Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas (Week 83 & 84)


Hey Family!

It sure was wonderful to talk to you on Christmas.  I walked away from that call with my head really light and a feeling of great love.  I will be honest - it was a strange thing to talk to you on Skype.  It was almost like we were in the same room.  Everyone was a lot older and yet just the same as when I left.  I am so grateful for you guys. You guys brought me great joy - the best Christmas Present that I could get! :)

I don´t have too much to tell you guys since we talked just a few days ago! (What a Blessing!)  I got transferred to Santa Lúcia on Christmas day and now I am working with Elder Lima in downtown BH.  It is a lot different than Florença.  But I am really excited.  Really really excited! Like I told you guys in the Christmas call, I feel like I am at the point in my mission that I have to give my all because the end is coming.  Now is the time to dedicate everything that I have to this great cause.

And it is such a great cause! Think about it?  How wonderful it is to know that God speaks to men again on the Earth - that He is doing a great work among us and that the Truth - the complete and pure Truth - was restored to the Earth! I am so grateful to be a missionary of the Lord. 
It was a great Christmas.  Really happy and focused on the Lord.  We ate a ton.  We went to a member´s house to eat lunch and the brother there wouldn´t stop putting meat on my plate.  I felt like I ate a whole cow.  But it was great Brazilian barbeque. 
I know that the Church is true! I love you all and hope that you had a wonderful wonderful Christmas!
Elder Jacob

Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas! (Week 82 --we didn't get a letter for week 81 :( Elder Jacob was busy practicing for the Christmas Conference)

Dear Family,

Merry Christmas first of all! :) I hope the Christmas spirit is alive and well at home, because it is in full swing here in Brazil! 

Elder Wensel went home on Tuesday.  We had a great last few days together, getting him all ready to go.  We had a big family home evening with a ton of ward members to send him off and it was really spiritual.  

My new companion is Elder Stadler! From Curitiba Brazil!  I like him a ton.  We are getting along super well.  He is a new Zone Leader but really really animated and excited to work, which I like a lot.  He and I have big plans for the Zone - we want to animate and inspire our missionaries to have faith and believe that God will bless us.  We are talking to everyone about baptism - in our street contacts, we explain that we help people to repent and be baptized like Christ was baptized and the response has been really wonderful.  We have found elect people, people waiting to be baptized.  It is a very inspiring and gratifying way to work. I feel and have felt great joy this week working and helping God´s children.  I have gained a strong testimony that the gospel really is the truth.  In 3 Nephi, the Savior teaches HIS gospel.  What I learned as I read this chapter today was that there are many gospels, philosophies and doctrines in the world.  Even in Christianity, there are millions of doctrines and ideas.  But the fact is that there is only one true gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is why it is so important to find and follow the TRUTH because the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is the ONLY way that someone can truly be saved.  It is the ONLY gospel that is eternal and has the power to save. I am learning this more and more and I am so grateful for this.  It is blessing my life a lot. 

We didn´t have anyone with a date this week, but we sincerely prayed, worked and exercised faith that the Lord would bless us with someone. We were blessed yesterday with two baptisms.  Jaime, who is the father of a less active in the ward and Breno, the brother of a member here in the ward.  I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for this great blessing.  What made the difference was our faith, our desire to have success and our diligent faith that the Lord would bless us.  My testimony grew a lot this week.  The Lord truly blessed us and gave us these two baptisms.  We are very excited to keep baptizing and helping this wonderful ward grow.

On Saturday, we got together with all the ward missionaries and the sisters and we sange Christmas Carols on the streets of Florença, handing out pass-along-cards like President had encouraged us to do.  It was a whole lot of fun! You know how I love to sing, and there ain´t nothing like Christmas carols to bring the spirit! We met a lot of people, sang all the Christmas songs like ten times and had a grand ol´time.  We are planning on doing this again this Saturday.  

Tomorrow is the Christmas Conference! It´s gonna be great.  I am very excited.  Pray that I can sing well and bring the spirit with my words and that all the other missionaries can do the same.  I am very grateful for Christmas and I am even more grateful to be a missionary!

I send you all my love and gratitude and devotion.  Have a very merry Christmas! :)  Love you!

Elder Jacob

Monday, December 2, 2013

Something ´bout Christmas brings out the kid in me! (Week 80)

Hey all!

Today is December 2.  Do you know what that means?  That´s right! It´s time to break out the Donny Osmond Christmas at Home album! The Best complete Christmas album ever made! If you haven´t listened to it yet, get on that.  It´ll change your life. 

It was a good week this week.  We worked hard.  No progressing investigators though - I have learned that our faith and our desire really make a difference on the work.  If you want to have success, you have to desire it for the right reasons.  We are looking forward to a great week this week.

We had an amazing leadership council with Pres. and Sister Fortunato this past week.  It was very inspirational.  To hear Pres. bear testimony of the divinity of the work and the existence of God was a great honor for me.  I can´t tell you how grateful I am to be serving with Pres. Fortunato.  Ever since I have met him, I have felt that he truly was called of God to lead this mission.  I felt that again this past week as we met and discussed the direction of the mission.  

Elder Wensel is going home next week.  This is his last week in the field.  He is a good misisonary and I am glad that I have been able to get to know him.

We are in BH today for another practice for the Christmas Conference.  I will be narrating parts of the program as well now.  Yikes.  Haha, seriously though I am really excited and anxious to do well.  

I love the gospel.  The gospel is the only thing that I know of that tells you what you are doing wrong and need to improve while at the same time giving you the hope, courage and desrie to make those improvements.  It isn´t easy to be a member of the Church, but it is worth it.  I have learned to not give up and get discouraged when you are reminded how mortal you are.  You just keep being humble and the blessings and the miracles will come.

I love you all! Have a wonderful week!
Start wrapping the presents! 
Start hanging the lights!
Start makin´ a list,
and checkin´ it twice.

Start hanging the holly and the mistletoe oh oh oh,
And off I go,
Back to where I used to be!
Something ´bout Christmas,
Brings out the kid in me!

Elder Jacob

Monday, November 25, 2013

Weekly Pão de Queijo‏ (Week 79)

Hey all!

It was  a good week this week.  We worked really hard and found joy in our work this week.  I am very grateful to be serving as a missionary of the Lord´s church.  It is very very wonderful.  To be involved in this work is a great blessing.

This weekend we attended the Belo Horizonte Pampulha Stake Conference.  It was presided by Elder Mozart Soares, an Area Seventy from Pernambuco.  It was an amazing experience and totally devoted to missionary work.  The First Presidency asked that the full time missionaries attend the Saturday Night Adult Session because it featured a training by Elder Soares about missionary work.  The whole zone was there and it was inspiring.  The leaders invited and challenged the members to share the gospel more, to invite their friends to come to church and learn about the gospel.  We watched many clips from the hastening the work website and were inspired by the true stories of members and missionaries working together.  It got me really really excited and I am so grateful that I am here on the mission.

