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, April 25, 2016

Week 86

This week was challenging as my companion was sick for 2 days. I was able to continue visiting our investigators and finding new people however, with the help of Lucas. Because of much rain during the week, the roads became a slushy mud mess:

Thursday was a holiday of some sort so the branch held an activity at the Caracol waterfall park. There they held a barbeque:

We also had interviews with President Campos the next day which is my favorite part of every 3 months. During the first part of the interview my companion and I asked him how come we weren't having success in baptizing a billion people after all the changes we'd made in our work, the way we teach, follow up, use the Book of Mormon, and take the Spirit to the hearts of our investigators. His response gave us much hope and desire to keep it up and excercise faith. He said, "Elders, you don't know the ways of the Lord. You think in a certain way have certain desires and expect certain results. The Lord has others. The best thing you can do is ask 'what else can we do?' instead of 'why didn't it happen the way we wanted it to?' and continue working with faith. The Lord will bless you in the way He desires, and in His time." Inspiring words that lifted us up to continue on.

On Saturday we found a man named Adriano with our own age who listened intently. At first we thought he wasn't even paying attention as he didn't look at us as we taught. However, after we asked him a few questions he surprised us with what he'd taken out of our message. As we presented the Book of Mormon he interrupted us, grabbing the book and asking if he could keep it to read it later that day.

That same night we finished with our plans to visit people and looked at the time. It was 8 o´clock and it would take 30 minutes to walk back to our house so we decided to try and find one more house to teach in to try and find an elect as we hadn't had much luck all week. We looked up and decided to knock on the very next door in front of us. A man named Ramon opened the door and when we introduced ourselves he responded automatically that he had a different religion. Yet when we invited him one more time to listen to our life-changing message he let us in. He is 20 and called his 19 year old wife Diana to come listen as well. My companion began to teach about prophets and the priesthood quickly. Then when I asked them what they had understood about prophets they responded without hesitation, "They are men called of God to preach repentence that have authority to baptize those who desire to follow Christ." Impressed with their understanding after an quick explanation I began to teach about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. I spoke slowly and quietly and the Spirit was palpable. My companion finished by teaching about the Book of Mormon and Ramon then asked us, "How can I know more about this church?" At that moment a million answers came into our heads but we were moved to invite them to go to church the very next day and to be baptized in the coming week. Moved upon by the Spirit they accepted in a heartbeat. After we left their house we called up President Campos and thanked him for the encouragement he'd given us as the Lord had truly blessed us.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Week 85

As my companion and I talked together reflecting on this last week we came to the conclusion that it was the best week of our mission as far as the quality and quantity of our work. We were able to teach more people than ever and every lesson was spiritual and focused on the Book of Mormon.

On Tuesday we held a Family Home Evening with a really special family. We made cookies and pancakes with them. Their favorite way to eat the pancakes is with ice cream on top!

Suellen continues to progress. She was taught the Word of Wisdom and without second thought stopped drinking coffee. She wasn't able to attend church this Sunday unfortunately because she was sick during the night before and had to take care of her two little children.

Thursday night we re-started the weekly integration activities and for having been planned the day before, it was well attended by both investigators and recent converts.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 84

This week we knocked on the door of Andreia and her family. She has recently moved from another city and is living with her 3 children, Janderson, Jaidson, Natieli, and brother, Jair. As she doesn't read very well we asked her son Jaidson to read to them from the Book of Mormon as a family. Without much hope we returned the next day and followed up with them. Turns out they'd done just as we'd asked and afterwards had each said an individual prayer asking to know if the book is true. Andreia's answer was the strongest. As she described it, she felt her heart burn and accelerate. She told us that she can't speak for her family but she's "firm," in regards to her baptism. Her 11 year old daughter then asked us if she could be baptized in 2 days (last Sunday)!

