Batismo! Wait, what?

Disclaimer: I´m sorry I still haven´t sent photos. I need to buy a usb converter and I always forget until I arrive here in the Lanhouse (the ghetto internet café) to email.

Also, Mom, my package still hasn´t arrived, but don´t worry, generally everyone says it takes 6-8 weeks for packages to get here from the U.S. It probably took 10 days to arrive in Brasil and will take another month to get from one side of São Paulo to where the mission office. Such is life in Brasil.

I stinking love our family! Holy cow. Every week I love reading the emails and seeing the pictures from our families. It brings me so much joy to see how much good is happening every week. Also, Isaiah looks like a bald Hyrum where Hyrum was new.

So, I don´t know how much I have talked about Marly, but she was planning on being baptized on Friday, the day after her son arrived home from his mission. However, we got a call Thursday night from Marly, “Hey, do you think I could be baptized tonight?” She already had her baptismal interview and was more than prepared, so we called the bishop and our ward mission leader, who were already marked to go out with us that night, and they didn´t have any problems. So, at 6:00 PM we marked her baptism for 8:00 pm. However, we arrived at the church at 7:30 PM, filled up the font (of course, the water heater was out of gas, so the water was freezing), and waited for her. And waited. And called her. And nothing until 9:00 PM, when she showed up at the church (We are supposed to be in our apartment by 9:00, by the way). So, we called our zone leaders and then President Dalton, who granted us permission to baptize her and then go straight home. The baptism got over around 10:00 and, like President Dalton directed, we went straight home. I don´t even think we talked to Marly afterward. But, it would not have been Marly´s baptism if it wasn´t spontaneous. She wanted to be baptized in a long flowing white dress in the river like the pioneers(which seems a lot cooler than it would have been. The river here is literally sewer), but when her son got of the plane she said she just couldn´t wait any longer. She is already so strong. We also had another miracle with her fellowshing another investigator on Sunday, but I don´t have time to write it here. I have a book of miracles for this transfer that I have written in every single day, so you can read there next year.

We had a really good week. A lot happened. A lot of miracles. Some dissapointments. I think I learned most in the week how to realize goals. And also that sometimes, our determination means everything. We can´t relax, we can´t take a break. These our the last days and this is the work of the Lord. We don´t have time to waste. Another missionary said to me that the world is in the last days, but Brasil is in the last hour. It´s true in a lot of ways. Brasilians are passionate, and the people living in sin are content to stay where they are. Everything is more exaggerated here… The wealth, the poverty, the happiness, the misery, everything seems to be more intense.

We don´t have time to sit down… However, we do have time to eat pizza, as you will see when I get around to sending pictures. A lot of pizza.

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Nosso Proposito (Our Purpose)

FELIZ ANIVERSÁRI​O GRANDMA KOETITZ!!!

This week I think I finally realized what the “hard part” of a mission is. Before my mission, I always thought it would be walking through the steep roads in the blazing sun or the pouring rain, having doors slammed in my face, being rejected and mocked by people day by day, living the strict rules and schedule that I live as a missionary, leaving the world behind, and things like that. But in reality, all of that is pretty easy. The work of sharing the gospel and helping improve peoples´ lives is so worth it.

 
The hard part is the people I´ve taught with my companion that have almost grasped the fruits of the gospel — The people that were excited de mais for the gospel and were changing and growing and improving — but then they fell, they tripped, they gave in to the temptations of the devil and they gave up because it isn´t easy. Sheri Dew has a book (I think) entitled, If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn´t Be Hard. I love this concept. I think two of the most succesful tools the devil has are hopelesness and complacency
 
And I´ve already seen so many people “reject this glad message” because they either lose hope or they are just too comfortable where they are.
 
I am reading the new testament right now; I just finished Luke. I thought a lot about the life of Christ and the temptations he endured from the devil. In Jesus The Christ,Talmage talks about how many people in the world believe Christ couldn´t sin. But if this were true the whole plan of God would be frustrated. Christ was just as susceptible to temptation as each of us. Alma 7 talks about how Christ would suffer pains and suffering and temptations of every kind in order that he might know how to succor us. I studied today chapter one of Preach My Gospel, “Our Purpose”. I´ve read this chapter probably dozens of times, but today I remembered that our purpose is to call the world to repentance with love and with boldness. Because the plan of salvation will be fulfilled when we act. The gospel is founded on our agency, our ability to choose to live the gospel.
 
