Monday, December 10, 2012

What Sweeter Music can We Bring‏ (Week 29)

Hey all,

It was a great week of hard work. We were blessed with two baptisms yesterday of Aline and Elizabeth and Gilsom was confirmed yesterday. He is really doing well. I dont know if I told the story about how we found him but we were in another neighborhood and had an appointment kind of far away. We didn't know if we should go there or not because we werent sure if the appointment would go through. We prayed and asked to know where we should go. We didn't feel anything overwhelmed, but instead decided to go ahead with our plan and go to the other neighborhood. The appointment fell through but we dedicded to knock on the aparment next to it and we found Gilsom. This was a great story about how many times we are guided by the Spirit without knowing - that's why I think it is so important to be constantly worthy and trying to do what is right. Like Elder Bednar says - if we are trying to be good boys and good girls, the Lord will bless our lives and we will be guided.

Brazil is great and the branch is really great. The baptismal service yesterday was really wonderful and the members helped a lot. I really have been grateful this week for Preach My Gospel and I know that it is an inspired book.

Quote of the week - we were teaching a man named Robson about keeping the Sabbath day holy and we asked him what was a material blessing he wanted. He said his own house. Then we asked him what was a spiritual blessing he wanted. He paused for a minute and then said a wife. It was really profound and I want to remember that. I learn a lot from our investigators.

I am doing well here and am excited for another week here in Riacho. I hope all is well with everyone receiving mission calls. Seriously, I am so proud of all those that are choosing to serve. I wish I could congratulate you all individually but know that I am very proud and happy that you are accepting the call of the Lord. ;)

Have a superb week!
Elder Jacob

Monday, December 3, 2012

There's somethin' 'bout Christmas that brings out the kid in me‏ (Week 28)

Hey all!

I hope you are all listening to the Donny Osmond Christmas at Home CD by now, seeing as it is Dec. 3.

We are doing well here in Riacho. Aline and Elizabete weren´t baptized yesterday but went to a really great (and packed!) Stake Conference and were really touched. They accepted to be baptized next Sunday so we are excited to work with them this week and get everything squared away. Gilsom will be confirmed next Sunday and bought a white shirt and tie to wear to the Stake Conference yesterday.

I have been studying about the doctrine of baptism lately. I think that our greatest protection in this world that is always changing are the covenants to constantly stay faithful to the Lord. Even when I have days that are hard to get out of bed and get going again, it is a blessing to know that I have promised to give the Lord my heart and I can just keep on going with His help.

Brazil is great and the people are really wonderful. The branch has some really solid people and they are helping with visiting our investigators which is great.

We are also focusing on finding more people to teach and improving our contacts. My Portuguese is progressing but I´ve got a lot to learn still. But really, I am happy because here on my mission I am feeling like I can do things better, I can improve who I am and change for the better. It is hard to to describe, but I feel hopeful that I can become a better person, more firm in my faith and strong in the Gospel, smarter and kinder and all that. That´s the beauty and light of the gospel - that people can change. Isn´t that cool? I am so grateful for this gospel.

I love you all and hope you are have a great week!
Elder Jacob

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving (Week 27 . . . SIX MONTHS)

Hey all!

It was a great week this week ending with the baptism of Gilson yesterday. It was a really great baptismal service and I am very grateful to have participated. We are working hard to have Aline and Elizebeth be baptized next sunday - they went to church for the first time this week and liked it a lot.

My Thanksgiving was very good - another day serving the Lord. Glad you all had a great time with the food and the family - I can smell the rolls and stuffing from here! We will find out about transfers tomorrow night but most likely I will be here in Riacho for this next transfer with Elder Sloan. It is his last transfer so he probably won't be transferred. But who knows?

Pres. Fortunato is giving us a lot of trust and responsibility in our individual areas of service - the district leaders don't call every night to check up on us and our numbers and he is emphasizing seeking the Lord´s help and direction in our stewardships here. His goal is four new stakes in Belo Horizonte before the end of next year - looks like we will be working very hard this next year.

That is great news about Grandma and Grandpa Bowler! Wow! We are really blessed to have such a great family - can't wait to have them in the ward! Congrats also to Maddie for going on the mission! That is really neat!

I´ll leave you all with my testimony that I really do know that this is the Lord´s work. I know that God is in control and He listens to our prayers. I have found great comfort from studying the scriptures because the scriptures testify of God´s love. I know that whatever point we are at in our lives, our Heavenly Father is always there to bless us and direct us if we seek Him. I love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Weekly Pao de Queijo‏ (Week 26)

How is going over there in the 801?

It was wonderful to get your email today. Thank you so much for your insights and stories. You really are the greatest family.

It was a great week - we worked hard and have two investigators progressing for baptism this Sunday. Dilson went to all three meetings yesterday! He was tired but he made it and it was a great blessing of the Lord. We also found a man called Joaquim that has a desire to follow Jesus Christ and change his life. He went to church yesterday and was touched by the respect and love the members showed him. He said that the thing that struck him about the Church was the emphasis on learning the gospel, instead of just hearing the gospel. Edna, who got baptized back in September, gave a talk yesterday about her decision to get baptized that was really powerful. She talked about how she prayed for many months to find the truth and then decided to go to the church and she knew that she had found what she was looking for. The members here are great examples and it is great to have their help.

Weather here in Brazil is just the same - usually just sunny and nice, with some rainy days. Most people already have Christmas trees up - they dont have a holiday like Thanksgiving here.

I studied Mosiah 5 today during personal study and I was struck by what it teaches about covenants. The more I think about it, our covenants and dedication to them are what keep us happy and safe in this life. As we listen and always remember the name that is written in our hearts (as it says in Mosiah 5) we will hear and know the voice of the Lord. I think that is why it is so important to always go to church and partake of the sacrament worthily - so we can always remember who we've promised to be and thus receive the blessings of our dedication. The weekly blessing of the Sacrament is just another testament of the divinity of this Church. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ.
love, Elder Jacob

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Weekly Pao de Queijo‏ (Week 25)

Hey all,

I am doing very well out here. Dilson is progressing. Despite his Parkinsons, he came to church at 9:30 in stead of 10:30 yesterday and has great faith. We gave him a blessing of health - here is a funny Portuguese story for you - and as I was putting the oil on his head I mixed up the words for drop and little girl (gota and garota) and I told him that I was going to put a little girl on his head. Yup, I am still working on the Portuguese.  Oh, another funny story - we were teaching a lady this week and I told her that I was going to leave a part of the Book of Mormon with her to read. She asked if I was going to rip out the pages of the book and I, not understanding, confidently and happily said, ´´Sim.`` Elder Sloan came to the rescue and understanding was established.

As far as time on P-day goes with the computers/letter writing, the time is restricted - we only have about 45 minutes on the computer and today we had to email abunch of information to the escritorio about contacts so I wont send pictures today but hopefully next week. I am sorry that I haven't been able to send letters very frequently - going to the post office is hard. I will try and send more letters next week. Pd-ay is really fast so we don't have a ton of time. I really am sorry.

While you guys were running Ragnar, I have a story about running this week for you. We taught a man named Claudio in a neighborhood half an hour from our house. We finished the lesson at 9:10 or so and needed to get to our place by 9:30. So we started running. It was a really really cool memory - running in the rain up a hill with my backpack bouncing on my back past some old warehouses in the nighttime in Contagem Brazil. As I was running, I thought to myself how cool and blessed I am to be where I am. I really wouldn't rather be anywhere else right now except running in the rain in Brazil. It was a cool memory and I am grateful to be here.

Dad that was such a cool story about your investigator. Wow, that is really so neat. Thank you for sharing that because that gives me more motivation to see the people we teach as they can be and not as they are now. Selma and Giselle are doing very well and loving the gospel. It really is a blessing to see these people grow and help them understand the beauty of the gospel.

I love you all and I am doing well! I know that the Church is true and that we are blessed beyond measure to be members of the Church.
Elder Jacob

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oh yeah‏ (Week 24)



Hey All!

I am doing well out here. We are helping Dilson prepare for baptism this Sunday. He has Parkinsons disease and is a really smart guy. He has been having a lot of troubles with family lately but it is edifying to see him embrace the gospel. Celma and Giselle were confirmed yesterday. They are already talking about going to the temple in a year. They are really special and I am going to miss them a lot.

