Friday, December 30, 2011

Trip to Cruz Alta

Hello family! It was wonderful to speak to you all on Christmas.
This week was a good week, but incredibly tiring.
Tuesday I got up at 4 something in the morning, and went to the bus station to go to Cruz Alta to go do a 2 day division there with the Elder Smart, one of the Zone leaders there, and then Elder Valdivia, the other one, came back here to stick with Elder Menk. The zone leaders in Cruz Alta are now in the 4th ward, when I was there, they were in the 1st ward, where I served, but then right when I left, they got switched to the other ward. It was pretty cool. Elder Smart is a good guy. We almost taught a lesson with Rafael who I baptized there, but he was travelling. He had given a reference to the Elders in the 4th ward that we were going to visit. But Patricia and the rest of the family were in town, and so we ended up eating lunch there on Wednesday because our lunch appointment fell through! That was pretty cool. It was cool to go back to Cruz Alta after having been gone from there for 7 months. It was really cool. But it ended, and then I had to wake up at 3am yesterday morning to get the bus to come back.
So yea. It was a tiring week. For that reason, and also that we spent a lot of time walking during the days. Wow, verying tiring. But it was good.
I hope you all have a good week!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Building Up Zion

1- Some of the Christmas decorations in Downtown Santa Maria. All made of painted and cut up soda bottles. Cool huh?
2- All of the baptisms of last Saturday. Elder Black is up in the corner on the left.
3- Us and Alexandre and Luciana, and Bishop Safuan
4- This is my shirt from Thursday

5-Here's the map I have of my area in the back of my planner. We work from that big street Venancio Aires to the south, and Elder Carlos works to the north. We live at the intersection of Venancio Aires and Borges de Medeiros. The chapel is in the bottom right hand corner on Appel and Tuiti. If you look at the bottom, you can see Patronato.

So on friday night was Alexandre and Luciana´s wedding. It was really good. We just had a little ceremony in the church. It was really good. I don't have pictures right now, but´i´ll get some.

Saturday was a marvelous day.
During the afternoon there was a ward activity. It was a blood drive, so I donated my golden blood. Also, there was this cotton candy machine there, but the guy making the cotton candy disapeared, so I learned how to make cotton candy and made it for everyone.
Then after was the baptismal meeting. It was really good. We got our Zone together for the baptism. Ten of the five baptisms of the Zone were men. So that is really good. Quite awesome. We need more men baptisms. The church needs Priesthood.
I baptized Alexandre and Elder Menk baptized Luciana.
Afterward, in the baptismal meeting, Alexandre got up and bore his testimony. It was so good.
It was cool having the baptismal meeting with Elder Black there too. It was cool to see how we started the mission together, and now we are making a difference in the church together here in Santa Maria.

Our bishop, Bishop Safuan has been really happy with the converts in the ward latelly. He has said on many ocasions lately how the recent baptisms of the ward have all been really good people.
One really cool thing-
One of the neighborhoods (note on neighborhood, here a neighborhood (bairro) is not really what we call it there, like an area built by the same company, here neighborhood just means a certain area) of our area is called Patronato, and it has been very very little worked by missionaries in the past, because it is kind of a tough area. It is in the southern part of our area. Anyway, a few months ago, when we were having a really hard time, Elder Albrechtesn and I decided that perhaps we were having such a tough time where we were working because the Lord wanted us to work in Patronato. So we started working there from scratch. Literally from scratch. There is only one active member in the neighborhood. So yea, Alexandre and Luciana are from that neighborhood, which is awesome. And Bishop really wants us to work there too. Because we want to be able to create another ward, splitting our ward with the ward to the north of us, Salgado Filho, which is where Elder Black is. So we need to baptize people in that area. There is a lot of potential there.

On monday we had 2 really good visits.
First we visited Peterson, Jefferson, and Leda. They are a really cool family (they also live in Patronato) Leda´s brother just moved into our ward a few months ago, and he is now in the bishopric. Jefferson and Leda are interesting because they are both Deaf. Peterson, their son, is not. So we have been teaching the family, and Peterson translates for his parents, and meanwhile, we have also been learning lots of sign language from the visits, and both of us can teach a bit in Sign language. It's amazing. Peterson has been reading the Book of Mormon, and has already decided to be baptized. His dad Jefferson is really smart, Director of the School for deaf people, and we believe they will be baptized too.

