Transferred to Russas!
Hello Family and Friends!
This week was hectic for me in a lot of ways. I was transferred again! President Fusco decided to make some additional changes, so my stay in the city of Jose Walter lasted for 2 days with Elder Alves de Souza. I am now in a city about 3 hours away from Fortaleza called Russas. Russas is well known by the missionaries as being one of the hottest areas in the mission! NO! After receiving the changes, I packed my bags and took a bus to the mission home in Fortaleza, where my new companion, Elder Santana (from São Paulo, who has been out for 1 year and 7 months, AND is very addicted to chocolate), was waiting for me. We then took a bus to Russas.
My new area has an awesome ward with an incredible bishop! They have all been soooo friendly and inviting to me since I arrived here. I really look forward to getting to know every member in the ward. Also, the area we work in is HUGE and only has one companionship working in it. The area includes about 10 towns and we try our best to work in every one. The church has been here for about 13 years. They built a new chapel less than a year ago. It is a pretty rural area but has everything that you could want in the city center. We live on the second story of an apartment building just off of the main street in the center of Russas. The closest missionaries live in a city called Aracati, which is close to some very popular beaches. My companion says that many people from all over Brazil will travel to swim at those beaches.
Reflecting back on the talk given by Elder Christoffersen at our mission conference, he said that God will only give us revelation or answers to our prayers when we are prepared to receive it. Many investigators wonder why they do not receive immediate answers to their prayers. My experience has taught me that, in many instances, we need to spiritually PREPARE ourselves in order to receive a response from God. This means reading from the scriptures in order to invite the spirit and to come to understand truth, going to church, keeping the commandments, doing everything possible to keep a holy environment around you so that the Holy Ghost can provide the needed revelation. God also communicates to us in the language of the spirit, which means that we need to learn how to listen and recognize this language when it is spoken by the spirit. When we do these things we open our hearts and spirits to receive answers from God because we are showing our faith that we believe in him and are obedient to his desires for us.
Elder Christoffersen also reassured the missionaries, especially those missionaries who feel unqualified to be serving missions, that who the Lord calls, he qualifies. And that we do not need to worry about whether we will measure up, but that God has already prepared a way for marvelous things to happen before he has even called us to the work. And that he will refine us to make us equal to the task at hand. The last point that he made was that God loves all of his children, but that he requires that we earn his trust by putting forth the effort that is needed.
Impressions of Brazil:
- Many people here eat only using their hands (I fit right in!). And in Cearà people use spoons most of the time to eat every type of food.
- In Russas people see Americans as aliens, and even if you speak Português, they will still find it hard to believe that you speak it well. For example, meeting people on the street, people will direct questions to my Brazilian companion about me, and in front of me, and I will respond. But even though I respond well, they will still continue to direct questions to my Brazilian companion ABOUT ME! My companion says it just takes time for them to get used to the new American and believe that he can actually speak.
- The Festa Junina, which takes place in June, celebrates the story of a ceremony of marriage and is really popular in Brazil. Women paint little black dots on their cheeks, a red circle as well, have 2 braids in their hair, one on each side of their head, and wear super colorful plaid clothes. Men paint mustaches and beards on their faces and they wear a striped shirt and their pants are plaid and colorful. There is a dance where each man is with his woman and they dance in a circle around a bonfire while a band is playing music. They eat corn and peanut butter candy called Pacoquita.
Part 3 of my journal entry leading up to Easter:
The people chose to crucify Jesus the Christ over a murderer, “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” Jesus was then forced to carry his own heavy cross, the cross on which he would soon die, to a location just outside the city walls, called Golgotha. The Romans nailed his hands and feet to the cross using large and thick metal nails. They mocked him because of the sign that was put above his head that read “This is the King of the Jews.” His humble response to all of this was, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” The process of the Atonement continued while he hung on the cross. For about 6 agonizing hours, he suffered in ways that are inconceivable to us. Imagine performing the Atonement while hanging by nails to a cross. He finally said his last words, “It is finished” and he bowed his head and died.
But here’s the great news. On the third day following his death, he rose from the tomb. He was seen by hundreds of people, including the Roman soldiers who were guarding his tomb. He broke the chains of death, having been resurrected to an immortal body, giving each of us that same gift of resurrection. We can be cleansed of sin through the Atonement of Christ. We can be forgiven. Through Christ, we have the possibility of walking back into the presence of God. We can be with our families for all eternity. I give my humble testimony that he lives! And that he loves each and everyone of us.
I love you all!