Saturday, December 21, 2013

Agua Verde Semana 9 , 10

Isn´t the gospel great?

Today we had the opportunity to teach on the temple grounds. In the middle of Paraná there´s a little city called `São Mateus do Sul` but the Church has yet to get there... From that city, a young woman named Fabiola moved to Rio de Janeiro and became familiar with the church, got a testimony of the Book of Mormon, was quickly baptized and a few years later began dating a returned missionary. A few weeks ago, the office received a call from her, explaining that she would be taking all of her family to the temple in a big van, and she wanted the missionaries to teach these relatives who had never heard about the church... on the temple grounds! I didn´t know anything about this plan, until 6:30 this morning when I got a call from a number with the Rio area code asking if the plan was confirmed! I called President right away and asked him who had agreed to/been assigned to teach this family. He didn´t know anything about it either, but liked the idea and sent me and my companion! So we got a taxi right away and went armed with a bunch of copies of O Livro de Mormon, and Joy to the World DVDs. Needless to say it was very neat. The Spirit testified to the simple truths of the Restoration in the garden of His house. Casa do Senhor - Santidade ao Senhor.

This was the second time that we taught at the temple this week. The other time, we took Celeste to the garden (he works on "the ranch" which is what he calls the little gardens that he cares for in the middle of the city, and he absolutely loves plants). He got all emotional as Brother Darlo told him about the temple and the joy we can receive entering the Casa do Senhor.

In other news, I´ve been running around like a chicken sem cabeça trying to gather up a Mission History to send off to the Church History Museum (I didn´t know that every stake, ward, mission, etc. has an annual history that is stored in SLC! But now I know, and I´m figuring out how to make one :)  ).

Looks like Christmas, is gonna be hot again. How odd, neh? But Curitiba weather is kinda like Oregon weather... you can get rain, sun, wind, fog, hail, drizzle, all within the same hour.

We´re still teaching away, and singing for everyone. The idea of caroling is absolutely foreign to Brazilians, and they get a kick out of it. If I were mission president one day, I think I would put musical street contacts as a key indicator!

Merry Christmas,

Não se esqueça o aniversariante!


Elder House

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Agua Verde Semana 8

Well I survived my first trip (yesterday) to the Federal Police office to register the new Americans and declare change of address for those who were in São Paulo. It is pretty crazy to know that having one number or letter incorrect on one of the 8 processes for each missionary, could potentially mean that someone has to go home, or having to pay fines between R$50,00-R$ 800,00 to fix the documentation. So having a member on the inside, and a box of chocolates for the grumpy PF Officers helps a bunch.

Today we went to the temple... It´s been almost exactly one year since the last time I went, so it was great to worship and learn in the temple of the Lord. The garden around the temple is immaculately groomed and pruned and cared for... including the mighty Araucária trees (a type of tree that only exists in this part of Brasil, but I swear that I´ve seen before in Dr. Seus books). We took some great pictures on my companion´s camera, but on the bus back to the mission office, he accidentally deleted ALL of his photos #nordestino

We are anxiously preparing for the baptisms of two older gentlemen, Celeste and Jorge. Celeste is a wonderful little man who is famous for saying, "the only thing I didn´t learn in school was how to be mean." Jorge is the father of one of our Recent Converts, Luiza who has been praying and fasting that she can bring her parents into the church... Jorge already knew several members, but no one ever thought that he would one day enter the church... no one except Luiza, that is. She´s also starting to reach out to many of her friends, and always calling us with references and marking visits for us. If we could just call this 15 year old young woman to be our Ward Mission Leader, I think that the vision of the Apostles in that broadcast would be easily fulfilled! 

Natal struck Curitiba. Everything is all Christmas-ed out with little Papai Noel figurines in all the stores, and lights adorning many of the apartment buildings. We are now using the Joy to the World movie to enter more homes and teach about why Christ is so important that we celebrate his birth. This movie is amazing to me, because it uses the accounts of the birth of Christ as it had been prophesied in every corner of the world in every dispensation! His birth is reason to rejoice

I love being a full time missionary. I´ll love being a missionary for all my life.

Elder House

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Agua Verde Semana 5 , 6 , 7

Que fubeca... neh?
This week marks the beggining of transfer 2 in the mission office... woohoo!
Elder Rocha is off to train and divide an area, so he was all giddy this week. Unfortunately, he started think about the new area a bit too soon and kinda gave up on our area :(
So now I´m the full-fledged mission secretary, (but the computer still isn´t recognizing me... which is a bit annoying cause we need to go to the Federal Police office this friday to register the new gringos that arrived.)
Our area is a bit interesting, because it takes in one of the richest neighborhoods, as well as the poorest. So our teaching abilities have to be well rounded to teach all types of people. Yesterday we met a man from Spain who is the head chef in the fanciest hotel in Curitiba. We told him that we´re gonna pass by to leave a Book of Mormon with him in spanish, or english, or italian, or french, or portuguese, or what ever language that he´d prefer. (Here in two weeks we´ll even have copies in Creole to teach the Hatian refugees).
Our investigators are having a bunch of problems with their marriages, divorces, or separations... depending on the situation. Geraldino wants to separate, but the woman won´t leave the house; Gisele wanted to separate, now wants to marry, and is lacking money; Ruth is waiting on the judge to finalize her divorce; and Kelly is trying to convince Fabio that it is time to marry... This is serious motivation for me to:  date -> court -> marry -> continue dating ;) (with my wife of course).  Speaking of dating after marriage, being close to the mission president is very neat. The other day, he was leaving the misison office at about 4:00 in the afternoon (very early for him) and he told us that he and Sister Fernandes were going on a date... and made it abundantly clear that she was the only Sister in the mission who could go on dates. Este Presidente é uma figura.
This week was Thanksgiving right? Well we ate rice and beans and pressure cooked meat and pickled onions. Halloween is catching on a bit down here, but `Dia de ação de graças` still doesn´t have much representation. I had a dream about that cranberry salsa on cream cheese with wheat thins that mom makes. Yup, I had a moment of trunkeza while I was sleeping.
This year I am thankful for the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is a magnificent present that the Lord has given us. It contains the sacred writing of ancient prophets who lived in a place very far away from the prophets of Israel. This record was written and preserved for us, and I am thankful for the generations of ancient prophets who wrote what the Lord told them, which would be to our benefit today. I am thankful for the spiritual strength that we recieve daily as we study the words contained therein, and appy the simple doctrines we learn. I am thankful for the Book of Mormon as a testimony to the divine call that it´s translator recieved, and for Joseph having prayed in a grove. I am thankful that I can live in a time when the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached in every corner of the earth.

-Elder House

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Agua Verde Semana 4

This was a wonderful week full of progress.

