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