Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014

Another week has flown by... it's crazy!  I hope all of you are doing well, loving life, and excited for General Conference!  I'M REALLY EXCITED!  Haha it's pretty funny... On a mission, you get REALLY pumped when normal things like Stake or General Conference happen.  They're like "field trips" for missionaries and are always special.

It has been raining a BUNCH here in Tamandaré ("The City of Dirt" is its nickname) which makes the dirt roads and rocky hills here a bit more slippery and a bit more messy ( and a bit more fun ;))  Rain does well for the Earth, but has a tendency to mess up plans/commitments with people!  Because most people we teach don't have a car, getting them to church is rather difficult in the rain..... but Heavenly Father always prepares a way :)

We had fun this Saturday taking a recent convert to Institute in the Center of Curtiba!  It was awesome to be with so many cool young adults and have a great instructor give an eye-opening lesson on the scriptures.  On our way, I___, the Recent Convert, took us by a few pretty parks in the area!  I didn't know that there were pretty places here! 

We found an elect lady, named S____.  She is the mother of one of the ward's recent converts, and we have been meeting with her and teaching her a bunch this week.  She is SO intelligente, and it has been a bit of a challenge answering all of her questions in Portuguese, but I feel such a connection and love for this woman.  When we went over there yesterday after church, we talked about the gospel for 3 hours, and shared the "Restoration" video.  It was so powerful!  S_____ is a bit of a tough cookie (a bit hardened) but she really opened up to us about her concerns, her desires, and what she is searching for.  I cried as I bore my testimony to her.  She cried.  Elder Boyd cried.  IT WAS SO WONDERFUL.  The Spirit is such an essential part in teaching people the Gospel.  We marked this Saturday to go to the temple with her, and promised that she'll receive an answer at the temple.  Please pray for this special woman.  She has so so so much faith and wants so badly to follow Christ.  But 15 years firm in another church has left her a little confused.

I LOVE THE GOSPEL.  The Gospel brings so much hope and happiness.  So much healing and perspective.  Only good comes from this fountain of truth.  

Mom sent me a wonderful excerpt from the Women's Conference that I'd like to re-share with all of you, in regards to the temple:

“We must go to the source of light — to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the scriptures,” she said. “We can also go to the temple, knowing that all things within its walls point to Christ and His great atoning sacrifice.” 
Recognizing the effects of temples around the world today, Sister Marriott said they beautify inner cities and shine from prominent hills. “Why do they beautify and shine? Because as the scriptures say, ‘truth shineth,’ and temples contain truth and eternal purpose; so do you.”
Wherever a temple is built on the earth it pushes back darkness, Sister Marriott taught. The temple’s purpose is to serve mankind and give all of Heavenly Father’s children the ability to return and live with Him.
“Isn’t our purpose similar to these dedicated buildings, these houses of the Lord?” she asked. "To serve others and help them push back the darkness and return to Heavenly Father’s light?”
I know that it is our divine purpose and duty to serve our brothers and sisters here on this earth, to push back the darkness of the world and help them return to our loving Heavenly Father's light.
I am so  eternally grateful to be a part of this Gospel and to be a part of God's eternal family with each and every one of you!

Love forever,

- Where we're knocking doors this week.  LOOOK AT THOSE HILLS #CALVES

- Elder Nilsen and I did a division this week and it POURED and we forgot towels.  Some recent convert gave us towels for our hair...

- This is a house of a family that we're visiting.  a HOUSE.  I can't imagine what a third-world country would be like... sure makes you thankful for what you have!

Some more pictures of the pretty parks we passed by on our way to Institute!

And this "Lan House" is where we do our emails each week :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23, 2014

Just a quick update this week! Sorry!

Things are going well, as usual :)  Things could always be going a little bit better, but they certainly could be going a lot worse.  Elder Boyd and I are still working with this "Retention" program that seems to be going well.  It's a little strange - almost ALL of the recent converts from the past 6 months are completely active, but its the families that have been in the church for 20+ years that are falling slowly away... not sure why that is.  It always makes me sad to see people who have been touched by the Gospel choose to reject it, because it truly shows in their lives what they're missing, and the blessings that they are choosing to give up.

This past week, we were committing a LOT of people to come to stake conference, and whenever we commit people to do something, we always promise blessings, or incentivize their commitment.  This week, I found some super cool scriptures in Doctrine & Covenants that explain perfectly our purpose here on Earth, and what blessings await us in the life to come:

D&C 11:20 Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.

59: 23 But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

I love the scriptures SO much, because they are full of blessings.  I like blessings.  A lot!  Haha life is so much easier when we just give up our selfish will, and keep the commandments that God has given us so that we can be happy.  I know that our "work" here on Earth is just that - to learn and keep the commandments of God so that we can be blessed with peacehappiness, and eternal life.  All we have to do, is DO IT!

Obedience = Blessings 100% of the time.  I like that!

I love you!  I can't believe in just 8 months I'll already be back... time is a crazy thing.  I know that this Gospel is true.  I know that God's promises are sure.  His promises are the best "insurance" we could have in this life, and the life to come.

Until next week!

Love, Jason

Monday, September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014

Hey Family! I hope you all had a super week.  From the emails I read from you guys, it seems like everyone is staying quite busy and enjoying life!

This week flew right by!  We have been staying busy as usual, trying to contact and maintain progress/friendship with the recent converts in our ward.  It is fun!  The recent converts are always the coolest people, and everyone ALWAYS gives us a ton of food whenever we stop by, so we're staying full and happy.  I'm preeeeeetty sure I might be gaining weight... haha  Good think we walk like 20 miles a day to keep things in check!