We have lots and lots and lots of people to teach... so now the difficulty is knowing who the Lord needs us to visit most. But we made headway with Rute and José (eternal investigators) with the documentation needed for them to divorce with their ex-spouses so they can marry with each other, the only part frustrating is that a distant relative who is a member turned Macumbeira (which is the name for a person who participates in a rather unpleasant African chicken sacrificing religion with ties to Voodoo) showed up this week to spend time in their house and now it is very hard to help them feel the Spirit in their own home... solution? Take them to member´s homes!
It is because of odd religions like this that Halloween hasn´t really caught on too well in Brazil. Some of the Evangelical churches got all up in arms when they heard that we were hosting a Halloween activity for the youth, but all of their kids wanted to go... 10 points for the Halloween party :)

Being in a ward with many of the oldest members in the city is very interesting because you learn much about how the church has grown in the city. There are about 45,000 members in the city, and less than 70 years ago there were 0. That´s a lot of people in one lifetime.
Today I think we´re gonna go sing and play the organ in a really old catholic church close to the mission office. We were thinking about what we could do today, and this slightly odd but rather attractive idea came to mind... `go sing in that church!` So after lunch we´re gonna go get our Gregorian chant on. :)

Love you,
Elder House

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Agua Verde Semana 3

Bom Dia dos Mortos!
(or Dia de los Muertos like they call it in all the spanish speaking communites)
Just to clear up any misunderstanding, Dia dos Mortos has NOTHING to do with Halloween. It´s basically Memorial day on steroids.

Today we had an incredible experience... yeah, it´s p-day, but when you´re in the mission office, if there´s work to be done, we do it. So... in the largest cemetery in Curitiba and the little public square outside, we showed up with about 5000 liahona magazines, 400 Livro de Mormon, 300 Restoration pamphlets, 800 Plan of Salvation pamphlets, 2000 pass-along cards, 600 DVD´s, and a few of these same materials in English. So we show up in the spot that the city gave us to put up a little tent and it´s right in front of the HUGE Catholic church that was setting up to have Mass... but there are SO many people that go to Mass on November 2nd, that they hold it outdoors concert style with a big bandstand that the city sets up for them. If  you´ve never been to Brasil you really can´t understand what the Catholic church is here... In the US (and everywhere else in the world) the services seem to be very ceremonial and reverent, but here, they are a big concert... lights, smoke, special effects, all of the Padres have professional showman training, instead of reading the passages of scripture and what not to a calm music, you need to imagine full out Lady Gaga rock band set up complete with electric guitar, saxaphone solo, and drumset... and the city put us in the middle of where all of the people would stand to watch :). It was pretty awesome. Two zones of missionaries running around giving people church material, mixed in with the little ladies in yellow jackets giving out the little ´Santa Seia` wafers being accompanied by dudes holding umbrellas (no it wasn´t raining, I think it was just to indicate where they were at), and everyone coming up to ask us about the church and the Book of Mormon, and how they could get a copy. During the week, I designed a few banners to be put up in front of our stand that a brother from the ward sent to be printed (really fancy!), and everyone wanted to know about what the pictures meant, giving us chances to talk about genealogy, eternal families, temples, the Atonement, etc. Our little tent was being swarmed by people wanting to know more and the missionaries frantically scribbling down addresses and giving out material. Elder Rocha and I grabbed a bunch of material and starting walking around all of the grave sites (grave sites here are super nifty... they are usually about 10ft. tall with several members of the family put into these vertically stacking coffin boxes, usually have a little space on the base to put candles, a little box on top to put live flowers, a little glass case to put pictures of the deceased and figurines of `Nossa Senhora da Aparecida`) talking to people about the Plan of Salvation and helping people cope with the loss of their loved ones. Almost everyone we talked to has friends who are members of the church and were very receptive. The Japanese weren´t too friendly with us (until we found a Liahona with the front page being a cute little picture of an Asian-ish father teaching his daughter... they liked that one :)  ). Today we Hastened. Our mission literally ran out of materials with one huge activity. We showed up at 6:00h with a mountain of materials thinking that it would never run out, and before noon it was ALL gone. We returned to the mission office with a few Liahona in English, and a half pack of pass-along cards.
Next year we are gonna do this in EVERY cemetery in the mission. That´s how we do it in Curitiba South.

Pictures will come soon :)
Elder House

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Agua Verde Semana 2

Working like dogs (who know how to use excel).
President Fernandes decided that we had lots of projects to complete, so he changed the P-day of the secretaries to Saturday to more effectively utilize the business hours of the week. So I´m not being a ´fubeca´ the correct day for me to send email will be Saturday, at least for the next few months.
The mission office is a crazy place. Every night we plan what we will need to get done in the next day... then we get here in the morning and President has a big ol list of emergencies that need to be resolved immediately (in addition to the things we needed to do anyways... we almost need another secretary just to handle the emergencies). So we buckle down and start working and go go go until 5:00pm when president kicks our ´bundas´ out the door to start proselyting. But really, we get more done in those 4 hours than anyone else in the mission (Zone Leaders, Assistants, you name it, we beat em :)   ). It is a great blessing to be companions with Elder Rocha again. We didn´t end our other transfer very well together, which was something I always wanted a chance to change. Now we´re doing that, and then some.
We work in a little part of Curitiba called `Parolin` which is really sketch. I´ll be sure to write down all of the experiences that we´ve had in less than two weeks, and i´ll share them after the mission. It´s not too hard to pull someone out of the ´favela´ but literally, only the Lord can pull the ´favela´ out of them. We are teaching people who have been fighting with sin for all their lives, and only now are they being able to win.

This ward is crazy good. It is chock full of ex-bishops, ex-stake presidents, ex-mission presidents, etc. We are thrilled that they are really catching the vision of how missionary work should work. They find, invite, and support... and we teach. We are seeing how well the Lord is preparing the people of Curitiba to hear the gospel, and with more members opening their mouths, more of these people are being found. It´s very exciting to be at the heart of it all.
I shared the rootbeer candy that mom sent with everyone, but brazilians seem to think that it tastes like medicine :)
Finally this week I got an email from my trainer, Elder Trevisanut. Looks like he´s doing pretty well and looking forward not backward! `Estou feliz que ele está trabalhando na obra missionária ainda... é muito facil tirar um missionário da missão, mas para um missionário que serviu com coração, deve ser imposivel tirar a missão dele.` That was my little trunky experience for the day.
I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that if someone wants to know if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints is true, need only to read that book... some will know by hearing about the book, others will know by reading, others will know by putting in practice the doctrine taught therein, and others will know asking Heavenly Father about it´s divinity. And with time, all of these experiences will lead you to a certainty that the book is from God.

Elder House
p.s. Happy Halloween. I´m going to be a missionary :) Next year, I´ll be a Brazilian postal worker!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Our crazy zone out there in the boonies (aka, Guarapuava)

When you spend all of your money on 5kg of babyback ribs, 
all that´s left is money for rice and beans :)

There´s a really funny story that goes along with this picture, 
but I´ll have to write it out some other time!

