Monday, June 27, 2016

Week Fifty - Some Challenges

São João was this week. Its a big holiday here in the North East. Bigger than Carnaval. On Thursday the road was filled with fires, and children lighting off bombs and fireworks. There are these little bomb fire works that the kids use here. Its a little roll that you light and throw and it just explodes and makes a huge noise. Pretty entertaining. I saw 2 kids throwing them at each other in a park, and for a while too. It was crazy. They were having a bomb fight. You could easily lose a hand with one of those things. It was pretty sick though. But Thursday was basically impossible to work after like 4/5 hours so we went to a members house and visited a recent convert. But São João was pretty cool. I probably will only see it once because of the timing I came on the mission.
Other than that this week was pretty rough. Our two investigators that were making the most progress and had a baptismal date for this week fell through Saturday night. They weren't able to go to church because of a family event. So that was hard. And no one really progressed this week and it looks like we are going to have to cut Maria and Edson. It's getting hard to continue working here. Without help from the members it's entirely coming from our own effort. And this week there were only 26 people at church including us and someone from the district. It's getting pretty tense I'm not going to lie. I'm feeling pretty lost honestly right now. I don't know what else to do anymore here. I have been turning to Preach my Gospel for a lot of help but it's difficult to apply the principles perfectly in the area. 
We got expelled from a house in the middle of a lesson by a JW this week. We were in the garage talking with the mom and daughter, when from nowhere the oldest son came out from the house and just started to say a mountain of hipocritical things. He accused us of trying to convert his family (partially true), but also that he hates missionary work and thinks it's wrong (Jehovas Witness does the same thing we do...) but yeah I wanted to call him out but I let it go.
Also after I said the opening prayer of the lesson, The mom told me the prayer was good, but I erred on one thing... She asked me what is the true name of God. I said Elohim. She said no, Jehova. She said I was supposed to pray to Jehova in the name of Jesus Christ. I just thought to myself... let it go... just let it go. And I was just like yeah cool.... this lesson will be rough.. then we were expelled 5 minutes after. 
Also we are going to be changing our house here soon. The secretary was able to fix the contract,
So yeah that was this week...
Elder Batten

(The moto taxi was an emergency, we missed the bus and had to get back to the station quickly to return to the area. haha.)


Monday, June 20, 2016

Week Forty Nine - Tender Mercies

In answer to some questions we asked this week:
We are supposed to do 4 hours of service every week. It 's been a while since I really did a service project though. It can be hard sometimes to find service to do here. The weather is a little better now since it's winter here. It's not as hot, and it rains a few times a week. This week had a significant amount of rain which is nice sometimes, except when commitments fall through and you're out walking in the street ha ha. Right now I like Portuguese better than English, but that's just because I've gotten accustomed. Oh, also I forgot to mention, the blog you have been doing has been getting famous. Not really, but a decent amount of missionaries who are coming into the field have already seen and read it. The sisters in my district were asking about it. They said they're going to look at it on P day. I jokingly said good luck reading English but google translates. haha

It's been pretty difficult recently here not going to lie. The attendance in the ward is really low right now. I think that last Sunday it was under 30 but I didn't want to count. We've been cutting off a lot of investigators and moving on - like always, but this week was pretty low in respect to teaching. It's been hard I won't lie and it is disheartening when the last time you got a reference from a member was months and months ago, but I'm trying not to get down on it. I believe that the Lord will bless this area if we put in the effort. This week was going pretty poorly until Sunday. We had committed a family to come to church with us on Saturday night. When we got there Sunday morning, the two daughters of the family left with us to walk to church. They live just around the corner so it wasn't too long of a walk. We weren't really expecting that the parents would go. They don't really show much interest anyway so it was to be expected. It went really well. They made some friendships I think with the other young women in the branch. There are only like 2 or 3 but if they get baptized it would be a decent improvement for the branch. So I'm pretty happy about that. It really was a tender mercy from the Lord. They have a date set for July 2nd and we will be returning there this week with some of the members and young women from the ward to help them progress.

Also I've received kind of a revelation in respect to my teaching habits this week. I realized that I've been teaching lessons,  not people for a while now. It was vey easy for me to memorize the lessons and get down scriptures that I like to use in my teaching when I got to the field. But I have been more lecturing the investigators instead of really teaching and having an involved lesson with the investigators. I've been studying a bunch and reading Preach My Gospel chapters 4, 10 and 11. It's been helping a lot.

