I am serving a two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Brazil, Porto Alegre North Mission. I post on this blog every week, so check it out to hear about my life as a missionary!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Week 56

This week we had a lot of help from the members. They came with us to our appointments with our investigators and interacted with all of them really well. We began the week with 5 investigators with potential to be baptized and focused on them.

Mateus was really excited for his baptism and so were his parents. I was especially excited because he would be the 4th young man that I´d baptized here. In a few weeks 3 of them will be able to pass the sacrament on Sunday!

Poliana was called to be the Nursery teacher, and Christina to be a counselor in the Primary. It was a big week for Christina and Vanderlei because they were asked to give talks in 2 weeks and Vanderlei was ordained an Elder. We plan on including him in all the blessings we are asked to give and the confirmations as well to help him learn how he can use the priesthood.

Their whole family is very involved with the branch choir and I have to admit, it´s coming along very nicely.

We received a referal from an inactive member and we visited her early in the week. She told us right away that she wanted to be baptized in our church because she felt really good there. Her name is Terezinha.

On Thursday we did a division as usual and I worked in Passo Fundo for 2 days while our investigators were being interviewed. During the division we had the best pizza:

Then on Saturday we had a very busy day visiting all our investigators to invite them to church. At night there was an activity of the branch and there were many of our investigators there, including Souellen, a referal from a member.

The next day was very rainy as it had been all week. Vanderlei was ordained as an Elder, and afterwards baptized Mateus and Terezinha!

Later that day we had an FHE with Vanderlei´s family. As we were talking with Christina about her first Sunday´s experience in the Primary with her new calling she told us how she was surprised when Souellen´s little sister came up to her and asked her what she needed to do to be baptized like all the rest of us. Christina said that she was amazed at this kid´s desire to be baptized and also at how she was already considered a long time member.

We watched Meet the Mormons with them and Christina teared up at the end when she got a glimpse of how she will feel in 7 years when she will send Cauan off on a mission. They are very excited for their first General Conference.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 55

This week began again with Vanderlei´s family. We went to their house where they took us to Cristina´s sister´s house. There we were asked to give their son a blessing. One month ago they´d refused anything related to the church but after they´d seen the changes and blessings in Vanderlei´s family they opened up. After the blessing I was touched to hear the powerful testimony that both Vanderlei and Cristina bore about the gospel and the things they suggested that the family do to improve their relationship with one another, principally going to church.

During the week we concentrated specifically on the 3 people that had potential to be baptized on Sunday, namely: Carlos (The branch president's referal), Igor (13 year old young man), and Endrius (14 year old young man).

We were able to finally get a hold of Silvia but she acted very strangely and we came to the conclusion that her husband was opposing her desire to get to know the church better. Unfortunately we had to stop visiting her. She said she would continue going to church but for now didn´t want to think about baptism. I believe she will be baptized, but I don´t think I´ll be here to see it.

Poliana dove right into missionary work and when we visited her in her new house she introduced us to her cousin right away. She´s been through tough times but because of her decision to be baptized she has been very blessed. She already received a calling in the Nursery and is doing all she can to tell her friends about the church.

On Friday we visited Carlos and he gave up on his efforts and preparations to be baptized. The Branch President was super sad with his decision as they´d been friends ever since they were little.

Sunday it rained a ton, but even still we had 16 investigators at church. And the best part was that Igor and Endrius were baptized. Cooler still was that Vanderlei used the priesthood for the first time by baptizing them both.

Later that day we had lunch with Vanderlei and Cristina and they also celebrated Bruna´s 6th birthday. Instead of a cake she chose a torta de bolacha and Cristina made the best one I´d ever eaten.

That night we visited Endrius´ family and we watched the Joseph Smith film. They felt the Spirit strongly and we will work with them to bring them all into the church soon!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Week 54

The week started off with an FHE at Vanderlei´s house with his family. I taught them how to make cookies and even though it was a holiday (Independence day for Brazil), we managed to find a small store still open to buy the things we´d need.

Gabriel, Bruna, Élder Lacerda, me, Vanderlei, Cristina, and Cauan
The next day we visited Silvia with the branch president and we got to know her husband. Even though the lesson we shared was really spiritual and everyone felt it powerfully, it was very apparent that her husband was not at all interested. When we returned he next day we found out that they´d had a discussion and he wanted Silvia to at least wait more before getting baptized.

The same day we visited Guilherme, a young man that had been baptized my first week in Lagoa Vermelha. We taught the Restoration to him with his parents and even though a month ago they hadn´t wanted anything to do with the church, now after a few visits his dad wanted to be married the following Sunday. We explained to them that first they need to be legally married and they said that they´d like to start the process.

On Thursday we contacted a referral from the branch president. His cousin is a member but inactive currently. She has a granddaughter living with her that isn´t a member however. We visited her and found out that her name is Karina, she´s 28, single, studying, and she was interested in getting to know the church. She´d been to church a few times as a small child in another city but she´d forgotten everything about it except that she´d felt really good when she went.

