Sup sup! Another week from the office here in Belo Horizonte, with lots of work to be done and a whole ton of fun. I´m starting to get accustomed to this different kind of missionary life. I´m getting the hang of things, still trying to get used to talking on the phone so much in Portuguese, managing housing contracts, dealing with angry landlords, satisfying missionaries, managing money, and all the while being super cool.
I also have been working very hard to get everyone out of the office by six so we can go proselyting, which actually happened this week, every day! We did a whole bunch more and found some excellent people.
1) Elton John is In Jail - Well, was in jail. This was just a phrase that I heard a ton from the other missionaries in the area when I got here. Elton John is the name of an investigator that the secretaries had before me, who was progressing towards baptism. But then he was arrested for stealing a phone and has been in jail ever since. However, I've heard his story and it's amazing the things he's changed because of a testimony he´s gained of the Book of Mormon and the church. He was a drug dealer and had a number of problems associated with that, but began changing his life as he met with the missionaries.
But this last week, during a division, Elder Gledhill got a call. From Elton. He was out of jail and wanted us to come over! We were in a different area but Elder Wensel went and visited him. Elton still wants to be baptized.
I got to see him the next day and he was really cool. Very sincere, I never would have believed his past if I hadn't been told. He already has a job at McDonald's after just one day out of jail, and is trying to get another shift at a different restaurant. What a guy.
2) Nossa Maria, e Agora?! (Or: My Goodness, What Now?!)-Yet another fun story about an encounter with a drunk man! It was last Sunday after our lunch appointment. We were waiting for the bus when a drunk man walking down the street asked if he could stand next to us. I said sure, and then Elder Wensel asked if we could visit him and share a message. He tossed his arms up in the air, turned to me with a bemused expression, and said (roughly translated) "My Goodness, what now?" I shrugged and said he could say yes. He agreed with me, and then Elder Wensel asked if we could head to his house now. He repeated the same action and words, and I made the same indication. He turned back to Elder Wensel and said all right. And then just stood there. So Elder Wensel asked, "Can we go, then?" For the third time the hands went up and he asked me the same question. And then finally off we went.
The lesson went all right, as well as they can go with drunk people. He got the point but told us he wouldn't ever leave the Catholic church no matter what. So we left, right after he showed us his photo albums from the year 1981, in which he visited Rome, Egypt, and various places in Central America. Good year for the guy.
But in the end, as we left, he shook my hand and gave me a hug, profoundly thanking me for the visit. He lived alone, and we had clearly made his day just by stopping by and listening a little.
3) Intelligence - This week we found a couple new investigators, and they had something considerably in common. They were extremely intelligent. Clearly they came from wealthy families, each was about twenty-five, lived with their parents, had spent their whole lives studying...it was great because they understood the message, but also a little tougher because they're far more questioning and skeptical. But in the end they accepted the invite to read, pray, and be baptized upon knowing the truth of the Book of Mormon. The first was very sincere in his acceptance and shared with us spiritual experiences he's had in the past, so I have a great hope that he will progress. He also lives close to the church, which is helpful.
So that about sums up the week. I'm happy to be here in BH, serving the Lord. I know that this is His church. That he calls prophets today as he did in ancient times to teach and warn the people. I have the opportunity daily to spend a lot of time reading the words of the modern prophets, in between phone calls and work in the office. These men have been called of God. Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today, with the same authority and power that Moses and Abraham had. That's pretty cool.
Keep on keeping on. Never give up, and on, on to victory!
Elder Alex Burt