Crazy story of the week - in sacrament meeting yesterday there was a man from Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in Belo Horizonte but moved to Georgia when he was 7. He moved back to Brazil a month ago because of all the crazy stuff that has been happening with the storm in New York. He saw it as a sign of the times and ended up in a sacrament meeting in Contagem, MG. We taught him the first lesson (in English - boy, was that weird.) and he accepted to be baptized next Sunday. The elders in the area next to us are going to teach him, but it was really cool. He is a really intelligent and interested individual. The Lord sure works in mysterious ways.

Elder Sloan and I are doing well and working hard. Elder Sloan has this habit of singing hymns but only the first line of the hymn - for example, he will sing ´´Come Come Ye Saints, oh come, come ye saints! Come ye saints, come ye saints.´´ to the tune of the hymn. I enjoy it - it helps to bring a laugh to our work. I am really enjoying Brazilian juices - they have some really tasty ones thanks to the proximity of a variety of fresh fruit. And for all those of you who thought I don't like to eat eggs, I have learned to like them. One thing we are doing is inviting all the members to fast and pray that the branch can grow and the missionary effort will be blessed. Fasting and prayer are simple things that really bring big blessings.

I am honestly so grateful to be serving a mission right now. I read in Our Heritage about Zion´s camp and all the early leaders of the Church. I thought about my ancestors distant and not so distant and I am honored to have their examples. And yesterday, hearing the Brazilian saints bearing testimony of the gospel, my faith and resolve to be more dedicated to this cause was strengthened. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this Church is His church. I honestly am grateful to be a missionary of the Lord.

Well, that´s it for me this week! I am doing well, happy and healthy! Hope you all are the same! Be Happy! Be good!

Elder Jacob

P.S. The cockroaches aren't huge here but there are quite a few. I try and shoo them out of the shower in the morning just so I don't have to worry about them, but really they aren't that bad.

Monday, October 29, 2012

If you wanna make the world a betta place, take a look at yourself and make a change‏ (Week 23)

Hey guys!

Your email is better than all the pão de queijo in the world. And that is saying a lot because I really do love the cheesy bread here. Thank you so much for lifting my spirits with your stories, jokes, quotes and insights. I really do miss you all so much and think about you often. You are such a wonderful family - thank you.

Yesterday Celma and Gisele were baptized. With Geralda not getting baptized last week, Elder Sloan and I were anxious to not have Celma and Gisele fall through. We brought members with us to all the lessons and were constantly thinking and trying to prepare for any questions or concerns they had. They were blessed and protected by the Lord. Celma has 5 other kids and most of them are giving her a really hard time for getting baptized. One son isn't talking to her because of it. But Celma is firm and resolved and was stalwart through it all, reading the Book of Mormon and finding answers to her questions without our help. Celma reminds me a lot of Grandma Bowler and Gisele is the same age as you Annie! Her birthday is in two weeks or so and she will be 13. The Young Women in the branch here are really reaching out to her. Giselle makes the third member of the Young Women here in Riacho. It was such a blessing to be a part of their baptism yesterday. They are very special and they are a tender mercy of the Lord.

Brazilians enjoy eating pancakes - just not in the way that we do. They use them as main courses loaded with meat, cheese and vegetables. It is interesting but good. Also, the secret to any good Brazilian dessert is a lot of condensed milk. Simple but very effective.

Everyday we study, practice lessons, study Portuguese, and then go out proselyting. We talk to people on the street, knock doors, and right now are working on having more family nights with members to invite non-members to learn more. We have lunch with a member everyday - just for an hour - and we have to be in our house by 9:30 at night. We walk everywhere except when Elder Sloan needs to interview someone in the area next to us and then we take the bus. We live about ten minutes from the chapel. After getting home at night we plan for the next day, I make some chocolate milk and we study and are praying with lights out by 10:30. I am doing well - just trying to focus my mind completely on the mission and learn how to teach with more clarity and power. It is humbling and hard work to be a missionary but I am really grateful to be here. Hope that answers all your questions! Give me a list next week and I will try to be better. I love you and am so grateful for you!
I am doing well - just trying to up my dedication and passion for this great work. I really want to be more dedicated and a more efficient and powerful missionary. My teaching needs to improve - I haven't gotten the knack for asking really good questions yet. But I am working and studying and this week I will be focusing a lot more on how to be a more dedicated and powerful missionary. The Lord deserves the best and I really want to give my best to him.

One thing I have been learning is how to be calm when things don't go according to plan. I think I have been learning this lesson my whole life, but especially out here you don't know what is going to happen during your day so you can't be too occupied with trying to have everything be perfect. At times, my tendency is to freak out and panic, to try and do what I want to do. But I am trying to focus more on relying on the Spirit and I have learned that you can't rely on the Spirit if your stressed and worried. I think about the times when I went repelling with Bro. Francis - If I freaked out and tried to go down the mountain my way, I couldn't do it. But if I trusted in the ropes, had faith that they would hold me and leaned not to my own understanding but to the Spirit and the unseen, I can easily descend and receive the satisfaction of accomplishing my goal. Anyway, these are my thoughts this week.

I know that this Church is true and I am so grateful to be in the service of the Lord. I love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, October 22, 2012

There´ll be Joy in the Morning‏ (Week 22)

Hey all,
It was a great week and I am very grateful to be out here serving. Geralda decided to not listen to the spiritual impression that she received about the Book of Mormon and she decided that she´d rather stay where she is. It was frustrating because we were working really hard with her. Selma and her 12 year old daughter are progressing well for baptism and also we are teaching a young man named Jordan who is interested as well. I have been trying to focus on what Pres. Monson spoke about in his talk - seeing people as they can be and not as they are right now. I am in Riacho with Elder Sloan for another transfer and this will be a great opportunity to really get the work rolling seeing as we know the members and the area pretty well by now.
We eat lunch with members everyday and I am really enjoying the food here. I have developed a love for beans and rice and the Brazilians have some really good casseroles and stroganoffs. Anyway, I'm well taken care of here.
Today I studied Mosiah 12-16, Abinadi's sermon about the nature of the Savior as the Father, Son and Redeemer. There is a really good spirit here on the mission - I don't know what it is but when I study the scriptures I learn much more and feel much more than I did before. It is really cool. Might be the fact that I am reading in Portuguese and I have to concentrate more.
I know that this work is true and the Lord lives and loves us all. If we follow His commandments, we will be saved in the last days.
I love you all and you are the greatest people I know. Have a great week!
Elder Jacob

Monday, October 15, 2012

These Are the Days‏ (Week 21)

Hey guys!

It was a great and humbling week. Unfortunately, we didn't have any investigators at church yesterday and Geralda wasn't baptized. But we are continuing to work and improve and we will bring these investigators to church next week. I am really humbled and grateful to be a missionary. This week Elder Sloan had a leadership conference with Pres. Fortunato and the other district leaders so I got to study and work with the Zone Leaders for part of the day. Elder Cerutti from Rio Grande do Sul is one of our zone leaders and I really learned a lot from him about my desires and purpose as a missionary. With all the excitement about the age changes for missionaries, anyone who wants to better understand missionary work, all you have to do is pick up Preach My Gospel and start studying. Pres. Fortunato said that Preach My Gospel was written on the other side of the veil and I can really see why as I study and learn everyday from it. I am very grateful for living prophets and apostles that guide us and help us to understand this wonderful gospel.

Inspiring story - There is a 10 year old girl who attends church at the branch here every single Sunday. Her family isn't baptized and don't go to church but she goes every single Sunday. How neat is that? Also, there is a family that attends the ward next to the branch here that spends 50 reais every Sunday to go to church by bus. It is a family of six and they all go to church every week. These are just some of the many examples of faith that I am seeing here in Brazil. I am really grateful for the dedication of the members here.

I am doing well and officially am done training! That doesn't mean much though because I am going to be learning bastante for the rest of my mission. Elder Sloan has taught me many great things and I am very grateful for his leadership.

I was reading in Jesus the Christ about the tempatations of the Savior - how Satan always used the word IF to tempt our Lord. He said If you be the Son of God, If you have all power, etc. I was struck by one of the ways Satan gets us is by making us forget who we are. Who are we? We are children of the Most High, intelligences given great power and blessings. We are the work and the glory of God and we cannot fail if we turn to Him. The Savior didnt forget who He was when He was tempted to be less than His potential and neither should we. This idea has helped me to stay true to the gospel even when it was hard. So if you are discouraged or down, just remember who you are and that you are entitled to the Lord´s help.
I loved the Lord of the Rings quote by the way. Until next week!

