Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday pday 07.17.2017

Hey everyone,

    This last week was a lot of work. We have been working a lot with 2 families that we have and if everything goes well there will be 3 baptisms this week. It will be of Daniel, Lara, and Ianca. They are the children of Ronaldo and Fabiana. We are working with the whole family, but the parents aren't quite ready to be baptized, but the children are more than ready! This week we watched the church film "The Restoration" with them, about the story of Joseph Smith and it brought the spirit really strong. We then bore our testimonies and answered a few questions that they had. 

    The other family is Jerson and Leonardo. The mom isn't interested, but the dad went 2 times to the church and the son once. They are liking the church a lot, but just think that they need to prepare more to be baptized, and so we are helping them to feel prepared. They should be baptized this next week as well.
    This week was also Zone Conference. Zone conference is always great. We slept at the house of the Zone Leaders and then got back today early. At the zone conference we talked a lot about our purpose here on the mission as well as how we can better let the spirit teach our investigators. That we don't convert, but the spirit converts. It was really great and as always motivational. If we are keeping all the commandments and the rules of the mission we will have the spirit with us more and will baptize more converts. We also talked a little bit about how having a clean house, keeping things organized and being financially safe helps us feel the spirit more. The house of God is a house of order and if we keep our house in order we will feel the spirit more. Things that i hadn't thought about before. Even having a dirty room makes it harder to feel the spirit. I have a lot to learn still on the mission and plenty of time to learn it. 

Elder Smith with President Lacerda....on Facebook messenger.

And as for how we trust God, literally all we have to do to trust in Him is to keep the commandments. If we are doing everything right then we know that God will keep his part of everything. Obedience is the best way that we can show trust.

We ate this huge snack at a food truck getting back home Wednesday. We cut it in half and ate the whole thing. I wasn't strong enough to eat my whole half so I brought back a small piece home, but Elder Cruz ate the whole thing. This was after splitting that pudding that you are seeing in half at lunch and eating the whole thing. It was a great day.


Are you taking good care of your teeth?  Any problems.  Do you wear your retainer at all?

I am taking good care of my teeth yes. I wear my retainer maybe 2 times a week.

Do you feel confident as a missionary now?  How do you help others feel that?

I feel confident as a missionary. I know how to help people and what I need to do during the day, but I am always improving my teaching and the way I work.

Have you formally "trained" a companion yet?  Are you preparing to?

I haven't trained anyone yet. Elder Cruz is on his third transfer and so was Elder Papalino, so I have worked with greenies, but I haven't trained. To be honest I don't want to train very much. It is a lot of responsibility and if the companion is estrangeiro I have to do a lot more work teaching and making contacts.

What brand and size are your shoes?  Do you think you could get good shoes there, or should we send some soon?

I think that I use Johnston Murpheys size 10, but 10.5 in other brands. I haven't looked at shoes here, but I think that if I buy new shoes it will be from here. For 30$ I can get decent shoes, I would buy more insoles to put in them. Shoes here are a lot cheaper, the quality isn't as good but it works to use. I am not looking for new shoes yet. I might here soon because the backs of the black shoes are socks. 

Until next week!
-Elder Smith

Monday, July 10, 2017

Working in Nova Friburgo 07.10.2017

Hey everyone,

     This week has passed by really fast. It was filled with a lot of appointments falling, funny stores, and miracles. The mission life is pretty great. The miracles this week were that even though we didn't enter very many houses to teach people, we never stopped working and when we got to sacrament meeting there were 8 of our investigators there. We didn't have to go to their houses to go with them. Literally we called one time and they showed up there. It was a great meeting this Sunday and they all liked it. The meetings were focused on families and how the church is here to help people become self-sufficient and help them grow spiritually and materially.

    We are working with a  family of 5.   Each one of them has their own difficulty to overcome before they can be baptized, but if everything goes well they will be baptized at the end of the next week. Their names are Ronalda, Fabiana, Iara, Ianca, and Daniel. A whole entire family that is ready and prepared!  There is also a man named Jeirson that went to church this week as well that said he will bring his son with him next week. We are going to try and mark a baptism date with him for at the end of this next week as well.

    Now it is story time. We visited a recent convert called Gleison. He was home alone and was cooking for himself. He decided to make french fries and had the oil already hot. He opened up the package of french fries frozen and just threw it all in the oil. Well as we all know oil and water don't mix well. I was right next to the stove seated when he did this and all of a sudden I just saw flames, lots of flames, I just ran and left the kitchen entirely. I thought that I would lose my eyebrows. I think I almost died. Do you remember the picture of the brother of Jared shielding his eyes form the pilar of light?  Yeah that was Gleison with flames in front of him.