So much for the two year mission guarantee! :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Agua Verde Semana 1

Well this week was nuts! We went to Curitiba, had a Zone Meeting, argued with the electric company of Guarapuava about which apartment they should connect the electricity to, moved our apartment, and prepared our area to be whitewashed by Sisters. Yup that´s the life of a missionary. The idea was that we would move to the Guarapuava Center branch... and that´s where my companion is at, but I got a rather interesting call when I recieved the transfers for our zone `Elder House to Agua Verde as Executive Secretary` I thought for sure I would stay in Guarapuava, but I was moved to the `escritório` to be companions with Elder Rocha, for the second time :) This´ll be interesting.
Our zone was lacking a bit of fire in the bones in relation to talking to EVERYONE as chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel teaches, and in finding ways to help the members fulfill their responsibilities to the Lord as his people who have been charged to bring the gospel to others... So we gave a training that maybe left everyone a little bit `sharply reproved` but we showed an increase of love afterwards sharing the wonderful Reeses Peanut Butter Cups that mom sent. The result was very positive and everyone left more animated. I guess the Lord knew what he was doing when he taught this principle to Joseph Smith.
I loved General Conference, and I´ve been reflecting about the messages that where shared. I loved the comment of Elder Ballard `Oh, no... not again. Missionary work?` because many people really feel this way. But it´s cause this is the hour for us to get to work. To invite a neighbor who never visited the church or an activity (or one who has!) to come to an activity or a church service. We also need to help those in our family who aren´t participating 100% to come back or start doing so. We need to look at that ward directory and search out the people who are members but we don´t know too well who need help. Some people think that missionary work is done by people with nametags. Teaching is done by people with name tags. Finding, supporting, retaining, helping come back, testifying, is done by members. It doesn´t have to be something that you plan for 3 months to do. Just pray that you will recognize the person that is close to you that the Lord is already preparing, and have the courage to open your mouth when you get that little feeling that you should (that same feeling you have sitting on the church bench during testimnoy meeting that says you need to bear your testimony :)   ).
I also have been doing a bit of thinking about how helping others feel the joy of the gospel helps us and our families. Doctrine and Covenants section 4 is all about misisonary work, but I think that this verse helps us to see what helping others does for us,

 `For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store, that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul`
Participating in the work of salvation is one way to help us bring salvation to our souls and the souls of our families. Missionários and missionárias are there to help members with the teaching part. Don´t worry about having to do that... just help them find, support, retain, help come back, and testify to  the children of our Heavenly Father who is preparing more of those who will follow Him to accept the gospel.
I know that this is His work. And we can do a very little in it, but it will do a very lot in us.

-Elder House

Monday, October 7, 2013

Bonsucesso Semana 12

2 more velhinhos baptized in Guarapuava. (This time in Prudentópolis)

Thoughts on why I´m having success with the `seasoned citizens` of Paraná... Mission preparation often takes many forms. I think that in part, the Lord formed me to be a missionary in the time I spent listening to my paternal grandparents relive their childhoods and adolescences and lives as newlyweds and time spent in Peru and so on... I also remember many of the visits I did as a young man in the capacity of taking the sacrament to the old and at times sickly, and as a home teacher. I learned how to listen before the mission, and now I´m putting it all in practice.

This week we got a call from the missionaries in Prudentópolis (the little Ukrainian colony where my trainer was trained, famous for being the largest producer of black beans in the nation, waterfalls, and some really fancy painted eggs) saying that they wanted a follow-up/progress interview for a little old couple they were teaching. The interview is a confidential thing, but I will say that this interview was one of the most spiritual experiences that I´ve had in my life. The result... I found that they were ready for baptism, and we marked the date with only three days to prepare. It had been a long while since that branch has had real convert baptisms, and they were very excited to accept Meron and Amélia! That branch also had a bad taste in its mouth for missionaries who just wanted to call all the youth off the soccer field to fill in the gaps in a baptismal program, or not call anyone to participate, so I decided to stay in the area for another day to plan the baptism. I got a call from the missionaries yesterday saying that it all went well and the branch is exploding with enthusiasm for the missionary work. The Lord does his own work, and this week I didn´t get in the way :)

Our branch is struggling a bit with our leadership, and the only program that is running really strong is the young men. So we decided that we will focus on our young men that we are teaching and hopefully Alan, Giovani, and several others will be ready for baptism this week!

Workin hard and loving Brasíl.

I ask you to doubt your doubts, before doubting your faith.

Elder House

(This is a waterfall that is part of our area! Salto São Francisco)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Bonsucesso Semana 11 (and 10)

Well it´s not every day that you get to interview someone with a big gaping hole in their neck with a swollen face and blood dripping from their left ear.

Meet Jeronimo.

Jeronimo lives in a little place called Riozinho de Baixo in the municipality of the great Paranaense metropolis of Rebouças, where the population of cows greatly exceeds the number of people, and none of the little farm huts have numbers, and letters are sent to a little wooden slot in the one room schoolhouse about 3 miles up the road. He and his wife first visited the church about 8 years ago. Unfortunately, they didn´t really want all to much do to with it, but let their two sons be baptized. These two young men served honorable full time missions and when they returned were permitted to open a branch in a city called Irati. Jeronimo suffered several life-threatening illnesses and was interned in a hospital for over a year. When the new missionaries arrived in Irati with fire in their bones they were asked by one of these sons to visit Jeronimo in the hospital and give him a blessing. In the blessing, he was given special promises regarding his health and about the importance of baptism. Well he left the hospital early last week and called up the missionaries... or rather his wife called up the missionaries and called them to come as fast as possible to review with him all he needed to know to be baptized. So we ran over there as fast as our J. Araujo Ônibus would take us to teach and interview him and his wife. I had the privilege to sit in his house with the Spirit testifying to every word of the Plan of Salvation and to hear him explain his experience, even though it hurt to talk, he wanted to testify to the things that he knew. Here in Paraná that´s one more family completed. The Lord does His own work, the only thing we can do is get in the way.

After the interview we had a few hours to kill so we prayed that we could find the family that the Lord had prepared for us, He of course knowing that we would have this extra time, even if we didn´t. I picked the street, my companion picked the house. Eléitos. There was a family waiting at home, deciding whether or not they would go to church, but talking about the problems they saw in having so many religions in the world today and talking about how they wished there was a Mórmon church that they could visit... (many of their relatives are members of the church in another city)... but they thought that their city was too small to have the church. So we taught them about the Restoration of the Gospel. The room filled with the Spirit and tears as they learned that Jesus Christ once again called a prophet, and that Christ restored His church to the earth, and that they would have the opportunity to become a part of this kingdom.

This is why I´m a missionary. I´m on a mission to find the people who I promised to find. To teach the people who the Lord planed for me to teach. And I am very humbled every time the Lord shows me once again, that He does His own work. And sometimes all we need to do is not get in the way.

Read the scriptures.

Watch conference.

Pray for the missionaries and for someone you can invite to hear their message.

-Elder House

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bonsucesso Semana 9

Rain fallin
Bye bye pollen
Church packed
Talks by Holland

The lovely rain has returned to this lovely little town and has turned the favela to mud. Luckily, unlike the other areas, this one is about 75% paved. Last night i woke up in a thunderstorm and all of our windows were open... somehow my body reacted before my mind and I had my feet on the ground before I woke up and could understand why I had leaped off the bunk bed. Luckily nothing got too wet. Even now it´s doing that little NW drizzle business that will probably last the whole week Woohoo tracting with an umbrella. The upside? It is pulling all of the pollen out of the air and the allergies are gone! Those awesome mid-first-vision-sneeze-attacks will be a thing of the past...

`Eu vi um pilar de luz, acima de minha... ACHOOOOO... descupla... minha cabeça, mais brilhante que o sol`          Yup, where I come from, rain is a good thang

We finally are getting people to church! Our little branch had a walloping attendance of 84 yesterday, and we got lots of people to church to visit. Everyone is accepting chapel tours and it is helping bastante to get people to an activity or a church service.