Then after that, last week President Ribeiro invited Laura and Isabel to family night with his family, so we went too. It was really good. Laura already has plans to go visit salt lake next summer!
This morning (12:30am) I just got back from doing a division with the Zone Leaders in Santo Angelo. A city up in the north of the mission by Cruz Alta and Ijui. I told you a lot about this city in my last email, about how it needs to become a stake there and stuff. It was a cool division. It is a big city (80,000 people) and only has 2 branches. that is pretty weak compared to Cruz Alta (60,000 people) which has 4 wards. The area of those guys there is huge. There is tons of room to grow there. I did the division there with Elder Nunes. He arrived on the mission with me. It was cool. Though on Thursday, it was some crazy weather. In the afternoon there was this crazy wind and dust storm, and then at night it absolutely POURED. So yea, we got soaked. You can look at the picture of my shirt from that day. Good stuff.
Anyway. It has been a good week of building up Zion.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Conference after Conference after Conference

This week has been quite a crazy week for me. This week was Zone Conferences so I travelled around the whole mission with President doing trainings, it was pretty cool.

So to start out: On Sunday, Victor gave a talk in sacrament meeting! It was really good, and lots of members also commented on how good it was - pretty awesome.
Then on Sunday, Elder Hollandsworth came to Santa Maria (he was in a trio) to work with Elder Menk for the week while I travelled.
Monday, we had the Zone Conference for the 2 zones here in Santa Maria. The Zone Conference was basically this:
President gave a training and taught about (I´m not sure how you are supposed to say it in English) Eternal Life,
then I did a training about teaching The Restoration, and we all did lots of practices. Then I did an evaluation of the mission using graphs and stuff with the key indicators, and then afterward talked about a new way we are going to work on the mission, using a 4 week vision plan, looking for people to baptize 4 weeks from now always. Then lunch.

Then President gave a training about chapters 11, 12, and 13 from Preach my Gospel, finding and teaching committed investigators, truly preparing them to be baptized, and involving them well with the ward. In all the Zone conferences, President talked about Laura, and how she was like the perfect example of this, and he had me get up and talk about our experience teaching her. It was really cool. Then we did so more practices, and then President talked about the missionary manual and some mission rules, and then we ended.

Then at the end, I did a little meeting with the Zone Leaders and District leaders about how they were going to follow up with their Zones on all the stuff we learned and all that. And that is basically what we did for all the 4 Zone Conferences.

Giving the trainings was pretty cool, but a lot of responsibility. Then we got in the car, and me and Presidente went to Alegrete, that was like 2 hours, (and boy does Presidente Ribeiro drive fast, haha).

I stayed the night with the Zone leaders in Alegrete. I was like totally eaten by mosquitos and could not sleep the whole night until at 2am, I picked up my mattress, brought it to another room, and shut all the windows and door. Then it was all good.
Alegrete reminded my a lot of Quarai, a very simple town, but a lot bigger than Quarai, but still no buildings or anything like that, just a bunch of Gauchos.
In Alegrete it was Zone Alegrete, which also includes the cities of Sao Gabriel and Rosario do Sul and Zone Livramento, which also includes Quarai. Then we hit the road again to go to Uruguaiana. It was pretty cool to do this long car ride with President. I learned a lot of good stuff from him. Then we got to Uruguaiana pretty early, so I worked the evening with the Zone leaders there in Uruguaiana, in Vila Julia, the area that I passed in there. It was kinda weird going back there, but it was cool. I saw Gabriela there, who me and Elder Belnap baptized, that was cool.

