I can't believe it is over! One more week and I will be heading home. These two years have been the best of my whole life and I am sad that they are already gone. I remember when I was first starting...how hard it was to learn Portuguese and to work as a missionary. I remember that many times I wanted to give up. I always remember something mom told me during that time: "Anything worthwhile never came without effort". I have never forgotten that and now I know that my mission was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done!!
I love you guys so much and I can't wait to see you all again next week! Hope everything is going well back home. See you on Tuesday!
Well...it is the start of my LAST WEEK in the mission field! This will be a week of 'lasts' for me....my last week in Brazil, the last time I will watch a sacrament meeting in Brazil for a while, the last time I will see many friends, the last time I will be able to eat pineapple every day....I am very, very anxious! But I am super excited to get home and see you all again! I started singing one of my favorite Primary hymns in a new way today: "I love to see the temples / I'm going there NEXT WEEK"! I am so excited to go back to the temple again! I am needing it so much!
So, I thought, for me to finish this last email, I would like to bear my testimony to you all one last time:
I know, without a doubt, that this Church is true. My testimony has grown so much in the past two years. I have no idea where I would be or what I would be doing if it weren't for the blessings of this mission that I have fulfilled.
I know that the Priesthood truly is the power of God here on Earth. I have seen it being used here daily and I am grateful that the Lord has not left us alone during our earthly journey. I am grateful that I hold the Priesthood and that I have so many people who help remind me of the importance of it and help me to honor it.
I know that our Families can be forever. How grateful I am for my wonderful family and how happy I am to be able to see them again! I know that the temple is the house of the Lord and because of the sacred covenants we make there, we can be together forever.
I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet. How blessed we are that a young, 14 year old boy wanted to know what was right. Because of his faith, we are all here. May we ever strive to have the same faith and the same desire to do what is right.
I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He loves us. He never leaves us alone. He directs us through a true and living prophet on earth today. I will close with a favorite quote from Pres. Monson: "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."
Love is all you need! I love you all so much and am grateful for the love, the support, and the prayers during my mission. It has been a pleasure to send emails to you every week for these two years. See you next week!
Hey guys!! Well, it is my second to last p-day in the mission field! Just one more week of email and then you guys will be talking to me in PERSON!!! Oh yeah!!!
This week was great! It went by really quickly. My companion and I were assigned by our mission president to give a series of devotionals about the new mission plan called "Circuito i9"...so we have been visiting all the different wards here to present it to all the members. Everyone is so excited and I am very grateful that I have this opportunity.
I love my mission so much! I am so excited to get home, but I will miss everything about my mission. I am glad that I have made so many friends here in Brazil that will help me remember all the things I have learned on my mission (and will help me remember Portuguese :)
Things are going well here, today we are going to a shopping mall. I am doing some last minute shopping to bring some stuff home to you guys. Can't wait to see you all again!!!
Hey guys! This week went by slower than last. We were very busy moving into our new house and fixing some of the problems there. One of the biggest problems is that we were unable to get a washing machine - so we have been washing our clothes by hand every day! That is rough work! I have a lot of respect for my mom now!
We had a zone conference (my last one!) this week as well. It was very special and I learned a lot. There was a phrase that Pres. Kuceki said that stuck with me, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." That is so very true. We can never begin to doubt that God is there, that He is listening to us, and that He loves us. That should be the foundation of our testimony. I know that God lives and that He watches over us. I know that He answers our prayers and that He loves us so very much.
Sunday night, I got to return to one of my old areas to watch a fireside about a new mission plan we are starting here to bring more people to the church. I am grateful that I was able to serve there and to help plant seeds of faith in the members and non-members, so that the work in that area can grow even more now. How grateful I am for this church and for my mission!
I can't believe that in less than one month, I will be with you guys back home!!! The time is going by so quickly. I hope I can do everything I want to do in these last few weeks. (Speaking of that, I only have three more P-days to write to you guys!!)
This week was wonderful! I am so grateful for General Conference....the messages this weekend were so inspiring and so positive. Something I have learned in these two years is the importance of being positive, of being an optimist. It is so much better "to look up"!! I know that I say "smile!" a lot, but it truly comes from the heart. Being happy is a choice we need to make, and that choice is a lot easier to make when we are surrounded by those we love.
I got to watch Conference at the chapel of the old ward I served in, so I got to see all my wonderful friends there and all of my recent converts. It was such a happy day! I am grateful for them and for their friendship. I am grateful that I will be able to maintain contact with them after the mission and be able to remember all the wonderful memories and experiences I have had and all the things I have learned.
Today Pday has gone by quickly. We are moving houses - we get to live in a brand new apartment!! So we are moving all the stuff in and setting up the beds and refrigerator and everything. It will take a while. Then we are going to Wal-Mart to buy groceries. So I better go for now....
