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

Pau dos Ferros: Week 4

Monday, June 15, 2015

a funeral of two missionaries that are going home in 2 weeks :)

The daughter of the branch president who reminds me of corinne when she was little.

There was a little switch in our house. There was an emergency transfer and a new missionary came in the place of Elder Solorzano. We are using internet in Sousa right now because we´re having a zone p-day. We´re going to have a barbecue later in the afternoon! The new missionary in our house, Elder Findling, is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He has a year and a half on his mission.
One of the things that I like about this area is that it always has lunch. There are few members but they are always willing to give lunch. But even if it does fall through one day, it´s fine because there´s a restaurant that costs 1 real (less than 50 cents) for a whole plate. These restaurants are payed for by the government, but the one here is different than the ones I saw in Natal. The one here has good food and normal people that eat there. We went there this week and there were several members of the church there haha.
The sacrament meeting room was full this week and we had the highest attendance we´ve ever had - almost 70. The church is probably going to move so it can fit more people. There have been 51 baptisms since the area opened 9 months ago, and there were about 12 or 15 members already on the list. Most of the members/recent converts come, and when you add that with the missionaries and the investigators and sometimes visitors, it gives a good number. There is a yard on the side of the house that would be great for church activities, but right now it´s covered with bushes and weeds. We bring in that donkey sometimes to eat some of it.
But I am really enjoying working here and my companion is really good. He knows how to work well and he is a hard worker too. One of the only discouraging things here is that we can´t count on people a lot. Like people say they´ll do things and then don´t do them. We pass by our investigators every day and they always say they´re excited for church and that they´ll go for sure. But then we pass by their houses on sunday mornings and they all of a sudden have an excuse, or they travel, or have whatever thing come up that prevents them from going to church. But anyway, we´re still able to have investigators in church- just not as many as we would like. We did receive a good referral of a family this week!
I´ve been thinking back at what I was doing one year ago and it´s amazing how quickly time has passed. It´s also crazy to think that I have friends that are going to start getting home from their missions soon. And before I know it I will have a brother and sister gone!
Well I miss you all at home and I will miss celebrating the first day of summer with you all.

Have a good week!

Elder Church

Pau dos Ferros: Week 3

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Interior Zone Conference
Well another week passed by quickly here. We´re working hard here and the time goes by quickly! We spend our whole week focusing on possible baptisms forsaturday. We follow up with all of our investigators throughout the week, finish teaching what we need to on Wednesday and Thursday, do the interview on Friday, baptize on Saturday, and confirm on Sunday. Unfortunately, a couple of the baptisms we had marked fell through, but we were able to baptize one young womanon Saturday. Our house is fun because the four of us are good friends and are united. We still haven´t really divided the area, so both of the sets are working a lot in one neighborhood.

We had a fun ward integration night on thursday where we played some games. One of the games was one that I had remembered from home. But from a long time ago- the thimble game. One person thinks of a certain thing in a certain category, and if anyone guesses it, they get splashed with water. But with us, the splash of water quickly turned into a full cup of water being dumped on someone haha. We always start with a spiritual part and then play some games or do some sort of activity. I wish the other member families would come, but usually it's just the family of the group leader and all of the recent converts. But they are a lot of fun. On sunday we had a good turnout at church, too.

Finally we have a little break here of not having to travel all the time. The trips in the last few weeks used up a lot of our time and money. But pretty soon the reimbursements from the mission will come back!

Yesterday, Elder Solorzano got a visit from a member in Natal- an older sister who really liked him. I also met her when I was his companion in her ward. Anyway, she drove all the way to us on sunday (5 hours by car) just to see him and to bring us food, haha.

In the past couple of weeks we have been working with one of our recent converts, Cristiane. She is a single mom of 3 little kids. When she was preparing to get baptized, she had several friends and family members tell her that she shouldn´t, and a few of them told her rumors about the church that were completely untrue. Thankfully she has learned not to listen to bad influences and to follow her true feelings. After her baptism, one or two of her friends stopped going to her house, but she wasn´t sad about it because she realized they weren´t the best friends anyway.

Mom, thanks for the quotes and scriptures that you sent. They are really helpful to me right now. I also downloaded and listened to the two conversations you told me about on the Mormon Channel with Elder Bednar about teaching. I really enjoyed them. I have been thinking a lot more about how to ask good questions in teaching and how to help people act for themselves as agents and not be acted upon. I liked the story about how Elder Bednar helped a difficult child--persistence, patience, and quit acting upon them and let them act. I hope your summer family scripture study continues to be a success.

Well I love it here, but I still think about home a lot and I miss you all!
I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Church

Pau dos Ferros: week 2

Monday, June 1, 2015

Two of the baptisms. The man behind the baptismal font is the group leader.

A lunch that was brought by some of the members for after church.

The view from the window of our house

Preach the gospel to every creature, right?

This is a donkey that one of the members owns
And this is the sacrament meeting room that is basically a garage. It looks small, but we have lots more chairs to put in the back to fit more people. Upstairs are the classrooms;
here´s another picture of the view.
Yep, this new area is pretty awesome. Yesterday there were 64 people in church but several of them were leaders from Sousa and their families that came to visit. The group should become a branch soon, we are just waiting on the papers to come back. But there is also a shortage of priesthood in the group which is necessary for real growth.

The mission conference was great. We had to travel to Sousa the evening before and then wake up at 3am to get on the bus to Caicó. We had to spend a lot of money to get there and I was really tired during the conference, but besides that it went well. Elder Mazzagardi gave a lot of instruction about how we can work better.

Water came last week and it lasted us for a while, so it wasn´t as hard. Being in this area is a lot of fun because the members are unified with the missionaries. We are always in charge of doing an integration night on thursdays. Our only responsibilities on Sundays are to teach gospel principles and to help with the sacrament.

I love the people in this area, and we have been finding a lot of success in certain parts of town. Between the two sets of missionaries, we have had several baptisms in past two weeks. One of our baptisms has quite a story- she was having doubts about getting baptized all throughout the week. She was having friends tell her things and letting negative thoughts get in her head. We stopped by her house every day of the week, and a few times she said she was almost giving up on getting baptized. So we had to talk her through it. When we got there on Saturday she was wanting to put off her baptism for another time, but we talked her through it for about an hour. Then she was finally ready. But the problem was that she lives far away from the church and we had to find her a ride. We didn´t have a cellphone with us, so we had to knock on a few doors until someone let us use theirs. But it worked out!
On the next P-day I want to go some cool place. there are lots of hills (pretty much mountains) near the city. There´s also a dinosaur park in Souza- 2 hours away, but maybe it´s worth going to sometime.

Oh yeah, there was other good news this week. The mission hit the record for baptisms in one month. The old record was 245 and yesterday we closed the month off with 246! So those are a few things that happened this week. We´re working so hard here that it doesn´t give me time to think about home a lot. But I do miss it for sure. I´m getting close to one year though!

Love you all,

Elder Church