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, November 30, 2015

Week 65

We had 2 baptisms for this week but unfortunately they didn´t come to church. However, we had 14 of our other investigators that came to church and loved it. A majority of them have baptismal dates set for next week.

Last Sunday Almeri & Elisandro had taken us to a family member´s house and we´d had a really spiritual lesson with them. They all came to church yesterday and loved it all.

On Saturday we helped Almeri´s sister, Leomara, that was baptized the same day, with her new house. Élder Reis and I don´t know a lot about laying bricks but we did our best and with the help of a few professionals we got a lot done. I love being able to serve others on the mission and especially those whom I´ve baptized.

This is my attempt at making tacos. In Brazil there are few people that enjoy hot foods like they do in Mexico, so it was hard to find a few of the ingredients.

During the week we met a woman that had been baptized 14 years ago when she was 12. However, she hadn´t been confirmed for some reason and she came to us telling us that she wanted to be baptized again. Miracles happen when you work hard!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 64

What a great week, the hard work we´d done during the transfer paid off this last week. Last Saturday Almeri and Elisandro were married and baptized along with Almeri's sister Leomara and neice Thalia!

On Sunday, three more of our investigators were baptized, Simone, Andrei, and Ritieli. The bishop said to us during the week, "If you guys baptized more than 6 this week, I´m going to give you guys a barbeque!" He's 100% missionary work and that has helped us out a lot. Bishop Melo was very happy with the wedding ceremony and first 7 baptisms of the new Lagoa Vermelha Ward.

Andrei, Simone
 We witnessed many miracles during the week, with our investigators feeling the Spirit so strongly that they wanted to be baptized right then and there. Sunday afternoon Almeri and Elisandro called us up and told us how her friend had gone through a lot of suffering and had been hearing about all the good that had happened with the newly married couple. She told Almeri that she wanted the missionaries to visit her and wanted to be baptized, because she was tired of suffering and wanted to change her life. She is already married legally and her husband used to drink every single night, but recently he broke his leg, and hasn´t been drinking for 15 days straight. The Lord works in mysterious ways! We visited them and marked 5 baptisms for the 6th of December. I´m so glad for this opportunity Élder Reis and I have had to serve here and know that the Lord wanted us here for a reason. I love the opportunity to change that baptism gives to everyone.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Week 63

The best news of the week was that the Lagoa Vermelha Branch became the Lagoa Vermelha WARD yesterday!! Everybody was super happy and all the stake leadership from Passo Fundo came to make the ward. Lagoa Vermelha had been a branch for more than 30 years, once having 110 attending in the past. One year ago the branch had 8 people attending each Sunday, and then the Stake called President Melo to lead the branch. In one year President Melo brought the attendance from 8 to 75, and yesterday he was released as Branch President, only to be called as Bishop of the Ward!!

Friday night I received a call from him and he was practically shouting for joy, "Call everyone you know, investigators, members, recent converts, everyone to be at church on Sunday; we became a ward!!"

As the stake leadership stated, now the ward must keep the attendance at 80 for three months, and then they will authorize a church building to be built on this property that was bought many years ago:

Property of the future church building
This week we concentrated on our baptisms for the next week, mainly Almeri & Elisandro that will be married this coming week. They continue to be excited for it all and keep asking if they can be baptized right now. We have to remind them that they have to be legally married first! They introduced us to Almeri's sister and neice, and we taught them during the week.

Their names are Leomara and Thalia, and they accepted to be baptized the same day as Almeri & Elisandro during the first visit. Leomara is going through some problems but we saw a difference in her after the very first visit. The Spirit brought a light into her life. As Élder Reis commented after we left, "That was one of the most spiritual lessons I´ve had!" On Saturday we helped Leomara build her new house, as her current house is falling apart.

The same day we helped Eliane move to another street, and then on Sunday she brought a friend to church, telling us that she'd already got to know her new neighbors and wants to introduce them to us already.