Well, this week will go by fast! Next week I will talk to you guys again!! Hope everything is going good at home! Can't wait to get back, but until then, I will be working hard here!!!
Listen to Mysterious Ways for me today!! Love you guys so much! You are always in my prayers!
Love you guys so much!
Elder Spencer Eastwood
(I have to get used to people calling me by my first name)
Well, it is the start of my last transfer on my mission! I am very excited and very anxious to see what miracles happen here. How grateful I am for the opportunity I have had to serve as a full-time missionary. Never before in my life have I imagined that I would be so blessed as I have been while serving here in the Brazil Goiânia Mission. I can't imagine where I would be or what I would be doing if I weren't here on my mission. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for His kindness and love for me.
This morning, one of my best missionary friends called me. She is finishing her mission and heading back home today. She thanked me for being such a good leader when I served with her in the same area. She reminded me of something I had said to her almost a year ago. I asked her after a hard day of trials, "Did you make someone smile today? Did you make someone happier today?"
I am grateful that she still remembered that after all this time, because even I had forgotten. I think that this is the biggest thing I have learned on my mission. As we choose to serve others and love others as our Savior loves us, we will experience more happiness in our own lives. That is how we can see our success, by the smiles we make other people have. It is so important to serve others and to love others. A smile can change lives! I know this to be true now more than ever.
I love you guys! Thanks so much for the support and the love. Never forget to be happy! Smile every day! Love you!
I have some good news!! I got transferred last week! I left the city of Rio Verde and returned to Goiânia!! I felt like I was coming back home on the busride into the city. I love Goiânia so much. I am serving in a new ward called Fama. I was called to be a new Zone Leader for the first time on my mission! I am very excited and humbled for the great privelege I have to serve as a zone leader. I am looking forward to the experiences I will have here during this last transfer.
One of the highlights of my week was when I got into the city and was able to work in my old area! I stopped by the chapel and saw all my old friends from here and I was so happy!! I almost cried when I left. But I am excited because I will return there at the end of my mission to see everyone again before I leave to go back home!!
Things are going good here. I am glad to be back in Goiânia, because I will be able to visit some cool places on P-day and take some good pictures and buy some cool presents for you guys!
(I don't know why but this email was really hard to write in English...I think I am forgetting again...)
Anyway, I love you all so much! I am very excited for General Conference this weekend!! Can't wait!
Hey family!! How are things going back home?? I am doing very well. Feeling pretty tired today, but things are going good. We worked so hard this week, but didn't have as much success as I would like. It is difficult for me when I feel like I am doing all that I can and not having the success that I hope for. But there is always something more that can be done to help others.
I can't believe it is already the middle of September! Time goes by so fast here. The harder we work, the faster the time goes by. It is amazing! Time is one of our most precious resources. I am so grateful for the time that the Lord has given me to serve Him. I love the feeling I get as I feel the Spirit working through me to bless the lives of God's precious children. We are working hard to find more people to teach and to bring to church with us. We are also struggling to keep the people we have baptized and other members of the branch here active, but it is hard work! Please pray for us!
We had a zone activity this morning! We had a huge waterballoon fight and then after we went to a Rodizio grill! It was very fun!! Hope things are going well back home! I love and miss all of you!
Love, Spencer Eastwood
Hey guys!! My plane ticket is here!!! I am coming home soon!!!
Hope you all have a good week! Things are going good here. I am trying my best to give it my all. Have a wonderful week! You are always in my prayers!!
First off, I just want to say that I KNOW without a doubt in my mind that the Lord hears and answers all of our prayers. Anything you ask him, anything you talk to him about will be answered in His own way and in His own time. How grateful I am that we have a loving Heavenly Father, who wants us to be happy. Often, we think He is not listening or not answering our prayers. I think that He feels the most sad when we think that He doesn't hear us.
I spent this whole week fasting and praying for the Lord to bless us with a miracle...and it happened! We had another baptism this Saturday! The dad of the family we baptized last month. He will become a great leader in the church, Im sure of it. The Lord heard and answered our prayers and when we found out that this man would get baptized, we all left his house and started running in the road out of pure joy and excitement. Then, we calmed down and knealt - in the middle of the road - and said a prayer of gratitude. I am so blessed and appreciative of the Lord!
Things are going well....we are having a bit of difficulty in the branch here. Many people are falling away from the Church and I don't know what else I can do to help out! I know that The Lord sent me here to learn something, but I don't know what it is yet. We should always be grateful for the trials we have, because they help to make us stronger.
Always "aim high", because big goals make us stretch higher and higher so we can meet them. Even if we don't make our big goal, we will become a better person just for our efforts. I remember a quote that I love, "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." Love you guys! Thanks for your prayers and support!
