Batismo de Beatriz e Francisco (e Elder Beazer)

This week Beatriz and Francisco were baptized. I love the people we have baptized here in Castro Alves SO MUCH. And what I love even more is that I don´t feel worried at all that they might go less active. Because they have friends. They are being nourished by the good word of God. And they have responsibilities. AND I JUST LOVE THEM.

Beatriz, if you don´t remember, is fourteen years old. She has been going to seminary for almost a month now, and she was baptized after seminary on Friday with all of her friends there and her parents (Seminary in our ward is 7:00 PM).

Francisco´s baptism had a lot less people, but I don´t even think Francisco noticed. He couldn´t stop smiling when he left the water. He really experienced the healing balm of the Atonement. He had to use the repentance process to stop drinking, smoking, and using drugs. And so he knew how powerful his baptism was.

We had a couple at church on Sunday that are AWESOME. Ana and Luiz. Ana needs to get a divorce from her husband (that she hasn´t seen in 15 years… we don´t know how to help her get a divorce) so she can marry Luiz. THEY ARE SO GOOD!!! I can´t even explain them. After our first meeting with them, Luiz rescheduled worked so he would be able to come to church at least every other week and made plans to take us to the beach (which we obviously had to cancel). They are so prepared! We just have to learn how to help her get a divorce so they can mark a date to get married and baptized.

Also, we got a call from President Dalton last P-day telling us that we would be receiving a third person in our companionship, Elder Beazer. He waited for his visa for 10 months in the Mesa Arizona Mission. He´s from Indiana. And I love him. But he doesn´t speak a WORD of portuguese. I guess I´m realizing now just how much I have learned in Portuguese. But even still, we are working with him A LOT to improve. I know the gift of tongues is real. And we are about to see it work here. Or we better…

Other than that our week was really rushed. We picked up Elder Beazer and went to a training with him, we had Zone Conference, and then we had a baptism on Friday night and Saturday night. We barely had any time to find and teach, but we tried our hardest and by some miracle we still achieved what we had planned for.

Oh, I almost forgot. Just another small world moment. President Dalton was giving a training and quoted his Bishop from when he was attending Harvard Business School…. Kim B. Clark. If I had brought my notes with me I would put the quote here, but I forgot my notebook. The small world nmoments never cease.

Also, good luck with the diet, Dad! It sound a lot like a diet that Lacey and Michael and I did when I was at BYU-Idaho, which definitely was an adjustment (although it was worth it, Lacey!). Everyone said that missionaries in Brasil always lose weight, but the members in our ward make food that is SO GOOD and we don´t have a lot of huge hills in our area, so I could definitely improve my eating habits, too. I don´t want to get fat here.

I don´t know if I have much other news. I LOVE EVERYONE!

Photo from the baptism of Francisco and the pizza that night (it rained and my hair died… it´s not usually like that)
Baptism

Baptism Man

Elder Beazer

Beatriz’s Baptism
Baptism girl 2

Baptism Girl

Baptism Girl 3

Baptism Girl 4

Baptism Girl 5

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Batismo de Lucas e Daniel! (e outras coisas boas) HAPPY ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD!

First, I´m praying for Grandma Koetitz and I think about her every day.
Second… Mom, I´m still trying to think of what I would want you to send for Christmas. As of yet I have not thought of anything specific. Elder Mesquita requested more pictures haha but I think I already have a decent stack of them.

The Sunday I got into this ward (a transfer and a half ago), a guy named Luzivaldo was baptized. He is a man of simple, solid faith. Also, I realized when we took pictures at his baptism that I think he is shorter than Mom. He received the Aaronic Priesthood three weeks ago and this Saturday he baptized his two sons, Lucas and Daniel. Daniel is 11, Lucas is 9. I love watching families receive the blessings of the gospel. The experience was sacred because Luzivaldo was able to use the priesthood that he holds to bring the blessings of the gospel to his children. Luzivaldo lives alone with his two kids, works from 7:00 AM-5:00 PM and studies from 6:00 PM-10:00 PM so he can get a better job and helps his sons. He does this every day except Sunday. I´m always amazed by the sacrifices he makes for them. This being said, Lucas and Daniel didn´t exactly have a lot of supervision at home, and when we started teaching them, they were pretty crazy. It took a few tries to learn how to teach them, but with inspiration and help from our awesome Bishop, we watched them change. A LOT.
It was incredibly spiritual to watch Luzivaldo baptize his sons, with words that he had practiced until he couldn´t forget them. It is in moments like this that I realize how sacred and precious my mission is. Every hard moment disappears, or rather becomes of more worth, when we see the joy that we have helped bring into the live of another family.