Today we got our eyebrows singed a little bit listening to a few talks by Elder Holland. It´s good practice for my companion, and its rather motivating for the two of us.

A nifty little activity that our branch did to help the missionary work was a `bate porta` where a bunch of members went out armed with pass along cards offering the Finding Faith in Christ DVD and passed all of the references to us. When I first heard what they were gonna do, I thought `o goodness, that´s about the most JW thing in the world that I could imagine us doing.` We ended up being on divisão (I don´t know all the mission lingo in English... maybe it is exchanges?) in another city and I was a little bit nervous how it would go... Turns out that there is something to that whole thing about the Bishops and Branch Presidents having the keys to the missionary work! It was exactly what we needed to find two or three great families to start teaching. I´m still not convinced that the activity in and of itself was the key, but it was the combined effort of our branch to bring more happiness to their neighbors.

I know the Savior lives. I know that He loves us. I know that this is His work. I know that we can help His work if we ask Him how He wants it to be done.


Elder House

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bonsucesso Semana 8 (and 7)

I think I´ll have to send out the weekly email on the weeks that I don´t have to do the Zone Report :) I feel like that little elf from the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie... Busy busy busy!

Today we went to a waterfall called `São Francisco` which was very nifty. It reminded me quite a bit of Multnomah Falls... and has almost 200m of fall.

Well transfers happened and guess what? My companion was called to be the new AP! It was pretty cool to watch lighting strike at my side and walk out unharmed :) I received as my new companion, Elder F. Silva. He´s a stud and was trained at the same time as me in the ward just to the east of the Ramo Colombo... so we were already pretty good friends and always joked about being LZ´s out in Guarapuava... imagine how we felt when it happened about 5 months later!

This week we were in Curitiba and Prudentópolis doing baptismal interviews and receiving leadership training. President Fernandes has a very lofty vision of where he wants our mission to go. I am very excited to help it happen!

One of our investigators had a baptismal date for yesterday and was progressing so well!! She had stopped drinking, smoking, and a bunch of other stuff, was coming to church, activities, etc but was also looking for work. She was having a really hard time finding a job but (we thought) her and our prayers were answered when she started working at the Superpão Supermarket... but that means she is at the bottom of the totem pole and has to work Sundays for several weeks :( So our prayers were (sort of) answered.

This week we once again reworked our teaching pool... is turns over more easily than that old Chevy S10 we used to have. But it means that we get to know pretty much EVERYONE in the city. Even the dogs know us! If you think I´m kidding you should spend a half hour with Elder Gomes and you´ll see all of the dogs that we pass by get all excited cause they know that he´ll scratch behind their ears! The dude is crazy, but that´s why he got called to be AP :)

The hot weather (and thunderstorms) returned so I´m thinking about having some little old seamstress make me up some sort of umbrella sheath. (The good thing about always having an umbrella on ya, is you always have some sort of defense against the dogs who aren´t dumb enough to run away when you reach down like you´re gonna grab a rock to wallop ´em with.)


Elder House

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bonsucesso Semana 6

Rain, followed by sun, gets muggy, then drizzles.
BBQ with young men, bratwurst that sizzles,
One brought some coke, temptation that fizzles.
Searching in Centro for some new kicks that rizzle.

This week was great. Last P-Day, we burnt a bit of meat with the young men of the branch and played some Volley-ball, Basketball, and queimado (which is a derivative of Dodgeball, but more team oriented, and requires only one ball). I made up a little BBQ sauce with vinegar, tomato sauce, onion, garlic, and one of those magical Penzy´s spices called Peri-Peri... BBQ sauce pretty much doesn´t exist here, so eating a bite of the pork that I did with that sauce roasted on was a pretty thrilling experience for a few Guarapuavan teenagers :) We also cooked up some bratwurst and beef. One forgot that the missionaries don´t drink coke, and showed up with a big old two liter bottle... but we stuck out firm and just drank Guaraná (which is the best type of soft drink in the world... if you can find some Guaraná Antartica somewhere, let it get really cold and drink it with pizza or BBQ and you´ll see why I´ll have one suitcase filled with 2L bottles of it here in about a year).

Tomorrow we´ll be in the city center for a combined District Meeting and hopefully I can look for some new shoes and a new shoulder bag... after about a year, they are both in pretty sorry shape. My bag has been being shredded from the first few weeks back in Colombo, but I have been stitching and patching and pinning the poor thing back together to have something to carry my scriptures in. I tried to take pictures of it, but it didn´t do justice of how bad it really is. My shoes are also getting pretty close to the end of their useful lives, but I´m happy about that! Means that I´ve been doing work :)

And work we have been doing. This week we found some very promising people to teach. One is a young man of 20 years named Lucas. We were talking with him on the street about a block from the Chapel (you can see the big white point from about 2 miles away) and invited him to a Wednesday night activity. He went and loved it! We gave him a tour of the chapel and he felt the Spirit testifying that this is no ordinary place. When we showed him the baptismal font, he became very excited and started asking a bunch of questions about the church and authority and everything else that makes a missionary´s heart go thump thump thump. Yesterday he was at church for the Sacrament Meeting and felt at peace. Hopefully next Sunday we´ll have pictures in white :)

Well I love being a missionary and teaching the Gospel. I love sharing my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, about the Book of Mormon, and how the Gospel has blessed, is blessing, and will bless my family for eternity.


Elder House

Monday, August 19, 2013

Bonsucesso Semana 5 (and 4)

Well last week was so crazy I couldn´t even send a good letter home. And this week I´ll have to put in just the basics.

We are renewing our teaching pool cause everybody moved, started working strange hours, fell off the deep end with addictions and doesn´t want visitors, or is lying to us. Sometimes it happens like that, and you just have to start over.

I am very excited about the progress of several people. One is a lady named Beatriz, that we helped get the documentation to marry, and now she is just waiting on her husband to be in town so they can mark the date, and marry, and be baptized! Others are two cousins who were out on a search for a better life, and when we taught about the Plan of Salvation, they understood why they are here, and what they need to do to return to the presence of God. And now they are progressing by leaps and bounds.

Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking in church. It went great, cause usually in our branch giving a talk consists of reading a chapter out of an old Gospel Doctrine manual... which would put anyone to sleep. So I put a little pep in the meeting :) The branch president, who is an ex-police chief and likes to (try to) run the branch the same way he ran the Polícia Militar back in the day, thought it was a little out of the ordinary, but the branch loved it. So we´re making a little noise here in Guarapuava, and getting things running the way they ought to be :)

That´s all we´ve got time for today, but next week I´ll make sure to write a nice little email home!


Elder House

Monday, August 5, 2013

Bonsucesso Semana 3

Alrighty! Muita muita coisa...

So... That Monday when I got here, it got very very cold (for Brazilian standards) and everyone started talking in hushed whispers... será que vai nevar? I was doubting that we would really see the white stuff, considering that the last time it snowed here was over 30 years ago... but even with my doubting heart, it snowed... and i mean snowed. In about a half hour we got over an inch! It came down like crazy and abruptly stopped, but at some point in the middle of the night, it snowed even more, leaving us with a very white july afternoon! It was one of the coolest (no pun intended) things that has happened whilst I´ve been here. Imagine trying to plan for the next day when the desk of your Brazilian companion faces a very large window and snow is falling #failure. In Minas Gerais and Manaus, they don´t get much snow... in fact my companion (the Minero named Elder Gomes), and another missionary in the house (from Manaus named Elder Luan) had never seen it. Needless to say, the next morning was spent watching Brazilians play in the snow! Something I won´t forget anytime soon.

