Monday, May 25, 2015

Fantastic week, despite sickness.

Our mission logo-the symbol of our mission that President Bonini chose.

 I included a picture of what I drew that the elders want to put on their zone T-shirt. I thought that it was pretty funny, because the theme of the mission is "Start with the final result in sight". I feel that my drawing shows how an Elder feels about this theme.
May 17, 2015
         Today was stake conference and we had an area authority talk.  He was a lot like the pastors from other churches here in Brazil.  He talked really loudly, used hand gestures, and cried a lot.  Everyone really loved it cause that is just the way Brazilians are.  To tell the truth, it was a really good talk about faith.  He talked about how when you are rich, material things seem inexpensive and then are not a concern to us.  If we compare our faith to wealth and become rich in our faith, then our problems will not concern us because we will have the resources to handle them.  The cool thing about stake conference was that I had 7 investigators come to church.  Wooohooo!  Afterwards we visited with everyone and they are all excited about their upcoming baptismal dates.  Another one of the cool miracles that happened today sortof by accident was that R. (one of our investigators) was dropped off at church and was told to get a ride home with us.  He forgot to ask us, but amazingly enough we found out later that he showed his ability and independence by walking home by himself.  (This is our special needs investigator who is surprising everyone with what he CAN do!) 
         We had a great lesson with A. and his family.  While we were there, the family that referred them to us come over to talk with us.  They were very complimentary when they heard that the wedding and baptism were all arranged.  They were so supportive of their friends, it is great!
May 18, 2015
         Something kind of funny happened last night while we were planning we had a bunch of stuff to do today and we almost didn’t plan time to email home.  Haha! We were so focused on everything that we need to get done that we forgot it was p-day.  I don’t know what was the highlight of toady because we taught three great lessons on p-night.  Yep, we are super busy.  The best lesson was family night with A. and T. It ws bades on faith and M. (our recent convert) gave the message. The daughter of the family is the same age as M. so she is helping befriend her.  M. asked people to give examples of faith and the daughter told us the story about the first time they went to church. Their member friends had already arranged to take them to church but they couldn’t find the key.  They looked everywhere, but couldn’t find it.  The daughter decided to say a prayer and in her prayer she asked that if God wanted her family to go to this church, would He please help them find the key, and if not then the key would remain hidden.  Just as she finished her prayer, the key was found and they all made their first visit to church.  In the end of the lesson we sang “Families can beTogether Forever”…but in Brazilian it is translated “Family is Forever.”  I thought about how great it was to bring an entire family to Christ, and then I thought about my own eternal family that I will be with in just 3 short weeks!  #TRUNKY!
May 19, 2015
         This morning we found a man who accepted our message about the restoration.  He is the first person in a long time that we have successfully contacted.  We are so busy with teaching our great investigators, that we are having a hard time finding time to contact new people.  We have been visiting with G. and R. every day in preparation for their baptism this Saturday.  The two couples are preparing to travel to the wedding office this week to sign the final paperwork.  Everything seems like it is going to work out.
My last zone training!!! I took pictures with all of the other elders who are finishing their missions with me. Yep, everyone was pretty trunky.

