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