Then yesterday we had our sunday session.  It was packed in the chapel and Pres. and Sister Fortunato spoke.  They both were brought into the gospel because of the missionaries and to hear their stories, and their testimonies of how sharing the gospel can help change the lives of thousands was incredible.  Elder Soares told a story of a missionary who was so poor that when he went on his mission in New England in the 1960´s, the only coat he had was his grandpa´s that he had used in World War 2.  He was a scrawny young man and the Assistants and the President were thinking of sending him to Labrador, way in the north of the mission, and leaving him there for 2 years.  The assistants were afraid that he would affect the image of the Church in Cambridge, home of one of the most famous universities.  But the President had a dream that told him to send this missionary to Cambridge so he did.  About a week later, he got a phone call from the Head of the University of Cambridge.  This man was a great and famous scholar, had been teaching there for over 20 years and was considered the most important man in the city.  He called the Mission President and said, `President, will you baptize me tomorrow?` The Mission president, shocked, said of course and then asked for the story.  The head of the University of Cambridge said that our scrawny, good-for-nothing missionary went to the office of this world reknown scholar and asked to talk with him.  After waiting three hours, the scholar let him in.  The scholar was closing the door when the missionary asked him if they could say a prayer.  The scholar agreed and was returning to his desk when, before anything else could happen, our missionary fell to his knees and bore out his soul to the Lord.  This scholar then told the mission president that he had been studying and teaching about the Holy Ghost for more than 20 years, knew every single scripture in the Bible that relates to the Holy Ghost and yet, in that moment, he felt the strongest influence of the Holy Spirit of God that he knew that boy was a messenger of Christ and his message was true.  That world reknown scholar was baptized, thanks to the humility and faith of a simple poor country bumpkin who was called to the Lord´s work.

I really loved that story.  It helped me realize how important humility is in this work.  It isn´t about me.  I don´t have the power of conversion, that is the Spirit.  But I can be a channel for it.  I felt the Spirit very strongly in this conference.  As the choir sang the last song, Mais Perto Quero Estar, I felt the Spirit tell me that this truly is the Lord´s Church.  We don´t say that to boast or to belittle anyone else but it is the truth.  The Lord is guiding this church.  It isn´t the church of Elder Soares, Pres. Monson, Joseph Smith or anyone else.  It is the Church of Jesus Christ.  And it is through Him and His Power, the influence of the Spirit and the direction of God that we are able to have success.  

I am grateful for this week.  We are excited to go to a leadership council tomorrow morning.  We will be inspired and directed.

I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Jacob

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Week in Florenca (Week 78)

Dear family,

Hey, how is it going?  We are doing well here in Florença.  It was a difficult week but I really learned a lot, especially about how to be patient and hopeful when things are hard.  I am grateful for the things that I learn every day on the mission.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever done but one of the best.  I am seriously and honestly happy to be here.  It is a wonderful wonderful privilege.  

Elder Wensel and I are getting along well.  I enjoy being around him and learning the many things that he has to teach me about the gospel.  

And the gospel.  One of the greatest things about the gospel is that whatever problem or question or difficulty you may have you can find an answer in the gospel! That is why I think it is called the eternal gospel - it never ends! There isn´t a problem or difficulty that it cannot resolve or help.  Preach My Gospel says that it doesn´t matter what the individual problems of the investigators are, the thing that will help them the most is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I know this to be true.  I am so grateful for the chance to learn study and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I am going to sing Noite Feliz with Elder Hendrikson at the Christmas Conference.  He was in my very first district and is a great friend of mine.  Gotta start practicing!

Have you guys gotten the new Conference Ensign yet?  I am really dying to get my hands on it.

Well, that is about it from me this week.  I know that this church is true and the gospel brings happiness and peace when we truly live the principles. I love my Savior, I love God the Father and I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost´s influence in my life.  I have felt through this week the importance of the gospel in my life.

I love you all!

Elder Jacob

Monday, November 11, 2013

Short Letter, but LOTS of Pictures! (Week 77)

Hey all!

It was a good week.  We are working hard and seeing success as we work with faith and hope.  It is a great blessing to be a missionary.  

Our stake conference is in two weeks.  We are working to have a big baptismal service right after the conference with all the baptisms.  It is going to be great.  

Elder Wensel and I are getting along well.  He has a few talks by general authorities on his pen drive so I have enjoyed hearing a few of the classics by Elder McConkie and Elder Holland.  

Our ward´s Primary Program was yesterday.  They all did a great job.  Really sang their hearts out. 

Our goal this week is to find some great families to bring to the gospel.  We are animated and excited and grateful to be here.  

I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Jacob

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hello! (Week 76)

Dear family,
It is a beautiful day today here in Ribeirão das Neves.  We had a great week but before I get started off, I wanted to tell you something crazy that happened three weeks ago that I neglected to tell you about.
We were waiting at the bus stop to go to a district meeting. There was a good amount of people on the street going about their business, buying, selling and whatnot.  Then suddenly, this guy comes out of nowhere and throws a firework at the ground right in front of us.  I barely had time to say to my companion ´That is a firework!´ when it exploded right in front of us.  It was extremely loud and  really hurt our ears. The guy just walked away.  He must have been drunk or crazy, one of the two.  Anyway - that was a funny story that happened a while ago.
We were blessed with three baptisms this week.  Two of Zelandia´s children were baptized - Willian (18) and Raissa (13).  It was really cool to help them become members of the Church - a really spiritual process.  They started off really hesistant but then really opened up when they started reading the Book of Mormon.  They are great friends and I love them all - the whole family actually! They are a wonderful blessing from Heavenly Father.  We also baptized Dowglas, a grandchild of Dona Mercedes that was baptized a month or so ago.  He had been wanting to be baptized for a while and we had been teaching his mom so that she could be baptized too - unfortunately, she hasn´t accepted to live the commandments yet but Dowglas accepted and he will be going to church with his very active grandma now.  :)  I love the gospel!
We had a great meeting yesterday with the leadership of the stake. Pres. Fortunato came as well as the stake presidency and a lot of the bishops.  We discussed how we can better work together as one in the work of the Lord and it was really inspiring to see how many great and worthy men the Lord has called to lead His church.  The Stake President is a really spiritual guy and I felt the spirit really strong when he spoke.  He is all about missionary work too which is wonderful. 
This week we are going to work hard and keep the faith.  I have been a lot calmer these days thanks to a concerted effort to exercise faith.  Faith and doubt can´t exist in the same place at the same time and we are commanded to have faith, so I have been consciously choosing to believe and have faith every second that I am tempted to doubt or fear.  It has changed so much already and will continue to change my life.  I know that the gospel is true!
I love you all! Share the gospel with someone today!
Oh and Elder Cameron Kapp! Congratulations on the successful mission! I loved the inspiring letter you sent me! Don´t go too crazy now that you are home! :)
Elder Jacob

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Week (Week 75)

Hey all!

Yet another week passed by.  And I am very grateful to be here on the Mission.  People always say a lot about missions but you really don´t know how they are until you go on one.  They are great, they are hard and really they are unique in what they can do for your life.  

Zelandia received a calling yesterday - she was made the Librarian of the ward.  We are having more people come to sacrament meeting and we are working really closely to the ward council which always gives us great animo.  

We will have a great zone conference tomorrow with Pres. Fortunato and the Assistants.  I am really excited.  We are in need of a good zone conference to get us pepped up again. 

I know that the Lord Lives and that He called prophets.  I know that He called me as a missionary - I know that He knows my weaknesses but He is helping me overcome them.  I know that in the end, the Gospel will triumph over all.  

Have a wonderful week! I love you all!

Elder Jacob

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Weekly Pâo de Queijo (Week 74)

Heyah all!

Well it was a good long week this week.  No baptisms in our ward this week.  But we are working hard and are going to baptize this next week for sure.  It was great that Zelandia was confirmed yesterday.  She is doing well and we are going to help her kids also be part of the Lord´s Church this next Sunday too.

I am enjoying being companions with Elder Wensel.  He is definitely American (it is interesting the culture difference between Brazilians and Americans. I like them both!)  but he is helping me a lot and I am grateful for him.  He is really teaching the value of patience and being calm under pressure.  Also, I am learning to really dive into the scriptures and teach by the Spirit.  It is a blessing to be his companion.