May 20, 2015
         My last zone training! Weird.  In our zone, we have 3 missionaries going home and we have 3 brand new missionaries.  Everyone was joking with me about going home, even the other elders who are leaving.  They like to mess with me more. 
         I haven’t been feeling well for a couple of days.  I have really serious diarrhea…like every hour on the hour.  It is super hard to teach and gather the will power to contact people when I am so sick.  But, I only have a short time left so I don’t want to waste it at home.
The two lucky women! (I forgot to take a picture of the men...)
May 21, 2015
         The couples signed their papers for their weddings this morning.  We were walking to J. and J.’s house to walk with them to the train.  But they had already left without us.  Then we met up with A. and E.  and walked with them to the station.  One of the trains broke down so we had to wait 2 hours for the next train.  But everyone started talking and getting to know each other.  They are all super happy to be getting married.  I had enough time to read a good chunk of the Book of Mormon on the train rides.  My goal is to finish it one more time before my mission ends. 
         Another thing that we did today was have a special training for the youth. Almost all of the youth here want to serve a mission one day.  They are very helpful with missionary work and they know a lot more about the work than I did before I came out on a mission.  But one problem that they have is that they ALL date at a very young age, some as early as 12 years old.  We decided that the best way to approach this was to have a fireside about the importance of the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet.  We compared it to the missionary handbook because the same way that the handbook is a guideline for obedience to the missionaries, this FSOY is their handbook.  We left each couple of youth a topic to read and explain.  We left the sexual purity and dating topic for the bishop.  Everything worked out great except for the bishop’s part when he taught stuff that definitely isn’t doctrinal to a group of young kids, investigators, and recent converts.  Ugghhh!  Then after his strange ramblings he turned the dating talk over to us.  Like the Elders are experts on dating.
         R. and G. are scheduled to have their interview tomorrow and they are both ready.  I am going to baptize R. and Elder Ribeiro is going to baptize G.  
May 22, 2015
         We had another division today and I went to the other area with Elder G. again.  I titled the last division with him “Getting lost with a crazy Chilean 1.” Well, this division is called, “Getting Lost with a Crazy Chilean #2.”  I thought that the other time was just because he was new in his area, but it had been over a month and he still doesn’t have a clue where anything is.  It’s funny because he always walks as if he know where he is going. Also it was weird because my planner given to me by Elder R. O. was a lot different from his companions, Elder G.  I am seriously thinking that he has a couple of screws loose.  My companion told me that his divisions didn’t go much better.  He is concerned that Elder O. only contacts girls and women because he said, “Why would I contact men when I like women, not men.” When I got home I found out that Elder O. had searched through ALL of my stuff looking for anything that he could take with him.  Ughh, what a terrible example of a district leader! BUT, it doesn’t matter because we got our baptismal interviews done and the baptism is ready to go for tomorrow.  My companion and I made special desserts and they are so beautiful!
The jello is acually super easy, it just takes a while to make. Every 1/2 hour or so you waste 10 seconds to pour on another layer. Brazilian jell-o also isn't all that great, so it didn't taste nearly as good as it looks.

I made the jello, but Elder Ribeiro made the cake. He worked in a bakery for a while, so he knows how to make a ton of stuff.
May 23, 2015
         Yet another day that we wasted getting the dirty water out of the font by hand.  All of the youth were there helping us, so we were able to get it done in just over an hour.  Then we had to wait for it to fill up.  The baptism went down without a hitch.  R. was a little scared that he was going to drown, but he got in the water and was baptized!  The bishop gave his usual unusual baptismal address.  The coolest part was that all of our other investigators who have baptismal dates came to watch.  It was great! 

        After the baptism, we had a “family night” with some members who live close to J. and J. and we invited the two of them. It was very nice and cozy because it was just the two couple and us.  I did that tape object lesson that Mom sent me that relates how keeping the Sabbath day holy helps to keep us on the right path to our Heavenly Father.   J. was the example and it worked perfectly.  When she was blindfolded she couldn’t make it to the end of the tape, but when she could open her eyes on every seventh step to regain her direction, then she was able to reach the end of the line.  Everyone loved the example and the sister said that she felt the spirit very strongly.  I hope that our investigator’s also felt the spirit of the message.  Keeping the Sabbath holy is a very difficult challenge for most Brazilians.
May 24, 2015
         Well, J. must have felt something last night because she came to church today even though she told us yesterday that she would not be able to go because she had to pick up her son in another city.  We asked her why she was able to come after all.  She said that she realized that she should come to the Lord’s house first and then search after her own interests.  We gave ties to both J. and A. so that they could have them for church. They were super happy about that!  Our gospel principles class was FULL today!  We had 7 investigators, and 2 new member confirmations, and 2 recent converts.  Seriously, I am so stoked about how well things are turning out for the last part of my time in Brazil.  I am seriously also wiped out every night.  One night this week, we literally were so tired that we could not sit at our desks to plan.  We just had to lay down on the floor to get it done.  It is good to be drained because we use our energy and time well.  I think that my misison president is going to baptize one of the people my last week here. On my last Saturday on my mission, we're going to baptize two families, and President Bonini is going to come here be part of the baptism! It's super exciting.
Jerry-rigging a straining system for cevada which is a roasted ground barley coffee caffeine!

Monday, May 18, 2015

So much little time!

