I am always so content every week when I read emails from home every week. It is like having a breath of fresh air. And the emails from our family are always so uplifting.
I hope everyone is still alive and breathing after all the storms it sounds like you are having. Wildfires, floods, Crazy wind.
We knew last week that Elder Hoffmann was going to be transferred, and here, on Tuesday morning, all the people being transferred (and their companions) meet at the mission office to discover who will be their new companion and where there new area is. So, Elder Hoffmann packed up his bags and we went to the mission office. Elder Duncan, one of the assistants, came up to us and said. “Oi Elder Madsen! Vocé esta animado para ser transferido?!” or, “Elder Madsen… are you excited to be transferred?” After a short laugh and a few awkward moments of silence, I realized he wasn´t kidding and he realized I had no idea I was being transferred. So, the rest of the day was spent returning to my old area, hastily packing up my stuff in 10 minutes (and conveniently forgetting all my clean underwear, socks, and my journal), and travelling by crowded onibus with my bags to our new area on the opposite side of the mission.
However, Eu adoro (I adore) my new companion, Elder Mesquita. I don´t have time to send pictures this week, but perhaps next week I can send you a picture of him. He is so loving and energetic and diligent. His personality reminds me a lot of a Brazilian version of Michael (which is a good thing, Lacey and Michael). Our ward, Castro Alves, is um pouco mais rico than my last area, or in reality, a little less poor. The ward is large and growing, and will divide sometime this year. We live in an apartment behind the house of the Bishop. His house seems so nice. They make a simple café da manha (breakfast) for us every day, with cevada, the replacement in Brazil for those of us who don´t drink coffee (in The United States, the closest equivalent is Postum) and bread. Also, every Sunday they make churrasco, or Brazilian Barbecue, that is bom de mais (the best).
Our zone (The Interlagos Zone) kicked off this week with a jejum (a fast) for 40 Days of Miracles. The zone leaders gave each of us a small notepad in which we will write miracles every day this transfer. The fast was a small price to pay for the miracles we are seeing. The day we ended our fast, our first to contacts of the day were a woman who already had a copy of The Book of Mormon and was looking for missionaries to tell her more about it and our second contact of the day was a young adult who doesn´t live in our area but met with missionaries for 6 months, attending church weekly until he got a job on Sundays. However, he wants us to teach his girlfriend, who lives in our area. The third miracle I want to talk about happened Saturday night.
We contacted a really cool guy named Nataniel who is very familiar with the church and missionaries but not very open to being taught. However, he eagerly gave us a referral for a friend of his wife that lived somewhere down the street with a small door but a really big building behind it (most of our referrals are like this… Good luck finding that).
However, Elder Mesquita and I stopped in front of a door that didn´t match the description at all. We both had a feeling we should try the door anyway. We did and commenced a contact with a girl named Shirley. She had 16 years and told us about how she frequented another church in Brasil her whole life, but stopped not long ago because she felt spiritually distanced from that church. She told us she was having a lot of difficulties in her life and felt like she needed to look for something more (at this point I was probably smiling like an idiot because I was so excited to talk to her). We bore testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in duration of our discussion, she began weeping. I was able to speak without any difficulties (and with all the correct verb conjugations, a miracle in itself) in portuguese, but the spirit was so strong that I could barely speak. I felt like my heart would burst out of my throat and the Christlike love Elder Mesquita and I felt for her. Literally probably the most spiritual experience I have had on my mission, among many many others. It is one of the experiences that I will write here and probably not share very many other times in my life because words cannot describe the experience adequately.
Mom, in my mission we joke about us receiving ipads here because the day that happens in Brasil every missionary will be mugged. I am content to remain technology-free for another year.
I have only two minutes left, but I love everyone! Fique firme!