Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Alright guess what? Transfer time! I've already been on the mission 5 whole months, with three in the field. Can you believe it? So transfers are tomorrow. I found out, of the four Elders who lived in my house with me I am the only one not transferred. My DL, his companion, and my companion (Elder Ferreira) are all transferred to other areas and I'm stuck here in this house for 6 more weeks. My new companions name is Elder Baltazar. I will meet him tomorrow. He is the new District Leader for our area, so now my companion is the District Leader. The other two Elders in our house are Elder L. Almeida and a greeney who he will be training. We don't know who the greeney is yet until tomorrow, when he arrives. But it is kind of funny, my companion now is Elder Ferreira and he will be with another Elder in my group, Elder Nethercott, from California. Remember the Elder that was friends with Kaleb? That's Elder Nethercott. And, Elder Ferreira is the new District Leader for his district.

Things didn't go too well in the area this week. We cut a few people who didn't have interest in the church, and a few investigators said they didn't want the lessons anymore. That was heart breaking. We almost had a baptism this last Sunday. We had an investigator come to church and he really loved it and wants to get baptized. His name is Bruno. Elder Ferreira and I really believe it was God's will not to let us have a baptism this week because the day after church his ex-girlfriend returned and they decided to try their relationship again. Now they are living together, and we couldn't baptize him. We were gonna teach him about the law of chastity this week since he wasn't living with anyone we thought it wasn't a problem, but now it is, lol.

Yesterday I gave my first talk in the ward, and my first talk in portuguese. It was horrible! I took the talk from a member who wasn't gonna be in church. This member said it was a 15 minute talk. I stressed and prepared an awesome 15-20 min talk. It was beautiful. I get to church and find out my talk is supposed to be 5 minutes. Maximum 10. Oh man, on one hand it was a relief my talk wasn't supposed to be too long but on the other I knew had a huge talk and half the time to give it. I had to make quite a few quick changes, and my talk still went a teensy bit over 10 min. But everyone in the ward said I did amazing, and even they said my portuguese was perfect. These last two weeks I have been able to understand and communicate with ease in this language. I'm also starting to read in portuguese without much error. Elder Ferreira says I'm going crazy fast. I took English scriptures out of my bag the other day because I can know find scriptures without them.

I fasted twice this week because of Tanner and his surgery and because the Zone was doing a fast as well. While I was fasting for Tanner I received much more direction and guidance from the Spirit thus far on the mission. It was amazing feeling the Spirit with such clarity. Unfortunately, with investigators we are still in a rut. Some of our good investigators told us they didn't want the lessons anymore. We were like NO!!!! It's sad when this happens, because we know how happy this Gospel can make people. I hope with a new comp and a new transfer we can find some success. We will just keep working and keep trying to find God's elect!

Please make sure to be welcoming to new investigators and converts. Make them feel at home, and make sure to invite them to activities and things. Have them over for Dinner if you can! The biggest problem many wards have with retention of recent converts is they do not feel welcomed. Often what will make the difference is just a few people who are there to show them how to do everything and what to do. Preach My Gospel has a whole section just on this, and what members can do to help recent converts. (I encourage you to read it for family night tonight, hint hint.)
Love you all!
Elder Baldwin

