is Syria, Iraq, Iran, and United States. I guess they heard about the wars going on with our country, and thought it would be cool to use the names, haha. So saying I’m from the United States takes on a double meaning here. We have to be careful!
We found a family in our ward whose son is taking violin lessons. We have lunch with them this week. I’m excited. I’m gonna ask to see his violin - I hope it’s a full size and that maybe I can play it a little bit! I am really worried about all the muscle memory I have forgotten already. I miss playing so much.
Elder Kozlowski kinda raged this week, because after transfers and a long, serious, strong email from President that clearly spoke about the need for change in the mission culture with the ´´so vai´´ (ridiculous baptisms) nothing has changed. Our new district leader still has the same mentality and our Zone Leaders didn’t change. So he’s always frustrated with that. It’s nice to be the junior companion right now because he is the one that has to deal with the heat on the numbers. I am really worried for when the time comes for me to be the senior companion. I am worried for MANY reasons but particularly how I will deal with leaders or maybe a companion that have the mindset of just getting people into the font.
Here is a thought for the week:
In Helaman 12, verse 2 it is talking a little bit about the pride cycle and the patterns of iniquity in the Nephite nation. In this verse Helaman uses the word ´´comfort´´ (in Portuguese, I think it’s the same in English but I’m not sure) When the Nephite people got comfortable, or lazy due to their prosperity, they forgot God’s hand in their lives and all they had achieved and began to boast it was in their own strength which hardened their hearts. Take away lesson: We can’t get comfortable! We can enjoy our blessings, but we need to be very careful to always strive to strengthen our relationship with God. Even when everything is going good, we still have to strive or work at that relationship! A good way to think of it is this: If you aren’t going forward, you´re going backward. I need to remember this, when I have a good day. I can’t get too comfy in my relationships with God but continue in gratitude and doing the things I need to as I seek strength from God.
Now to answer the questions you posed:
1. What things do you remember that Dad and I have tried to teach you – is there anything that you now find yourself thinking about and helping you make decisions while you are away from home?
Your phrase you always share ´´remember who you are, what you stand for and who is waiting for you to come home´´ is one that I was always appreciative of, but has gained more meaning to me as time goes on. It has always had literal meaning to me, as your son, but more important is the spiritually meaning in this phrase that more and more I am coming to understand. We are children of God. As a missionary I represent his son Jesus Christ. I know that one day I will get to return home to live with them again. This phrase takes on even more meaning in influencing my actions here and will continue to influence me throughout my life.
2. What is it in life that has brought you the most joy? Does knowledge of the gospel make that “thing” more meaningful to you than maybe someone who doesn’t have the gospel?
The thing that has brought me the most joy is family. Being away from you guys is showing me just how much I love you. You are everything to me, because of the gospel I have the knowledge that we will be together forever. This truth brings me so much joy. I love you all SO MUCH and miss you guys tons. It really makes me want forever to be together with my family.
3. Alma was out sharing the gospel because of the joy he felt when he learned of the atonement and what it could do for him. Why are you out sharing the gospel?
I am out to help gain the blessings of going through the temple. There is so much peace there. There is so much understanding there. There is so much strength there.
4. You have a great concern for the people that you baptize in that you want them to not just jump in the water, but understand what they are doing. What most do you want them to understand before they are baptized.
I want them to understand that baptism is the BEGINNING of something, not the end. I want them to truly understand the phrase ´´endure to the end´´ and continue preparing to make more covenants with God and receive the blessings he has for us after baptism.
5. As you teach your investigators have you had an experience where you have seen them taken out of their pain and misery into joy and peace like Alma was?
I have not seen a strong example of this that has really had an effect on me, but I am hoping for one as I continue to serve and teach.
Love you, Mom,