The biggest news of the week is probably that I got my visa to Brasil. I actually just got a text from the mission office during dinner that said, “Elder Madsen Visa to Brazil. Leaves June 17”. I don’t really remember what else happened during that dinner appointment. I was pretty distracted. Pretty much the entire time I have been in Long Beach I have had the feeling that I was going to be here to stay. Visa waiters have a bad rap for not caring about the mission they are waiting in. Maybe God knew he could solve that problem if he made me think I was never leaving Long Beach. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to serve in California. Everyone is telling me, “We are so excited you are finally going to be going to your real mission,” which is kind of frustrating to me because Long Beach is part of my real mission. Just because it wasn’t stated on my call letter doesn’t mean the Lord didn’t call me to serve here. If I for some reason had to come home and never go to Brazil, my mission would still be where the Lord called me to go.
I am excited to go. I will be leaving a lot that I love behind, but that is a central experience we have in life. The only thing I am worried about when I get to Brazil is the language. Other than that, it is the same work in a different culture. I take comfort in the blessing President Larson gave me when he set me apart. He said, “After a short struggle, the language will come quickly.” And I have complete faith in that. It is going to come as I put my trust in the Lord and faithfully put in the work that will allow me to communicate.
I think God knows I can only handle the heat for so long. I will only have one summer on my mission. I’m going straight from the end of spring to the beginning of winter.
Aside from my visa, a lot of other great things happened this week as well.
We taught a referral named Joanna, who became a new investigator. She told us that she met missionaries on the street and took it as a sign from God that he is present and loves her.
As we taught the Restoration, she told us that she felt the spirit very strongly and believed the things we taught because her heart told her it was true. She read 10 pages in The Book of Mormon before we returned. The first person we called to invite to a lesson went to the same middle school and high school and college as Joanna, was friends with her on Facebook, and already knew her. As we taught her the second time, she said she felt like coming to church on Sunday would “change her life”. And as she came to church, she was surrounded by women her age who loved her and immediately became a positive force for good in her life. She has a lot of trust issues and is very shy, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the church is a direct answer to her questions and unspoken prayers.
We taught another referral from the spanish Elders named Eddie. His brother, Tony, was baptized in the Spanish ward two months ago and we invited both Eddie and Tony to the singles ward. We taught Eddie again and taught him The Gospel of Jesus Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, The Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End). We focused on the importance of the sacrament and he became very excited to come to church. At the end, he told us, “I can’t wait for Sunday. It will be my first sacrament.” The lesson taught me how the Lord can use us when we are prepared. We practice taught a semi-active member of the singles ward the night before. We had planned on teaching her the Restoration but realized as we taught that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was what she needed. The very same thing happened in our lesson with Eddie and we were able to adapt perfectly because we had practiced it the day before, without knowing why. The subject of my email last week was “Do what you are supposed to do.” It really is a simple as that. When we do the right things, the Lord can use us a his tools in the ways he sees fit. Even if we aren’t seeing it.
Both of them came to church and loved it, and we have many lessons set up this week with many investigators missionaries would describe as “golden”.
I’m not sure why we are being so blessed right now, but I sure know the Lord trusts us more when we do his small and simple things than when we let them slip.
And then at the end of the week the Lord threw a curveball and the assistant’s informed us we were getting another companion, Elder Pecht, who had to go home a year ago but is able to return now and finish the last 6 months of his mission. There is truly never a boring day. Boring moments, maybe. Boring hours. But never a boring day.
Oh, I almost forgot.
Elder Ballard came on Saturday. Yes, Mom, I did play for that. I played prelude and the organ and played for the choir. It was a great experience to be with such a humble yet powerful servant of the Lord.
Everyone kind of learned something different from the mission conference. I took from it that it doesn’t matter who we are or what position we are in… If we learn and apply the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our lives, we will be able to teach it anywhere at anytime. It doesn’t matter which or how many talents the Lord has blessed us with… he will be able to use it.
The gospel is so simple. If we live it, we will have joy as we bless those around us.
I love Elder Ballard. He is a simple man who sees the gospel in simple ways. Because it is simple. He doesn’t complicate it because that is when the spirit leaves. And he doesn’t get caught up in the administration of it because as we focus on simply serving the Lord, everything else will take care of itself.
I learned a lot this week. A lot happened this week. A lot I haven’t even mentioned.
Thank you, Mom, for the pictures and the address and the CD (yes, I did get it). I really appreciate it. I don’t think there is anything I need you to send me. In fact, I will probably send a box of things home that I don’t need or won’t fit in my luggage. I’m really excited to hear that Elder Starr will be leaving on the same day. It’s funny how that has worked out. It will be really great to be able to walk off the plane together as well. I love you, Mom. Thank you.
I pray for Grandma and Grandpa every single day. And I love them. And I hope they can be happy together.
Dad: I just read that Ensign. It is incredible to see how everything works together to Hasten The Lord’s Work now. Whether that is missionary work for the living or the dead. And all the technology and modern transportation and everything else mean nothing unless we thrust our sickle in and do our part.