Monday, April 28, 2014

Baptism and marriage

Transfers again! Both Elder Brooks and I will remain here in Ala Ômega for another six weeks! Which is awesome because we have a lot of cool stuff coming up. Last transfer was basically all gathering people to be baptized this transfer. It's what we call a... Nope. We don't have a word for that. I'm going to call it an Ammon, because it's like that time where the lamanites scattered the sheep, and Ammon gathered them up again. Then with all the chopping off arms and stuff. Yeah, this analogy didn't work out so well. 
Anyway, this transfer is going to be great! We have the marraige and baptism of Cleiton, and we found a family with a ton of potential: Regina and Epitácio! They aren't married (which isn't uncommon here), but we can fix that. They also have troubles with smoking, but we can fix that! They have a great desire to learn more about the Gospel, and more importantly they are acting on those desires by fulfilling the commitments to come to Church. All this means that they will very easily recieve a sure witness that God has restored His Church in the Latter Days. I'm super excited this transfer to reap the harvest of all our hard work! 
This week, we had the baptism of Paulo! If you guys don't remember him, he's the crazy hilarious kid from the favela that wants to be a missionary one day. His baptism was delayed a lot because he had to go to Church at least four times (rule of the mission), and he missed a few because he had to help his mom with work. Work is really tight for his family, because his dad died when he was pretty young, so anytime they can find good work the whole family pitches in and helps.
Paulo's baptism was really awesome. Elder Brooks had the privilege of baptizing him, and I got to share my thoughts on baptism for Paulo. We also got some great pics. Plus, three of our investigators were there to see how a baptism works. It was so great! 
And that's more or less my week! Atê o próximo!
Elder Bishop

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

God's tender mercies

Hey everyone! Sorry I didn't have an email last week. We had to use a LAN house that had super slow internet, so I was only able to send out a few emails. But this week was awesome!

This week, again, Elder Brooks and I worked our tails off. However, unlike the other weeks, we hit a lot of dead ends. For example: just about every single one of our contacts rejected us pretty harshly (this almost never happens here, so we didn't really know how to react). But, before I tell you why our week was awesome, I need to tell you all about Cleiton, the coolest investigator I've had yet! 

Cleiton is the husband of an ex-less-active member of the Church, Nivea, who is now re-active. Actually, they aren't really married. However, when we talked about the Law of Chastity with him (during our first lesson), he got super excited about marraige. He was like, "Nivea, my love, what are we waiting for? We're breaking a commandment! Let's hurry up and get married already!" And so they're going to get married. Also, during every single prayer, Cleiton thanks God for the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and explains his gratitude for the Restored Gospel. He is so ready for baptism! And one last thing: Cleiton likes to buy us food. A lot of food. Everytime we visit him, he gets us good food! But he doesn't do that just for us. He does this for many people. Cleiton has a heart of gold! We visited him with our Bishop, and after the lesson, when we were walking home with Bishop Souza, he said "I've already got a calling planned out for him." 

During much of this lesson, the Bishop and Cleiton were talking with each other on how important service is. I'm so grateful God put this man in our way! 

Alright. This week was super hard, because of a lot of rejection. But the Lord showed His purpose for our strugglings Easter morning. For Easter as missionaries, we didn't go searching for eggs or candies or anything, but our search for investigators to bring to Church paid off quite well. Our God prepared nine people for us to bring to Stake Conference! We may have had a hard time with the work during the week, but Sunday was an absolute blessing. 

The work for this next week should be really good, because of God's mercy in giving us prepared people to teach. I hope I can stay in Ala Ômega for at least one more transfer to see the work really progress! However, I think I may be transferred out this next week. If so, it will be wonderful anyways, because I know my God has a purpose for me anywhere I am. 

Happy Easter! Atê o próximo!

Elder Bishop

Monday, April 7, 2014

A mother does not want to hear these mission stories....

Wow, this week was packed! With Conference and everything, and considering how small our area is, Elder Brooks and I probably invited everyone and their dog to come and watch Conference with us. Sadly, not many showed up. But this next week, we have a baptism! 
Anyway, this week was also packed with quite a few laughs. First off, while we were walking to pick up a member to go on splits with us, some big group of teenagers stopped us, and then one girl came up to us asking "Hey, you guys speak English, right? How do you say 'I love you?' And how do you say 'Will you marry me?'" And I was all like, "Pst, Elder, what do we do?!" And Elder Brooks was just holding back from bursting out laughing. And the girl, seeing that we were hesitating, said "It's not important anyway. Will one of you guys marry me, though?" And then we decided to tell her about the mission rules. She was a little disappointed, but with the same enthusiasm asked, "Well, after your mission then, one of you guys should come back here and marry me." And then we had a really good night teaching a bunch of people with our member. Apparently, from all the stories I've heard, this is actually quite common. Also, that I should expect at least five more women to ask me to marry them while I'm here serving.
And another fun thing; our investigator, Paulo, is a super genius at being hilarious and absolutely crazy at the same time. For example: last week he scared the living Gringo out of Elder Brooks and I by hiding behind some corner and jumping out at us holding a gun-shaped object up against my head. Also, he had his shirt tied around his head. Then, another day, he was walking his dog, and everything that walked by (which means any other stray dog, cat, and us), he would order the dog to kill it, which it then tried to do. Don't worry, he always yanks his dog back when it gets too close. Kids in the favelas never get old.
And that's it for all the hilarious stuff, but the awesome stuff happened during Conference. 
Our Stake President is American, so every Conference he sets up a room for the American missionaries to listen to Conference in English. He also brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It is hard to describe the joy on all the faces of the American Elders and Sisters, but I imagine it a little like when a bear suddenly discovers a pool of honey, with a bunch of salmon swimming in it. Also, I don't think that happens to bears very often. But think how happy he would be! That's how all of us felt. And with Conference in English, with so many awesome talks, my week was made!
And that's it for this week! Tchau!
Elder Bishop

Our Stake President is an American, an ex-CIA agent, and used to be the Mission President here, so we got to watch conference in another room, with him and all the American Elders in our Zone. I loved Conference! But there were a few times when the TV had some problems, so we also missed a few of the talks. And no, I don't get the Ensign, but we do receive the  Liahona, which usually has the Conference talks, too. 
Elder Brooks and I are getting along great. We arrived at the same time in Brazil, so our communication with Brazilians here is a little shot, but we get the message across. Also, before he got here, he was serving in Gardner, in our home mission! He was only about 40 minutes away from you guys! And he's definitely an extrovert, and quite a lot like Brandon. It makes things really strange sometimes, because I feel like I'm talking with Brandon a lot, but he's different enough that it isn't too weird. 
I'll talk to you next week, Mom! I love you!
Elder Bishop