Being cold, every stayed home, which was great for us, because every single house we passed by had people at home :) The only trial of our faith was that boots were ruled out as a shoe option in our mission on the day of snowfall... so we walked all the way to District Meeting in our little shiny mission shoes. (Luckily President Fernandes thought better of it, and called us the next day to authorize the use of boots again :)  )

These weeks were full of teaching and we have several people on the brink of baptism.They have testimonies of the Book of Mormon, but each one has something that is holding them back. I think this week will be a week of miracles for us.

I don´t know how to express how much I love getting letters, even when I´m a total slacker and don´t have time to write back. We have been looking for a new house because ours is very old and yucky, and as a Zone Leader over 6 sisters who are also looking for houses, things get busy... and then take out two days for a jumbo conference in Curitiba (5 hours by bus) and the week gets going. But I´m happy and ready to work.

Off to approve a house for a trio!


Elder House

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bonsucesso Semana 1

Welp... Transfers got interesting this week. Got a call yesterday afternoon. Elder House going to Bonsucesso in Guarapuava! woohoo!

wait a second...

isn´t that the area of the Zone Leaders...


`sim.` (which is to say `yes`)

I´ve now got some very large shoes to fill. Good thing the Lord qualifies those who he calls. I´m sure i´ll be spending plenty of extra time on my knees this transfer.

Alright, so I´m now in the very center of the state of Paraná in a city called Guarapuava. It was always my dream to serve in this city and be a Leader, and I even asked that the Lord, that one day I could serve here as a Zone Leader... but I was thinking that it would take a little longer. It is a very neat little city, and very cold. We have a chance of snow tonight! Imagine that, serving in Brasíl and getting snow.

This last week in Ipê was very exciting. The marriage of Vilson and Valdete went very smoothly, and I played Bach´s Prelude in C as they entered. I remember that my piano teacher gave me that piece to learn saying `one day you´ll be asked to play for a wedding, and you won´t know what to use as they enter, but if you play this nice and slow it´ll all go well...` so when we needed someone to play piano, I asked a kid in the ward to print me off a copy! This time I´ll save the sheet music.

I was honored that Valdete asked me to perform her baptism, and it was a very spiritual experience. The water was nice and warm and she and Vilson both cried a little when the ward welcomed them with open arms. I´m going to miss Ipê, and all the members there. It was hard at first to help them work as missionaries, but in these last few weeks we were teaching over 15 lessons per week with members. Miracles happen.

So now on to filling very large shoes left here in the interior.

With love,

Elder House

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ipe Semana 17

Anyone who has participated in missionary work knows that working with the members is key. When you have members who help people feel welcome at church, who visit the people you are teaching, who have Volkswagen mini-buses (here we call them `Combies`) to take loads of people to church, and who break into your house at night to give you homemade pizza... you know that you are in a good ward. This week we had a hard time coordinating visits with members... so if they couldn´t go with us when we were visiting people, the members just went and visited them another time. This was a miracle. And as a result we had 15 people at church yesterday to visit. If you want the missionaries to get all giddy inside... ask them who you can go visit and take a plate of cookies to invite them to church... or who needs to be invited over for barbecue. But be ready with smelling salt, cause they just might keel over and pass-out.

This coming week we will have the wedding and baptism of Vilson and Valdete. Lots of photos to come. We are also helping some other people who are prepared but scared to enter the waters of baptism. With much prayer and fasting, I think we´ll help them make it. It is possible that this is my last week in Ipê... if not, then Elder V. Silva will leave, but I think he´ll stay and help more of these people he was sent to teach.

The sun returned for at least a few days. And everyone stopped complaining about the cold :)

This week will be one to remember and I am very grateful for the prayers on behalf of the missionaries.


Elder House

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ipe Semana 16

Although we didn´t have fireworks, our week went out with a bang.

President Fernandes arrived. And he is on fire. He is really going to help this new mission (Brasíl Curitiba South) start off on the right foot. He served as a missionary under President Costa back in the day... which is to say, less than 20 years ago. President Fernandes is only 40 years old, and has a nice little family of 5 children, ranging from 8 years of age to 16. We had the opportunity to meet them on Thursday which was very neat. He was born in Angola but moved to Portugal when he was a teenager because of the civil war there. Eventually he ended up in a little bitty town in the jungle of western Brasíl and served in Manaus. He met his wife in Portugal, and most recently they were living in São Paulo. He is not very tall, but he has plenty of spunk.

This week we were very grateful that we left our eyes open to be looking for the people who God prepared for us, and we found many of them. Reginaldo is an incredible man (with 6 fingers on his left hand) who is working his tail-end off to support his father´s enormous family that lives in the interior of Paraná. We found him as we were waiting for another family to get home from work, and started to teach him as he was washing his work clothes in a big tub. We ended up teaching him all about the Restoration of the Gospel, about the Book of Mormon, and about the importance of being baptized into the church of Christ by someone who has authority to do so. And we marked the baptismal date for the 20th of this month. Yesterday at church, he felt the Spirit very strong and is excited to be baptized.

Vilson and Valdete are doing great and ready for baptism also on the 20th. A sister in the ward is going to make a big cake for the marriage and baptism, so we are sure that we´ll have a good turn out!

This week was filled with teaching and finding new people, and we participated in a few miracles which are certainly journal worthy.

I love missionary work, and helping people take the challenge to read the Book of Mormon to know if the Church is true. And I know that every single person who wants to know, will know if they read, reflect, and ask in faith.


Elder House

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ipe Semana 15


Just finished my first email to President Fernandes... in Portuges! This will take a little bit of getting used to... and a lot of practice, but for now it is taking FOREVER to write in Portugues.

Until now, I haven´t met the new mission president or gotten a call or letter or email or something of the sort from him, but I am anticipating that in the coming week we´ll have that opportunity. I´m excited to hear an Angolan accent :)

This last week we had a special zone conference with the missionaries from 4 stakes together in the mission office and had our last meeting with President Cordon. It was a bittersweet meeting... Bitter on the one hand, because we lost a very special family who has given all they have to the development of us as missionaries, and in helping thousands of people in Paraná accept the restored gospel. Sweet on the other hand, because we had chocolate/strawberry pizza... hence bittersweet. Sister Cordon gave the little dog poop in the brownies object lesson that Bishop Monnie did back in the day, and talked about how just a little bit of disobedience will ruin our ability to have the Spirit with us. (I still remember sitting in the living room of Bishop Monnie when someone... I think it was Crismon Lewis... started chowing down their brownie before Bishop could explain that it wasn´t to eat). President Cordon opened up a question and answer session which was one of the neatest experiences I´ve had on the mission until now. He really is a wonderful man, and will be dearly missed.

