September 24, 2018




Elder Leite

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Hello queridos!

Welcome to the life of being a parent, Élder McHardy. A little premature, yet nonetheless, it doesn´t change the responsibilities I have now. Before I begin recounting the stories of my first week of parenthood, I will firstly introduce meu filho, Élder Leite, or, as everyone calls him, Elder Milk (leite in English). A name quite fitting, for I don´t think this man has ever forgotten to drink his milk. Mom, if you were ever worried about me getting robbed here, fear no more. Anyone with half a brain wouldn´t mess with my companion. The guy´s a tank.

That aside, who is Élder Leite on the inside? From what I´ve learned and seen so far, I´m quite blessed to have this wonderful missionary by my side. He´s a bit older than other missionaries (21), and already has quite some experience. Where he lived - São Paulo - young men were able to live with the missionaries; sleeping in their apartment, going out to work with them the whole day, etc. He did that for a bit of time before heading out, so he already knows what missionary work contains. Also, he´s quite intelligent. He already completed the first four years of college (here in Brazil high school ends when you´re 17), and is an excellent chef (his mother owns a restaurant). He´s a spiritual powerhouse, open to the promptings of the Spirit and capable of teaching with power and authority. He was baptized when he was 15, and had many periods of inactivity (hence his age). This has increased his love of the Savior and his ability to testify of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Who´s the trainer and who´s the trainee? Good question.

I, being the "father", am responsble for raising my son properly. Firstly, I need to set an example, being obedient and faithful. Not too hard, it´s pretty easy to follow rules as black and white as those of the mission. Secondly, I am responsible for bettering his ability to teach the lessons we are responsible to teach. A bit more challenging than the first, especially when I hardly understand what he´s saying half the time (fast talker and different vocabulary), but is fun to do. Not only do we have practices in the morning, but I also have the opportunity to show the teaching skills in action. Thirdly, I am to inspire confidence in meu filho to "talk with the whole world". He´s confident and not afraid to talk, so he doesn´t need much help there. Fourthly, I am in charge of planning our day. Here´s where things get tough... We don´t have many investigators at this time, and thus don´t really have many appointments, if any. A lot of the time, my plan finishes much earlier than expected, giving us a chunk of time not knowing what to do. But hey, we´re both learning. It´ll get easier with time!

Saturday was a day of much success, which is interesting because it was our worst day of planning yet. Our plans left us with a good 4 and a half hours and nothing scheduled. What were we to do? He joked that we could go to a park and stand on a box, with Bible and Book of Mormon in hand, and "cry repentance unto this crooked and perverse generation." Eh, why not? Só vai, cara! And so, we stopped by the apartment and loaded up with pass-along cards, then set out to a large park (I know you´re always curious, Dad, so the park we went to is Saens Peña). Did we actually stand up on a box and attract a crowd? No. Maybe some other day. What we did instead was pick people out in the crowd and approach them to teach a lesson. The PMG manual states on the final page, "Teach when you find, find when you teach." This is exactly what we did. Apparently I have a gift for knowing who will listen to us, because nearly every time I said, "Let´s go talk with her", we ended up teaching a lesson and getting their information. Almost everytime my companion said, "Let´s go talk with them" they ran away from us, not wanting to hear our message. We spent the evening in the park, hopping from person to person. We were there for hours, and talked with probably less than 20 people, due to the amount of opportunities we had to teach. Being a missionary is pretty cool!

Friday, almost nine weeks from the day I started, I finished reading the Livro de Mórmon. Following the instructions of Morôni, I took up his challenge. I thought to myself, "What has reading the Livro de Mórmon, this time in specific, done in my life?" This time through I learned many lessons, bettered my Português, read stories that seem completely new to me (a blessing of reading in a different language - same book, new things)... If I were to choose just one thing I learned, what would it be?

Tough question.

Being my first time reading the Livro de Mórmon, why not start with the first principle of the gospel? Faith. What really is faith? In Português, I like to explain it as such: Fé (faith) has two letters. E for esperança (hope) and F for fazer (do). As the Bible states, faith without works is dead. A very simple concept, no? It seems simple, but I feel I still don´t even understand what faith really is. I have faith I can live forever with my family after this life and I keep the commandments in order to attain this belief; I believe and hope, and I also act. Is this faith? I´m pretty sure it is, after all, I´ve grown up with these teachings all my life. Nonetheless, I don´t feel completely certain what faith is, or rather, how can we use our faith. As I knelt in prayer, following the instructions of Morôni, these words came to my mind: "act in faith." Isn´t that what I´m doing? I´m praying (acting) and believing that I can receive and answer. What lack I yet? This phrase was the extent of my answer, along with the lack of doubt in my mind that I´ve been blessed with. Act in faith, eh? Alright, Lord, what do I need to do?

Honestly, I don´t have a solid answer as to what I need to do to show my faith. I think this is an invitation for me to act in faith. As in the film "The Other Side of Heaven", the main character gained fluency with the language after reading the scriptures. I believe the same can happen for me. And so, Lord, to demonstrate my faith, I will no longer tell others that my language skills aren´t the greatest because I have faith that the Livro de Mórmon has blessed my life. I have faith that by doing this, I´ll increase my understanding of faith.

I invite all who read my letter to stop and ponder for a moment. For you, what really is faith? Jesus Christ asks that we have faith in Him. How can you demonstrate to your Savior that you really have faith in Him? I invite, no, rather, I challenge you, after pausing for a moment to ponder, to act! Don´t just think to yourself, "I could do x to show my faith in the Savior." Remember, faith without works is dead. Think instead, "I could do x to show my faith in the Savior, and I will do x now."

With love,
Élder McHardy


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