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, December 28, 2015

Week 69

Early this week we were talking with a lady that owns the lanhouse (internet cafe) that we use every Monday to use our email. The last week she'd appeared very down and so we shared with her a Christmas pass-along-card. She told us how her dad had been taken to the hospital due to some serious health problems and she was lamenting his declining health and the possibility of celebrating Christmas without him at home. She asked us to pray for him to get better and thanked us profusely for the card. Then this week when we returned she told us how her dad had improved and come home for the holidays. She thanked us again and then surprised us by saying that she'd looked up the site natal.mormon.org and had returned everyday to watch a new Christmas video that the church had put on the site. She loved it and she hadn't traveled out of town she would have gone to church.

This week was one of the best weeks in Lagoa Vermelha especially because of Christmas! One evening we walked down the main street taking pictures of a few of the city's decorations:

Unfortunately I was sick early in the week so we weren't able to work for a day. Wednesday and Thursday was full of visits to our investigators, recent converts, and members. With the spirit of Christmas everywhere we felt it appropriate to focus the messages we shared with everyone on the birth and Atonement of Christ. Every visit we made we shared a scripture related to Christmas and sang a Christmas Hymn. The Spirit we felt and that everyone felt was so strong.

Thursday night we were able to spend Christmas Eve with the bishop and a few of the members. The bishop prepared a feast for us!

Bishop Melo
 The highlight of the week was Christmas day. In the morning we had the opportunity to give a small present in return to the Lord in the form of a baptism. Rejane, one of the other daughters of Waldomiro & Zilda decided to be baptized and we prepared a really special program for her. We showed a few of the Christmas videos that the Church had made and Élder Reis and I sang two Christmas songs from the Primary songbook.

 During the evening we were also able to talk with our families over Skype. It was a wonderful experience to talk with them for the third time on my mission. The best part was that I was here sweating while they were showing me the front yard full of snow! At night we could look out our window and see a pretty cool full moon:

Feliz Natal e Ano Novo para todos vocês!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 68

On Tuesday before leaving Lagoa Vermelha we held a baptismal service for Bruno and his friend Adriel. Even though we had to wait a bit for the font to fill up it was great.

Bruno and Adriel
After the baptisms we took a bus to Passo Fundo (2 hours away) and spent the night with the Zone. Then at 3:30 in the morning we grabbed another bus and traveled to Porto Alegre (4 hours). When we reached the headquarters of the mission we were met by half of the other zones in the mission. On Wednesday was the mission's Christmas devotional. It was pretty chill and I was able to see many of my past companions and friends.

Élder W. Silva
President Campos
Élder Andrade and Élder Berlim
The mission's Christmas tree decorations
Élder Diamond
Élder Burgos
Élder Lopes
When we got back to Lagoa Vermelha on Thursday we visited Boa Vista and to our surprise Lenai, Eduarda, Paloma, and two others had left the Lar da Menina (orphanage) and returned to their home and parents, Maria & Elisandro. Everyone was happy and we shared our message of the Restoration. After my companion taught about the First Vision I felt impressed that we should sing. It'd been ages since I'd sang during a lesson but I took out my mini hymn book and turned to the first hymn that came to mind: Que Manhã Maravilhosa (Joseph Smith's First Prayer). I know we didn't sing well, and it was nothing compared to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but the Spirit was there in the room and that's what mattered. As we ended singing acapella another thought came into my mind, "invite them to be baptized now." So I did just that and Maria who was smiling and sitting anxiously on the very edge of the couch practically jumped up when she said yes. The Spirit was strong and I was thankful we'd followed the guidance of the Spirit during our visit.

On Sunday we had a good amount of investigators despite the holidays and everyone traveling out of town. They all have potential to be baptized this coming week.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 67

Something that made me super happy this week is that as we visited the neighborhood Boa Vista to teach a few of our investigators and recent converts, we passed by a house and found a couple waiting to get to know us. More than 3 months ago I had baptized a young girl named Lenai. Her parents had been falsely accused of some crime and had been put in prison to wait trial a bit earlier and I didn´t get to know them.Then the day after Lenai was baptized, she was taken with her older sister and other siblings by the orphanage, so she never was able to be confirmed as a member. I had lamented quite a bit because after 3 months of not being confirmed, she'd have to be baptized again. We'd grown pretty attached to her and her siblings while teaching them and missed them quite a bit.

