So first of all, I just have to say that I'm really grateful that I
can even send an email today! This library and its computers are a
pain in the neck, but it all worked out. We had to show them proof
that we actually live here by showing them mail that we've had, so we
sent ourselves a letter with our names on it. They almost didn't let
us use them because it just said Elder Easter and Elder Hill, but not
our first names. Anyway, just thought I'd go on a rant about it, but
the main point of that is that I'm really grateful that it all worked
out and that I'm able to email.
This week has been awesome! We talked to a lot of people this week. We
knocked so many doors, that I had to start knocking with my left hand
because my right knuckles were getting sore. That sounds dramatic, but
I'm serious! We set up a lot of lessons for this next week, so we're
excited to see what happens and I hope they all go through. A lot of
our lessons this week fell through, and two of our investigators
dropped us, so hopefully next week goes better in that regard.
We got two new investigators this week. They were headquarters
referrals from temple square. They had visited Salt Lake City and
wanted to know more about the church. They are an older couple named
Bill and Judy and they are really nice and interested. They say they
just want to learn more, and don't have any desire to change anything,
but we'll see what happens there.
A really cool experience we had happened on Saturday. We were walking
down a road on a way to visit somebody that afternoon. We saw a guy
sitting and smoking on his porch and decided to talk to him. He showed
no interest and told us he was Roman Catholic. We asked him if there
was anything we could do to help him out and he said no. But then his
wife came out, and she was carrying a box, so we asked her the same
question. Again she said no. But then she thought about it and said,
"one second, maybe you guys can help." She went back inside and said,
"sure come on downstairs." It wasn't actually their house, but it was
their daughter's and her husband's house. We helped them move all
kinds of things out of their basement for an hour. They really opened
up to us. When we were done, they told us we had to stay for dinner,
so of course we accepted. The lady we met on the porch asked us about
our missions and she said, "That sounds like what the Mormons do!" We
told her that was us, and we had some good conversations. They really
appreciated it, and told us they would call us when they moved into
their new house that they were moving into in a month. It was a great
experience, and I could tell we had planted some seeds there. When you
plant a garden, you first till up the ground, plant the seeds, water
the seed and take care of the plant, and then harvest the fruit. This
is just like missionary work! The tilling of the soil is like breaking
down the walls that people set up when they first start talking to you
because they don't know who you are. After you do that, you can plant
a seed by sharing something about the restored gospel with them. I
feel like we did a lot of those two steps this week.
We had another interesting experience yesterday. One of the first days
we were here, a guy named Tom came up to us and told us that he was
just starting up a Christian church on the main road, and invited us
to come to one of their services. We told him we would try to make it
on one of the Sundays. Yesterday night, we decided we would go. It was
quite the experience! They were just a small congregation of about
20-30 people. They started out by singing some hymns. They sang "Count
Your Many Blessings" and "I Need Thee Every Hour". That was cool since
we know those ones. And then they started their praying and their
hallelujah-ing and amens and all of that jazz. Then, people stood up
and started "speaking in tongues" and shouting praises to God. It may
sound mean to say, but my testimony of the Apostasy and the
Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ shot through the roof! Then
one of the preachers stood up and preached a sermon about different
things. It was pretty intense! I would probably classify it as more of
a pep talk or something like that. We think he indirectly threw some
jabs at us, but we're not sure. But anyway, it was quite the
experience! And it was good because we got to introduce ourselves and
meet lots of people.
Well everything's going great out here, I hope everything is good back
home. I love being a missionary, and I think I say it out loud just
about everyday. The experiences we have here in Brazil are something
else, and there's never a dull moment.
I love all of you!
Elder Tom Hill
Monday, September 9, 2013
Hello Family! (again)
This computer has a timer on it, and it says 17 minutes right now, so I'm going to type really fast, and hopefully it doesn't boot me off, but if it does, I guess you still have that first email I sent.
So this last week has been really exciting. The first couple of days this last week was filled with meeting new members, knocking doors, and trying to find people to teach. The last elders didn't leave very detailed records, so we basically had to start off fresh. We found lots of people who had a desire to learn more, and also found 2 more investigators this week!
One investigator that we met is named Kendra. She lives in a pretty big trailer park on the south side of town that we visited a few times last week. We have 1 (now 2) investigator in there and lots of potentials, so we're in there pretty often. People a lot of times are out of their trailers doing things, so there's an oppurtunity to talk to a lot of people. Kendra was out talking to her neighbor, and we went up and talked to her. She told us that she had seen us around and had wanted to talk to us and find out who we were, but she never got a chance. She agreed to meet with us a couple of days later. We came back and taught her about the Restoration and invited her to be baptized. Before Elder Easter could even finish saying it, she said yes. It was awesome. We thought she'd come to church, but she didn't make it, so something must have come up. We're meeting with her a few times this week, so we'll work out her concerns when we meet with her.
