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, March 28, 2016

Week 82

This week the whole city was all decked out in preparation for Easter:

Georgia progressed quite a bit as far as her Family History goes. She was able to get a lot of information from her mom about her relatives and ancestors that have already passed away. Then on Sunday both her and Lucas were interviewed for their first temple recommend! They'll be going on the 9th of April.

Last Sunday one of the members here had brought one of his friends to church named Jair. We visited him and got to know his family throughout the week. He told us how he'd been waiting anxiously for our arrival from Sunday when I'd marked our visit until Tuesday when we passed by his house. He loved the church and when he left Sunday afternoon he called up his wife and told her all about it, lamenting that she hadn't been there with him. She then told him that she wants to go with him the next opportunity. We had a very spiritual lesson with them and they told us how they've been wanting to get married for quite some time now. And the best part is that they have lots of kids!

Eduardo was another young man that we visited. He and his dad were quite interested in our message as it was different than any other. They go to the catholic church but as the dad, Ginésio, and his wife have already been married and divorced before they can´t get re-married to each other in the catholic church. When they told us that, their son Eduardo turned to them and said, "but if their message is true, then your marriage doesn't even count, and you will be able to get married to each other for eternity!" We were impressed with his grasp of everything we'd taught and later we noticed that literally every thing we said, he memorized. During our first visit he'd asked, "Why isn´t there a living prophet now?" and after our message, "What must I do to know if it's all true?" When we'd returned another day we were surprised with Ginésio told us how he'd read the chapter in the Book of Mormon that we'd marked 3 times! He told us how he really hates reading, and usually in the church he is asked to read passages from the Bible which he doesn't understand a lot. Yet when he reads the Book of Mormon he can't stop. When we read with him, we got to the end of a chapter and he wanted to continue reading, even though we had to leave for our next appointment. He told us that he believes it's a true book. Then Eduardo asked us what has to be done to have the priesthood and was surprised when the answer wasn't 5 years of training or class.

We met a very cool couple this week, Felipe & Lilian. They are both 19 and work and study quite a bit. When we returned the second time they had read the part we'd left with them and were very excited for us to come back. They introduced us to Lilian's sister and her husband, Alfredo & Stefani, who live behind their house. The 4 are very interested in our message and as it turns out, Alfredo had already been visited many times by the missionaries in the past, but hadn't been able to go to church because of work. When we read 3 Nephi 27 with him he was struck by verse 8 that talks about the name of the church of Jesus Christ.

On Thursday we had a great family activity at the church. We first did a treasure hunt lead on by scriptures, and afterward a few other activities that the youth enjoyed.

This is a funny house we saw as we knocked on some doors:

Georgia gave us some awesome sweet bread that she designed and made in the bakery that she works at!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 81

This week was a test of our faith. Although we were able to contact many people and teach many lessons, we didn't find lots of investigators with potential. Many times we returned the next day at the time we'd agreed on to find no one at home. When we found someone at home they hadn't done what we'd invited them to do (pray, read the Book of Mormon, ect.). Consequently, there were few that came to church on Sunday.

We found one woman that had been passing through quite a bit of problems named Simone. She'd just come out of a separation from her husband, was trying to sustain herself and kids, and was trying to get the care of her kids through the court system. When we taught her for the first time she got quite emotional, and when we returned the next day when we asked her if she had any questions she said, "No, I just want to listen to what you guys have to say." She always gives us her full attention and told us how she'd had a dream about what we'd taught her (after we'd taught her the Restoration). On the third visit we met her daughter Eliza, who begged to be able to say the closing prayer. When she said it, she asked that she be able to stay with her mom and that they be able to go to church.

Georgia was confirmed a member this Sunday and was happy as all get out. This week we taught her about temples, family history work, and the Priesthood. She ate it all up and asked many good questions. It seems like she's been a member for years already.

Lucas helped us out quite a bit this week by accompanying us 3 entire days. After every day he always asked us, "When will I accompany you guys next?" One day he told us, "Well, whether you want my help or not, I'm coming with you guys anyways! Where do you want to meet up tomorrow?" He's awesome.

Lucas trying out my nametag for size

From Friday to Sunday it was super foggy with occasional rain. Saturday morning we helped Filipe, one of the counselors that helps us out a ton, move from his rented house to a house that he'd just finished.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 80

We were very blessed this week. On Tuesday we had lunch with Deividi & Aline, members of the branch, and they introduced us to Georgia, Aline's friend. Georgia is from Santa Maria but had recently moved here (3 months ago). Aline, being the awesome member missionary that she is, had already talked quite a bit about the church to her and brought her to church twice already. After lunch we felt impressed to teach her the Restoration. She is very intelligent and understood everything we taught. As we got to the First Vision we showed her the picture in the pamphlet with Joseph Smith, Jesus Christ, and Heavenly Father:

The First Vision

Before we could say a word she began to cry and the Spirit was very strong in the room. She then said, "it's true, it's true, I know it happened." We quickly gave her the Book of Mormon and invited her to read the last two paragraphs of the introduction. When she read, "Those who gain this divine witness from the Holy Spirit will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and prophet in these last days, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth," she began crying again and could barely finish because of the tears running down her face. She was just waiting for us to invite her to be baptized. We set her date to be that Saturday, and she chose Deividi to baptize her.

We kept visiting her during the week to teach her a few more things and we were very surprised at how much the Lord had already prepared her. She had absolutely no addiction or problem with the Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, or any other commandment whatsoever. When told that maybe there wouldn't be as many people at her baptism due to the short notice she told us,"it doesn't matter how many people are present, what matters is that my sins be washed clean."

