|Elder Burt with his companion, Elder Cushing|
So all of the events of this last week were overshadowed by an awesome P-day today which I want to focus on. Let's just say I placed my first Book of Mormon, set up my first lesson appointment, and had a guy convinced I was fluent in Portuguese and I'm still here at the CTM!
So now you have to sit through a little bit of boring stuff to get to that juicy excitement. This week has been solid as far as learning goes, though perhaps not as obvious as the first few weeks. Now I'm working primarily on not sounding like a total imbecile when I speak. Not sure if that's going too well. But I am able to comprehend much more, I read the Liahona in Portuguese and can understand just about all of it. Reading comprehension has always been my strong suit and hopefully it will help me teach better as well. It's been extremely warm here, which I don't like too much. Though I'm sure some of you back in rainy, cold Washington are pretty jealous.
All righty, on to the good stuff. Our district set a goal on Sunday to focus on being missionaries on P-day. We're here to teach the word, so why not start now? Initially we were going to hand out pass-along cards and have short conversations with people about the Church. But apparently the Church doesn't really use pass-along cards anymore so we had to find another way. I walked out of the CTM with a single Book of Mormon I had bought that morning at the distribution center. I was praying all week for Heavenly Father to bring me to someone who needed the gospel, and my prayer was especially fervent today. So at first my companion and I just wandered around feeling afraid to start talking. Eventually we came across the sisters from our district talking to a couple of guys in a shop. We jumped in, and immediately one of the sisters told them that I spoke Portuguese. She was trying to compliment me by saying that I was coming along well, but they took it to mean that I was fluent. And so began a ten minute discussion with one of them, trying to maintain the appearance of understanding when really I only understood like twenty percent of what he said. At one point he stopped to ask me to give my "testament," so I took a minute to bear my testimony about the gospel and the Book of Mormon. Then he was off again--I guess he took the missionary discussions at his house and studied the Book of Mormon. He kept on saying how we had a beautiful church and it was a beautiful book, but he seemed pretty set in his ways. The whole time he kept expecting me to translate what he was saying to the others, even though I understood about as much as they did. Pretty funny.
Then we went to a juice store, where we met a few older women sitting at a table. My companion started talking to them, so I jumped in, as did another companionship from our district. We had a good chat, I understood most of it unlike with the first guy, and at the end I asked if I could give them the Book of Mormon before we left so that they could learn more. They seemed excited, said they would read it, and asked if they could meet up with us next Wednesday at the same spot to talk about it. I was pretty psyched and we set off in a great mood, ready to keep preaching the word.
We met a few girls who were on their break from work, and we asked if we could practice our Portuguese with them. They seemed far more excited to talk to Americans than to hear about the church, but in any case we talked for about five minutes as we walked them back to their work. I'm pretty sure we may have accidentally left our boundaries to get there, but we quickly went back, I promise! Spent a little longer trying to find people to talk to but eventually came back to the CTM.
I felt like a real missionary, and it made me confident that once I get out in the field I should be able to pick up on the language and the routine. I love that people here are willing to just talk to you, even if we seem like stupid foreigners. More than anything I'm grateful that Heavenly Father could put these people in my way and the Spirit could guide us at least a little bit. The gospel is true, I'm trying my best to do the work of God, and I hope you're all doing well!
Elder Alex Burt