We had a three hour meeting with the Stake Leadership on Saturday.  It was actually super awesome.  The leaders were all really animated and it was cool to discuss what was going on in our Stake and how we can help it improve.  We discovered that a lot of the bishops don´t know what the goals of the missionaries are for baptisms in the month so we are going to help the missionaries work more closely with the member and the leadership so that we can all work together instead of separately.  

Speaking of working together, we had a sweet meeting yesterday with the ward missionaries.  They are all youth from 13-18 but they are excited and are going to help a lot.  We have goals for how many referrals they will give to us and they are going to help visit our recent converts and some less actives too.  I have never been in a ward that has worked so much with missionary work.  It is awesome.

And do you want to hear some awesome news?  Ramo Riacho, where I started my mission, became Ala Riacho or in English it became a ward last week!  I was really excited and happy.  I am very pleased that the little work Elder Sloan and I were able to do helped that part of the vineyard grow.  

I am doing well.  I am grateful for the challenge of everyday to give my all and improve my character and teaching.  It isn´t easy to keep going but it wasn´t supposed to be and that´s why it is good.  To endure to the end, you gotta be patient, happy and have the courage to keep going.  I am sincerely so very grateful to be here on the mission! 

Have you talked to someone today about the gospel?  If not, then wake up and do something more than dream of your mansion above! :)
love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hey Howdy Hey! (Week 73)

Hey family!

It was another great week on the mission.  Where do I start?  One of the things that I love the most about the mission is the personal growth that you get.  It is also one of the hardest parts of the mission, but one of the most rewarding.  I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity that I have to become a better, stronger person because of my experiences on the mission.  Sometimes it is hard to have love or patience with crazy people that want to prove to you why you are wrong, sometimes you are tired and don´t know how you can keep going on, but the thing that I have learned from this week is that challenges bring growth - it wasn´t supposed to be easy! And we will keep going! The work of the Lord will keep going! 

We had a really cool story this week. Zelandia was baptized.  She was dating a less active who brought her to church one time.  Her whole family is from another church that really doesn´t like the Church of Jesus Christ but she read the Book of Mormon and received a witness that it is true.  The best part was that she followed that witnessed and decided to be baptized! She stopped dating her boyfriend to keep the law of Chastity (she isn´t legally divorced yet) and she is really happy, even though her family is giving her a lot of grief.  We are going to work so that her 3 kids will be baptized this Sunday.  She really is a blessing from the Lord and it strengthened my faith a lot to help her. When we taught her the Plan of Salvation and about eternal families, she said, "I know that is true! I always thought how annoying it would be to just live in heaven and sing all the time without knowing your children or parents or spouse!" She said that was one of the things that helped her the most - to know that as she follows this path, she can have an eternal family.  That is a great reminder to all of us too. :)

Elder Wensel is a great missionary and is helping me a lot. He is a realy smart guy and we are getting along well.  It is always hard to get used to a new companion but things are rolling better now.  :)

I am happy and healthy and doing well.  I know that the Church is true and the Book of Mormon is true.  I know that the Priesthood was restored. Keep the commandments, say honest sincere prayers and study sincerely the scriptures! That is the way to be guided in your life.

I love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, October 7, 2013

Family Email‏ (Week 72)

Hey all!

Well it was yet another crazy, wonderful week on the mission.  They say that 2 years on the mission is 50 years spiritually speaking - don´t exactly know about that conversion rate but it was a spiritual adventure this week and I am so grateful for what has happened.

There we were planning about 9:20 on Tuesday night when the Assistants called and told us that Elder Almeida would be transferred.  It was really unexpected and we were honestly really sad to say good-bye.  He was a great friend and we were only together for 5 weeks.  But I honestly have a testimony that the Lord guides this work because now I am with Elder Wensel from good ol´ South Jordan UT (He went to Bingham mom!) He was the Financial Secretary for 10 months and so he has a lot of experience talking and working with President so we have a lot of great ideas and plans to help our zone get going. It is going to be good.

We had a great council with President on Wednesday that was really inspiring and awesome.  I know that President Fortunato is called of God.  You can just feel it - it isn´t that he is perfect or anything but he has the mantle of a mission president and you can see the Lord working through him.  I am so grateful to be serving with Pres. Fortunato.  He is a remarkable, remarkable man.

We had the great opportunity to baptize Mercedes and Kaique yesterday before the sessions of conference. Mercedes was a reference from a member and she was really ready to be baptized.  It was so cool to help her get to know the gospel - she is really humble, sincere and spiritual.  She said that the first time she went to the church it was like the heavens opened.  She went to a lot of different churches and never had a desire to be baptized but when we taught her and she went to church, she said that she honestly felt that she should be baptized.  She and her grandson were baptized together.  That just goes to show the power that the members have on this work - when a member referrs their friend or colleague to the missionarys, miracles happen.  I think the Lord wants to strengthen all of us so He asks that the members and the missionaries can all work together so that the work of salvation can be accomplished in ALL of our lives, not just the investigators.  I know that when the members get involved, the work really happy, the true work starts to happen.  So if you have a friend or relative that you would like to introduce to the gospel, don´t hesitate! Just go! And the Lord will help you as you do your best!

Conference was incredible.  We were able to bring investigators to all the sessions so I had the privilege to watch all the sessions.  Elder Wensel wanted to watch them in English (dah!)  So I watched them in English but that was cool too.  The point is that I watched them.  I am not worried but I am intrigued at how many of them talked about morality, repentance and the impact that society is having on the family.  I don´t know how it is over there in the States but from what I heard of the Prophets and Apostles, we´ve gotta step up the morality folks.  I loved Conference and I honestly know that Pres. Monson is a prophet of God.  He truly is. 

I love you alll! That was my week!  Here´s for another great one coming right now! Hope you all have a great week! I know that the Church is the true Church of God on the Earth!

Elder Jacob

Monday, September 30, 2013

Excited for General Conference! (Week 71)

Hey all,

This week was a week of blessings and faith.  Yesterday we were blessed with the baptism of Noiva and Kelly, a mother and daughter.  We had a wonderful time teaching them this week and helping them join the Church.  They are really wonderful and it was so great to enter the water again.  There is a special spirit that I can´t describe when you enter the water to baptize someone.  You know in that moment that it isn´t you that is important, it is the Lord.  It is His work and His joy that He let you feel for an instant.  We had a very spiritual baptismal meeting and it was great to see them.

We have two people with a date for this Sunday too.  I am feeling alive again and am excited for this great month of October because I know that it will be a great month. 

General Conference is here! Oh yeah! Gonna be powerful.  We are only going to the sessions on Sunday but it will be great.  Hope you all are excited!

I know that the Church is true.  I know that Joseph Smith was chosen of God to restore the Truth to the Earth.  I know it and I am so grateful for this knowledge.

Have a great week! 

Elder Jacob

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Week‏ (Week 70)

 It was a great week this week.  We are learning a lot together. Here´s the lowdown.
Our zone isn´t doing so hot.  We are really in need of an upbeat, a break in the tradition of few baptisms.  We had a really inspiring Zone Meeting on Wednesday with the Assistants and afterwards they had a divisâo with us in our area.  It really was awesome to feel the spirit they bring and to learn how to improve the work.  It doesn´t matter how much time you have on the mission - you always have to learn and improve! I needed to hear and work with them to learn how I need to improve and things are looking a lot better now.  We have 6 people in our ward with a baptismal date for this Sunday.  We, along with the ward council and the ward missionaries, are working hard ot help them progress.  That is the lowdown with our work here in Florença. 

Elder G. Almeida is a great friend and I enjoy being with him.  I am helping him learn English because he has the goal to study at BYU.  It is still the best school out there, even if they lost again to the Utes.... 

