Monday, August 26, 2013

No Growth in the Comfort Zone...No Comfort in the Growth Zone


The language is getting better and better. Towards the end of the day I am always exhausted mentally though, and physically, of course. I have never walked so much in my life! So, this week we baptized Stenio. He is a great guy, like 27. He really has a strong desire to do what's right. He had no problem with any of the commandments. He was just super humble and willing, really an awesome guy. So, that went well, and he will be confirmed next week. Edla was confirmed this week as well. We didn’t get to teach Jonas again yet unfortunately. We wanted to go yesterday, but he was busy.

Baptism of Stenio, a member baptized him. It was one of his good friends. His mom came to see also. 

It is weird though because I am getting used to living here, and I can tell because yesterday we went in a car with a member to go teach someone. It was my first time in a member's car because not many have them, they generally have motorcycles because they're easier, but it was a super nice truck. I was like in shock when we got in hahaha like---Wow! This thing is sweet! Smelling the leather and the whole bit hahaha just kidding, I really did though.

The floors here are always tile or cement. The carpet is non-existent here, so it’s a little sad to not have carpet. I will try to get some pictures of the homes. They are all right exactly next to each other, and painted bright colors, like pink and orange, blue or yellow. And when you buy a house you own the sidewalk in front of it, so you can do what you want with it. So, the sidewalk is different along the whole street, some are tile or just cement.

I haven't used the insect repellent yet. We put a fan on us at night, and I think that keeps the mosquitoes off. The windows don't have screens though, so in the balcony-type room, it is just covered by bars. So, every other night there is this pink lizard guy on the ceiling, I am going to give him a name soon if he keeps coming back. It has only rained two times luckily, and I guess it doesn't rain at all in the summer, which is next month.  So, I guess it is supposed to get hotter. I used the umbrella last week, I like that thing a lot because it is so small, its like 007, no one knows I have it, they're like---where did you get that? The shoes with the laces are doing well, the bottom is starting to separate though, but I think I can get them repaired.

So, this week has gone a lot better, we are starting week five today, which is really weird. So, I have been here about a month. The other day I bought a Coxinha, like a little fried dumpling with chicken inside, kind of hard to describe, but I asked the guy all by myself and everything. Today I tried to buy ham for sandwiches, but I only knew how to say meat, so it went a little rough. This week I also talked on the phone with a member to confirm lunch. My companion just does these type things, he starts calling, then he hands me the phone. But there is this cool quote from somewhere, it says there is no growth in the comfort zone, and there is no comfort in the growth zone. So, I guess it can be good to be uncomfortable a lot. But it is true, it is hard to speak, but you just have to do it. Also, I listened to the talk by Elder Bednar about the spiritual gift of discernment. That put into light a lot of things. You guys should listen to it. He talks about Mormon being 10-years-old, but "Quick to Observe". So, I have been trying to observe everything and discern people’s needs. 

I also like the talk by Elder Holland, "Lord, I Believe". It is so true, just like it says in Alma 32, "even if you can no more than desire to believe, let that desire work in you.” I think I learned something quite interesting in my last lesson in Michigan. As a missionary, sometimes I had the attitude that the people were doubting our lessons. When they would ask questions, I would almost get a little offended on the inside (depending on the question). But in my last lesson, the guy asked, why did Peter, James and John give the priesthood to Joseph Smith, why not Jesus? At first I would normally be like---this guy just wants to argue with us or prove us wrong or something, because a lot of times that was the case, but this time, he was actually wanting to know the truth, so we just explained about the authority being given to them from Jesus, and what that means. So, I needed to change my attitude as a teacher. It was a sweet experience though because I wasn’t frustrated when he asked, I thought to myself, that’s a good question, and then we answered it. It is really important though not to question everything with doubt. Because like you are saying, there is no faith. I love that talk from Elder Holland, though, I love the General Authorities.

Something really sweet about this week though, is I learned that discouragement does not come with trouble. So, when you have a problem, it does not require you to be discouraged, and that is with everything in life. So, a lot of times we let in these discouraging thoughts like I can't do it, or I am not qualified. These thoughts come from Satan, he is trying to attack our faith and fill us with fear. I know it because I have felt it. So right now, I am filling myself with positive thoughts and promises from the scriptures, praying harder for help, because when you completely trust in the Lord, you have no fear to accomplish what he asks. So, that is what I am working on. I tend to have these thoughts like---oh, wait until you can speak well, then you can be a good missionary and teach. But I can't wait, I have the responsibility right now. Faith is believing, but the evidence of our belief is when we act, or for me, when I open my mouth and try to speak, that is when I can access the gift of tongues. So, this week I am going to put in more effort to do all I can to speak Portuguese. It is so awesome to be here and talk with all of these people. I love you all and miss you. Thank you for your prayers.