Elder Jacob


Monday, October 8, 2012

Take His hand and with Him enter in‏ (Week 20)

Hello all!

To say that it was an edifiying week full of the Spirit is an understatement. We had a really wonderful Zone conference on Wednesday with Pres. and Sis. Fortunato and the assistants. Pres. Fortunato is really inspiring and the focus of the conference was diligence and conversion. He taught us that diligence is doing your very best today and then tomorrow doing even better. None of us are perfect and always have something to improve so we always need to humbly follow, improve and repent and one day we will become like Christ. What a great blessing to have the opportunity in this life to repent and change. It was a great meeting. Also, Sis. Fortunato showed the picture you sent so the whole Zone of Contagem knows what you guys look like.

We were only able to attend Conference on Sunday so I watched Priesthood and the two general sessions on Sunday. What a blessing to have these men and women leading the Church. I noticed a theme of conversion and becoming saints of God. Pres. Monson's address about seeing people as they can be not as they are was terrific and I am going to apply that idea as we teach and testify out here in Brazil. Elder Christofferson's talk about manning up and finishing the work we have to do was great also - I am going to be more diligent in my studies and exercises in the morning. Elder Holland was especially moving this conference - he always is, but this time around it was thrilling to hear him, even in Portuguese! The question of whether or not we truly love the Savior is one we always need to ask. Elder Sloan and I have been enjoying singing that hymn sung solo by the member of the choir - what a voice! It was sweeter than butter and richer than chocolate! Wow! As always, conference was just what I needed to hear and I felt a great spirit during the sessions. Please send the Ensign as soon as you get it!

Funny story - Elder Scott pre-recorded his address in Portuguese but he talked a bit longer in English than he recorded in Portuguese so for the last 3 minutes of the talk, all the Brazilians could hear was him speaking in English. It was a good talk though, so thats the good news.

Geralda will be baptized this Sunday and is very exciting. What a blessing it is to be a missionary. I am honestly so grateful and happy to be here. The news about the age limit is very exciting! I know that missions are powerful things and I have felt myself change and improve greatly in the short time I have been out. I am so grateful for this knowledge that we have of the Truth. Pres. Ezra Taft Benson said that the Gospel is the only thing that can bring peace, happiness and salvation to humanity. How blessed we are to have it in our lives and to be able to deepen our understanding of it everyday. I know that only through Christ we can be happy. So if the journey seems long and the path rugged and steep, just remember to take His hand and with Him enter into His rest.
I love you all and I know that the gospel is the only way to happiness.
Elder Jacob

Friday, October 5, 2012

Zone Conference October 2012

It is so good to see this happy, smiling face!!!

Zone Conference in Contagem October 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

We´ll sing and We´ll shout‏ (Week 19)

Elder Jacob at the baptism of Alexia (age 10). 
Her mom, Claudia, and her brother, Adriel, were baptized the week before. 
Ben said, "They are a wonderful family and truly a blessing of the Lord. 
Its' so cool to see the gospel applied in the lives of others.  It's really neat.  I know the gospel is true!"

Hey Fam!
I am doing very well out here in Riacho. We found a wonderful lady named Geralda that is really excited and progressing. She went to church yesterday and we had a great time teaching her about the Plan of Salvation today - it really is a pleasure to teach people that want to learn! It was a great lesson and I am grateful I get to see the effect of the gospel in the lives of others. Don't know if you remember Edna who was baptized two weeks ago, but she is very firm and strong - telling everyone she meets about the gospel. She is a hairdresser and always has Liahonas out in the salon for people to see. She is a great example and I want to have her enthusiasm for sharing the gospel!
The members here are really great and I am grateful for their help - we are trying to increase our lessons with members. We are also really excited to bring investigators to General Conference this weekend - four opportunities to bring them to the Church! Also, we are having a Zone Conference on Wednesday with Pres. Fortunato which will be great.
Elder Sloan continues to teach me how to be a more direct and powerful missionary. I am really grateful for his patience - I can be pretty prideful at times, but I am grateful for the many things he has taught me. We are working hard and it is a pleasure to serve with him.
Quote of the day - It is serving God and others with full heart and soul that turns testimony of truth into unbreakable spiritual strength. - Pres. Eyring - Mountains to Climb.
I love you and I know that this Church is true. I know that the Book of Mormon is a miracle of God and I am so grateful for it. I hope you all are making the most of the opportunity that is ours to delve into the scriptures - it is something I need to be better at and something I really want to do.
Elder Jacob

Monday, September 24, 2012

I don't believe that man has ever been to medical school (Week 18)

Hey all!

I am doing well here in Riacho. We worked hard and found some great people to teach. The difficulty we are facing right now is getting them to church - there is always an excuse whether it be work, sleeping in, etc. I really enjoy teaching and have a lot of things to improve - one of them is being more concise and direct. Elder Sloan is a superb example of this and I am grateful to have his guidance. Our goal this week is to be missionaries the Lord can trust because we can't do this work without His help. Last night during weekly planning we had a great talk and it was cool to hear his input on how I can be better. It was a great experience and I hope to learn to be as good a companion as Elder Sloan is someday.

Riacho is an area with about 5 bairros or neighborhoods in it. These neighborhoods are part of the city Contagem which is a city close to Belo Horizonte. The people here are really great and I enjoy learning and adopting the Brazilian way of thinking, speaking and living.

Yesterday I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting. My accent was as big as Brazil but I hope they all felt the Spirit. We tried to be firm and motivate the members to do missionary work too. This is something I did not understand before but I understand much better now - the members make all the difference. If the members are solid and welcoming, the converts will stay in the Church. I read in Preach My Gospel that we should all pray and fast for opportunities to share the gospel. It is a commandment to share what we know and the good news is the Lord will help us as we do our part. I am very grateful to be serving this mission - I really am so grateful to be here. There are hard days and ups and downs but it is all good - all good!

Funny thought I had the other day - Remember those days in Misawa when we didn't have roofs? Man, I am grateful that the Air Base in Pearl Harbor has roofs because those were some rough days - with the snow and all.

I am really enjoying reading the Book of Mormon in Portuguese. The coolest thing about it is that I understand the same stories and verses in a different way - it is like relearning all the cool things about the gospel. I am really grateful for this tender mercy.

I am happy healthy and excited to work this week. Hope all is well with you!

I re-read Pres. Bensons talk about the Book of Mormon being the Keystone of our Religion and it is amazing. I really am so grateful for the Book of Mormon and I hope that you all are reading it together everyngiht - I miss those great, sometimes crazy, times when we read the Book of Mormon together. I love you so much and really am so grateful for your example in my life. 
Have a wonderful week family! You are the best and I love you!

Elder Jacob

Monday, September 17, 2012

Oh What a Beautiful Mornin‏' (Week 17)

Hey all!

Thank you for a great email -I can't tell you how much it means to me to hear that you are doing well and working hard. I sure love you and miss you a lot.

The subject line of this email comes from Elder Sloan - a tender mercy of the Lord is that he enjoys singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" when we leave the house in the morning.  Always brightens my day - nothing quite like music to lift your spirits!

We are working hard and were blessed with a baptism yesterday of Edna Lenoir de Maura. She had frequented the Church for months but got legally married last week and was baptized yesterday. I really do love seeing the effect the gospel has on peoples lives.
A cool story of the week - we taught a man named Simon. He is a devout 7th day adventist but really wants to learn about what we believe. He just couldn't get past the idea that we worship on Sunday. We talked for ever and Elder Sloan did a masterful job of quoting scriptures from the Bible to help him understand how God really can change the day of the week if He wants. The whole question of 7th day worship rests on the fact of Joseph Smith being a prophet - if he was a prophet, then the Lord revealed to him that Sunday worship is acceptable. We explained this to him and he asked a golden question - How can I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet? We happily explained more about the Book of Mormon, but he was still hesitant to read with this doubt about the Sabbath day in his mind. We were about ready to leave when I thought I would read to him the part in Mosiah when Abinadi teaches the 10 commandments. When he heard that the Book of Mormon teaches that we should honor the sabbath day, he said - I want to read the Book of Mormon. We will see how it turns out but I am so grateful for the amazing Book of Mormon and how it really can bring understanding to any honest seeker of truth. I am very grateful for Elder Sloan and all that we learned from the lesson.

