Florida Elder Gets Kidnapped, Ends Up in Brazil

This week I listened to a lot of Portuguese. Turns out, when you try and find an almost completely untapped group as missionaries, you find a lot. Our branch already has a Portuguese couple. In fact, they have been giving us references and dinner. There is a Portuguese dish that I don’t know how to spell. It’s basically a fried chicken ball, and it’s very good. Also she is a baker, so we had some cake as well. It’s interesting being able to understand someone speaking a language you don’t know, but the two are similar enough. We’re trying to start a Portuguese group, so we can get Portuguese missionaries to proselytize to this untapped group. Very exciting.

Conference was awesome. We watched three of the four sessions in Spanish, so I might have to watch it again in English to fully understand it. But I noticed frequent reoccurring themes of joy, eternal life, sanctification, love for everyone, service, and then a few curve balls, like President Oaks warning about getting led astray by “deep doctrine” or off-hand comments from authorities.

I want to take a moment to talk about truth and honesty. Joseph Smith once said that being a completely honest person is prerequisite to Celestial Glory. The scriptures indicate the devil as the father of lies and God as a God of truth. This all points to truth and honesty being requisite to being a Christlike individual. Lies and half truths, these only break down and destroy. Truth is light; lies are obscurity. This also means hiding truth or not being forthright. You need to be open and a light. It is a check on you and a help for others. It is also important to seek truth and verify the integrity of said truth. Don’t be led away by vain proclamations to excite or create confusion. Given the question “are you honest in your dealings with your fellow man”, most people say “I try to”. This is good, but we shouldn’t be content with that answer. Instead, strive to be able to say “yes!” and not be in hypocrisy.

Hasta Proximá Semana

We had a good long talk with Walker today. We were able to get caught up on lots of details, and the kids are home for Fall Break, so they were able to talk to him for a while as well. Jared tried to hop on too, but he’s in California for a work trip, so he was in and out.

He’s also been experiencing some mental health issues that he has faced in the past. We received a message from him this morning telling us more about it, and so we were anxious to speak to him to see to what degree it has become.

We discussed reaching out to his Mission President and making sure he is aware and asking for a Priesthood Blessing to strengthen him and help him. And possibly getting permission to go to the temple soon. That may prove more difficult with companionships always needing to be together, the time it requires to make such a trip, and all that the missionaries do. But I felt strongly this morning that he needs to do that.

I reminded him that his Mission President has rights to inspiration on his behalf as well as the other missionaries because of his stewardship. Together we all can receive needed direction. He isn’t alone, and he can most likely continue to serve while he fights. They might pull him into the mission home for a short time to assess and kick-start a plan of strengthening him. He may only need a LITTLE assistance, but even if he needs a lot, he can certainly get it. No shame in needing help!

He doesn’t feel like he should come home or anything yet. He’s prayed about this and the answer wasn’t to stay or come home, it was “Not yet.” He said it was weird. He received a strong impression that he needs to stay for six months at a minimum. All at once he felt six months in a quiet prompting and one year in a stronger prompting. That could just be the time he needs to get settled in. I’m so grateful that he’s feeling the Spirit speaking to him and guiding him. It’s another confirmation that the Lord is so aware of him and loves him and wants to help him in every possible way!

Jared also had a crazy experience Saturday night which we believe was God helping him to understand what Walker is going through. We couldn’t connect the dots and make sense of it until we heard from Walker this morning, but at the same time, we both had the same impression once we spoke about it.

He wasn’t sure if he wanted us to reach out to the Mission President. He needed time to think about it. He really couldn’t express his feelings of exactly what he’s going through right now, but later in the day he messaged us and said he’d like us to go ahead and reach out, and he was going to send him a message or call him today if he had the chance.

Once Walker and I spoke, the kids joined in. He shared that he likes his new companion Elder Doney. He’s funny and smart, and he’s doing really well out there. It’s possible that Elder Oren will get transferred in the next transfer. Everyone keeps telling Walker that he’ll be a trainer when that happens, but he doesn’t think he knows enough Spanish yet. We’ll see!

Elder Oren, Elder Doney, Elder Kitch

 Eli shared some hilarious stories about life at Rubio’s. Walker loves hearing about the insanity that happens there. He saw a Rubio’s at the mall today and thought about getting some but didn’t. Eli is working in the front now, and he likes it much better. He likes talking to people. He said there isn’t much else going on with him. All of his friends are always busy, so he’s sad and sits at home with us too much. LOL!

Alayna told him all the volleyball happenings going on in her life. She eats, breathes, and just lives it pretty much 24/7. She had a 4×4 on Saturday and placed 5th out of 12 teams. She wasn’t happy about it, but Walker told her that’s pretty good considering she was playing some Nationals teams and two 8th grad teams. She told him about her new friend Kelsey. She is on the volleyball team with her and she’s Mormon. Walker said, “what? That doesn’t exist!” She said, “Oh my… She’s a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Walker giggled and said, “There ya go!” 😛

He taught us about why Mexicans call us Gringos. It has to do with the U.S. military involvement in the Mexican-American War. It’s said that a regiment of American soldiers wore green coats, eliciting a Mexican response of “green go home.” And then shortened to Gringo!

This may just be a folk origin, but it was funny. It made us all laugh, and Eli, of course, kicks it up a notch with his goofy laugh which then gets Walker to laugh even harder, which makes my heart swell with joy! It is so good to hear and see him laugh!

