Im learning Portuguese! Alright, not officially...BUT my new super awesome companion is a visa waiter for the Brazil, Santos mission. She will be here from 6 weeks to 6 months depending on how long it takes for her visa to arrive and go through. She has been teaching me Portuguese and I am picking it up quick. The gift of tongues is real, people. I can start and end prayers in Portuguese and even understand most of what Sister Byrne says when she is praying. I love it! Who knows, I could be fluent in Portuguese by the time she leaves. We have to do an extra hour of language study each morning and since I can't help her that much (because of my lack of knowledge in portuguese) I sit there and read from the English Book of Mormon and Portuguese Book of Mormon and take notes on words. It is pretty awesome and such a neat experience! Who knew I would be called to California, English speaking and come back fluent in Portuguese. Unique mission, eh?
So a little bit about my new companion....her name is Sister Byrne (you say it Burn) and she is from Dallas, TX. Well a suburb right outside Dallas called The Colony, but no one really knows where that is. Sis Byrne went to BYU and just finished her first year of nursing school before coming on her mission. Awesome, right? She is so pumped and ready to get the work rolling. We are about to light Loomis on fire! Baptizing like crazy...we just have to find the people to baptize. But we are ready to work hard and see miracles. Things have been great so far and I know President Weston was definitely inspired when he put us together. AND small world, Sister Byrne's MTC teacher was Eric Smith from our ward. He's the one who gave his homecoming talk the day I gave my farewell talk. Crazy, right? Tell him hello and that I am training his student well.
This whole past week was spent doing a lot of tracting and man, people were not happy with us. I think everyone took angry pills or something. Almost all of the houses we went to people started to argue with us about certain false doctrines and things they had heard about the church. "I hear you baptize dead people! I saw it." "Joseph Smith was on some major drugs when he wrote the Book of Mormon...you really believe that stuff?" People were bashing us like crazy, man. But all we could do was testify of what we know to be true because arguing literally gets you nowhere. We met a lot of people who attend Bayside church in Rocklin and the rumor is they have Anti-Mormon classes and basically teach people to hate us. Its sad that a lot of people get their information from the internet. People talk about all this "research" they've done on Mormons and all of it is anti mormon literature they read...so that totally makes sense, right? Of course the people who hate mormons would write the truth about us. We are trying to find a more effective way to find new investigators, but until then, this is what we are dealing with. Makes for good stories though. :)
Gerald, our investigator who has been meeting with the missionaries for 2 years now, finally stayed for church for TWO hours! Bro Stoddard, our ward mission leader, made him a deal that if Gerald stayed for both hours, he would read up on the Mennonite religion with him. He kept the deal and actually stayed. He is slowly progressing and it is very exciting!
Tomorrow we will be receiving our INDIVIDUAL mini IPADS!! Merry Christmas to us! This is seriously going to change the way we do missionary work. Everything will be paperless and so much more effective. We are really excited and interested to see how it will all work. The church is amazing!
Saturday night at our ward Christmas party, a young man named Dacoda came up to us and asked if we could meet with him this week. We have actually been looking for him because we found his teaching record in our area book and there was no record of why he even stopped taking the discussions back in February. I really have the feeling that he is ready now and will hopefully be our miracle baptism before the end of the year!
We are really working hard and seeing the miracles every day as we do our best. It is amazing to see it all come together. Hard work pays off. We watched this amazing video in Zone Conference on Thursday and it compared the Atonement to Missionary Work. Elder Holland gave some powerful remarks and said the following: "Missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience." "When we struggle, are rejected, etc. we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the most perfect missionary of all time, Jesus Christ." "Why would it be easy for us, if it wasn't easy for Him?" I can do this because He did everything for me! My time to work and invite is LIMITED.
Christmas is coming soon and I hope you all have been able to read over the Christmas story with your families. If you haven't, do it! And remember the true/real meaning of Christmas. I will miss seeing all of us get together and do the nativity. Sadly our family is getting to a point where we don't have any new babies to play Jesus and will have to start using a baby doll...but, it all works the same.
NINE DAYS until we get to skype! I can not wait. :)
Thank you for all of the Christmas cards, packages, and letters. Your love and support is what keeps me going. I love this work. I love Loomis. I love my companion. I love this gospel. And i LOOOOVEEE all of you!!
Miss you all. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
Love and prayers,