Today is a very special day. Because we marked the marriage and baptism date of Vilson and Valdete in the courthouse!! This has been the longest, most complicated series of hoops I have ever had to jump through... I think it might be easier for the USA to win the World Cup than to marry a divorced man with a widow in São José dos Pinhais with universal union of stuffs (that´s more or less how you translate `Comunhão Universal de Bens`)... When your mix in money, it all gets complicated. But after almost 2 months of fighting, we marked the date. July 20th. If you want to, you can mark it on your calendar too... everybody in the ward is.

So there exists here a big huge series of parties in the month of June to celebrate the special day of a bunch of catholic saints... And while the church doesn´t exactly sponsor a Saint John party, they basically do, but call it the Festa Junina which is to say `June Party` (this is basically the same thing we do... it´s not a Halloween party, its a fall festival!) It originates from the NE of Brasíl, and the hometown of Elder Silva has the biggest party in the world for this particular celebration. The stated reason for the party is to celebrate the harvest of the corn (remember that the seasons are flipped here and we are now in winter) but here in the south of Brasíl where there isn´t much corn, it just to have a big party and drink `quentão` which is a  hot grape juice/ginger drink. It was pretty much the best party I´ve ever seen in a church, and all without alcohol! We had well over 20 investigators there... Now we´re talkin!

Speaking of parties... Even though I won´t be at home for 4th of July, last night we got to watch the fireworks, as Brasíl celebrated their victory over Spain (3-0) in the Federation Cup! I wasn´t watching, but when you are in Brasíl, you hear about EVERYTHING that happened in the big games. Looks like something has awakened in all these Brazilians who had been looking forward glumly to the World Cup because they had no hope for a very young Team Brasíl.

Dos Filhos Destes Solo Es Mãe Gentil Pátria Amada Brasíl

We´re fighting off a little bit of sickness so pray for us.


Elder House

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ipe Semana 14

Good week.

Lots of rain.

Fireside directly from heaven.

More interviews and lots of miracles. We are now teaching a family that was taught in Santa Caterina (another state here in Brasíl) and are now ready for baptism minus marriage and coffee. So this coming week we´ll be working hard to help them.

Please but Vilson and Valdete in your prayers. They need divine help to marry quickly.

We´re off to teach our miracle family again and spent the whole P-day working on getting people married... so I don´t have any time.

Next letter will have info on new mission president and the mission split!


Elder House

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ipe Semana 13

Congrats to Mom and Dad on 25 years of mawaaagge! And with everyone busy, sounds like a normal start to the summer, everyone doing something different and exciting. The only downside to getting email is that every once in a while Dad has to let me know about something cool that happened back home, like the BYU Ballroom team getting the first standing ovation in Blackpool history... Which is indeed very exciting. Thank you for the update.

This week was a bit of a Russian Mountain (which is what they call roller coasters here), with the call to be District Leader, giving 6 blessings, completing my first baptismal interview, and fighting with the local cartorio to let Vilson and Valdete marry there... But that´s what a mission is all about right? We tried so hard to work well with the members, but almost every single member who had planned to go on visits with us, canceled. The Bishop was getting a bit frustrated with our Ward Mission Leader because he wasn´t completing the assignments he was given, so we recieved an assistant to the Ward Mission Leader who is on fire and ready to help everyone! We are very excited for this.

So now that I am District Leader, I get to do the baptismal interviews when someone is ready to be baptized somewhere close to me. On Saturday I did my first interview with a boy named William who is very ready, and very excited to be baptized because, as he put it, `all my life I wanted to be an Elder, and now this is the first step.` It was a neat experience.

We are doing well as a compaionship and growing together. Elder is feeling a bit under the weather every day when we wake up because it is cold, but with just a little persuasion, he´s ready and willing to leave the bed. I know that he is missing home because of the cold here, but he is being a good sport... The NE tip of Brazil, which is where he is from, NEVER dips below 65 degrees. And that would be during a rainstorm in the dead of night in the middle of winter. So the very Oregon-like 45 and drizzling has taken a bit of adjusting for him.

This week we were really working to use the Book of Mormon more effectively, and we ended entering in contact with people from varius cities that don´t have the church yet (Telemaco Borba, Mafra, and a bunch of little cities in Santa Caterina). So we planted many seeds and copies of the Book of Mormon. Elder Silva is now using and explaining scriptures very well and asking very inspired questions.

Last night we found an eleito named Diego. He was seated at a bus stop and night in the rain, and we decided to talk to him. His mother-in-law is sick and this was the event he needed to start looking for the truth. When we started talking about the Book of Mormon, his eyes lit up and I he wanted all the information we could give him about the church. He lives in another part of the mission, but I am praying that we can get his info to the missionaries there! This is why we do street contacts.

This past week was the craziest Sunday in the world. I taught the Gospel Principles class with about 2 minutes of forewarning, gave a talk on the spot when the Bishop called on me, played the piano, and still managed to follow-up with everyone who was visiting and mark brothers to help us with visits. Day of rest my foot! :) But it is the best feeling in the world to be super busy and have the Lord´s help to be able to do it all.

Speaking of my talk, I think it was probably the best talk I´ve ever given... I took a page out of the Brother Allen playbook and talked about how Salmon find their way back to their little stream from whence they came. I talked about how the plan of salvation is very similar. We were all there in the presence of God, but we left that little stream for the ocean (earth) where we would grow and learn and gain experience. But one day we need to return. But how are you going to find your way back to Johnson Creek from the mouth of the Columbia River? You follow the smell. As we choose the right, we make the choices that smell good, that feel right, as the Spirit testifies of what we should do. If we follow the Spirit, we will know what to do (2 Nephi 32:5). Wait... where´s the missionary connection? So I talked about how we are the little fishies who know where to go. With all the different smells in the big river, we know what to do, and how to return. So we have to let all our little fishy friends know how to get back too! It´s our responsibility to help them out! I also talked about how we need to be changed to enter the precence of God... Imagine that God only listens to country music, and you hate country music... you would hate being there with Him. So we need to change ourselves to like what He likes, the music, the food, how He talks, how He acts, or else we won´t WANT to be there with him... 

You know it was a good talk when afterwards, everyone wants to mark a visit with their friends :)

Working hard in Jardim Ipe!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Ipe Semana 12

Yesterday we had our transfer calls and...

`Elder House... Fica!`

`Elder V. Silva... Fica!`

So we´ll be together for at least another 6 weeks and I´ll finish his training. But after another week like we had this week, he´d be ready to train a new missionary.

This week we were teaching a family when we felt inspired to do a little activity with them. We read part of the talk in General Conference where Sister Wixom told about the man who had been separated from his family for 2 years, being taken prisoner in vietnam, and was permitted to send a message of 25 words or less to his family, in which he would need to show them that it really was him, and give some counsel. So each of us wrote a message to our families. Mine is as follows...


Maybe some of these things are not so important as I thought before the mission, but as a missionary, I know that some are even more critical than I ever imagined. The temple is a place of power. The mission president has a goal to help every new convert have an experiece with the temple within 2 months of baptism... that could mean visiting the grounds, or doing baptisms inside, but the temple is crucial in our taking the 5 and final step in the Gospel of Jesus Christ... Endure to the End.

The coming transfer will be exciting but also a little bit scary. As of the first of July, the mission will be split, and we will have a new President.

Wish us luck... Or even better, pray for it ;)


Elder House

Monday, June 3, 2013

Ipe Semana 11

Clouds make rain. 
Rain makes mud.
Mud makes missionaries,
Look like scrubs.