The Zone Conference in Uruguaiana was just Uruguaiana. We did that, and then hit the road for Santo Angelo, way up in the North of the mission, that was a long car ride. I liked Santo Angelo a lot. I really hope that it is my next area. It is a really nice city. The Zone Conference there had Zone Missões, which is Santo Angelo, Santa Rosa, Itaqui, Sao Borja, and Sao Luiz Gonzaga and it had Zone Cruz Alta, which also has Ijui, Panambi, and Palmeidas in it. That was the biggest conference because both zones have a lot of people in it. There were like 55 missionaries there. But it was a good conference.
So here's why I really want to go to Santo Angelo. There are only 5 stakes in my mission. The last stake was created like over 15 years ago (that is really slow growth). And so The Cruz Alta stake consists of Cruz Alta (4 wards) and Ijui (3 wards) then there is District Missoes, which is Santa Rosa (2 branches) Santo Angelo (2 branches) and Sao Luiz Gonzaga (1 branch), and they are really strong branches, and so we are working really hard as a mission in these two zones to make the new stake happen. What needs to happen is to make one more ward in Cruz Alta (they are pretty close) and the Cruz Alta becomes a stake by itself, and Ijui can go with Santo Angelo and them and become a new stake! That would be awesome. So I really want to go to Santa Angelo to help make that happen. Also Santo Angelo was a really pretty city, so that was cool.
Anyway, that about sums up my week.
Tonight is the Wedding of Alexandre and Luciana, tomorrow is their baptism!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Comings and the Goings

Arriving group

The Group going home. Elder Albrechtsen, Gillett, Tafoya, and Foster. One my comp, and the other 3 were district leaders in my zones

Elder Albrechtsen, I, and our converts, Victor, Alexandre, Luciana, Isabel, and Laura
Laura´s baptism

So on Saturday we had Laura´s baptism. It was really good! She bore her testimony about how we had brought peace and light into her home, and how happy she was. It was awesome.

Sunday morning in the Ward Executive Committee meeting, Bishop Safuan remarked that the people who have been baptized recently have been really good people.
So then on Sunday we visited Victor and then Laura and Isabel. Victor got called on to give a talk next week! Its going to be sweet.
Interesting story- I don't think I told you this, but a year ago, Elder Albrechtsen passed in this same area for just a transfer. And he said that last year, he knocked on Victor´s door, but they said no. Interesting isn´t it? His time had just not arrived yet.

On Monday we had a crazy busy day because of the transfer, so we had to send the tranfer out to everyone, take a bajilion phone calls, and other such things, and then prepare for all the trainings we would give this week.

Tuesday we spent picking up the newbies in Porto Alegre, then coming back and spending the evening at President's house with them.
Fun thing - The van driver was from Serbia, he even played on the National Serbian Rugby team, but married a Brazilian and came here.

Wednesday was trainings with the newbies and the trainers.
Yesterday, we had the leadership council. It was really good.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hello family! Comequetemo!?

So this week was kind of a tough week so far as work goes, we have spent a lot of time looking for new investigators, but it has been tough. But the good news is that our progressing investigators are doing really well!

The other night Alexandre and Luciana held a Churrasco at their house to announce their marriage to their family and stuff, and we went for part of it, it was cool. But then we had to go home before any of the food was ready because it was 9:30, then Alexandre offered to bring us some of the food after it was done, he did, it was really good.

On Saturday, Antonio was baptized!! He is so awesome. I don´t know how much of him you all remember from what I´ve sent, but he is from Peru, but now lives in Chile, then he studied in Argentina for a bit, and then came here to Santa Maria. He has been investigating the church for about 8 years. His story is a long one. But he is awesome, I love that guy. It was really good.

Then on Saturday, afterward, there was this Elders Quorum activity to visit a bunch of inactive people, so we went. Unfortunately, it didn't go so well. We got two names to visit, both on the same street. Unfortunately, streets in Brazil aren´t always as organized as the streets in the States. Numbers often go like this: 69, 119, 34, 50, and so forth. They don´t always have order. So we walked up and down the entire road for like an hour looking for these people. We found one, the person had moved like 8 years ago, and then the other we didn't even find. But hey, whatever.

