Monday, June 28, 2010

Happy Briggsday!

Pics...Happy Briggsday! They couldn't figure out what all those letter meant, so instead of happy Bday Elder Briggs they wrote Happy Briggsdayt. Also some classic street decorations for the world cup.

So yes, I am 21 years old now. I told my president that I was going to be able to drink legally in the United States, and he just kind of rolled his eyes. Ha. Ha. Anyway, he and his wife bought me a can of soda as a joke. It was pretty funny. It was a pretty uneventful birthday other than that...the work must go on...right?
I am glad that my UW schedule has worked out. I am super stoked to have econ with Laura and physics with is going to help me out tons.
Big congrats to Kendyl...that is just crazy. She is married. And Kyle is getting married soon. And Lauren is going to have a baby? But, yes, give the biggest congrats to Marnie! Yes!!!! So awesome she is getting married. Hopefully there are some cute Seattle girls my age at the wedding.
I can't believe Jonathan is home already and can't wait to see pics. That is absolutely nuts! I want to hear all about the homecoming events. Nathan and Keven are home as well. And Sean gets back in a few weeks. Right? Just awesome.
Onnnnnnnn to the week.
Shout outs to all of you who wished me a happy birthday, especially to Amy Jones, Bre Aasland, and the Smiley Family that sent me big messages. Y'all Rock.
So, it has been a loooonnnnngggg time since my last email. We changed our pday to Saturday this week since Wednesday was transfers and is a day that we spend working and pretty busy. Everything went smoothly. So, all of last week was spent doing investigatory divisions to find out more stuff for transfers, and having the transfer meetings with the president to figure out what needed to be done on the mission. I will send a couple of pics.
The transfer meeting are pretty cool. We just start with a prayer and then we are off to the races. The process is different in almost every mission, according to every mission president. However, President Cooley has a pretty simple process...start at the top and work our way down. That means...replace the zone leaders, find your trainers, solf the problems, and then just go, filling in all the holes that were made. It sounds simple, but it can take foever. President usually asks for our advice, but always makes the final decision. It ended up pretty well. Definitely was a good transfer.
Since then, we have done just a couple more divisions, going to Pirituba and Osasco. It was pretty normal. Both days were spent in pure "finding" mode. That means that we didn't have a single appointment marked, and we had to find people to teach through our own creativity. So, we had fun just talking to everybody. It actually works out pretty well, and is a lot better than just knocking doors. We found a couple of really cool famiieis that are super interested in teh gospel . Both of the families were found in street contacts, where we just asked, could we go to your house now? And we did! Good good stuff. The also accepted baptismal dates and are now preparing to reach the waters of baptism.
I have alwas promised myself the entire mission that I couldn't start thinking much about going home until after my birthday...well, it passed! I am coming home in less thatn 3 months y'all! Just have an awesome summer vacation and then I am back in action!!!
(the y'all is coming from Bry's Texan companions...sorry for the delay in posting this, bry's p-day was delayed and we were in Seattle for his friend, Jonathan's "homecoming" from Brazil, and Kevin's homecoming from Florida- if it was a preview of what Bry's experience will be it was absolutely the date for September 19 so you can see Bry when he returns - Bry's Mom)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

World Cup & I'm Legal

Elder & Sister Araujo, President Cooley & Wife, Myself & Elder Parsons
Elder Parsons & Bryan (Turning 21 in 2 days!)

Ping Pong Set that mom sent being put to good use

Action shot - Elder Parsons camera fell while we were waiting for the countdown, elder Parsons is there already and the other Elder is trying to help, While me and Elder Mason are just laughing

So this past week has been pretty crazy. I am absolutely exhausted right now. Yesterday was probably the most tiring day I have ever experienced in my entire life. I felt like I wanted my soul to leave my body so that it could just sleep for hundreds of years. The reason why is that we finally got called in by the Brazilian Government to renew our Visas this week. However, there was a catch...we had to get up at 3 am to do it. So, we woke up early, got a van over to the police headquarters, and we waited for 4 hours, standing, outside, in the fridgid cold, for the place to open. Once we got in, we waited for about another 4-5 hours for everyone to get their fingers printed and visas renewed, along with the other hundreds of foreigners doing the same thing. Even better, we didn't eat breakfast or lunch during this entire time. I was soooo tired! Even worse than when I get up at 4am for cold duck least then you can dress for success with lots of long johns, mugs of cocoa and soup, and things to shoot. Anyway, it is all over now and I am offically legally allowed to stay in the country until September. Yee Haw!

The rest of the week has been pretty exciting. This week is the week of preparing for transfers. So, we have had more transfers meeting with the president and we will have another one on Monday. This transfer is especially stressful because we have tons of leaders leaving the mission. But, it will all work out fine. We will finish up the transfers the Monday after we go to the CTM to visit the new missionaries. I love that part.