Sunday was a great day, as the 30+ year branch became a ward. There were 95 people at church, and many inactives came which was awesome. Afterwards we took a picture of everyone outside:

Sunday night we were with Almeri & Elisandro, Leomara and Thalia. We taught them how to do a Family Home Evening and read The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Afterwards we made pancakes which they enjoyed. This coming week will be filled with preparations for the wedding and baptisms.

Sunset in Lagoa Vermelha

Monday, November 9, 2015

Week 62

This week was pretty awesome because it was my birthday on Tuesday! In the morning we had District Meeting and the sisters made some cake and sweet bread for me. The day before I ate at a really good pizzaria called Somare in Passo Fundo. I planned my own party by scheduling a baptism that night. We had an investigator that turned 8 last Saturday and so we celebrated our birthdays together and I baptized him on my birthday!

During the week we also continued in the planning of Elisandro & Almeri's wedding for the 21st of November. They´re super excited and told us how when Elisandro comes home from work they visit a different friend of theirs each day to see how they´re doing, invite them to the wedding, and talk about the church. I love how they´re doing so much missionary work even before their baptism. Just like Vanderlei and Cristina, everyone in the city knows Elisandro and Almeri, so word about the church will get around quickly. It just shows to me how much the Lord wants a ward and in the future a stake here in Lagoa Vermelha.

This week we also found a new neighborhood to work in called Nossa Senhora Aparecida. We met many people with potential and interest. One woman in particular stood out to me. Her name is Suzamar and she has one son. She went to church yesterday and loved it. Every time I looked at her she was concentrated on the speakers, striving to sing the hymns right, and thoroughly enjoying everything about the Church. I know she felt the Spirit strongly. To our dismay, after church she asked us if this church existed in a city 2 hours away. When we told her that it did indeed, she told us that she already had plans to move to that city in the next 2 weeks.

On Sunday Almeri and her daughter Paula who already is a member for 4 months brought Paula´s cousin to church. She loved it as well and we will be teaching her this coming week so that she can be baptized together with Almeri & Elisandro!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Week 61

I don´t think I´ve ever felt so tired as I did this week. We had to walk to each corner of the city so many times during the week that each time we arrived home we slept as quickly as possible. Lagoa Vermelha sure could use a bus system. In the middle of the week on our way back to the center of the town we came across this awesome scene:

Sunset in Lagoa Vermelha
 We had planned to have 2 baptisms this Saturday but after they passed their interviews they informed us that they´d travel for the weekend and wouldn´t be here when we´d planned the baptism. So we added them to another baptismal service planned for Tuesday, my birthday!

During an FHE with Almeri and Elisandro (our next couple we´re getting married) we taught them about the Holy Ghost and Elisandro, who was an atheist, shed a few tears during the lesson. He is very sensitive to the Spirit and I always enjoy teaching them because they pay a ton of attention just like Cristina and Vanderlei did.

 I felt pretty proud of the young men I´d baptized this Sunday when I saw them all dressed up with white shirts and ties passing the sacrament. They did it perfectly and the branch felt the Spirit strongly as they did it reverently and exactly how they´d practiced beforehand.

The newest Deacon's quorum: Mateus, Igor, and Henry
As this Sunday was Fast and Testimony Meeting we had the opportunity to listen to the testimonies of many members. I was especially touched when Vanderlei, Cristina, and Cauan got up to bear their testimonies after a hard week they´d had spiritually. Cristina was brought to tears and the Spirit was strong as they bore their testimonies. I love the testimonies of recent converts.

Because there were so many people that bore their testimonies, my companion and I didn´t get a chance to join in. I´d like to share part of my testimony here. I know that this is Christ´s church. He speaks to all of us through the Holy Ghost and through His living prophet Thomas S. Monson. The Atonement is real, through it lives can be changed and sins can be washed clean. Jesus Christ is our Saviour. He brought forth the Book of Mormon to guide us through this tumultuous life. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet. Most of all, I know that Jesus Christ lives!