Church was good this week. I taught the Gospel Principles class on 1 minute of notice, as is often the case for us missionaries, when the teacher doesn't show up or stuff like that. It was good though. Isabel and Laura´s baptism was marked for this week, but only Laura´s will be able to happen. Both of them want to be baptized a lot, but Isabel´s husband apparently isn´t too thrilled about her going to church every Sunday morning, as he is accustomed to going on walks with her on Sundays. So she wants to get that worked out before getting baptized. But they are doing really great. They are way awesome.
This next week we are going to go to Laura´s English class and talk to them about the United States and stuff. It will be cool, and a good oportunity to perhaps get new investigators.
Monday was a super busy day in the office - way busy. I am showing Elder Menk how to do all the stuff we do here in the office, but it's going good. Elder Menk is a good guy. He is Brazilian, but the funny thing is that he is more American than Brazilian. He has lived more time there than here. He feels more comfortable speaking/reading English than Portugues - pretty funny. And he even makes Portugues mistakes that many Americans make, haha.
These last few days have been SO HOT.
We just walk around during the afternoon dripping with sweat. Summer is starting indeed.
Have an excellent week everyone!

Friday, November 25, 2011


* A big mural at the end of our area. It's a painting of the main street in Santa Maria in 1950. I'm about to do a contact with that guy!

Hello family! Things are going awesome. Or as that one song from the Extremely goofy movie goes, "things are going great, and they´re only gettin´ better". I hope the Thanksgiving break is going good.

This week has been good.
Friday- Last p-day, a week ago, we travelled to São Martinho again, a small little city up north of Santa Maria, to visit a recent convert that was baptized before I got here. That was cool.
Saturday - We taught the Plan of Salvation to Laura and her mom, Isabel, and challenged them to be baptized on the 3rd of December, and they accepted!! They are SO GOOD! It was a really good spiritual lesson, super awesome. They know that this is the true church, they are reading the Book of Mormon a ton.

Sunday - Good day at church, all the important investigators came, then before lunch, Elder Albrechtsen left to do a Division with Elder Tafoya and Elder Jones, and Zone Leaders in Livramento (thats the Elder Tafoya that I lived with in Cruz Alta and the Elder Jones that was my roomate in the MTC), so I stayed the afternoon and night in trio with Elder Carlos and Elder Anderson, the other two guys that work in our ward. Also super exiting, Antonio (the guy from Peru) decided he wanted to get baptized!!! ( so his baptism is tomorrow) Also another fun suprise on Sunday, president told me I was getting a new companion! Elder Menk! so it was planned that Elder Albrechtsen would go to Elder Menk´s area to finish off his last week and a half there.

Monday - I did all the stuff in the office, and then I spent the night with Elder Black and Elder Matoso in their area (which is just north of mine).

Tuesday - I spent with Elder Black and Elder Matoso again. until 6pm, when Elder Albrechtsen got back from Livramento, then we went home, and had to sit and wait for him to make his bags.

Wednesday- In the morning we switched companions. Elder Menk came, and Elder Albrechtsen went to the area Santa Marta where Elder Menk was. Elder Menk is a sweet guy. He is from São Paulo (finally i´ll have a Brazilian comp that I´ll stick with for more than a week, haha) but he is actually not so Brazilian. He lived from 6yrs to 16yrs in Florida. So yea. He is also quite American. Haha.

Wednesday night we taught Alexandre and Luciana.
They want to get baptized, but they have to get married. Here's the deal, in most cities in Brazil, marriage takes like 20 to 30 days to go through, so it can be quite a barrier for people to get baptized. So to get married, obviously, you have to get people's birth certificates, but you have to get updated ones here, from the city where the person was born. Luciana was born in a city called Restinga Seca, its like an hour away. So on the 17th of December, there will be a big Stake baptism, and they want to be baptized on this day. So Wednesday night we went and told them that they would have to start the marriage papers this week to get baptized on this day. Alexandre then said, "Alright, we´re going to Restinga Seca tomorrow then!"

Thursday - yesterday was an awesome day. After Alexandre and Luciana got back, we spent the whole afternoon running around with them getting all their marriage papers in, it took a while cuz we had to go to various government offices, but we got it done! They are getting married on the 15th of December, and getting baptized on the 17th!! Wooohooooo! They are so awesome and so good.

