A selfie for mom!

A selfie for mom!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Skyping with Thomas on Christmas Day!

I Know That Whatever Happens, I Can Trust the Lord.

I´m still collecting recipes for you! I´ve got three really good ones, and I´m looking to get the recipe for Brazilian lasagna (MUITO GOSTOSO!) again.
It´s sooooo hot here! So sweaty all the time! 
Today, the whole zone had a churrasco (barbeque) with the stake president. It was great! We all sang to him and the rest of the presidency and their families ("Chamado a Servir" and "I Believe in Christ" (In Portuguese)). Transfers are coming up and I´m hoping I can stay in Mirna. I love it here! And I don´t want to move AGAIN. Can you give me an update on Ben (cousin)? 
How´s everything back home? Lots of fun, I hope!
The work is pretty hard here (no one wants to keep commitments or come to church or pray or read or anything) but we are surviving. Last night, I had a really special moment. Yesterday was rough. Surprise testimony in sacrament meeting. We taught a surprise lesson (it was for me) in Sunday School, all of our appointments either fell through or didn´t keep commitments. And a very special investigator, super dear to my heart, said that she didn´t want to be baptized and that she didn´t want any more lessons or prayers. That was really hard. So we were super discouraged. After planning, around 9:30ish, I was really discouraged and I listened to "Does The Journey Seem Long?" It was so beautiful. It was the one where it was a guy singing a solo in General Conference. Then, "The Atonement", a talk by Boyd K Packer, played. It was just what I needed (it even started with "this is addressed to the discouraged and downtrodden"). It was awesome! You gotta listen to it! And in the end, Pres. Packer reads the lyrics to "Does The Journey Seem Long?" (WHOA), which was written by President Joseph Fielding Smith (whose teachings are in the brand spanking new manual we just got (WHOA)). It was super powerful. Then, I listened to an Eyring talk that was really good! Heavenly Father is so awesome! So many tender mercies. 
A sad note: Elder Pina, a missionary in my district from Cape Verdi (Africa), got a call from President Pinho on Saturday. His dad died. Really really sad! He´s the only member in his family, which is poor and doesn´t have a computer (so no skype for Christmas), and he has had no money, even from the mission (I can´t remember the reason), and he wasn´t adjusting to the climate well at all (it´s super cold compared to Cape Verdi). Poor guy! We are all waiting to see what he´ll do, but I think he´ll stay. I hope he stays. 
I want you all to know that I will stay in the mission until the end. I know that as I do this, our Father will bless me and will bless you more than we can imagine. I really struggled in the first three weeks (first transfer), and Elder Baisden told me this, which really struck me: "If my dad died while I was on my mission, I wouldn´t even think about leaving the mission." And he loves his dad a lot! But that´s the kind of persevering faith that you develop out here. I know that no matter what happens, I can trust the Lord. This mission is so awesome! The Church is true!
I love you so much and have a great week!
Elder Richins

Monday, December 16, 2013

I want to stay in this area forever!

It´s so hot here! And green! It doesn´t feel close to Natal at all! But everyone (todo mundo) is excited for Natal! We don´t get to see the devocional... :C
I can´t send pictures until we find a safe place to do it. I really don´t want my camera wracked with viruses. 
I´m slowly saving up to send a páckage home, with stuff I don´t need, souvenirs, and gifts for the fam. Pictures will be included.
I haven´t got the package yet, but Elder Byers will check the Escritorio today. I did get Sister Nokes´ letter! I loved it! Give her a hug for me!
I just sent an email about Skype. It´s pretty urgent, so I hope you see it!
The work is hard, but fun! We are teaching Fabio and Vanuzia, a couple with three little kids. They are ready for baptism except that Fabio struggles with smoking and is showing little effort, and we need to marry them (always the issue). We are teaching Eleniuza and her familia. They are recent converts, but she´s struggling. We think they are attending a second church. We are teaching Brena and Gilmar, who also need to get married and she needs to quit coffee and he´s probably got other problems, but Brena really wants to get baptized, so I´m excited for her. Luckily, she and Gilmar do not live in the same house, so she can probably get baptized sooner than later. We are teaching Jucilene and her daughter, Yasmim, but we are having lots of problems. Jucilene is soooo close! We are teaching Cicero and Ana, a couple whose son, Luka, is a recent convert. We´re all hoping Luka can baptize his little brother, Juan. Cicero and Ana are super receptive, but he works on Sunday. EVERYONE works on Sunday.
So, we don´t have any rats here, but we do have HUGE baratas (cockroaches). They are about the size of my watch. Think of a normal sized no-bake cookie. Our apartment is really clean, so we think they come from this old ratty sofa on our balcony. It needs to be burned.
Saturday night (and Sunday morning) there was a party outside our apartment. I wish we could have called the police because they were drinking and playing extremely loud music (our beds were vibrating and shaking) ALL NIGHT LONG.  It didn´t stop until 5 in the morning! I remember because I was awake! It´s crazy!
Anyway, today is going to be super fun because we´re going to Longe-de-Real, basically a Dollar General, but EVERYTHING is R$1, or fifty cents for us. Sweeet!
Time is going really quickly and I don´t like it! I want to stay in this area forever!
Oh, and I gave a talk yesterday in church. Everyone loved it. More importantly, everyone understood it. Oh yeah.
And I have a recipe for you! It´s super awesome, from Irmão Madruga, in the Bispado (Bishopric). You´ll love it, it´s a type of cake/pudding thing!
Have a great week!
Seu filho para sempre,
Elder Richins

Monday, December 2, 2013

We have little victories every day.

All is well, all is well! Tudo bem!
First off, I want to tell you that I saw the MASSIVE RAT in the sewer yesterday. It was seriously the size of the cat. And I saw a smaller one this morning. What am I doing in the sewers? Tracting, sleeping, making breakfast. We have open sewers, here! Sewage flows through the streets next to piles of garbage! Oh yeah! It´s sweet!
I can´t emphasize how ghetto everything is here! More than half of the businesses I see, actually probably more than 3/4 in our area, are ran out of garages. It´s soooo sketchy!
It´s been raining all week, so not much heat nor humidity. It gets surprisingly cold here, like in the 60s! Low 60s at night! I have to use my blanket!
So, Elder Baisden (my American companion) and I thought Thanksgiving was last week, and he got super trunky. Oops! Yep, there´s no Thanksgiving in Brazil, but we have feasts every single day, when we are fed almoço (lunch). Luckily, we walk a TON. We probably spend a few hours a day walking up the hills and through the alleys of the city. We´re always sweaty! Cool thing about Brazil: culture allows you to go up to any house and ask for a drink of water, and they do it happily! Not so cool, you don´t know if the water is clean or not.
Elder Aguiar is 24, and joined the church 3 years ago. He was a member for a year and a half before going on a mission! He´s crazy awesome! And Elder Baisden and I help him learn English. He and Elder Baisden went into the CTM together and are super tight! You should totally send us Natal (Christmas) ties! And some simple recipes would be great! I have a recipe for Brazilian Lasagna for you (SO GOOD) that I´ll send next week, maybe with some pictures (maybe).
Not much else to say. I wish you could just read my journal, because I forget stuff right after I write it down (I´m at 135 pages in this one). But it´s in Portuguese half the time, so that wouldn´t do!
People love me here! It´s fun being an American in Brazil, able to sufficently speak Portuguese after only 2 weeks!
The work here is really hard, and we haven´t had much success, but the people are ready, and we have little victories every day. Something´s gonna give this week! I just know it!
Keep up the scripture reading!
I love you!
Elder Richins