Monday, January 23, 2012

The Weekly Epistle: From Juazeiro do Norte

Hello again, everyone!

This week was pretty crazy and busy, but it was a good one!

After months of renovation, the capela (``chapel´´, or church
building) had a public visitation (I´m not sure why they don´t call
them open houses any more, but they aren´t using that phrase in the
Church here any more). We were there to give a little part of the tour
on Thursday night, which was the first night. However, we actually
just ended up running around getting things ready for visitors, and
didn´t really teach any of the nonmembers who came through. There were
few people who came the first night to begin with, but I think that´s
a little bit to be expected.

Anyway, on Friday the other Elders were there at the capela for the
visitations, and Saturday morning we were there to have interviews
with President Souza, which we have once every other transfer, and
again that night for the dedication. Then, on Sunday, we were there
for church. AND we were there at the capela today for P-Day to play a
little bit of basketball and to watch a movie (``Glory Road´´ in
Portuguese. I was happy because, towards the end, I realized that I
had been focusing on the movie and the story of the movie with
thinking about the fact that it was in Portuguese. I didn´t understand
everything still, but I understood enough to get sucked into the
movie). In our mission, you can watch one Disney film that is
``livre´´ (Brazilian rating system, it´s basically G-rated movies) per
P-Day. Until today, we didn´t have the capability to do that, so it
was the first time for me to watch a Disney movie on P-Day.

Anyway, we spent A LOT of time in the capela this past week. I am so
grateful for the blessing it is to have a such a beautiful and special
place to gather together and worship. It truly is a blessing, and I
hope that we can all see how blessed we are, and that we can be
grateful for the things that we have taken for granted in our lives.

Anyway,``the time is far spent´´ (that´s actually a hymn title, and
I´ve been hearing a lot about it the past few days from Elder Call,
and also from a conference talk that I read), and I need to go, but I
love you all, and wish you the very best! Keep moving forward, put
your shoulder to the wheel, and remember that you truly are a child of
God. He is mindful of us. And He loves us so very much:)

And, I love you all too! Don´t forget that either:)

Love always,

Elder Reid Powell Empey

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hello, everyone!

This week was a little bit tough, but we worked hard and we´re looking forward to the next.

It´s so hard sometimes when people think fundamentally differently than you do, and they don´t understand the implications of what your saying. For example, Juazeiro is basically all Catholic (we say, ``católica até o pó,´´ which translates to ``Catholic into the dust´´ or ``into the dirt´´; ``atè o pó´´ is a phrase everyone uses for something that is really, really a certain way, like saying that they are Mormon until the death, or something is expensive beyond belief. It´s not just used to describe Catholics, I promise:) ). Because so many people are Catholic, they sometimes are Catholic without even knowing why they are. They pray every day, and go to ``misa´´ or mass once or twice or even everyday of the week, and yet they don´t really know what they believe. We talk about Joseph Smith, and ask if they think that he was a prophet, and people sometimes say, ``Com certeza,´´ or ``Of course.´´ They think that he could be a prophet, and all of those things could have happened, but don´t realize that means that the Church is the only true church.

Also, we ask people to pray about Joseph Smith, and then some people say, ``I pray everyday before I go to bed. Yeah, I believe praying is so important.´´ Yet, they sometimes don´t realize that they need to pray specifically about these things if they want to get a specific answer that they are true. It´s just kind of a struggle sometimes, but I am trying to improve every time, and to improve in how I explain things that it can be clearer and make more sense to the people that we are teaching.

One day this week, I was really feeling down, and really not feeling like things were going the way they should. I was trying to pray a lot about it, and seek the Lord´s will and guidance, and yet it was still hard. We left the house and started walking to one of our appointments. I was thinking about what was on my mind, and I was praying in my heart as fervently as I could. As I was thinking, I thought about my covenants that I have made, especially the covenants of the temple. As I focused more on my covenants of the temple, the thought came into my mind: ``This is My covenant, too.´´ Just as I covenanted with the Lord, He covenanted with me. And He will never back down from His covenants. If I keep my part, and honor my covenants, I will receive the promised blessings.