"I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief. There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of...righteous [family and friends]"
Hello family!! This week was pretty good. It went by really fast at the end. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to bear my testimony at sacrament meeting and it hit me....I only have two more testimony meetings to participate in as a full-time missionary! I got kind of sad, but I am happy. I am proud to say that I have worked hard during my mission and that I have no regrets. I feel Heavenly Father's love for me and for the people that I am serving!
This week we had one more baptism! We baptized the daughter of a wonderful family we found here about a month and a half ago. Her mom got baptized three weeks ago. We are just working to help her dad get baptized as well!! I am so excited - it has been a privilege to be able to teach and baptize this family that the Lord prepared for me.
Things are going well here. Looking back on the time I have spent as a missionary, I have realized just how much I have changed since I left. I am so grateful that I decided to serve a mission and I am so grateful for wonderful parents, church leaders, and friends who helped prepare me for this opportunity of a lifetime! I don't know what I would have done without them! Because of them, I am here and I have had the chance to meet and love so many amazing people. I will never, ever forget the experiences I have had and the people I have come to know here.
This week I was thinking a little about our personal dreams and goals. We started asking some recent converts to draw a picture of their dreams in life and to sincerely work toward reaching that goal, toward making that dream a reality. I have learned that Our Father in Heaven loves us so much that He wants us to believe in Him and He wants to make our dreams come true. I love this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland:
"God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe.”
I encourage all of you to draw a picture of your personal dream or goal...and then do all you can to make it happen! As one of my personal heros, Bono of U2 said: "...you can dream, so Dream OUT LOUD"!
Hello family!!! How is it going back home?? Things are going very good here. It was SUPER HOT this week. I almost couldn't sleep well at night. It is a good thing I was used to sleeping with a fan on back home, because here I have to do the same thing!
We had another baptism this week! It was such a blessing. Every time we are preparing a baptism, it seems that the gates of hell open and try to do everything to bring the investigator down. But, I have such a strong testimony of the priesthood now. Truly, we are the church of Jesus Christ and we have the true power of the priesthood! How blessed we are! We owe so much to the Prophet Joseph Smith for being willing to sacrifice himself for our eternal salvation.
My birthday was great! The other elders and I ordered pizza for lunch and we ate lots of cake (the best part). I ate so much cake and chocolate this week that I got sick! It was awesome! ;)
I would like to close with an experience I had this week...We were walking down the street at about 5:00 in the afternoon. I looked down and I saw 10 reais on the ground! I bent down and picked it up and put it in my pocket. Later, I felt like we should stop by a pharmacy to talk to a member that worked there...there was a young mother with three small children who was crying because her youngest baby was really sick and she didn't have enough money to pay for the medicine. I remembered the 10 reais I had found....I went to the pharmacist and talked with him. He agreed to give this young mother all the medicine she needed for exactly 10 reais. It was a real miracle! I am sure she is very grateful that a random stranger like me was there to answer her prayers. But how grateful I am that the Lord used me as an instrument in HIS hands to bless someone else. How grateful I am that He answered my prayers that morning to lead me to someone who was in need!
Hey family!! This week was very busy...we had a lot of transfers here and a lot of new changes. I got a new companion from a city called Recife which is in the north east of Brazil. Things are going well. We are working really hard to bring lots of new people to church. The city of Rio Verde has become a "training ground" for new mission leaders, so I am working really hard to pass all the information that I know to the missionaries here. The things we learn here will help us during our entire lives and throughout our church service!
Yesterday we had a great day at church, a very spiritual meeting. It was very nice to see so many members participating and singing the hymns at church. It brings such a nice spirit to the meeting! This morning we had a district meeting about "acting and not being acted upon". I love to read 2 Nephi 2...the gift of free agency was one of the most precious things that the Lord gave to us and we should always use it wisely! Then, the other missionaries made a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to me! It was great!
I hope things are going well back home. Time is flying by! I can't believe it is already the middle of August. I am grateful for the time that I have spent here and the people I have met. I love the people here! I love doing missionary work! I love this Gospel, I love the Priesthood that I hold and I love my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Hey guys! The time is flying by! I can't believe it is already the second week of August! I was talking to some friends and I told them that one of my dreams in life is to get a picture taken of me giving Pres. Thomas Spencer Monson a high-five on our birthday!!! But one of my other dreams is to have Bono of U2 sing at my wedding, so I don't know how either one is going to work out....
This week was great!! We had one more baptism. The mom of a wonderful family that was prepared for us was baptizedon Saturday. She was so excited! We are preparing her husband and daughter to be baptized soon as well. We are all working very hard in the district to have more baptisms! I have been searching for what I can do to help the other elders. I had the idea to create a "School of THe Prophets", just like Joseph SMith did in the times of the restoration. Each week, we will study the life of a prophet and what leadership principles we can learn from him. I am very excited! This morning we had an awesome district meeting about following the spirit. The Holy Ghost was so strong with us at the chapel. While the elders were moving from room to room, I was sitting in the chapel listening to hymns play. it was one of the most peaceful and serene feelings I have ever had in my life. I am so grateful to have the gift of the Holy Ghost and to be able to follow His guidance.