Later she told us how as a natural consequence of the presence of the Spirit, she felt she needed to make a few small changes in her life, such as delete a few pictures and friends on Facebook, ect. We had said nothing about this, but because she had a broken heart and contrite spirit she felt the desire to live the cleanest life possible now that she was entering into the way and getting a second chance to start anew. I know that the Atonement is real. It has a cleansing power that can be found in no other place in the universe.

As we were filling up the font for Georgia the church had a water shortage, so we tried thinking of diverse ways to fill it up in a few short hours. Even though we had many interesting ideas (place buckets under the rain, use the emergency fire hose that is connected to the same water system, ect.), the font only reached the halfway mark. Even still, it was enough to baptize. Georgia was full of energy when she arrived and could barely wait any longer to enter the water. She was baptized a member of the true Church on Saturday, March 12, 2016, and never looked back.

Georgia, Deividi, and Aline
We also continued visiting Felipe. On Wednesday when we arrived at his house he was reading some of the Liahonas we'd given him. He told us how he'd read until chapter 8 of 1 Nephi as well as another chapter we'd marked for him earlier. He described to us in detail the Tree of Life he'd read about and told us how he'd applied it in his own life. My companion then asked him if he believed the church to be true and after a few moments he responded, "I believe it is; I believe." He then told us that there is nothing in the way of him being baptized but one thing: talk with his girlfriend who lives in Goiás (the state that he moved from). He called her and asked that she make the trip for this one reason, talk about the new church he'd come to know and wanted to be baptized in.

Lucas came with us on Friday to visit our investigators. I was surprised but he lasted all day with us without becoming tired. He told us how he'd made a blog about the church that very morning and shared the 20 minute movie on the Restoration already. He's sharing scriptures from the Book of Mormon on Facebook, read all the way to chapter 25 of 2 Nephi, and all his neighbors have told us that he likes to blast Mormon Tabernacle Choir and other church music on the new speakers he has.

On Sunday we had the District Conference in Gramado with President Campos. Everything went smoothly in taking our investigators to the church there. After an inspiring 2 hours, we held a baptismal service for Suanno and Suan, Suana's two younger brothers. Their whole family came to watch with many of the members and Sister Campos.

Suan and Suanno

The view from our window

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 79

This week was pretty rushed because we had a meeting in Porto Alegre and then later a Zone meeting with Caxias and President Campos. During the week we were able to meet many new investigators and continue having spiritual experiences with the investigators we already had.

When we visited Micheli for the first time this week she surprised both of us by coming out and saying how she'd read the Book of Mormon, prayed, and felt that it was true. We hadn't even asked! She then told us how her mom had read a part as well. She traveled during this last weekend and so during our last visit we asked her if she was going to take the Book of Mormon with her. To our surprise she showed us her backpack and pulled out the book, she was already going to take it with her.

Carol impressed us with her grasp on the workings of the Spirit. One evening we went to her house and after reading a part of the Book of Mormon with her, her brother Gabriel (was baptized a month ago) asked us how the next prophet is chosen. We then explained how God chooses the next prophet and that the 12 Apostles come to know of His will through the Spirit. Then Carol made the connection by saying, "Oh, so they know who is to be the next prophet in the same way that I felt that the Book of Mormon and Church are true!"

Suana also impressed us by starting on the Personal Progress program in the Young Women. She told us how as part of it, she will teach us about faith this coming Tuesday by preparing a lesson. We're excited to see this. She was also confirmed yesterday.

The best part of the week was when we contacted a man named Felipe. He is 33, single, was living in another state close to the capital, had moved to Canela 10 days ago, and had moved because of his boss who is a member. When he had been studying in college he'd made friends with this member. After 3 years of studying together his friend went on a mission. Then when he got back he decided to do his business in Gramado. Felipe is an engineer and designs very high quality hotels and decided to come with him. Out of curiousity Felipe finally decided to check out this church and attended in Gramado last week. He told us how he'd been raised Catholic but that he'd never liked it because they just went to church, listened to someone preach, gone home and that was it. He'd had a great thirst for more. So he told us how he'd really enjoyed himself last Sunday because there were classes where everyone could ask questions and learn more about the scriptures and gospel of Jesus Christ.

We taught him about the Restoration and after explaining it in detail we gave him a Book of Mormon. At the beginning we'd asked him what he'd ask Christ if He was there in the room but he didn't know what he'd ask. However, after we'd taught him he said, "Now I know what I'd ask, I'd ask the same question that young man Joseph Smith asked." We all felt the Spirit strongly and at the end Felipe said the last prayer. In his prayer he asked that God fill the hole he felt in his heart and let him know if our message, and consequently this church, was true.

The next day, Sunday, we talked with him at church about our visit. He told that after we'd left he took his dog for a walk to see where the church is just so that it'd be easier to find the next morning. then he told us about his experience with the Book of Mormon. He told us how he'd read the first three chapters already and that a verse he'd read had touched him a lot. After describing it a bit I identified it as the famous 1 Nephi 3:7. I was impressed with his understanding and he said that he'd tried applying the scripture in his own life. As is was Fast and Testimony meeting we were able to hear many testimonies from the members that all seemed perfect for Felipe. We passed by his house yesterday evening and he told us how he'd been anxiously waiting for our visit all day after he'd come home from church. After teaching about faith we marked a date for his baptism on the 20th of March which he accepted.

Élder Reis (my trainee 'son') and Élder R. Silva (Élder Reis' trainee/my 'grandson'!)