Last week I talked about Francisco, the drunk that literally stumbled into us in a horrible viela. Today is his 9th consecutive day without drinking, smoking, drinking coffee, or using drugs. He told us that now that he has stopped, he has desire to do good again. He has desire to work again. He also told us that he has been going to other neighborhood churches every day of the week so that he can stay out of the bar, but he told us that he knows that the other churches don´t have “a prophet, twelve apostles, and the authority”, because he didn´t want us to think he was going there instead of with us to church. He´s so good! He invited all his friends to his baptism, and brought a friend with him to church that wants to be baptized as well. Francisco will be baptized Saturday.

I´m not sure if I have talked about Beatriz yet or not, but she will be baptized this Friday. We taught her Mom for a few weeks, but her Mom had some struggles that she couldn´t overcome and she decided she didn´t want to meet with us anymore even though she knows the church is true. Beatriz (or “Bia”, for short) is her daughter. Bia has gone to seminary every day for the past three weeks and she is so good! She is a testimony to me of fellowshipping, because she would definitely never have been interested without the help of the youth in our ward. I´m super excited to see her grow in the church.

Talking to Elder Mesquita this week, I think I realized what I have learned more than anything on my mission. I´ve learned that God expects us to grow where we are planted. We don´t know what experiences we will have and often don´t know where we will be, but God has always known. God always knew I would serve in Long Beach California for 11 months. He always knew I would come to this ward in Brasil. He knew it all. I don´t have too much patience with missionaries that say, “I´m a visa waiter!” or “My Bishop is horrible!” or “My area was dead when I got here!” or “My companion is lazy!” because these things are exactly what God knew we would have. And he wants us to grow. He wants us to do everything we can. We can learn to be happy and work hard in our tribulations. Maybe our situation isn´t what we thought would be best for us. But it is what will help us grow the most.

Eu amo minha família! I couldn´t have a better family for me.

Mom, I´m definitely not seeing any fall colors here… it´s spring here. But I don´t think I would see any fall colors anyway. Thankfully it has stayed cool the whole time I have been here but I have a feeling that my luck is about to run out.

Batismo de Lucas e Daniel por seu Pai Luzivaldo

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Going the Extra Mile

These past few weeks, Elder Mesquita and I have been focusing on meeting all of the “Standards of Excellence” for our mission, which are the goals for investigators at church, baptismal dates set, lessons taught with a member, etc. that are mission-wide. Generally, they are challenging. For example, the standard of excellence for investigators at church is 10, which would be 1000 people in church every week. Our mission averages about 300-400 people in church every week. So, to make a long story short, Elder Mesquita and I have been focusing on realizing as many of these standards each week as possible. But, even though we had been doing what was expected of us, our teaching pool was shrinking and the people we were helping to come to Christ rejected us. It was really frustrating. However, I´m grateful for inspired leaders. Our zone leaders gave the zone a theme for the week, “Go The Extra Mile”.
Elder Mesquita and I realized immediately what was wrong. We were doing everything that was technically expected of us… but we were not doing everything in our capacity. God doesn´t expect us to just reach a point and plateau… he expects us to always do everything in our power. If we want standard blessings, we can put in the standard. If we want everything God has to give us, we have to do everything in our power.