And the hardest thing in my mission is when people begin in the path to the tree of life but give it up before they make it there. We have a rule in our mission from President Dalton that we read 1 Nephi Chapter 8 (The Vision of the Tree of Life) with all of our investigators before baptism. Because if our investigators our aware that Satan is going to tempt them when they commence in the path, they will be on the lookout and recognize his attempts when they come.
 
So, this week many of the people I have developed love for in our area dropped us. Karen said she doesn´t want to meet with us anymore (the lady who owns her house won´t let us in and we are pretty sure she is the one that started the doubts in her mind), Everton, who I think I talked about last week, told us that his girlfriend want´s to go to his uncle´s church since they are family and they won´t come with us, and Viviane, an incredible investigator who was determined to come to church and wouldn´t let anything stop her…. wasn´t at home, didn´t answer her phone, didn´t show up and we found out that she had gone on a date with her boyfriend instead (at 9 AM). 
 
But, despite all this, the week was good. Because we know that we did everything in our power to invite others to come unto Christ. Yes, we can improve, no, we weren´t perfect, but we gave all of our effort and expected the best. 
 
However, we are teaching to people (seperately) that should definitely be baptized this week. Marly has a son on a mission who will return this week and baptize her. Her story is really cool as her entire family has joined the church as a result of her son´s mission. And now he will come home and baptize his Mom. The other, Antonio, was a reference from other missionaries. His girlfriend was baptized a few months ago in another ward and now he will be baptized this week. I truly understand how Alma felt when he said that he wished he could be an angel and shout to the ends of the earth the everlasting gospel so everyone would accept it. Because our joy is so great when people do accept it. But, like Alma said, we have to learn to humbly accept the calling that God has for us right now.
 
This week I learned a lot. It was good because of this. And I have a feeling that the next week will be really good. I promise I will send pictures sometime.
 
Feel better, Mom and Dad and Grandma Koetitz! 
 
P.S. Mom, I will go to the mission office today and find out if my package is there. Also, it is fine that you put the check in your account. Thank you so much.

SÓ TEMPLO!

First of all, it sounds like Lacey is living in some kind of high-intensity and slightly ironic action film.

Second, Elder Bradshaw, secretary of the Long Beach California Mission should be sending you a check for my bike soon (or maybe you already received it).

Third, congratulations Isaac with your new job and Kimmie and David (and especially Isaiah) with the baby blessing. Good luck moving.

I love seeing pictures of our family! They are so uplifting! I´m not sure how I feel about opening my email and seeing a picture of a dead boar…

This week we had a mission conference to discuss the vision of President Dalton… or the Vision of our mission and how we will accomplish it. What is becoming our motto is SÓ TEMPLO! and our mission scripture is Alma 26:26. I love the motto só templo, or in English… ONLY THE TEMPLE. The first presidency made a new rule that all missionaries must teach the 5th lesson (laws and ordinances, essentially about the temple) in entirety before baptism. Before I got here (or really, President Dalton, although it was the same week), the Brasil São Paulo Missão was baptizing a lot. However, retention was slipping and a lot of missionaries had the vision of “SÓ BATISMO”, which is contrary to the plan of God. The purpose of missionaries isn´t to baptize people, the purpose of missionaries is to help others make it back to their Heavenly Father. When the people we are teaching understand that they can help their antepassados (I think the word in English is ancestors but I don´t remember), they will have much more desire to be baptized and stay strong in the church.

This week, Elder Mesquita and I have been focusing principally on two things: Getting investigators to church and setting baptismal dates. We have been really diligent with this, but I´m learning that often the blessings don´t come in the places we are expecting.

If you remember, last week I talked about Karen. Holy cow, Karen is awesome. We met with her super late Wednesday night and had to leave our lesson early to make it back to our house on time. We taught the Restoration and then when before we invited her to be baptized she already said yes. Later in the week she told us she felt like she had been waiting for this her whole life. She had a date set for August 23, but (as we warned her) Satan was trying his hardest with her and she was called into work on Sunday. But she has the determination to bat off the feeble attempts of Satan. I think we will move her date to the 24th instead or the following Saturday.