We are still working with Antonio - the goal is baptism this Sunday. I am so grateful for this amazing gospel and this choice time I have to study and learn and grow. I have enjoyed reading the Conference talks again in preparation for General Conference. The discourse from Pres. Eyring titled Moutains to Climb is really wonderful.

I got some really great letters from Grandma and Grandpa Jacob, Uncle George LeSueur and The Brown family this week. Tell them thank you so much!

I love you all and I am very grateful to be out here serving the Lord. I am very grateful for your support and prayers. I love you!
Elder Jacob

Monday, September 10, 2012

Howdy Do! (Week 16)

Hey all!  How are you doing?

Thank you for the great email! I am so happy to hear that you all are
doing well. I am doing very well here in Riacho. The 1st transfer is
over and I have really learned a lot.  Thankfully, I am still with
Elder Sloan and working here in Riacho.  It is a great blessing to be
learning with him and we are striving to bring more people to church
and to baptism.  Antonio continues to struggle with smoking but we
have faith and are going to work hard with him this week.  The
Portuguese is coming - at times it is frustrating when the Brazilians
look at you and you just know they are thinking how dumb you sound but
I will get it don't you worry! Dad, I want to know more about how you
were with Korean.  I never asked you but I can imagine how difficult
it was for you - Portuguese is hard enough! I am happy, healthy and
really grateful to be here in Brazil.  One thing that has really
struck me is the example of members here in Brazil.  The branch only
has 70 active members but those that are active are really strong.  It
is really cool to see the same gospel being applied in this different

One of the things that I have learned and been studying lately is the
grace of God.  I can't tell you how many times I have said a silent
prayer of gratitude or pled for help to continue walking or studying
or being happy and literally I received divine help.  Honestly, it
wasn't me - it was the grace of God helping me through the tough
moments.  Prayer is essential if we are to make it through this life
without bitterness and sin.  We all need direction in our lives and I
am so grateful for the chance I have to strengthen my relationship
with my Father in heaven.  I hope that you all will remember Heavenly
Father throughout your days because I know that He loves His Children
and everything He has given us is for our own good.

I think a tender mercy of the Lord is the pao de quejio here in
Brazil.  It is wonderful.

I am so grateful to be changing, growing and learning so much here in
Brazil.  I know that this Church is true and that Joseph Smith was a
Prophet of God.  I am so grateful for my knowledge and testimony of
the Gospel.  And I am so grateful for all of you - I love you!

Elder Jacob

Monday, September 3, 2012

What does a fish do? (Week 15)

Hey all!

Its another beautiful day in the mission field. I am healthy and happy. This week we worked hard but have resolved to work hard this next week to have more success. Antonio continues to smoke unfortunately and it has been difficult to know what to do with him. The silver lining is that I have thought more about the Atonement of Christ than I have before. The cool thing about serving a mission is you get to see the gospel in action - the literal power it has to change and inspire lives. I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve.

Elder Sloan is a great trainer and continues to teach me loads. We have great discussions about the mysteries of the universe and he has a saying that I really like. He says, ´Todo mundo precisa. Eu vou.´ Translated it means Everybody needs to do something. I am going to do it. Something like that, haha. It inspires me to actually do and not just think about what I should do. I am definitely changing and learning to be more decisive and firm with people.

Brasil is a wonderful place. The people here are great and the members are wonderful. We have lunch with a family everyday and they are always very nice. It is interesting though - the majority of people down here think about God in a very different way. He is sort of a celebrity magic genie person. Everyone says things like Gracas a Deus and Deus é fiel but often their devotion doesn't go beyond that. I am not trying to be judgmental - in reality, this has motivated me to think about my relationship with God and how often my actions are directly tied to my faith in my Father in Heaven.

Elder Sloan and I live in a little house with three rooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. There are two beds but I am looking forward to the time when I can sleep on the floor because some houses don't have beds. We have hot water, a washing machine and use a clothes line to dry our clothes. We have a study room where we study and practice every morning. I have been trying to be diligent with my ab work out and pushups every morning.

I learned a great Portuguese joke. Que um peixe faz? Nada. Translated it means What does a fish do? Nothing. But Nada is also the conjugation of the verb to swim so hence the joke. Probably not that funny on your end but I always crack up when I think about it.

We walk everywhere generally. The buses here are doido (crazy). I really like them - I think of Big Thunder Mountain in Disneyland whenever I ride the bus. But we walk everywhere and it is great. I actually enjoy the walking - it is a great time to think. Contagem is a bit bigger than Provo. Right now there is an election. Elections here are more like student council elections in high school. They have music and singing playing from cars all the day long and the election isn't until October. It is different but fun!

I can honestly say that I have been blessed by the Lord this week. I have felt His love greatly during the hard times when I feel overwhelmed. I read 1 Nephi 17 today - it is really a beautiful chapter of scripture. The parallelism that Nephi uses to compare the Children of Israel and the Family of Lehi is really interesting. I wondered what really was the difference between Nephi and his brethren. I decided that what made the difference was that Nephi decided to ask and seek the will of the Lord. He sought to understand the plan that God had for him and his family. He lived worthy and received divine guidance which helped him to be obedient and dedicated. On the other hand, Laman and Lemuel didn't seek to understand the will of God and found it very difficult to be obedient. They didn't understand the why of the gospel, why we have commandments and why the Lord asks us to do the things He does. I am going to try and seek the will of the Lord more in my life and seek to understand the Atonement more completely. Elder Sloan always says "If someone really understands the Atonement, they will never forget to pray, never not go to church and never break the commandments." I really like that idea and it is good to think about.

Thank you to for the wonderful letters from the Grandparents! It really is a special treat to be able to learn from your wisdom and advice. Thank you so much for all you have done for me in my life! I love you!

Have a wonderful week! Remember the Lord always! Be Good! Be Happy!
Love, Elder Jacob

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bom Dia! (Week 14)

Hey everybody!

I am doing very well here in Riacho. It was a good week - we worked hard and I learned a ton. I am actually very excited for this next week to apply a lot of the principles I learned. Claudia's daughter was baptized yesterday and Claudia and Adriel were confirmed. I am really happy to know them - they are really great examples and I am excited to see the light of the gospel bless their lives.

On Thursday we had a mission conference with President Claudio Costa, a member of the 70 and Area President for the Brasil Area. It was very edifying and I learned a lot about how to use Preach My Gospel, how to be more concentrated on the Savior during my work and how to feel and follow the Spirit. My testimony was really stregnthened when I heard him bear testimony of the Savior. He had some great stories and really was inspiring. I am very grateful for this church and the organization of the Priesthood. I know that when the Lord calls a man and the man is obedient, the will of the Lord will be done. It was also fun to meet some more elders and chat with some friends that I came here with. Elder Sloan got to have an interview with Pres. Costa - cool huh? It was a great day and we learned a lot.
Elder Sloan is a fantastic companion and very patient as I stumble through the process of learning Portuguese. This morning during companion study we had a really inspiring discussion about grace and mercy and how to apply the Atonement of Christ in our lives. I am very grateful for him.

Funny story of the week - Elder Sloan ran into a truck while we were walking down the road. He was watching some guys play futbol and ran into the truck. I guess I should have warned him. Oh well.

I am so happy and grateful for this calling and opportunity to serve. Really, I am not just saying that but I sincerely mean it. When we pray in the morning, I get a little thrill and am sincerely grateful to be out here, learning, growing and understanding more about my Savior. I read the entry on Faith this morning in True to the Faith. It really was inspiring to me and so if you have sometime, give it a read and ponder exactly what it means to have faith.

I am so grateful for the mercy and grace of the Lord in my life. I know that this Church is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I love you all!
The Lord is good! Be good! Be Happy! I love you!

