Feliz Ano Novo! And a Happy New Year too, if you're an English speaker. The week between Christmas and New Years is kind of tough to focus during, but I did my best and continued to work on the language. But by far the most excitement happened this last couple days.
To start out with, yesterday we had an English fast as a district, which was easier than the past but still frustrating to fully express yourself. Especially in the morning when we had a pretend lesson with a teacher who was being the toughest possible investigator. Asking questions that are extremely difficult to answer even in English. It got frustrating at times, but I had a solid response for pretty much every question he was throwing out...if not in Portuguese then at least in my head in English. Which I hope I can communicate fully in a few short months. Later that day I had a solo in front of the CTM during a devotional, singing "Nearer My God, To Thee." I think it went over well, at least I felt good about it. I love bearing testimony through song.
Today was P-day but we couldn't go to the temple because the other Americans couldn't go last week or on their own P-day due to Christmas and New Years. So instead we stayed here and went proseltying in the morning. It was an amazing experience. My companion and I went out with four copies of the Book of Mormon and the goal to have conversations with ten people during the hour we had to teach. We talked to about eight, handed out all our books, and got two addresses. It was amazing to realize that I actually understood what they were saying and could answer the questions that they had. Our last two placements were really solid, the first was a lady who wanted to know what we wanted out of life. I explained about eternal families and how much I loved my family. She seemed very interested and happy with the teaching. We answered a few other questions before leaving. She said she would read and call the number to learn more. We then were walking back to the CTM with one Book of Mormon left, out of time. We saw a guy sitting in a park and decided to chat with him. He was extremely receptive, excited to hear that we were talking about Jesus Christ, accepted the Book of Mormon and wrote down all of his information so other missionaries could contact him. I'd been praying all day for the Lord to place people in our way to teach and help, and He most certainly did. I hope every day in the field is at least kind of like this. I'm ready to preach the word! I was reading the beginning of 1 Corinthians 2 this morning and it got me really excited to teach and get the work started with earnest.
Which reminds me of just how much I've been loving and feasting upon the scriptures, the words of Christ, this past week. My study has been a lot more intense and far more rewarding recently, for some reason. I love the scriptures, and particularly the Book of Mormon, more and more each day. I have found ways to apply what I have read in lessons every single day. It's all true! I know it!
This week I had the opportunity to look back on the past year and reminisce a little. It really felt like three different years crammed into one, all based around enormous personal growth. First, the second semester of college. Certainly the most fun part of the year, but there were definitely difficulties and a lot of learning as I lived and acted on my own. Then came the six months of work as I waited to leave for the mission, which taught me all about hard work, diligence, and a little patience too. And then suddenly that door slammed shut and I was here in Brazil learning a different language. Which has been the hardest couple months of all, but also the most rewarding. Looking forward, this year will be spent entirely preaching the gospel, the year of my mission. I leave for the field next week and will be working every single week right through the next new year. I have absolutely no idea what is in store, except that it will be enormously different from this past year. But I am excited and ready for whatever is coming.
Again, a happy new year to you all. Choose the right, follow your heart, and work hard. This is going to be a great year. A tough year, but a good one. I'd encourage everyone to make it worth remembering.
Elder Alex Burt