I am honestly very grateful to be a misisonary in this time of my life.  There are so many misisonaries in the world and I am so grateful for the gospel that brings happiness and peace to our lives and to this world.  I know the Savior knows and loves us.  I know that even if everything looks bleak and you feel like your efforts are in vain and nothing is getting better, we just have to hold on to our faith and keep pushing forward.  Things will get better.  Things will improve and we will overcome, with the grace of Christ, all things.

I love you all! Keep the faith!

Elder Jacob

Monday, September 16, 2013

Walking, Teaching, and Praying (Week 69)


Hey all!
This was a great week! Lots of hard work, walking, teaching and praying. 

Here´s a cool story for the week. We have two investigators Elionildo and Leandro.  We taught them through out the week and they told us they would come to church on Sunday.  We stopped by their house before church and they weren´t there.  I was really disappointed because this happens a fair bit - people say they will go to church and then don´t go.  But my companion had a lot of faith - he didn´t say anything and we just started heading to the chapel.  When we arrived at the top of the hill where the chapel is, who did we see sitting in the parking lot?  Elionildo and Leandro! They went to church by themselves! It was a tender mercy and taught me a lot about having faith, even when it looks like all is lost.
I am very grateful for Preach my Gospel. I know that it is a true book.  I noticed that some of the General Authorities quote Preach My Gospel in conference talks - I guess that goes to show that the book has a lot of spiritual merit for everyone, not just for missionaries.  Or maybe that means that everyone should be a missionary, thus everyone should read Preach my Gospel. :) One of the two!
I am a bit tired today.  Really tired actually. We walked in the middle of the forest to go to a lunch appointment on Friday.  I think Elder Almeida will send some pictures.  I am looking forward to resting a bit.

I love the gospel.  It is my support and I know it is true.  I am doing well, I am happy and very grateful for the chance to learn and grow so much on my mission.
Love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, September 9, 2013

Open House (Week 68)

Hey family!
It was a great week this week.  Very tiring and exciting.  We worked the whole week preparing and inviting people to come to the open house.  It was a very good success.  We had more than a hundred people come through (almost 150) and many of them were interested and accepted the invitation to learn more.  We worked long hours at the chapel but it was really inspiring and worthwhile.  Yesterday we had a special sacrament meeting with Elder Cruz, an Area Seventy from Rio.  It was really inspiring. Pres e Sister Fortunato gave testimonies and there was a sweet spirit in the meeting that was, to me, a blessing from God saying that he was pleased with our work.  We sang Tal Como um Facho (The Spirit of God) for the hymn in the middle and it was really powerful.  I received a confirmation that this is the true gospel, that God really called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and restore His Church.  I also was really happy to see a recent convert in the ward Carlos Enrique pass the sacrament for the first time yesterday.  It was really gratifying.  I am very grateful for this work!

Elder Almeida is a great companion.  Really funny, calm and a good example.  He and I are getting along well.  It is good to joke around a bit and let off steam with him.

The beauty of life is that it doesn´t end - there is always another day, something more to do or someone new to meet.  That is something that I think is really special about the gospel - it helps you keep going so that you have a life in abundance as it says in the book of John.  We aren´t meant to get to the Celestial Kingdom in one day - but we are meant to get there.  It is a long journey but we can reach our destination if we just don´t give up and give our all every single day.  I am so grateful for this great truth - it never ends! :)

I love you all! Have a wonderful, wonderful week!
Elder Jacob

Monday, September 2, 2013

An Invitation (Week 67)

Dear Family,

You are cordially invited to the first Open House of the Florença Ward in the Pampulha Stake this Thursday, Friday or Saturday from 2 to 9 p.m.  As you enter the chapel, you will be greeted by friendly missionaries and have the chance to learn more about the Mormons you have always heard about.  Then on Sunday, you are also invited to attend our worship service where we will hear great discourses by Sister Fortunato and Elder Cruz, an Area Seventy.  It will be a great experience and I promise that you will learn and feel of God´s love for you.

That is what we have been working on this past week.  We are going to have an open house this week to let the community know what we believe.  We are really excited and have the goal to bring 300 people to the sacrament meeting.  We are really excited.

The move to the new house went well.  Elder Smidt got made assistant on Tuesday! So I got a great new companion Elder G. Almeida from Curitiba and things have been going very well so far.  I was sad to see Elder Smidt go but he is already doing a great job as assistant and I am grateful that I get to now serve with Elder Almeida.  We are also sharing the ward with Sister Sackley from Oregon and Sister Yamaguchi from São Paulo so with all of our help, we are going to see a lot of miracles this week.

Everyday I learn a little more about the love that God has for us.  It is so evident that He loves all His children.  I have been thinking a lot about committments lately and I realize that every blessing in the gospel rests on our personal, sincere committment to live the gospel and keep the commandments.  You can´t lie to God and can´t pretend you are doing your part if you aren´t.  You must have a sincere, honest and firm decision to serve the Lord to receive the blessings - there isn´t room for half-heartedness.  Like President Taylor said, `The Celestial Kingdom or nothing!` I have been re-evaluating how I am doing with my commitments to live the gospel and I am grateful for the opportunity we all have to repent and do what is right.

I love you all and hope that you are doing what is right! Thank you for your prayers, example and support! It means more to me than I can say.

Elder Jacob

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Weekly Pão de Queijo‏ (Week 66)

Well hey all!

I am on a mission! What can I say more?  It is a blessing and a privilege.  I am really so very happy. This week was good and hard, but honestly, I am so very, very happy and ready to be better. 

We were blessed with the baptism of Carlos Henrique yesterday.  He is a great young man with a strong desire to do what is right.  We taught him at the end of July but they he went to another city to be with his dad for three weeks.  He came back this week and we invited him to be baptized this Sunday and he accepted! It was a really great baptism and I am very grateful to know Carlos.  He is really cool.

I was flipping through the General Conference Ensign from 2007 and enjoyed reading the counsel of the prophets.  I was struck by how Elder Bednar taught that the Atonement both cleans us from sin and changes our hearts to no longer desire the bad, only the good.  He taught that the Atonement is for the sinner and the saint in each of us.  I really liked that.  Like Pres. McKay said, the purpose of the gospel is to make bad men good and good men better.  Isn´t that cool?

The ward here is really really excited - on September 8th, we are going to have a very special sacrament meeting.  We have the goal to invite 300 people to attend the meeting. Lots of people here have just heard of the Church but never entered so we are hoping to have a lot of new people to get to know the Church and be touched by the Spirit that there is in the building.  

I love the work.  I am far from a good missionary but I really enjoy the challenge to improve every day and learn from the hard times.  Like Bro. Rich says, "Every adversity and every defeat carries with it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit, if you look for it!"

I love you all! Have a great great week! And keep doing what is right!

Elder Jacob

Monday, August 19, 2013

Another Week in Paradise‏ (Week 65)

Hey All!

I don´t know if I have said this already, but I am currently living in the city of Riberão das Neves which means Snowy River in Portuguese.  So you could just call me the Elder from Snowy River. Yeah, I did just make that 80´s movie reference.

This week was hard.  We had so many meetings! It was way out of the ordinary.  Tuesday, we had a district meeting with the Assistants and President.  It was awesome.  And then we had another district meeting with Assistants and President with the other district on Wednesday (also awesome) and then later on that same day we had a meeting with President and Bishop Edmilson (of our ward) and then on Friday we had a council with President and the Assistants at the office! It was all really inspiring and wonderful but also very out of the ordinary.  When you are on the mission, you really get into a groove and when something goes out of the ordinary it can take some getting used to.  But I am not complaining - it was a week that I will never forget! I learned so much from President and I am really loving Preach My Gospel.  That manual is so inspired.  President read the part in chapter 6 about Hope to me in my interview with him and it really touched me.  I encourage you all to read what it says there.