With what I learned we decided to return to some investigators that haven't been to church in a while and aren't really progressing right now. So we returned to visit  Maria and Edson on Sunday with the branch president and his wife. We had a really good lesson with them. The spirit was strong and we recommitted them to read the Book of Mormon for 10 minutes every night and pray about it. So we are going to see how that goes. I hope that we see some progress with them. It would be nice. I was kind of concerned that they really only like our visits because they like us. They like to converse and talk about things with us so I thought that they were only continuing because of friendship, but I have hope that this week will be different.

This week will be São João on the 24th. So there will be a lot of parties and corn.

Have a good week.
Elder Batten

(pictures from zone conference last week)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week Forty Eight - Traveling

I thought I already said, but we got our energy back a while ago. The contract for the new house didn't go right. The owner of the house doesn't sign because of his vision. He only does thumbprints. (He actually wanted us to just move in and pay him cash every month and we had to convince him to do a contract). So the secretaries talked with the church lawyer and said that his daughter could sign for him. But when the contract got to Salt Lake it was rejected. So we won't be changing houses. And since we got all the bills right and have energy and water I'm not planning on going out again and wasting time looking for another house. So the mission president will have to wait out on that one.

The travel this week was tiring. It was like 8 hours to Maceió. We left at 3 and got there after 11 to the secretaries house. Then I renewed my visa and returned at like 6 the next day for Sergipe. We got to Sergipe at like midnight. And since the conference was there in Aracaju close by we stayed there until the morning and walked to the Conference which was close by. We had leadership meeting in the morning which was good. Then some training for the AP's which I liked and afterwards Sister Gomes and Pres Gomes talked about some things. I liked it a lot. They talked a lot about baptism, and about the goal for June which is 120 baptisms. In May the mission baptized 114. Things are a lot better now in the mission. My district had 10, which was the second best in the mission but it was because Sister Monteiro had 7 baptisms in one month.

We had very little time to work last week which was hard. Basically only Tuesday and Saturday and on Tuesday we had to leave to do a baptismal interview. But we made some really good investigators and marked to leave with them in the morning to go to church. When we got there, they had left for Rossa. Afterwards we passed by Maria and Edson who also weren't able to come. So we sat knocking on the doors of investigators and ex investigators to invite them to come to church until 9:40. No one went with us. So we didn't even attend Elders quorum really, and then went and taught Gospel Principles afterwards. It was really frustrating. But that's okay, this week will be better and we have more time to work.

Miss and love you,
Elder Batten

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week Forty Seven - Baptism Pictures

So we had some baptisms this week which was cool. Mirna and Cida were baptized. I sent pictures but I don't have a picture of Cida which I will explain right now. Mirna's baptism was supposed to be on Saturday 3:00pm, and Cida was for 8:00am before church on Sunday because she works on Saturday. On Friday there wasn't any water at the church so we left the water on and open. When we arrived Saturday morning there still wasn't any water so we started filling the pia with buckets from the faucet in the church. After about 2 hours the water failed completely. The pia was only filled about to your knees so we had to cancel the baptism and put if off for Sunday morning together with Cida. The water came at like 4:00pm and the pia filled but on Sunday morning we got there early to get ready the baptismal clothing and make sure everything was okay. At about 8:00am Cida was there and Mirna wasn't. She had passed by the church earlier and told the president she would pass by her home and take a shower. So we sat waiting. She didn't come. At 8:30 we had to start the baptism so my companion left with a member to find Mirna and I did the baptism alone (with the members) and when I was baptizing Cida my companion showed up with Mirna and her mother (another investigator). I was so worried that she wouldn't come that I forgot to take a picture. Turns out Mirna thought we said that we would pass by her house before church and walk there with her. So she was ready at 7:30 at home waiting for us the entire time. She was baptized after church and I took a pic with Mirna, Cida and my comp but Cida is not wearing the baptismal clothing. I'm sad I don't have a picture of the baptism of Cida though. I was pretty irritated.

We are also still working with Maria and Edson. They didn't go to church this last Sunday which was sad but we are going firm with them still. We may have to cut them off though because they aren't progressing very much.

This week I have to do a baptismal interview on Tuesday, Wednesday I have to go to Maceio and Thursday I have to renew my visa, then Friday we have zone conference. It's going to be a busy week.

Love and miss you
Elder Batten