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, June 27, 2016

Week 95

This week we broke a few of our records in lessons and contacts. President Campos told us to work so hard that every area in the mission catches fire. We gained a lot of respect and trust from the members here in showing them how we work in their ward. Many times as we were talking with them or doing splits with them we dashed off to talk with someone that had just passed by. We were talking with so many people that we didn't have more space in our planners to write their addresses down!

Elias was our focus of the week. He'd already accepted a date to be baptized this Sunday so during this week we visited him daily teaching him about the gospel of Jesus Christ. He began delving into the Book of Mormon and got to chapter 12 on Saturday. We challenged him to read 9 chapters a day to finish the book in 4 weeks. As we taught him the commandments we saw how prepared he is, he understood tithing and fasting perfectly. When we taught him about the Plan of Salvation he had many questions and told us the next day how he'd prayed to know if the Plan was really true. We saw how the Gospel was making a difference in his life already. He began taking the initiative and went to Porto Alegre to look for a better job. He began shaving as well. On Sunday he was baptized! Right after his baptism I took him to the bishop and we set up an interview during the week so Elias can be ordained a Priest this coming Sunday. Elias was awe struck when we taught him about the Priesthood and told him how he'll be able to bless the sacrament and baptize.

During the week we also found a few others that the Lord has been preparing. Joseli is a married man with 2 kids. We'd already taught his daughter Amanda and when we returned we met him and taught him about the Restoration. We were feeling aprehensive but the Spirit guiding us we challenged him to be baptized in a few weeks and he paused before saying, "Why not?" and nodding his head with a smile.

Jorge is an inactive member for 10 years. We met his non-member wife the other day and returned on a set day to get to know everyone and teach them. They have one daughter, Dielley (it is pronounced as 'jelly'), who is 17 and very interested. As we taught them and talked we saw that Jorge remembers everything about the church and had previously held callings such as Elders Quorum presidente, stake YM president, and others. His first wife had divorced him and due to embarrassment he fell into inactivity, and re-married. When we taught about the Book of Mormon Dielley dived right into the book reading as much as she could. She motivated her step-dad Jorge to go to church with her this Sunday.

Eneida is a single grandmother and 8 of her grandchildren live with her currently. We got to know them and they all accepted a date including Eneida! They are a special family we love a lot.

During a division with the elders in a neighboring area I got to know the church where they meet. It looks almost like a temple! The churches here in Brazil are very aesthetic and well made.

Gravataí is catching fire!!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 94

I had a great week in the new area. My last companion is a hispanic from Argentina named Élder Martinez. Ala do Vale is fairly close to Porto Alegre and the ocean and therefore much warmer than Canela!

The very first day we met two very prepared youth. The first was a young man, 17 years old Mateus. We noticed that as we shared our message with his family he paid attention more than the rest. After asking him a few questions we found out that he'd been looking for a church for a while, and after visiting many, he hadn't felt at home in any of them. We shared the Book of Mormon with him, and before leaving we saw that he hadn't even paid attention to what we'd said at the end, he'd already begun reading the chapter we'd assigned to him.

Kelyn was the second. She also is 17, and had broken her leg a few weeks ago. We'd come to her house to visit her brother, who was a referral from another young member. This brother happened to be an unactive member as we found out. Shortly after we sat down his sister came out of her room with her crutches, and rather quickly grabbed a chair and sat down. She immediately gave us her full attention. As we shared our message with her she asked many questions. She interrupted us many times to ask questions like, "So if God always calls prophets, who is the prophet today?" "How can I know what you guys have said is really true?" and my favorite, "When will you guys return to follow up on the prayer I'll say tonight?"

During lunch one day I received an unexpected complement. The sister that had prepared lunch for us asked me from which part of Brazil I was from. When I told her that I am actually American she looked doubtingly at me and said, "are you sure? You speak like a Brazilian."

On Thursday as we were walking down a street the stake patriarch stopped us abruptly and asked us if we wanted a referral. After nodding our heads quickly he lead us to a house nearby and introduced us to a man named Elias. He returned to his work and we sat down to teach his friend Elias. He is in his mid 30's and was very prepared by the Lord. During the first visit he accepted our invitation to be baptized on the 26th, in 10 days. In subsequent visits we found that he really is progressing quickly. He is already praying very well, has read all the chapters in the Book of Mormon that we left with him, and when we taught him about the Word of Wisdom we found out that he doesn't have a problem with anything, not even coffee! He went to church yesterday and loved it, especially because it was calm, and everyone was welcoming.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to give the lesson in the Gospel Principles class on the Sacrament and give a talk during Sacrament Meeting. I'm loving this area and we've already made some high goals to work hard during this transfer.

