Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014

Familia!  Eu amo vocês!

Holy moly... this week was WONDERFUL!!  Remember that girl we baptized last Sunday, but couldn't baptize her parents because they weren't married yet?  Well...  we went to visit them on Tuesday, and they were all gone except the dad... Turns out the mother took the kids and the rent money, and went back to her hometown in search of drugs... Naé, the dad, was super sad, and super discouraged.  But.... WE HAD THE BEST LESSON EVER WITH HIM.  Holy cow.... The Spirit was SO STRONG.  I was having a hard time understanding him, and when Elder Astudillo turned the time over to me, I wasn't quite sure what to say... But I just opened my mouth and started talking, and it was filled.  It was one of the most special experiences of my mission so far.  I just talked!  And then Naé started to cry... then I started to cry... it was just... perfect. Such a tender mercy of the Lord that made all of the "awkward" moments and struggles worth it, because Iknew in that instant, Heavenly Father was using me, as a tool in His hands to touch the heart of one of His sons.   Because his girlfriend left, he was no longer breaking any commandments, and wanted to be baptized this past Sunday!  Just about EVERYTHING during our time with him went wrong, or seemed to (girlfriend left; Crazy lessons at church; The water in our city got shut off, so he had to get baptized sitting down; etc), but really, he is just a true elect of Heavenly Father and has such a desire to follow Christ, so none of the "bad" things even registered with him.
I'm having a wonderful time making fun contacts on doors, and in the streets.. Hahaha people are RIDICULOUS HERE!  I got a liiiiittle snappy with an old lady who told me in response to my asking her if she wanted a message about God said, "I NEVER LIKED GOD!"... WHOA, SISTER! She was the first person I've met here who didn't like God.  :)

I can't believe it has already been over a MONTH since I've been in Brazil!  It has FLOWN by... Next week is transfer meeting, and there's a good chance I'll be getting a new companion.

I sure love my family!  The gospel is TRUE.  I love love love going to church here because it is such a testament to me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the same everywhere, and moreover, the Spirit is the same in every tongue.

Have a SUPER week! 


Monday, March 17, 2014

Another White Week! -- March 17, 2014

Oi Familia! I hope all is well in America and that this letter finds you safe and happy!

What a week!  Things are still going quite well here.  I still love the area, Ponta Grossa, and I really love the other missionaries I live with.  They're kind to help me with my Portuguese!

Holy cow.  I really love Brazil!  Everyday, I can feel Heavenly Father help me understand what people are saying, and help me remember the words I study.  It is going to be SO MARVELOUS when I can speak Portuguese.  Literally, it will be so FUN once I don't have this handicap.

Super news!  We had a baptism this weekend!  The super elect family that we found about 2 weeks ago has been coming to church and having us over a lot. They are SO faithful, and love the Book of Mormon.  They aren't legally married yet (a major problem here in Brazil - everyone lives together because getting married by law costs a lot), but they are working towards a date to be married, and then be  baptized.  Nathali, their 10 year old daughter, was baptized yesterday!  She is super cool, and super smart.  It has been so fun working with this family and seeing their faith in Christ grow, and their desire to adopt the Gospel increase.  It keeps blowing my mind how here in Brazil, everyone (mostly everyone) is SO accepting.  For example, the first week this family came to church, they got there 30 minutes early, Sacrament meeting started 20 minutes late, and Priesthood "lesson" was an argument over how to give a blessing.... The whole time, I was just thinking, "Noooooooo.... we are going to lose them!"  Then, when we went to visit them the following Tuesday and asked how they liked church, they both said they loved it!  They said it was exactly what they have been searching for.  WHAT?!  It was such a testimony to me that the truly humble and elect of Heavenly Father will only see the good; that they'll be able to know through the Holy Ghost what is right, and won't notice what appears amiss to us.  M-i-r-a-c-l-e.

The faith people have here goes both ways though.  They are VERY believing, so when we commit someone to come to church, and a family member or friend or pastor tells them that they shouldn't, they won't!  We had a few of those happen this week, but we know Heavenly Father will help us find the elect, like Nathali and her family, if we keep trying!

Haha it's so fun here, because you can stop and talk to ANYone, and they'll almost always talk with you!  I've point- blank just asked people on the street if they'd like to be baptized, and it starts a good conversation (that I have to turn over to my companion ;)).  Haha like yesterday before church started, we went out and street contacted people, inviting them to come to church with us RIGHT THEN!  It was so fun!  No one said yes... but still, I don't think you could do that in America.