Then last night we went and taught Laura and Isabel. They are so good, we taught them with the Stake President and his wife, it was really good. There is no other way to explain it, they are the elect of the Lord. Kept from the truth only because they knew not where to find it. We taught them the commandments, and they accepted to live them. They talked about how good they feel reading the book of Mormon and going to church, and that they know that it is the true church. They were also talking about how Luciana was telling them at church that they always are super excited for our visits, and their lives have changed so much. Then Isabel said basically, "It's as if you guys didn´t exist! There aren´t other people like you guys in the world, you just bring such a strong spirit into our home..." yea they are so good. I´m really excited for them. We just have to get the dad now. They are quite a well to do family. Isabel was a University professor of Physics, and her husband is too. And Laura is in Law school. But they are elect.
Anyways, so yea, stuff is going pretty good.

Lunch at the Stake President's house

Santa Maria

The view from Laura & Isabel´s Apartment

Division with Elder Black and Elder Matoso

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pesqusadores Progredindo!

E aí gente tudo bem?
Church this week was real good. We had a bunch of people, most importantly, Alexandre and Luciana, and also Laura and her mom. Alexandre and Luciana are doing so awesome. They are reading a ton the Book of Mormon and stuff. Alexandre is in 2 Nephi already. They are so awesome. When we go to their house and greet them, i can see the love in their eyes that they have for us for having brought the Restored Gospel to their lives. On Sunday, Alexandre was asking me how he could pay tithing, and I told him he didnt need to until he was a member, but he said that he already felt like a member, haha. They are doing really good. We are getting them really well fellowshipped with various other couples and members from the ward.
Laura is also doing really well. She is really smart, understands the message very well, and really feels the Spirit in the lessons. She is doing really good. I´m really excited about her.
Things are going swell. The mission is so awesome. Being able to drink so deeply from the well of the scriptures and invite others to join in is awesome.
Weeks go by faster and faster. Elder Albrechtsen has basically only 2 more weeks. Pretty crazy! We have been companions for a really long time. We always joke about that. I´m not really sure what to write. The week went by really fast, but things are going good.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Suprise Trip to Porto Alegre

The Newbies:
So here we go.
Saturday- Really good day, we had some really good lessons. We had lunch at Cerezer (an investigator of ours)´s restaurant. We taught Laura. Laura is a student we found on the street near the office, or actually she found us. She heard us talking with accents in Portuguese, and turned around and started talking to us in English, asking us where we were from and what we did. It turns out she lives right by the chapel, in a big building on the corner. We went and taught her, and it was a really good lesson, then she came to church on Sunday. We taught her again on Thursday, with her mom. It was a very good lesson. They understood very well, and will read and pray about the Book of Mormon. They said they would come to church again this week.

Also, on Saturday we taught Alexandre and Luciana. They are doing so well! I can just see how the gospel is blessing their lives! We are fellowshipping them very well with members, we have brought a few other couples from the ward to visits, and had really good lessons. On Saturday we taught the commandments to them, and they were completely willing to obey all of the commandments. They wanted to get married, and Alexandre wanted to completely quit smoking and drinking. We came yesterday, expecting to make goals with him to stop smoking, but he told us he had already stopped smoking for 2 days!! They are reading the scriptures a lot and understanding really well. Alexandre is almost done with 1 Nephi. He was saying in the lesson, ´´oh yea this reminds me of that part when Lehi has a dream and there is the iron rod...´´ he is understanding and reading the scriptures a lot!

They are truly an example of how we really just need to talk with everyone. We found them one morning on the way to lunch. It was like 11:55, and he was in front of his house. We stopped, and did a quick contact with him, then we came back another day after an appointment had fallen through. So anyway, we just need to get them married, and then baptized!

Tuesday- really crazy day. So this last week we were doing Zone conferences, and so Elder Albrechtsen was going to go travel with President doing trainings in Livramento and Uruguaiana, and I would stick in Santa Maria working with another guy, then on Thursday, I would go up to Santo Angelo to do the training there. Then we would com back to Santa Maria, and have the conference here. But the plans got changed a little.