This week I got called to serve as the secretary of the branch that I am serving in. This will give me more opportunities to serve the people here and to help them participate in the work we are doing! I am excited and humbled for the opportunity!
Also this week, a new sister in the zone got really sick. She is from Ohio and is still learning portuguese. She was really needing a blessing. At the time, I was right by their house and had the opportunity to give her a blessing in English. I am grateful that the Lord sent me to that area at that time so that I could be of service to someone in need. It is so great to know that the Lord used YOU to answer someone's prayer!
"Stand a little taller and be a little better.' - Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley
I can't believe it is already august! The time is flying by! This month, I will turn 21 (on the 21st, how cool is that??), baptize a golden family that we found, and help the mission baptize a lot more! I love my mission so much and am so grateful for the love that I feel for all the people here in Brazil.
This week I had the honor of baptizing four wonderful people into the Church. The baptism was so special and so spiritual. I had the most wonderful feeling of Love coming from the Lord. It was so great. Then, at church yesterday, our recent convert got up and bore her testimony about the true Church. She thanked the Lord for sending "two angels" to her doorstep to teach her the true gospel of peace. She got an answer to her prayers when she had a dream where Jesus Christ appeared to her, sat down next to her, and asked her what she wanted from Him. She answered, "I want peace". He then got up and asked my companion and I to sit down next to her. He told her, these two young men will bring you peace.
I am so grateful that I could be an answer to this lady's prayers! What a blessing it was to know that the Lord used ME, a humble young man who doesn't know much about life, to bless the lives of those who are less fortunate.
I love this Gospel and I know with all my heart that Jesus Christ lives and He loves us so much.
I am doing very well. This week has been very stressful for us. We are teaching a wonderful family who has been prepared to receive the gospel from me...I am certain of this. Every time we go to teach them, we arrive without any idea of what we should teach....then the Spirit whispers to me what is necessary for me to teach to this family. The Holy Ghost is so strong during these lessons. That is one of the reasons that helps me to know that this family was prepared for me to teach them. And I am learning a lot with them too!! What a blessing it was for me to find them and teach them. We are helping to establish Zion in this city and I am certain this family will be a great addition to the Lord's work.
So, some fun things that happened this week:
-I walked from one end of the city of Rio Verde to the other with a picture of Jesus Christ getting baptized, inviting everyone I met to be baptized too. This resulted in some of the HIGHEST attendance numbers we have ever had at our Sacrament Meeting.
-I had to eat FEIJOADA again...which is a traditional Brazilian meal....some people make it good, others not so much...I remember it was one of the first things I ate here on the mission, and it had a HUGE pig nose in it...GROSS! But this time, it was just some pig feet and pig ears....I still don't like it...
-There was a huge Cold front coming in from the South this week. The temperature dropped to 40*F! It was freezing this week! I was NOT prepared for that!
-The zone leaders are traveling next week and so are some other leaders, so I have to stay here in the city and preside over all the other missionaries. I am a little worried about the responsibility, but am certain that the Lord will help me.
-I gained a stronger testimony of the Power of the Book of Mormon. What a precious witness it is!
-I gained a testimony of how important it is to have a picture of the temple in our homes. I hope you all have a picture of your favorite temple where you can see it every day... I know it will help you.
I am doing very well here in Brazil. The time is flying by! It has now been two months since I left my last area - I miss it a lot and I miss all my friends there, but the time is going by fast and I know that soon I will be able to see them all again. I got my "Official" Release Date this past week: November 4th, 2013! It is really coming to an end. How grateful I will always be for the blessing I have had to serve honorably as a full-time missionary. My testimony has grown so much in the past year and eight months. It has gone by way too fast! I remember when I first got on my mission, how hard it was, how much difficulty I had in learning the Portuguese language...and then once I got it down, I had that trial with the infection in my leg.
Looking back on it now, I see that the Lord was truly testing me and helping me to know how to work harder and how important it is to never give up. He will always help us as we strive to do what is right. He is ever by our side. I know this from personal experiences. The Lord's angels are working with us every minute of the day. Not just protecting us from danger and from temptation, but literally working side by side with us in this sacred work. I have seen their work and I have seen angels in the form of wonderful people who have changed my life for the better.
We are currently teaching a wonderful family that we found about two weeks ago. They went to the church for the first time yesterday and were so very excited to be there. The members were very inspired and motivated to see some success in the branch. I feel like things are just going to get better and better from here! I am grateful for the strong testimonies that the members of the Church in Brazil have.
