Rio Branco: Week 2

Monday, December 28, 2015

I loved the skype visit too. That´s good that you didn´t cry. We got back in safety late last night and today has been a busy day- so busy that the only time i´ve had to write all day is now. Yesterday Elder Tavares got a little trunky because there were buses going to recife at the bus station. I was thinking about how much had changed since the last call in may. It´s true that I´ve gotten to be more focused since then and I´ve improved in the language too. On last mother´s day I was still a junior companion and I had no idea that I would be here now. I am definitely having great experiences here and I am finding parts of my patriarchal blessing useful. I am learning lots and I hope that I can take full advantage of my last 5 months (wow, is that really only what´s left?). My first Christmas was a little harder when I thought about how great christmas was at home and how different it was here (in northeastern brazil and on the mission). But this year I was able to enjoy it a lot more because I was a lot more focused on the work. Well i´m looking forward to being able to spend a future christmas in Colorado! I hope christmas was great for you all. I had never realized that our family was so blessed until coming here. Christmas is much more of a normal day for most families here. Lots of the kids and youth here don´t get any christmas presents, or if they do just 1. Not that it´s sad for them because that´s what they´ve always been used to. Christmas isn´t as big of a tradition for some people here. But i´m so grateful to have been born into a family that not only has the gospel, but has conditions to be able to give a comfortable life to their kids. I´m also glad that our family always has reunions and spends lots of time together- both in our own home and with extended family.
But have a great new year´s week and a great time together!!! I love you all and I pray for you.

Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 1

Monday, December 21, 2015

the neighborhood that we live in
Me with Tavares and Z Clark in the airport
dinner at the president´s house!
a part of my area right next to the beach! 
Me, elder Sales, elder Gonzalez and elder Tavares
It has been a busy week!

The first few days I had to learn a several new things like organizing travels and everything for the transfers. One of the best parts was going to the airport to receive the newly arriving group! It reminded me of my first day a year and a half ago. There were quite a few changes in the mission this week because 16 went home and only 8 arrived. Of the 8, there were 5 brazilians, 1 american, 1 hispanic, and 1 from cape verde. We gave training to them when they arrived and that night we had dinner at the president´s house. It was actually the first time that I went to his house because when I arrived, my group was so big that we had dinner at the church.

To answer your questions. I was a little surprised too when I was called. Not that I didn´t have interaction with the president, but it was just normal. And yes I had been ZL for a just a few months. My companion is Elder Tavares who is the other AP. No, we don´t have cars unfortunately but when we travel it´s by taxi or bus. We live in a neighborhood called Tirol which is the nicest neighborhood that I´ve ever seen here! Our area is really big and we work in a part that is on top of a big hill. Yeah I am in Elder Z. Clark´s spot who went home this week. I took advantage of the few days I had with him to try to learn all I could. He was a great missionary and was an assistant for 1 year. I had seen him a few times before the mission at BYU but I had never met him. But we have a few friends in common. But anyway, on thursday he went home!
My typical week won´t change that much. We still have a normal area to work in. Each assistant has a Junior companion too. When we can´t stay in the area, they stay working in it. So my companions are Elder Tavares from Recife and Elder Sales from São Paulo. A few weeks of the transfer we go to other areas to help. We are in the mission office on Sunday nights and Mondays. On Sunday nights we get the numbers from the mission. So we don´t have p-days, but we spend Mondays in the office on the computer or in a meeting with President.

I am in the Rio Branco ward which is in kind of like the "downtown" part of Natal. We live pretty close to the church. The Bishop here is a recently-returned mission president and was also President Soares´ companion on their mission many years ago. I´m not quite sure what we will do for Christmas this year but it will be good! I opened the package this week and I really liked the Christmas tree!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Hope it´s a great week. Oh yeah, we need to organize the skype call. It will probably be in the afternoon- like 3 or 4pm my time and 11 or 12 your time. I´ll see if I can get you more details. Maybe it will be as early as 2 my time. I´m not sure. But I love you all!!

Panatis: Week 12

Monday, December 14, 2015

Are there really only 10 days until christmas? Man, it´s coming up soon. I did get your package today! I´ll open it pretty soon. I already got Grandma and Grandpa´s package. You guys love me too much! I was lucky to get double presents this year. Well I get impressed every week to hear about my awesome brothers and sisters at home. Glad they are doing well. I´m sad I won´t be able to participate in the sibling gift exchange, but we did one here in our district so that makes up for it.

Well our week was good. We had our christmas conference this week (a little early this year). It was lots of fun to see all of the presentations from the zones. Our zone did a pretty great one: "Meet the missionaries" - parody of meet the mormons. We got santa claus costumes and everything and it was pretty well done hahaha.

The work went well this week. We really only work with our recent converts because they are the best sources of baptisms! We have a couple of awesome young men that introduce us to all of their friends. It makes me really happy to see that Daniel is excited to be a missionary in the future. His cousin was baptized yesterday and he was interviewed to receive the priesthood and will baptized one or two of his other cousins next week. The only sad part is that I won´t be there to see it.

So, I had a little transfer this week. The real transfer day is on Wednesday but I got a call a little early and am already in my other area. One other thing- I already know that this will be my last area on the mission. And, oh yeah, no more p-days for me! Have you guessed yet? Maybe you won´t believe it because I haven´t really started to believe it either but I was called to be Assistant to the President.

Anyway, I´ll get going now but I´ll write more next week! I´m getting used to things here but it will be great.

Love you all!

Elder Church

Panatis: Week 11

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dear mom,

Wow that´s exciting to hear about all of the changes in our house. It´ll be fun to see the family room when i get back.

We had stake conference yesterday. One of the highlights was seeing Deybron give a talk! It´s been great to be here in this stake to be able to see his progress after only 10 months of being a member. President Soares was at the stake conference too. We had several investigators to take so we had to pay for a taxi but it worked out! We have our mission christmas conference tomorrow. Every zone will present a skit/presentation and so it should be pretty fun. We´ve been seeing lots of blessings here and we hope they continue as we use our faith by working hard and being obedient.