Because we teach almost solely out of the  Bible here (totally opposite of my mission in the States), I've been trying to read a lot!  It has been such a wonderful experience re-discovering the life of Christ in the New Testament.  It is so beautiful and plain.  I am so thankful for a loving Savior who came to Earth to set the perfect example for us, to die for us, and then  to rise again so that we too might one day return to live with our Father in Heaven and families for eternity.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is TRUE.  I love it!

Have a SUPER week!  The Church is TRUE!  Heavenly Father loves you!

Love forever,

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 3 in BRASIL -- March 10, 2014

Olá, familia!  Tudo bom?

It's only been 4 days since my last email, so I'll keep this one brief and spare you :)

When it's not raining, it's HOT!  Holy cow... maybe it's just humid... but I always feel like my body is melting.  My 1oz tube of sunscreen is totally depleted and I think I might get skin cancer!  Hopefully I can find some Brazilian stuff to help!

EVERYTHING IS SO FOREIGN.  Haha the grocery stores here sell only milk (NOT like milk in America...), deli stuff, and junk food!  But it all tastes really good!  Everything in Brazil (or at least Ponta Grossa) seems 10-30 years behind the States.  For example, our phones are like those first Nokia cell phones we had in the late 90's, and all the cars and houses are just... different!  When I show people our family/house, they CANNOT believe that we live in a place like that.  No house has gas lines or water heaters, or dependable electricity.

ANYWAY... Yesterday I got to give a talk in sacrament meeting! HAHAHAHAHA I bet the Brazilians were CRINGING in their seats... Thankfully it was only a 5 minute talk.  The language is still a huge stumbling block, but slowly and surely I'm having more "A-ha!" moments and starting to understand better.

I LOVE THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.  I love that no matter what language you speak or country you're in, it is the SAME, and you can always feel the Spirit.
We walk SO much here!  It's pretty great.  We eat only junk food because they don't believe in dinner here (only lunch!), but I'm pretty sure I've lost weight.
Sorry for the lack of pictures and info this week, but more will come!
I KNOW that this gospel is true.  I know that through Christ and His Atonement, we can ALL return to the glory and peace and presence of our loving Heavely Father.  This is a gospel of happy endings!
Com MUITO amor,
Elder Jason Allred

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Week 2 in Brazil! -- March 5, 2014

Oi Familia!  Tudo bem?  This week has probably been one of the  most humbling, and most fulfilling weeks of my mission!
Haha first off, Heavenly Father is REALLY humbling me.... I thought... "Portuguese will come easily..."  NOPE!  Literally every day I wake up at 6am to study the language.  I botched a few first lessons when Elder Astudillo turned the time over to me, and it made me feel SO BAD!  Aaaaaaaahhh... Haha when the Brazilians don't understand, they'll squint their eyes and say, "...Oi?"  SO... I've been really trying hard to learn and study as much as I can in every spare moment!

As a miracle from Heavenly Father, I haven't gotten sick yet!  Every time I fill my water bottle, I pray that the water I'm drinking won't have parasites.. and so far, so good!  The food is DELISH here, too.  I thought that since it is a poorer area, that we would literally eat just rice and beans for each meal.  Don't get me wrong - we DO eat rice and beans at every meal, but it's so tasty and there's always this spaghetti-type stuff and strange vegetables of some sort to eat, too :)  I love it!

This week was a bit of a roller coaster because we were teaching a family of 8, and they were going to get baptized!  We taught them, and they got interviewed, and were ready to go, then the MORNING of the baptism, the Mom had a dream that someone came to her and told her not to get baptized.... Brazilians are VERY faithful/believing, so she took it as a sign from God that she shouldn't be baptized.  So sad!  

On a lighter note, we found a family of 4 that are WONDERFUL!  They let us right in, and the Mom said "When you guys were speaking, I felt this warmth all up and down my back" and the dad said, "When you came, I had a bad pain in my chest, but once you came in and taught us, it went completely away."  #miracle  We'll be going back again tomorrow to teach them.  

The past few days have been "Carnival" which is a week-long celebration similar to Mardi Gras.  So... Lots of drunkards all around!  Haha I was able to practice my teaching on them at the bus station and the streets.  It was fun!

Sorry this letter is so short!  we are out of time at the cafe.... I will write more next week!

Thanks for your prayers and love and support!

Love, Jason
PS - In Brazil, I like to make friends with the random stray animals I find in the streets.... like the 9458723947203 dogs and random horses and frogs!  :)