We have a theme as a mission to “Sair nossa zona de conforto”, or always leave our comfort zone. This week, Elder Mesquita and I saw the blessings of that. We were contacting in what we call “A Escada dos Milagres” (in English… The Stairs of Miracles). We have found a lot of solid new investigators there contacting. As we were about to leave there one day, we decided to talk with one more person. Two, actually, Luiz and Ana. Luiz and Ana are about 45 and we taught them about chastity and how they need to be married. They excitedly invited us back to their house and talked about how they have wanted this for a long time, but they didn´t have the money (The fact that we can marry people legally for free is a great finding tool here). Also, sometimes you can just feel when a person is really open and prepared to receive the gospel. And they are. So we came back and taught them the Restoration and why they need to be married to receive the blessings of The Restoration. Luiz told us, “I feel like when we met you in that staircase that I should trust you. I would never talk to two teenagers I don´t know in the street, but I feel like God wanted us to meet”. The whole experience was a miracle and they are super excited for church next Sunday.

Also, we went to contact a referral from our ward mission leader. The referral lives in this horrible viella (like a tiny alleyway that leads to the poorest parts of the favela that don´t have access to a street). Elder Mesquita literally has to turn sideways and suck in his belly to fit between the buildings. We were about to descend into the viella when we saw two extremely drunk guys stumbling out of the viella. Normally, the last thing we would do at the end of the night in a dark, narrow space is talk with two bêbados (drunks), but we followed the spirit and talked to them. One of them, Francisco, listened as intently as he could as we taught about the Word of Wisdom and told us to come back to his house because he needed to get sober. He also promised he would come to church on Sunday. We honestly didn´t have very much faith in him, especially when we returned the next day and his neighbor said he wasn´t home. However, instead of dropping him as we normally would, we returned Sunday morning to bring him to church AND…. nothing. Empty. Lights off. We got to church, a little discouraged but not to surprised, and took our seats. Just as priesthood was about to start (which we have first in our ward), we felt a tap on our shoulders and turned around to see Francisco´s unshaven but sober face grinning back at us. It turns out his neighbor just lied and told us he wasn´t home. He said he waited three hours for us. We taught him Sunday nght and he is seriously committed to stop drinking, smoking, drinking coffee, and using illegal drugs so he can be baptized on the 27th. Woohoo!

Also, at the end of the week it looked like had done everything and wouldn´t have anything to show for it. However, Sunday, everything fell into place and we met all of our goals.

Sometimes, we just have to do a little more. We just have to push a little harder than we did the time before. And when our hearts are depressed and we want to turn back, then the blessings come.

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Baptism of Irmã Marly. Haha. She´s crazy. But she is so strong.

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Elder Mesquita and I in front of Ibirapuera, the Central Park of Brasil.

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More Ibipuera. Elder Mesquita had a doctor´s appointment in the beautiful Santo Amaro. RIDICULOUSLY NICE. It´s hard to believe this is part of São Paulo.

MOM! I (FINALLY) GOT THE PACKAGE!

Mom! I finally got the package you sent. I don´t know how many weeks it has been, but for your information, it looks like it takes at least 5 weeks for a package to get here from the U.S. Our mission president´s wife, Sister Dalton, was glad to know, too, because she is wondering when she should send packages to her kids in California to make it there for Christmas. Thank you for the peanut butter and the deodorant and the colored pencils. They got here just in time.

Aside from that, this week was kind of trying. ALL of our investigators that are not “eternal” (in other words, they have problems or struggles out of their control that keep them from being baptized right now) disappeared. Every day this week we had only one or two lessons marked for the whole day. So, we contacted a LOT of people and found a LOT of new investigators that seemed really really good. But, as hard as we tried to meet with them, it just seems like everything we did fell through.

We fasted that we will be able to help our investigators progress and be baptized. I´m confident this week will yield more results that stay than this past week. We had a lot of miracles happen that didn´t stay. They are still miracles, but the people just chose to reject the truth after they saw the miracle. I´m definitely a people-motivated missionary. Some missionaries are motivated by numbers and competition and quantity, but those things don´t motivate me. And other missionaries are content to just help a few people as long as those people stay really firm in the church. But the truth is that we have to take the best from both types. We have to invite everyone to come unto Christ. But we have to make sure they are prepared to stay. Elder Mesquita and I were talking this week about an investigator we have that we literally love more than ourselves. That we know will go to the Celestial Kingdom even though we have been baptized and made other convenants with God and she hasn´t yet.

