Pau dos Ferros: Week 1

Monday, May 25, 2015

Well this week I did get transferred and I can´t say how happy I am to be in this new area! Not that I didn´t like my old one, but this one has been a great change.  I´m in Pau dos Ferros now, a small city that is way in the interior. The city has about 25,000 people. It is one of the furthest areas away from the mission HQs. My new companion is Elder Andrade from São Paulo and we live with Elder Solorzano, one of my past companions who I like a lot; and Elder Molina, an elder from southern Brazil who just arrived on the mission.

This area has a group and the church is just arriving here. There are 2 member families originally from Natal who are living here now, but the rest of the group are recent converts from the last few months. The church here is very new and the first missionaries came only about 8 months ago, and now there are 2 sets of missionaries here instead of just 1. The church is in our house. But it´s a really nice and big house. The part we live in is a secluded part in the back and there are big rooms in the front part that stay empty for the classrooms, and there´s a big garage-type room downstairs for sacrament meeting. The church is growing here quickly and now there are more than 50 members with an attendance of 40 or 45 on sundays! It should become a branch pretty soon. The last set of missionaries really did some great work in their few months here and they baptized several firm members. Anyway, I'm really excited to be here and this has been the area of the mission that lots of elders including me have wanted to go to!

One of the downsides about this area is that it´s been in a drought for a while and we rarely have water in the house. Most people have a water box that fills whenever the water comes, and then they have to ration that until water comes again, which right now is at once in every 7 or 8 days. In our house we keep the baptismal font full and then use its water for what we need. To take a shower we fill up a bucket from the baptismal font and take a shower out of the bucket. But it´s easy to get used to and it´s kind of a cool experience, haha. It makes you feel old-fashioned. And then if we´re ever short on water for a baptism we can call a truck and have him fill it up for 15 reais per 500L of water. 

I like my companion a lot and this area is a really cool place. The people here are extremely nice and receptive and it´s a really safe and calm place. Unlike all of my other areas, we are really isolated from the rest of the zone. The next closest area is the zone leaders in Souza which is 2 hours away and in another state. On Thursday we will go to a conference in Caicó for the zones in the interior where Elder Mazzagardi of the area presidency will come. 

I arrived here at the same time as my companion so we are both new to the area. But we are both liking it a lot here and are working well. It´s cool here because most people we talk to have never heard of the church. We divide the city with the other missionaries but we haven´t really made a division yet so we just kind of work wherever for now. Lots of people had said that this area was really really hot. It is, but not that bad. I´ll send a few pictures this week and more in the week to come.

Well it was good to hear your updates from this week and I look forward to hearing from you all next week!

Elder Church

Cidade do Sol: Week 17

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hi mom! It´s surprising to hear that dad didn´t get the job, but I took a sigh of relief, too, knowing that things won´t change like I thought they would. I hadn´t been thinking about it all that much because I´m so far away from home right now, but I can imagine how this can be tough after feeling like it would really happen. But I know we have a purpose in Utah.

My week was good. It´s always a little hard to stay motivated to work in the last week of the transfer because you´re anxious about what will happen. But we did work. We found a deaf woman to teach this week. It was interesting because my companion was randomly talking earlier on the same day about how he wants to learn some sign language in case we were to teach someone like this. So that was a cool experience. We were visiting our recent convert Victória this week and we are happy to see that she is starting to develop her own testimony at such a young age.

Deybron and Nábila have been a huge example to me of service. They have so little time in the church but are helping so much. Deybron has a car and he always uses it to give members rides or haul things. He also has a graphic design shop and he uses his talents to help. They planned with the relief society to make mother´s day gifts for the ward (those cubes with photos on the sides). He also made a big canvas with the young men´s theme scripture to put in the classroom.

I was reading in the may ensign and I liked the article about the difference between sin and weakness. There was a quote in the beginning that said something like this: As a missionary I live the gospel more than I ever have in my life. Why do I seem to notice my weaknesses more frequently than ever? That´s what I´ve felt like sometimes. But later on the article said, sins take us away from god, but weaknesses bring us closer. Weaknesses are part of our mortal lives and they will make us into better people.

I am having lots of good experiences here though and having lots of fun! I´ll let you know if I´m still here in this area next week.

Elder Church

Cidade do Sol : week 16

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Zone p-day winning volleyball team

Baptisms of Marcio and Ana Victoria

Dear family,

It was so great to see you all over skype! The skype call passed by so quickly, but it was good while it lasted. It felt like I was back at home again about to go to church (I hope I didn´t make everyone late, haha). At least we´ll be able to have longer conversations when I get back. Nothing really seemed like it has changed too much with you guys. Grant seemed a little bit older, and Hayley did too. I´m excited to hear updates on Alyssa´s mission paper progress! And sounds like it will be a fun summer.
Elder Dos Santos did his call right after me and stayed on for a while. It was funny to see the differences from our family and his. His family was a lot louder and more emotional (lots of laughing and some crying). But our family was just how I remember it when I left- just how I like it.

Last night, some other Elders came to sleep in our house and we had lots of fun. Then we went to a zone p-day this morning. We went to a church that has a basketball/volleyball court and played around for a while. Now we´ve been back for a little while and we came to do emailing now. Tonight we have a family night in the same member that invites us almost every monday (and always makes good food).

Last week was a good week because we finished it off with 2 baptisms! Marcio finally decided to get baptized instead of putting it off which we were happy about. His marriage was a few weeks ago and he has been going to church with his wife, who was a less-active member, for a couple of months.
And Ana Victoria, a fun little primary girl was baptized after being brought to church by a friend. Her family has come to church a couple of times, but the parents can´t be baptized yet because they aren´t legally married. But Victoria was excited for baptism and her family was happy to let her get baptized. They all came to the baptism too.

This is a good area, but I think it´s pretty likely that I´ll leave at the end of the transfer. I´d be happy to stay though too.

Have a great week and I´ll talk to you next monday. Happy mother´s day, Mom!


Elder Church

Cidade do Sol: Week 15

Monday, May 4, 2015

I was feeling a little discouraged on sunday because a baptism fell through and we had some difficulties in bringing our investigators to church. One member saw my face and asked me if I was happy, but I told him I was a little discouraged because of these problems. But it made me feel better when he gave his testimony in Sacrament meeting and said that he admires the missionaries because they are so dedicated to the work that they forget about themselves and worry about their investigators. It really is a great experience to be on a mission and be able to have the lord´s work as our only focus for 2 years.

We have a few investigators that are progressing well. In the couple that was married last week, the husband still needs to be baptized. The wife was already a less-active member. We always go to their house and we´re great freinds with them. Marcio is excited for baptism but he keeps wanting to put it off for a few weeks. We´ll have to talk with him and get him firm for sooner!

In the 10 people that were at church last week, 2 of them were couples that aren´t married, so they´ve still got a ways to go before they can get baptized. This is really one of the biggest obstacles that missionaries here face. They came to church because we are getting a young girl ready for baptism and she invited her family and friends to go to church with her.

This week´s baptism fell through once again when we went to his house sunday morning and he wasn´t there. It seems now that he doesn´t want to be baptized but he´s just too afraid to tell us or something. There must be some reason. Whenever we talk with him he is really solid and excited for baptism. We had all the details planned out for his baptism, he would have just needed to show up. Oh well.

Our ward is strong and it will be sending out several missionaries in a few months which is exciting.

I can´t wait for sunday! The skype call will be a lot of fun.