Wednesday, February 29, 2012

E-mail to Mom in Louisiana for Katie's Baptism

Dear Mom,

You asked about my mission president.  He is cool but it's kinda sad because he's very much a business man and conducts the mission like a business.  All the other missionaries that had President Beck complain that President Souza is much colder.  So, it makes it kinda hard to hear everyone complain about the new President and still be positive about him.  But, I'm trying my best and yes, I've only seen him about 5 times.

I'm super happy you guys got the package off.  I can't wait to get all that stuff, moon balls, pictures...the elders will laugh about the baby wipes but that's ok, they'll be healous when we run out of water.  And also, Elder Padula says he can pay the $40; it's like R$80 in Brazilian money (note from mom: this elder wants me to send him Crest White Strips because you can't buy them in's important for an elder to have white teeth). 

Sorry you guys have to do all that traveling.  We did over 10 hours this week going to Araripina and Juaziero and stuff, but we had a zone conference there.  They talked about health and stuff.  It was actually super boring and kinda a waste of 3 days (due to traveling and the likes).

Okay, well, that's about it for this week.  Love you tons, mom!!!!!

                    Elder Swinney

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

3 Investigators at Church!!!

Well, Tica is great but she is also kind of a stumbling block in the work.  Everyone wants to get baptized her way and it's making stuff hard.  Also, happy birthday to Katie!

Okay, well this week was very strange.  We had 3 investigators that I was sure would be easy baptisms (this is to say we wouldn't have to push them into the font), 3 girls that were loving the branch, they're teachers and they were really close to baptism, but this week one of them wasn't home the 8 times we passed and then she wasn't in church.  The other girl said she needed more time like Tica (worst excuse I've ever heard).  The third girl said she'd be at church but wasn't so we'll have to talk to her.  But that's not the strange part, get a load of this, we had 6 investigators at church.  Here are their backgrounds.  First,  a woman that said the church wasn't bad but that it wasn't true.  She likes the missionaries but doesn't want anything to do with the church.  Well, she was at church on Sunday.  Second, third and fourth, a woman and her kids from Araipina, a town about an hour outside Trindade that we visit every Friday cause we have members there.  Anyway, we passed there this Friday to invite this woman and her kids to church (they are inactive members and haven't been for several years).  We invited her and she said, "thanks for the invitation but I will never go to church again".  After some talking we extended the invitation again and left.  Well, her and her two kids were there at church on Sunday.  Five and six, a couple with several kids that are members of the church, and the first time we ever met the husband about a month ago, we entered the house and he called his daughter into another room and started hitting her with a wooden bar.  He got so mad at her for letting the missionaries into the house that he started beating her.  Well, he was pretty drunk, so some of her brothers pulled him back and the girl left the house.  We left since we were mostly the problem and we had never been back to that house until this week.  We were invited by a member of the ward over there.  I was afraid something bad would happen again but he just quietly listened.  It was really bad missionary work on my part because while we were teaching him the whole time I was wanting to get up and smash my chair over his head.  I was still very angry at him for the way he treated his daughter but I learned to have faith that people can change because he and his wife were there at church on Sunday.  So, that's what I mean by this week was strange.  I learned to trust that God can change anyone. 

HAHA!  And also I was talking to an investigator that the other elders are teaching and I told her I was from the United States.  She replied, "oh", and I said California.  She said "is that close to Sao Paulo?"  I said the United States.  She guessed, "Rio?"  I said no, I'm not from Brazil.  Yeah, so that just goes to show my Portuguese must be kinda good, and also she is really uneducated.  Everyone knows where the United States is. 

Also, the Branch President was trying to speak to me in English.  He said, ", are Flowers?"  I didn't know what to say to that so I asked him to just speak in Portuguese.

Last thing that was wierd this week...on our way here to the internet cafe we turned the corner next to the big Catholic church and became the head of a funeral procession.  It was perfect timing so that everyone was just behind us and followed us for 3 blocks.  It was kind of wierd but mostly kinda funny.

Also, yes the music is acapella.  I'm the unofficial music conductor guy...I do it most weeks.  The branch president conducts.  The priests pass and I think we've got like 100 active members and something like 300 actual members.

I love all of you,
Elder Swinney

Friday, February 3, 2012

YESSSSSS!!!!!!!! TICA GOT BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dear Family,                                                                      January 30, 2012

Okay, here it comes, I can't explain it all because I don't have time but here's the real short version
of the story.  Okay, Tica and her friend, Tereza found the church in 2003 and Tereza was baptized and served a  mission.  Tica had doubts and was never baptized.  The two of them have stayed close friends these past 10 years.  Tica has been recieving the missionaries for the past 10 years but she has never felt that baptism was something that she needed.  And I don't think bad of any missionaries that gave up on her (we did too, but were always prompted to go back, so we did as we were told).  We taught her at least four times a week for the past 12 weeks.  She would always tell us about some experience she had with prayer or the scriptures or a dream.  We would say, "So, you got your answer, right??"  She would always tell us she wasn't sure and then she would bring up doubts about things she had read on the internet and everytime we would say, " don't trust the internet, trust God; he'll let you know what's right!"  We had mostly given up on her but the other day Elder Santos asked her to pray about baptism.  We had been really hard on her that lesson (I felt kinda bad cause I almost made her cry from guilt, with some scriptures) and I think she was feeling kinda humbled (not because of our words but the things we read to her).  Anyways, we came back the next day and asked if she had prayed.  She said she had..."And?"...she said she'd give us an answer the next day.  We said fine and we came back the next day and she told us about what happened.  She said she prayed and felt inspired to read in the bible and she opened up to Chapter 49 of Isaiah.  It's way better in Portuguese, but in essence it was God saying to Tica, "I've given you more answers than you need and I've done everything I can; it's useless to go on like this, just get baptized already!"  So, she finally took that as her answer.  TEN YEARS!  She has been an investigator for ten years, and it was finally the right time...she was finally ready to follow Jesus Christ!  Anyway, I'm so happy and so grateful  that I was able to be a part of it.  I'm so glad that God was able to use me to bless the lives of one of his Daughters.  He definitely loves her a lot because  he wouldn't let us give up on her.  I can't tell you guys how happy I am for her.  If I don't baptize another person on my mission I will still feel satisfied because she really means that much to me.  Sorry about all the errors.  I typed this real fast. 

Also, Elder Oliviera Santos left which was really sad for me.  I love that guy, and I may never see him again.  He's in Fortaleza and goes home next transfer.  My next companion will be Elder Padula, also a Brazilian.  WHOOOHOOOO!!!!! It helps a ton to have  Brazilians for companions.  Also, I'm starting to get accepted by the people here.  Irma Linda said I'm family now and she calls me son.  And Neidi and Daiane call themselves, "minhas maes Brasilieras", my Brazilian mothers.  It's funny cause they say they've fed me since before I could talk (which is true because when I got here I couldn't speak to them).  So, that is super cool for me.  I think I've almost completely left my American ways of doing things, and I'm adjusting to the culture really well. 

Yeah well, this week was awesome and sad and happy, but I mean, I'm a missionary, I guess that's what it's all about. 

Love you all!
Elder Swinney