I don´t really have much other news this week. Sorry, I feel like my emails have been getting shorter and shorter!

I love everyone! It was good to see pictures from Kimmie and David (and Hyrum and Isaiah). Kimmie, your children will be giants.
I hope Dad and Grandma feel better!
Mom, I hope school doesn´t stay too hectic and stressful.

Uma Outra Transferência

My email my be a little short since I spent most of the time sending some pictures.

So, Elder Mesquita and I….. stayed together. Hallelujah.
We´re really grateful for that.

It sounds like Mom and Dad and Lacey and Adelaide and Michael and Grandma had a perfect week in Washington. Salmon, camping, walks to the beach, sunsets, blackberries, family, it doesn´t really get much better. Also, I love how when we are sensitive to the spirit we will be guided in things that seem so small and simple. Things that might not seem important to the rest of the world but are testimonies to us that God cares about our daily lives.

Mom, my package has not arrived yet. Maybe next week. Everyone said about 6 to 8 weeks, so it could still be a few weeks away.

This week was good.

We have a recent convert, Lucivaldo, who has two children, 11 and 9. He has been reluctant to allow his children to be baptized because they don´t have the same knowledge and conviction he had when he was baptized. Also, he leaves his house for work 5 AM everyday and gets home 11 at night from school, so it´s hard to teach him and his kids.
However, we brought our awesome bishop with us to a lesson with him on Sunday. Lucivaldo had received the priesthood two weeks before, and the bishop was inspired in our visit to teach him how to perform the baptismal ordinance with his children. Nothing could have been better for Lucivaldo. Now he is excited to baptize his children on September 14th and his kids will having the saving blessings of the gospel.

We had a lot of other great things happen this week as well as a lot of other not-so-great things, but miracle will happen, families will be united, and the gospel will continue to come forth to the world. It´s God´s plan. And we have the opportunity to be part of it.

Oh. P.S. I have to recount the strange things that happened to me this week.
First, we were walking down the street and a drunk guy yelled, “Alemão!”, bowed to me, kissed my hand, and ran away ( “Alemão” means “German”. They think all Americans are Germans who speak English).
Second, I ate pig foot. It´s not that good. It´s not horrible, it´s just not worth eating.
Third, I ate cow stomach. Again, not horrible, just not worth eating. It tastes like really really cheap ramen, which doesn´t make me feel very much better about cheap ramen.

I don´t remember which photos I have already sent, but I will just start sending some.

1. Elder Hoffmann and I with a recent convert the night before we were transferred.
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2.Left to right: Elder Severiche, Elder Mesquita, Elder Maynard, and me
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3. One of many doors here that is shorter than me. Yes, I know I needed a haircut in this picture.
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4. In the house of an awesome recent-convert, Bruna.
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5. A baptismal symbol we found carved into the sidewalk.
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6. Elder Mesquita and I with our fake missionary technology. A recent-convert works at a samsung store and had mock phones and tablets.
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7. MORE pizza… this time dessert with chocolate and strawberries. Not as good as it looks. This was in exchanges.
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8.EVEN MORE PIZZA. This is starting to look ridiculous. But it´s also evidence that I´m eating.
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9. We went to teach an investigator for the first time and she surprised us with a banquet. We surprised her with The Restoration (because she wasn´t expecting it to be true).
…Sorry, Elder Kyle didn’t attach the photo….

10. Again, Elder Mesquita and I with pizza.
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11. The racetrack Interlagos. Or part of it. This was a panorama, but the panorama disappeared so I just have the segments now.
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12. I saw this in our area and my mind was blown because it was the first time I had seen nature since I got to Brasil. Beauty exists in São Paulo. I just had to really selectively take this picture to find it. Also, I ate what appeared to be a blackberry off of a bush. Elder Mesquita said it was edible.
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13. Elder Mesquita and I at BURGER KING, the only place in Brasil with free refills.
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14. Our TINY and SHRINKING zone (all the sisters were sent to other areas).
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15. Elder Mesquita and I saw this near the mission office today.
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16. Also, an picture with Elder Hoffmann in Jardim Angela that demonstrates a little bit what our area was like. Just stairs forever.
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