Tuesday, a bit before lunch, I was already working with Elder Lima, and Presidente and Elder Albrechtsen were already traveling doing conferences. I then got a call that 7 new Americans had just gotten their visas and would be arriving in Porto Alegre the NEXT DAY. So I would no longer be going to Santo Angelo, I would stay in Santa Maria, and pick up the newbies at the bus stop after the Secretaries from Porto Alegre North Mission had gotten them from the airport to the bus station on the way to SM (thats what usually happens when people get here out of the transfer). Then we kept working. It wasn't a super big deal, I would just have to figure out appointments and stuff for the next day. Then at like 6pm, our financial secretery called me and said, ´´Are you ready to travel?!´´ So yea, apparently the Porto Alegre people couldn´t do it, so we had to book a van super quick, and we left the next morning for Porto Alegre.

Wednesday- I basically travelled the whole day. The night was cool though, we had a dinner at President's house (except President wasn't there, just Sister Ribeiro) but it was good. I got to play a tad bit of music with Elder Asbahr. Elder Asbahr plays violin, and I played piano. He is from Sao Paulo but wants to go to BYU after the mission. He took my spot in Cruz Alta 1 when I left there. So he knows the family of Rafael and Patricia really well. Now he is the new financial secretary.

Thursday - we had zone conference for the 2 zones here in Santa Maria. President talked about the life of Paul the Apostle, it was really interesting. It made me want to study a bunch more about him. I did a training on the Preach my Gospel principle ´´How to Begin Teaching´´ (Chapter 10)

So yea. There's kind of a summary of my week.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day of the Dead

This last week we got 8 investigators to church. So that was really good. Including Alexandre and Luciana. They are way good. We taught them with the new 2nd counselor of the Bishopric this week. It was really good. They have been reading the Book of Mormon, and are feeling the Holy Ghost a ton in their lives! They are going to be such an awesome couple in the church!
Other fun things I forgot to mention, Elder Black got transfered and is now here in my District! Pretty cool huh?!
We had a special experience with a woman named Diva. We knocked on her door and she said that she was having a very tough time. In the past few years both her husband and daughter had died. We asked if we could come in and share a message of comfort. We went in, shared a few quick scriptures, and then told her that we had another message about the Plan of Salvation, that talked about the purpose of life, and where we go afterward. She said, ´´you boys will come back and tell me this!´´.

The 2nd of November was Day of the Dead here. Everybody goes to the cemetery and remembers their reletives who have passed away. So we put up a table and stuff by the cemetery and gave out a ton of pamphlets of the Plan of Salvation. You can se a bit in the picture.

Other fun fact - I finished the Book of Mormon in Portugues for the second time, and I now started reading in SPANISH. I just got past Lehi´s dream. It's going pretty well. I´m understanding basically all of it.
Most of my youth, I have always thought it would be cool to be part of some sort of epic battle, something of the type of Lord of the Rings. But more and more recently I have been realizing how real the spiritual battle that is going on is, and how real my part is in it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

One Motoboy and a Couple needing to get Married

1- Us with the group that went home

2- Us in the airport with the group that got here

3- Crazy how time passes by - Roomates in the MTC, now we´re two zone leaders and an AP!

Kay so this last week was transfers so it was a tad bit crazy for us.
Last p-day we had a big meeting with President and stuff here in the office. That was cool. This week we started teaching a few really good investigators. We are teaching a guy named Bagé. That's actually not his name, but he is from a city called Bagé, so everyone just calls him Bagé. Anyway, he was a reference from member, and he is really good. He came to church this last week, and we are going to teach him tonight, and we hope to mark his baptismal date. He is way cool. He is like 24, and works as a Motoboy. Motoboy is something we don't really have in the states. A motoboy is a guy who transports people or things by motercycle basically.