Then this week we got to know their parents, Maria & Elisandro, as they'd been set free due to lack of incriminating evidence. I was very impressed with them and their love for their family. We talked a bit and as we got to know each other and after we'd taught them about the church, they expressed their desire to get to know the church. On Saturday we were able to help them pick up some furniture and bring it to their house and they were very thankful. They were surprised that we, with some members of the church, offered this as a service, and not as an opportunity to earn money. When they had told us how they'd tried to get help from others and that they'd all offered to do it for $30, we expressed our surprise. I told them, "in the true Church of our Saviour the members seek for opportunities to serve one another just as Christ taught in the first commandment He gave us, to love our neighbor and to serve him." They were touched and accepted our offer to help them.

Yesterday they came to church and enjoyed it quite a bit. I was thankful because the classes were focused on the family, and then during Sacrament Meeting the Primary (with Primary President Cristina Machado, my recent convert!) had their end-of-year program to present what they'd learned and done. Maria and Elisandro informed us that if everything goes right, Lenai and her siblings will be able to come home this coming week.

During the week we also prepared our long-time investigator Suelí to be baptized. She'd had a baptismal date marked with her many times but fell short because of her addiction to smoking. Finally this week with much prayer and fasting she stopped smoking and was baptized last Saturday morning. On Sunday she was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints along with Waldomiro, Zilda, Gisele, Regina, Yuri, Felomena, and Morgana.

Sunday night we visited a woman named Sheila. She'd had to work that day so she wasn't able to make it to church unfortunately. However, when we got to her house (she'd arrived from work around 7p) she told us that she wanted to be baptized right then. So we called up the Bishop and the 1st counselor and took her to the church and she was baptized right then and there! Her story is very interesting, when she was 11, the missionaries contacted her and after a few weeks of attending church she was baptized on a Saturday. As she was going home from the baptism she sprang her ankle and wasn't able to go to church the next day to be confirmed. Then more than 15 years later we found her and she was baptized! We joked with her afterwards that we'd give her a ride home just to make sure that she wouldn't spring her ankle again.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Week 66

We worked a lot with Waldomiro´s family this week. They are relatives of Almeri & Elisandro and so we often visited the family with them. A few of them had problems with smoking and drinking but with the Lord´s help they stopped very quickly. Waldomiro is the father and is married to Zilda, and they have four children: Rejane, Giseli, Regina, and Anderson. Rejane lives with Alex and together they have two children: Yuri and Iasmine. Rejane and Alex want to get married and so we´re helping them with the process. This weekend we baptized Giseli, Regina, Yuri, Zilda, Waldomiro, and another woman named Felomena.

One time as we visited Waldomiro´s family we were teaching about the Book of Mormon and seeing how much they´d read so far. We were helping them understand what they were reading when Alex came in to join with us. Then he told us how he´d read the first 4 chapters and he blew us away with his understanding of what had happened in these chapters. In my whole mission I´d never seen someone understand so much of it like he did. He told us how there was a prophet that took his family out of Jerusalem and then sent his sons back to grab the plates from the king so they could preserve their record. He was really touched how the last thing Nephi wanted to do was to kill someone as he had to the wicked king. But following the whisperings of the Spirit he slew the king and put on his clothing as to deceive the guards. Rejane told us how Alex was at home one night and began reading the Book of Mormon. He didn´t put it down which surprised Rejane because Alex doesn´t like to read. Then their cute little daughter Iasmine came up to him and asked him if he´d read "about God" to her before putting her to bed.

On Saturday they were interviewed and as the Élder that interviewed them left the house he said, "Man, I hate saying goodbye to families, there´s always such a good feeling there." We also prepared another woman, Felomena, to be baptized with the family. She was a referral from a member. Elisandro baptized all 6, which was the first time that he was able to use the priesthood he´d recently received.

On Sunday after church the Bishop came up to us and said,"Why were there only 6 baptisms today, it's too little! The day that there are 10 baptisms, there's a barbeque at my house for you guys." He is one of the best bishops I´ve known on the mission.

Giseli, Regina, Yuri, Zilda, Felomena, and Waldomiro. Elisandro baptized all 6!
Daughter of the couple we´re helping get married drinking Chimarrão.