I have written some of you personally and others all together. I have talked about many things with you guys and some are good and some are sad. I have been out here on my mission for three months and have had a lot of ups and downs but I know that from here on out it will only be up. I started out my mission in the CTM where I learned Portuguese for 6 weeks and I had a blast because the Spirit was so strong there and my district was amazing. Then when I got in the field it was a complete change in the fact that no one in my first area really spoke English and I had trouble communicating with my trainer because he did not speak any English. Throughout my first transfer I had some rough times with my trainer and would always ask the Lord for help to make it through. Everyday I would see the blessings of the Lord in my life whether it came through someone else or I learned something. I look back at that first transfer and I have seen how much I have truly learned from my first trainer. I have learned that I in a way was not humble and that I needed to constantly try to see through others perspectives. Also I learned that when we share this gospel we should fear no man because our God is more powerful than anyone. The story in the Bible of Elijah when he meets a power hungry king that wanted to stop him and kill him because he knew that Elijah was the only one with power to stop him. So in the night the king surrounded the city in which Elijah was living and in the morning when the servant of Elijah woke up and saw that the city was surrounded he told Elijah that he was full of fear. Then Elijah said fear not because those that are protecting us are in greater numbers than they that wish to destroy us. The servant did not understand and then Elijah prayed to God and asked Him to open the eyes of the servant and then the servant saw the concourses of angels and the legions of flaming chariots on the mountain side and everywhere. Their numbers were so great that to count them would be to count every grain of sand on a beach. We must fear no man and it is my goal before Christmas to get on a bus and to preach the gospel to people on that bus. It is a thing that was started by an elder in the mission called FEAR NO MAN and I have accepted that challenge and will hold true to my promise and you guys can hold me responsible. I will report next week.
The Lord blesses us in our lives and when we have rough times or times that seem like the world is ending, it is not. The Lord allows these times to occur to remind us that without Him we are nothing. In a way it is a reminder and in Ether 12: 27 in the Book of Mormon it says that the Lord gives men weaknesses to humble us and when we come to Him with a humble and broken heart and a contrite spirit and have faith in him, that is when he makes weak things become strong. I testify to all that read this letter and would testify to the world that this scripture is 1,000,000 percent true and that I have seen it every day out here on my mission. With my ability in learning this language and the happiness that I have been able to bring into people´s lives here is for me a blessing. When I first arrived I was not humble and thought I had it hard but I see men and families that live in houses that have doors made out of the door on a dresser or a closet. To make their walls and roof of their house and when we ask them how they are doing they say, GRACAS A DEUS, MUITO BOM. I think you guys can understand that without a translation. We have so much and I challenge all of us in this wonderful Christmas season to think about all the things we have in life, think of all the things that you have taken for granted and try to do something for someone else. This is the season of giving, this is the season of the birth of Jesus Christ and He gave his life for us and we can do no less!!! So try and do something nice for someone every day whether it is small or big, do something and do it with the attitude of Christ because we are all His children and we all need help.
Right now I have spent 2 weeks in Sobradinho 2 and have seen some amazing things and have met some amazing people!!! Here the work is moving and I am with our LZ´s which is our zone leaders. In Portuguese zone leader is written “lider de zona” (and they are some very mighty men in this gospel.) My comp is a convert and the other LZ is too and these guys are amazing when they preach the gospel. One day during my first week we were doing a service project for a member and the neighbor asked us what we were doing and the LZ´s went to work and we got to meet her and now she is being taught by the other pair of elders but we found out she had her religion but had not visited a church in the past 10 years. She had literally almost memorized the Bible and had not talked about religion with anyone in the past 10 years. She is a mighty giant and our LZ´s have shown her there is more. There is greatness in the Book of Mormon but she was skeptical when she found out we were Mormons. Now she sees that through this book we have a perfect path given to us to tell us where we need to go. An iron rod that will never change and can show us how to return to God and live with Him again. With the Bible these 2 books create an iron rod as detailed in the first couple of chapters in the Book of Mormon in Lehi´s dream about the iron rod and the tree of life. I have also encountered many great people out here with my companion. I have encountered 2 people that do not believe in God and Jesus Christ and learning how to teach them is interesting and we are helping them see in a way. We have helped one see that there is a God and that without Him we are nothing and the other we have not had an opportunity to return and teach him. Also these past two weeks I encountered a contact without my trainer. One day when I was with the other new elder we went and knocked on the door of one of our investigators and the door right next to us was open and there was a man there. He came to us and started the contact with us by asking us questions of what we do, why are we here, and stuff like that. When we finished talking with him we made an appointment to return and when we returned we got to meet his girlfriend and his mother. We did all this without our trainers and we taught them about the restoration and I have never seen someone´s eyes so glued to us. When we taught they were so attentive and had so many questions but they are such golden investigators. Also this week we have received many referrals from members and a lot of them have been amazing. We have encountered many less active members and some people that have been trying to find us for so long. We also invited 3 people for baptism and 2 have accepted so far and we are working with the other one.
This past week I learned about some sad news about one of my dear friends passing away from cancer, and I am sad but I have more happiness because I know that death is not the end. One of our investigators has been asking so much about what happens after death and I testify it is not the end. After death we go to the spirit world and wait until the second coming of Christ and the final judgment but this spirit world is not a place of sadness. It is a preparatory state for us. For those that did not have an opportunity to hear the gospel or those that heard it, this is a place where we go to learn and to teach and I know right now that my best friend is there teaching the people in the spirit world because he had a big desire to serve a mission here on this earth. Unfortunately with his condition he did not have the ability but right now he has received that chance and I know he is showing many the way with his testimony.
So the work here is moving and my companion and I are working so well!! Also I am loving the weather here because it is the rainy season so like every other day it rains and it is amazing!!! Also I got to meet our Bishop and he speaks English and has visited the states before. He is an English professor and he has helped us so much with this work. He loves to sing and is a large man. I love him because he loves to joke. The other day I talked with him and said, “Como você esta bispo?? and he responded, “Estou gordo elder” haha. When he teaches he has shown me that we need to teach with love. The same love that Christ has for us and he is a power in this gospel and has shown me many things.
For a fun little note, dad this week you were not alone in mowing the lawn!!! This week we did a service project for our bishop and I got to mow a small forest because things grow so quickly here and his mower was broken before so we helped him fix it and then we cleaned up the yard, mowed the grass and trimmed the bushes. I love service projects. Also I have met our bishop’s daughter and she is amazing at singing. She has competed on the American Idol of Brazil for kids and she has a voice like none other. Yeah!! It is crazy.
I am loving the work and I am learning so much every day and I have learned that many people have questions about what we do so if you have one ask the missionaries. They are very easy to find because they wear a white shirt and tie every day. And for members, help the missionaries because as said by President David O. Mckay, “Every member a missionary” and you guys are essential to this work and we are all in need of your help.
I am thankful for the wonderful opportunity I have to serve in Brazil, to have struggles in my life, to have an opportunity to help others and to preach the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Going away party for an Elder in their district
At a baptism during his first transfer. His Trainer is the boy kneeling in the front on the right. The 4 people in jumpsuits are all getting baptized.
This is where he lives right now :-) Right above this store.