Yes, Sister Soares was nice to take us on that trip. It was really fun for me because it´s hard to serve in a mission so close to the beach when you can never enjoy it. I´m looking forward to the skype call in a couple of weeks!

Sorry for the short email this week, but I´m doing well here!

Elder Church

Panatis: Week 10

Monday, November 30, 2015

Glad you all had a great thanksgiving! I remembered you all this week. This week we had 2 birthdays in our house. Elder W. Silva on Thursday and Elder de Jesus today. So what did we do to celebrate? We made pancakes for Elder W. Silva, and today, Sister Soares, the president´s wife, took us out on a "cultural p-day!" It´s a once in a mission experience that she started doing with a few missionaries at a time starting a few months ago. It´s because Natal is a beautiful city, but most of the parts we see every day aren´t all that beautiful. So anyway, I´ll include some pictures.

AND, we also enjoyed a nice present this weekend. The couple that we had been working with was baptized. Really we can´t take credit for much because the members have integrated so well with them- especially the Bishop´s family who are great friends with them. They are great and they love talking about the church to everyone they know. They had gone about 4 or 5 times before their baptism and had felt really well in the church. It was a neat experience to teach them. Janaína had gotten really interested in learning about the church and started reading through her daughter´s book of mormon/D&C. We were surprised in the family night last week when we were singing a hymn from the hymnbook and she made the comment "wasn´t it Emma Smith who compiled the hymnbook?" What kind of investigator knows that kind of stuff?! haha. But their baptism was a really great experience. Elder W Silva, a member and I also sang a special hymn. It is fun to see the members get excited about helping with missionary work.

Well those were a few highlights of the week here! Sounds like it was a great one there too. Save some mashed potatoes in the freezer for me ;)

Love you,

Elder Church

Elder W. Silva´s birthday pancakes

Celestino and Janaína´s baptism. In the picture are two of their kids and the bishop´s family. The bishop and his son baptized them

We made a little stop in the Sahara

This is a dromedário, a close relative of the camel.

 Climbing up to get a coconut ;) just kidding

What if I were called to the mars south mission?

6 months left!

The world´s biggest cashew tree.

Did you know that the cashew nut is actually part of a fruit? This cashew we picked from the biggest cashew tree in the world today.

Panatis: Week 9

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Happy thanksgiving! That´s one thing I will for sure miss this year. My companion´s birthday is on Thanksgiving day. Maybe we´ll plan a Thanksgiving dinner or something. Wow, will everyone fit in our house? How are Church gatherings going to continue in the future as the family keeps getting bigger??

Well this week was definitely full of miracles. We have been working hard and talking to lots of people. But we learn that on our own, we can´t accomplish much. The Lord is the one who puts the elects in our path. In these last couple of weeks we have had 2 or 3 people approach us on the street and start to talk to us. We clearly saw that this was the Lord´s hand in our work. When we work hard and pray for help the Lord will send people who are ready. Our baptism yesterday came through one of these people and we have other baptisms marked because of these miracles that happened.

Also, there is a family that are friends with the bishop´s family. Their daughter is dating the bishop´s son and she was recently baptized. For a few Sundays, her parents have been going to church. We have tried several times to meet with them at their house but they are busy because of their restaurant. We have only been able to teach the mom 1 time. But they have been learning a lot in the gospel principles class. The gospel principles class is awesome here! The teacher is great, the class is always full of new members and investigators, and there are a few other members that go in to help out. Everyone has a great experience! We found out yesterday during the class, that Janaina (the mom I was talking about) is really liking the church and even had an answer. She and her husband commented during the class that they want to get baptized! There´s also a temple caravan at the end of this week and when she heard about it she really wanted to go, even if it would just be to walk on the grounds. But the Bishop explained to them that they would be able to enter if they were baptized and confirmed before. They ALMOST ALMOST decided to be baptized yesterday but they decided to mark it for next Sunday. So anyway we will have a family night at the bishop´s home tonight.

The other set of missionaries was able to baptize a really great man yesterday who is married to a less active who had been a member for years. It was really exciting to see his progress after his grandson was baptized last week. But the ward is really excited and the members are helping a lot. We have even been receiving help with making visits from members like the bishop, his counselor, the patriarch and others.

Have a great week, everyone!

Elder Church

Panatis: Week 8

Monday, November 16, 2015

I´m excited to watch family movies when I get home now! Has there been a lot of stuff passing on TV about France? We´ve been hearing a lot about it these past couple of days.

Well, this was another week of hard work. We focus a lot on key indicators (numbers like investigators at church, baptisms, lessons, etc.). Usually these numbers are pretty good indicators of success. We were happy to have lots of people at church on Sunday. We saw this week that the Lord blesses us even when we need to spend time out of our area. We took out a little time to help the sisters in their area and when we went back to ours, we didn't even notice the missing time.

We are finding success in working with recent converts. The work is a lot of fun. I find more joy in it than I did at the beginning of my mission. I am really impressed with the leadership here in the ward. Things are going well here! I´m sad that I´ll have to miss Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks. But the mission Christmas conference is coming up in not too long!

Have a great week!

Elder Church

Panatis: Week 7

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

the family from Caicó that came to visit last week!
Well we worked really hard again this week! At times I get a little stressed about the work but I don´t ever get discouraged. We try to do all we can during the week so that we can see lots of people in church on Sunday. I´ve been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon about faith- specifically in the last chapters of Alma during the wars. We can learn a lot from the examples of the Nephite armies when they had faith and confidence that they would achieve their goals. Even if the odds were against them they chose not to doubt or to be afraid because they knew that the Lord would help them. I have been applying this to missionary work. Sometimes we have our own goals/plans and we do all that we can to accomplish them during the week. At times it seems like it´s not working or that it won´t be possible, but it´s important to always trust in the Lord instead of doubting or getting discouraged. Because when we show doubt or fear we do not have faith. They are opposites. But then sometimes the results we want don´t come in the time we want, but that´s perfectly okay because we know that if we do our part, the Lord will bless us. Sometimes we just need to have patience, trust, and a good attitude! I also know that the lord blesses us according to our desires.