But in a city where half the population works in construction, rain also means that everyone stays at home so we can teach them :)

This week was a bit rough, but we made it through. Once again, we had few investigators at church. Those who came, were greatly strengthened by the testimonies shared. I don´t like it all too much when people shirk their commitments... I will be much better about this after the mission, having my word be as good as a contract.

In missionary work the only thing worse than being dropped (here we say `cut`) is having to drop them... even when they know the gospel is true. It is very hard to make the decision to stop teaching someone, and at first, I felt like we were condemning them to spirit prison or something, but now I have a testimony in this respect. If we are teaching people who are not making progress, but like talking with us for one reason or another, we are spending time teaching someone with the time that should be spent teaching someone who the Lord has prepared for us. This past week, we moved many people to the back of our area book and as a result we received 9 people and 3 families to teach... some of which were literally just waiting for baptism. The Lord can do his own work, and he is using us to hasten it.

100% obedience is really hard. Probably a mission-life-time pursuit... And I suppose that´s how life will be afterwards... A lifelong pursuit of perfection.

When your companion breaks down on the sidewalk crying because in one day everyone unloaded their baggage on you and the spiritual burden becomes too heavy to bear, remember that this is the Lord´s work, and that only He can do it, and that when we have the chance to help in it for a little season we will often feel inadequate because we are. And we must rely on His Grace to help us. I know that might sound a little Louisiana baptist-ish, but Grace (which is the enabling power of Jesus Christ) is perhaps one of the most powerful topics of study for a missionary.

We had a neat little miracle this week when all of the tobacco in one neighborhood disappeared in the same week that 4 families who live there began the fight against their addictions. But all the other smokers in the area there now blame those `boys with the ties` for it. :)

Maybe this week we´ll pray for all the alcohol to evaporate... 


Elder House

Monday, May 27, 2013

Ipe Semana 10

I don´t know how Calli is part of our family... When dad told me that my irmãzinha at 10 years old has decided to read the Book of Mormon in 30 days I didn´t know exactly how to respond... I don´t know where this little girl came from, because she doesn´t seem to fit in with the rest of the family. All of us brothers would take the challenge to read the entire Harry Potter series in a week, or Work and the Glory in a month... but the scriptures were always something that we read as a family, and for seminary. My little sister is one of the best examples I have in life.

When I received an email from Nathan who has been one of my best friends since grade-school I almost started crying. I remember distinctly the day I was sitting on the bus, and the new kid from the ward got on my bus! Zing. Insta-friendship. In this past week he baptized his girlfriend Kassandra, received the Melchizedek priesthood, confirmed her a member in the sacrament meeting following, and will be married this coming Saturday. Congratulations to Nate and Kassandra! Unfortunately I won´t be there for the marriage this week, or the sealing in the temple in one year, but I am very excited for them!

In the PEC this week, everyone talked about what happened the past Sunday with the gossip and such that had been harming the progress of a few families we are teaching, and everyone in that council is devoted to help them. I have never sat in a leadership meeting where the Spirit was present with such a force that we received direct and clear revelation as to what needs to be done to help several people we are teaching. The area is doing well, but we are still fighting with tobacco addiction for several people. We will be spending `bastante` time in one part of our area this week helping those people progress. We will also offer priesthood blessings to those who need them. Our lessons with members were very weak as our splits fell through and when we did have a brother from the ward, our investigators were not at home... But as we were watching the District 1 as part of the 12 week program we realized that this really is the part missing from the recipe to make the ward blossom and that this week we need to teach investigators in the homes of members.

We are doing great as a companionship and working hard. But this week we felt like we were running fast but going nowhere. So we analyzed what is missing and will teach more with members.

This week we got the lamest excuse EVER for not being able to go to church... We called before passing by to walk with him to church and he said that he needed to `comprar frutas`... He was going to miss out on learning eternal truths that will help him progress to gain eternal salvation to `buy fruits` I was rather puzzled as to how I could respond to such an wimpy excuse. Maybe we´ll have to teach a little lesson on honesty :)
I´m still working on the `Thou Shalt Not Gossip` paper, but next week I´ll have it ready.
I love being a missionary. It is the hardest, most rewarding work that exists. The Book of Mormon is true. I know it because I asked God and he responded through the power of the Holy Ghost. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to build their faith in Christ, or who wants answers to the great questions of the soul.


Elder House

Monday, May 20, 2013

Ipe Semana 9

This week was a little tough, but we made it through. We are finishing construction on a house of an investigator, but we hit some complications there... Gossip is possibly the worst enemy to the progression of our investigators. This coming week I will study and write out the scriptural evidence for why `thou shalt not gossip` ought to be the 11th comandment.
But challenges and all, things are going well. I will have to take a picture with Vilson and Valdete who are pretty much the best people in the world to teach. They were going to all the churches on the face of the planet until they found the Church of Jesus Christ, and even though their family and neighbors are giving them a little bit of a hard time with the transition to living a gospel centered life, they are progressing by leaps and bounds. This week, we will have all of the documentation we need to marry them in the coming month, and the baptism will follow shortly.
This week I bought a little music box and we have been enjoying what little Mo-Tab we could download from the church site, and a few talks. But it is nice to have music in the house again.
This map shows the boundary of the ward we are assigned to teach in, and as ya´ll can see, it is pretty big. But a big area is a blessing because you have lots of families to teach (19 in our case). This is the best area in the world.


Elder House

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ipe Semana 8

Well I was shocked that Calli has grown about a foot since I left home, and her voice has changed dramatically in only a few months. She is turning into a young woman already! And it was great to see that the rest of the family is doing well. Mom has an orchard going, Christian is going to Prom, Carstensurvived the AP Biology test, and Dad is still puttin pizzas on the BBQ. It was a treat to talk with y´all yesterday via Skype for mother´s day.

This week we worked well, but we still have `bastante` room for improvement. We need to use the members even more effectively, because our goal for 15 lessons with members is very realistic. Unfortunately this week, many of the people we were expecting at church did not come, even though we passed by early with members and left church to search out others. But the Lord blessed us with a wonderful family who showed up out of the blue with a member. We have yet to teach them in their home, but we will mark a baptismal date, and jump on getting their documents sent from Rio Grande do Sul

Today we received authorization to go to Pinhais to get the documents for another marriage, but our ride fell through. We were waiting for him at the appointed hour, and we called but he never showed up... So we took that as a sign that we should spend the day cleaning the house from top to bottom. We still have the kitchen to tackle next week, but the house has only a faint semblance of the house I arrived in. We will arrange another ride to Pinhaisfor the next Preparation Day, and look for a more reliable member :)

Our relationship as companions is continuing to grow and improve as we spend more time teaching together. As I look for small ways to serve Elder V. Silva, it helps things running smoothly. We need to improve our exercising in the morning, and in the past week we set a goal to leave the apartment three times in the week to exercise, but with that cold wave we received (and owing to my companion being from a place where 18 C is as cold as it ever gets) we chickened out... But this week we will do better. We are also working on using the Book of Mormon more effectively in ALL the aspects of the Missionary Work.