But this week was hard because our two baptisms that we had lined up fell through on Friday.  Always a bit discouraging but we aren´t letting that get us down.  Our goal is six baptisms this week and we are going to reach our goal! With faith and works and the Lord, who can stop us? :)

Elder Smidt is a really funny and spiritual guy.  We have spiritual discussions and are getting along well.  I am looking forward to having a lot of success with him.

I´d like to close my letter with my honest testimony that I know that this work is the Lord´s.  It is a humbling work. It is a hard work.  But it is good and is not of men.  It is of the Lord.  I am so grateful for the gospel in my life.  Obedience brings happiness and breaking the commandments just makes problems.  I know that Pres. Monson is a prophet.  I love my Savior and I invite everyone who reads this to think about what you are doing to follow the only perfect and Holy man who ever lived and make a plan to follow him more actively in your life.  It is the only way we can be saved.  I love you all!
Have a great week!

Elder Jacob

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Good Week‏ (Week 64)

Hey all!

We had a good week. We worked hard.  I will be honest haha, it feels like there isn´t really much new things to say.  I am happy and healthy and ready to have another great week. 

I had a really cool experience this week.  I did splits with Elder Bowerbank and we taught a couple that he was teaching.  They weren´t super excited to be baptized this Sunday but we talked a lot with them and had a really spiritual lesson.  One of the coolest things about being a missionary is inviting someone to be baptized.  You always feel the Spirit really strongly. I bore my testimony to them and then invited them to be baptized and they accepted.  They are wonderful people and it was really cool to see how much faith they have.  

Elder Smidt is great. We are getting along well and looking forward to having a lot more success this week.  The ward is really excited and is working hard.  

I am feeling like this is the part of the mission when things get good.  You get to really kick it into high gear and get going.  I am looking forward to learning a lot this week.

Mom, I am going to buy some new shoes today.  Sister Fortunato told me that I need to.  So I am going to.  These roads in Florenca aren´t really good for the shoes.

I love you all and I know that the Church is true! I sincerely know that God lives and He loves all of His Children. I hope that everyone is doing what is right.  I love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, August 5, 2013

Hey family! (Week 63)

Hey all,
It was a great week.  Started off with a great meeting with Pres. Fortunato and the Assistants where we learned a lot and were really fortified.  We watched a short clip of the church movie "Only a Stonecutter" about John Rowe Moyle, a pioneer who helped construct the Salt Lake Temple.  Very inspiring.  It was a great meeting.
But unfortunately, we didn´t have anyone progressing for baptism and we really wanted to start baptizing.  We prayed and sought the Lord´s help.  Elder Smidt looked up some names of old investigators in the Area Book and we went after them.  After walking a lot and not finding a lot of people, we finally found Maria Ilza, a senhora who had already been taught by the missionaries and even gone to Church for a while.  We taught her and had a really inspirational lesson and thanks to the Lord, she accepted to be baptized.  She has wonderful faith - a very humble and inspiring person and yesterday she was baptized.  It was an answered prayer and a very tender mercy from the Lord.

Things are great with Elder Smidt.  He and I are very alike and he is teaching me a lot about humility and love for the work and the people we serve. 
Everyday, I think how blessed I am to be on my mission.  It is such a blessing.  I feel greater love, I better understand things and I honestly am coming to know my Lord more and more as every day passes.  We are so blessed to have the Gospel - it is a blessing of which we need to take more advantage.  I know that the Church is true.  I am honestly very very happy to be here serving my mission.
We´ve got a lot of work to do still! There are a lot of people, a LOT of people that don´t know about the gospel.  No matter where you are or what you are doing, you have people that you can help and with whom you can share the gospel.  Share the gospel with someone this week y'all.  It is too precious a treasure to keep to ourselves.

I love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, July 29, 2013

God´s a God of Mercy! God´s a God of Love! Right now, He´s gonna lend a helpin´hand from up above! (Week 62)

Hey all!

This week we worked really hard.  I am doing well and looking forward to this week when I can really improve and see some progress. We were blessed with the baptism of Mauro and we have plans to baptize his friends when they get back from the school break.  Things are looking up here in Florença!

Today I finally memorized the words to I believe in Christ in Portuguese.  I have a goal to memorize a lot of the hymns - it will help me in my future I am sure. 

We had a really cool story this week.  Two weeks ago, we went to the lan house to send email on the PDay.  When we arrived, the lady that runs the lan house asked us to say a prayer for her.  She explained that she was having a lot of difficulties with money and with her family also and she was just at the end of her rope with everything.  We talked with her a bit and then said a simple prayer in the lan house.  We got her address and passed it to the elders who work in her neighborhood.  Turns out she was really just waiting to hear the gospel - she progressed very quickly in the lessons and was baptized this Saturday.  She is a very special lady who unfortunately has a lot of troubles and difficulties.  But I am comforted that she will find solace in the gospel.  She really is an elect.

Tomorrow we go to BH for a council with the President! I am really looking forward to it.  Tonight, we are going to do a family home evening with a really strong family in the gospel and they are going to invite a bunch of people to learn about the gospel.  Members of the Church are great people.  I am very grateful for them!

Other than that, I am doing well! Gettin´ along great with Elder Smidt - he´s a very spiritual guy and I am looking forward to the success that we will have together. 

I love the gospel and I am very grateful to be here serving a mission.  I love the Lord and I know that He lives!

Elder Jacob

Monday, July 22, 2013

Brightly Beams our Father´s Mercy (Week 61)

Hey all!

It was a wonderful wonderful week! Very crazy but great.  Here´s the report. 

Elder Francisco went home on Wednesday.  It was short and sweet. I really will miss him.  He was a great elder and taught me a lot.  I am with Elder Smidt from Idaho right now and I am already really grateful for him.  We are going to be great friends to be sure and we are going to inspire the zone to have more success! He is great.

The highlight of the week was the Mission Tour with Elder Jairo Mazzagardi of the Second Quorum of the Seventy.  Man, that was a great experience.  They had a meeting with the leadership of the mission before the general session and I was playing prelude on the piano when suddenly, I heard everyone stand up and get quiet all of the sudden.  Elder Mazzagardi entered the room and inspected us.  And then President asked me to play Called to Serve to open the meeting.  Man was I nervous! Literally I was praying the whole time that the Lord would have mercy and bless my fingers to not mess up.  Playing piano for a Seventy - that´s motivation to practice for you!

The conference was awesome and very inspiring.  I learned so much and felt so much. Elder Mazzagardi really likes music and talked about how music has a great impact on us.  He asked a group of us missionaries to sing Brightly Beams our Father´s Mercy and it was a really spiritual experience. He told us that we were in the agenda of the Lord for that day and I believe it because of the strong spirit that we felt and the truths that were confirmed to us during that day.  

The best part was that after the conference ended, the assistants told me that I would be interviewed by Elder Mazzagardi.  The interview was an experience I will never forget - it was only 5 minutes but filled with the Spirit.  I know that he is a servant of the Lord - it was as if he was reading my thoughts and knew the answers to my questions and concerns.  I am so grateful for the Spirit of Revelation. It is real my friends, it is real.

Other than that, we have our work cut out for is this week.  We´re praying for a miracle  so that we can reach our baptism goal this week. I know the Lord will bless us if we are obedient. 

I know this Church is true! I know that God answers our prayers! Have a great week!