Elder Jacob

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's me again‏ . . . (Week 13)

This was a really good week. We worked hard and focused on less actives for most of the week since this was the direction from Pres. Fortunato. It was very interesting talking with all sorts of people why they had left the church. Surprisingly, a significant amount of return missionaries are inactive now - it is hard for me to believe actually. We did our best to rekindle their love and testimony of the gospel and got a lot of references from our visits so that was good. I just don't know why people wouldn't want to be a part of the Church of Jesus Christ - it is such a blessing in my life and I don't know who I would be without it.
The best part of the week? Claudia and her son Adriel were baptized yesterday. Three weeks ago we knocked on their door and they let us in. They were very open and completed every invitation and challenge we gave them. Then one week, they told us that they didn't want to get baptized, that it was too soon and they weren't ready. We told them that we knew they were ready and answered all of their doubts, but they still didn't accept. We thought that they weren't going to progress anymore but then one day, we were talking with them and they started asking about the baptismal interview. They asked when it could be done. Without us reminding them, they wanted to be baptized. This was a really big testimony builder for me. The reason they wanted to be baptized was because they honestly and sincerely sought for the truth. They prayed and received answers because they sincerely wanted to know. And they will be blessed for that. I was really touched and I know that this is the Lord's work.
Funny Portuguese story for the week - I invited someone to be baptized without knowing it. I used the wrong grammar rule and in the middle of the lesson asked him to be baptized. Haha. He accepted though so we are going to go back and talk with him.
Elder Sloan is a great trainer and he is teaching me many important things - I am learning to be more assertive and direct with people which is a skill that I have needed to improve for a while. We are friends and it is great to have someone patient to teach me things and someone obedient so we can have success.
I sent some letters today so Sam you should be getting your birthday letter in about a week or two! Sorry about that. And Annie and Ellie, I sent you good luck with school letters so you should be enjoying those as well.
Oh another funny thing - in the pot of chicken at a members house this week was a whole leg including the foot of a chicken. Sweet huh? I think they took the whole chicken, cut him up and put him in the pot. Don't worry, I didn't eat the foot.
Honestly, I am so grateful to be out here on this mission. It is a different kind of happy than I have ever experienced and many times throughout the day it will hit me that I am on a mission. That I am doing what I have been thinking about for all my life! It is a wonderful thing and I am grateful to be able to grow closer to the Lord everyday. I know that prayers are heard and if we need answers, and we always do, we need only pray and study the scriptures. We will feel the Spirit talking to us. I am so grateful for this. Brazil is great and I am happy. I hope you all are happy as well and know that I pray for you all. Be happy! Be good! and have a great week!
Elder Jacob

Monday, August 13, 2012

10 says he shorts it. 20. (Week 12)

Hey all!
It feels like just yesterday I was writing! Things here on my end are going very well. By going very well I mean I am learning a lot, especially about humility, work, and Portuguese. I am very grateful for Elder Sloan - he has a lot of patience with my large sotaque (accent) and he always corrects me which I really need. Joseph Smith said, "I am a rough rock rolling but with accelerated contact with large objects I will become a polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty." Though I am a rough rock rolling, someday I hope to be a polished shaft! We have been working really hard. We are really close to baptism with Antonio - he just needs to quit smoking. We pray for him and call him everyday and even gave him a blessing (Elder Sloan let me be voice) and he is making progress. I am getting tougher skin as well - the other night we taught a lesson to a Presbyterian pastor who used to be Mormon. It was very cool because I was able to bear testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Spirit was really strong. We invited him to read and follow Moroni's promise so we will see. Pres. Fortunato is really focusing on less active members and encouraging us to teach them to get them back going to church as well as get good referrals for other investigators. This is inspired and we are excited to get to work and see the fruits of the labor!
It is very nice weather here and I am happy! The pão de queijo is awesome here. Two of my favorite things - bread and cheese - molded into a scrumptious, warm, and chewy delight. But I will stop talking about food and focus on the more important things.
Thank you to all who have written letters! I apologize for not writing - we don't have time out here to write a ton of letters and the post office is out of our area so please know that I appreciate them and am sorry I am not able to respond to them!
This week I read 2 Nephi 2, an amazing chapter about the power of choice. I really gained a testimony of the fact that this life is all up to us. Our happiness, our success and our spirituality is all up to us! We have the great opportunity to act, to live, to repent and to work in this great day of life! And because of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are free to choose what kind of life we want to have. I especially like 2 Nephi 2:24 - All things have been done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things. What a comfort it is to know that all that happens in our lives is known and understood by our Father in Heaven. We don't need to whine or complain - He loves us and will bless us. It is just up to us to choose if we will follow Him or not.
I love you all and I hope and pray you are healthy happy and living the gospel! Have a great week!
Elder Jacob
P.S. The post office is out of the area and is really hard to get to on our busy P-days. I am sorry for lack of letters. If you can tell Grandma and Grandpa Bowler, Grandma and Grandpa Jacob, and Sister King a big thank you for the letters - they were wonderful. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Brazil smells like Fiji. Old Spice Fiji that is. (Week 11)

Boa Tarde everybody!

It has been a great week and I am honestly very happy and excited to be serving this mission. Its a different kind of happy - we work hard and there are times of disappointment but always theres a sense that this is the Lords work and I need to be happy, grateful and patient with the opportunities and challenges I have now. I am so grateful to be out here!

Lets see, this week we have taught a lot and it has been really great. Elder Sloan is a great trainer and really teaching me a lot - also, he has great patience with me because at times I am not the fastest learner. We have had some really cool experiences - last Sunday, we were at the end of the day and hadn't really taught anyone in a while. We prayed and kept pushing on. We kept knocking doors and no luck. Then one guy, Marcos, let us into his house and we started talking with him. Turns out his dad was a member and his brother served a mission. He is separated from his wife and really has a desire to change. We taught him that night the Restoration and the Spirit was so strong. Honestly, it wasnt anything we did - he really needed to hear the message. The Spirit is the key and I was just grateful to be in the room and feel that great love and hope that God has for Marcos. We are going to help him stop smoking and drinking and we are going to teach his two children also.

Brazil is great. Lunch is the big meal here and it is always provided by a family in the branch. And it is really good food - lots of rice and beans and casseroles but it is really good, especially because we dont have to cook it. The branch is really nice and though it has a lot of less actives, the members that are active are very supportive and awesome. And we will get to work on those less actives!

I am in Contagem and we have four or five bairros, neighborhoods, in our area. The branch is called the Riacho branch but we share the chapel with a ward as well. I feel safe and as long as I don't do anything stupid, I am sure I will be fine. It is very civilized here and the Brazilian people are very great. Like any people, you have nice people, weird people and grouchy people but it is great. It is just Elder Sloan and I in our house. I get mail depending on whether or not the Zone leaders pick it up from the office so don't I know. (Yesterday I got letters from Grandma Bowler and Demarie Thank you!!!! These letters always make my day!)

In two weeks we are going to have a mission conference with Elder Costa of the Seventy. I am muito animado por isso. Yesterday we had a great zone conference and we are going to focus a lot more on using members in our work as well as encouraging our investigators to have spiritual experiences.

I am very grateful for Preach My Gospel. It is an inspired book and extremely helpful. I am especially grateful for the section on prayer in chapter 4. If you can, give it a look through. It has helped me improve my prayers and helped me think about things that I should pray for that I had not thought of before. I know that prayer is really a conversation with God and I am so grateful for the time at the end of the day when I can kneel and talk to my Father in Heaven about my day, what I did, what I need to do, and seek His guidance. I know that all of us, no matter who we are, can sincerely pray to our Father in Heaven and He will answer. We are all children of God and He loves all of us.

I love you all too and I hope you are all happy, healthy and always remember the goodness of God! Have a great week!

Elder Jacob

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Are you guys Jehovah's Witness? (Week 10)

Well hello!

Its been an amazing first week on the mission. First off, I am happy, healthy and so very grateful to be here.

Elder Sloan is an amazing trainer - very very dedicated and is teaching me tons everyday. We are friends and a tender mercy of the Lord is that he loves the nature and national parks of Utah just like me. Last night we had a few minutes and he showed me some beautiful pictures of Utah - Zions, Arches, Mt. Timp, it was wonderful. A breath of fresh air. Besides you guys, I miss the beauty of Utah a lot. Elder SLoan went to East High and has been on his mission for more than a year now. He's District Leader and a great example. We work hard and I'm trying to follow his lead because its a good one. I'm blessed to have him as my first comp.

