So right off the bat, because I know that everyone is anxiously watching my blog and are extremely worried about my well-being and questioning the lack of a usual Monday post, know that I am not dead! It is Carnival over here in Brazil, which means that nothing was open (literally nothing, it´s kind of crazy) until today. And our mission president was kind enough to let us e-mail today. Which is especially good because I have some fun stories to share.
1) The Great Cake Debacle Yes, great cake debacle. Let me explain. So we have three progressing investigators right now, two sisters and a brother. They are the most promising investigators I´ve had the entire mission thus far and, spoiler alert, the brother is getting baptized Saturday. So excited!!! But boy oh boy was it tough getting a hold of him. He was extremely excited for baptism a week from last Sunday, I think I mentioned it last week. But our appointments fell through three days in a row and we began to fear that we´d lost him. We needed to teach him all the lessons before baptism, which ideally would have been last week. And anytime three lessons fall through you become worried. But we found out Wednesday why he cancelled. His sisters were ashamed to have us over because they hadn´t made any cake. The irony of it all? The day they cancelled we were fasting anyway and couldn´t eat the cake. The even greater irony? We were fasting for them. But we have since taught them more, and all is right!
2) The Drunken Pen Thief Another exciting adventure in the land of Brazil began with an extended conversation with a drunk man in a park. I have found that drunk men really like to talk, especially to missionaries who are kind enough to listen. So we talked with this guy for a while, shared a few gospel principles, and got up to catch a bus. As we left he asked to see my companion´s pen. He took it and just walked off, leaving us rather confused and penless. As I saw him turn and started to come back, I swiftly tucked my pen into my pants pocket. My companion asked for the pen back and the man swiftly turned with a curt "no" and walked away again. He came back a third time and said that we didn´t need two pens. I indicated that I did not in fact have one. He apologized profusely, gave back the pen, and we caught our bus. I was a hero.
3) A Discourse for the Ages I had the wonderful opportunity on Sunday to give my first 15 minute talk in Portuguese. That´s right, with just one month in the field! Welcome to life as a missionary. I think it went over well. I hope they understood at least a little bit in spite of my accent. I used a whole ton of scriptures, so if nothing else that should have enlightened them!
4) I Am a Nerd On P-day, being a little bored and feeling a severe lack of chess, I made a chess board out of paper and coins. Please don´t judge me. Also, if anyone would like to challenge me to a game of chess via mail, the letter and game would be much appreciated. I´m talking to you, Jason Carter.
So that about sums up the most entertaining parts of my week. It was a bit slower in terms of lessons taught, but those we did teach went well, especially with my favorite cake-bakers (we had cake the next time we went there. It was quite good.) I am working on talking more, and I can very much tell that the words are coming to me far more easily. And I´m understanding more every day. So although my goal of 'fluent in a month' fell through, I think my progress is coming along nicely and I feel confident in myself.
Quick spiritual thought:
Again, addressing those of you reading this who aren´t members of my church and may have questions about missionary life and the church as a whole. Today I want to talk a little about why you hear so much about this thing called baptism. We missionaries are always talking about it, and it seems like the goal of the mission is to get as many baptisms as possible.
Well, that´s more or less true.
But here´s why! The real goal of missionaries is to help people attain salvation: Eternal happiness with your family and God after this life. Something that I know without any doubt is possible via the church and the message we have. The first step on this grand pathway to salvation is, in fact, baptism. Missionaries are in charge of introducing people to this pathway and helping them begin the journey. Also, it is vital that baptism be by one with authority-this is why we insist on baptism into our Church in particular. We claim--a claim that is factual--to have this authority of God. A line of authority directly tied to Christ and the original church that he organized.
Have questions? Please please please talk to the missionaries wherever you are!
Finally, as I conclude... Congrats to Katie Holloman on her mission call to New Zealand!!!!! That´s amazing! Although you sadly won´t be able to use your amazing French abilities. I have no doubt you'll be an amazing missionary.
Hold to the faith everyone, do your best, follow your hearts.
Elder Alex Burt