Elder Jacó

Monday, July 15, 2013

Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way? (Week 60)

Hey meu povo do Provo! (and the Utah Valley Area)

I am here in the bustling city of Belo Horizonte after a short visit to the office so that Elder Francisco could be interviewed.  He goes home on Wednesday - weird.  It was fun to see some friends at the office today too. 

This week was really good but also not as fruitful as it should have been.  Unfortuntately, we only had 1 baptism in our entire zone! Yikes.  We´ve got some good work ahead of us this week.  I am starting to get the hang of being a Zone Leader - it is very different and I´m learning a ton about helping people change their atitudes.  I have learned this week the blessing of work - if you are sad, tired, feeling lazy or confused, just start to work and I have learned that whatever negative feeling you had gets lost in the concentrated and diligent effort you make.  Just keep swimming, just keep working and it will all work out. Funnily enough, I remembered a quote from Glory Road. The coach says ´I wasn´t the best player, but I busted my butt and I outworked better players.  I am not the smartest coach,  but I busted my butt and I outworked smarter coachs.´ I feel like that.  Nossa lei é trabalhar!

I am everday more convinced that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to be happy in this world.  One day this week I woke up feeling stressed about everything that I had to do that day.  I started listening to a talk by Pres. Monson about gratitude and in that very moment, I felt great peace.  Hearing his voice and the Spirit, I immediately felt better and gained a stronger testimony that we have living prophets and that the Lord knows what we need and when we need it.  

I love Brazil.  It is a great crazy wonderful country.  Riberão das Neves is a very blessed area and I am honestly very grateful to be here. I love you all and hope that you are happy, healthy and looking forward to the great week that it will be this week!

Come what may and love it! 

Elder Crepuscolo
(that is how you say Twilight in Portuguese and everyone says that when they see the name Jacob.  Thanks Stephanie Meyer.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Do I talk too much? (Week 59)

Heyall! (Yall! I am country now!)

Well it was another week on the mission and I am every day convinced that through the things that happen in our lives, the Lord molds us and makes us who we should be.  You feel that on the mission, you feel the Lord guiding you and giving you opportunities to grow and be tested so you can be better.  It is pretty darn cool.  I am so grateful for the love of the Lord and for the Plan of Salvation - to know that everything will work out for our good and benefit is a great comfort.

Funny story of the week - We were contacting a reference we got from an investigator.  We knocked on the door and a young man opened the door.  We explained who we were and that we wanted to share a message with him.  He was flying a kite (pipa) at the time and without a moment of second thought he said, `No, no sorry, I am busy right now.` Afterwhich he promptly turned his back to us and continued to fly his kite.  We laughed and went to our next appointment but from now on when we see someone flying a kite (and they have a ton of kite-flyers here in Brazil) we say to ourselves how busy the young generation of Mineiros are.  :)

Don´t have too much new to say or report. We had a great Zone Conference this week with Pres and Sister Fortunato.  It really inspired me to be more animated and to use my faith more.  It is such a blessing to be a missionary.  I know that this is the Lord´s church.  I know that the way to happiness is the gospel. 

And one more thought to close - I was struck by how the gospel really is for everyone.  You don´t have to be incredibly smart, incredibly rich, incredibly beautiful or incredibly popular to please God.  You have to keep the commandments, you have to have faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end.  That is what God requires. He looks on the heart and in this world where every day more and more people look at how much you have, how much you know or things of that sort, God looks at your sincere desires and your faithfulness in doing what is right.  Anyone can be saved, anyone can enter into the Kingdom of our Lord.  Isn´t that cool?

I love you all! Have a wonderful wonderful week!

And i hope you all had a very patriotic 4th of July! I wore a red, white and blue tie for you all, just so you know. 

Elder Jacob

Monday, July 1, 2013

Eu sei que vive meu Senhor‏ (Week 58)

Hey all!

I decided to break the mold this week and make a list of things I wanted to say.  I am losing a lot of my English speaking ability (it is a good and a bad thing)  so it is a bit easier to write a list of tidbits and stories that I wanted to share.  It might be more of a list of things that I am grateful for but here goes.

1. I am grateful for the beautiful sky that reminds me of God´s infinite power and love.
2. I am grateful for pão de queijo and avocado shakes.  They are delicious. 
3. I am grateful for my companion, Elder Fransisco.  He is from Santa Catarina and will be returning home in just three weeks.  But we are working hard and he has a ton of great experience with missionary work.  I am learning a lot.
4. I am grateful for Elder Tad. R Callister´s talk `The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy.` 
5. I am grateful for walking all day on these dusty roads of Florença.  I can´t really describe it, but you have a different spirit when you are on a mission - it is a working happiness.  It is hard, hot and tiring but despite all that, you feel within you a peace and a motivation to keep working and walking.  It is very cool. 
6. I am grateful for the Book of Mormon and the Holy Bible. I know that they are true.  John 15:1-16 was really inspiring to me this morning and being a missionary gives really great perspective to what Christ teaches in that scripture. 
7. I am grateful for the gospel.  It is so simple - faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and endure to the end! Anyone can and everyone should follow this path!
8. I am grateful for Brazil.  It really is a great country, with wonderful people and great potential.  
9.  I am grateful for my family.  :)
10.  I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ.  I have so much still to learn and improve, but honestly, I am so grateful for how much I have learned about my Savior thus far on the mission.
11. I am grateful that life never ends! I am grateful for the great hope that the Plan of Salvation gives to us! As Bro. Wardrop always says ´It never ends.  The Gospel never ends.` It is true.  There will always be more to do, more to grow, more people to meet and serve and more we can change to be more like our Heavenly Father.  There will always be another day tomorrow! How cool is that?

In short, I am very grateful to be here serving as a missionary.  Sincerely, I am grateful. I know that God lives and He loves us all. He restored the Church of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith.  We are so blessed in our lives. 

Have a wonderful week yáll! Have a great 4th of July! God bless America! 

Elder Jacob

Monday, June 24, 2013

Bus Riders are People too! Soak ´em for Crutchie! (Week 57)

Hey all!

Well it was a great and crazy week.  I have a lot to report on so here goes.

Bad news first.  Elder Sena went home last week.  He called Pres. Fortunato and asked to be sent home.  So that was a big bummer. Really, I was really sad to see him go.  He would have been such a great missionary.  But he let some things get to his head and he started thinking negatively so that´s what happens I guess. 

I went to BH on Tuesday night and spent the evening with the Secretaries.  Luckily for us, when we were in BH, there was a HUGE protest about the high bus ticket prices and they closed all the main roads in BH.  It was actually pretty cool to see so many people.  We didn´t participate but everyone was really animated.  The government raised the bus prices because of the World Cup next year but apparently they don´t have enough money for the hospitals and schools so a lot of people are mad that they are spending millions on soccer stadiums and people are dying and suffering still.  

I got transferred to Florence Ward (Ala Florença) so I feel like I am in Italy now! Haha, not really, but hey, it is kind of cool.  We share the chapel with the Venice Ward (Ala Veneza) so I might just start speaking Italian these days.  I am with Elder Fransisco, an excellent missionary and Zone Leader here in Zona Pampulha.  He is teaching me a lot and we are excited to work and serve together with the missionaries here in this zone. 

They had a big protest in our neighborhood about the bus prices this week too. The people blocked the highway for the whole day - they had huge trucks and buses, just stopped in the middle of the road.  It was annoying because no one was at home so it was a bit difficult to teach people. 

We were blessed with two wonderful baptisms yesterday.  Lilian and Vanessa were baptized yesterday.  They both are very special and wonderful people and it was wonderful to serve with them this week. The ward here is small but with a lot of great members.  One of the evidences that the church is true is that the people who live the gospel are happy and really can change their lives. I am excited to work here with them.

