Rio Branco: Week 6

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hey mom! Yep, this week will be busy. Today we had a long meeting with the President. Tomorrow the new missionaries arrive and we pass the transfers. Wednesday we pass the day at the bus station and on Thursday the old missionaries go home. Elder W Silva is doing great and really there´s not much to do for training. Everything was passed to me in a couple of days. Yes, we do have a testimony meeting with group arriving and the group leaving. It´s at the president´s house. He lives on the 14th floor of a very nice apt. building right near the beach. His house is actually in my area and we pass near it a few times per week. We go to the dinner for the newly-arriving missionaries, but not for the ones going home. At the dinner for them, Sister Soares cuts the bottom part of each elder´s tie and hangs it on the wall next to their picture.

Yeah I don´t think the church is having many more problems with Visas. Actually there really aren´t many Americans being called here anymore. In the last 3 groups that have arrived, only 1 american has arrived in each group. These groups have about 8-12 missionaries come in.

That´s funny to hear about the new missionaries. I can´t believe they have so many wards to work with. How are they able to work with all of these bishops? One thing I´ve learned is that missionary work is always more successful when the members love and accept whatever set of missionaries comes in, even if they are not the most obedient or focused. Sadly, there are some members here on the mission that are quick to talk negatively or complain about the missionaries´ work and slow to do anything to help or encourage them like give references or serve them. But it´s also sad to see when one set of missionaries is able to work so well with the ward and have so much success, and then another set arrives that isn´t able to keep up the same reputation. Successful growth in a ward requires lots of unity between the members and the missionaries. This means that the missionaries should have lots of humility to be able to work according to the ward´s needs and that the members should humbly support and help the missionaries.

Great to hear about your week and I hope your class is going great. My week went well. We worked really hard during the week and were able to have lots of investigators at church and baptize a man named Tadeu.

Lately the only emails I've been receiving every week are from you and dad. I used to write to a couple of friends more frequently but it´s been a while now. Every once and a while I send a few pictures to friends from high school or BYU or send a little email.

Love you too!

Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 5

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dear Mom,

Yep, this week I was in AssĂș. I stayed until Sunday. One of the elders there is Elder Caldwell, who was with me in the CTM so it was good to be able to be in the same house as him for the first time on the mission. In the house there´s also another missionary named Elder Fallon who I found out is good friends with Jared! He went to timpview and was in the band with Jared. He knows their whole family well. It is a rare house because there are 3 Americans. There were 4 this week with me. I just stayed the week to help each of the sets of missionaries. I worked with them during the week and also did a couple of baptismal interviews. We worked really hard to have lots of investigators at church.

Elder Tavares is on his last week here! The new assistant was called today. Elder W Silva. I´m excited because I was his companion not too long ago and it went really well. He and I have 3 transfers left on the mission now. Elder Tavares will travel on his last week here and I will stay in my area. Right now in the office there´s a missionary that will have to go home unfortunately because he got sick and isn´t getting better. I feel bad for this Elder Chipman because he only has a few months on the mission. He played football before the mission so he got here pretty big, but he´s lost over 40 pounds and he hasn´t gotten any better. He´s trying to keep his mind off of things but I can imagine that it must be really hard for him now to have to go home. He´ll be able to return of course once he gets better though.

Will you really take a class at BYU now? Great! I´ll be excited to hear how it goes.

It´s been raining quite a bit here. It´s nice to have a little break from the heat but it also made me realize that i´m grateful for the hot weather we usually have because there are always people on the streets and it´s good for working.

Love you!
Have a great week, too.

Rio Branco: Week 4

Monday, January 11, 2016

This is Elder Church and Elder Sales in the Christmas pajamas we sent them

Dear Mom,
Too bad that dad couldn't take you with him to San Diego last week! Sounds like it was a great stake conference. Do you think Pres. Neilson will still be the stake president when I get back? I hope so. Did Jared change a lot on his mission? That´s awesome that he is taking a class from Uncle Scott. I´m glad that Alyssa is happy with her roommates. And it sounds like Grant is anxious to travel. That would be cool if he got accepted. When does he get his results back from the BYU application?

