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