I came the closest I ever have to dying on my mission this last Friday. Also the closest I've ever come to just giving up and coming home.
I was at a member´s house eating lunch when I heard a familiar soundtrack playing from the other room. "Oh!" I thought. "Lord of the Rings! I´ll just take a peek to see what part it is. This music just seems a bit off. I don´t quite recognize it."
It wasn´t Lord of the Rings. It was the Hobbit. My heart just about failed as I had to turn around and keep eating.
Yes, the challenges of a mission are great, but I will remain steadfast in the face of adversity! Hopefully I didn´t scare anyone too much with that first line...I really am doing fine and have absolutely no plans on dying or coming home anytime soon. I promise.
All right, on to stories. This week wasn´t quite as full especially after the success of last week, but I still have a couple things to share.
Three Drunks, Two Missionaries, and One Dead Mom I was half tempted to call this story ´The Drunken Brawl´, but I figure I messed around with my readers enough this entry. We were in Vera Cruz, a small neighborhood/town that is a part of our area. (Fun fact, the town is over 300 years old, one of the oldest settled parts of Minas Gerais.) It was a little late, like 7:00, and we were heading to an appointment. Two people, a man and a woman, were walking down the road, clinging to each other and kind of stumbling along. We´d met the man a little eariler so we started chatting a bit with him as we walked. He told us they were returning from the funeral of the woman´s mom. We put two and two together and realized that this was the sister of one of our other investigators, whose mom lived in Vera Cruz and had recently returned from the hospital. In fact, we had gone to Vera Cruz that day to visit the investigator´s parents. Bad timing on our part.
The woman was drunk out of her mind, thought we were Seventh Day Adventists, and began to argue with my companion. The man started talking to me, and it was clear he was crazy drunk as well. I found myself in a dangerous discussion about the race/color of God (the man was of African descent). Without the help of my companion. I tiptoed my way through it and he ended up very satisfied with my responses. Then he turned to ask my companion, and I was left with the woman. She was in hysterics at this point, and the first thing she said to me was "Why don´t you believe in God? Why are you a liar?" I was a little curious to know what my companion had said to her (I found out after it was about the mother of Jesus, who we don´t consider a goddess like this woman apparently did.) I spoke very slowly, calmly, and simply. "I´m not lying to you, Irmã. I´m telling you what I believe with all my heart. I love my mom and am truly sorry for your loss." She calmed down. Well, more than that, she embraced me and hugged me rather tighter then a missionary is comfortable with, and began to cry. She told me she wanted me to marry her niece, that I was a great person, and that she´d make sure to visit the Seventh Day Adventist church when she could. (They better not get a convert because of this.) I looked over and saw my companion trying to escape what was now two drunk black men questioning him about the race of Adam and Eve, if black people started because Eve (the first sinner) was black, etc etc. Lots of nonsense and they weren´t very good at listening. We disentangled ourselves, and headed off to our next appointment a bit later than we had expected.
Well, looks like I spent most of my time on that story, but that´s all right because it was the most interesting thing of the week. The best part of the week, of course, was General Conference. Listening to the words of the prophets and apostles is immensely enlightening, even in a different language. It was hard to catch everything they said, and we were unable to watch every session, but I had several sincere questions answered and felt a great love and support for our prophet, Thomas S. Monson. He shared a formula for being better servants to the Lord that applies very directly to missionaries, but can help all of you as well, I´m sure. I thought I´d share the four points before I close.
1) Search the scriptures with diligence
2) Plan life with purpose
3) Teach the truth with testimony
4) Serve the Lord with love
Along with the prophet, I encourage everyone to try a little harder on each of these points. I have already seen them bless me as a missionary and constantly strive to improve on each of them. I love you all, and sincerely hope all is well back on the home front. Fight the good fight, do the good work, and never give up. Until next week!
Elder Alex Burt