Batismo do Igor, Thiago, João, e Myllena

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This week was full of craziness. But it was good. Every week I love being a missionary more and more and more.

My new companion is Elder Calixto (I will send a picture). He is from Ceará (the state of Fortaleza) and he has only been a member of the church for 1 year and 8 months. In other words, HE GOT BAPTIZED RIGHT BEFORE I STARTED MY MISSION. That is crazy to me. It is awesome, too, to see how much someone can change and progress in just 20 months. I have the opportunity to “train” him, but I´m really learning more from him than anything else. He is extremely humble and hard-working.

 

This week, the brothers (Igor and Thiago) as well as the cousin (João) of Bruno and Diogo were baptized. Bruno, Diogo, and Igor returned from the Youth Camp excited and VERY, VERY spiritually strengthened. On Sunday, I had the opportunity to participate in their ordination to the Aaronic priesthood. Every day they are becoming more and more and more excited about the gospel. The gospel really does transform lives.

 

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In addition, we were teaching Myllena, who is only 10. She was a referral from her cousin, who is a member of the church. She lives above the house of her great-aunt and uncle, who recently returned to activity in the church. Her parents also want to be baptized, but we will have to keep working with them. Myllena is probably the smartest 10 year old I have met in my life. She has already read 1/3 of The Book of Mormon and understands more than I do! (Or at least a lot more than I did when I was 10). She and her cousin made a goal to serve missions. She was also baptized on Sunday, together with Igor and Thiago and João.

 

I really learned a lot teaching these four youth. A lot about the importance of completing a family. We are still working with more of their relatives, but as each member of the family gains interest in the gospel, there is another that will see the change in their life and want to learn more.

 

The baptism ended up being a little bit crazy. We opened the closet door next to the baptismal font and there was ONLY ONE WHITE JUMPSUIT. And it was XXL. In the end, we found a few old, wet, stinky jumpsuits in the womens´ bathroom and everyone at least had SOMETHING to be baptized in. After the baptism we went on a mission to find all of the missing jumpsuits and found some scattered in various houses throughout the ward boundaries.

 

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Even crazier was what happened on Saturday. During lunch, our Bishop called us and said, “Elderes, tonight at 9:00 PM you will go with me to a lesson with a family that will be baptized this weekend that was being taught by other missionaries. I already talked to President Dalton and he approved everything.” So, at 9:00 PM he picked us up and we went to meet this family. The family had been taught by missionaries from another mission who were travelling into our area to teach this family until the Saturday that they would be married (and would be baptized on Sunday). The bishop of the family (and missionaries) found out and, to make a long story-short, the missionaries, not wanting to pass a referral, made a mess of everything. The two bishops explained to the family that they wouldn´t be able to receive a calling or temple recommend if they went to the wrong ward, and to try to make a long story short AGAIN, we ended up going to their baptism Sunday night in a different mission with our Ward Mission Leader and the mission president of the other mission. The mission president of the other mission even gave us a ride home. It is not an experience that we have every day. But, in the end, the family will end up going to the correct ward now (ours) and we will begin teaching the rest of their family. I don´t know if this story made any sense, but it was a confusing and unique experience.

 

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I love everyone!

 

PS: Mom, we had one week that we only had water from 9:00 PM- 9:00 AM every day, but now it seems like things are a little more normal. The mission is giving all the missionaries an emergency water supply. We are well taken care of.

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Happy Valentine´s Day! and Carnival. And TRANSFERS

YET ANOTHER transfer has come and gone… something that I absolutely cannot believe. And SADLY, INFELIZEMENTE, Elder Farias was transferred. I am definitely going to miss him. It is a bummer that we only got to be companions one transfer. This next transfer I´m not sure yet who my companion will be. I will find out tomorrow.

This week was fantastic. Every year during Carnival, all of the youth in Brasil have an “Acampamento” or “campout”. Here they don´t have scouts or girls´ camp, but they have this 5-day camp that starts on Friday and goes until Tuesday. Igor and João, the brother and primo of Bruno and Diogo (that were baptized two weeks ago) would have been baptized on Sunday. However, the bishop invited Bruno and Diogo and Igor to go on the campout, which is going to be (or is being, since it is happening right now) an incredible experience for them. “Acampamento” here is pretty much like EFY. The youth go with a testimony and come back converted. So because they are on the campout, they will be baptized this week instead. But it is definitely worth waiting a week for them to have this incredible experience, because they have never done anything. They haven´t been to the beach that is 40 minutes away or been to the mall that is 10 minutes away or been to a movie theater. So a 5-day camp as new members (or soon to be members) will literally transform their life. We received a letter from one of the cousins of this family, thanking us for the light that the gospel has brought into the life of her family. It is incredible to see the joy the gospel brings to families. There is nothing that compares.

Also, the sisters in our ward, Sister Magalhães and Sister Fonseca, baptized a young man named Andson (like Anderson, but he spells it… different). He is 22 years old. Another missionary (Elder Cáceres) and I had the opportunity to teach him a few times because he had a few difficulties that he didn´t really want to talk about with two 20 year old girls. He had passed weeks and weeks at church, afraid of the baptism, but apparently prepared and worthy. But he had one thing he hadn´t told anyone about, which is when Elder Cáceres and I felt the prompting that we should go teach him. It is incredible to see how the spirit works. We just felt like we should go, so we asked the sisters if we could go teach him and they said, “We were about to call you to ask if you could”. When we went the first time to teach him, he shared with us how he couldn´t bring himself to admit to the sisters the things he had done because he felt they were too pure (apparently Elders don´t have the problem of being “too pure”…). He shared with us the guilt and shame he felt for what he was doing and we had the incredible opportunity to help him repent.