Also we started teaching Alexandre and Luciana. They are really good. They are a youngerish couple we found. We were on our way to lunch one day, and Alexandre was in front of his house. I did a contact with him, and we came in and talked to him real quick and did a prayer. Then we just wrote down his address and stuff. On Sunday our plans had fallen through, and so we decided to stop by. We taught them both. The spirit was really strong, and they understood really well. We marked to come back, and we taught them again on Wednesday. They were waiting for us with like homemade bread they made for us and a snack thing (people only do that if they really like you). Alexandre told us he had started to read the Book of Mormon, and I thought to myself, ´´I dont even remember leaving with them a Book of Mormon..?´´. He said that he found it at his mom´s house, and had read the introduction, the testimonies, and the first chapter. He remembered it all super well too. We invited them to church again, and they said that they had already been planning on going! Their only problem is that they are not legally married. So we invited them to be baptized and they accepted but first they have to get married, and that takes like a month in the legal process here. Darn. But they are a really awesome couple. You can really tell that they love each other. They are going to be so awesome in the church.

Monday was really crazy because we had to get the transfer out to everyone. So yea, it was crazy. It was cool though, because Rafael, Patricia, and Mabel came to Santa Maria, so I got to see them a bit. I was sad though because I could'nt spend really any time with them because of all the stuff in the office. But it was really cool to talk to Rafael. He was telling me about how he is serving as 1st counselor in the Young Men's organization, and how he is going to send in his mission papers in March!!!
Tuesday was a weird day. It's the day we take the old people to the airport, and pick up the new ones. It's really weird thinking that these guys´s mission is over. Most of them I´ve known for a while. But it is always really cool to pick up the new missionaries. They are always filled with a great excitement to do the work.
Then on Wednesday we did a training with all the newbies during the morning and afternoon.
Then on Thursday, yesterday, we had the Zone Leader Counsel. It was really good. Presidente Ribeiro did a training about Alma the younger, and how we can apply all of his life to our mission. I gave a training on the Preach My Gospel, How to Begin Teaching.
This last week I have been focusing on becoming a more organized person. I am not really a naturally organized person, but I am working on becoming one, it's going good.
Have an excellent week everyone!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Big Baptism Day!

Last p-day was cool. After doing email and stuff we went to a little museum here in the city. It was pretty cool. There was some interesting stuff there. Then on the 15th was the big baptism day, which means that we had to spend the whole day there; setting up, doing everything, and then cleaning up everything afterward. But it was really good. There were 26 Convert baptisms here in theSanta Maria Stake, and on the whole mission, there were 75. As a mission, we are looking at baptizing the most the mission has baptized in Presidente Ribeiro´s time here.

Victor came to the baptism to watch and then go to Institute. He told me a funny story. Just as us missionaries use the Book of Mormon as a filter to find the lord´s elect, Victor also started using the Book of Mormon as a filter. He tried to give a Book of Mormon to his girlfriend, but she didn´t want it, so he broke up with her! Hahaha.

This week we started teaching a man named Cerezer. Our Bishop gave him a Book of Mormon a few weeks ago, and we were finally able to get a hold of him. He is really good. He owns a restaurant, he is an older guy, but he is really good, and wants to learn. And he knows the Bishop and 1st Counselor already. The only stumbling block I see is that he is in charge of the Tithing funds at his local Catholic Cathedral. But, we´ll take care of that somehow. He is really good, and truly wants to learn more about Christ. He has been liking the Book of Mormon a lot because he feels that it explains and teaches much better than the bible.

This week it seems like we taught a lot of Espiritistas. I´m not sure how to translate that - Spiritualists maybe. But anyway, they are generally good people, and follow a good part of Christ´s teachings, loving your neighbor and stuff, but they are totally off on Christs doctrinal teachings.

They say they believe in the Bible, but the biggest hole I see, is that they do not understand, nor believe in Christ´s Atonement. All of their differing beliefs go back to that. They refuse to believe in the biggest teaching there is in the Bible, in the New and Old Testament - the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ! They instead believe that we will suffer for our own sins as we reincarnate in other lives and other such things. It is truly unfortunate, because they are generally really good people. We even actually found a leader of this religion knocking doors, he invited us in and we talked. I was just shocked. How can they not understand truth when it is taught with such clarity in the scriptures! Quite sad.

