Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"We are being blessed like nuts..."

This is the "Miracle Tent." The Stuff people go for here...

Well this week was a really good one for the majority of the investigators we have. Also I was close enough to two cows to take photos with both of them, so that's a bonus.
The Best story would arguably be with Lourdes. She is the Lady that has been pretty interested. So she had pretty much fallen off the map since the 17th, so we both were nervous that she was dodging us or something.
But we got a helping hand when this dude named Rafael was like "Hey are you guys the Mormon Elders?" I was like "Yeah, what you know about it?!" He gave us his address to talk to him another day and then was like "Oh are you going to visit Lourdes? She is my Aunt."
So he walked into her yard and knocked on her door and looked through her curtains and stuff. Eventually she invited us in. She had been out of town extensively. So we got to talking about the commandments, which she is already keeping. Then she had a question about what differentiates our baptism from the rest of the baptisms. I explained, and she was like, "But don't you think maybe Deus would get a little mad about me jumping around and getting baptized again?" I was like NO then explained more.
So in the end she was like "alright welll I will decide if I want to get baptized and let you know." So I have a lot of faith that she will decide yes. Then as we were about to leave, she asked us "Hey the Mormon Church exists in Cascavel too, right? I went there while I was visiting with my sister and now she is going to have the boys (Elders) visit her. I forgot to ask the Pastor (Bishop) his name, but the meeting was the same as it is here in Medianeira!"
I was so stoked, she went to church in an unfamiliar city without any encouragement or accompaniment from us. So I am really really stoked about her.
Also we went to Rafael´s house and he was not home. But his mom was like "Oh I was baptized in your church." So we went in and talked to her a lot, she has not had contact from anyone from the church in about 10 years. She really didn't understand almost anything, but was asking me a lot of interesting questions. So hopefully we can get her involved in the church again and help the rest of her family also affiliate with the Church of God.
Luiz missed church for the first time in months. He is still good, but I really hope he gets baptized before I leave this city. Oh yeah, I didn't get transferred, I kinda forgot that transfers happened. Me and Proulx will be here for at least the next transfer. I am glad, I really feel like I need to find someone here.
I think that someone might have been found yesterday, the day after the transfer. I had a really strong feeling to visit this one girl who once went to church with a friend, but never really expressed any interest. I didn't know where she lived, so I called Elder Carmo, who described how we could get to her house. We went to that street and knocked on the fourth house on the left. This lady answered the gate and I was like "Hey does Jessica live here?"
She was really friendly and told me that she lives next door. But we resolved that we would share the Restoration with this lady too. So she let us in and we started talking to her. She is: 1. Not convinced by the truth of her or any other church; 2. Very concerned about her family´s happiness and unity here on the earth; and 3. Very interested in knowing if she will see her parents or her son-in-law again, all of whom died in the last year. So she is ripe for the Plan of Salvation in her life. I am really stoked to go back and help her understand more and answer more of her questions. I believe firmly that if we do our part she and her ancestors will be blessed.
Well, Bardomiro, Marinalva, e familia continue to progress and be excited about the gospel. Their extended family is also getting involved, Bardo's brother took a Book of Mormon to Paraguay where he lives, where it will probably be shared with others. And Nalva's mom also wants to talk to us. We are being blessed like nuts, and it is nice to think about how incredible this area can become.
One last story. There is a family that lives in a smaller city about 20 minutes by bus from Medianeira. We decided to go there to have a family home evening with them because they are not totally active and, being far away, need contact with the church. So we got off our bus in that city and started walking to their house. We were climbing a hill and these two dudes were half walking half running behind us in an apparent attempt to catch up with us.
So I thought "GREAT we are gonna get robbed!" Fortunately I had my Brasilian watch on and not the calculator watch, so I wasn't too worried anyway. But one caught up to us and was like "Hey are you guys missionaries" I said yes, and started saying the name of the church. He was like "Yeah I know, I was baptized in the church about a year and a half ago, WHERE IS THE CHURCH IN THIS CITY!?!? I have been looking since I moved here." I told him how he could get to the church in Medianeira, and he was super excited. He will be there on Sunday.
He asked us to call him when we return to that city so we can visit him. He seems like a dedicated member, he was baptized in Evan's mission. We were elated to find out that there is someone in that city that can help the member family there be strengthened. Moral of the story: the Lord puts the right people in our path or puts us in their path. Always.
We accidentally taught at a prostitution house last night. I know that place looked shady...oh well, what can you do.
USA eliminated...5 minutes of intense sadness on Saturday.
Love you all VERY MUCH!

"I'll be comin, yes I'm comin
yo I'm on my way
Just stay
And I'll be there by the break of day"
-Matisyahu, "Thunder"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Arguably the most important day in US soccer history."

