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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Week 2 in Brazil

Email #2  6 June 2012 "Oh What Did He Say?"

Hello All!

It's me! Elder Jacob! From good ol' Sao Paulo Brazil! How ya'll doing! I'm doing really well, life is good. I made a list of stuff so I hopefully will answer all questions and hit all the points I need.

Unfortunately I can't send pictures via email yet - the computers they have here are pretty old and I only get a half hour. By the way, my PDay is wednesday and that's when I'll email you.

Did you get my last email? I hope you did. And my letter with instructions about mailing? Apparently you can't send packages to the CTM. I'll find out more info about sending packages in general to Brazil. Right now, I'm doing fine and my stores and stocks are holding well. I haven't even opened my second box of Gobstoppers!

I didn't wash my suit. :) I'm getting it dry-cleaned today so no worries there.

Sorry about the mix up in email. On the first day I was so tired I put your email as Sorry for the panic!

Things are going just divine here at the CTM - pun intended. Seriously though, I'm really beginning to love it. The language will come, I have faith! My district is super cool and my companion is an awesome guy. He's not like me but in a way that is good and constructive - he pushes me and helps me stay focused. It's been going well.

Annie, you asked about the food. The desserts here are pretty darn bad. I've had like three good ones - but I think I'm losing a little weight so that's always good right? Breakfast in Brazil is bread, cheese and ham. Literally, that's it. Haha, so I've been eating a lot of good bread. The weirdest thing I've eaten is probably that pig intestine sausage I had last PDay. Other than that the food is pretty good to be honest. Meat with every meal and really cold water. Can't complain! :)

It's been raining pretty much nonstop for the past 2 or three days. And it's pretty hot at night, but I haven't been dying. Course it is winter here, so that probably adds to it.

I'm really getting into the mission attitude! I'm so grateful, humbled and excited to be serving the Lord! This morning, we went to the Sao Paulo Temple and I got to do a session. It was one of the most powerful temple sessions I've been too. For some reason, I felt the Spirit so strongly and learned so much. I felt so peaceful and good! And in the Celestial room, I felt so close to the Savior and to Heavenly Father, it was remarkable. So stunningly beautiful and awe-inspiring. I know that this church is true and that God loves us. He is always close by and I know that we can talk to Him anytime and he will help us. He's helped me so much!

Sam, thanks for sharing Section 121. A great section with powerful doctrines. It really helped me a few days ago. Thank you. I've been really loving section 138 lately and I feel like verse 30 - I think it's verse 30 - applies to me right now. It's beautiful. I get to study the scriptures so much everyday! I really am loving it! The gospel really is beautiful.

Sorry to keep telling you guys to read stuff, but I read Pres. Packer's talk from last gen. conf. called "And a Little Child Shall Lead Them" and it really hit my heart. If you get a minute this week, give it a read through.

I gotta tell you about last night. On Tuesday nights we have devotional. Last night, we watched a talk from Pres. Holland that he gave at the MTC I think recently becasue in his intro he mentioned he had just gotten back from Brazil. Anyway, in typical wonderful Pres. Holland fashion, it was fiery, inspiring and motivating. He spoke so powerfully and so wonderfully about missionary work and he powerfully testified that every single good thing, every single good thing in his life came as a result of his efforts on a mission. He spoke powerfully about the fact that missionaries don't have the right to short change themselves in the eyes of others and to be anytyhing less but the very best. He said plainly that the Church askes a lot of Missionaries especially now with Preach my Gospel and it's flexibility and dependence on the missionaries inspiration. But he said we can do it. He said I can do it. He said going to the CTM was like going to medical school everyday - you've got so much to learn and so little time to do it - but he said, the difference between the CTM and medical school is you can be an expert on the first day, if you strive for the Spirit and teach from your heart. He said we're at war, but we carry bandages, gauze and medical supplies instead of guns or tanks into battle. And then he poignantly shared the story in the last chapter of John where the Savior askes Peter "Lovest thou me?" He challenged all of us to ask that question of ourselves and then to follow the Savior's directive to "Feed my sheep." I loved that talk and I love Pres. Holland. I wish you all could have heard it. I know that serving a mission is right for me.

I know that the gospel blesses lives and I hope to bless lives here in Brazil. I know that you all can bless lives wherever you are right now too. The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it is really is for everyone. I'm so honored to be a servant and a representative of Jesus Christ.

Tell anyone who cares that I'm doing well! And I love letters!

I love you all so very much. The gospel is true. I love it and it is for everyone. Mosiah 4:9-10 has been on my mind lately. I know that it is true.

Thank you all so very much for being the very best family! I love you and I'm so grateful to be your brother and son!

Be good and be happy this week!

And don't forget - I love you!


Elder Jacob