Ginésio was a difficult case this week. He knows everything to be true and wants to enter into the true church with revelation, priesthood authority, prophet and apostles, ect. However, he has been in the Catholic church for 4 years and is having a very hard time thinking about giving it up. He knows that there are many things wrong with the church and that it doesn't have authority whatsoever yet can't bear to change. We think it must have something to do with friends and influences he has currently. His wife Solange even said to us, "I know that if I pick up the Book of Mormon I'll know it's true just like Ginésio does and that I'll feel the Holy Spirit." Throughout the week we saw a difference in Ginésio's countenance. He appeared a lot happier, laughs more, is very eager to read the Book of Mormon with us and by himself, and there is a light in his eyes that wasn't there before. He's tasting the happiness possible through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His daughter Suellen told him one night, "if you won't be baptized, your son Eduardo, Solange, and I will!" We made a visit with a member to his house and Ginésio made many comments envisioning himself as a member. We were as shocked as Suellen when she told us that he'd skipped church for the first time in 4 years on Thursday. Sunday morning they all woke up late (30 minutes until church started) yet Ginésio encouraged them to get dressed quickly because they were going to see what a normal church meeting was like. They loved it. All the members spoke with them and it seemed like all the testimonies and lessons were prepared with him in mind. He's made so much progress yet is still obstinate in sticking with his church. He's incurring lots of prayer and fasting from us.

Speaking of Suellen, she read the Book of Mormon as we'd invited her to, and told us how 3 nights in a row she'd dreamt that she was in the church building, even though she'd never entered before. She dreamed that she was in a very beautiful building, with a podium in the front and a pulpit where the prophets spoke to them. She described how she felt peace and everyone there made her feel very welcome.

Lucas continues to make leaps and bounds in his progress. He's been coming with us to visit investigators almost daily. With our help he prepared a few names from his own family to take to the temple. This Saturday the entire district went to the temple by bus and Georgia and Lucas were there as well! Georgia told us how she was able to take 7 names and their temple work was done there.

It was pretty foggy this week:

This made us pretty happy, it's right in front of our apartment!

Subway's coming to Canela!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Week 83

Due to traveling to Porto Alegre and General Conference, we didn't have as much time as we would have liked to work in our area. However, we saw many miracles happen with the investigators that we have.

Ginésio and Eduardo progressed quite a bit. Ginésio has been reading the chapters in 3 Nephi that relate Christ's visit to America and it eating it all up. Every time we came to visit him he'd read more and once as we passed by his house to visit someone else we looked over and through the open door we caught him reading the Book of Mormon at his table! We have been very pleased with his growing attachment to this sacred book. On Saturday we perceived that he was a little hesitant to go by himself to watch General Conference with us and then roped his son Eduardo in to going with him. He told us,"if there's any time to really get to know this church and its teachings it'd be during this conference, we've got to make a visit. This would be the time to go, it only happens twice a year too." Eduardo was excited to hear the Prophet speak, he'd previously asked us how he could know if Thomas S. Monson really is a prophet. We told him that the best way would be to listen to what he teaches. We'd been praying that the Prophet would speak during the Sunday Morning Session because it was the session they were going to go to.

Alfredo & Stefani also made us really happy with their progress in reading the Book of Mormon. On Tuesday Alfredo told us how he'd been wanting to know if this Church is the true church and so he went into his room and said a prayer voicing his desire to God. When he got up, he looked at the Book of Mormon and opened it up randomly to find an answer. What he read touched him deeply and he recognized it as an answer from God: "My son, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land." (Alma 36:1)

Jair & Patrícia accepted baptism Tuesday night. We taught them the Plan of Salvation and all their children were there too. The member who had given their address to us, Mario, was also there. It was a special moment to be with that family when they all accepted the invitation to be baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ.

On Saturday we watched General Conference in Lucas' house with him. I was struck when many of the gerenal authorities prayed for the missionaries in the field. I realized that this conference would be my last as a full-time missionary.

On Sunday we were very happy when Ginésio and Eduardo came to the church building to watch the morning session of Conference. Their eyes were glued to the screen the whole time and it seemed like all the talks were exactly what they needed to hear. Among the best talks were Bonnie Oscarson who bore down in pure testimony and our beloved Prophet Thomas S. Monson. We all felt the Spirit strongly and when it ended they told us that they wanted it to continue, they didn't want to leave.

For the Sunday Afternoon Session our prayers were answered when Jair & Patrícia and Alfredo & Stefani walked into the church. They too had a very spiritual experience. Mario told us how he'd brought Jair the night before to watch the Priesthood Session with him.