January 28, 2013 5 Months Out
The transfer went
very smoothly. I am now in Butiá which is only about an hour bus ride away from
Porto Alegre but it feels like a whole different world out here. Butiá is a
little town but is the perfect size for 2 missionaries. It is so nice out here.
All the houses here are well built and very clean, no favelas. The people are
friendly, and every thing is relatively new. It is just about the opposite of
living in the city. On the way out to Butiá I got to see a new view of Brazil,
the countryside. The countryside is beautiful, green every where, rolling
hills, and trees! I live in a house with members of the Branch. It is such a
nice change and I am so grateful to be here.
My companion is Elder Weber, a Brazilian from São Paulo. He is 26 years old! He
is way cool, and he is helping me out a lot in my progression as a missionary
and with Portuguese.
He is kind of a rock star turned Mormon. He was baptized when he was 13 but
quickly fell away from the church. He found music and the drums at an early age
and decided that the band life was the way to live. He grew up without any
belief in God or anything for that matter, until a few years ago he started
investigating various churches. Since then he has been a Buddhist, Evangelical,
Spiritist, just about every religion there is, until missionaries found him and
his mom again and they rejoined the Church. When he was 25 his bishop told him
to serve a mission and the rest is history. He is the best companion I could
have asked for, he is mature, kind, and likes to work.
The members of the Branch are way cool also. There is probably about 30 active
members and they are really excited about the missionary work here in Butiá.
They take really good care of the missionaries.
So I had the priviledge of seeing Elder Bednar twice! Once with the
missionaries and once at stake conference. It was amazing. One of the
highlights of my mission thus far. He met with a couple zones of our mission.
There was about 80 missionaries, mission pres. and wife, 2 members of the 70
and wives, and Elder Bednar and his wife. Never again will we be that close,
with that few number of people, to that many leaders of the church. He taught
us in a way that invited the spirit strongly. He asked us questions and then we
asked him questions for about 2 hours. He had nothing planned, no talk, no
nothing, but ended up teaching us that we need to become agents in this life
not objects. He said in this world society wants you to be an object or
something to be acted upon, not something to act for yourself. I learnt to go out
and get what I want and not wait around until something happens because it
won't. He told us if we ever need an answer go out and get for ourselves,
because in that way we own it, not borrowing it from someone else. The same
applies with our investigators. Our goal is turn them from objects to agents,
or in other words teach them how to act for themselves. He said the greatest
compliment we can ever receive as missionaries is "We don't need you
anymore, get out of our house, we know the church is true and can get our own
answers." By becoming an agent we become converted to the Lord. This is
just a rough summary but you get the point. After all the missionaries got to
shake Bednar's hand. It was awesome!!! Haha. Never have I looked into such
piercing eyes in my life, I think he stared right into my soul, it was nuts!
Sunday we got to see him again at stake conference and he gave a talk about
character. Character meaning are we the same person when nobody else is
looking. He started out by talking about Jesus right after he finished his 40
day/night fast to start his earthly ministry. Jesus was all alone and Satan
came and tempted him with 3 things, turn stones to bread to eat, jump off the
tower and save himself to show the people his power, and the last temptation
being a reward from Satan, the world. Elder Bednar said that in other words
Satan was trying to make Jesus do something for himself, prestige, power, and
wealth. He wanted Jesus to be selfish for lack of a better word. He explained
that Jesus never did anything for himself and always turned out to others
instead of turning in. We need to put off the natural man and turn to Christ.
He gave a whole list of examples:
In the bible it reads that after the temptations from Satan, angels
administered unto Jesus, but in fact if you go read the Joseph Smith
translation Jesus sends angles to John the Baptist who was in jail at the time
and in far better condition than Jesus.
Jesus said a prayer right before the atonement but it was for others well being
and not for himself.
Right after the suffering in the Garden Gethsemene, suffering more than any
mortal can comprehend, he healed the guards ear that Peter cut off.
On the cross he called out to his apostle to take care of his mother.
On the cross he continued to do missionary work by conversing, and teaching the
thieves that were on his right and left, about life after death.
In short Christ always turned out and he expects the same of us as church
members, and we are not alone. In his atoning strength we can do anything. So
next time we say, "I don't want to do missionary work, I don't want to do
my home teaching, I don't want to go to church this week" think about
really what your doing, your being selfish and turning in towards yourself.
Only by turning to Christ can we find peace and light in a world that grows
darker every single day. The gospel will help us make it through this life, now
become a saint through the atonement and example of Jesus Christ.
Elder Bednar was absolutely amazing and it is having a positive impact on my
mission already. I feel so determined to just be the best missionary I can be.
I know it will take a lot of study, practice, and going out an getting my own
answers, but I have faith the Lord will help me on my journey, he has already helped
me this far.
Mom if you have not already sent my package through a couple ensigns in there
for me and maybe some sunscreen. Grandpa, I got your Christmas package this
week and I want to thank for the letter and Seahawks shirt, I love it!
Lots of Love Elder Miller