I am grateful for the prayers that you offer for me. I know for a fact that because of your prayers, I am being blessed and protected and led to do what is right. I can't thank you enough! Know that you are always in mine :)
I love you!
-Elder Spencer D. Eastwood
PS: Maybe you should start a U2 marathon in my honor ;)
This week was an exciting one. President Kuceki arrived on the mission, although I still have not had the chance to meet him. He is coming to Rio Verde this weekend and we will get to meet him then. I am very excited! I already feel a great love and respect for him, because I know that he was called by a prophet of God to serve here. I can't wait to work with him!
This week was a week full of hard work. We found so many new families to teach this week. Something I learned was this: The Lord is accelerating His work in His own time, and because of the changes that are happening, I need to accelerate the way I work and change the way I do things. We are starting many new programs to work with the members in the branch here. I realized for the first time this week that we as missionaries, are the life-blood of this branch. If we stop working hard, if we stop being excited, the work is going to stop here. We are trying our best to follow the promptings of the Spirit and to accelerate our work. I feel so blessed to be here at this time. i can't wait to see what changes happen in the future!
It is funny how sometimes we get so caught up in trying to help others that we forget to apply our own advice in our lives! These past few weeks have been very difficult for me, but last week one of my friends gave me the same advice I give everyone: "Smile! :)" How true it is - when we smile, we can literally feel better, we can feel like we are making a difference - when we are keeping the commandments and doing what is right, we are blessed in all things. That is why one of my favorite scriptures is in Mosiah 2:41. I studied my patriarchal blessing this week and found lots of new insights....the Lord blessed me that I would have lots of trials and challenges, but that through these, He would help me to become a better Priesthood holder and a better person. How grateful I am for the trials and adversity that we all have. They shape us into who we are supposed to be.
I love my mission and I love this church! I know that it is true. The peace that I feel when I am doing what is right is peace that comes right from our Savior, Jesus Christ. How I love my Savior Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that we can always strive to follow His perfect example, and grow closer to Him each and every day.
Hello family!!! What a special blessing this week was! We had the Farewell Conference for Pres. and Sis. Prieto...it was so wonderful! I got awesome pictures (which I'm sending to you guys) and had a wonderful experience. The entire mission was meeting together to say goodbye to them. We had a great meeting and learned a lot. At the end, we got to have lunch and then say goodbye to Pres. And Sis. Prieto. I am going to miss them a lot. They have been such wonderful examples to me and I have learned a lot with them.
When I went to say goodbye to them, Sis. Prieto hugged me and thanked me for all that I did to help them out. Then she told me that she would never forget my smile and how grateful she was that everytime she saw me, I was always smiling. This is something I have tried very hard to do and it meant a lot to me that she noticed! :) Pres. Prieto hugged me and said that he would never forget me. He thanked me for all that I did to help him and we both got tears in our eyes. I love him so much. His influence will be with me for the rest of my life.
The highlight of the conference was at the very end when all the 140 missionaries sang "God Be With You Till We Meet Again". We did it 'flash mob' style...so it appeared like it just happened onthe spot and wasn't plan. I swear, there wasn't a dry eye in the place. It has been a while since I cried that hard.
This week was a great week of work. We have a new zone leader here and the work is progressing. He and I are planning out new and awesome things for the zone to do to help the District Rio Verde become a stake. We are all so very excited!! We found lots of new people to teach and I am feeling a lot more excited and happy to be here. I am grateful for the opportunities that the Lord is giving me.
Here is a quote that I love from Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley....I read it often and I have used it to give advice to my friends here :)
Well, another week has gone by. The time has slowed down. But there are changes happening, so it will start picking up again. One of the zone leaders got transferred yesterday, so we will have a new missionary in our area with us this week. Hopefully we will all be able to work well together.
The work is going well, but it could be better. It is difficult to adjust to new difficulties after having so much success in my other areas. We are struggling to find new people we teach, because the people we do have are losing interest quickly. We are also facing difficulties in our retention rates...but nothing that the Lord can't handle. I just hope that I can be an effective instrument in the Lord's hands to bring about the work of salvation in this area.
I try my hardest every day to magnify my calling and to strengthen my testimony of the priesthood. I have seen so many examples of worthy and righteous priesthood holders on my mission and throughout my life. I was reading through a lesson manual yesterday and it was talking about how goals for a young man should be to serve an honorable mission, to always honor his priesthood, and to prepare himself to be worthy and deserving of a wonderful young woman that the Lord will prepare for him to marry in the temple. I am trying my best to do exactly that, because I know that the most important thing I can do for myself and for future generations is honor my priesthood and use that priesthood to bless the future family that Heavenly Father will bless me with.
Well, I am sending email a little earlier today, cause this afternoon we are heading to...wait for it...GOIÂNIA!!! We are going to have a mission conference with the entire mission at the Rua 9-A Chapel tomorrow to say goodbye to Pres. and Sis. Prieto. I am looking forward to it...I have missed Goiânia so much - I love that place and the people there! :)
Hope you all have a great week. Be happy and remember you are in my prayers!