But this was a good week. I was able to recognize several miracles. There were a couple of days when we were needing to finish a couple of things to reach the weekly standard of excellence (lessons with members, baptisms marked, etc). and the Lord put people in our path so that we could do it. For example, a couple of times we were teaching a short lesson on the streets and a member walked by and participated. This helped us get lessons with member. Also, we were able to make progress on our goals to work with more men/families. We met an older woman named Aurita who works near a members house. We talked to her and set up another visit. She ended up going to church on Sunday and wants to be baptized! It seems like she knows everyone in the neighborhood and so she will be a huge source of references.
We also had a good experience last Monday. November 2nd is a holiday where everyone goes to visit the cemetaries. So we decided to go there in the evening and use it as an opportunity to find people to teach. We went around getting to know people and telling them a little about the plan of salvation. We found about 15 new people to teach!
Well I'm loving it here and I miss you all! I´ll send you a couple of pictures.

Elder Church

Panatis: Week 6

Monday, November 2, 2015

the zone

What? The family room looks quite a bit different. It looks really professionally done. I don´t get how you did it. Did you just order the pieces and put it all together yourselves? It looks really cool. Wow what an awesome party that you guys made for Corinne! That´s good that you have Alyssa and Jillian´s help. Glad that you kept the tradition of soup with bread bowls. Sounds like you have great missionaries there. I can´t imagine being a missionary there though because the work is so different!

Well now my companion is Elder W Silva. I´m in the same area. He is great and I lived in the same house as him a couple of transfers ago in Mossoró. We´re working hard here and are starting to find lots of miracles and people to teach. We are finding success in working with the recent converts of the area. Recent converts always have friends and family members that we can work with. We also received a new missionary in our house- Elder Ballaich from Black Forest, Colorado. He is really good too.

Yesterday the sisters called us and told us that a family from Caicó had come to visit a family in their ward and went to church that day. The family invited the sisters and E. W Silva and I to have dinner that night. It was a lot of fun because all four of us had worked in Caicó before and had gotten to know their family.

Well it´s November already! The year went by fast. Hope you all have a great week!!!
Elder Church

Panatis: Week 5

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dear Family,

How is everybody this week? I wish I could have heard Hayley´s FHE lesson too. Tell her to save that lesson plan so I can see it when I get back. (Mirien: Hayley ended her lesson on faith with this earnest plea to all of us: "I need all of you to work hard to strengthen your faith, because I don't want to get to heaven and look around and wonder where my family is! Don't let me be an orphan in heaven.")
That´s hard to believe that Brent is already home. He sent me an email this week.

Yes, about the christmas music. You can put whatever christmas music you want. I probably won´t have that much time to listen to it anyway. You can go ahead and put a Christmas Mountain folder in there ;).

So yes, most of the pastors/churches here talk bad about the church. Almost all of our investigators at some point will have a neighbor or someone tell false rumors about the church.

Two of the tools that we use a lot here are the list of recent converts in the area, and the list of less actives. Not that our focus is to reactivate, but because we end up finding a lot of new people that haven´t been baptized. Recent converts always have friends and neighbors that have never talked to us, and a lot of times inactive members have people in their house that aren´t members. Or for example, maybe they were baptized 5 years ago and had young children in the house. If so, we can bring the family back to church and baptize the kids. So we can end up accomplishing two things with this work- reactivation/retention, and BAPTISMS.

We like doing divisions sometimes with a couple of recently-returned missionaries in the ward. They both have a lot of vision and had a lot of success on their missions so they help us out quite a bit. We usually go on divisions on sunday mornings to bring investigators to church.
We have been spending a lot of time in these past weeks working in a neighborhood on the banks of the river with lots of receptive people. But we´re not going to work there so much now because they aren´t going to church. Lots of them say during the whole week that they´ll go, but then when we go there on Sunday morning, they end up traveling or not wanting to go because it´s a long walk. We´ll probably focus our efforts in the neighborhoods closer to the church.

But everything is going well here. The climate is nicer than in Mossoró and the other interior cities. We´re excited to keep working hard here. It´s great having Elder Ledesma as a companion. We have a lot of unity and we have fun too.
I will definitely be missing the holiday season. Here the holidays just aren't a really big deal. They don´t do Halloween or Thanksgiving (obviously), and Christmas isn't celebrated as much or in the same way!

Love you all!
Elder Church

Panatis: Week 4

Monday, October 19, 2015

Great to hear the news from home. That´s impressive that Hayley did the ropes course! Sounds like Grant and Alyssa are doing well too.
This week went well but we got disappointed when our baptism fell through. Wellington, a young man had been going to church, had his parents´ permission and was ready for baptism. He was excited but doubted that he was ready so he wanted an answer from god to see if he was. So we had him read a part in the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Then we came back the next day and as soon as he saw us he excitedly told us that he had received his revelation. We felt relieved for a moment but then he told us that he had visited another church the day before (the church of his mom and girlfriend). In front of everyone the pastor closed his eyes and started to prophesy, saying "someone in this congregation is thinking about getting baptized; you are being deceived. Wait and you will be baptized in my time." We didn't know what to say to it because we were expecting another answer! It is pretty frustrating how the enemy works. One of the days when we were at his house there were some other people from that church there. I think the mom told them about the baptism and it ended up getting communicated to the pastor. It´s kind of funny how much people blindly follow the pastors here, haha. But we will still try to baptize him.
We were surprised by a visit from President and Sister Soares at church yesterday. They visit wards throughout the mission quite frequently.
Anyway things are going well here. there are plenty of receptive people here in the area. We have been having some difficulties in taking people to church, but we´re always able to have at least a few.