Also, we contacted a guy named Everton one day during the week. Everton is living with his girlfriend (surprise surprise), but he really wants to be married. We taught him the law of chastity on the street and taught about how we can help him be married. Then we returned the following day and taught the Restoration. When we asked him if he had heard of the Book of Mormon, he said, “Yeah… just a second”. He ran into his house and returned with an ancient copy of The Book of Mormon in hand and said “I was actually reading it last week.” We were dumbfounded. He then said, “I believe already believe I need to be married and baptized. Last week, my girlfriend and I were arguing. I prayed to know what we should do. Then, I met you in the street and you taught me the law of chastity. My girlfriend is doing a project on historical books and she decided to research The Book of Mormon. And then today you taught me about the Book of Mormon. Obviously God is telling me this church is true.” Again, even though we warned him about the temptations of the devil, he and his girlfriend missed church on Sunday. We don´t know why yet.

We also had a guy named Antonio show up at church on Sunday with his girlfriend (who is a recent convert) that was attending the wrong ward but wants to be baptized.

Much more happened this week, more than I have time to write. I love everyone. Fique firme!

Milagres, Melhoria e Progressão

(Miracles, Improvement, and Progression)

Summer in Spokane this year sounds more like the Apocalypse. I hope everyone is staying safe. And I hope the city still exists when I get hope. I´m not sure if it can survive another storm.

Also, Elder Bradshaw, from the Long Beach mission, sold my bike, so he might send you a check in the mail or give you the money from my bike in some other form. But don´t worry if you don´t see anything soon. He might wait to send it until later.

Thank you David and Tyler for suggestions on learning a new language. It really does help. We have a rule in our mission that all Americans will learn Portuguese (claro) and all Brasileiros will learn English, and so we have a rule that all Brasileiro/Americano companionships have to switch daily between a day of Portuguese and a day of English. Elder Mesquita is already quite good at English from all the American TV and music he watched before his mission. And he went out with the missionaries a lot and learned English from them. It really is incredible how praying for the gift of tongues and having a divine necessity to use the language makes such a difference. I feel really blessed because everyone is amazed if I tell them how I just got to Brasil six weeks ago. But I know com certeza that it isn´t me because I took French for three years and I don´t remember ANYTHING from French (I hope my past french teachers aren´t reading this… je m`excuse… I want to re-learn it in a year!).

This week I might only share one story, which happened last night.
We had almoço (lunch) with a less-active member, Maria (one of probably 30 Marias in our ward). She is actually really really awesome, has solid testimony, and reads the Book of Mormon everyday, but because of work she hasn´t been attending church. She has a friend, Karen, who was there as well, and we talked with her. We invited them both to church the next Sunday, and Karen accepted, but didn´t really seem all that interested. However, later that day, she called us and said she had made a bolo (cake) that she needed us to eat. Seeing a teaching opportunity (and a delicious cake), we went to her house with an awesome member in our ward, ate delicious cake and taught her how to pray. We only had 15 minutes until we had to return home, but in those 15 minutes she learned how to pray, prayed sincerely, and was in tears afterward. She is super excited to learn more about The Restoration when we return on Wednesday (we try to teach our investigators here every day, but she was only available later). Like I said about another experience with someone else last week, words can´t really describe the miracle. It may appear simple and normal to the rest of the world, but for us, it was a miracle. Plus Maria was there and is super excited that her friend is interested in the gospel… and Maria definitely will not miss church this Sunday.

This week I learned a few things. First, if we are not giving are all when we are outside of our apartment, we are wasting our time and we will probably be miserable. How did I just learn this now? Not that I was wasting my time for the past year, but some days I didn´t talk to every single person. As a missionary, I have nothing to lose and the people around me have everything to gain.

Second, many times the people who appear most weak will turn out to be incredible. And many, many times, the people who appear super prepared turn out to be nothing. This is the nature of missionary work. We invite, they commit, we follow up. Following this pattern, we are doing what the Lord wants.

I forgot the other thing… but it is in my study journal so I will be sure to study it tomorrow in personal study because I remember it was really important.

I LOVE MY FAMILY! I love the Lord. I love my mission.
And I am still praying for Grandma Koetitz every day.