We did some divisions this week too. The most exciting one was on Tuesday...the day of Brazil's first game in the World Cup. The World Cup has not been hintering missionary work too much so far. Usually, during all the other games, a lot of people are still on the street and going about their business. However, during the Brazil games, EVERYTHING STOPS. Work places are OBLIGATED to let their employees go home for the game. How is that for a crazy culture.

The day was spent with Elder Gratil, the only other American elder to go home with me in Septmeber. Ironically enough, this was the first time that I have ever worked with him on the mission. When we got to the mission field, it was the last time that we saw each other for NINE months. It was awesome. He has turned into an awesome leader and missionary. We taught some cool people, but during the game we had no other choice than to just go back to the mission office and wait out the game. Brazil won. We are all just hoping that Brazil never plays the USA, and then loses, cause then we will probably have to stay off the streets for a while.

U-S-A All the WAY.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Every Day Has It's Own Story.

Pics: Biggest box of Tic Tac's in the World!
World Cup Street Decorations

Bryan's birthday is June 22 - it's not too late to send a card and make his day - Bry's Mom
Got my birthday package, those homemade oreos are delicious and all the other stuff is a dream come true. So awesome that my packages arrive in 10 days instead of 2 months. I can't believe that everything is going so fast now.
As for the D&C tradition, yes, read D&C chapters backwards everyday counting down, I'm on section 99 now...hope you all can do it

Onnnnnnn to the week.
So the last week has been spent doing divisions. We did divisions with 3 zones in Sorocaba, and one companionship in a new area called Caieras. It went pretty well. Every day has its own story and all that. We went to Cerrado, Trujillo, and Santana. It was sweet! The best part of it all was that, in every division, we were able to mark baptismal dates. That's the funny thing about divisions, they require more faith...everything always seems to fall and we have to trust in the Lord and just keep going. This way, we usually find lots of really cool new people that want to be baptized. One of them, a 17 year old guy named Alisson (yes, "girl" name) was one of the most elect guys I have ever seen. He was invited by his girlfriend to her baptism, loved it, got some materials from the missionaries in that other neighborhood, and got in contact with the missionaries in Trujillo. When we got there, he told us about how he was changing his work hours so he didn't have to work Sunday, said he had read three chapters in the Book of Mormon already, and then asked us what he needed to do to prepare to be baptized. So incredible! I couldn't believe it. But yeah, definitely is already prepared...he just needs sto go to church a couple more times and then he is good to go. The other cool miracle was in Santan, where I was on division with my old companion Elder Perry. Everything fell, and we ended up just making contacts and following the spirit wherever it took us. Eventually, it took us over to this street where we just decided to knowck the doors of a really nice house. The people said they didn't have any time, but we asked them who they know that might want to hear about Christ. The little daughter (9 years oldish) said that we should go next door. So, we knocked, waited, and a 28 year old woman answered the door, came, opened the gate, and told us how she had found a Book of Mormon in the house, started to read it, and wanted to know what she needed to do to get another one to give to a friend. AWESOME. Another date marked.
Yesterday, we went to the new area of the mission, Caieiras. This place is fresh. No missionaries have ever worked there before. So, it was a cool experience. People were just staring us down in the street wondering who we were....made street contacts so much easier. I met lots of really cool people that were anxious for us to come over and talk to their families about Temple Sealings and Eternal Marraige. It was Way Cool. Plus, we were able to mark some baptismal dates out of nowhere. I love missionary work.
Well, I think that that's about it for the week. Right now I am in food high from the Iron Man Whopper from Burger King...It was the first time that I had onion rings since I came on the mission.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I Saw the Duck