Brazil is awesome. Many differences but a great place. The people are humble and good. Some friendly, some not. Funny story for the week - we were batendo portas (knocking doors) and one lady asked if we were Jehovah's Witness. I did not understand her portuguese so I said Yes! Elder Sloan had to come to the rescue and explain. Whoops. The Portuguese is progressing - at times it is frustrating because my accent is so bad, but I will get there. I have faith!

This past Sunday I had the great privilege of baptizing a man named Wanderson. We only met him last week but because of the great effort of recent-convert members here in Riacho, he was well prepared. It was a very spiritual experience and I'm glad Elder Sloan let me baptize him. It strengthened my faith that we all can be missionaries and help others enjoy the gospel.

This really is the work of the Lord. When I feel overwhelmed or discouraged, I say a prayer and I receive strength to keep going. I have learned so much and felt the Spirit in new and great ways. I really am happy and grateful to be here. My promise to anyone who reads this is that if you honestly seek the Lord and follow the commandments - love your neighbor, read the scriptures, pray, you will be blessed, guided and protected. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I know that this Church is true. And I am so grateful for your support and love.

Until next week!

Elder Jacob

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vamos Irmaos Contar means Let´s Sing Brothers‏ (Week 9)

Oi familia!

I'm writing this in an internet cafe in Novo Riacho in Contagem, Minas Gerais! I made it to the field safe and sound and I couldn't be happier.  My trainer is Elder Sloan from Salt Lake City and he´s awesome. He was a great sport with all my heavy bags and stuff. Its been a crazy day but I'm happy.

Pres. Fortunato is wonderful. He's extremely nice and really spiritual. Yesterday we had an amazingly good lunch at their home and met his daughter and had a testimony meeting. Sister Fortunato is amazing also, she's so sweet and both are wonderful, wonderful people. I had a really great interview with Pres. Fortunato and felt the Spirit really really strongly. Mom, he told me like five times to tell you thank you for your sacrifice as a mother for my mission. He wants you and dad both to know that he will look after me and he is very grateful for your support and sacrifice. He really wanted you to know that. He said, Por Favor, diga sua mai que eu amo seu filho. He is great and I'm happy.

The CTM was wonderful and it was a bit hard to say good bye to Elder Reese. He will be a fantastic missionary. But I'm so excited to be here in the field. Belo Horizonte is a lot like San Francisco - tons of hills! Its a lot more charming than Sao Paulo and I feel very excited.

I'm so glad to hear that Zach's farewell went well. He will be a great missionary. Tell him best of luck for me and I hope he, the family and Allie are doing well. I'm going to make this short because I've got to write an email to Pres. Fortunato and Elder Sloan still has to write, but please know that I think of you always and pray for you everyday. I pray especially that you will be protected and given peace that I am doing the right thing serving this mission. I had a very spiritual experience this morning when I read John 15 verse 16. It spoke perfectly of how I feel about this mission.

I love you guys and I'm sorry I didn't go personal. I'm so glad Batman was awesome Sam! Get working on homework! I love you! Annie and Ellie you are the most beautiful girls in the world and I love you! Mom and Dad, thank you for your support. I love you!

Elder Jacob

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vamos Irmãos Cantar! (Week 8)

Oi! Como vai?
It's been another great week. This is the last P-Day at the CTM! I've really come to love this place. I've had so many spiritual experiences and I've grown a lot from my time here. I'll miss it. That being said, I'm excited to finally be getting out into the field! I've waited my whole life for this, and I want to get to work!
I don't know when I'll be able to email again because I don't know when my next P-Day will be. So if you don't get an email from me next week, you'll know why. I leave on Tuesday of next week. Can't wait!
The highlight of this week was proselyting. For the first time, I got to proselyte and share the gospel in Portuguese. Man, it was cool! The entire district was so jittery and excited before and when our instructor showed up we hit the streets. Then it was just Elder Reese and me, talking to every person we could. My Portuguese wasn't great but I was really excited and I felt the Spirit as we tried to share the great message of the restored gospel. I gave a Book of Mormon to a drunk guy (He said he had been thinking about God when we passed, so here's hoping!) and we were able to talk to a lot of really nice people. We also were rejected quite a bit - one lady put her umbrella directly between her and me when I tried to shake her hand. We were really blessed by the Lord. One young guy, named Jonahtas was super interested. We talked to him for a good ten minutes and got his number to give to the Sao Paulo missionaries. Even though it was pouring rain, we felt happy and relieved to be doing the good work. I know that the gospel is for everyone and it will make any life more meaningful and fulfilled. We get to go to a big square in downtown Sao Paulo next monday so I'm excited! This church is true!
Elder Reese is a great companion. He works so hard and we've been able to learn a lot from each other. He's going to Brasilia as are most of the district. I'm the only one going to Belo. So when I head out, it'll be me and three Argentinians and a lot of Brazilians! I'm excited!
The district is so cool and I'm going to miss them a lot. You really form special bonds when you're in a class room for days on end with each other.... well, sometimes it just feels like days on end.
And great news! My great friend Elder Taylor Demars arrived today. It was a joyous reunion. He was in the Elders Quorum Presidency in my ward at BYU and he's a great example. He's happy and already commited to working hard. He's a great example and I'm happy I got to see him.
Elder Reese and I have made two great friends here at the CTM - Elder Dylan Jensen and Elder Krausse. They are hilarious and great missionaries. Elder Jensen always cracks me up. I'm going to miss them. I'll send pictures maybe if we have time.
Did you get the pictures that my instructor sent from the temple? I'm going to send them again in case it didn't work. We are realy blessed to have the instructors that we do. Irmao Leo and Irmao Costa are great examples and they teach us a ton about missionary work. They've really instilled in us the desire to be angels to the people of Brazil and to be dedicated to obedience 100% so that the Lord can bless us and help us grow.
The rest of the week is meetings about staying healthy and travel as well as some final workshops about preaching and being a good missionary. I'm really excited and I'm going to end my stay here at the CTM strong. :)

Mom and Dad, I'm sorry but I spent more money today than usual. I wanted to get some of my shirts and my suit dry cleaned so I can look ready to go when I get to Belo and I stocked up on some trinkets for Sam and the girls. I hope you don't mind - I've been trying to be frugal. Let me know if I'm spending to much. I'm sorry.
I'm happy to be here and I'm learning a lot. It's humbling to be a missionary but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Thank you all for the letters and support! 
Most importantly, I finished the Book of Mormon this week. I want to end with my simple witness about that remarkable book. I know that it is a true record of God's word. I have had so many precious spiritual impressions and lessons from that book and I am so grateful for what it has taught me. This book will be my anchor on my mission because it teaches that "perfect love casteth out fear" (Moroni 8:16) and it reminds me constantly of the great mercy and blessings of God. I know that God is real. His love and support is all around us. We cannot tell nor understand exactly how He is supporting us every single day, but I know that He is. Our lives are known and our needs are accounted for. I am so grateful for the power of prayer and I've grown so much closer to my Heavenly Father these past few weeks than I have ever before in my life. I know that He wants to talk to all of His children and He will bless us if we come to him. I've been blessed by his love every day of my life. I'm so grateful for his love.
Be good! Be happy! And have a great week! :)
Elder Jacob

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I, I want a big one! (Week 7)

