Rio Branco: Week 11

Monday, February 29, 2016

This is Jonatan. He is a surfer and likes playing beach soccer. His baptism was on sunday!

Hi family. My birthday was pretty normal this week. We had a ward activity that night. Sounds like a great birthday dinner. Wasn´t that Grant´s dream dinner as a kid? Mashed potatoes and gravy? We´ll, I´ll be excited too if he goes to BYU this fall.

Yes, we had a van this week. During the week we had made plans with one van driver, but he ended up not working out at the last minute (Sunday morning) so we frantically looked through the streets to find someone who could help us out. Luckily we found a school van driver who was able to save the morning. We were able to fill it up with investigators and recent converts which made us happy. This week I am with a new companion- Elder Cassiano from Riberão Preto, São Paulo. We had a good first week of work. This week, Elder W. Silva and I will be going to another area after our mission council which will be on Wednesday.

Congratulations, Grandma and Grandpa Fillmore! Are you and dad already making plans to visit them? You were never able to visit G&G Church, so I think now you have to make plans.

Hey that´s exciting to hear about our planned family vacation. I guess we´ll have to take advantage of these times when everyone is home together!
I was able to do my ecclesiastical endorsement with the President. I guess I´ll be able to register now.

Have a great week! Happy leap-day.

Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 10

Monday, February 22, 2016

Lunch at a member´s mother´s house. This lady is 80 years old. She is a former law professor, who studied in france who has a few children who are successful people, one of which is a great member in our ward who does lots of favors for us. Anyway, it was a fancy lunch in a nice appt building. She has 2 maids that take care of the house. We also found out that she isn´t a member but she is very receptive. Her daughter wants us to teach her. 

This is a blackberry plant that we found here. I had never seen one here. But it´s a different type of blackberry

This is Maria das Neves. She is a recent convert that has been progressing really quickly. I am impressed with her dedication. She walks for about 45 minutes every sunday and various times during the week to go to the church. We were happy when she called us on saturday telling us that she had gone visiting teaching for the first time and made 4 visits that day with her companion. She´s funny because she has a small house with lots of cats. She lives with her 2 kids who are 16 and 19 years old, both of which were baptized in the month that she was. She loves it when we visit her and she often calls us throughout the day. She has been changing a lot since her baptism and has even been losing weight. She seems much happier now than she was before and she has made good habits of working and studying. She is really a proof that the gospel can change people´s lives!

Yep I´ll be an adult this week, not a teenager anymore! Thanks for thinking of me. Actually, my debit card expired last October, but it´s ok because personal money hasn´t been something I've needed or used much. I can´t remember if the bank sent another debit card, but anyway, i´ll be ok without one until I get home. And no, that was all news to me. Great to hear that Isaac will go on a mission! And I´m really happy for Marcus. Looks like I´ll be able to see him before he leaves then. Yes, Grant wrote me a birthday email. Good to hear that he will be a cougar.

This week on Tuesday, we were getting back from lunch which was in a really nice apartment building. I´ll send a picture. As we were walking on the street after lunch, a man that was in a hurry stopped us on the corner and said in english "market?" "supermarket?" It took me a second to figure out what was going on because it was a strange-sounding English. I realized that he didn´t speak any portuguese and I asked him in english where he was from. "England," he said. He was looking for a grocery store and I told him that we would accompany him to a nearby one. He asked me how long I had been here and I said 1 year and 8 months. I then asked him and he said 2 hours! He said that he was on a cruise ship with his wife that had gone from England down to Cape Horn- the southernmost part of south america (when he said cape horn I thought it was in Africa and he laughed). The ship had stopped for a few hours and he said that in a half hour the ship was leaving back to England. That was why he was in a hurry. So I talked with him for about 5 minutes. I think that was the first time on my mission that I met someone who only spoke English. I rarely see tourists or immigrants or anything so it was cool for me. I said that I wanted to visit England and he told me "if you visit the UK, don´t just go to London because London is just rubbish. You should go to the northern rural parts." His name is Phil and he´s from Birmingham but lives in Liverpool.

We worked hard this week and the bishop approved transportation for investigators/recent converts on Sundays because our area is a little far away from the church. During the week Elder Sales and I talked to several van drivers to see if they would be able to help us and if they could do it for our price limit. By next week we should already have a 15-passenger van helping us on Sunday mornings. This will be nice because we usually have to ask a lot of some members that have cars. It´s only about a half-an-hour walk, but the neighborhood is on a big hill, so it´s hard for some people to make the trip on foot.

We found a good street to work on this week! We found some good new people that went to church. I`ll send a couple of pictures from the week!

