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 MossorĂ³ 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 NĂ¡bila 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