Dear Family and Friends,
So the weather here is somewhat crazy. Right now it is the rainy season here in Brazil and so the weather can change dramatically and fast and it rains a lot. I have seen all of Brasilia covered in fog and have been in it. There has been some crazy wind and some killer heat. Heat and humidity is different than in Arizona. It is more crazy here than it is in Arizona.
So we have had 2 holidays pass here in Brazil, Christmas and New Years. Christmas here is much different than in the states. The people here love to stay up on Christmas eve, have dinner and a gigantic party/ fiesta and drink all kinds of drinks and party the night on through till about 6 or 7 in the morning. Then Christmas morning sleep in and on Christmas night do the exact same thing. So we passed by a members house on Christmas Eve for dinner and had a party with them. We elders really just sat and ate food because Brazilians love to cook a lot of food that is amazing!!!! Then on New Years Brazilians like to do the same thing as Americans and light off fireworks ALL DAY! When New Years hit, I got to see a lot of fireworks. You could see all of Sobradinho 1 and 2 and it looked like a battlefield that was being hit by artillery because there were so many fire works. It was so cool. Three of the elders in our house went to a members house that night and I stayed with another elder in our house and then went to bed at about 12:45 in the morning.
Right now we have 5 elders in the house including me. So we have a pair and then a trio. Reason is that because one of the elders in Sobradinho 1 had a knee problem that he was not allowed to walk on that knee at all and out here in the field we walk everywhere. So he had to go home (Elder Tiago) to his home in Rio and so we got his companion Elder Queiroz who is from Manus. Manus is located in the top of Brazil and it is funny because he goes home this Friday because he has finished his mission. Also he is our district leader and he is amazing!!!
Some cool things: On Christmas day we had a baptism and it was great because the guy being baptized is about 19 and he really wants to serve a mission and we have seen some great potential out of him because he is constantly coming to church and participating. He is great.
Then on the 17th of December, going back in time a little bit, we had the mission Christmas party where I got to meet a lot of friends and make many new ones. Also we got to watch the movie "Frozen" and "Ephraim's Rescue. Too all that read this I strongly recommend you watch the movie "Ephraim's Rescue" and ponder deeply about the story of Ephraim and the power of the priesthood because I see many things in the story of that man out here in my mission in what we do every day. Also I received letters from Jadon Allen, Audrey, and Ashley. My sister Ashley sent me a talk by Elder Matthew Cowley who was one of the twelve apostles of our church many years ago during World War II and the talk was MIRACLES. To all I suggest that you read it because the power of what that apostle talks about is very real my friends and I have seen that power in action.
Now to all I give you one phrase to think about:
Uma Vida Para Viver...
Uma Eternidade Para Lembrar
One life to live
One eternity to remember
Think about our conditions everyone, think deeply and think about your faith in Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer. We all have such a short time here in the mortal life to do many things. we have a chance to do good things and also do bad things. But we must choose which side to act on. Think about your faith in your life and situation, with that faith that you have which side are you on. The side of doing what is right or the side of what is wrong because after this life we will have an eternity to remember what we did. I encourage you all to think about your faith. Are you a person with a little faith or a person with a lot of faith and can that faith you have increase??? Think about the answer to that question deeply and to everyone the last part of that question is that all of our faith can grow. In the talk I mentioned earlier by Elder Matthew Cowley he said WE NEED TO HAVE FAITH LIKE A CHILD because without faith we are nothing because every day we are using our faith. Also think about your faith and think, are you acting on that faith that you have?? In the Bible it says that faith without works is dead. ARE WE ACTING ON OUR FAITH???? I have really been thinking about that. It is a question we call all think very deeply about.