Love you,
Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 9

Monday, February 15, 2016

A rope swing behind the houses of some investigators. 
Gabriel´s family

His dad and grandma
with Walter Ribeiro
Yes, I was happy about Maria's baptism too and was glad when I found out that you had been praying for her. She herself admits that it was a miracle because no one had imagined that she would ever be baptized. Yes, the members will definitely take good care of her. She lives alone. This week it was her son's birthday and they invited us over for dinner. It was a coincidence because we spent the day in that area to help the missionaries and they told us that they had a dinner planned.
This week we were happy to help Gabriel to be baptized. Gabriel is a young man who has lots of family who are members of the church. His grandma lives in our ward and has been a member for 31 years. She is one of the most faithful members here. All of her kids were baptized in their youth, but a couple of them went inactive. One of her sons lives in Curitiba and he has been inactive for several years. He lives there with his 14-year-old son who had never been baptized. Once a year he passes a month or two in Natal when he´s out of school. His grandma had always taught him about the church but he had never been too interested in the church as he had gotten older. So a few weeks ago we met him when he went to church here. We went to his house during the week and started to teach him. He quickly accepted baptism but the family wanted to wait a couple of weeks for his dad to arrive from Curitiba. His dad was scheduled to come in on the 10th and it worked out perfectly for us to be able to schedule the baptism for Saturday night. It was really great and all of his family from Natal came to watch it. He was really the only one in his family who hadn´t been baptized yet and his grandma was very happy. She´s even happier to see that this will help her son to get active again. We also found out that Walter Ribeiro, the counselor to the mission president, works with Gabriel´s dad and has known him since he was his bishop years ago in Natal!

Well thanks for all the updates from home and the info about BYU registration.
Have a great week!

Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 8

Monday, February 8, 2016

Wow, thanks for your thought´s and prayers for Maria, our investigator. Actually, she´s not an investigator anymore. She´s a recent-convert! It was really one of the miracles of the week. I actually traveled with Elder W. Silva this week to Bom Jardim- Mossoró. So Elder Sales was the one who followed up with her during the week. She got mad at me last week because I took her pack of cigarettes when she wasn´t looking, haha. But she was really able to stop. Luckily, I got to see her baptism when I came back. We got back at 8pm and the baptism happened at about 8:30here. We invited her son, Felipe and his wife, Patricia. It was just them, us, and a member of the bishopric but it was a really good baptismal service. Felipe baptized her. My favorite baptisms are when members are the ones who baptize, particularly when they are of the family of the one being baptized! So that was a good highlight to end the week. I´m grateful that my companion works really hard in the area while I´m gone. I will tell her that you were praying for her and it will make her happy.

The division this week went really well. Both of us went to Bom Jardim which is an area that we had both worked in in the past. We had success working with recent converts. Of all the people that we were able to take to church- several were family or friends of recent-converts. And the others, recent converts had helped in the process of integrating them in order to come to church. One thing I like about that ward is that it runs really well but everyone in the ward is a convert. There is a great family who only has about a year-and-a-half of being members and it seems possible that their dad might be the next bishop. It was also good to work there with Elder Andrade who had been my companion before. We stayed in the ZL´s area most of the week and a couple of days I went to other areas in Mossoró too.

It´s super rainy here in Natal! About once a day it rains here. I´ve been hearing things about the Zika virus but it seems like one of those things that the media blows out of proportion. Yes, it was Carnaval week. Luckily, these cities don´t have big Carnaval parties. Lots of people here travel to other cities to go to these parades. Caicó is the city on the mission that has the biggest Carnaval parties. It didn´t mess up the work very much. It just made it a little harder because lots of people traveled! And everything was closed today.

I love you all and hope you have great weeks!

Elder Church

Rio Branco: Week 7

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Thanks for the picture of the last snow storm. Unfortunately, when I get home the weather will be just about the same there as it is here, right?

Dad, that´s great that you met with Saxton. I remember him quite a bit. He was one of my good friends in the 4th and 5th grade. Send him a hug. I am learning lots about leadership and every week I realize there are new things that I need to improve on. I love being able to meet with the president because he is so experienced that he can usually give a great solution to any problem that we are having with any area or missionary. I am also impressed with his humility- that he always listens to the opinion of others and takes it into consideration. One of the things that he has taught me is: when helping someone that has any type of problem, identify 1 or 2 points that need to improve and then let the person make a plan of how they will improve. I used to be more worried about being able to give counsel or say the right things, but lots of times it´s more effective to let the other person act and think for himself and help come up with a solution.
I´m excited to be able to take a trip to Delta with you and visit Great Grandpa Church when I get back!

This week we helped with the transfers and then worked in our area until Saturday. No, my junior stayed the same- Elder Sales. He is really good. I like being able to stay in the area to work hard and try to make the area an example. This week we were working quite a bit with Maria who is the mother of a returned missionary. She had never liked the church and had never really had any interest. She didn´t really know much of what he was doing on his mission either. He has been back for a couple of years now. My companion found her one night when I was gone and then we started to visit her during the week. She is pretty funny and has an attitude. She went to church last week and she had started to be really receptive. She was quick to accept baptism. And she doesn´t even drink coffee! But we are working with her to stop smoking and she only smokes about 2 or 3 per day now. Her son lives in another ward but I have never met him. Yesterday, I was here at the mission office which is at the side of a church building. I was talking to some members with Elder W. Silva and when we said we were from the Rio Branco ward there was a lady that asked if we were teaching her mother-in-law. So I met her son´s wife and found out that Maria had been talking to her quite a bit about us and the church. And we marked a family night for during the week with them at her house!

On Sunday we were able to have some success with bringing investigators to church. It was raining that morning which makes it hard to walk a half an hour with them to church. But luckily we had arranged with a couple of members to help give rides. I am impressed with the bishop´s example of service. He was recently released as a mission president in Florianopolis, Brazil, and is now a great bishop. But he offered to finish his meetings early and drive to the investigators houses to bring them to church. That helped us out a lot.

Well have a great week! I hope everyone´s doing well.

Elder Church