One annoucement: I have been asked to give a 7 minute talk on Sunday on testimonies. I´ll let you know how that turns out. I´ve been thinking (since we aren´t suspossed to look like tourists, so I usually don´t have my camera with me) that maybe some videos of Elder Dattilo and I might be in order. I forgot my camera this time, so pictures will have to come latter, but Elder Dattilo did post some pictures, through a member, on Facebook. One has us under a tree with a freaking huge beehive. I´m standing about 15 feet in front of it.
We, of the Novo Osasco area, officially declare Captian Moroni both a boss and a beast!
So, being the dilligent and excited son that I am, everyone who alludes to the possibility of wanting to see photos gets to see both mine and Elder Dattilo´s. One of the photos is Christine´s cropped photo of One Direction, which sent one 14-year old girl yesterday during lunch up the way. She apparently is in love with One Direction. I must admit, Elder Dattilo and I have never heard of them before. Last night, we were at a less-active´s house when they were watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympícs. Eric Idle is hilarious, Muse was so wrong, and is Queen that old?
One day, we were having a particuarlly bad day, so we stopped at a member´s house. We happened to come in when Tangled was on, which is Elder Dattilo´s favorite movie. We didn´t stay too terribly long (though we are prone to do that), but the members graciously provided us with food for dinner in Tupperware. This isn´t the first time that has happened. We´ve walked out with fish and strawberry Jello before. BTW, this guy successfully made his first Jello last night!
The mission life can be lonely and frusterating. We lost an investisgator Saturday because he was more interested in proving us wrong on the three degrees of glory. “Only heaven and hell”. So we tried to explain it in a way that he could understand, and he wouldn´t let us even say “Look, we are not here to convince you. You asked us to teach you what we believe and that is what we are trying to do.” “Only heaven and hell. Those who never accepted Jesus, no matter how good they are, they are damned.” Finally, we just offered a closing prayer after 30 minutes of “discussion” and left without marking a return appointment. What made it worse was that just before we entered the house, Elder Dattilo and I both received promptings to leave, but we ignored them. His was a “you shouldn´t be here” kind of feeling, and mine was “I feel really uncomfortable” feeling, which I just shrugged off as a general feeling of uglyness that one gets when you are in a favela. That whole situation could have been avoided if we had just listened.
But, for every trying day, we always return home safe and pray to Father for letting us have the success that we did have. Often this week, we felt alone, walking to the end of our area just to find that the address doesn´t exsist. I more so than Elder Dattilo, as when we were at another family´s house last night when this occurred. I´m still understanding many words of Portuguese and I´m starting to get to the point where I respond automatically to some phrases in Portuguese, not because I worked it out, but because it became like English and I could respond without thinking. Last night, we taught a message and, once agin, Elder Dattilo was talking. I was waiting for a point to jump in and add my two-cents worth in, but these people talked forever when they got the chance to. We started the message at 8:30 and I didn´t get a chance to speak until 9:15, by which if we stayed out much longer would be breaking missionary rules. When it came to my turn, I was told not to add anything, and I couldn´t. They asked if I understood everything, to which I replied no. I explained that everything, though I can catch a lot of words, that the words and even phrases I heard made no sense as a collected whole. (This doesn´t happen often). They laughed, good-heartedly, and I could only remember the laughter. Yeah, yesterday did not end well.
The Atonement was performed for many reasons and it appiles everywhere. Language difficulties, test-taking, fights with family members, everything. But the one I find myself asking for and using the most is comfort. Being on a mission takes a certain strength, which can be built up out here. You don´t know anyone, and it feels like a new season or a spin-off of a television show. Same basic rules, same gospel, but everyone except for you and Father are new players. This work has started long before you ever got there, and it will continue long after you finish. I envy to a degree those who have been blessed enough to not to have to learn a new language to communicate with your most valuable friends. Specifically, the English speaking missionaries. It´s extremely difficult, nigh impossible, to see learning the language as a trial and not an opportunity from time to time. The important thing to remember is that there was only one person who ever went through a journey completely alone and from who was required perfection. That person is not you, and the perfect Son who made that journey, because of his love for you, knows your pain and paths better than even you do. He will not leave you, even if you are lower than the dust of the Earth. If the Atonement can apply to Hitler; it can apply to you. Jesus Christ, the one who the scriptures testify of, is very real and so is His love and the comfort that His seemingly invisible arm is. I know it. I could not have survived the time out here without it. I have not received it because I´m a representative of Christ and are entitled to His help. I have received it because I asked for it. All you need to do is ask, and no matter how trivial or how many times you have asked before, He will extend His arm to pull you from the sea of life. His love is perfect, and it is for you. Never slap away His hand to show him that you are strong enough. That same arm that slaps His hand in not enough for you to swim to shore in the storm.
Eu amo vocês, para sempre!
Stephen (Elder Jarvis)