Monday, January 28, 2013

I believe I can fly! Just a little R. Kelly for ya‏ (Week 36)

Hey Fam!

It was a good week this week. The family who were baptized last week were confirmed yesterday. The best thing about this week was that Igor was baptized. Igor is a young man who is the cousin of a member less active. We talked to him and he told us that he wanted to be baptized and stop listening to bad music. He is really an elect - he read every passage of the Book of Mormon we asked him to and understood really well what was going on. He practically recited the First Vision to us perfectly when we asked him what he remembered. His parents, unfortunately aren´t interested right now, but they are very supportive and went to the baptism. I am sure that he will be an example to his family and one day they will all be part of the gospel of Christ together. I think this will be one of the themes of my mission - families united in the gospel. Every single day I realize more and more how the one thing that I want more than anything is to have my family happy and united in the gospel. That is the greatest dream and blessing anyone could have. The District President spoke in Sacrament Meeting yesterday and he said something interesting. He spoke about how in heaven, there won´t be jobs, , there won´t be many of the things that bring stress and concern in this life. What there will be is family, eternal family. We´ve got to prove that we are worthy to have an eternal family in this life because that is all that we will have in the next.

Like the Proclamation of the Family says Happiness in the home is most likely achieved when based on the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It´s all about family yáll. And I am so grateful everyday for my family. Extended, immediate, distant or close, blood relative or family friend, you all are my inspiration and example. Thank you for helping me keep going when times are tough. Keep the faith and be happy. Love you all!
Elder Jacob

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Weekly Pão de Queijo‏ (Week 35)

Hello my family!

Well it was a great week this week - very adventurous. We had a Zone Meeting on Tuesday and Elder Fernandes went to another city to do a divisão with the elders there. So I was made Senior for two days - it was a really good experience. Phew! Kind of stressful but the key, I think, is to pray a lot and not worry. That helps me to control my stress. The best thing about this week was that we found a family of 8 that are really progressing. 5 of the kids were baptized yesterday and the parents will be baptized next week. It really was a blessing directly from heaven - we were really blessed this week to find them. I am very excited to work with them this week and help them to accept the restored gospel. Man, it´s really cool to be a missionary. You get to help people in such a neat way - help them to see how they can change and be happier. And you feel yourself wanting to be better too - you feel this good pressure to have more faith, to repent more earnestly and be more dedicated so that more people can accept the truth and feel the love of God through you. It´s really rewarding.

I brought my gratitude journal with me and last night before bed I read the whole thing. It was really neat to see how I had changed, what things I was grateful for since freshman year until now. From things like noodles with parmesean cheese to the stars, to specific friends and family members - it was really gratifying to sit and think about how incredibly blessed I am. The Lord is in our lives, I know He is. I know that He is there, giving us what we need and helping us every step of the way in our lives. All I did was sit and reflect on the many wonderful and specific blessings that I´ve received and because of that simple exercise, I felt so loved and so grateful and so happy. I recommend it to anyone - take a minute and think about all the blessings that you´ve received whether it be songs you´ve heard or sung, moments of the day that make you happy, people or places you´ve had the pleasure to know - there are innumerable blessings in our lives. I know that the Lord lives.

We´re really looking forward to working hard this week. We´ve got a great work to do and lot´s to improve but I am honestly so grateful to be here serving in Minas Gerais. It´s the bees nees alright. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord´s Church here on the earth. I am so grateful for the knowledge that the Lord calls prophets in our days and for all the knowledge that we have to help us understand God´s love for us.
Have a great week! Keep on keepin´on!
Elder Jacob

Monday, January 14, 2013

Is it too early for flapjacks? (Week 34)

Bom dia familia!

Bababa, Ba-Barbara Ann. Bababa, Ba-Barbara Ann. Sorry, this song was in my head this morning for some reason.

Important things first - weather report. It has been raining a lot here. But it´s still beautiful. So that´s a relief.

Now that that is out of the way, I´ll fill you in about my week. We had one man, Davison, who was progressing really well all week. But on Saturday, he decided that he wanted more time to prepare. We were pretty disappointed - especially because he was really ready to be baptized. That night we sat down as a companionship and set a plan of action how we need to improve our work here and asked the blessings of the Lord to help us. The next morning (yesterday) we walked to church, not expecting anything out of the ordinary. We were planning who we were going to go visit after church when a boyfriend of a member walked into the chapel. He had been to church a few times and we had wanted to teach him in the past. We pulled him aside, taught him the first lesson and invited him to be baptized. He accepted and was baptized yesterday. I can´t tell you how grateful and happy I am that the Lord blessed us so much. It was a moment when, after all we had done, the Lord seemed to say ´Let me help´ and He sent a blessing direct from heaven. If you don´t believe that the Lord is aware of what we need, I promise you that He is. I was thinking a lot about Pres. Monson´s talk from last general conference called Consider the Blessings. We all have had many moments when the Lord reached down and blessed us not only with what we needed, but with the blessing to recognize that we were being blessed. I know that miracles don´t produce faith, but faith produces miracles. What happened yesterday was a result of many prayers from many people. At times, we may forget that prayer has real power. If we get caught in the routine of just saying prayers for the sake of them, we lose the focus and power they can give. I know that the Lord answer´s prayers. If you doubt this or have trouble feeling close to your Heavenly Father, say a prayer with faith and I know He will respond. I promise that the Lord answers every prayer offered with faith.

