This letter should be blue…
May 19, 2011
My dear family,
By now you have certainly figured out I have not been writing you via email for some time now. If you have not been informed, I hate to tell you that my privilege of using the internet has been taken away. Missionaries who broke the rule of speaking longer than 40 min on the phone are being reminded that it is a privilege to talk to your families and all rules are commandments to missionaries. The only person to be angry or disappoint with is me. I’m devastated and I was very angry because of my ignorance. I can no longer communicate with you very quickly, and I most certainly lost some respect of my mission President, which kills me. I sincerely didn’t know the rule was only 30-40 min. I thought it was a 1 hour talk more or less for many reasons, but I should have known better. It’s in the missionary rule book. I’m truly sorry, I will continue to write to you with letters…I will send you some pictures…Gosh I’m so upset right now, but I guess this is a lesson I need to learn to not assume the actions of others are right. I thought we deserved a lil more time to talk because of all the trouble we had and for the effort and time you guys sacrificed to talk to me. On the bright side…you will get some cool Brazilian letters…not that exciting…well enough with the Blue, let me give you some…
So besides finding out about my punishment, things are super. I found out I will be staying in Mossoro for another transfer. WE had thought nobody was being transferred in our house, but today we found out Elder Moreira is being transferred! Elder Julio will be training a brand new American missionary which means I will not be the only English speaker in our house. Would have been better if it was an American who knew Portuguese already so then he could have explained some things to me more clearly but I am super excited to have someone (who is coming from the Provo MTC)to relate to more, and we can help each other out, offset the dominant super speed talk, which has been really great honestly, a great wake up call on how people really talk here, but I was really struggling to squeeze in words at first because there was no time to understand, and by the time I understood, they were talking about something else! Living with 3 Brazilians has been great, very difficult, but truly great, but its going to be so nice to have an American to talk to. I think I will pretend to not know English for a couple days at first. Haha. I wonder what he is going to be like.
Other than that good news, I have been blessed to not be infected with the worst cases of pink eye I have ever seen in my life. Seriously, I will send you some pics, because you need to see to believe this and my words cannot do it justice. A lot of people around town have been infected. It’s pretty bad. Elder Julio do Santos had the worst case and maybe you will see sometime. It was so bad he could barely open his eyes, he got his companion infected, Elder Moreira woke up one morning and looked like a monster. Very luckily Elder G. Costa and I have not been infected yet…
So besides diseases, let me tell you about a rapaz named Jefferson (not Antonio’s brother) yup, another Jefferson, I know like 4 Jeffersons. We call this Jefferson, Jefferson F. His real name is Francisco, but he likes his middle name Jefferson more, which I have no idea why because there seems to be one too many Jeffersons in Brasil. Anyways this Jeffereson F. is probably one of my favorites fo far, besides Antonio. He is definitely the most progressed pesquisador of ours. He didn’t believe in God when we met him. Which is unheard of in Brasil! Because everyone at least has a belief. So this Jefferson he lives on the road behind our church in the midst of the field. His house as I like to say is the “clubhouse” for the main group of boys who play soccer like seriously everyday at the church. We first met this soccer gang at the church. We asked them if they wondered about the church where they play futebol right next to, they were like, “no, we like the futebol court though” We were like seriously?!? Have you ever wondered why there is such a nice court here? They were like “no we like the court though” hahah Then we were like well can we share a message with you and explain why you have such a nice court here which you like so much. Then they were like “allright” so we did end up teaching most of them as a group sometimes at Jefferson’s house which was so awesome. At times it was just Jefferson and his brother Joao. We actually really only started to teach with Joao at first, then Jefferson decided to see what was up, just being curious then I assume, because he didn’t want to have anything to do with religion. So the soccer gang by the way consists of Joao, Jefferson F. Manuel, Klebes, another Jefferson, Naxell, Leonardo, Italu. That’s the main group of boys we first met. We had a ton of fun teaching these youngsters, joking around when we could, but then being serious when it came to the lessons. We ended up baptizing Joao and Italu first. Things with Jefferson were interesting…we taught him the first lesson (The Restoration) and the third lesson (Gospel of Jesus Christ). Jefferson F. started to become interested and engaged in our lessons after some time, then he accepted to be baptized! But then we asked him if he thought the Book of Mormon is true and if he believes in God now. He said “no”. We were like “why did you accept to become baptized then…” Then he said “I’m not sure…” I thought we needed to give him more time and clear things up with him before a baptismal interview, but Elder G. Costa insisted on going through with the interview. He said “he is confused, the baptismal interview can clear things up for him.” I hesitantly agreed because I thought what is our district leader going to think of us having him interview someone preparing for baptism who doesn’t believe in God! Or the Book of Mormon! Or Joseph Smith was truly a prophet! When they had the interview with him it lasted for about an hour…he didn’t pass of course…he needed more time and we needed to work with him more. We told him tha tit is very important that he needs to pray sincerely and seriously think if God exists and if what we taught is true in order to be baptized. We didn’t see him for a couple days due to us teaching other people and he was “busy”. I was really worried. One day when we were doing other baptismal interviews at the church, we finally saw Jefferson come by. We asked him if he was ready for another interview, he said “yes”. That was one of the most suspenseful interviews…turned out that he passed! A miracle had happened! I had the pleasure of baptizing Jefferson F. and he is one of our strongest baptisms by far now and he is one of my best friends here. He is 18 years old by the way and he is going to received the Aaronic Priesthood next week and is preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood soon because he is seriously thinking and is excited about serving a mission! So unbelievably cool! “To see one of your baptisms start preparing to serve is an honor” said Elder G. Costa. Jefferson said he really wants to baptize his younger brother who will be turning eight soon. We gave Jefferson a suit jacket and a white shirt and tie and we all wore our suits last Sunday for him. Was awesome! The Bishop is going to call him as his secretary soon to prepare him more. He is going to replace another Jefferson. Hahah. It is incredible to see the huge change in him. From a young man who had no beliefs, was confused about life, didn’t have a sense of what kind of future he would like…is not on the straight and narrow and is making choices that will bless his life and others for eternity. I can’t do justice describing his change on paper. I’m so happy for him. We ended up baptizing the whole main gang of soccer boys and we are trying to teach their families and get them more involved and be a more unified family. (All the soccer boys of the gang are going to seminary!) We are currently teaching Leanardo’s family…things are complicated with Jefferson’s family and with a lot of families here …a lot of them are not married! Well that’s my brief story of Jefferson and I hope that I can make up for the loss of internet. Probably can’t…this is going to be really tough. I already seriously miss hearing from you just like that! On Mondays…but receiving personal letters will be nice. Hope all is well…praying for you…always.
I pray that these letters will make it safely and will not take too long. I love you.
Elder M. Howell
P.S. Here is my current address, but by the time you get this, I might be transferred…
Rua Nilo Persanha, 1039
Bom Jardim 8722-5712
Mossoro – PB
Also, one requrest, can you send me Elder Paxman’s and Elder McComber’s mission office addresses.
Also plz let me know WHERE Marcus is going to serve and WHEN! This is killing me. We are going to learn a lot of patience.