Com amor,
Elder Hoyt

Monday, August 19, 2013

I Finally Met A Jonas!

Cara Família!

So my week was sweet this time. Crazy story...starts off with this guy, his name is Jonas! I finally met a Jonas! So, we wanted to teach him after meeting him, while he was street vending fruit. He is actually friends with a couple members who sell nearby him. So, we were going to go teach him at his house, but his house was kind of far and hard to find, his phone was out of minutes, so he couldn't give us directions, and we aren't allowed to ride on the back of his motorcycle (which he wanted us to do). So, he led us to this bus type thing, more like an oversized van, with a ton of people and really crammed. We rode that while he rode his motorcycle, and then he met us near the bus stop, and took us to his house...very humble house made from brick, and the back half he made himself with mud and wood. We taught him a little, and then he wanted us to meet his family who lived next door with the same type of situation. So, it was hilarious because we were teaching his brother, and then all the rest of the family started coming in too, like his other sister, his grandparents and their neighbors, so we kept on re-introducing ourselves haha. It was awesome though.

Then we had a sweet experience yesterday. I lost the key ring that had keys to the house, the Church and everything...I usually don't lose anything, but it was raining, and I was in a hurry to change clothes for the baptism and everything, so they must have fallen from my pocket. I don't even know where I lost them, but I was pretty sure I lost them in the Church. So, we were searching and then I said a prayer for us, and minutes later we saw them sitting in the Bishop's office...he had found them earlier. I know it was an answer to prayer because I was sincerely humbled and sincerely needed help. I felt so bad for losing the keys, but it was a tender mercy.

I have definetely experienced the love of Heavenly Father. These past couples nights I have been listening to Conference Talks from the General Authorities. Hearing their powerful testimonies keeps me going and gives me strength. They truly are Apostles of Jesus Christ. I love them. They are like my angels that help me. President Holmes (Mission President in Michigan) gave me the Conference Talks on a CD, so that's what I use.

Yesterday at Church, we were bringing our family to Church and it was raining so hard. We borrowed two other umbrellas from members, and went back to get them. We brought two of them, and went back for the other two. The funny thing was the umbrellas were rainbow and pink polkadots, but we got them there semi-dry. My shoes were also soaked as of yesterday. All the people we have baptized are from this same family. This week we also baptized the sister. So, first was Eliton, then Edja, then yesterday was Edla.

The roads here are cobblestone mostly, main roads are asphalt. A lot of roads are just dirt, or the cobblestone is so dirty it is basically dirt. Most people sell things it seems, a couple people teach English in schools, mostly everyone works in little shops selling glasses and watches and things like that. 

My stomach has been fine now. When we are fed, it is always super nice and well prepared...some of the best lunches ever. The members always make us eat a lot. I am loving the food though, and the juice is my favorite.

The language is still improving I think! Pernambuco accent is really hard to understand. Thank you for writing me and praying for me, I love you all so much! Have a great week!

Com amor,
Elder Hoyt

View from my apartment

Monday, August 12, 2013

Getting Settled In

Oi Minha Família,

Things are going well! I am getting settled in. Wow, Mom you understand me so well, even though you are so far away! That is exactly what is going on! My companion doesn’t realize that I don’t understand anything, but I have made drastic improvement on understanding people from last week. I think last week I understood about 10%, and now I understand like 60%-70%, depending on whose speaking. So, I am getting there.  

So, we baptized another girl...the kid’s sister from last week. She chose me to baptize her. We teach their whole family of like eight people. The names are all close, and they are hard to remember because I have never heard them before, but that is getting better too. I don’t say a whole ton in the lessons, but I bear my testimony. I taught some other people the whole Restoration lesson, and I just hope they understood me. Some people are too nice to stop me, or act like they don’t understand. Other people laugh and that’s the worst, but whatever haha. So, pretty soon I will be able to say whatever I want, and understand everyone! That will be sweet.  

But this last week was crazy! So, we are opening this area, and in the first week we already had three exchanges or divisãos. One with Elder M from Goiana 2 who is American and been out for four months, and the other with the Zone Leader Elder M, and another with the other Elder in Goiana 2. So two of them were in my area, and I was taking these Elders around my area, not knowing what’s going on or where anyone lives or anything. It was a blast, but I felt bad because I wasn’t much help. The Zone Leader, Elder M, was crazy though, he is American and been out a year and a while, he was asking people how to get places, answering all the phone calls, basically doing everything. I was trying my best. He was awesome though!