Later that evening we met an awesome family. There´s a grandma named Elena that lives with her 'husband' and grandson Igor. She has many daughters that all live nearby as her neighbors. We were able to get them all together and we taught them. They all paid a lot of attention and we were able to mark baptism dates with many of them.

The following day was Silvia´s interview. However, when we showed up there was no one at home. Later she got in contact with us and told us that she chose to get to know the church more before being baptized due to the things that her husband had said. That night we had an FHE with a member who invited a young man that lived nearby. We got to know him, he helped us make the cookies, and he wanted us to visit him at his house.

In the morning we´d helped Poliana (baptized a few weeks ago) to move from her dad´s house to a house that a member had rented out to her. It was great because now she lives next to 3 member families that will be able to help her.

Helping Poliana move
On Saturday we had a Zone Conference with President Campos. He gave a training on how to use the Book of Mormon more in our teaching.

On Sunday we had Stake Conference of the Passo Fundo Stake. Another ward was created and the anouncement of the dividing of the current stake into two in the near future was made. I was really happy when they called the new elders to be ordained in the stake and Vanderlei was announced. I´m so proud of his progress in these 2 months ever since the first day I knew him.

Silvia didn´t show up to church like she´d promised, and neither did many others invited. However, Elena and her whole family showed up by their own, right on time. The theme of the conference was perfect because it was on marriage and the family. Many of the investigators we had there felt the Spirit strongly.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 53

This week started off rough due to some heavy rainfall and rapid change in the weather. On Tuesday we worked hard all day in the rain and cold and the next day I woke up very sick. I had to stay in bed all day but I managed to visit Eliezer in the evening. We taught him about the commandments and all of his siblings loved it. Then we taught Cristina´s sister who lives in front of them and it was a great lesson. At the end we commited them to baptism and principally marriage as they are only living together. Her boyfriend Nilson accepted right off the bat and we became really excited. However, she had many doubts and because of other marriages that hadn´t gone well she declined. We were pretty disappointed because Nilson is so ready and humble but his girlfriend is keeping him from being as happy as Vanderlei and Cristina now are.

On Thursday I was still feeling very wiped out and so yet again I could only leave to teach Eliezer again at night. After him we went and taught some friends of Cristina who had been witnesses at their marriage. They are super cool and we hit it right off with them from the beginning. After we taught them and invited them to be baptized and get married, they both accepted baptism but hesitated with marriage. Something that hinders them both from going to church is that she, Franciele, has to take care of her dad who is stuck in a wheelchair and in a very advanced stage of alzheimers. They have a son named Eric that always has a smile on his face and also wants to be baptized.

On Friday we went to Passo Fundo for a Zone Meeting and we got to know the new missionaries who arrived in the Zone. That evening Eliezer was interviewed and passed! I had to make 3 trips from Lagoa Vermelha to Passo Fundo (each trip by bus taking 2 hours) that day which tired me very quickly especially in my sick state.

The view from the bus window

Saturday was a very productive day as I began to feel better and we were able to visit many of our investigators to invite them to church the next day. As we worked in a specific neighborhood, we met two new families that appeared to be very special. One of them was a middle aged lady that was working in her garden as we passed. I wasn´t going to knock on her door but once again, as it had happened with Vanderlei and Crio the stina, I felt like I should knock anyway. She came to the gate and at first as we introduced ourselves she didn´t appear very interested. I changed how I worded our invitation and then out of nowhere she invited us in. We taught her the Restoration and we saw her almost in tears when we described the First Vision. She felt the Spirit very strongly and accepted the invitation to be baptized in 8 days.

Now as I had entered I´d noticed that she has 2 cars, a very nice house that she keeps very clean, and one could say that her family is very well off. People in this state of living in general don´t listen to us or progress at all because they think they have all that they need. Yet this woman, Silvia, who had known us for 30 minutes  accepted to be baptized quicker than many others in much more humbling circumstances. We were very happy and she said that she would be waiting on us the next morning to take her to church.

And ready she was with her daughter all dressed up and waiting when we showed up with a member the next day. During church they enjoyed the classes and especially the testimonies at the end. We visited her after church and she told us how her daughter Alisi had raved about how cool church was and how much she wanted to go next week and be baptized too. We taught them the about the Book of Mormon and Silvia told us how her husband would return from a camping trip later that day. We prayed a lot that night that he would be as accepting as his wife and that he would have the same desire to be baptized this coming week.

After we left from that appointment I commented with my companion that the Lord is really blessing this area and us because He wants this branch to become a ward. Vanderlei was interviewed and will become an Elder this coming Sunday which is Stake Conference, and we found another family with conditions to be a great addition this future ward. I´m glad I wasn´t transferred from Lagoa Vermelha because the Lord is focusing many miracles here and I´m seeing them every day!