Have a great week!
Love, Elder Church

Panatis: Week 3

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Happy birthday, Hayley!  Wish I could have been there to give her a present and have the birthday dinner. How´s the no sugar month challenge going? I can´t imagine going a whole month without it. Did you seriously sell the sectional? That´s a surprise. The family room looks quite a bit different. But I guess it will give the room some more space.

This week was fun because I did a division during the week with Elder De Oliveira, "meu filho".  I trained him in Pau dos Ferros and then he got transferred to the same zone as me. My companion did a division in the other area and Elder De Oliveira came to work with me! It was great because we worked really hard together and it brought back memories of Pau dos Ferros.

The church is a small world, isn´t it? There´s an awesome member in the ward that helps us out a lot and we always go over to his house. He got off of his mission several months ago. I found out that he knows Kelly Vaughn and that she married one of his best friends who was his companion for 6 months. Cool, right?

Well I guess there aren´t a lot of new updates, just kind of the same stuff. But I´m loving the mission and learning new things every day!  We try our best to improve every day in obedience, faith, diligence, etc. But it´s a lot of fun here for sure. I´ve definitely been more focused and caught up in the work now than at the beginning of the mission. I miss things at home a lot and I'm excited for the future, but I´m loving it so much here that I don´t think about that stuff very often. 

Love you all!

Elder Church

Panatis: Week 2

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I hope everyone had a great conference weekend! I got quite a bit out of the talks too. I was excited to see the three new apostles. A lot of people here were thinking that one was going to be a Brazilian. I watched Saturday's sessions in English in a room with a some other Americans, but Sunday we all watched it in Portuguese with everyone. Unfortunately I missed a little because we arrived late for a couple of sessions because we were bringing investigators to the stake center. I also wasn't able to watch the priesthood session because of the time. But it was a great, spiritual weekend! A few of the talks that most caught my attention were: Elder Lawrence, Elder Durrant, and Elder Martino.
One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing friends from Cidade do Sol. I served in that ward for 4 months- more time than in any other area on my mission so far. So I got to know all of the members really well. I was really happy to see Deybron and Nábila again and I attached a picture with them.
Things are going just fine here in Panatis. This is one of the older wards here on the mission. Some of the members here have been members for 20 or 30 years. But it is also a really good area. I am happy with my companion, Elder Ledesma. He´s a great missionary. Yes, we live with 4. Our district has 4 sisters and 4 elders. I miss the interior but it´s good to be back in Natal! I like this stake a lot and it has goals to grow and divide. I have gotten to know the president and his counselors well.

Yes, I thought of some things that I hope you might be able to send in the package! Uno, any other simple or cheap game, beef jerky, a small shoe-shine kit if you can find one, and maybe a cd or thumbdrive of Christmas music. Those were just a few things that came to my mind! Thanks so much!

Love you all and happy October,

Elder Church

Panatis: Week 1

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dear Mom,

Wow, you all saw the lunar eclipse too? We went out at night and saw it. That sounds pretty tough for Alyssa and Grant to share a car. Since I´ve been out here I´ve realized how lucky I was to be able to use the car. It´s rare for a family to have a car here and the driving age is 18 too. And after walking such long distances here, walking from our house to Bingham doesn´t seem that bad.

Well I got a little break from the weather because I´m here in Natal again. I´m in the Panatis ward in the Potengi stake which I had already served in while I was in Cidade do Sol! So I´ll get to see a lot of the same people again when we have general conference next week. My companion is Elder Ledesma from Argentina. He is my brother on the mission because he was trained by my same trainer!

This is a good area. So this week I have kind of just been learning the area and meeting the investigators/members. We have been working a lot in a neighborhood near the river. There are a lot of good neighborhoods to work here. But I do miss Mossoró quite a bit! I´m excited for general conference too! It will be a historic one because of the apostles being called. Has dad been interviewed for one of the spots in the seventy yet? ;)

And I´ll try to think if there´s anything that I need or want in the Christmas package. I´ll let you know soon. Thanks!

Love you all!

Elder Church

Mossoro: Week 6

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dear family,

How was your week? Is today the first day of fall there? Congratulations to Grant for getting his patriarchal blessing. And happy birthday to Grandma Lowe.
Everything´s great here. I´ve been really happy to be in this ward. One thing that helps us out a lot here is having a good Ward Mission Leader. I´ve been in other wards where the WML didn´t really know how to work or didn´t do very much. But ours now is an RM with a lot of vision. We work quite a bit with him. The ward was excited yesterday to have an attendance of 150 people! There are some very dedicated members here that help out a lot. There are a couple of families that are willing to give lunch anytime that it falls through. We are keeping up the hard work here. Today we´re going to have a zone p-day because one of the elders in the zone is finishing his mission this week!

Have a great week, everyone!

Elder Church

Mossoro: Week 5

Monday, September 14, 2015

Wow, that sounds like an eventful week. Happy Birthday, mom! Of course I was wishing that I could have been there to celebrate too. I´m glad you got a couple of days off. I´m surprised you were able to fit all of that into one week! That sounds like a fun cabin trip too. And that´s great that you got to spend time with your parents and with Milan too.

Well fortunately my cold went away and I´m back to normal now. I can feel all of your prayers here and this week was a very great one. Yesterday was one of the most memorable days I've had on my mission so far. We had lots of blessings happen this week and I feel very grateful. I have been thinking about the chapters in the book of mormon that talk about the great joy felt by Alma and the sons of Mosiah as they preached to the Lamanites. Although I haven´t been feeling quite as much joy as Ammon did in chapter 27- so much that it overcame his forces- I had a great feeling of joy yesterday and today. Chapter 29 says that this kind of joy comes from bringing people to repentance and also seeing the success of others. Alma says that he finds joy in striving to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I have been just as happy for the success of the other set of missionaries in the ward as for Elder Bento and I. But I was really happy yesterday for being able to help out 3 families.