Well, it all comes down to this: 90 minutes against what should be a weak Algerian team that could finally put us on the world soccer map once and for all. I have been fasting and praying like never before that we win strongly. That was a joke LoL, I have not prayed for our boys once.
Anyway, this last week was a very good one. Elder Proulx and I were studying in Pregar meu Evangelho about the responsibilities of the ward leaders. I already realized that the branch here is dysfunctional, but Proulx was a little bit devastated by how poorly things function and how alone we are compared to Preach my Gospel standards. So we just started working even harder and we have seen great results from contacts on the street and people we found knocking doors.
This one family we found is really boss. The family consists of Bardomiro (weird name huh?), Marinalva, Angela, three other girls whose names end in "-gela" (very Utah-ish naming system, they must be ready for the gospel LoL), and Andre. We ran into them knocking doors.
They are Lutheran and pretty active in their church, but not necessarily convinced that it is the true church. In fact, Bardomiro told us that every day before leaving the house he prays and asks God to show him the true church. So that's pretty cool. We taught them about the restoration and the Book of Mormon and they all seemed really excited about it. So we are really stoked about that.
Also one of our investigators, Ivonete, is learning like nuts. She was nervous about praying about the Book of Mormon because she really fears God and knows that it's basically go-time or condemnation once she gets an answer. But she got up the gumption and prayed, then opened up the book. The first thing she read was in 3 Nephi when Jesus restored the authority to baptize to the Nephites. So she considered that an answer, along with the feelings of the Spirit that she felt. So yeah, she now has a higher level of commitment and desire to learn and follow the Savior.
We have been teaching a lot lately, we taught, I think, 15 lessons in the last two days and found something like 18 new investigators. So it's safe to say that we are stoked about what the near future will bring to Medianeira.
Transfers are next week, this transfer FLEW past, oh my geez. I think I will stay here, Leal will probably want to leave things as stable as possible for the arrival of President Tavares, which is also next week I think.

Sorry, no photos this week

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"It was a nice spiritual banquet."

Me and the Leals

Zona Foz and Distrito Cascavel

Yoooo family how are things there?!
I am really excited that you are recording all of the games of the world cup!! I am stoked, but really you don't need to do that. When you think about it, there are 64 games in the world cup, each lasting two hours. I will need to watch soccer for 128 hours to see it all. At eight hours per day, it will only take me 16 days to finish.
What I really want to see are the USA games and all of the games in the second round and beyond. But thank you so much, that is incredibly thoughtful. I got the debit card with the ill CTR stickers and funny card, thank you! Also got a card from Gam and letters from Nick, Cade, and Elder Yuma.
Well, we had zone conference on Monday. I would have to say that it was one of the highlights of my mission, we were really blessed with a lot of spirit. This was the last time we will see President and Sister Leal, so a lot of people got really emotional.
We got to eat at a churrascaria, which was unhealthy but solid, and take a lot of photos. I ran into a few good buddies there that are in the neighboring zone. Then Presidente interviewed Elder Proulx and me, then we caught the bus home. It was a nice spiritual banquet.
We had a lot of success at stake conference on Sunday. Six investigators made the hour journey with us, and there was a talk that was like exactly what Luiz needed to hear. He is going along step by step...steps smaller than we would like to see, but steps never the less.
So Presidente has banned any watching of world cup games, even those of Brasil. We were instructed by our zone leaders to just stay inside yesterday for a few hours because NOBODY wants to hear two "Germans" talk to them about a "Mormon Bible" while the pride of the nation takes on the weakest team in the world cup. The funny thing is that Brasil barely won, and there was a great deal of skepticism about the possibilities of success even in the group phase.
We have a lot of people to teach, so we do not have a lot of time to stop and think or get off focus, so that is a relief. This transfer has passed really fast so far, I think we only have two more weeks.
I believe Bert enters the MTC in a bit, that's cool. Then Zach is coming to the south, that's gonna be sick to have a high concentration of *Horses in this continent.
Mother, I hope you didn't break anything at Laurel Retreat! It's weird to think that a year ago me and Spencer gave you a ride there, that has passed very quickly.
Well, enjoy the cup. Seeing the little bits as we walk past bars and stuff has really made me miss playing for USU and intramurals and stuff, not to the point of distraction, but to the point of "Oh that will be nice."
I know that Jesus is the Christ, he is the Redeemer, and his complete gospel was restored through Joseph Smith.
Love you all
*Joey's rap band with three of the four members serving missions in South America.

Me eating

Us with Presidente

Me, Elder Costa. and Elder Sehn

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"We are being very blessed here with happiness and success."