And as these thoughts went through my mind, the hymn ``How Firm a Foundation´´ popped into my head as well. As I began to sing the words in my mind, I began to tear up as the Spirit touched my heart, testifying to me that the Lord will always bless those who are obedient to Him and His words. In D&C 82:10, He says, ``I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.´´ And, in D&C 58:31, He says, ``Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?´´

We have covenanted with the Lord, and He has covenanted with us. If we are faithful to our covenants, and honor them, and remember them and Him, we have the Lord´s promise that we will be blessed. It may not be in the ways we expect, or according to the timetable that we want, but the Lord´s promises ``shall all be fulfilled´´ (D&C 1:37-38, or verses 36-39).

I know this to be true. I love you all so very much:) Keep fighting the good fight, relying on the Lord, and following and remaining faithful to His words, and His promised blessings will come to you in ways that you cannot now imagine to be possible.

I love you all so very, very much! Don´t forget it:)

Com amor ``até o pó,´´

Elder Reid Powell Empey

P.S. I did receive the letter package with the tree and the banners. Thank you so very much! I love the notes that people wrote on the banner, it means a whole lot to me. We didn´t put the tree or the banners up, because it came quite a bit of time after Christmas, but I am so glad that I have all of the comments, and I will be sure to keep them with me and read them often:)

Brownies for the missionaires!

A Week Indeed - From Juazeiro do Norte

Hello, everyone!

So, a couple things happened this week.

First, on Tuesday, the police in Fortaleza went on strike, and the strike gradually made it´s way down to Juaziero do Norte, where I am at. At around one o´clock on Tuesday, a whole bunch of stores got robbed in the ``downtown´´ of Juazeiro (it´s called the Bairro Centro). Anyway, they basically all got robbed at the same time, and nothing could really stop them because the cops were on strike. 

So, as Elder Call and I walked through the Bairro Centro around 2 pm, all of the stores were closed in the middle of the day, and we weren´t totally sure what was up. We asked a few people on the street, and headed to the church. We called our leaders, and they got a hold of President Souza, and he said that we all needed to be in our houses by 6 pm. So, we called a bunch of people in our zone to let everyone know, and we headed home. We taught one more person after that, but the rest of the day we spent in the house. Pretty crazy! The police are not on strike anymore, and the Brazilian army actually got there the next day to make themselves known. So, everythings basically back to normal.

Second, on Thursday Elder Call and Elder Borrêa, another elder who live in the same house as us, went to Fortaleza for a leadership training, because they are both trainers (Actually, Elder Borrêa is training Elder Nielsen, my first companion in the MTC, so it´s pretty cool!). So, they actually left on Wednesday night, and Elder Nielsen and I worked together on Thursday. Neither us us speak fluent Portuguese yet, so it was quite the experience! on Wednesday night, I slept in Elder Borrêa´s bed, and the next morning I woke up with a huge pain in the left side of my neck. It was like I was getting a big Charlie Horse every time I turned my head that direction:( Anyway, I called a bunch of people, got a hold of Sister Souza (the mission president´s wife is typically responsible for the health and physical welfare of the missionaries in the mission), and she told me to go buy some ``Dorflex´´, which is a muscle relaxant. So, I´ve been taking that, and I feel lots better!

I am out of time, but I hope that you all know how much I love you, and that things are trucking along here! I was thinking today about the importance of love in our lives, and how we receive the love of Christ as we become true folowers of Him (Moroni 7:48). It reminded me of the talk I based my farewell talk on, from Elder Gonzalez in the April 2011 General Conference. I highly recommend it!

Anyway, I love you all, and I will talk to you again soon!

Love always,
Elder Reid Powell Empey

P.S. For those of you in the Connell area, all I have to say is that we always find some way to get on the map:)
P.P.S. For those of you at BYU, I would like to tell you that I love you all so very much, and that I don´t you are having the time of your lives up there:) (Weird, I´m pretty far down, aren´t I....:) )
P.P.P.S. For my dear family (and adopted family, so ALL of you), I LOVE YOU TONS AND SCOOPS! Keep moving forward, and don´t forget: you ROCK today:) Tchau!