Hey family! How YOU doin'? (I miss Friends...hahaha...speaking of that, this week, we helped a family move a couch...I remembered Ross screaming "PIVOT!!! PIVOT!!" and started doing that, but everyone looked at me funny and thought I was crazy.)
This week was very hot...we worked very hard. It was a real faith builder for me. We have been trying hard to find a family to be able to baptize at the end of the month. Every night, my companion and I would pray specifically to find a family the next day. We always asked Heavenly Father to lead us to the honest in heart who are ready to accept the gospel. The next day, we would leave to go working with a prayer in our hearts and every single day this week we found a family. Then we started praying to help them get to church. Unfortunately, not one of them went to church. I know that the Lord is testing my faith. It is funny how everything that happens to us is a test of our faith and knowledge of the gospel.
I could have very well gotten upset at Heavenly Father for not helping us bring the families to church, but instead, I took it as a learning experience, especially about the importance of prayer. Something interesting is that when we pray, we are praying in the name of Jesus Christ...that means that our mind is His mind and our desires should be His desires, not the other way around. We have to remember that prayer is not to change God's will, but to secure for ourselves the blessings He is already willing to give us, but that we have to pray and ask for in order to receive.
Sacrament meeting is such a great time for us to reflect on ourselves and reflect on our relationship with Heavenly Father and how we are applying the Atonement in our lives. I received some very personal revelation at church yesterday and I am very grateful that I am so close to the Spirit and am able to receive, recognize, and cherish revelation.
Hey everyone! This week was pretty good! We closed the week with four baptisms. One of them was a total miracle! The zone leaders went to do the interviews and at the very end of three of them, one young woman in the family who wasn't really wanting to get baptized came up and said, "Hey, I think I want to get baptized now!" So we had the great blessing of being able to bless all four of the siblings together. It was really great.
We were worried at the baptism because their car broke down on the way to the chapel and we didn't know if they would be able to get there on time. But, we said a prayer and soon, they called us up letting us know they were on their way! Everything went alright in the end!
Yesterday, I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about obedience to the commandments and following the Holy Ghost. I was able to use some personal experiences from my mission to help me. I am still trying to figure out a way to help make a difference in the branch here...everyone seems so...discouraged. We are trying to do activities to help get everyone happy and excited, but it doesn't seem to be working.
I did a fast this week with two very special purposes. I never really have had a big testimony of the power of fasting, but ever since I have gotten on my mission my testimony has been strengthened in so many ways. I prayed during the whole day that I was fasting and I felt so much closer to my Heavenly Father. Plus, I got answers to my prayers so much faster and I felt like they were more recognizable. Some of my worries were put to rest and I was able to know exactly how Heavenly Father feels about the decisions I will make and the things I want to do with my life. It was a very special experience for me.
Anyway, hope all is well with you! You are still in my prayers!
Hello again! I am here in my new area and I am doing well. I am serving in a city about two hours outside of Goiânia called Rio Verde, in Ramo Bandeirantes. In this city there is only a district full of branches, no wards yet. It is very different here than in Goiânia, and I have to admit, I miss Goiânia A LOT. The past seven months that I spent in Ala Goiânia were the best months of my whole mission! I loved every minute of it and I am so grateful for all the experiences and memories I have from there.
This was the most difficult transfer of my whole mission! It was so hard to leave everyone back in Goiânia, but at least I got to say goodbye to everyone cause I was blessed to know that I would be transferred two days early. Usually they just call us the night before and we don't have a chance to say goodbye to anyone. But the Lord blessed me with a tender mercy and allowed me to talk to all my friends and recent converts before I left.
So on Wednesday, we visited all of our converts and said goodbye to them. Then, at night, we went to a member's house and said goodbye to all our friends there. That was the hardest part! You only realize how much you really love people and will miss them when you are gone. But I know that I have to work hard and do my best and the time will fly by! Before you know it, I will be back in Goiânia, seeing all my friends again before I go home!
Yesterday we had the District Conference in Rio Verde. Pres. and Sis. Prieto were the speakers. Sis. Prieto said something in her talk that was an answer to many of my prayers. She said, "Sacrifice is not a loss, it is just a preparation for something much better." Then she talked about how the Lord knows each of us and we just have to trust Him with everything. I remember in my patriarchal blessing how it says, "If you are faithful, the Lord will help you in your efforts..." then it goes on to list a bunch of things that I will be able to do in my future, like finishing my mission, doing well in school, finding a good career, getting married, and raising a family in the Gospel. Sis. Prieto talked about how memories can help us remember the best parts of our past and can help us prepare for an even better future. I am so grateful for the memories and experiences I have had on my mission, especially from the last seven months!