Zona Foz

Well this week we continued with success. Luiz expressed that he doesn't feel ready to be baptized, so we did a pre-interview with him. He knows about and believes everything except the current prophet. So we gave him a General Conference Liahona with the talks of Pres. Monson marked. He will definitely read, and I believe that he will get the understanding he needs in order to move on to baptism.
Along with Luiz, we had a really good week with a lot of our investigators. We continued teaching Lourdes, who made it to church before us, talked to president, then settled in really well in Relief Society. She will probably go with us to Stake Conference next week. She seems to accept basically everything we teach, and has desire to follow Christ. So that is good.
We have also been teaching Mueller, a friend (best friend) of our branch president. He is not super religious, but believes in Jesus Christ and God. We started teaching him in a really relaxed, almost casual way. We have had a lot of really good discussions about the need for a savior and the Book of Mormon. He went to church on Sunday and told us that night that he is ready to make more "steps into the darkness". We are really excited to work more with him and help him understand what Heavenly Father expects of him and how he can receive more blessings from Him.
Something we talked about a lot at our district meeting on Monday was promising blessings. Elder Cavalheiro said something really interesting along the lines of "We are the only people on the earth authorized to promise people blessings in the name of Jesus Christ, and many times we choose not to or forget to." That is a really good point, and I had been neglecting severely this authority that I have received. So in the last two days we have been promising blessings to people like nuts, and it really brings the Spirit and helps motivate people. Also I have tried to teach in a way more focused on the blessings that we receive through faith and obedience to the gospel, and people seem to understand a lot more the "Why" part of our message.
Brasil won its last warm-up game against Tanzania 5-1, so spirits are high heading into next Wednesday's match-up with North Korea. I am excited to know how the Yanks do against the Brits on Saturday. That would be GREAT, family, if you could hit me up with a complete rundown of the scores and goal scorers every week. I think it is the best way for me to not go crazy and not be so tempted to watch the games.
Someone tried to hit me with their car, that was kinda annoying. Elder Proulx was walking on the sidewalk and I on the street next to him. This car was coming toward us and moved toward where I was walking. I assumed they would correct their trajectory, but they didn't, and I had to jump out of the way. It was kinda funny in the end.
Ironic, mom, because I had read the Black History postcard you sent me that says "Hope nobody tries to hit you with a vehicle today" earlier that day LoL.
I got a bunch of letters, but the Zone Leaders forgot them on Monday, so I will get them on Sunday at Stake Conference. I heard that there are letters from Nick, Cade, Gam, Elder Yuma, and someone else maybe. Thank you to everyone, I will respond to all letters as I have time.
I discovered today that Fathers Day is on a different day, different month in fact, here in Brasil than it is in the United States of America! I looked in my little calendar I have and it said that Fathers day was August 8. I thought "I swear Dad's birthday isn't that close to Fathers day!" But today I made the discovery. So I will send you a card that hopefully will arrive before the day.
I have two requests: First, the recipe they use at Subway to make chocolate chip cookies. I bet you can find it on some weird cooking website or something. Or really whatever recipe for cookies would be bomb.
Also, what is the date the last photo was taken in the last DVD of photos I sent you? I will send another one next week.
Well, that's all for now. We are being very blessed here with happiness and success. I know that obedience and following Christ's example are the best ways to feel the spirit, and therefore happiness!
Love you all


Oh... the ball fell in the sewer and he was retrieving it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"...his Book of Mormon is getting all brown and worn out because he reads it so much!!"

Man everywhere are distractions now that we are closing in on the World Cup!!! Holy geez!!! I remember the days when I spent about six hours a day watching soccer for 2.5 weeks. But now I am restricted to HEARING about how SOME of the games went!! AAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Well, Satan is a dogg and I expect things to get rougher and rougher as the World Cup goes on.
ANYWAY, things here have been really good. The most incredible thing has been how fast Elder Proulx has learned Portuguese and life as a missionary. He is a good reminder of how much desire I had when I arrived to primarily help people and then help them receive the gospel. It has been a great learning experience for the both of us.
One of our greatest victories this week was that we finally helped Luiz mark a baptismal date! We are planning the baptism on the 12th. We are really excited about that. He completely accepts everything, his Book of Mormon is getting all brown and worn out because he reads it so much!! But we are really excited for him. We are working with a lot of people that are really interested right now.
I would like to talk a little about Lourdes. Lourdes is a woman. She is about 54 and lives with her grandkids and a cousin whose house recently burned down. She at first seemed like just your average old woman who likes to hear the word of God. But we noticed that she is different when she started reading all of the suggested scriptures in the Bible that are found at the end of the Pamphlet on the Restoration.
She was like "Its all correct, but I don't have this other Bible that has some of the scriptures in it too" O we were like "Oh well that's the Book of Mormon and we have one for you right here!"
She was STOKED. She has basically accepted everything we have taught. On Sunday she was planning on going to church. I woke up and it was raining and thought "GREAT" (sarcastic great) because Brasilians have the unfortunate habit of using rain to skip basically anything. So Lourdes didn't make it to Church. But in out visit to her later, she told us that she had left when the rain stopped for a minute. But it started to rain so hard that she had to go back. She changed into dry clothes and tried to get her daughter to give her a ride to church, but that lazy daughter refused.
She has asked about a lot of interesting stuff like baptisms for the dead that I had never been asked about before, but she said she asks like all "Pastors" about it and they never know, until us. So we are super excited about her.
I have come to a much greater knowledge and love of Jesus Christ this week. I know that He is our Savior, the Savior of all those who accept Him. I know that He has once again revealed the fullness of His gospel and calls prophets and apostles. I know that real happiness, eternal happiness, only comes through the knowledge of and obedience to the doctrines found in the scriptures.
Love you all

I only took one photo this week, but it's a classic. I call it:
"Of German Ancestry?"