Here in Brazil this is a place where people don't have much. They live with the bare minimum and survive. I have passed houses where people are having to use the doors on dressers to make the walls of their houses. It is truly a humbling experience and I have learned that in this season of giving and the new year there is a lot to do. With the Christmas season we all receive one present that many of us forget where it came from and take it for granted. It is the present of the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Redeemer. He came to this earth to show us the way and to show us how we can come back to Him and Heavenly Father. It is sad to me when I see people that are interpreting the gospel of the Lamb of God wrong and I have the strongest desire to share my testimony with them. Our Savior came to this earth and He died for us. I have to think about that, HE DIED FOR ALL OF US. He died for me. We all have a debt right now that is so great that to pay it back all we have to do is follow our Savior Jesus Christ and his gospel. In the world today, there are many churches. Many different religions and I see that first hand here in Brazil because there are churches on every corner. Jesus Christ gave us a map of how to return, a gospel, a light, but sadly many people have taken that path, that gospel and light and have changed it to their own purposes. Many here have greeters that collect money for the pastor. I know and have received a strengthened testimony everyday out here in my mission. We are representatives of Christ and are here to preach this gospel. We don't receive money for our efforts. Think, when Christ proclaimed His gospel did he receive a single penny for his work or his twelve apostles? No, because this gospel should be free to all that are here and to pay for it is wrong. I am a missionary of
THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER DAY SAINTS. I am paying to be out here and have not received anything for my efforts but I do it because I know that it is the right thing to do and that I know I am following the gospel of Christ because I have seen the blessings of this gospel in my life everyday out here in the field. I have encountered many people and when I talk about this gospel I can see the light coming into their eyes because this gospel is something that we all know but some of us have forgotten when we came to earth. Some may not believe but we all have come here from our Heavenly Father and accepted His plan to follow Him and we all have a knowledge, a feeling, a little light in our eyes when we hear about His plan, His gospel, His light that has not been changed but has been restored again upon the earth by a prophet of God. I bear my testimony to all of you this day that this is the true gospel of Jesus Christ and that the Book of Mormon is another word of God here upon the earth written by prophets that lived here in the Americas and is a record of the word of God and helps gives us a better view. It truly testifies about the truthfulness of the Bible and the Bible testifies about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Also I testify that the prophet Joseph Smith did see our Lord God and Savior and that he has restored the church on the earth under the direction of our Savior. It is the same gospel that was established by Christ himself when he lived upon the earth. He has restored it again upon the earth and has given us the Book of Mormon that he translated by the power of God. I testify of the validity and truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and with it that this is the true church of Jesus Christ, the true church of God and I invite all that are not members to go and visit the church buildings and meet with the missionaries. We are out here on our missions to spread the gospel of Christ, to help people come to know Christ and to help those that already know him to help increase their faith in him and show them the full light of Christ. We are not out here for 2 years to force people to come. We are here to INVITE people to act on their faith in Christ and visit, act on the invites that the missionaries give to know whether or not for yourselves if what we, 90,000 missionaries out in the field know to be true. We invite you all to listen to our messages about the gospel of Christ and to pray and ask God to know for yourself. To ask through pray WITH ALL OF YOUR HEART, having the greatest desire to know that what we talk about is true and when you ask in faith and with real intent and sincerity,
GOD WILL ANSWER!!!!!!!!!!
I testify of this and invite all that have not talked with the missionaries, with those that have, with those that are not members and with those that are to ask God if these things are true because we all have faith and all of our faith can increase and be strengthened.
Also this past week I got to go do a service project for a family and it was so much fun, serving others is one of the greatest things we can do and I have learned that truth even more so since I have been in Brazil. This past week I was thinking about food and the one thing for some reason right now is that I want an "In and Out" burger. People keep telling me out here that I look like I am 23 years old which I don't know how but it is funny when they tell me that I look older than my companion who is 20 right now and goes home in May.
So love you all and until next week, if you have a specific question that you would like to ask me please mail me a letter and I will be glad to respond because I really love getting mail
My address is:
Elder Ashton Hoopes
Brazil Brasilia Mission
AOS 5/6 Bloco A
Brasilia - DF
Also if you have questions about the church or anything that I have talked about gospel related, write me a letter or feel free to go talk to the missionaries. we are here for two years not to slave but to help because we want to.
Until next Monday!