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

   I got some letters and our house received a lot of stuff from the mission. They bought something like $72,000 worth of stuff for us missionaries. So now we have new garbage cans, a new blender, each one of us has a fan now, and a lot of other stuff I don't remember, lol.  
   Don't be sorry it is getting hotter. I actually found out my area is one of the cooler ones because it always has a nice sea breeze blowing through. Other areas are much much hotter, so maybe I don't want to transfer this transfer period.... but wherever I am called I will work. My companion has been here 6 months already, and I have only been here for 3 so it is likely he will get transferred as well. I think I will not stay because usually you do not stay in the area you were trained in too often. My companion thinks I’ll be made a trainer already next transfer. We will find out next Monday. I really hope not because I can barely speak the language. But everyone compliments me on how I barely speak with an accent. My goal with the language is to get people to think I am from Brazil natively ;) but it will be hard with my golden hair. Yes I am drinking my crystal light but not too frequently. Yes they drink lots of soda but I think more juice than soda. They have some crazy fruits down here!!! Like there is this one where it is super sweet if you suck on it. But, if you bite it, it instantly becomes overpoweringly bitter. Weird huh? I haven't tried it yet but I want to.
   Well, thank you for your prayers and everything. We still aren't having too much success but it's mostly because of the new area. We feel like we are wasting our time there because we can't focus there while we have investigators in the favela still, so our numbers have suffered. But we are finding new people still in the vila and they seem interested in the Gospel.
  The family we were teaching? We invited them to be baptized in 2 weeks and we think we scared them with it. The husband said "we have been catholics for 33 years, we aren't gonna change everything in less than a month." After he said that Elder Ferreira and I really sat down and thought about the way we were teaching investigators. We discovered it is not the way that Preach My Gospel teaches us to teach. Because we taught our own way we scared them. Because really, through the Gospel they CAN change in just 2 weeks flat! So Elder Ferreira and I changed the way we teach people. We are following Preach My Gospel a lot more closely now. For example, we found a new investigator whose mom is living with him in the Favela. We taught him and his mom the new way we decided to change to, and by the Spirit. The change was completely visible. They both accepted baptism when the Spirit confirms to them it is true.
   So... the work continues and we learn and better ourselves every day, and find new people to teach every day.
Love you all lots and hope this week is a good one for you!
Elder Baldwin

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

   This week was good because I went to a specialist and he cleared a lot up. The other doctors thought I had something a lot worse so I had to buy all this expensive medicine that wasn't working. Turns out all I had was an allergy to something. We don't know what but it is far from serious so no worries.

   It is HOT here, and only gonna get hotter. Transfers are coming up in 2 weeks so I hope to get sent somewhere cooler than here, but it is more likely I’ll get sent somewhere even hotter.

   In our mission we just count contacts. We meet someone on the street or knock on their door and talk about the gospel, and ask them if they want to hear our message. We don't really have golden questions that I am aware of we just talk to them about the Gospel. The whole point of a contact is to get an address or something to teach them. We are supposed to do 10 each every day, so 20 per companionship and 140 per week. In our area no one wants to be rude, so everyone will let you
teach them so it is actually pretty hard to get all these contacts because we have to teach too and it takes time. Normally we do just a few per day each. But this last week we went to a new place in our
area besides the favela we normally work in. We didn’t have any references or investigators in this area so we basically contacted all day. This last week we had a little over 50 contacts. We did not do
this every day, just a few days this week so 50 is pretty good for us. With regards to Book of Mormons... we do not count how many we give out because we are not supposed to give out Book of Mormons to people on the street. There are a TON of churches here. Literally, it's like Texas but in a city setting. Imagine San Francisco or Oakland with a different church on every street corner. So a lot of other churches do not like us because our church is true, so they tell all of their members to ask the Mormons for their Bible. So we get a lot of people here who say "oh! the mormons! can I have one of your bibles?" We were given talks from members of the seventies who said we are not walking free bookstores. We are teachers. So what we do is we give Books of Mormon to people who we give the full first lesson to. It's pretty funny, these people who ask for a Mormon bible. We say oh sure we'll give you one. We can give you one and your whole family too! Can we drop by your house sometime, leave a message, and give you one? It's pretty funny. Almost everyone will walk off angrily because they do not want the lessons, just the book to give to their preachers. So the preachers read the Book of Mormon and find solitary scriptures such as the eat drink and be merry scripture and say that this is what we teach in our church and such. Many people do not like us because their preachers have done this.

  Ok, as I said before we proselyted in a new area of our area this week so we have lots of people we are going to visit this upcoming week. We hope they become new investigators. We did find one new family in Vila Juaniza who is actually married! We were so excited because this is rare in Vila Juaniza. The only hard part is they are pretty firm Catholics, but they love our message and said we can come back whenever we want. Not too many spiritual experiences this week, just trying to feel the spirit to find the houses that have people we can baptize. It's been really long for us since we had a baptism and this is not normal in the mission. Usually missionaries average one baptism every few weeks here, and most more than this. So it's been tough emotionally and spiritually because no one realizes how important this is. We teach them and show them but nothing will happen if they do not help themselves and pray and read.