Funny story of the week - we were teaching a lesson and it was going very well. We were just wrapping things up when I decided to put my scripture case on the cofee table in front of me. Without warning, the coffee table literally went to pieces and I was so embarassed, I didn´t know what to say. I only could say Ah! Ah! Ah! Everyone was laughing and it was all fine - one of the kids in the family had broken the table earlier and put it together again just for show without actually fixing it.

We did a service project this morning for a member with some young men from the branch. (see photos) The field was actually green and ready to harvest, contrary to popular belief. We are going to have a Zone Conference tomorrow which I´m excited about. I always get more energized after our meetings with other missionaries. I haven´t gotten mail since December so if you have sent anything lately, I haven´t gotten it.

I know that the Lord lives and that He loves us. I know that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ and that the truth was restored through him. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. And this week, I know more than ever that the Lord is aware of our needs, He is ready to help and bless in any moment and I know that we are not alone in our lives. We just need to ask with faith, believing that we will receive.

Be happy and healthy! Love and peace to you all!

Elder Jacob

Monday, January 7, 2013

Well Hi! (Week 33)

Hey family!
It really is beautiful here in Três Corações. In the mornings, the sun comes up over the hill and the city is covered in fog. Our apartment has a great view of part of the city and it is somethng else to wake up and gaze at the heavens as I start the day. I am honestly grateful and happy to be here.
We are working hard but last week wasn´t very frutiful. This week will be better. I had a really great interview with Pres. Fortunato which really reinvigorated me and I learned a lot. Also, we had a divisão with the Zone Leaders this week which taught me a lot about being animated and excited about preaching this gospel. You´ll be happy to know that we bought pizzas and ate them and I ate well so don´t worry too much about my weight.
We found a dead snake. See the photos.
I am so grateful for the Liahona with the General Conference addresses. Elder Anderson´s address about trials of Faith was really great. It is a bess I am grateful for the daily struggles to be a more dedicated missionary, to be a good companion and to understand and live this gospel more fully because they help me increase my faith.
I hope you all are happy and healthy! Have a superb week. Stay close to the Lord alright? :)
Elder Jacob

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Pictures of Elder Jacob!

President and Sister Fortunato posted these pictures of Ben and his new companion, Elder Fernandes, on Facebook.  These were taken when they came to visit them on New Year's Day.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Life is Good (Weeks 30, 31, & 32)

**We have missed a few weeks in posting Ben's letters, mainly because they have been really short!  I will post what he did write and also say we had a GREAT conversation with him on Christmas Day!  He is really doing well and seems very happy!***

17 December 2012  Week 30

Hey guys, I cant write much. I am at the bus station in belo right now getting trasnferred to tres coracoes. i dont have time to write i am sorry. i love you all and i hope you have a merry christmas. i got the 12 days of christmas thanks mom. i will write more next week. love you

Elder Jacob
24 December 2012 Week 31
Heyah fam!

Alright, this will be short again - sorry! President changed p-day to tomorrow so we can call home on christmas but I asked permission to email you guys about the details of the phone call. Will you please call this number aproximately 9:00am tomorrow morning? It will be 2 oclock pm here in Brazil and I will be waiting in the chapel by the phone. You guys will be paying the cost of the call, sorry. The number is ... That should connect us. It could also be .... (sorry - I am going off several sources of information). Feel free to do a bit of research on the internet if you want to know more about calling to Brazil. We will have 40 minutes. If it doesn´t work and I don´t hear from you, i will call to you guys and get the number to you and then have you guys call back. Don´t worry, it will all work out. I´ve got to run - I will fill you in on everything tomorrow! Merry Christmas!

And Dad, D&C 19:23 was the scripture that Patriarch McDonald gave to me before receiving my patriarchal blessing. That is a tender mercy I think - that scripture has given me great comfort. Love you all and cant wait for tomorrow!

Elder Jacob
31 December 2012 Week 32
Hey Fam!
What a blessing it was to talk to you all on Christmas. I felt bad (you know me) that I didn´t bear more of my testimony to you but it was such a wonderful present to hear your voices. I hope that you all had an amazing Christmas and are excited for the new year. I know that I am. I am getting interviewed by President Fortunato today so this will be yet another short email. Sorry.

We didn´t have a baptism yesterday like we had been working, fasting and praying for all week. But we are going to continue to work and improve our teaching and planning. Missions are interesting - one of the tricks to being a good missionary is being able to adapt at a moments notice. Transfers happen, appointments fall through and you´ve got to be ready to work and change and make the most of the time and resources you have. Yesterday, the teacher for the Gospel principles class didn´t show so Elder Fernandes asked me to teach the lesson - to pick a topic and teach the class. I didn´t have time to prepare or even pray so I just went for it. Hope it was a good lesson but I learned once again that you´ve got to be ready to adapt out here in the mission field.

I want to you all to know that I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only and sure way to happiness. I know that God lives, Jesus Christ is His Son and our Redeemer. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I know that this is the Lord´s work and I pray that all of us can contnue on the path faithfully so we can return to our Father in Heaven someday.

I will try to print off the memoir Dad, but it wont happen today. I really am sorry, but I dont have time for personal responses today ;( I will write more next week alright? I love you all so much and pray for you all everyday. I really am so sorry that I Dont have more time. Love you all so much and I WILL write more next week. Love to all,
Elder Jacob