Monday, April 25, 2011

Feliz Pascua!

"Well this week was a cool week.
This was the THIRD week in a row we did divisions.
On Tuesday we did divisions with the Assistants. I stayed in Cruz Alta with Elder Vianna, and Elder Wiscomb went toSanta Maria with Elder Harris. Elder Harris was my Zone leader in Quarai for all the time I was there, he's an awesome guy. Elder Vianna is awesome too. His last area was my area, Cruz Alta 1. He was companions here with Elder Ball. It was really good doing the division. We learned a lot.
Then on Wednesday, I did a division with Elder Bevans he's from Arizona, that was cool too, but not as cool. Haha
Then on Thursday we had a really awesome experience that I would love to tell you all about but it would take a long time and so I'll have to tell you another time. It was one of the days that I most felt guided by the Lord.
Then on Friday was Holy Friday or whatever they call it in English. Here it's Sexta Feira Santa. The day they celebrate Christ's death. It's a huge holiday here because so many people are Catholic. And even if you aren't Catholic, you still celebrate it and eat fish and stuff. Everything is closed and stuff. And everyone has family over.
On Saturday we had a really good lesson with a woman named Geraldine. She is an interesting woman. She has been going to church for the last few weeks. She has never really had a religion, but is a very spiritual person. She, her son, AND her husband came to church yesterday! It was awesome.
Then also, on Saturday, we had a very difficult lesson with the family of Carlos, Patricia, Raphael, ect. that we are teaching. They are Spiritist (I think that's how you would say it in English) It's not really a religion, but a form of belief that is very popular here in Brazil. Here in Brazil the biggest beliefs are Catholic, Evangelic, and Spiritist, and a lot of times people are both Catholic and Spiritist. Weird. Anyway, Spiritist people believe in reincarnation, but also in Christ. Which is ridiculous because if you read Corinthians 15, Paul makes it clear that you can´t do that!
Anyway, it took us about an hour and a half just to teach the first half of the plan of salvation. Just about every single principle we taught, they had some question, or some conflicting belief to share, haha. But they are a really good family. The mom prayed at the end. She said they want to know what we teach is true, they just have so many questions.
Sunday Carla came to church. She is like 21. We have been reactivating her mom, and teaching her. The only problem with her, is that she is athiest. By the way, I've probably run into less than 10 athiests in the whole mission until now. They are not too common around here. So we have been trying to teach her. Trying to just get her to pray or read the Book of Mormon. Up until the last visit, (earlier this week) she hadn't. She has been very much like the guy in Nacho Libre (´´i only believe in sciiiiience´´) Then she came to church on Sunday (for the first time) and loved it. And apparently said to Elder Ball, who is going home in a few weeks, ´´what a bummer, you won't see my baptism´´ so we have't really talked to her yet. We will tomorrow. But we are thinking she finally prayed or read."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Smart or Dumb?

Well, this week was a crazy week. Especially since I spent half the week outside of Cruz Alta.
District leaders give weekly training lessons in the district meetings about some subjuct or another, aimed at making people better missionaries. As Zone leaders, we do a training for the zone usually once a transfer, and we did this week. I did a training about the importance of questions in our teaching. I learned a ton in the preparation. It was really good. Questions are absolutely everything for making our investigators understand and remember. But the part that you all will find most funny, is that I used as an example how dad always taught us with the simple rhetorical question `smart or dumb?´ I used this example in showing that people learn better when they arrive at conclusions for themselves. It was quite funny, and good.
Anyway, this week I spent 3 days in Ijui, a nearby city, doing 3 divisions in a row, in 3 different areas in a row. It was quite an experience. I worked with Elder Cardoso dos Santos, a guy from my group (that means he has the same amount of time as me the mission and we will go home at the same time), then the next day with Elder Billings, a guy from Texas, and then the next day with Elder Crespo, from the northeast, Recife. I like the division with Elder Crespo best. He has 3 months less than me on the mission. He is really good. He's going to be a great missionary. Ijui is bigger than Cruz Alta, but they have only 6 missionaries there, whereas we have 14 here in Cruz Alta. But the city of Ijui is much more developed and much nicer.
As I said in the last email, we are being quite blessed with the opportunity to teach families. The daughter of one of our families is in the hospital, and so we went there on Saturday and gave her a preisthood blessing. Then on Sunday, some of our awesome investigators made Churrasco for us. Yea. That's what you are seeing in the picture.
This week it was raining a bit again. And here, when it rains, the streets turn into rivers (or waterfalls since there are a lot a lot of hills in our area) I bought a big black guarda chuva the other day for quatorze reais.
Things are a bit interesting on the Mission. For americans to actually arrive on the transfer is really rare. They are generally arriving in the middle of the transfers, whenever they get their visas, but hey, at least they're arriving! The mission is going to be changing a lot in these next months. A huge group of people will get here, and in August, a huge group is leaving. This is going to be crazy because in August, almost all the leadership in the mission will be going home, also it will be crazy because lots of people will have to train new missionaries. But anyway, things are awesome!