First, Cleide´s family. We had been working with Cleide for a while, doing all that we could. Her baptism had already been marked a couple of times but something had always come up at the last minute. She lost a little bit of her excitement about baptism too. But the Lord sent a miracle this week that helped her to get baptized. She has a ten-year-old daughter that had been living in another city, but she moved in with Cleide last week. We took them to a ward activity on Wednesday and Elder Bento also showed them the baptismal font. As we were walking home, Keila, her daughter asked if she could be baptized on sunday with her mom. So she was really the key to getting her mom motivated again. So we finished teaching her during the week and they were both baptized on Sunday!

Second, we had gotten to know a young woman named Geovana that we started to bring to church. We found out last sunday that she has a sister who lives in a different neighborhood who has been a member for a few years in a different ward in Mossoró. So we taught Geovana and got her excited about baptism. And we arranged for her sister to come on sunday to watch her be baptized! Later, her sister told us that in her Patriarchal blessing it said that she would help bring the rest of her family to the gospel.

Third, in these couple of weeks we have become friends with a really good, receptive family. We started teaching them and they accepted baptism pretty quickly. The only problem is that the parents were never legally married, so we still have to do that part. But we baptized their two oldest kids, Karol (16) and Maurício (12) on Sunday. This was a miracle too because the kids had originally been a little reluctant to mark a date. But Karol is friends with Geovana and decided that she wanted to be baptized with her. And Maurício decided to go with them! Their dad works on sunday morning, but he arrived at the end of sacrament meeting with their mom and aunt to see the baptism.

So it was a great week with a lot of blessings. We were also able to have lots of investigators at church. We have been working hard here and I hope to be able to stay in this area a while with Elder Bento.

I love you all! Have a great week. The church is true.

Elder Church

Mossoro: week 4

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The weather must be nice there this time of year. It is a holiday here too today. This is Brazil's Independence Day. We weren´t able to email this morning because we had a few things come up. But yes, I´m glad too that we don´t have to rely on hand-written letters. 
This was a good week and we were able to see once again some of the blessings of fasting. We worked really hard this week and the week ended off well with having 10 investigators in church. It´s always nice when investigators go to church because we are able to help them progress more quickly. The work is going great and we are excited about a family we found a couple of weeks ago. The only problem is that the dad works on sunday mornings and the mom has to stay at home, but the 3 kids have been going to church. I have had a cold that hasn´t gone away for about a month. Luckily it hasn´t gotten in the way of the work though. It was a little hard to start working a couple of days this week, but I we had so much to do that I didn´t want at all to have to stay home. But luckily today I have some rest. I´m sure I´ll be fine this week though!
I am loving the mission- it is a lot of hard work but it is worth it!
Have a great week!

Elder Church

Mossoro: Week 3

Well we´ve been working pretty hard here! We are working with lots of people and we have been trying to double the weekly mission standard of lessons/people in church, etc. The people here are very receptive. It´s very easy to find people who will listen to a message, invite us into their house, etc. But the harder part is finding people that will go to church on Sunday. We have lots of people who say they will go to church during the week, but then Sunday morning comes and they don´t end up going! We always get up early on Sunday morning to go to peoples houses and walk to church with them. But sometimes more than half of them that said they would go end up not being able to, or they make up some kind of excuse. But in these 3 weeks in this area we have been able to have 7 or more investigators in church every week!
Unfortunately our baptism yesterday ended up falling through. Her name is Cleide, she is about 40 years old, and she is a part of a family that we have been working with ever since we got here. She lives with her brother, mom, and daughter. We were able to baptize their mom a couple of weeks ago, and both she and her brother want to be baptized too. She had stopped smoking and was ready to be baptized yesterday but she travelled at the last minute. Her brother, Claudio really wants to be baptized but unfortunately he is alcoholic. But he´s a super nice person that wouldn´t harm anyone. His alcohol addiction has just become stronger than him. It was so serious that he went to the hospital last week. He actually stopped drinkng for a few days, but he went back. He is super funny though and he always says funny things that we laugh about later, haha. For example, he tells us everytime we go there that he wants to be baptized on sunday and he gets mad that we haven´t baptized him yet because he´s already been to church a few times. Haha. We will help him though.
The members are great here and lots of them are converts within the last few years. I like the elders a lot in the house that I live in. Elder Juma is super funny. He has lots of stories from Mozambique. The sun here is super hot, and i´ve been starting to use sunscreen. Today I will go to Natal for a mission council but we´ll come back tomorrow.
I´m loving it here and this area is one of my favorites for sure. The church is growing quickly. I haven´t been taking a whole lot of pictures here, but I´ll send a couple of the ones that I have.

1. Maria, the mom of the family I mentioned. Elder Bento was nervous about baptizing her because she only has one arm!

2. The four elders in this ward, a couple of members. The man in the green in the middle is a man that the others baptized yesterday and the others are his family that came to watch his baptism! It was a really cool baptismal service.

Mossoro: week 2

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dear family,

Yes, Bom Jardim does mean good garden. But I don´t really know who came up with that name because it is a desert climate here. But things do actually grow well. It´s hot like southern Utah or Arizona, but it´s slightly humid which lets things grow well. I wasn´t sure what the temperature was actually like here, because I only see it in celcius, but I looked it up and saw that it gets up into the high 90s every single day here! It really is hot. It´s hard going out to work after lunch when the sun is at its hottest. But like I said, it´s been no big deal.