And the best thing (besides the baptisms!) about this week was that wonderful missionary conference last night. Wow! That was absolutely wonderful.  I am so grateful to be a missionary.  I really want to be a better one.  It was the biggest Zone meeting I have ever had.  Wow. It was so cool to see all the people singing and all the missionaries! It made me feel so good to see how many people are obeying the call of the prophet to preach the gospel.  I was struck last night how many times Pres. Monson has said recently that the most important thing that we can do is preach the gospel.  That really is the most important thing.  And I am grateful, for the opportunity that I have to preach this gospel.
I know that this church is true! I know that God lives and I have gained a great witness that He loves His Children.  I know that we can gain help from Him if we are obedient, diligent and have faith.

I love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, June 17, 2013

Another Beautiful Day in BH‏ (Week 56)

Hey all!

I am doing well this week. This letter will be short because we are headed off to the office and have to be quick. We had a great Zone Meeting on Wednesday that really motivated all of us.  For the first time in the history of the Church the Seminary for New Mission Presidents will be broadcast to the worldwide leadership and the missionaries this Sunday! Yeah, I am pretty stoked. It is like General Conference all over again - this time totally devoted to missionary work! Like indoor plumbing, it is gonna be big. 

I was reading Pres. Monson´s talk from the past General Conference about obedience and I was struck by the promise that he made that if we are obedient, we will have truth and knowledge and answers that we need in our life.  I thought that was really interesting - I never thought that obedience to God´s laws will bring us greater knowledge and revelation that we need.  It makes sense, I just don´t remember ever hearing that kind of promise before.  I know that it is true and I know that Pres. Monson is a prophet of God. 

How blessed we are to be Latter-Day Saints?  If the world is going wrong, we can have the calm confidence that we can go right.  We have prophets and apostles to guide us.  We have prayer and scriptures to strengthen our faith.  We have bodies and families to bring us great happiness.  We have knowledge about why this life is important and where we are headed after this life.  We have so many confidences, so many blessings that it is hard not to smile and feel grateful for the wonderful mercy of God.  I don´t know why anyone wouldn´t want to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know that it is the true church.  I know that God has ways to bless our lives, if we will just be obedient to Him.  If life is hard right now, just remember that God knows you and your situation.  He will guide you and bless you if you just trust in Him.  I know this to be true beyond all doubt. 

Have a wonderful week!  

Elder Jacó

Monday, June 10, 2013

"It's not that. It's his excessive consumption of mushrooms!" (Week 55)

Hey family!

It was a great week this week. Sorry about the delay in the email - We went to the office today to get mail, my package and copies of the Book of Mormon (Book of Mormons? :) )  and just got back to the area today.  By the way, I was transferred last week to Ramo Nacional in Contagem - it is pretty close to where I was in Riacho! I am finishing up training Elder Souto from Maceio Lagoas and it has been really great so far.  Honestly, I feel like I am starting my mission over again - I am excited and really wanting to work hard.  Time is flying and I have really got to keep doing what is right because man, the gospel is true.  

Ayssa was baptized - I found out today at the office! I was sad to leave Elder Sipião and Tres Coraçoes.  That will always be an area of the mission that I will love.  I am so grateful to be serving a mission - I have a ton to improve but I really am happy.  It is interesting because in my area right now we have another dupla of missionaries serving in the same branch, something that hasn´t happened to me yet.  I was pretty isolated in Tres Coracoes with just Elder Sipião and the Zone Leaders via telephone for months.  So it is a good change in that respect.  

Guys, I know that this church is true.  Yesterday, we taught a lady that is Espirita.  It is a religion that is interesting mix of christianity and apparently buddhism because they believe in reincarnation...anyway...we were talking to her a ton about the Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and she was just kinda saying, `Yeah, well, I believe it is this way...` I had a really strong spiritual impression to bear my testimony to her and I said that I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true and living church on the earth.  I told her that we didn´t just represent another idea or theory about God or life but we represent the heavenly truth given to man through his authorized servants, the prophets.  I told her that there can only be one truth, because there is only one God and I told her that I knew that what we had taught her about the Plan of Salvation was the truth.  I was so grateful in that moment to be able to rely on the Spirit and to tell her completely honestly what I knew to be true.  I am so grateful for the wonderful teachers, prophets, leaders and friends that have strengthened this testimony of mine through the years.  I thought of all of you when I was talking to her yesterday and I was grateful to have been influenced and supported to the point where I can say that I know the gospel is true.

Keep doing what is right! Keep reading the Ensign because man, it is great! Hope that you all have a wonderful week!

Love you!
Elder Jacob

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hello! (Week 54)

Hey all!

It was a good week here on my end. Rainy and cold but very good. We have two people progressing which is really great. A young girl named Ayssa and a man called Lucas. They both went to church yesterday and liked it a lot.

I am doing well - I have been focusing on improving my teaching and my reasons for doing what I do as a missionary. You really have a lot more happiness as you focus on why it is important to do what you are doing. Elder Sipião is a great missionary and I am so grateful to be with him. He is a superb friend.

No news about transfers within the mission or to another mission. I could be transfered tomorrow or no. We´ll just have to see. As far as other changes in the mission, I know nothing.  We´ll just keep going with faith and I know that it all will work out!

I hope everyone that is serving or will serve a mission soon is excited and doing well! I know that this is the Lord´s work and that He will bless us as we do what is right. I hope and pray that everyone is doing what is right and being happy.

I love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, May 27, 2013

No Quake! (Week 53)

Hey all!

It was a great week here in Three Hearts in the state of General Mines. We worked hard this week and were blessed with the baptism of Sanderson, a young man of 29 years who really is an elect. He used church clothes the very first Sunday he went to church and really is very close to God and the spirit. I will always remember him and he will always be really special to me - truly a friend for life. We are excited to work with him this week.

It was a week of a lot of bus rides. I went to Belo Horizonte on Tuesday at 1 in the morning and had a really great meeting with Pres. Fortunato. It was very inspiring - he spoke a lot about being an example to the other missionaries. It was also really edifiying to talk with some of my friends that I had served with in Contagem and to hear about how they are doing and how my investigators are. I was so happy to hear that Selma and Giselle who Elder Sloan and I baptized are doing well -I was really so happy to hear that. Then later on, we got a call from the assistants saying that the ramo in São Lourenco had a man who asked to be baptized and that I was to go to that city and interview him. So on Saturday, we went there and I interviewed him and it was amazing. He really is very strong and will be a great asset to the church. The bus ride there was so cool - the South of Minas is really beautiful. So green with a ton of hills and fields of corn, coffee and wheat. They even had some hills that almost looked like mountains - so that was fun to think about Utah and remember how beautiful the Earth really is.

I know that the Church is true. I am so grateful for the many times during the day that we get to teach the 1st lesson about the Restoration. Everytime that I teach it, I feel the Spirit testify that this is the truth. I know it. I am so grateful for the fact that God called prophets in our days and that we have the truth of the gospel in our lives. No one can talk enough about how important the gospel is. I know that the Spirit of God really touches the hearts of men and I am so grateful for our Heavenly Father who loves us! I love you all and hope that you have a great week!

Elder Jacob

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Well hiyah! (Week 52) ONE YEAR MARK!!!

Hey all you that I love! Okay, I am getting cheesier every week....

I do love you all though, so that is a fact. I am a defender of the truth so gotta be honest right?
This was a great week - I feel like every week I learn more and more about my Savior. I really feel His love everyday and I am so grateful for the gospel of Christ because it really does bring true happiness.

Donizete was confirmed yesterday and is really happy and excited. We have a mother and daughter that will be baptized this next week - the little girl already wants to be a Sister missionary! She´s only eight but reminds me a lot of the girls when they were younger. It is really awesome to help people accept the gospel.

