Now, before everyone freaks out that my subject line is "Why Am I Here?", no, I´m not having a crisis where I question my service as a missionary. I know perfectly well that I am here to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end (Preach My Gospel Pg.1). I don´t think any of you had doubts about this. But the title will direct this letter.
This week, in general, has been pretty grand. We were able to teach a happy number of lessons (21) with a member present and a handful of others. Long story short, our numbers this week were awesome. Elder Tribino and I are working better together than ever before and I´m loving it. We´re really beginning to have the same mindset and look towards the same goals. He really is a great missionary, he just needed a little bit of adjustment time, that´s all. But let´s be real, who doesn´t need adjustment time on the mission? With all that aside, we´ve grown a lot together, and it´s been a blessing. We´re starting to communicate more and I think he´s less scared of me. I don´t think he was really scared of me before, but he wouldn´t ever say anything if he didn´t like what I did. Basically, everything is improving because of the blessing of communication.
But the real subject of the week, why on earth am I here? I´ll explain. We had divisões (exchanges) with the Zone Leaders this week because Elder Soares wanted to come down and work with me. Elder Soares is absolutely awesome. He´s a killer missionary, a stellar teacher, and probably my best friend here in Brasil. Only sad thing, this is his last transfer. But, at the same time, it was a blessing to be able to work with someone so experienced. We traded about 11 in the morning and had the whole rest of the day to work together. It was amazing to work with him because everything he did seemed so natural. Teaching was truly an inspired conversation. Street contacts were simple, to the point, and, again, natural. Every single moment we were teaching, finding, and focusng even more. The Spirit was strong and I saw a little bit of my potential as a missionary during these moments. The next day as we went to trade back, I reflected on the lessons I´d learned during the past day and thought to myself "That was amazing. I feel like there´s so much to do and so little time to do it. I don´t know how I´m going to do all these things." As I thought about my time on the mission so far I realized I´d been working hard, but with little direction. I had goals, but nothing written down, nothing planned. How could I possibly expect to accomplish anything if I didn´t have a plan? As I reflected on this I thought, "I don´t want to sit down on the plane when I come home and think "Well, I filled my time. Guess I can go home now." I want to go home thinking "Opa, foi ótimo! Trabalhei com tudo todo dia, todos os dias. Na verdade, eu fiz tudo para me melhorei, e ajudar outras pessos aceitam o evangelho" (Wow, that was awesome! I worked with everything, all day, every day! Truly I did everything to better myself, and help others to accept the gospel). But how can I do that if I don´t know what I´m doing? So, this morning I kelt in prayer for personal study and prayed for the Spirit to guide my planning that I could set real mission goals that would give me direction and purpose, every single day. I then read Alma 26 to give me a vision of where I want to go, and then "How to Establish Goals" in Preach My Gospel. Then I planned. I want to know my Savior. I want to master Portuguese. I want to return home with a working knowledge of the scriptures and the ability to teach. I want to be a real friend to my companions, ward members, and everyone I meet. More important, I have plans to accomplish them. It´s not going to be easy. It´s going to require 110% effort 110% of the time. But that´s the mission. I´m not here to fill time just so I can return home and say "Did my two". I´m here to be molded into a servant of Christ for the rest of my life. I´m here to help others to receive the blessings of the gospel. More important, I now know how I´m going to do this. Remember when I said on the phone that I´m going to come back a lot different than when I left? Yeah. It´s going to happen. Welcome to the mission. The worlds greatest refiner´s fire.