So, my companion is really spontaneous and sometimes during almoçco (lunch) with the members, he just says, Elder Hoyt has a message to share, without telling me anything prior. And I don’t want to act like I’m not prepared, so I just act like it was planned and everything. The family told me my Portuguese was good, and that they understood everything! So that was sweet. I read a scripture from Alma 32 about the seed that grows and swells, and bore my testimony to them. So things are going sweet!

So, we get lunch with the members every day! And it is always rice and beans, just like everyone said! That is the one thing I was prepared for haha. They always have spaghetti as well, or pasta and some type of meat. The lunches are awesome with the members. My favorite is the juice and the desserts. The desserts are like puddings of different things like coconut, or limes. They are so good, and the juice is fresh and homemade of fruits I have never heard of, but taste awesome!

We do walk everywhere, and use taxis or buses when we need to leave our area for meetings and things like that. The buses are pretty nice, better than the Detroit buses haha. And the taxi drivers are kind of crazy, they get you there really quick. There are no lanes on the roads, so you pretty much just go wherever there is space, and everyone has motorcycles, so they can just go wherever they want. There are always people on the street just sitting there as we walk by or people walking. It is sweet here.

There is a member in the ward who is the Seminary teacher (coincidence), she is like my mom here. She helps me to learn the language and helps me have faith to learn and everything. We always seem to run into her when things are rough, so I know that I am being looked out for. So I was sick last Saturday for half the day, and I had some stomach issues, and felt all achy and stuff, but I took Advil, and I eventually got better. I think it might’ve been something I ate, but not sure. I am fine now though.

It is a great challenge to learn the language, but it is sweet. When I struggled when I was sick, I said my prayer at night, and I wrote it down in my notebook. So, as I was saying it, I wrote it down. It was very cool...I want everyone to try it. It organizes your thoughts very well, and makes you really think deeply as to what you want to say.  

So, I have been missing everyone! I pray for you all every night and morning! The family truly is where we have the most joy. I love all you guys and love thinking back to those times of family vacation where we had our own family testimony meetings. Those were so awesome! Seriously, those effected my life greatly, and I will remember that forever. We talk a lot, but very rarely do we get to share the true feelings of the heart because they need to be done in reverent settings. But thank you Mom and Dad for doing those. I will do them one day when I have a family.  

Being on my mission has also changed my perspective of callings. I now know how important it is to fulfill callings and serve in the Church. Missionary service doesn’t end with the mission! You can serve your whole life. I want to fulfill all my callings 100% my whole life. I know you all do too. But my understanding of how the Church works is growing, and it is so perfectly organized and inspired by Heavenly Father for the strengthening and blessing of His children, even here in Brazil! And even in it is pronounced “hoosia”, so that’s fun. And my name is pronounced Hoych. I love you all, and will talk to you next week! Tell Lorenzo Happy Birthday! Tell him sorry I was sick for it! I love you all!

Elder Hoyt

Monday, August 5, 2013

First Letter From Brazil!

Mom! and Family!

I am in Brazil! I arrived at 8 o'clock in the morning, and when we got off the plane they didn't check my immunizations or anything. So I got those for nothing...hahaha just kidding.

Well, coming here has pretty much changed my life already. I am with Elder D. Sousa. He is Brazilian from Brasilia, and he only speaks Portuguese, so it's kinda fun. Another sweet thing, we are opening this area while he is training me, and he is also District Leader. Our area is called Goiana 1. I think it is a couple hours north of Recife, so it's like a smaller town. So, when we got here, we found this kid who had gone to Church once, and we baptized him on Sunday, his name is Eliton. I had the opportunity to baptize him, and everything went well. We confirmed him yesterday during Sacrament, and I also bore my testimony. All the people said it was good...they said I didn't talk really slow like the Americans usually do. They said I have good Portuguese, but I just can't understand what people say to me haha. They talk very fast so I will learn to understand eventually.

The living conditions are different here also. And just EVERYTHING is completely different, so it's crazy haha. I can see myself improving though, and I can understand more of what people say. Not knowing the language of the country you are living in is really humbling though. My companion does everything, and tells me what to do like always. I feel like a little child. It's really interesting. I can't wait till I can understand people and actually teach and everything.

The members feed us well, and it is always rice and beans and spaghetti, and then they always have coconut dessert. I love the food here! I feel like a deer in the headlights when people talk to me, and I don't understand. I think that is what I look like too haha. Hey Mom, I am glad the rats metaphor inspired you. It inspired me as well. I think it is from C. S. Lewis.

This is a huge challenge for me though. So much has happened, and my mind is so boggled, I am not sure if I'm making sense haha, so I am sorry. I will be more on my feet next week, I hope. I have been praying for the gift of tongues! 

I love you all so much! Sounds like everything is going well there, and it is good to hear. I miss you guys and think about you often. Have a great week!

Elder Hoyt