May 11, 2015
         This p-day was probably one of my favorites.  We were lacking a couple of the documents necessary for the wedding, but the people that work in the city office that manages weddings all know the Elders and what work we are trying to do so they let it slide.  I was super stressed out because we didn’t know if it would work out or not, and then we were just so happy and relieved afterwards when it did work out.
On the way home we went to the biggest cemetery in Fortaleza. It was kind of like a walk in the park really. It was super cool and one of the only quite places in the ENTIRE city. I found it rather peaceful. I took pictures of some tombs that I thought were the coolest. There were even some that made me think of Rio! Weird, because it's actually a nice place... Until the Spirit people showed up dressed in white to perform some rituals... That was interesting.
I even laid down for a little nap ;) I'm almost dying anyways!
           Also, other good news is that I bought 2 more hammocks to bring home.  One for Mom and Dad, and one for me.  I have a smaller one at home already, but these are nicer and can fit up to three people in them.  
         Another great thing that happened today was that I got my flight itinerary emailed to me.  That makes the end seem so near to me.  I am glad that I am really busy teaching a ton of people right now to help me keep my mind off of going home.  We marked 2 weddings for June 3rd – they lined up perfectly for both of the families.  The families are super excited about the weddings and their baptisms. 
         We taught G. today and she is so ready to be baptized.  Her date is set for one week from now.  She is retaking all of the discussions, but everything is familiar and she is doing well.  She loved going to church and it was really great to see the members welcome her and her little daughter. The baby actually let the members hold her and play with her.  It was good stuff.
May 12, 2015
         Today was interesting.  M. wanted to go out on teaching visits with us but we have to have a third guy with us if a girl is teaching with us.  We planned on having the young man who is preparing to serve his mission go out with us so that she could go. Sadly, the guy flaked out and all we could do was go contacting with M.  She actually was pretty good at it and we got some good contacts in. After a while we headed to the chapel to take M. to seminary and switch out with another member who wanted to go out with us.  When we got to the chapel there was a 13 year old girl there who wants to be baptized.  We talked to her and learned that she lives in the Zone leaders area.  She wanted to be baptized and attend our ward because all of her friends are youth in our ward.  We talked to her about how we need to keep her in the area where she is living and then gave the referral to our zone leaders.   
May 13, 2015
         Sooooo today we found out that the missionaries from another zone have been teaching in our area.  We got in contact with a referral today and she said that other missionaries had passed by and taught her less than 3 hours ago.  We will have to get that all straightened out
         We taught our recent convert’s father today, but he did not seem too interested.  He supports his son and is not antagonistic, but he is Catholic and said that he didn’t want to change. 
         On the bright side, T. and E. are reading the Book of Mormon and T. is attending seminary.  She has downloaded all of the church library and is studying a lot.  She reads everything that we give her and asks great questions.  Her dad is also doing well.  He smokes a little, but he says that he is quitting. 
May 14, 2015
         I am going to call today, the “dog-day.”  There were so many dogs on the street today.  We had this one super sweet dog that followed us for about an hour.  Where ever we went, she followed us until we crossed a major highway.  The road scaredher back into her area.  All of the dogs have a sort of territory that they stick to.  even though they are all strays.  We also saw some rather large dog taking advantage of a tiny min-pin female dog.  It was creepy especially because there were a ton of other male dogs just hanging around her. I felt sorry for her.
         Focusing on the more spiritual side of things, we taught J. tonight.  His family is really spiritual.  I love to hear their beautiful prayers.  They are so grateful, sincere, and humble. Every time we finish a lesson with them, we have a kneeling prayer and that leaves us with a great spirit.
May 15, 2015
         We had an appointment scheduled that was a no-show, bu his brother-in-law was there and he invited us in, gave us food, and asked us if we could say a prayer with him.  He liked our message and he said that he wanted to visit our church.  But he is super strong in his church so we will see if his pastor will let him visit ours. 
         One of our investigators is having a hard time finding his the documents that he needs for his wedding.  That makes me super nervous, but tonight we got the address for a place that specializes in fast document recovery. 
         Tonight we went teaching with a young man from another ward.  He is preparing for his mission.  We had a great night of teaching and on the way home he said, “Man, I wish stuff was happening in my ward!”  That made me feel good about the work that is happening now.
May 16, 2015
         J. won’t be able to come to church tomorrow because he has to go to his mom’s house to get his birth certificate for his wedding.  She lives almost 3 hours away.  He and his “wife” (almost) really wanted to make it to church, but they need to get the papers for their wedding. 
May 18, 2015
I think that we got all the wedding paperwork worked out today. We're going to have a family night with the family of 4 tonight and we'll see if what we did this morning will work. 
We killed a rat. That sucker has been evading us for about a week
A super old tree here in the center of the city. It's "huge"


Monday, May 11, 2015


Going away lunch for Elder Shelton!
Staying here party for me!