Boa Tarde!
Hello all! I hope you're doing well and loving life. It's a beautiful winter's day in Sao Paulo right now with a balmy 70 degrees on the thermostat. :)
Just so you all know, I'm still the same old me. Before I went to the lab to write this email, I checked my laundry and found to my chagrin that I had left some scripture flashcards in the pocket of my exercise pants and they had disintegrated in the wash and graced all of my clothes with a soggy flecks of paper. Not to worry, it wasn't detrimental but not exactly convenient for me. The mission is changing me but I've still got a lot of my old, clumsy tendencies!
It was an amazing week here at the CTM. The Fourth was really great and Monday was Argentina's independence day as well so we got to celebrate this week too. I've been really trying to work hard. My Portuguese is progressing, slowly, but surely and it really is a beautiful language. We got a new teacher this week and he's incredible. He served some time in the Brazilian army and is very intense and spiritual. He'll really help us learn to be better missionaries.
It's really amazing how much I've been blessed by Heavenly Father this week. I taught our District Meeting on Sunday about how to make prayer more effective and meaningful and I learned a ton. I'm almost through one of my notebooks with notes, thoughts and quotes! Seriously, I have so much to learn and grow but everyday I get a little closer to understanding this beautiful gospel and life we get to live. I've been really blessed as I've tried to work hard. There have been many really cool spiritual experiences this week and tender mercies. I know that God lives and loves us.
That being said, I'm getting very excited for the field (campo). I know I'm going to be overwhelmed but I really want to cut my teeth and get my Portuguese and gospel-teaching rolling! Next Friday we get to go proselyting for 3 hours! I'm trusting in the Lord's promise in the Doctrine and Covenants that if I open my mouth, the Spirit will be there! I'll really need the Spirit!
We sing in the choir here every Sunday and Tuesday night. Most of the elders don't like it but I really enjoy the chance to sing the hymns. There are some really beautiful hymns and I always learn something cool when I read them. The last verse of How Gentle God's Commands is really cool I think. But you can tell Sis. Allen that I'm still singing for her!
Elder Reese is a great companion. He is a really hard worker and has a great attitude about the gospel and missionary work. He's very driven and I'm lucky to have him. We've had a lot of really good talks about the mission and how to be successful and I think we'll be good friends even after the mission. I'm very grateful to have him as my first companion.
I am sincerely happy to be here and to feel the Spirit of this great place. The CTM is a really neat building and I've learned so much here. I'm so grateful and happy to be a missionary. It honestly is changing my life and everyday I hope and pray that I can be a little stronger and a little bolder and a little better so I can be a missionary the Lord can trust. I know that God lives and loves us. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and he can help us. I've felt his promise in 3 Nephi 9:13 in my life this week and I know that He loves us and is mighty to save. I pray for my family and friends often and think of you. I hope that you all are happy, healthy and seeking the Spirit everyday! I know that if anyone honestly seeks the Spirit of Peace, you can find great strength and hope in your trials.
Thank you all for your prayers and support! Have a wonderful week and I love you!
Elder Jacob

(Eye wuld lik tui buye ze hamberger!)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

May the Heaven rescued land praise the Power that hath made and preserved us, a nation (Week 6)

Happy Fourth of July!!!
It's a beautiful day down here in Sao Paulo and I'm having a great 4th of July! Hope you are too! I hope you are all wearing patriotic things (especially socks - if you have patriotic socks, you should wear them! :) ) Let me tell you a little about my Independence Day down here in Brazil. The temple was amazing this morning as always. The greatest surprise came when we all went to lunch - the Brazilians had decked out the cafeteria with Red, White and Blue everything! It was awesome! We had hamburgers (rare!) and french fries and popcorn (I Love Popcorn.) and best of all ice cream! I've been craving ice cream since I've been down here and so that was a very very welcome surprise! And another tender mercy? Tonight we get real fireworks! Not because of the 4th but because the final match for all of South American Club Soccer is tonight at a stadium 20 minutes from the CTM. Oh yeah. I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight. There'll be fireworks, gunshots, people in the streets. Maybe we'll throw some pass along cards at em. :) I'm so proud to be an America. I love America and I'm so grateful for our Founding Fathers. America is a heaven blessed land and I hope you all have an amazing day! Even though I'm in Brazil, I'm still celebrating the 4th!

Just so you know, the winters down here are amazing. It's been a balmy 70 degrees the past week and the most blue sky you can imagine. It's been great to be able to get out of the class room and study the scriptures outside in the Brazilian sunshine. I'm happy :)
Shout out to all my friend who are serving missions or who are going to be serving soon! There are so many to count so I won't name you all, but good luck and godspeed!
I'll be selfish for a minute and tell you about my typical day. I wake up at 6:30, I'm studying by 7:00. At 8:00, we have breakfast and at 8:30 we go to a computer LAB where we study Portuguese and get to listen to music. I love it! It's a great part of the day. After that we head to gym. I've been shooting hoops pretty much everyday. I'm still pretty awful but I really love playing and it's super fun and relaxing to just get a game going with the other elders. After gym, we shower and are back in the class by 11:00 where we study till 12:45. Lunch is from 12:45 to 1:30 and then we have class until 5:00. We teach, practice grammar, study and watch videos of good teaching. It's fun. After dinner (and mail time!) we have class again (same thing, different teacher) till 930. Then we get a small snack (I've never eaten it, it's not worth it.) and then we prepare for bed. Scriptures, Journal and lights out by 10:30. Great days and I'm really liking the MTC!
I'm also catching the fire more and more everyday. I really am getting excited for the time when I can go and preach to real people, not just other missionaries. I know this gospel is true and good and it will bless anyone's life who honestly applies it. :)
Thank you to all the letters and support!
Spiritual thought for the day is for anyone who likes to do puzzles!
"Those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle - one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experiences, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us - not all at once, but quietly, gently, and almost unnoticed." - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
 I know this is true. I also really love his message this month about always being in the middle of our lives and experiences. This mission comes day by day, I grow a little stronger, a little wiser and a little closer to my Savior. I know that He is helping me - I couldn't do this without Him. I know that He Loves us all. :) Have a fantastic week all and I wish you the very best!
Love, Elder Jacob

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

President and Sister Fortunato

Today, thanks to Dali and Manoel Abreu, we were able to go to the MTC and meet Ben's Mission President!  They are in Provo for training before they take over the Belo Horizonte Mission on July 1.  It was such an honor and privilege to meet them!  They were so kind and loving and we spent over an hour visiting with them.  I know Ben will be in good hands with these wonderful people when he gets to Belo Horizonte.  We are so grateful to have had this amazing experience!

Here comes the sun! (Doo, doo, doo do!) Week 5

Here's a picture of Ben and his second (third, once removed?) cousin,
Sister Katy Seely.  He's looking happy!

Here's Ben's weekly letter, enjoy!

Well hello!
You guys are the greatest. That's the first thing. The second thing is that I got your letter from Mission ties and it was absolutely wonderful. Thank you for always brightening my days. :)
It's been a great great week! I'm really happy. I've been trying to work hard everyday and not waste a single minute. I only have so much time as a missionary of the Lord!
Fun Brazilian Fact! They really love soccer. No duh, but the thing is that everynight we're treated to several fireworks and gun shot noises whenever a goal is scored. I'm completely safe but just a little fun fact :)
Elder Reese is doing well and he's a great example of hard work always. I'm super lucky to have him and we've been able to become better friends. :)
Man, the scriptures are amazing! If you ever need a little boost of the Spirit in your day, take ten minutes and get some reading done! Seriously, they are incredible and I know they are true.
Glad to hear about my Mission President and the Debit Card! I can't wait to hear how your meeting goes. Don't embarass me too much (you won't haha) and thanks for all Dali and Manoel are doing. I hope they are doing oitimo!
Next time you see Bro. Warner, would you ask him if he knows an Elder Jacox or the Jacox family? He said something to me before I left about them and there is an Elder Jacox in the MTC with me.
The temple was absolutely incredible today. I did initiatory for the first time and it was all in Portuguese. Afterward, they let us go into the Celestial Room so I was by myself in the Sao Paulo Celestial Room for twenty minutes. Aboslutely incredible. Also, in the hallway of the temple, they have an exquisite Minerva Teichert - the one with all the angels descending with gifts to the young Nephite children. It's so beautiful and I think of Mom whenever I see it. I love the temple and I'm so grateful to be able to go to it so often here!
Spiritual thought for the week! I've been thinking a lot about pioneers lately - mainly because you are going on trek tomorrow! I'm so excited for you! I hope that you'll take time to listen to the Spirit and feel the legacy of those brave men and women when you're up there. I know that you can learn and feel a lot of important things - ifyou just take the time and listen! :) I got a new roommate - he's from Brasilia and he's only been a member for two years. Can you imagine? Going on a mission after only knowing about the church for two years? I'm so impressed with him. He's been having a hard first week - like everyone does, and we've been able to talk a lot about the importance of a mission and dealing with missing home. I wish I spoke better Portugeuse, but I've been able to get my thoughts across to him. Anyway, in my eyes, he's a pioneer because he's the first in his family to go on a mission and it's just incredible to think about the effect that his efforts will have on his children, the families of those he teaches and the generations to come. Think about the amazing legacy we all share as you guys go to trek. The pioneers were our ancestors. They gave their all to the gospel, so we can be happy. I can't express how grateful I am to have a family that is so close and so centered on the Gospel. You guys are keeping the legacy alive for the generations to follow. So don't forget the amazing legacy that the pioneers left us! They sacrificed much and we must sacrifice much but it is worth it when you consider the amazing effect that your good choices will have on generations to come. That's why the gospel is so amazing - we give a little of ourselve and the Lord uses it to bless not only us, but our families, friends, and many more that we have no idea how we can help! So don't become weary of good deeds! Be righteous because it will mean the world to your family past, present and future! (That's what I've learned this week!)
I love you guys! :)
Your letters always make me so happy! Thank you! Especially thank you for the funny movie quotes! They keep things light and happy! I got the pictures - I can't believe that the tree next to the Francis's fell down! Such a miracle it didn't fall on any house! Crazy!
To all my family close and extended - I love you and I'm so grateful for your examples! Thank you for your prayers and support!
I'm happy. I'm healthy. I'm so grateful to be here. I know that this is the Lord's Church and that Jesus Christ lives. I'm so grateful and humbled to be his servant because he is the Savior of the World.
I love you and I pray for you many many times a day. Be good. Be happy. Love the Lord! I love you!
Elder Jacob
(P.S. An exotic three toed warbler! That's one more for exotic bird bingo! I am loving this!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Do you remember the twenty-first night of September? (Week 4)