So I am doing good here. I am
ready to work! We had a baptism on Saturday and are preparing more people to get baptized too. Rio Verde is the best zone in the mission! They have been baptizing A LOT these past few months. I am so blessed to be able to be a district leader here! I hope I can make a difference.
I had the wonderful blessing to talk to one of my best friends in Goiânia on the phone for a little bit the night before I left. We had a great conversation that really helped me realize the importance of my work here on my mission and the importance of having patience. At the end of the call, before I hung up, I said to them, "Sorria!" Which means, "Smile!" in Portuguese. So I have been taking my own advice these days and doing what I have done my whole mission, think positively and always SMILE! I love being happy and I hope that I can brighten people's days with just a simple smile. Someone wrote me a letter this past week thanking me for always smiling. They said that whenever they talked to me on the phone, they could somehow tell that I was smiling when I said goodbye to them! That made me feel really happy, cause it is something I have always tried to do and I am glad that people have noticed.
I love my mission and I love you guys! Thanks for everything!
Keep me in your prayers, you are always in mine :)
hello, Im going to talk about how my week was and then I will give you guys all the big news.
This week was great! The highlight of my week was when we had an awesome lesson with one of our investigators at a member's house on Sunday night. We invited a bunch of the youth over to help us. We taught our investigator about baptism and then at the end, we went around in a circle and every person that was present bore their testimony of the gospel. How grateful I am that the Lord blessed me with answers to my prayers when I was younger, giving me a strong foundation upon which I have based my testimony today. My mission has helped strengthen my testimony so much. I am so grateful for the experiences I have had and will continue to have during these next few months.
At the end of the lesson, my companion felt inspired to have us all kneel down together in prayer. I think it is very interesting to kneel down with others in prayer. Answers and revelation come quickly when you are kneeling down to pray. I thank Heavenly Father every day for the answers to prayers that He has given me, whether it was through a whisper from the Holy Ghost, through a dream, or through another person. I love prayer and I love my Heavenly Father!
So...that was the favorite part of my week. Time for the big news update!
I GOT TRANSFERRED! I found out yesterday morning. And then I ran around in a stressed out frantic calling all the members and my friends to let them know. Man, I am going to miss this place so much. I am leaving tomorrow to go to another city to be the district leader there. I am sad to go, but at the same time, I am excited. I know that I came out on my mission to serve the children of the Lord, and He has many people prepared for me to teach in the new area. But nothing will ever beat the time and experiences I have had here in this ward, in this area, and with these people. These past six and a half months that I have been here have been the best part of my whole mission and I will never forget anything that happened or anyone from here! I loved being here so much! :)
Anyway, that is about all. Now, my P-day is switched back to Mondays. So I will be emailing you all again on Monday. Thanks for keeping up with me and all my crazy mission stuff. Love you guys so much and I am grateful that God is continuing to bless you all.
This week was a good one! We had two more baptisms, and then after the baptismal services, we had a talent show with the ward.
I did a skit about a missionary who gets a Dear John letter. It got lots of laughs. Then my companion put on a magic show. It was a fun night!
I love this ward! I hope I don't get transferred soon; I don't want to leave! I hope that I have made a difference in this ward.
This week has been tough on me. I got criticized a lot by other missionaries and other people. It is really hard for me when I am trying my best
and no one seems to appreciate the work I am doing. I am not trying to be prideful, but it is hard to keep going and work hard when you feel unimportant, unappreciated, lonely, and forgotten. But I guess that is what the Savior went through when He was here on Earth. It is hard to keep praying and fasting for help and not feel like you get an answer to your prayers. But I have learned on my mission that the Lord sometimes makes us wait so that in the end we will be stronger. I just keep telling myself, "I know He is there". Everything will be alright in the end. My mission is not easy; it never was and it never will be. But it is a great learning experience and I love every minute of it, even the hard parts. I will try to think positively as I always have - but don't you think it is SO difficult to be positive all the time when you feel like you're not good enough? Anyway, enough of the negative stuff.
Mother's Day was great! It was so good to talk to you guys. I was sad that the video wasn't working, but at least I got to talk to you. I keep joking with my friends, "Yeah you guys have one more phone call to home at Christmas...but the next time I talk to my Mom I will be able to hug her"! I miss you guys a lot, but I am going to take advantage of my time here in Brazil. I am going to miss this place and the people here a lot when I have to go back home. So I will work my hardest and do what is right!