Brazilian selfies..they stole my camera!
May 11, 2015
        I had a great visit with my family on Mother's Day yesterday.  I was able to talk to everyone in my family except for Bailey.  Dad looks so healthy with all of his hair grown back in!  We talked a little about plans for coming home and I have to admit to feeling excited about my return.  I actually got my flight itinerary today that says that I will be in Spokane on June 10th at 12:24!  It is started to sound real to me now, but honestly I have so much work to do before I come home.
        Our freezer went out this week which means that we will probably have to defrost it every week until I go home. 
        I was so busy this week with so many miracles that I did not have time to make a journal entry, that and I left my journal at my zone leader's house.  Don't worry Mom, I got it back already.  I just haven't had the time to get caught up.  I have a new companion named Elder Ribiera who is from Brazil.  He is a hard worker and a good companion.  He is also extremely tall and skinny.  this week has been packed with so many great things happening with investigators and members.  
        S. was baptized and the service went well.  His family even came to support him.  The only bad part was that we had to hand empty the font again.  Also we have set 7 more baptismal dates for the next couple of weeks and I am very excited about all of these good people that we are teaching. 

       There are two families who are going to be baptized as soon as we can get the parents married.  It was almost miraculous how we were able to help both of these couples get the documents and pay for their wedding which are set for June 3rd. 
Our awesome new family that came to church and they work for the church so they'll never have to work on Sundays!!!!! Woohoo!
Me and elder Ribeiro dying of happiness after we paid for the weddings this morning.

        This week we contacted a woman from Africa who studied the gospel a year ago, but them stopped taking the discussions.  She was so happy to see us and told us that she has been reading the Book of Mormon for over a year on a regular basis.  She then told us that she is ready for baptism!  
       Then another cool thing happened this week when the mother of a young man in the ward approached me and said that she thought that I was the missionary that needed to baptize her son.  Her son is slightly disabled mentally, but still very much able to function and communicate.  He comes to church and understands and lives the gospel, but he has never been baptized.  So now we are teaching him and looking forward to his baptism.  I feel so incredibly blessed by these amazing miracles that are happening right at the end of my mission.  Although I didn't get to write much, I did take a lot of pictures this week.
S. and his parents.
They make me look so short, which is unusual in Brazil!
I was blessed to be able to stay here in this area and baptize this great young man!