Let me answer your questions. There are quite a few members here. On the list there are probably more than 600. The sacrament meeting attendance is around 130-140. So there´s a lot of room for improvement for retention of new members. But the leaders are concerned about this now and make visits every week. Yes, I´ve had quite a few experiences where I´ve met a long-time inactive member that had moved from another place who probably didn´t have a record. The mission standard is to have 10 lessons with members present per week. We are easily able to achieve this here because there are youth that make visits with us almost every day. But we try to have family nights every once in a while in member-homes and invite investigators. Yes, we usually sit next to investigators in church. But we try to have members sit by them too.

The members here are great. There area lot of youth. This week they had a standards night on friday and it was really well put together. One thing I am impressed with is that this ward has a lot of good activities. Also there is always lunch here! The members take care of us well. The missionaries before I came had recently moved so we have a nice house. The only hard part is that it´s far from the church. But things are going great here! Let me see if I can send a couple of pictures.

Have you ever seen a pomegranate tree? We met someone yesterday that has one in his backyard. He gave us a couple. Also, we had lunch with a member family yesterday that had recently traveled to Utah to visit their daughter. They said that she studies at LDS business college. They went there in April and they said they would show me pictures the next time I go there. Also mom, Daiane told me that she talked with you a little on facebook. That´s cool!

Love you all!

Elder Church

Mossoro: Week 1

Monday, August 17, 2015

Well I was transferred again, this time not too far away. I´m in Mossoró in a ward called Bom Jardim. I only stayed in Assú for a couple of weeks! Like you were saying, the number of missionaries went down so a few areas had to close for now. One of the two sets of missionaries was taken out of Assú. I was transferred together with Elder Bento to here. It´s only an hour away from our last area. Mossoró is a large city and has a stake. It is the second biggest city after Natal. I´m happy to be here because it´s a really great ward and another one of those areas that everyone wants to come to. Right now I´m living with Elder Bento, Elder W. Silva from São Paulo, and Elder Juma from Mozambique. The members of the ward here love to help the missionaries. The church is growing here a lot and the sacrament meeting attendance is really high--around 140. I´m glad that I stayed with my companion because he is really good. I´ve been liking it a lot here so far. But there´s only 1 thing--this city is the hottest city on the mission! Haha, but I´m used to the heat by now. And it´s not that big of a difference.

Here´s a street view of the chapel here- it´s really nice.,+BARROCAS+MOSSORO,+RIO+GRANDE+DO+NORTE+59621-000+BRAZIL/@-5.1669501,-37.3296096,3a,75y,283.25h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m4!1sFMomksatWONcNzqfjY7S9A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x55351be6e3abaf6d!6m1!1e1

Have a great week!
Elder Church

Assu: Week 2

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Now i´m almost at 2 weeks in Assú and I feel like I've already learned the area pretty well. The members here are great and love the missionaries. So much that we have lunch and dinner every day. Yesterday at church I was asked at the last minute to give an 8 minute talk! I was also asked at the last minute to lead the music. The ward here is pretty similar to the other wards I´ve seen here on the mission, except this one doesn´t have a very good attendance rate- 60 or 70. Luckily there are several RMs in the ward that help out a lot. In the city there are hundreds of baptized members but lots of inactives. But this ward is trying hard to reactivate a lot of people. They started a program to make visits every Saturday to inactives in one specific area and we are helping them.

Tomorrow we´ll know what´s going to change with transfers. It´s a possibility that the president might close the other area here because the number of missionaries is going to drop- several are going home and only 1 is arriving.
We are working with a 28 year old man who is ready to be baptized pretty soon- him and his nephew. So we´re pretty excited about that. In my last email I said the church has been here for 8 years- actually it´s been here for 13, it´s only been a ward for 8 years. It just seems like a long time compared to Pau dos Ferros where no one had ever heard of the church. A lot of people here have heard false rumors about the church and everyone here calls us by the Mormons. Because of this, some of the parents here don´t let their kids go to church. But the people here are still really receptive. This week we were teaching a 21-year old guy named Alif. He is extremely smart and is studying medicine. He studies in João Pessoa but is here while school is on break. He was really interested in our message and understood it perfectly. He started reading the Book of Mormon and accepted baptism. But unfortunately we weren´t able to baptize him because he´s going back to school this week. So besides a few frustrating things like this, things are going well here. We´re excited to keep working hard.

Hope everyone is doing great at home and that the sun isn´t has hot there as it is here! haha.

Elder Church

Assu: Week 1

Monday, August 3, 2015

This week a little surprise happened. I was doing great in Pau dos Ferros, waiting for the end of the transfer to come in a couple of weeks, when suddenly an emergency transfer happened. Another missionary had broken his foot and was sent home with about 3 months of his mission remaining. So I was sent in his place. And a few other elders also moved around. So I suddenly had to pack my suitcases and leave the next morning to Assú, another interior city. I was really sad to leave but I tried not to let it affect me. Assu is a city of more than 50,000 people and it´s close to Mossoró. This is a good area too, but it´s been such a big change. The elders here hadn't been able to work very much lately because of his broken foot. My companion is Elder Bento from São Paulo. I had met him when I went to train Elder Oliveira because he´s from the group that arrived on the mission a month ago. One of the good things is that I´m here living with Elder Wilson, who was one of my past companions. There are two sets of missionaries here. One of the things I miss about my last area is that the church was new there. The church has been here in Assú for 8 years, so most people here have already heard of it and talked to missionaries.  But I´m excited to work hard this month and baptize in this area.

The ward here is good, but there are a lot of inactive members and also some problems with the members. This week had some challenges because we had several people lined up to go to church, but when Sunday morning came, everybody had excuses of why they couldn't go. The mission standard is to have 3 investigators in church every Sunday. We didn't have any, but then suddenly some members arrived late with two nonmember friends. We still needed one more. So about 15 minutes before sacrament meeting we went out searching for someone. At the last minute, we found a kid that lived near the church and brought him.