The address of the Internet Café I am in right now is:
Rua Comendador Bastos 279; Ilhã do Governador

Well I hope all is well, Lots of love from my end.
Elder Baldwin

Monday, January 9, 2012

   This week was pretty bad, we did not have too much success. The problem with vila juaniza is that everyone will promise to do something but never do it. I think it is because they do not have to keep commitments in their lives normally, like with paying house payments or water and electricity. They just steal it, lol.

   I had to buy 80 reais worth of medicine this past week and now don't have any more money. They reimburse me but it takes awhile so I am using personal money right now and will probably put money from the mission back into my personal fund when I get more money. Don't worry about what the medicine was for. Just so you know Mom, when I am sick I will not always let you know exactly how sick. I will write in my journal every little detail though, so when I come back from the mission I can show you all the things I went through. I don't want to worry you though. Know that I am in good hands with Sister Lima (President's Wife).

   So we haven't been having success lately because we have been focusing a lot of our attention on these two people who were baptized but never confirmed. It is very very frustrating.... but now I think we will start to focus more on lessons and other people. They haven't been confirmed yet but one basically said he doesn't want to anymore and the other we just need to find her awake one Sunday. It's difficult because she doesn't wake when we call to her.  I'm getting along great with my companion. We had 1 lesson with member, 12 without, and 5 recent converts this week. 18 lessons. Definitely not great but it will get better now.

   It's very frustrating, but the mission president wrote us and told us he is watching our numbers and  progress and he told us even though we do not have good numbers he is glad we are not letting it show in the goals we set. We are still setting really high goals in hopes that we achieve them. Not goals that are ridiculously high, but we are not changing the goals we set to be lower so we can achieve them. This is the key to success, when we are tried by God to not lose hope.

   Right now I am reading in Alma 22. It’s hard, I’m not reading fast because I’m reading in Portuguese to better my understanding of the language. I've almost got it. I think three more weeks and I’ll be able to talk and understand almost everything.

   My mosquito bites are.... still there. I get new ones every day. I've just come to accept them now. I scratch sometimes but not much, so they go away within a few days. But it's like the least of my problems, lol.

I love you all and appreciate your prayers.

Elder Baldwin

Monday, January 2, 2012

   It has been cloudy and raining all week like I had hoped. The only problem is that last Sunday I forgot my umbrella at a member's house... so I have been without an umbrella for the whole week. This always happens, whenever I need my umbrella I always forget it, and whenever I have it I do not need it.

   Well, my first New Year's Eve in Rio was a little depressing and bad. I was a bit ill. And everyone was drunk. We even had investigators who said yeah, ‘I’m gonna drink. It's New Years’. Even though we taught them about the word of wisdom. It's frustrating.  The day of proselyting was the same but in the favela it was horrible. Everyone was lighting the huge fireworks right there in the street so my ears were often ringing because of the constant explosions. everyone was drunk. There were 15 year olds in the street with beers in their hands. It's illegal here but no one in the favelas follows the law really.  The work is really slow. This week was really bad because everyone was traveling and/or drunk and going to parties and stuff like that, so not too much success this week.

   We have a mission roster online now. Transfers are really weird because we are not actually given transfer orders now. The roster online has pictures of everyone in what area they are serving in. When we have transfers, we look online for our photo. If our photo is in a different area, that means we are transferred. Most of the time though our zone leaders will call us and spill the beans before we get a chance to look. The language is going fine, I just have trouble understanding people sometimes because they speak with a lot of slang. No one can understand me because Elder Ferreira says I speak so formally, and we proselyte in a favela so no one can understand formal speaking. So I have to learn the slang to understand and speak better.

Lots of love family!!!

Elder Baldwin