The view from the front of our house:

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week 93

Recently it has been very cold here in Canela. Even though the temperature has hovered around the low 30's (°F) it has felt much colder due to the humidity. Even though we used sweaters and many coats, it seemed like the cold humid wind reached our bones. For the first time in a few years there was frost on the ground in Gramado and Canela a few mornings. Everyone was crazy to see snow because it's so rare here.

On Tuesday we got to know a new family that was a referal from some recent converts baptized almost a year ago. This couple has had many problems in the past and because of their trials have become humble and eager to seek the Lord. When we visited them the second time they told us how their house had changed so much after a simple prayer we'd said our first visit. Everyone was able to sleep well, their house appeared brighter, and they had success in selling one of their cars. It's incredible how much the Lord blesses those who listen to and follow His representatives, often immediately.

On Wednesday we taught a sadly misguided woman. She couldn't understand why she couldn't drink tea. She said that it doesn't matter what we eat and drink, God loves and accepts everyone how they are. She told us that our church could have so many more followers or members if we just allowed everyone to drink what they wanted. After we testified of the gospel truths and left, Lucas, Élder Ferreira, and I discussed the lies that Satan had used to so skillfully blind this woman. If the Church allowed it's members to do what they pleased, it wouldn't be Christ's church, and it would have just as many followers as the Catholic church! This woman didn't understand that our purpose isn't to bring as many people as we can into the church, but to invite all to come unto Christ and enjoy eternal life. Eternal life isn't free, it 's price is our obedience to and faith in the commandments of the Lord.

This week we had a meeting with President Campos. He emphasized the importance of the Book of Mormon in his training and established a new rule: effective immediately, all missionaries will walk with a copy of the Book of Mormon in their hands. We've already seen the difference. We're more focused on our purpose and we talk with more people that we pass.

This was the last week of the transfer and so a few of the members invited us to eat dinner with them. One of them made churrasco for us.

An abandoned house caught fire Sunday afternoon:

This weekend there were many tourists visiting with hopes of seeing snow as well as taking advantage of the Valentine's Day weekend.

I received the call I was expecting Sunday night that I would be transferred. After 4 transfers in Canela, I will go to my last area in Ala do Vale, Gravataí. I said goodbye to my recent converts as well as a few members.

President Felipe

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 92

This last P-day we baptized Vitória! She had been so excited for her baptism, we had to keep her from jumping right into the font. We'd begun teaching her family a while back, initially finding her 11 year old brother Bruno that had been baptized a few years ago. We brought him back to church and at the same time began teaching his little sister. She had already been to church with Bruno when he was baptized and loved it but wasn't 8 yet. We also brought back her grandmother who had also been baptized with Bruno.

After the baptism we held a Family Night with some members that live nearby. I taught them how to make pizza dough and put together your own pizza. It was a great opportunity to integrate our recent converts and have fun. Many different pizzas were invented.

 On Wednesday we went to Porto Alegre for the monthly leadership meeting. There as we presented the work that our zone had done in the month of May we came in 1st place for baptisms per area!

Thursday for our integration night we introduced a new game. With a projector we zoomed out slowly on images of common objects or famous people while two teams competed to guess what it was first.

We followed up with Suele this week and she told us how her 5 year old daughter Isabelli had come home from church last Sunday and said to her that she wants to be a part of this church because they sing 'really cool songs.' She was reportedly caught singing primary songs she'd learned for 3 days straight! Suele was supposed to be baptized this week but because of last minute work she wasn't able to make it.

As we taught our investigators this week Lucas was with us quite a bit. He has been challenging himself quite a bit and he began teaching the part about Joseph Smith during our messages. He told us how he dreams that he's teaching almost nightly. I was surprised by how much he pays attention while we teach, he's memorized everything. What surprised us the most is that he used Joseph Smith's actual words when he taught the First Vision. He'd heard it so many times it was natural. We hadn't even trained him in anything. He will be an excellent missionary!

On Saturday the District of Gramado went to the temple. Suana went for the first time, and Lucas went for the second time, this time taking a few names he'd discovered on FamilySearch.

Lunch on Sunday was awesome because the family we had lunch with showed us how to make Xis, which is similar to a hamburger, but bigger.