This week has been a little hard for me because I miss my last area so much. I heard from my companion just now that they were able to baptize a family there on Sunday, as well as two other people! People that we had been working with for a while. The family is the parents of the young man we baptized. The ones that are in the picture that I sent a couple of weeks ago- the family that made the cake for him. It´s sad that I couldn't stay there for at least the rest of the transfer!  But I'm trying to stay happy and excited here.  Thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers. Have a good week!

Have a great week! Love you all,

Elder Church

Pau dos Ferros: Week 10

Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy Pioneer Day and happy birthday Jillian! Wow I was here thinking I was the next missionary from our ward to get home but there are still several more. Those are some great pictures that you sent! And this camp sounds like a cool experience for Grant. Yes we continue to teach and visit people after they are baptized. They receive the 5 missionary lessons after their baptism. During the week we have a youth family night on tuesday, and a ward integration night (mainly for youth) on thursday. These activities help keep them active too.

This week was another good one. We were busy like usual. This week we were teaching some people in distant neighborhoods so we were always walking all over. But our focus is near the church. Pretty soon the church will move to another spot though. This week our testimony was strengthened that the Lord prepares the elect for us to teach. Mirosmar is 19 and we have known him for a few weeks. He was riding his motorcycle down the street and he asked us what days we had church meetings. The next week he came to the activity on thursday. We found out that he learned about the church through a friend who was baptized here but moved away. When we went to Mirosmar´s house to start teaching, he showed us that he had already asked for a book of mormon online and had it sent to him. And the part that surprised us most was that he had read from the beginning until Ether 12! It was easy to teach him because he understood the messages well and he knows the bible well because he had gone to other churches in the past. He accepted baptism really quickly and he was baptized on Sunday.

We have a couple of great families that we are working with right now. The members are helping us a lot here. Pau dos Ferros will be a branch really soon, we just have to wait for the next time that the leaders come to our sacrament meeting to officialize it.

I miss you all! Have a great week,

Love, Evan

Pau dos Ferros: Week 9

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Well the Pau dos Ferros group will become a branch really soon. It´s been ready to become a branch for a while, we´ve just been waiting for the approval. Probably the next time that the stake leaders come it will become a branch. This week President Soares came to interview us four. He was going to arrive in time for sacrament meeting but he ended up coming after. We had 80 people at church again on Sunday!

We had a baptism this sunday of Dennis, a 15-year-old who is a member´s cousin. On saturday, the day before, we went to his house to talk to him. He wasn´t there but his dad was. His dad called us in to sit down. He had a serious look on his face and I was thinking that he had decided to not let his son get baptized or try to delay it. But instead, he asked if it would be appropriate to buy a cake to celebrate his baptism with us and their family that night! Haha, we were pretty relieved afterwards. A lot of parents here are like that. Even if they have another religion, when we start teaching their kids they thank us for helping them because they worry about them going down a wrong path. We rarely have problems with parents supporting the baptism of their kids. A lot of times the youth in a family is a doorway to over time help the parents to go to church.

This morning we climbed up that little mountain again with some of the young men, including the ones that were baptized recently. These kind of things are good for them to make friends and get integrated.

Thanks for the weekly report! I hope you can enjoy the rest of summer vacation. It ends so quickly for elementary school kids. Wow sounds like Jill is using her time well this summer. It doesn´t seem like that long ago that I was taking that class! Thanks for sending me those talks- I´ll read them. I´m learning a lot about the gospel, too, as I try to simplify everything in order for people to understand. One lesson that we teach multiple times per day here is the gospel of Jesus Christ- faith, repentance, baptism, receive the HG and endure to the end. So we have practiced a lot and learned lots of examples of how to teach it simply.

Love you, Mom. And thanks again for the package and for the letters. I love you all and think about you a lot. Have a great week!

Pau dos Ferros: Week 8

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

This is really a great area and I hope I can stay here for a long time! It was funny when we were in the mission office and the president was talking to the new missionaries about the new areas they would go to. He introduced pau dos ferros as being the longest area from the mission HQ, but the area that every missionary dreams about going to. Later, when a new missionary asked about what we did for lunch in the mission field, President explained that it is in members houses but that in some areas there aren´t enough members and it´s only a few times a week. He said: for example elders, how many lunches does Pau dos Ferros have per week, Elder Church(directing the question towards me)? But I was happy to say that we have lunch every single day.

Here are some pictures:

Dear Family,

This week was a really good one. All of us worked hard this week and were able to have success. My companion and I have been working lots with one specific family that has kids of ages 13, 14, 16, 18, and 20. We found them by making a contact on the street a little over a month ago with the 14 year old. He said he would go to church and so we stopped by his house during the week and started to teach the family. They all live close to the church which is nice and they all became interested in going to church on sundays and the activities during the week.
On sunday we were able to bring lots of people to church, even though that included having to going around to some of their houses to wake them up, haha. My companion and I had to give talks on Sunday. This was actually the first time I had given a talk on the mission. There was a great attendance on Sunday- 77 people! But the number we counted was 80 because one of the active families was traveling. And yes, there is quite a strong group of youth here- it´s actually bigger and stronger than just about any other area I´ve been in.
This morning we went to visit Portalegre, a nearby city that a family invited us to visit with them. There is a waterfall there and a couple of other cool places. I´ll send some pictures.
It´s going great so far with my new companion. Just like most new missionaries, including me, he arrived with a big desire and enthusiasm to work hard.
And some other good news from the week: I got the package! It came really quickly. I was happy to read all of the letters and loved getting all of the snacks. You picked them out well. Thanks so much! I just wish I would have remembered to ask before you sent it to send some 1 dollar bills or coins or things like that that I could give away to people. Because people here think it´s pretty cool.
Anyway, last week was a good one and I´m excited for this week. Both my companionship and the other one are working well. I hope you all have a great week too.

