Rio Branco: Week 23

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hey mom!

I think I´ll just wait until I get home to tell you about this week! Sorry for the short email this week. These next couple of days will just be in the office. To answer your question, 15 missionaries are leaving and 7 are arriving. That´s good to hear that the releasing will be shortly after I get home. I´m excited about the family´s plans for the next couple of weeks.

See you in a little bit! Love you too!

Rio Branco: Week 22

Monday, May 16, 2016

I´m starting to realize that my mission is actually going to end. This is my last week. For a long time I had been imagining how great it would be to return home and how excited I would be. As it gets closer I realize that I won´t ever have the opportunity to be a full-time missionary again. I am working hard every day to be able to look back on my mission without regrets. I am excited to go home but I know that I will have a lot of adjustments to make in starting my real life again. Sometimes we forget how great mission life is. The mission brings so many great feelings from hard work and dedication.

I can´t wait to see you all again and I´m sure these last few days will fly by!

I spent this last week in Cidade do Sol. It was a good experience to be able to find lots of new people to teach in their area. We were able to find a good family when we offered to help move some furniture that they were carrying down the street. We helped take the closet to their house and we met the whole family. On sunday the parents had something come up that prevented them from going to church but they sent their oldest kids with us.

It was great to see everyone from the Cidade do Sol ward!!! This was the ward that I served in for the most time - 5 months. I loved seeing recent-converts, active members that were once less-active, and some of the great leaders. Now this church building has a sports court for soccer and basketball. Before, the church building was always dark and closed on weeknights. But now there are always activities or sports games which bring lots of people! The ward is really growing fast and the members are excited.

Have a great week! Love you!

Rio Branco: Week 21

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dear mom,

It was so great to see all of you too! Skype calls always go by fast but it´s good to know that we´ll have a lot more time to talk once I get home. I´m so far away that it was hard to do something special for you this mothers day. But I thought a lot about you yesterday. We had lunch at a single mother´s house who has an energetic 4-year-old son who reminds me a lot of how I must have been when I was that age. She had gotten married in the temple with a returned missionary, but unfortunately the marriage didn´t work out. I felt bad that she had to make lunch for us on mother´s day. But I felt that the least we could do was wash the dishes afterwards. I felt a strong impression that we should because I knew that it´s what the men do on mother´s day at home.

Congratulations to Grant on getting his eagle award! And it´s good to know that he was the one who did his eagle scout project and not his mom (although i´m sure you helped push him along ;))

That´s great to hear about the marriage class that you´re teaching.

I feel like I´ve been out for a really long time when I hear about all of these milestones that the kids are reaching! Hayley losing a tooth, Corinne taking over the kitchen, Jill taking AP tests and almost driving, Grant graduating and going to Germany, and Alyssa with her own business.

Thanks for always encouraging me in the work! I look forward to these last 2 weeks.

Please pray for this family that we are teaching so that they can be baptized!

Love you too!

Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 20

Monday, May 2, 2016

This week we traveled to Sousa in the state of Paraíba. Two of us worked for the week in Sousa, and the other went to Pombal. This part of the mission doesn´t have a stake yet- it´s a district. There are currently 5 branches, but most of them are pretty close to turning into wards. It´s great working in this part. The church has a history of only about 10 years or less in these cities. Although some of them don´t have a whole lot of experience, the branch and stake leaders are great and very dedicated. We worked hard this week and saw the Lord do miracles. There is a 19-year-old recent convert there who introduced the missionaries to one of his friends. This friend is married and has a little girl. He works and studies and had gotten interested in the church. He has been fascinated by the missionary lessons. He arrived at church early on sunday with his wife and other family members, but the minute that sacrament meeting started, he got a phone call saying that his father-in-law had a stroke. So they had to rush out of the church building to be with him. When he got to his house, he was in a really serious condition. First he said a prayer for him. Then he went to his room, picked up the book of mormon and asked that if it was true, that his father-in-law could get better. Then, as soon as they got to the hospital, his condition dramatically improved. He later called the missionaries and told them that he had received an answer and that he had absolute certainty that it was true! He said that he was excited for his baptism and chose that elder to baptize him this week! That was really a miracle, especially after the baptism of another family had fallen through on sunday. I received a testimony that instead of getting too stressed at times, I should trust more in the Lord to help us do the work.

