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