Elder Church

Pau dos Ferros: Week 7

Monday, July 6, 2015

Here is the soccer stadium in Natal.

nd this is the type of lunch that we always have on p-days that Ivoneide makes for us (and we help).

Well, there was a little change this week with the transfers. Both Elder Andrade and I went to train. He was transferred but I was lucky and stayed! He was transferred to Caicó. We left for Natal early tuesday morning and travelled almost 10 hours to get there because the bus stopped in lots of cities. We got there in the afternoon and waited in the mission office for a little while. It was good to see Elder Harris again who is secretary right now. At night we had nothing to do so I called Deybron who works nearby and got to see him again. He even took us out for dinner!

In the new group arrived 5 brazilians and 1 american who had started serving a mission in the US. I didn´t get to see the American because he arrived late, but Elder Andrade is training him. I will be training Elder de Oliveira from Rio de Janeiro. He is awesome and already knows how to be a good missionary so there´s not really much training to do. This week was a little tough because we were only able to work thursday through sunday. I had to travel for a tiring 20 hours on tuesday and wednesday! The other two elders in the house stayed the same. We will need to work hard this week in finding new people to teach.

I was missing the US on the fourth of July and thinking about home. I thought about getting people together to do a barbeque but we didn´t end up doing anything. That morning one of the assistants did a phone conference with all of the americans on the mission to play the national anthem haha.

This area is really great here like I always say. We are always busy during the days of work and we don´t always get done everything we want to. I hope my new companion will have a good experience his first transfer.

I´m glad to here that the family traditions are staying alive, like the teacher dinner and the Delta 4th of july parade. Yes I did hear about the death of President Packer while I was in the house of a member. Wow, that is pretty hot- hotter than here. I guess the only difference here is that it never gets cold. And the sun shines really strong and it's humid. Have a great week and thanks for the thoughts you shared with me.

Love you all and miss you!


Pau dos Ferros: Week 6

Monday, June 29, 2015

The group leader had his friend bring in some horses to eat up the long grass/weeds in the small field on the side of our house
These are the bonfires that people made for the holiday
Thanks for all the pictures of the family reunion. That looks like an awesome place to stay. You know our family is getting big when you see that this reunion had family shirts! Haha. I bet the triple bunk room was pretty crazy.

I had another good week. We´re always hard at work here during the week, but we do have fun on pday. This week the four of us decided to start a missionary activity with the youth. We divided them up in pairs and assigned them to a district. My companionship is in charge of district 1 and the other is in charge for district 2. It´s a competition to see who can bring the most people to church or give us the most referrals. They are really liking it so far and we will continue it through july. We even took everyone´s picture and we´ll make a mission map.
This morning I went with E. Andrade and some young men in the ward to hike a nearby hill/mountain.

The members here are all great, and we are close to the youth. They all like to make visits with us. There have only been two days here when we haven´t had lunch in someone´s house which has been a blessing. There are even a couple of nonmembers (parents of members) that make lunch for us.

This has been a great transfer and I hope that I don´t get transferred this soon. I hope that my companion stays too, but we never know what will happen. I think Elder Findling and I will try to do some sort of celebration for the 4th of july. This week and last week there have been some celebrations for the São João holiday. The tradition is that everyone makes a bonfire in front of their house. Some of the streets were lined with fires which was pretty cool to see.

Have a great week and happy 4th of july to all of you!
Elder Church

Pau dos Ferros: Week 5

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dear family,
I realize I haven´t sent any pictures of the house that I live in or our daily routine. So here are a few pictures that show a little more about what our life is like here in the interior:

This is our home, sweet home. It´s a little small I guess, but it works for us. The open windows and dirt floors are a little different than I´m used to, but it´s no big deal.

The only water source is about a mile away. This used to be a river but it has dried up in the past several years.
It´s kind of a long process, but this is how we bring the water to our house:

We have a wood burning stove, but we have to conserve the hot coals in order to iron our clothes with this iron:

Here are some of the tools we use on a day to day basis

Haha, I thought it would be funny to send a couple of joke emails. Our house is quite a bit nicer than that and the water situation isn´t that desperate.
We had one of our friends take us to the old dam this morning to show us around. There is a historic house there that had some fun stuff in it. She said that in 2008, the dam was full. The name of the lady that took us around is Ivoneide. She is super nice and has been friends with the missionaries since the last set of missionaries that met her. She´s not a member, but she lives close to us and we always go to her family´s house a couple of times a week. We have lunch at her house on P-days and she conveniently has 4 laptops that she lets us use internet on. The deal is that she cooks and we wash the dishes. So this morning she took us on that little field trip, and she has a couple of other places in mind that she wants to take us to in the future!

I also took a picture of the city center this morning

A catholic church is in the center of almost any interior city.

This week was a good one. Things in the group are running really well. The members are helping a lot and going above and beyond to help the members (mainly the youth). Here is a picture of Daniel, one of the young men that was baptized a few months ago who helps us a lot.

He said that he didn´t come to church in his white shirt because his house was out of water and they couldn't wash it.

We were happy to finish off the week with the baptisms of 3 youth. We had been working with the two girls for a while and they finally decided that they wanted to be baptized!

On Sunday night we had a good family home evening with a recent-convert family and a family that they had given us a referral of. We watched the restoration film, played some games and had dinner.

My companion, Elder Andrade has been great. We have been working hard and having fun together this transfer. We have also been having fun with the other 2 in our house. We all come home every night and make something to eat. We play games sometimes and drink a lot of cajuina- it´s a soda that they only sell in the northeast- kind of like guarana but it´s made from the cashew fruit. Cajuina and guarana are two of my favorite drinks here. The members always make lots of fruit juices too.

Well things are continuing to go well here. I´ll finally hit the 1 year mark this week! I think about you all and miss you a lot. I wish I could be at the family reunion this week. Have lots of fun!

Elder Church