Also crazy story - we taught a lady that lives in Manhattan beach, CA this week! She was born here in Santa Maria, then left for the states with 17 years of age. And came back this week to visit family that is a member of the ward. She has an interesting story; truly a modern day example of the American Dream. She went to SoCal with basically no money, and started working as a babysitter, she kept going, studied at UCLA, and now has a big house, a nice car, and travels a lot. It was weird to teach her. The lesson was half English, half Portugues.

Funny story, we did a contact with a guy knocking doors, and he asked us if we knew the Bible, we said yes. He said how many books are there in the bible? How many verses are there? We said we didn´t know, and he just walked off muttering ´´You don't know the bible...´´ haha.

frying potatos on a sandwich maker, pretty good (ps thats not my hand, its elder carlos´s)

us with 2 new americans that just got their visas and came here. Elder Smith and Elder Lyman

Elder Albrechtsen´s birthday, lunch at prez ribeiros house

old and new (just got the new shoes in the mail)

Victor went to the temple to do Baptisms for the Dead and shared this picture.

*Mother's note: It just absolutely cracks me up the words he chooses now when he writes and the order he puts them in. The poor guy is going to be so confused when he gets back and has to write an intelligible paper in English!

Friday, October 14, 2011

White Pants

So the 15th is going to be a really big day for the mission. I havén´t really mentioned this, but Presidente decided to do an experiment. Instead of everyone doing their baptisms isolated on whatever day, the 15th was designated as the big baptism day for the mission. Everyone is going to mark their baptismal dates for this day and everyone will do the baptisms together. So it's going to be really cool.

On saturday we are going to have a big meeting, do a special musical number, special speaker, all that fancy stuff, and then have a ton of baptisms. It will be all of the Stake of Santa Maria together. By the looks of it, there will be about 25 baptisms here in Santa Maria, and 100 in the mission. It's going to be quite awesome.

So anyway, on Sunday morning, we were kind of bummed out, because we have been working really hard, but having trouble finding good investigators that were progressing that could be baptized on this day. When we left to go to church Sunday morning, Elder Albrechtsen said, ´´A miracle is going to happen today´´, and it did. After sacrament meeting, the young women's leader came up to us and told us there was a girl that had been coming to church with a friend the last few weeks that wanted to be baptized. So we talked to her, went to her house later in the day, and marked her baptismal date for the 15th.

On Monday during my free-time in the office I started looking up some family history stuff online on, Elder Bednar´s talk really inspired me. I wish I had more time so that i could actually do some family history work. That would be cool.

Lately I have been reflecting on my time in Quarai a bit. When I was there, a lot of times, it was really hard there, but thinking back, I have so many good memories from being there. It was such an interesting time because everything was new, I didn´t know anything, and I really worked my heart out there, but as I look back now, we worked really ineffectively there, haha. But it is really interesting to look back on things. It was a really good time there. I really do love that city.

This week we started to try to work in a part of our area that has never really been worked in much before. Principaly because it is a pretty rich area, which means its a lot harder to get in houses. But we have a lot of hopes for it. We met a guy last night who just got back from a trip toCalifornia, crazy huh? He went to San Franscisco and Los Angeles. We told him that we are both from california and he got all exited and interested.
We had an interesting visit the other day. We visited this woman named Marli, who after 20 years as a member, has finally quit smoking. She told us about how that is the greatest reason that she spent much of this time inactive. She understands very well the sacrament, better than most active members, I think. She recognizes how it is an important moment of self-evaluation, and she talked about how she would always feel so guilty there, knowing she smoked. It was an interesting experience. She has now finally quit smoking after getting extremely sick and basically being forced to quit.
Also, this week was the stake temple trip, and Victor went!
He is doing way good. He went with the ward to do baptisms for the dead, and we talked to him afterward. He said it was amazing, that the temple was amazing. He absolutlely loved it. He also bought a triple combination at the temple store, and some paintings. He even bought some white pants. I´m not sure why, haha. He said he just likes wearing white. Haha. But anyway, it was an awesome experience for him which is really good. We ran into the 1st counselor in the bishopric last night on the road and talked to him about the temple trip, and he said that in his 12 years as a member, he has not seen a convert as good as Victor.
Have an excellent week family, I love you all!