This past week went by very quickly. We are preparing everything in the mission office for the transition between mission presidents that will happen at the end of June. I have a feeling that I am going to get transferred out of this area, but I don't really know what is going to happen. I don't want to leave here! :(
We went to church on Sunday and it was a great fast and testimony meeting. I love hearing other people's testimonies. I think one of the sweetest experiences for me on my mission is when we are teaching lessons or visiting people or something and the Spirit whispers to me to call on a member to bear their testimony, which is something that happened the other day. I am very grateful for the testimony that they gave, it was very powerful and made me think about how I can improve my own testimony. I think hearing another person's testimony is the best way for you to learn how you can strengthen your own. To hear what things are important to another person can help you understand what things you need to work on better or understand what you need to do to strengthen your own testimony. The Holy Ghost is so strong when a member bears their testimony during a lesson, that is why it is so important that we teach lessons together with the members.
Hmmmm...not much has happened this week...we had a family home evening on Monday night, and Tuesday night we went to a birthday party with a member family and it was really fun!
We are preparing for another baptism that we will have on Saturday, and right after that we are going to have a Talent Show in the ward. My companion and I are going to do a funny skit about a missionary getting a Dear John letter! Then Sunday it is MOTHER'S DAY and I get to call you guys on Skype for the LAST TIME while I'm on my mission! Man, that is going to be one trunky phone call, isn't it??? hahaha just kidding ;)
Wow! I can't believe it is already May...the time has gone by so fast. I love my mission so much and I am so grateful for the blessings I have received. It is kind of a bitter sweet feeling to know that in six months I will be heading back home. I will miss my mission, but there are some things I am really looking forward to when I get back home :)
So an update about my week...it was a great one! We had a lot of people at church on Sunday. The ward here is getting so much better. It is such a good feeling to be able to serve people that I love so much. On Monday night we had an awesome family home evening with a wonderful family here in the ward. I wish you all could meet them :)
I am so grateful that I am here in Goiânia. This city and country will always have a special place in my heart. I remember one time, a member here asked me if I liked speaking Portuguese...and I was thinking about it and I really do! I don't know if I speak well or if I have a huge American accent, but I love speaking Portuguese!
Last week we went coconut hunting. This guy climbed up a tree and knocked down a bunch of coconuts for us. Then we had to cut away the green skin with big knives and break open the brown shells...it was tiring. Here are some pictures for you guys! (there is another picture of me with a cat on my head from when I fell asleep in the office....I am tired!)
Hahaha, love you guys so much! Hope you have a wonderful week! You are in my prayers :)
This week was a wonderful week. I just have one *awesome* story to share with you all:
So last wednesday we were out tracting, knocking on doors, and we were not having any success. There was even a drunk guy that threw beer at me and got my shirt all dirty and gross. We knocked an entire street without anyone letting us in. So, we decided to stop and say a quick prayer. Even though we were discouraged, we put our faith in the Lord.
We decided to knock on one more house. We sat at the door for a long time and finally a woman came up. I started introducing myself to her and before I could finish, she already opened the door and said, "Do you want to come in?" We went inside and shared the message of the Restoration with her.
A few days later we returned and she really opened up to us, telling us about her life story. She said that about a year ago her mother passed away, leaving her to tend for her two children alone. She explained that never before, in the five years she has lived in this house, had she allowed missionaries or evangelists or people from other churches enter her house.
The Tuesday night before we knocked on her door, she had a dream. Her mother appeared to her and said, "Tomorrow you will meet two people who will change your life if you let them". She asked in the dream, "Are they my brothers?" But her mother said no. Then she woke up.
The next day, she kept thinking about that all day. then, at 7:30 at night, at the exact moment we were saying a prayer on the corner asking for guidance, she said a prayer asking God to help her understand what the dream meant....Then...we knocked on her door.
We are helping her change her life around. this woman and her daughter are going to get baptized on May 11th!!! I am so grateful that the Lord performs miracles for us. I am also so grateful to be able to be worthy to receive inspiration from the Holy Ghost.
I am grateful for the priesthood. This past week I had the opportunity to give a priesthood blessing. I am so thankful that God trusts me enough to hold his priesthood power and that I am worthy to use it to bless the lives of families who are in need.
So I have a surprise for you...my mission president's son is going to the United States on vacation to visit their family in Utah....so I am sending a surprise to you guys with him!!
He said he is going to stop by the house to take a picture with you all for me :) I am sending a picture of us so you will recognize him hahaha :)
Anyway, I am doing so well! I love my mission and I love all the people here that I am serving. I love the ward I am in and will be sad to get transferred. This is my favorite part of my mission so far!
The weather is great. The beans and rice are getting boring...I still eat a pineapple everyday. The other missionaries make fun of me, but it is my new tradition! I am teaching myself piano and it is coming along well. I am also teaching myself Spanish - it is going great too! I want to keep studying it when I get home and be able to speak Spanish and Portuguese fluently.
I think I am going to make cookies today. I haven't made them for a while. The other day we made french bread pizzas, brazilian style, and ate them with plastic gloves. Then we had a family home evening and I made crepes and everyone freaked out and thought they were the best things ever!