Pics - 4 of 5 missionaries from Washington serving in the Mission....Pic. Mission Councel...It was super cool this time because we have the goal in the mission of 30 baptisms a week. Last week we got it so we made some posters and bought chocalate for everyone. Pic. Elder holding a box of chocolate that we had modified (I did the design with words and paint)
I am super excited to get my birthday box, but I think my blog is broken. I am not getting many letters recently (except for the one from Makelle, thanks cuz!) O poor and lonesome me...I used to be the letter king on the mission! I guess that's what happens when you start getting close to the end and everyone will be home soon anyways. (PLEASE WRITE..., send a card, postcard...tell me what's happening out there in the US, I love any news from home)
Well, onnnnnnnnnn to the week.
This past week was pretty awesome. We had a couple of zone conferences with Elder Araujo of the Seventy. It was great! To tell the truth, we were kind of worried about the conference before hand because we had things that we thought the missionaries of the mission were really needing to learn and know, and we had no idea what Elder Araujo was going to talk about. However, God knows what he does. The conference was perfect! He hit every single topic that we wanted to hit...even in the minor details. He also taught everything in a way that was incredible, really, the best ways to teach obedience and missionary vision that I have ever heard. So yeah, it was sweeeeet.
The story of his that I liked best was about obedience and is called "Eu vi o pato" or "I saw the duck". Let me tell it.
So, two young children (you can imagine me and Kels when we were younger) were going to spend a couple of weeks out in the countryside with their Grandmother and Grandfather. It was going to be a splendid time. They got there and were greeted by the normal warm and welcoming arms of the Grandparents. Both Grandparents were especially excited to teach new skills to their future generation. On the first day, in the morning, Grandfather took his young grandson out to use a slingshot, while Grandmother taught her granddaughter how to make strawberry pie in the kitchen. Grandfather lined up a bunch of cans on a ledge and, showing his grandson the technique, shot each and every single one down. He then gave the slingshot to his grandson to try. But, try as he might, the grandson could not hit a single can. So his Grandfather encouraged him to keep on practicing until he got it right.
Throughout the entire morning her practice and, he got nothing. The afternoon, also nothing. Of course, the young child began to lose his patience and saw his grandmother's favorite duck waddling around and thought "I can't hit anything anyways", took aim, and BLAM! Hit the duck in the head, quickly killing it. The young child became petrified at the thought that he had killed his grandmother's favorite duck, so he quickly gathered it up and buried it under the nearby oak tree. At that moment, he heard everyone calling him for dinner, so, with sweaty palms, he took off and went to eat with everyone. It was a wonderful dinner, with everything that this younun like to eat. Hoever, in the middle of dinner, his grandma asked "has anyone seen my duck? I am quite worried and I haven't seen him for quite some time today."
Her grandson got nervous and said "Grandma, you know what ducks are like. They just start walking and walking and end up getting lost! That's probably what happened, he probably lost himself out in the fields. I bet he'll come back."
At that very moment, his little sister nudged him in the ribs and whispered into his ear "I saw the duck, and I know where it is now sleeping under the oak tree." You can just imagine the horror of the little boy at the thought of his loved grandmother finding out that he had killed her prized possession. They all quickly finished dinner and Grandfather said "Tonight, I will teach my grandson how to play chess."
Grandmother said "come help me wash the dishes my Granddaughter."
The little sister, with a gleam in her eye, said, "No, I want to play chess with Grandfather, my dear brother wants to wash the dishes." Her brother immediatly started to complain and then she whispered "I saw the duck." To his defeat, the brother dutifully went to wash dishes as his little sister went to play chess. This same event happend numerous times throughout the week as the little sister kept blackmailing her brother into doing stuff such as sweing, cleaning, etc.
Finally, at the end of the week, Grandfather was going to take the Grandson into town, when, again, the sister said "I saw the duck." However, the little boy was so sick of the week of blackmailing that he said "Enough! I don't care anymore! Grandma, I killed your duck. It was me! I was using the slingshot and I couldn't hit a single can. Then...first time, I killed your duck. Forgive me Grandma." His Grandmother replied, "Grandson, you know I love you much more than my duck. I know you killed him. I saw you kill him from the kitchen window and I watched as you buried him under the oak tree. I just wanted you to tell me and I wanted to see just how long you would let your little sister blackmail you throughout the week."

This happens in our own lives as we make mistakes, and naturally, we try to hide them right away. Satan, on the other hand, tries to take control of our lives by saying "I saw the duck" and blackmails us into doing his will. Heavenly Father, on the other hand, already knows and wants us to be free in our lives. Obedience is the first law in heaven. His commandments are not to restrict us, but to set us free. As we saw in the story, as soon as the boy confessed his mistake everything was forgiven, and he was able to have fun again.
Cool story huh? Obedience is something that I have really started to understand more as the mission went on and on....
We also did a division this past week in the Sao Paulo North Stake with Elder Pratt and Elder Viana. I stayed with Elder Pratt during the day and it was a lot of fun. We put our musical talents to use singing for people, playing the flute, etc. It brought some great spirit to our lessons and really helped us connect with people. However, the miracle of the day came at the end when we decided to get some acai (sound familiar?). There, I just started talking to the owner and his wife and things just went on from there. They were super impressed with the mission lifestyle and loved the message of the Restoration, even to the point of accepting baptismal dates! They are definitely an awesome couple.
After that, all our time was spent planning mission counsel. We had lots of material and we took a long time in our training. It actually ended up being awesome as all the zone leaders participated and spoke up and we got a great discussion going. We spent most of our time talking about finding people and how we need to open our mouths and speak to everyone, have faith to find, and work with the members. The coolest scripture that we shared was Doctrine & Covenants 35:12, which basically says that good people have been prepared by Heavenly Father to receive the "Fullness of (His) Gospel". It went super well. Everyone said it was the best ever. Even President Cooley gave us a congrats and said it was super good. There's nothing like a compliment from the President to make you feel good on the mission.
For some reason I have been singing a lot recently in my missionary work. It has really been working some miracles for us out here. You could even read Elder Parsons' blog (see link on my blog) for some of the other experiences. It's going great. The scar from last week is getting a lot better too. Now it is just to the level where you have to get pretty close to really see it. I'm thinking that I'm going to use it for dinner conversation during dates when I come home.