Elder Sipião continues to be a great companion and we are learning a lot about diligence and patience together.

We had branch conference yesterday and it was neat to sustain all the leaders of the Church. I heard that Sister Monson died. That is sad. I know that President Monson is strong though and he will continue to lead the true Church alright.

Let´s see what else - not really a ton to say today. I am happy and doing very well! I really love being a missionary and have a ton to improve but I am so grateul to be here! I know that God lives and that He called prophets on the earth. I love reading Our Heritage because when I read the stories of the early members of the church who gave everything to follow the Prophet, I feel the Spirit very strongly. I want to be like them - firm and faithful in all difficulties.

I love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, May 13, 2013

You just call on me brotha, when you need a hand! We all need somebody to lean on! (Week 51)

Hey amily! The key that makes the letter between e and g doesn´t work on this keyboard so sorry about that.

This letter will be quicker and shorter since I eel like I just talked to all you guys - oh wait! I did! I will just say that it was wonderul to hear rom all of you and to hear your voices. Man, that was wonderul. I am so grateul for the amily that I have!

Donizete was baptized yesterday! He is such a humble man - he´s smoked since he was 7 years old but the Lord really blessed him and he had enough faith that he completely stopped! It has been more than a week than he has smoked! He is so humble - he doesn´t know how to read very well, but he has a great desire to read and understand the gospel so we wrote a ew scriptures or him to read in bigger letters and he has been studying them diligently. He is someone that I will never forget.. I am excited to work with him this week.

No news about transers or anything. You´ll just have to wait until next week!

I will dispense with the personal replies today because I want to reply to Aunt Colette´s and Seth´s email but please know that I love each and every one of you individually and I think and pray or you always. Sam - I Know you will dominate the APUSH test keep the aith and keep happy. Annie - you are so wonderul and I hope that you know that I love you so very much. Be happy! Ellie - keep smiling and being great! I love you and hope soccer is wonderul this week! Mom - I hope that you had a very happy mother´s day and I am so grateul or the wonderul wonderul mom that you are. Dad - I love you and hope that you are happy this week as you continue to work and support our amily and ward. I love you all so very much! Keep the aith because I know that God lives and He loves us all!

Yours always,
Elder Jacob

Monday, May 6, 2013

Brown Paper Packages Tied up with String . . . (Week 50)

Hey family!

Another great PDay and another opportunity to read your wonderful email. I am really so happy to be here serving the Lord. It is a wonderful thing.

We worked hard this week and have one man named Donizette progressing for baptism on Sunday. We taught him the Word of Wisdom yesterday and I was impressed by what he said when we invited him to stop drinking coffee. He said, "Coffee? I didn´t know that was bad to drink." "Well Donizette, will you stop drinking it?" "Of course! I didn´t know that it was bad. I´ll stop today!" It was a really cool thing to see someone with enough humility to accept something so willingly. We are excited to work this week and help him and others progress.

I got mail this week! As a missionary, there is such a special feeling when you get mail. Sometimes you forget that there is another world out there and it really is joyous to hear how other people are doing. I would like to thank all my friends and family who sent mail because really it means the world - I wish I had time to respond to everyone! Please know that I am keeping every letter that I receive and if I don´t respond soon, I will eventually! Thank you!

I read the final part of Elder Ballard´s book, Our Search for Happiness, today and I was really struck by what a blessing it is to be a member of the Lord´s Church. You could list all the blessings but what I was struck by today was the overriding spirit that comes from being a member of the Lord´s Church. You have a peace that exceeds understanding (Philipians 4:7) knowning that through the Atonement and your faithfulness to the gospel you can be one with God again. I have felt that Spirit very strongly here on my mission and I constantly feel the great responsibility that I have to share this message with others. It sure is overwhelming at times to think about how many people there are in Tres Corações that don't know about the gospel but I trust that with the Lord´s help, we will be guided and His work will progress according to His will. Man, we are so blessed. I am so grateful and happy.

I love you all! Keep close to the Lord!
Elder Jacob

Monday, April 29, 2013

If I Were A Rich Man‏ (Week 49)

Good morning family!

Wow! It was great to get your email today! Thank you so much for the wonderful news and exciting stories! I am so grateful that you are all well and happy!

I am doing well here too! We were really blessed yesterday with the baptism of Leonor Aparecida. She is a older lady who lives basically alone and she´s a neighbor of a member. She was really worried about not understanding everything about the gospel before her baptism so she wanted to wait to be baptized until she understood everything. With the help of some of the amazing Relief Society sisters here in the branch, we were able to help her understand that she didn´t have to understand everything, she just needed to understand the importance of baptism and living the commandments. Once she understood that more clearly, she accepted to be baptized. But she was really worried about the water being cold. She´s older and has had a cold for a while. (The chapel here doesn´t have a water heater and it´s starting to be winter here in Brazil so the water isn´t exactly warm.) We invited her to be baptized anyway and to have faith that the Lord would provide. She went to church and entered the waters of baptism and was baptized. Afterward, she said that she didn´t feel cold when she was baptized and she was so happy and bright after she was baptized that I really was taken aback. I know that the Lord wanted her to be baptized and He helped all of us overcome all the difficulties to make it so she could receive that blessing yesterday. It was a wonderful day for all of us.

I am still here in Três Corações and loving it. The branch is wonderful and we are really excited to work this week and find new people to teach and baptize. I don´t know how much longer I will be here but it really doesn´t matter because I am happy and it is great to be here serving. Elder Sipião and I gave talks in church yesterday and it went well. I am really grateful for the Spirit - when you are teaching or explaining a gospel principle and suddenly you feel the Spirit touching your heart and teaching other people, that is the best feeling. I am grateful for my merciful Heavenly Father and all that He gives to me.

I don´t know anything about the Mother´s Day Call. I think this week I will learn more because we are going to have a Zone Meeting on Thursday.
I read Mormon 9 today and I really want to understand that chapter better. I really want to improve and increase my faith so that I can be a better servant and missionary. I know that faith is what we need to see miracles and the promise in Mormon 9 about asking in faith, doubting nothing, in the name of Christ is real. I know that God lives and loves us all.

Keep the faith! It will all work out!

Elder Jacob

Monday, April 22, 2013

Para Para, Paradise! (Week 48)

Hey Family!

First of all, I love you all very very much. Second of all, we are so very blessed. The gospel is true! Thirdly,  it is yet another beautiful day here in Tres Coracoes - you should see the sky!

This week was good, hard and helpful. We had one investigator progressing who chose not to be baptized yesterday, but we will continue to work with her and I have faith that she will be baptized on Sunday.

We had district conference yesterday in Varginha, a neighboring city. The district where I am serving will be part of the Brasil Juiz de Fora Mission as of July 1, 2013. I really don´t know anything about if I will stay in Missão Brasil Belo Horizonte or be transferred to the other mission. If I am here in this area in July, I think I will be transferred to the other mission. But I really don´t know anything. But, I am calm and know that it all will workout. I´ll be serving the Lord no matter where I go!

I am really grateful for the time that I have every single day to study the scriptures and learn more about the gospel. It is one of the best things about the mission. I have grown to love the scriptures and everyday I realize how much more there is to understand and apply about the gospel. It never ends the gospel! And I am so grateful to know that it is true!

I am working on being more charitable and patient with the investigators. Sometimes it is hard when you have people that can be rude or ignorant, but then again, we are all rude and ignorant sometimes and Christ still loves us and wants us to be happy so just gotta keep being loving and patient!

I know that God lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. Read the scriptures and you´ll be blessed! I know it!
Elder Jacob