Saturday, March 29, 2014

Agua Verde Semana 23

Last night was one of those nights that I will never forget.

Ubiratan and I were walking from one appointment to another, but we didn´t make it very far before a young man shouted to us "Hey do you know Odair?"... I responded that we had been visiting him a few months ago and that he was a friend of ours. The young man ran up to us and told us about how Odair´s wife had been having a relationship with another man, that a few hours ago she told him and took their two daughters, leaving for good. The young man was rather frantic and it took me a little while to understand that he was concerned that Odair would take his own life, and that none of the local preachers were willing to visit him. I looked at Ubiratan and he signaled that we should go there immediately. When we arrived, Odair was collapsed on his front stairs sobbing and whispering softly to himself "Lord, I lost everything". The rug was damp with his tears and he didn´t even look up when we entered. We knelt at his side and wrapped him up in a hug for several minutes until he was able to stop the tears. Ubiratan (who was recently ordained Elder) told him that we were there to give him a priesthood blessing and we helped him into a chair. We pronounced the blessing and the Spirit filled the home. Under our hands we felt Odair gaining spiritual and physical strength. Afterwards we sat and listened to him as he explained what had happened. It was very sad to see a man who had a beautiful little family torn to pieces. But I know that the Lord was watching the whole event unfold and that he put us in the right place at the right time.

How I am grateful to be a missionary. 

This experience capped off a week of study about how each covenant we make with the Lord gives us more responsibility in the Work of Salvation. I don´t have time today to write all of my thoughts but Baptism, Priesthood, and Endowment have each brought more blessings and more responsibility to take care of others. And that´s what we must do if we are to become like our Father in Heaven. He spends ALL of His time caring for others. The temple sealing will bring an even more elevated commitment to take care of my wife and children.


Elder House

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Agua Verde Semana 22

Raining cats and dogs and people to be baptized

Curitiba weather is even crazier that Oregon weather. One minute it´s 80 degrees and sunny, and 10 minutes later, you can´t see the sun with all the rain that is falling. We were teaching Rute the other day and the rain starting hammering down on the favela. In 20 minutes the large waste canal (about the size of Johnson Creek) that runs by her house filled to the brim and ran over to fill in the patio that we needed to cross to escape. In a true act of charity, one of her adult sons took off his shoes, sloshed through the water and put some planks for us to run across to get out of the house. He has a Christlike heart, and we are trying to help him overcome the strong chemical addictions that he has and help him get over the shame that he feels entering the chapel.

This week we came up with a nifty way to teach about gospel dispensations and priesthood authority. We asked for a pitcher of water and a few cups. We explained about how Christ is the font of living water and how he gave his authority to one prophet to be the leader in his church, who then passed it on to the next and so on. So we pour water from the pitcher in the first cup and say that it is Moses, who then passes it to Joshua etc. But when the people don´t want to accept the water any more, Christ takes it back to him (back to the pitcher). Then when everyone is thirsty again, and ready to receive the water, he puts it back on the earth. After the crucifixion of Christ and his Apostles, the water was taken back to heaven and the people of the earth were left without the fullness of the gospel of Christ. Amos saw these days when he wrote in Amos 8:11-12:

 11 ¶Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a afamine of bread, nor a bthirst for water, but of hearing the cwords of the Lord:
 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall arun to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.
The family that we taught using this object lesson understood very clearly that the thing they were looking for, going to all of the churches in the city they wouldn´t find in an empty cup. The fullness of the gospel will only be found where there is priesthood authority to direct the church.

They are excited to hear the Prophet and Apostles during General Conference.

President has asked us to lengthen our stride and start talking to even more people each week. Our new goal is to find 15 new people to teach every week... That´ll be a great challenge that will help our area to grow bastante!

Everyone wants to be baptized during General Conference on the 5th... and by everyone, I mean, Leandro, Ademir, Norma, Arlete (and perhaps a few of her relatives). So we are working to have everyone ready! Prayers for these people would be appreciated.


Elder House

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Agua Verde Semana 21

This was a pretty short week since the last email, but a few neat things have happened.

1. We finally got to teach Angelo and his family!
2. A friend of Rute who was at the baptism wants to be baptized.
3. Leandro is gobbling up everything we give him. And didn´t have too much difficulty trading coffee for "cevada" (which is a roasted barley powder that has taste similar to coffee, but it is healthy).

Hope that all is well on the homefront! Things are great in the field


Elder House

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Agua Verde Semana 20

Rain rain rain...

