Elder Lawrence made it safe to the Atlanta, GA while he awaits for his Brazilian visa. We did not receive a letter last week, because of leaving the MTC, but we were able to talk to him while he was at the airport! Here is his first letter home from Atlanta:
Blake with his new companion, Mission President and Mission President’s wife
The plane ride over went well. Me and an Elder next to me were able to hand out a Book of Mormon to a woman from Texas. We also talked a lot about our church and what we do as missionaries. We let her know how to get into contact with the missionaries back in Texas, so hopefully she has done that but I’ll never know. There were 50 new missionaries added to the mission here on that day. 25 are waiting for visas. The ward I got assigned to has 10 sets of missionaries in it, which is insane.
Normally my P-day will be on Monday but because it was a holiday yesterday we were out tracking. Me and my new companion are “white-washing” which meens that we start brand new, without any investigators or anything like that. So we have to find everyone we teach. I’m in the inner city area which is a different place than I have ever been before. The area is still feeling a lot of the effects of the recession, education levels aren’t very high, and drugs and crime a fairly commmon problem. It seems like everyone we talk to is either looking for a job or at least a better one. That being said the people are amazing, incredibly humble. Almost all have a belief in God and a strong belief in the Bible.
Sacrament meeting was a really unique experience. The ward here is mostly converts, which makes for a unique expierence. Whenever the speaker says good morning the entire ward says good morning back. The people are incredible though, they have been through so much. Some from addictions to drugs and leaving lives of drug dealing and other things behind as the Gospel has entered their lives. It is amazing to see the positive changes the Gospel can make in people’s lives, certainly something I have seen before, but not to the extent of what I have seen here.
The work is hard – people aren’t very willing to let us inside. I feel like it is partially because we are all sweaty from being in the sun all day (it’s pretty hot and humid here), but people also feel a very strong connection to their own church, and have a heard time listening about the Book of Mormon.
My new companion has an amazing story. He was born a muslim and immigrated to the US as a refugee from Africa, Lyberia I think, when he was 16 with just one of his sisters. He met the missionaries because they were teaching his sister, I don’t think his sister was baptized but he was. He is 24 now, and he lived in Fort Worth before coming out on his mission. He has a pretty thick African accent so it is hard to understand him sometimes, but he has a really good knowledge of the Bible and Book of Mormon. He could quote scriptures all day it’s crazy. I’m not there yet but maybe in a couple months I will be. My companions name is Elder Kallon.
It has been a unique experience to deal with all this rejection from people, especially when your only intention is to help them. It can be frustrating but God helps to keep my head up and find joy in all the little miracles I see everyday. I would love to go to Brazil soon but I am where the Lord needs me.