Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November 13, 2012 Three Hours and 30 placements of the Book of Mormon


Dearest family and friends,
I cannot believe I'm headed for the field in just 7 days now! It is quite a strange thing to realize that next week I'll be sending my email either from a computer in the mission home or one in a library close to my apartment in my first area. Exciting, right?! Last email I mentioned the mysterious lack of mail...I still don't know what was going on but that Tuesday (a few hours I sent the email) I got several Mission Ties letters and a hand-written one from Kirsten! Mom, did you get that note I scribbled towards the end of last P-day about the letter you sent on the 5th of November? It cut off for some reason after the first paragraph and the cliff-hanger has been gnawing at me since! Haha. Maybe the rest of the letter is waiting for me to pick up today; if not, could you maybe resend it? If you have already, thank you much :)
To answer some questions you all have had really quickly...
The weather has actually cooled down here significantly. We've gotten a decent amount of rain, including some pretty amazing thunderstorms. The view from our 6th story window at night of the lightning is something else. I'm very grateful for the change because it makes sleeping at night loads easier! I hear it's starting to get chilly both in the East and in the West. This past week our district was able to be investigators for TRC (mom, you wanted to know what it's called--it stands for "Teaching Resource Center") and the missionaries who were teaching us happened to be our Brazilian roommates. It's kind of a funny scenario when the investigators know less of the language than the missionaries do, but I really enjoyed the experience. The Spirit that was there when they quoted The First Vision was very powerful. If my investigators can feel that way in the field I'll be in good shape. "What do I do to prepare for the temple?" Good question, and the answer is I probably don't do enough! But I'm sure it helps to be living a lifestyle that is completely dedicated to worship, study, and testifying. Every P-day morning we pray as a companionship that we'll be able to be blessed with specific impressions that will improve our missionary service or answer some particular questions that we have. Today I felt that I really needed to review my Patriarchal B|essing again, so I will be doing that soon. "How are your P-days?" Honestly, P-day is probably the most stressful day of the week! In a good way. It just throws me off my rhythm a little bit when my to do list is comprised of things to write and buy as opposed to people to teach and lessons to study. The attempts we've made as a companionship to proselyte for at least 30 minutes have been so worthwhile, as I'm sure I've stressed plenty in previous letters and emails. I'll be interested to see how different P-day is in the field, including if it gets switched to Monday or not.... Mom, I will try to share some of the lessons I've learned so far in the letter I send home later today, and then maybe you can post that to the blog if you'd like? Or whatever works...
One more reminder for hand-written letters: it's that time to start using the Campinas Mission Home Address! I'll be able to pick up letters there once a month (stinks, I know). Once I get my individual apartment address I'll email that home, but there's always the risk that letters will get there after I've already transferred. I'm not sure which is better at the moment...I'll give it some more thought.
Spiritual Highlight of the week:
Yesterday our district had 3 hours on the schedule to go out and proselyte. 3 hours! We had to stay within some pretty limited boundaries, but our district set a goal to place 30 copies of The Book of Mormon collectively in that time. It started out pouring when we left which made things a little difficult, but the rain let up after a while. Our companionship probably spoke with at least 30 people, many of whom already had a Book of Mormon and were reading (or, encouraged rather enthusiastically by us to start reading :) ). Elder Johnson, Carter and I placed 9 copies which was close to a miracle! So many people here are open to our message, and I will continue to pray that they act on it. The three of us were headed back to the CTM for dinner when we saw 2 young men (probably 20ish) that we felt we should talk to. I said hi and shook their hand (that's pretty much a sure way down here to ensure people will stop and listen to you), and we started talking a little about their religion and their families. Elder Johnson started to testify about The Book of Mormon and the 2 boys could tell he was struggling, so when of them said "Dude, just speak in English." Best Two Years all over again! Haha. Elder Johnson was so excited to be able to bear his testimony in English and have them understand it. They accept the 2 copies we gave them and seemed really interested in beginning to read. Our visit with them probably lasted a good 15 minutes because of all the questions they had (which we were more than happy to answer). It did make us five minutes late, but no matter, because those last two copies of The Book of Mormon made number 29 and number 30 for our district. We met our goal EXACTLY. Coincidence...I think not! I loved the experience I had yesterday because it reenforced for me the fact that missionary work really is not at all about numbers, it's about people, and also the fact that God knows how to do His work. We are helpless without Him but oh so blessed to be working with Him. I can't wait for more experiences like that. We have 3 hours scheduled for proselyting next Monday as well.
Other highlights:
Friday I convinced some Elders to play 2 on 2 basketball with me during gym. It's probably the first "real" game I've played since BYU, and I was very pleased to see I can still shoot! Elder Nuttall played with us (the Elder I knew from BYU who played with me often there) and told me the nickname "Wonderboy" that I earned at BYU for my 3-point percentage still stood. Yay! Also, I found out this week that my Brazilian roommate Elder Batista brought banangrams with him! We were able to play for 15 minutes Friday night which brought back many good memories. Mom, I hear Sister Shell is catching up to you in that game and that she almost beat you??
Oh, another crazy thing...while we were proselyting we saw a motorcycle crash straight into a car. Scary. Both drivers were okay though. We happened to be speaking to a man standing by his own motorcycle at the time and he barely even flinched watching it...he said it happens all the time in Sao Paulo.
In other news, as part of my preparation to get ready for the field in 1 week, I set a goal starting this past Sunday night not to speak ANY English. It's been an adventure, but I have succeeded so far! It's fun to be learning so many new words every day, and it's also fun to see that I am at least capable of survival using only Portuguese.
The EFY medley that I accompanied last Tuesday (I think I mentioned it last email) went really well. President Degn loved it so much that he invited us to sing it again this week. I was just fine with that because I love the arrangement. But then I learned I'd be accompanying the choir for Elder Costa who is coming tomorrow! (he is the Presiding Area Authority for all of Brazil). No pressure! I'm also working on three other songs which I've been asked to play in the coming week. Good thing I like to play :)
Kirsten, thanks for the short note you sent as well. I didn't even realize it's been 3 years now in Georgia for my family, but it has! Louco! I'll be sending a much more detailed letter shortly.
I love you all. Eu amo tudo de voces. Until the field!
Love, Elder Sears

Addendum
November 13, 2012

A note from the editor (Mom). I wanted to share a piece of a handwritten letter Brad wrote. I asked him to share some of the lessons he's learned in the CTM and this is his inspiring response.

"1) God knows what He's doing, and I know what I'm doing much more when I let Him do things His way than when I don't. I'm an instrument in His hands. He's molding the people He wants me to touch but He's also molding me as His tool in the process.

2) President Hinckley's dad was very wise to say "forget yourself and go to work." I, of course, am not always in a perfect mood, but I am so much happier when I think outward and set aside everything else. I am truly finding my life as I am losing it.

3) I was called to speak Portuguese, yes, but more importantly to speak the tongue of angels. And angels "speak by the Holy Ghost" (2 Nephi 32:2-3). For whatever amount of Portuguese I don't know, the Spirit fills in the gap. I always need to be worthy of it.

4) Preaching the gospel is fun!! It is hard work, but it is fun work.

5) I really am nothing without charity. The work is much easier for me and much more enjoyable when I'm doing it out of a sense of love as opposed to obligation."

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