International woman´s day, we baptized Rute! She had been waiting for this day for over one year. When we passed by on Sunday night her home was filled with peace and she was radiant. We have a member who is just a hair bit crazy named Ubiratan, but who has become one of the greatest member missionaries I know... he always says that "depois que você se-batiza, você torna bonitão!" (You´ll have to find a brazilian to translate that for you.) But it is very true. People somehow become more beautiful after they accept the restored gospel, exercise their faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and start persevering. Elder Rocha was the only one who was able to snap a foto, so I´m waiting on him so send it to me to send it home.

We worked on Saturday, so our preparation day for last week happened this week... and we´ll have it again this coming Saturday. 

Today we went to the temple. What a gorgeous place. As we left, it was raining in dense but very fine, almost misty drops, and it was warm. It was a neat scene to see the rain from the doors of the temple... luckily the doorman had an extra umbrella that he let us use :)

We are teaching a man named Leandro who was taught by sisters who passed by in Água Verde 12 years ago. He told us that at the time he had rejected the gospel, but that this time he won´t let it pass by! He is very excited for his baptism and is eating up all the church material we can give him.


Elder House

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Auga Verde Semana 19

At times I close my eyes and click the heels of my well worn but polished dress shoes together and say to myself "there´s no place like the field, there´s no place like the field, there´s no place like the field..." but when I open my eyes, there´s still a long list of office tasks to be completed.

I know the Lord has a sense of humor. Because every time that I think I´ve got it all figured, out we get a new challenge to face. But we have to be like Nephi:

 1 Nephi 3:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

So when we have a roadblock, it almost becomes a game to find the "out" that the Lord set up in the trial to win. This week it happened with the Federal Police. I thought that I had it all perfect, all the documents correct, all of the missionaries scheduled perfectly, etc. We woke up on Wednesday and the phone started ringing off the hook... "Elder there´s no bus!!" That´s when my companion remembered that he had been told by and investigator that the bus company would be on strike and there would be NO bus passing in Curitiba on Wednesday... which would mean, no bus to the Federal Police station for everyone to get there... but he didn´t remember to let me know and to plan accordingly. So after a deep breath and a quick prayer we had to find the solution that the Lord had prepared.

Plan B: We took off to the taxi stop to find a line that reminded me of when the first Krispy Kreme opened in Portland. So we left the sisters there to wait while we looked for another solution.

Plan C: We called a few members, but quickly realized that everyone who has a car was already working as a taxi driver for family and friends.

Plan D: My companion saw a taxi passing by and shouted to him as he was passing in front of us. Miraculously he stopped! (you can´t do that in Curitiba, you have to wait a taxi point). He asked us where we wanted to go and we told him that we needed to cross the whole city to go to the Federal Police station. "Wait here for 2 minutes." He dropped of the rider he had, and returned.

When we arrived, everyone had managed to do the same! It was a miracle. The only hold up was that no one had money to pay the ridiculous taxi fares for crossing the whole city. For some reason, a few weeks ago, I felt that I needed to start saving up my mission allowance and leave it all on the card (which meant just eating what I had in the house, peanut butter, eggs, and rice)... My companion (the financial secretary) had forgotten to manage the mission funds that were to be used there, and we ended up needed almost every cent on my mission card to pay all the taxi drivers. In the end we were able to register everyone, and I was able to renew my visa until the end of my mission! But it was crazy.

This week we had a hard time making it out of the office to teach as much as we would have liked... But, Ruth is locked on for the 8th of March for her baptism. And she´s inviting the WHOLE favela to watch. Everyone in her neighborhood knows her and she´s inviting all to participate. President Fernandes was saying something to the effect of "Here in Brasil, look at the huge parties that these people throw for the first birthday party of a child who will never even know it happened! Why is it that we don´t invite all of these people and the neighbors and all of our relatives and the guy from the grocery store and our coworkers to participate in the ordinance that will open the door of heaven for us? That´s something worth inviting people to!" So we took a sheet of paper to Ruth and started asking about all of the people who she knows who she wants at the baptism. She easily filled a sheet, and we are tracking down all of them. Gotta catch em all.

We are also having a hard time contacting all of the referrals that we are receiving! This is the best problem in the world to have. When members get excited about you teaching their friends, the missionary work moves at a different clip. The only problem will be leaving the black hole of the office to teach everyone.

This weekend, all the youth and half the adults are at youth camp. During Carnaval in Brasil, all of the youth go camping as a stake to take them out of the danger zones. They are taking one of our investigators as well, so we are hopeful that it will help his testimony continue to grow.

I know the Savior lives and that He is concerned with every individual on the face of the earth. He knows how to make things turn out alright. And if you ask Him, He´ll help.


Elder House