Another one of the investigators that the previous Elders were teaching is named Heidi. She is really shy and hard to read, but as we taught here she really opened up. She told us that she had felt something that she hadn't felt with the other elders, and we testified to her that that was the Spirit. She said that it sparked her curiousity and that she would read the Book of Mormon, pray, and try to find the answer to if this is true and that she should be baptized. We're really excited to see what can happen there.
I haven't been in contact with Elder Ernest or Ben, but if I have more time today, maybe I'll shoot Ben an email. I got a few questions on how the area is doing, and I have some of the same! But I imagine everything's going well, and I wouldn't be surprised if Ben is baptized either this Saturday or the next, but it's hard to say.
And one last thing, in case I don't get a chance to email just Mom. My address is 115 N. Franklin Brazil, IN 47834. There are a few things that I've been thinking that would really help to have, but I'll either include that in another email or write a letter home today if I run out of time.
There's a lot of potential here in Brazil, and I'm excited to see what miracles we see this week, because we saw plenty this last week. One that really stuck out to me, is that with all of these people with so much potential and desire to learn, we've been going through our Book of Mormons (Books of Mormon?) like crazy, and we were almost out. We're not getting more supplies in a few weeks, so we started praying and looking for more copies of the Book of Mormon. Then that day that we were praying and looking for more, a member gave us 4 copies! Always look for tender mercies! (1 Nephi 1:20)
I love all of you!
Elder Tom Hill
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Hello from Brazil! I didn't think I'd be serving foreign! Just kidding..... kind of. Wednesday I found out that I would be transferred to the Honey Creek ward, which is a ward in Terre Haute. The ward covers 2 counties though, and our proselyting area is Clay County which is where we live; Brazil, Indiana. The reason I said I was just kind of kidding about serving foreign, is that Brazil is quite the place. It's a really old city, and the people are pretty poor, but it's a really cool place. There used to be a branch out here in Brazil, but it didn't end up working out, so it just became part of the Honey Creek ward. We are the second set of missionaries to be here, and before us there haven't been missionaries here in Brazil and Clay County for over 10 years! The other Honey Creek missionaries wouldn't go out that direction very often, because it's about 30 minutes out of Terre Haute, so there's a lot of work for us to do here.
My new companion's name is Elder Easter. He's been out 3 and a half months (and I've only been out 2, crazy I know!) and we got double-transferred in. Which means neither of us were in this area. So last week was a little stressful to figure out where we were, and how to get around, and who people to visit were. To add on to that, the last Elders didn't leave very good records, so we basically had to start out fresh. We're starting to figure out why it is that we got double-transferred in; we've heard and realized some interesting things about the last Elders.
Last week, we met with the Honey Creek Bishop. He is a really nice guy. He's a judge here in Terre Haute, and pretty much everyone in town knows who he is. He's very missionary minded, and he put us right to work, visiting lots of people out our direction. He invited us over to dinner on Sunday for a fish fry. There we ate fried catfish, snapping turtle, and a raw fish salad. The people out here are definitely what we like to call "true hoosiers".
I'm going to rewind a little bit. On Tuesday, before I got transferred, we had a lesson with Ben. He told us that he felt like we were pushing him to be baptized, and that he didn't feel quite ready to be baptized on the 7th of September. We had a really spiritual lesson and told him that this was all about him and if it felt like we were dragging him to be baptized on the 7th, than we were doing our job as missionaries poorly. He said he'd keep reading and praying to find answers. I'm sure he will be baptized, it's just a matter of time. At the end of the lesson, I sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and bore my testimony to him for one last time. It's been really cool to teach him and to share my testimony with him, and he know he was one of the reasons I needed to serve in Avon those short 6 weeks. It was hard to leave just a few weeks before he'll be baptized, but I know I'll keep in touch with him for a long time. (The first picture is me with him. The picture was kind of taken at a weird time, so we look like we're fake smiling, but the other one was blurry, so I guess I'll go with this one. And the other picture is Elder Ernest and I with a Muslim guy we were teaching named Feroze Ohab who was really cool.)
Well things are going great out here. Change is hard, but it's also exciting. I'm excited for this new challenge, and Elder Easter and I have already seen miracles.
I love all of you!
Elder Tom Hill
P.S. I'm emailing today instead of yesterday because of Labor Day....but you probably figured that out. Just thought I'd let you know! Love you!
Elder Hill and Ben
Elder Hill, Feroze Ohab, and Elder Ernest