Walker said Eli would like Elder Murphy. He gets teased because he speaks in so much slang they say he needs an extra hour of language training each day to help break him of it. Eli is the king of slang and memes and talks in riddles no one understands. LOL! His newest favorite word is ‘tough”. He says it constantly after everything.

He mentioned in his letter that he watched conference in Spanish. He needs to go back and rewatch it in English, especially the first session. 😛 They were at a member’s home, and she had a friend there. The member left to go get food for everyone, but she’s an older lady and doesn’t know how to use technology well, and she got lost. She used Uber to get to the store, and they had to go out and find her, so they missed most of the first session.

As a family, we had JUST finished watching all of the Lord of the Ring and Hobbit movies last weekend. Alayna hadn’t seen them all. Elder Knell also LOOOVES them so much!  In conference, Elder Uchtdorf gave an awesome talk using an analogy to the Hobbit. Elder Knell called last night and asked Walker what his favorite talk was? Walker said he liked Elder Soares’ pretty good to which Elder Knell said, “WROOONG! It’s Elder Uchtdorf’s.” Hahaha!!

The kids broke out into a fight. They both have reverted to picking on each other like three-year-olds. Eli especially I can’t take anywhere without him annoying someone. They miss Walker, so they just nitpick at each other.

He’s in one of the weirdest areas of the Florida Tampa Mission. Florida, in general, is weird, but St. Pete takes it to another level. Elder Knell and Elder Seal were out street contacting the other day, and this woman flashed her boobs at them. She was a bigger older lady who was drunk. Haha! They didn’t know what to do, so they just kept talking and finished what they were saying. Those poor missionaries! Haha!!

He was on exchanges with Elder Seal and they met with Lao. He is the one that was arrested a few weeks back. They’ve been teaching him, and when they came that day he had been watching anti-Mormon videos since they were there last. He asked them if they’d seen them before. He was talking to them about how the video says the book of Abraham is fake. Walker was like, “Oh no.” LOL! They were able to smooth things over, but when people research, they find a lot of that kind of stuff. There is plenty out there if you go looking. That’s true of any religion, but Lao has been striving to make changes and wants to get back on the right path. He needs to quit smoking before he can be baptized though. Walker was telling us that the church has some pretty neat programs to help members to quit. He was also telling us about Teecino. It’s a coffee substitute that tastes like coffee and can satisfy the same cravings, but it’s not addicting at all, so it can help you quit your coffee/caffeine habit.

They had two baptisms set for this week, but the dates have gotten pushed back. Several families have been dropped, and they are looking for more people to teach. There is one guy who is so close, but he needs to commit and get married first. He’s engaged to a member but has seemed to only be taking the discussions for her sake and not because he was interested or seeking to understand it.

Walker is participating in the lessons quite a bit now that his Spanish is getting better and better. This week he had a very passionate discussion with the man about why they are there and asked him why he thinks it’s important to be baptized. Walker expressed their love for him is the reason they come and teach. The man is a non-practicing  Catholic, so Walker shared several scriptures from the Bible about the importance of baptism with the proper authority, and the need to have the gift of the Holy Ghost conferred upon you. In Acts, there were several who were rebaptized and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Acts 19:1-6

He got a little firey, but it seemed to help it sink in for him. He has turned a corner in his passiveness and wants to change and be more committed. Elder Oren and Elder Doney were like, “Whoa. You were a little firey back there.” haha! He is realizing that the way he teaches Americans doesn’t work as well with Mexicans. They like the fire and often relate to it better. Elder Moore from the MTC/CCM shared that he’d had to take a more fiery approach in his teachings as well. At the time, Walker didn’t feel it was a good approach, but he’s seeing that maybe it is. Elder Moore said that it can either “pierce their soul or cut them off”. He is pretty dramatic. Walker isn’t to that degree, but it’s always funny to hear a good Elder Moore story. 😛 Walker said, “It’s never without love. It’s just with a little fire!” 😛

One of their more interesting investigators likes to Bible bash. He’s getting ready to leave on a trip, and they were concerned they wouldn’t be invited back. But he contacted them and told them that when he gets back, he wants to meet again. So that made them happy that he wants to hear what they have to say and not just Bible bash.

As he mentioned in his letter, they are working to get a Portuguese group started in their area. Elder Doney and the Mission President are working together to get that moving forward since Elder Doney speaks Portuguese. They really hope to get things moving enough that they can get Portuguese missionaries called there to help that demographic that they have been missing since there aren’t any there currently. That’s exciting!

I mailed him some of my famous cinnamon rolls for General Conference weekend. They arrived Thursday morning, but apparently, he never checked his mailbox and they have been sitting in there for days. I told him I wasn’t sure if he should eat them since the frosting has cream cheese and butter, but he said he wants them anyway. LOL! Eli chimed in and told him to have his companions try them first and see if they get sick or not. Hahaha!! Walker said, “Oooo! That’s a good idea!” Hahaha! I guess they never check their regular mail, so next time I’ll send him a message saying how things will be arriving. Sigh…

I got a message from him later saying, Elder Oren says he hates me, the cinnamon rolls are too good. They were fine and a bunch of the guys had some. Thumbs up all around. That made me so happy! Now hopefully they don’t all regret it tonight! LOL!

Here are some pictures we’ve received recently.

Zone Conference
Zone Conference

Baptism of Sister Alondra
Baptism of Sister Juanita
Elder Doney “just” fits! 😛 
Florida fall foliage!

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