Last week I stayed in the area again but I will probably travel this week. We didn´t have as many investigators at church this week but it was a good week. My companion is great and we are working very hard together. What were some of the highlights? Hmmm. There are a couple of members here who give quite a bit of money for us to have lunch. Usually we eat in their houses, but this week a member gave each of us quite a bit of money. I didn´t even use it to buy anything fancy though. I used some of it on taxis for us or for investigators. Our leadership council went well. I was a little nervous about it because we didn´t spend a whole lot of time preparing. But our training together with President and Sister Soares´ training made it a really good meeting. One of the good parts was when we had leaders come to the front and talk a little bit about how they have had success in certain areas. These meetings usually start with training from the secretaries, then our training, then pres. and sister Soares' training. Then we have lunch and afterwards we have an "X-ray" where we show the results that the zones had in the last month and talk about their new goals.

Love you mom, have a great week!

Rio Branco: Week 3

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Christmas eve in Pau dos Ferros- it had been really dry but it rained

The view from a member´s apartment that we had lunch in this week

Dear mom,

I was happy to see the pictures of your week in Colorado! The family keeps getting bigger. It´s funny that Grant, Alyssa and I don´t have any cousins our age on the Fillmore side. We´ll always be the first group to go on missions/get married/have kids, etc. Wow, now that Jared´s home that means that I´m getting close to finishing my mission. But I won´t think about it. That´s exciting news about Monette and Aaron and unexpected too.

This was a good week of hard work that paid off. We learn here that it doesn´t matter what you do during the week if you don´t have results on Sunday. For example, you can teach an infinite number of lessons or make tons of contacts, but if you´re not able to have any investigators at church on Sunday, all of that work didn´t really mean much. People can only progress if they go to church. They can only be baptized if they go to church. So that is our focus for the week and the vision that we try to pass to the mission. Some already understand it, others not very much. But that was our focus this week (Elder Sales and I). We worked hard and on Sunday had 16 people at church! This was definitely a miracle because the part we work in is about a half-an-hour walk from the church. But we had a couple of people give rides which helped. Anyway, we are definitely receiving divine help and we feel blessed for being obedient and working hard. This will help us a lot this week because we already know who to work with and we will be able to help as many of these people as we can to get baptized in the following weeks.

It´s been different to live in this neighborhood and I really like it. Some of the members live in really nice apartment buildings. This part feels just like any other big city in the US. Two times this week we met people who travel frequently to the US. The first guy we met was in a McDonalds (this was my first time eating there on the mission- there are only a couple here in Natal and they are nice- the rich people eat here). He saw us and wanted to sit by us. He asked if one of us was from Salt Lake. He practiced his English with me and said that he had been there 3 times. He´s a dentist here and he plans to move to Salt Lake in the near future because he thinks it´s a better place to raise a family. He said that he had been to temple square a few times and that he had a Book of Mormon and he had already been to church there. He wants to go to church here and he says he will take his wife and his daughter. He lives in another area so we passed the reference. The next guy we met stopped us on the street and asked if I was from Utah. He said he´s going there in March to visit the national parks. He asked which ones he should go to and if I had ever hiked angels landing and things like that. He was also very receptive and says he´ll go to church next week. So it´s fun to be able to work with these types of people. Actually, we spend most of our time in another neighborhood where there are more people on the street. Really, most people are humble and receptive here, but it´s only effective to work in areas that have lots of people on the streets. So we always go to those parts.

We have mission council tomorrow with all of the leaders so we´re preparing for that. Elder Tavares only has a few weeks left! It´s funny that he lives so close to here. He had already come here a few times before his mission, and even stayed in one of the members houses before. It was funny when we were leaving the member´s house that we had lunch in yesterday and he told us that he had stayed in that house several years ago with his family.

Happy new year to everyone! Have a great week. Love you!