April 27, 2015
         Okay, so I started this P-day completely and totally DEAD.  I am tired of working by myself, and I was about ready to give up, but I got an email from my one of my former converts.  It has been forever since I have talked to him, but he sent me an update and he is now working an office job where he will get his smile reconstructed for free.  He is helping to do missionary work in his ward and he is happily married to a member of the church who he is planning to take to the temple this summer.  He thanked me for helping him to transform his life.  When I knew him, he had just gotten out of rehab, and had no clue what direction to go.  It brings me so much joy whenever I think about him and he reminded me of why I am a missionary.  Also, my mom got me some brand new shoes from Mr. Mac because of the warrantee!!!  I never thought that new shoes would make me so happy.   And then a final wonderful thing happened today when Elder Shelton pointed out to me that we only have 6 more p-days left!  Where has the time gone?  Anyways, I am super stoked today and ready to start a new week.  Elder D. Todd Christofferson is coming to speak to our mission tomorrow!  I have had the opportunity to listen to 2 apostles during my time here in Brazil…3 if you count the MTC. 
        Elder Costa's wife talked in this conference that we had this week, and she said that we should have a goal to send home a 'new truth' that we learn every week to our family. These are new things that we have found out about the principles of the gospel. I don't have my notebook with me right now, but this past week I was studying about the Holy Ghost, ad there was a verse in D&C that gave me a cool insight on it. The part that I liked was how it said that the Holy Ghost will teach us the peaceful things about the kingdom of God. Everyone here thinks that it's the Holy Ghost who commands everything on the earth (people outside of the church) but this scripture reveals that he teaches the peaceful things. It is very rare when He will give a command like he did with Nephi. Rather, he whispers to us. Who gives commands are the prophets, apostles, 70's, etc. Our leaders receive revelation and have the authority to be able to guide us. 
April 28, 2015
         We had to wake up SUPER early to get to the conference because our zone leaders wanted to get good seats.  It worked….but it meant that we had to wait an hour and a half for the conference to start.  At least I had some time to catch up with some old companions.  All of my past companions where there, except Elder Gino, and Elder Dayton (from the Independence Missouri Days).  It was a big reunion for me! I took a ton of pictures.  I would write more about the conference but I wrote it in my spiritual notebook.  It was a super great experience for me.  The spirit was very strong and at the same time Elder Christoffersen was joking around a lot which made it fun for us.  A good part of the meeting was Q&A.  I wrote a lot down in my other notebook, but one thing that I would like to share here was when Elder Carvalho asked, “There are a lot of missionaries that we know who fall away after their mission.  How can we help these people, and how can we make sure that it doesn’t happen to us?”  Elder Christoffersen was quiet for a long time, and then he said, “You know, I don’t understand why or how someone who serves a mission can fall away.  They gave two years of their lives and didn’t let the gospel into their hearts.  I don’t understand how someone can teach the gospel without believing in it.”  Then he said, “ We have to always remember the importance of practicing the gospel on a daily basis.  All of the habits we have know should continue after the mission as well.”  That is a personal goal that I am going to set for myself.
         As far as working after the conference, it was super hard.  All of our appointments fell through.  I did a bunch of contacts, but it was the same thing as before; just me doing the contacting.  There is nothing more that I can do to fix this situation.  I will just keep doing what I know that I should be doing.
April 29, 2015
         We had divisions today and it was super good!  I stayed with Elder Gomez and I decided that if I could give a title to the division it would be called, “Getting lost with a crazy Chilean!”  Seriously, he had no idea how to get around his own area.  On the plus side, we BOTh did a tone of contacting and it was so nice to work WITH another missionary who is excited to do the work.  He is actually a little too excited if you ask me.  He is one of those missionaries who is focused on just one thing: BAPTIZE!  Our mission president had been teaching us that the standards have changed and that we must now teach ALL of the lessons before baptism.  Unfortunately the “batizadores” don’t give a crap about what President says.  They just prepare people for the baptismal interview, they are not obedient, and they still baptize a TON!  That doesn’t make sense to me.  Even Elder Shelton said that he baptized more when he was being disobedient than he does now when he is actually trying. 
April 30, 2015
         I don’t know what kind of black magic Elder R. Oliveira used on my comps, but today was completely different!  They both actually helped out with contacts and it felt great! Elder R. Oliveira said that my comps are completely dependent on me and that I should try and let them work by themselves more.  Today I didn’t even need to get after them!  We taught this super good couple, F. and D. and they have committed to baptism on May 16. 
May 1, 2015
         IT IS ALREADY MAY!  We went to a service project today…did you catch that?  AN ACTUAL SERVICE PROJECT!!!  It was awesome to actually serve people again.  I had to really sell the idea to have president let us go there for one hour.  He does not like service projects at all. We took the roof tiles off of a house so that they can build a second story.  I am not going to lie, I am getting a little tires of the minecraft houses here, but this family really needs the space. 
         Today was kindof annoying because everything fell through. We managed 18 contacts today and we taught S. He has a baptismal date for next week.  I don’t know if I am going to be transferred or not, but I would really like to be able to baptize S.  We taught him a lot of the lessons today and it all worked out super well UNTIL one of the other young men (who is preparing to go to the temple next week with his mother) asked us about baptisms for the dead.  We had already taught The Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Word of Wisdom, Sabbath Day, and the Sacrament, and NOW we had to teach the doctrine of Baptisms for the Dead.  Thankfully, the lesson went really well.  We started with John 3:5, then 1 Peter 3:18-20, and then we finished with 1Corinthians 15:28.  The Spirit was present in the lesson and our investigator accepted our message.
May 2, 2015
         We had lunch with our ward mission leader today and it was really funny.  He had one of his friend from and other ward come over and it was hilarious. They are both returned missionaries who married the girls who waited for them. It was fun to listen to them talk about their missions and life after their missions.