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