The next day we came back and his countenance was changed. The moment we finished the opening prayer to begin the lesson we all felt the spirit incredibly strong, witnessing to each of us that now he was ready to be baptized. This experience taught me the importance of the order of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is FIRST: Faith in Jesus Christ, SECOND: Repentance, THIRD: Baptism by immersion for the remission of our sins, and FOURTH: The laying on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. And FIFTH: Enduring to the end. On Sunday I had the opportunity to baptize Andson. I saw that all of the fear had left his eyes and his heart and that he knew that now he was ready.

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It is incredible how one small thing, or rather, one thing that seems at first to be small, can prevent our eternal happiness as long as we let it. I really felt this week in the life of Andson the miracle of forgiveness.

I am grateful for the sacred calling I have to be a missionary. I am grateful for the daily experiences I have that build my faith. I wondered before my mission, if all the world, the prophet, and my parents were to deny the truthfulness of the gospel, would I believe? This week I have realized that the answer is yes. Because I have FELT, from God, the healing balm of the atonement. I have seen the miracles in my daily life. I can´t deny that.

I love my family! And I am eternally grateful for the knowledge I have that our family is an eternal family.

AMO VOCÊS!

A week of RAIN!!! :)

This week it rained and rained and rained and we are SO GRATEFUL! Although, it appears that because of the infrastructure of São Paulo, the rain that is falling isn´t going into the resevoirs. It is draining into rivers that just dump the water in the ocean. So it is raining, just not in exactly the right places.

Also, we had interviews with President Dalton. The more time that passes, the more I am astounded in how inspired and loving he is.

We focused a lot this week in teaching part-member families. We are teaching the brothers of our recent converts (Bruno and Diogo, that got baptized last week) as well as a girl named Milena that is the relative of a bunch of members and wants to be baptized, but her immediate family has no interest (for now) in the church.

I can´t believe YET ANOTHER transfer is coming to a close. I love my companion, Elder Farias (as well as the other missionaries that I live with, who are ALMOST my companions, too, since we all go the same chapel and do divisions together), I love this area, and I love our investigators. And I love being a missionary. It still feels like just yesterday that I got here to Brasil. The time passes SO FAST.

There is so much to learn as a missionary. Many times, I feel like when I get to month 24 of my mission I still won´t know 1% of how to be a missionary. I look back on every week amazed at how much I have learned, how much has happened in just one week, and I am astounded. Just imagine how much there is to learn in life. And the time is so short!!!

I love and am grateful for the sacred opportunity I have to be a missionary; to be an authorized representative of Jesus Christ. There aren´t words to describe it. Or to describe how unworthy I often feel. However, I know that God has entrusted me with this calling, so I know that with him I am capable.

But only with Him.

I love everyone! I definitely understand what Dad means about the inspiration he receives from studying the scriptures before he goes to bed. It gives us 8 more hours to receive inspiration for what we need in our lives.

Have a great week!

Tambem, O Batismo do Bruno e Diogo

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TYLER!
(Also, happy 1 year on your mission!)

Sunday was the baptism of Diogo and Bruno, who I think I have talked about before.

They are 18 year old twins. Diogo uses a wheelchair. Everyone in his family has the same genetic foot problem, but with him it is much worse and he cannot walk. It was a great experience to see how the baptism got the ward excited, because it had been 8 weeks since the last baptism in the ward. Everyone asked us if they could give Diogo a ride to church or to a ward activity.

The rest of the week was pretty normal. We continued to teach many of the same people and began teaching other people, but really I don´t know if I have much other news. The drought here in São Paulo is just getting worse and worse. In March, São Paulo will start rationing water. We will only have water on Saturday and Sunday. the other 5 days of the week we won´t have water. But it won´t be as drastic for us as it sounds, because we have a giant “caixa de agua” (I don´t remember the name in English…. it´s like a giant barrel of water above our house and we did the math and calculated how much water we can use each day and how much each missionary can use in the shower. Plus, a member gave us 2 100 gallon barrels of water, so everything should turn out all right.

I´ve been praying for Isaiah all week. I hope he is getting better. As well as Tanasha and Noah.

Sorry that this letter was so short! This week was a good week, but the only real news was the baptism of Diogo and Bruno (by the way, “Diogo” is pronounced G-ogo, not D-ogo).

EU AMO TODO MUNDO! Have a good week!

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Foto 1: Our Zone p-day. I´m not sure if I already sent this picture, but it rained. It was pretty great. We decided to end the p-day when a lightning bolt literally hit the building next to the chapel. That took the fun out of being in the rain.

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Foto 2: Baptism of Bruno and Diogo!!! They are 18 year old twins. Diogo is the one in the wheelchair, Bruno is standing. The guy next to Bruno is our awesome Bishop.

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Foto 3: Elder Farias and I in front of the temple.