Well I hope you all have an awesome week!

Monday, April 11, 2011

8 Investigators in One Sunday!

Here's me and my roomates from the MTC!
Elder Black
Elder Jones
Pretty awesome. They're both way awesome. We were able to meet up at the leadership counsel this week.
It seems like literally just yesterday it was our first day in the MTC. But now we have a little bit more responsibility as Zone Leader, District Leader, and Executive Secretary of the mission.

"Things are going good, except that I forgot my journal at home today and so I'm going to have to tell you about my week from memory. Wednesday was cool because we had another Leadership counsel in Santa Maria, and I got to FINALLY see Elder Black again for the first time since arriving on the mission. He is doing awesome. He is actually living with Elder Marx right now, working in the same area as him, just like we have 4 working in the same area here. It was pretty sweet to go to the counsel and see a lot of people from the whole mission. A few new American Elders arrived on the mission the other day (it's been really bad with visas, I think only like 6 or 7 American Elders have gotten here since I arrived, and one of them, Elder Boiteux, actually met Grandma and Grandpa in Michigan! Pretty crazy. Anyway, it was pretty awesome, and we learned a ton of stuff and all that. Then the next day, Thursday, we did a division with Elder Witt and Elder Nascimento. I went with Elder Nascimento in the other area. It was pretty cool.
Then back to the area and back to hard work!
Things have been good because we are teaching families that I believe will be baptized shortly. We are teaching Carlos, Patricia, Raphael, and Alice. They are way cool, great friends. Raphael is way cool. He is my age, plays the guitar and stuff, and has already been to church 3 times. He believes that he has recieved an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. We just need to focus on helping his parents recieve it. Patricia has been liking our visits so much that she invited a friend. We went to this friend's house on Saturday, made good friends with them, (Jossara, Petri, and 17 year old son Thiago), and taught them. They liked it a lot, and already went to church on Sunday the day after the first visit!. I'm quite exited about working with them. We had 8 investigators at church this Sunday. It made me quite happy. I wish you all an excellent semana."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Leading the Zone......

"So Monday night I went to Santa Maria with a few other guys who were getting transfered. We spent the night there in the Big House ( I don't know if I have told you about this, on transfers we sleep in the secretaries house, they have like 10 bunk beds in the garage.) The new missionaries would arrive at about 6:00pm, one of the Assistants, Elder Gingell went to Porto Alegre with the people going home, and then picked the new people up, and then I did a division for the day with Elder Vianna, the other assistant. Elder Vianna spent 7 months in my area here, Cruz Alta 1, he was companions with Elder Ball here. It was pretty sweet, I learned lots of cool stuff. Then we went to President Ribeiro´s house, where I met up with my new companion, Elder Rodrigues. He's from Curitiba, he will be a great missionary. Then we had a little dinner at President's house and such, goodstuff.
Then the next day, we had trainings by President Ribeiro and the assistants, quite good, and then we went to Cruz Alta.
Then on Thursday we finally got to start working!
It was tough because we were doing what's called ´´opening up´´ the area. That means we didn't have any Investigators, all the Investigators we were teaching (lots and lots of really good ones, families) stayed with Elder Ball and Elder Wiscomb, so the work was tough, but it was good. Then we had General Conference! It was way awesome on saturday, but it went by so fast! The preisthood session ended at 11 o'clock here. That's a tad late for us. Haha, but it was so awesome. I would recomend you all watch it again!
Then Sunday we came back, and Presidente Ribeiro came to do interviews between sessions. It ended up that there were some technical dificulties in the morning session (which for us started 1pm), and so President started the interviews then, first Elder Ball, then Elder Wiscomb, then me...
He started out talking about how all the leadership in the mission will change in the next 4 months, mainly because of the huge group of people that will go home in August (Including Elder Marx, Elder Taylor, Elder Martini, Elder Wiscomb, ect. Twenty something in total) A lot, I think 10 of the 14 Zone leaders are from this group) Anyway, he was talking about how all would change because of this, and would have to change now so that the new leaders could be trained. We then read in Preach my Gospel and talked about being a successful missionary. Then all of the sudden, I don't even remember where we were in the conversation, he told me that I would now be Zone leader with Elder Wiscomb! Oh my goodness, I just about died of a heart attack. Elder Ball and I are switching spots, so he will now be Elder Rodrigues´s companion. Elder Ball will be going home this transfer. He is an awesome missionary. I laughed and remarked to President that I almost trained for 1 whole week, haha. But, I am quite exited, but it is going to be a lot of work. We are in the process of changing the mission a lot and Elder Wiscomb and I are now responseble for the biggest zone in the mission. That includes the 14 missionaries in Cruz Alta, the 2 in Panambi, the 6 in Ijui, and there will be 2 more in Palmeiras this next transfer, opening up an area that has been closed for a while. Things are gonna be crazy. But also awesome. I'm quite exited.
It's quite amazing how much you learn on the mission - really amazing. You learn about everything. Being a returned missionary must prepare you so much to have a successful life."