This week we received a referral to a man who sells salami on the side of the road, who, by all appearances is at least half crazy. But a young man in the ward had been talking with him and he was interested in the story of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. So we went to talk with him and we presented the Book of Mormon. I have NEVER had someone who understood what the Book of Mormon is (an ancient record of God´s dealings with the people who inhabited the American Continent over 2000 years ago), how it is a test of Joseph Smith´s call as a prophet (if the book is true, then Joseph Smith is a prophet), and a sign of the Restoration (God needed to reteach some of the doctrines that got lost in the 1600ish years of apostasy that resulted from the people´s rejection of the Apostles after the Resurrection of Christ)... as well as this man did. He lives out of our area, but he is always selling with his family under a little tent, so we will start to teach them this week. I think Elder Silva will probably quote me for saying `hey, we don´t judge people (leave that to the District Leader and Bishop)... we just teach!`

I love being a missionary, and I know that the Lord is blessing us as we participate in His work.

-Elder House

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ipe Semana 7

Training is great! This week I received my new companion, Elder V. Silva (they put the V in front to not get him confused the other 12 Silvas in the mission) from Paraíba which is a state in northeast corner of Brasíl... a very hot and sunny corner I might add :) He passed 12 days in the CTM, and other than that, he has 6 days in the field. Fresher missionaries are hard to find. But he is great to have as a companion. His father served in Curitiba many years ago, so he heard all about the missionary work here. He was a little worried about how the people would accept the gospel, because everyone says that the people of Paraná are as cold as the climate, but after one week on the street, he loves the people here. Jardim Ipê is a great area to start off his mission.

This past week, we got off to a very slow start with monday and tuesday spent out of the area, but we hustled the rest of the week to make up our lost time. We worked very diligently to achieve all that we could, but still came up short in a few of the goals we had set. This week, an inactive family came to church with us (third time for the mother Rosi, second for a son Andruw, and first time for the husband Paulo) but they were missing their 12 year old son, Tiago, who is set to be baptized in the coming weeks. However, Paulo did not make it too long... after priesthood, the bishop sent him off to the Gospel Principles class (calling it the `aula de membros novos`) but Paulo chose to be offended by this and see it as an insult to his testimony and, rather than just explain that he was a member for several years already, he ran home. Rosi was embarrassed by her husband, but the bishop spent some time talking with her apologizing. Hopefully we can talk with Paulo and help him build up the courage to return again, but it will require a lot of patience if he is going to be so easily offended. 

Also this week, Bruno almost missed church because he was feeling sick. But I was determined that no sickness was going to get in the way of his confirmation, so we ran to his house with a member to get him and give a ride. It all went well, and in the confirmation blessing, the bishop also blessed him to recover from his illness. When we visited him later on, he was back to full health.

I really like Elder V. Silva and the way he works. I was a bit nervous to receive a new missionary to train, but I was very blessed in the companion I was selected to train. This week, I tried to serve more than I had in the past, making breakfast each morning and preparing things in the house for the day of work. It really made a difference in our relationship, and helped this transfer get off to a great start.

This weekend we were teaching a very spiritual lesson to a man named Darlan as we were seated at a bus stop at night, but out of the shadows came a man who, despite being very drunken, was speaking very quickly and did not understand the idea of personal space. Instantly the Spirit left us as this man began talking and talking, and spiting just a little on my face. We apologized to Darlan, and left, but the drunken man followed us. We tried EVERYTHING to ditch him but nothing worked. We walked quickly. We ran. We walked down a dark alleyway a little ways and ran in the other direction, but he stuck with us step for step. Until, I said a quick prayer asking that we could be freed from this burden to do something productive in the work, and almost the very second I finished, the man stopped, turned, and walked in the other direction. Why we didn´t pray for help sooner, I have no idea. But it was certainly a journal worthy experience :)

Another rather humorous moment was almoço a few days ago. My companion doesn´t like fish which I had discovered the day before, but as missionaries, when people invite you to eat, you just eat, and there is no room to be picky at all. So when the family put almoço on the table and revealed an enormous platter of fried fish with skin, head, and all, I looked quickly at Elder V. Silva to see his reaction. There was a moment of fear but he quickly recovered... But not quick enough to evade the notice of the family! Everybody laughed, and they didn´t make him eat fish. I rather enjoyed the meal myself, and ate his portion of the fresh tilapia.

This coming week the forecast is set to get cold... As in 5 degrees Celsius, but with humidity it will feel much colder than that. I hope that my heat loving companion doesn´t freeze! (He´s never felt cold in his life because in his part of the country it NEVER gets cold).


Elder House

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ipe Semana 6

This week in Jardim Ipê, we had the baptism of a 17 year old young man named Bruno. Bruno is the brother of a woman (Emelyne) who was baptized the week before I arrived in Ipê, and her husband (Julio) preformed the baptism. I love watching FAMILIES progress together! It was the very first ordinance that Julio performed (before passing the sacrament or anything!) and he did it perfectly. Saturday was a very spiritual day indeed.
Saturday in the morning we helped a woman named Elizabeth build a house. The whole ward showed up in work clothes and we built the foundation. The next step will be supports and the roof. And on a third day, we´ll put up the walls and plumbing. I got to do my fair share of mixing up concrete and stacking bricks, but afterwards, I tossed on my suit and we headed to the chapel for the baptism!
This week, I received the birthday package from mom. Thank you so much for the object lessons and peanut butter. I´ve been taking around the eggs of Jelly Beans to share with people we are teaching, and everybody loves to eat one and guess at the flavor :) Also, Elder Yesquen rather enjoyed his first encounter with Swedish Fish.

Yesterday we had a telistakeconference with the Presiding Bishop, a counsellor in the RS Presidency, Elder Ellis of the 70, and Elder Scott of the 12. They had translators for the first two speakers, but not for Elder Ellis nor Scott. Elder Ellis speaks Portuguese almost flawlessly! It was rather impressive. Elder Scott speaks a pretty thick Portanol, but `da para entender.` Elder Ellis made a comment about agency that I appreciated. He said that many people mistakenly speak of `Free Agency` when in reality, there is nothing free at all about our Agency. There was a war fought in heaven, that continues on earth, as the devil continues to try to strip us of our agency. In heaven, he was direct... `Give me all the power, and I´ll save them all, without giving them a choice.` Here on earth, the battle is more subtle, as he tempts us with addictions and habits that limit our agency. Elder Scott talked about how we communicate with our Father in Heaven, and how He speaks with us. He talked about his prayers as a missionary, and how he always found a way to pray out loud, even if in a quiet voice. I reflected on my prayers, and I can say without a doubt, that when I pray out loud, even if just barely whispering, my communication with my Father is much better. My prayers become more fervent and sincere. My invitation to you is to say at least one personal prayer out loud daily during the week, and note how your communication with Heaven improves.

Alright, so perhaps the biggest thing that happened this week, happened last night. We got transfer calls... `Elder Yesquen vai sair. Elder House vaitreinar.` I will be a trainer starting tomorrow... I don´t yet know if my greenie will be American, Brazilian, Mexican, English... but I am very excited. I´m going to have to find some green food coloring to fix up some green eggs and ham for breakfast on Wednesday. Please pray for me. I´m going to need it.
Glad to hear that trek preparations are going well! Here are some photos we took in the homes of a few members yesterday as we were wishing farewell to Elder Yesquen.

Elder House