We had a miracle baptism this week!  My "favorite" family had some relatives move in with them who were super curious about the church and wanted to learn more.  These past few weeks we've been going over there almost every day to teach them, and yesterday, R____ was baptized!  I LOVE THIS FAMILY.  They have been passing through some really hard times (deaths, lost their home, etc.) but they are staying SO hopeful and firm in the church. It has been such a marvelous experience seeing the change that has taken place in their lives.  Just 4 months ago, they almost didnt want to have us over.  Now, when we're over there, they're humming hymns and sharing with US what they learned from their personal scripture study.  Nothing beats the feeling of seeing the people that you prayed for, worked with, and cried with truly progress in the gospel, and therefore, progress in life.  It is FANTASTIC!  Also, 2 of our recent converts will be receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood this Sunday!  Wooooo #GrowthInTheChurch

For now, it seems that our miracles might be a little more rare, but we'll keep working and praying for them.  

Haha some drunk guy took us up to a cliff and opened up his heart to us through tears and shrieks... it was a little frightening, but a little funny too.  Drunk doesn't look good on anyone!  We gave him card and assured him that God loves him.  It must break Heavenly Father's heart to see his children that way.

Sure love you people!  I know that this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love that no matter how far "gone" we are, there is always a way back through Jesus Christ.

Love forever,

- kittens on my head! I hope I don't get diseases...

- My two moms here in Tamandaré (Relief Society presidency.  They LOVE the Elders!)

- Baptism of R_____

- Playing in the ruins of Tamandaré

-  Some pretty shots I took of our area

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014

Another week in Tamandaré!

Time is really flying by!  Transfers came!  I'M STAYING!  Which I'm happy about.  I'll be staying for one more transfer here in Tamandaré with Elder Boyd, which is a blessing.  Our district of the 6 Elders who serve in our ward is mostly staying the same, too (one Elder finished his mission TODAY and is flying home.  Trunky!!)

This week was good!  We are still working hard, trying to retain as many recent-converts as we can and doing some re-activation work.  Things have slowed down a bit, so we've re-added some door knocking into our daily routine again. It has been fun!  Our Bishop here is very young (only 30 years old!) but is really stepping it up.  He is personally taking all of our recent converts to the temple to do baptisms and help build their testimonies.  With the vision of the temple, recent converts have so much more to hope for and work towards.  It's impossible not to have a wonderful experience there!

Some random happenings from the week:

- I got to dedicate the house of one of our recent converts.  Here in Brazil, there is a lot of black magic, or "Macumba".  One family moved into a house that was used in the past for macumba, and you could really feel a dark influence there... They told us to come over and fix it, so.. we did!  It was cool dedicating a house, leaving a picture of Christ, and feeling the difference afterwards.  Weird how Satan really does have an influence you can feel.  Eerie, right?

- We went to a "Rodizio" which is equal to a "Tucanos" or Texas de Brasil.  Where they bring you tons of meats and there's a big ol' buffet of deliciousness.... It was SO good!  Someone in the ward gave us money, so we decided to treat ourselves like "high-rollers".

- We had "Super Pday" on Friday - because we reached the baptism goal for the mission, the entire mission got together and we watched "Frozen", played sports, wore normal clothes, and were even allowed to listen to EFY music... which is a pretty big deal because we are not allowed to do ANYTHING (There is now a new rule where even Elders serving in the same ward/area are not allowed to get together, even on Pday... don't know why!)

- I am WIPED OUT. but It's good.... Dealing with other people's agency gets pretty tiring though!

Good things are coming!  I'm excited for a new transfer and a fresh start to improve.

I love you guys!  Have a super week!  Sorry for the lack of pictures.  I'll try to make up for it next week. :)


Monday, September 1, 2014

September 1, 2014

Whirldwind week!

Holy Hannah this week was INTENSE.  Missions get a little crazy sometimes because you really only have excellent days or pretty bad days. Never really "in-between".  Missions are SUCH the emotional roller coaster - literally the highest of highs and lowest of lows.  Both happened this week!

Let's start off with the sad so we can end with something happy.  S______, one of our recent converts, was assaulted this week... 3 men burst into their home at night, and shot her son in front of her 42 times, and tried to kill her, too.  Because they were "trafficantes" or the drug mafia here in Brazil, S_____ and her family had to up and leave everything so that the gang wouldn't come back and kill them, too.  Bless her heart.. she showed up to church yesterday, very early and sitting alone.  Since we're missionaries, we have to be early to everything, so I had some wonderful minutes talking, crying, and comforting her alone in the chapel.  It was a very tender moment.  Later that same morning, I had the honor of giving her a blessing of comfort and counsel.  I have never felt Heavenly Father's love for one of His children more strongly that when I gave that blessing.  Through a lot of tears and a cracking voice, Heavenly Father filled my mouth with words to S_____, from Him.  It was so very, very special.  I am so thankful for the healing comfort and guidance that come from the Priesthood, and for the opportunity to use it to bless the lives of others.  Please pray for S_____ this week.  I cannot imagine the horror she experienced having her son murdered in her home right in front of her.

Gosh!  You reeeeeally get attached to the people you serve!  When their hearts are broken, so are yours.  On a happier note, we had another miracle baptism!  G_____'s family was baptized a year ago, but she couldn't be when they were.  With our re-activation program, we visited her family, found her, taught her, and baptized her this Sunday!  It was a whirlwind, but everything turned out perfect, and I made a carrot cake and banana bread to celebrate! It was a good way to end the sabbath.

I am SO thankful for the plan of happiness of our Heavenly Father. I know that life doesn't end with death.  I know that.  I am so thankful for our loving Savior who lived and died and suffered for us that one day we all might have the chance to be with our families forever.  

Have a wonderful week!



-My zone - " São Lourenço "

-Some things don't translate too well from  Portuguese to English.. haha

-G_______'s baptism

-6 over-stuffed missionaries after a tasty lunch