Hey all! I'm doing well! And I love you!
About the mail...I don't know what the best thing is to do. I sent you guys a letter last week. From talking with other missionaries it sounds like it takes about a week to send stuff from the U.S. here and around two weeks to send it back. Missionties is good - I haven't received any Missionties since I last wrote so if you've written I'm sorry that I haven't gotten back. Email is obviously the fastest but I can only check it on Wednesday. I'm fine with anything. I sent you a letter last week with pictures so I hope that gets to you. I like Missionties, but email works great too. Whatever works best. Just know that I'm always excited to get a letter. The nice thing about Missionties is that I can get the letter beforehand and prepare better to answer your email.
I got two great letters from Grandma Bowler this week, a great letter from Grandma and Grandpa Jacob and a really sweet and touching collection of letters from the Boulton family. They were really sweet and made me feel really good. Ted's letter was awesome and full of great advice and questions about Brazil so I'm excited to write him a note today. If you talk to them tell them thank you so very much for those wonderful letters - they were awesome!
And I'm sorry you haven't gotten mine yet. I've sent a bunch to you guys and other people so hopefully they get there soon!
They gave us white handkerchiefs and the dedication is really cool. I really love the temple and it gets better the more you go. I want to go through the session next week in Portuguese I think.
This was an awesome week for learning and feeling the Spirit. Man, I love the scriptures. We had the Area President of Brazil come and give us a devotional one night. President Claudio Costa - he was awesome! I'm really starting to catch the fire and purpose of missionary work and it's really exciting. Also, President and Sister Tanner gave our Sunday night fireside last Sunday - Sister Tanner was the young women's general president right? She was something higher up. Anyway, they are mission presidents in Sao Paulo right now and they gave really great talks.
The Portuguese is coming. Just gotta learn something everyday! Next week, Elder Reese and I want to do a English fast all week. It'll be hard but I'm excited. It'll definitely help. It's a very pretty language. :)
Let's see, other than that I'm just working hard and really getting into the gospel. I'm trying to go through the Book of Mormon again before I leave the CTM. I'm almost done with Mosiah so I'm doing well.
Fun thing of last week - We went to the Sao Paulo Federal Police Station and got fingerprinted and registered. Now I'm legal! That's nice. The cool thing was I started a conversation with the lady who was going over my paperwork and we talked about a cool picture of an angel she had taped to her computer. She was so nice, she gave me a copy of it! You always gotta make a good impression, especially as a missionary. It was very nice of her to give that to me.
I'm happy. The MTC is a wonderful place and I get to read and study the scriptures so much that I'm quite literally in heaven. (I feel like that anyway.) Please tell everyone at home that I love them and I miss them. :) Thank you so much for your letters, prayers and support.
Guys, I want you to know that I'm so grateful for the Lord in my life. Whenever I have a problem or don't feel right, I can go to Him. Remember in the First Vision it says that the Lord spoke to Joseph "calling him by name." I know that the Lord, the Eternal Father in Heaven, knows our name and he knows us. He knows our desires our fears our weakenesses and our goals. Isn't that an amazing thought? I'm so grateful for prayers because literally everytime I talk to my Father in heaven with faith, I am comforted. I know that any of us can talk to our Father in Heaven and He will answer. I'm so grateful for that and I know that he loves us.
I love you all. I miss you all but I'm happy, healthy and loving life. :) Have a wonderful week, be good and be happy! Tell anyone who cares I'm happy and doing well! Hope you get my letters soon.
" dee ah! Never was a cloudy day!"
Elder Jacob

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Week 3 in Brazil

Here is Ben's 3rd Letter!  This is a picture of all the missionaries in the CTM.  Ben is second from the  far right on the second to top row -- smiling a big smile!
(If you click on it you'll be able to see it better.)
 Well howdy do!
How's it going my family? I love you all and it's been another great week here at the CTM.
I'm going to send you a panoramic picture that they took of all the missionaries a couple of nights ago. I'm in the second row from the very back on the very very end on your right as you look at the picture. If you can't tell it's me, no worries.
Well it's been a great week. On Saturday and Sunday we had the great opportunity to participate in the Manus Brazil temple dedication! Manaus is in the heart of the Amazon and it was a great ceremony. The cultural celebration on Saturday night was lots of fun and the dedication itself - complete with Elder Cook and President Uchtdorf - was very inspiring. I love temples. The Brazilians were so happy to get a temple there; we heard many stories of people selling all they had to make the long trip by boat, car and bus to Sao Paulo or Recife or other temples. Now they have one in their own city! It was very touching.
I'm working hard and learning the language. I like the structure of my days and it helps me to focus and discipline myself in serving the Lord. The language is coming and I think it is more and more beautiful everyday.
I don't think I've ever felt the Spirit so consistently or strongly as I have the past few weeks at the CTM. And the cool thing is, the only change that happened was that I read the scriptures a ton more than I used to. By simply reading more and pondering more and praying more, I've been able to have the most incredible spiritual lessons and really strengthen my testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ. It's just as simple as reading more diligently and faithfully and earnestly praying! I know that anyone can gain a stronger Spirit in their lives by continualy treasuring up the words of Christ.
If you guys do write letters, include fun pictures of what you guys are up to! I'd love to see fun pictures and your smiling faces!
Tell anyone in the ward or neighborhood that I say hi and I'm doing just dandy!
I love being a missionary. Of course, I haven't actually preached yet, but I love learning and I hope and pray everyday to be able to be an effective teacher and to bring people to Christ.
We've had two Brazilian roommates for the past 3 weeks but they left to their missions yesterday. Both were going to Brasilia and they were great friends.
Elder Reese is a great companion and I'm really liking our district. Things are good on my end!
I'm happy. I'm healthy. And I'm loving the work. The CTM is good, the food is pretty good and the people here are great. Please tell the grandparents and aunts and uncles I'm sorry I haven't written them yet but I'm thinking of them and I love them!
Like I said, if you write, send me funny or fun pictures of you guys so I can see them!
 Even though it is really hard to be away from you all, I'm so grateful and blessed to be on a mission. This is where I need and want to be. I love you all more than I can say and I am so grateful for your prayers, support and thoughts. :) I kind of like to think of this as our mission because you guys are such a big part of me and have made me into who I am. So thanks for being good and helping me do this great thing in my life!
Annie wanted me to write some Portuguese so here it goes. The keyboard doesn't do accents - it looks cooler with all the accents sorry.
Eu sei que a igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ultimos Dias e verdadeira. Eu sou muito grato por meu Salvador e Redentor Jesus Cristo. Ele e meu Ejemplo. Eu sou muito grato pelas escrituras e eu sei que elas sao a palavra de Deus. Eu sou muito grato pelo sacerdocio e templos na terra. Eu sei que Thomas S. Monson e o profeta de Deus hoje. Eu amo minha familia e meus amigos e eu so muito muito grato pelos ejemplos de eles. Eu sei que Deus vive e nos ama. Eu sei que oracao trabalha. En nome de Jesus Cristo, Amem.
I love you all and I'm sending some more letters today, hopefully with some pictures inside! Thank you and I love you!
And don't forget - You can't stop the beat!
Elder Jacob