The trip back was kind of tough because there was only a bus that came to Natal during the night. So we weren´t able to sleep much on the trip and we came directly to the mission office at 6am.

Well i´m doing well and i´m excited for another week of work!

Elder Church

On Sunday I think we can do skype at 6pm my time, 3pm your time. Does that work?

Rio Branco: Week 19

Monday, April 25, 2016

Wow, great to hear that you and dad were able to take a couple days of vacation! I like the climate of Southern California a lot. Is this the first time in a while that you have a stress-free loosely-planned vacation?

This week was really busy with transfers. But there is a 3rd assistant now which helps a lot! Now we can divide the work a little more. He is learning everything to be ready for when the new president comes. It is Elder Balaich- I already lived with him once in Panatis and he is great!

On Thursday we went back to our area after all the missionaries arrived in their places. We worked hard until Sunday to have as many people at church as possible. One thing we are doing that is helping out is to talk with everyone on one single street. This has been an effective way to teach lots of people and take lots of people to church. We had a van help us to get everyone to church this Sunday.

Yesterday was Sister Soares´ birthday and we had the chance to visit her and the President at their house! We went with a few other Elders and Sisters to wish her a happy birthday and give her a present. She was really happy to have us! And she even served us açaí. We had gathered pictures from lots of missionaries holding up happy birthday signs and we made a banner with them.

I´m excited to work hard in this last month out here!

Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 18

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Really, you found açaí juice there? I have actually never tried it as juice. You´ll have to let me know if it´s good or not. The açaí I was talking about is frozen, pretty much like ice cream. I am curious to know if it exists in Utah. It´s almost like the berry smoothies that you would make.

I was in Mossoró last week. It was pretty good. I just stayed in one area. We worked really hard and had some good-quality people at church on Sunday. Mossoró is a city that the church grew really fast in! A couple of years ago there were only a couple of branches and now there is a strong stake! If I could, I would finish my mission in Mossoró because it´s a really great city. At the end of the week, one of the elders there was called to be the mission´s new financial secretary so I traveled back to Natal with him.

Haha, that´s funny to hear that getting a dog was the topic of the family council. I hope Corinne and Hayley understood and didn´t get disappointed. I didn´t remember that I had written a poem about wanting a dog!

That´s good to hear that you got together with the Kelley´s. I´m excited to be able to talk to Jameson and his family when I get back. No, I haven´t read Jacob 5 in a while- I´ll have to read it this week!

Thanks so much for the email! Have a great week!

Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 17

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Today we got the travel itinerary for Evan's return home! May 27th--just 6 weeks away! I had to laugh when the letter said, "Please arrange to have someone waiting to pick him up at the airport." Well, I think we might be able to arrange that, if we're not too busy that day.

Dear Mom,
Good to hear that the weeks are passing by! That means that you´re working hard or that you're having fun. The weeks were passing by super quickly here too, but then once I realized that I was getting close to going home, the weeks started passing by a little more slowly. Which is good.

How was the Provo temple? Are there lots of people going there this month?

Wow, I'm sad that I won´t be able to see Bryson before he leaves. And I miss ward service projects. That´s one thing that they don´t have a lot of here. But most of the members don´t have yards or trees like they do in our ward, so it´s a little different.

That´s great to hear about dad from the point of view of his coworkers.

Yes, I would like it if you could find housing for me. I am guessing that Alta Housing is already full! You might have to put my name in a few different places. It would be great if you could find a place for less than $300/month.

No, I can´t think of anything you can do for me. Thanks for all of your prayers!

This week we worked hard in our areas. On Saturday night we bought a 5-liter container of Açaí! One of the highlights of the week was hearing from Maria das Neves after she went to the temple for the first time with her daughter to do baptisms. The temple is 4 hours away from Natal, and once a month there is a bus from the stake that takes members there.
On the mission we work a lot with the list of recent converts and help fill out every step of the process in their integration- everything from the missionary lessons after baptism, to having an interview from the bishop, receiving a home teacher, all the way until the final goal of receiving the endowment at the temple. But one cool thing is that after baptism, the recent converts can go as soon as they want to the temple to do baptisms. They just need an interview from the Bishop.

We made a plan this week to get more references from members through family nights. We also set up a schedule of family nights in one of the neighborhoods that we work in so that every monday night can have one in someone´s house! The first one will be tonight with Judson and his mom and several other members and recent converts.

This week we will be traveling. I hope everyone at home is doing well!

Elder Church