     Other story, Sunday we climbed a huge hill at night for an appointment that ended up falling through. It was also raining hard and we didn't have an umbrella so we took cover in a house being constructed. As we were waiting there we saw, at the top of another hill, a man praying. His prayer was in the form of shouting and we heard him from a distance. So we decided to do what every other missionary who wants a killer mission story would do and we ran up this hill to talk to him and see if we were the answer to his prayers. Well, apparently he was just fine and just goes up to the top of the highest hills to pray often and didn't want anything to do with us. So yeah I almost had a killer mission story of being the angel in the darkness for this guy, but he didn't want anything.

Do you wear the golf type pants that Grandma got you?  Would you recommend them for your mission?

I wear them a lot. I would highly recommend them because they are comfortable, light, and dry easy. They are probably my favorite pants.

How are your shoes holding up?  Do you think they'll make it the whole mission?

At the one year mark the brown shoes are holding up great and the black ones are suffering. They both don't have traction anymore underneath because I wore it all down, and the outside looks good still. On the inside the black ones are destroyed. I have had to cut a few places and I have had to stitch the black heel flap together so we will see how long they last. I have high hopes for the brown shoes but I  think the black ones will die in a few months.

Do most people have cars in Nova Friburgo or do they ride buses or walk?

Most people here walk or use the buses. A lot of people have bus passes.

Oh and that reminds me, next week I will have p-day on Tuesday because zone conference will be this Monday. I am now in the zone Teresopolis. One p-day soon I think we will be going on a ski lift up the mountain where there is a place to see the whole city as well as a restaurant on top of the mountain that people say is good to take pictures. 

Yeah so that was pretty much my week. Until next week!
-Elder Smith

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy 4th of July from Brazil 07.03.2017

Hey everyone,

     Well this week was another week of transfers. I was transferred, after just 2 weeks in Juiz de Fora, to Nova Friburgo. It is a city that is really pretty in the mountains. It is a decent size, but it is really long and not very wide. It is in between huge hills and the neighborhoods on the sides are on the hills. It is different. It is really cold here though. I never thought it would be as cold as it is on my mission as it is right now. I don't walk anywhere without a sweater or jacket. I am now the companion of Elder Cruz. He has 3 months in the mission field and is really excited. I can already tell that it will be a good transfer. 

     As for the work it is going well. The last transfer they had 5 baptisms and we have been keeping those recent converts going with some visits and starting to build a new group of investigators. They had worked a lot with this group,but didnt have much to work with after they were baptized. But it is going well. We have found a few people here and there and one family of 5 that has a lot of potential.

     This last Friday I did a baptism interview with an investigator of the other dupla and she was more than ready to be baptized. The only down side was that I had to walk 2 hours to get there. Elder Rufo told me it would be a long walk, but I never imagined this. It was funny because when we were returning I saw a highway sign saying Nova Friburgo. So I think I may have left Nova Friburgo. But in the end it was a baptism so worth it. 

     This week was testimony meeting at the church and so there were lots of testimonies being shared. There were lots of children bearing testimony about how they know the church is true and about baptism. It was good because we are trying to teach the younger brother of a recent convert called Gleyson that has 8 years and he was hesitant about letting him be baptized because he thought he was too young. But after the meeting he seemed to open up a bit more to the idea. 

Today we had to go to the center of the city to pay the water and electric bill and then O bought food to start cooking in the mornings. For the last 4 months I have just been eating 2 ham and cheese sandwiches for breakfast and I decided to change that. I will start with some pancakes, crepes, french toast, german pancakes, and breakfast burritos. I know have a bit more time because I am not going crazy on the exercise. Just putting my hand down on the tile floor takes away the desire to do push-ups. haha its sad I know, but true.

The elders here are Elder Cruz, Elder Guiterres(Argintinian/German), and Elder Rufo. I am a district leader, which  means I have to get the weekly numbers of the other missionaries in my district and have divisions with the zone leaders. 

How was the traveling to Nova Friburgo?

Well i had to take 3 buses and wait for 2 hours in between the rides. The road to go there is really beautiful though and go through a canyon like thing. 

What is the new house like?

The house is in the perfect place. It is a little small, but it is okay because it is literally next door to the church. Not much space to exercise, but it is really cold anyway so I am not doing a whole lot.

How is the new area?  Do you have some good investigators?  

The area is pretty good. It is flat in the middle and then has hills on the sides. It is not a typical city because it is pretty narrow but goes on forever. That means we do a lot of walking. We receive a little bit extra to take a few buses here and there though. As for investigators there aren't a ton yet. There were 7 baptisms in the last 2 transfers here and they baptized but let up a bit and didnt' have many investigators after they baptized that group. But we are starting to find some people and we found 1 family that might have potential.

How big is the ward?

This Sunday there were 91 but the record here has been 120. 

It looks like it's pretty cold there in Nova Friburgo...I hope you're staying warm.

I don't know if you saw but I bought a fleece to work and stay warm, because it is really really really cold here. Waking up in the morning is like waking up at Bear Lake. If you move you are instantly cold. I haven't been this cold in a while and yesterday we were working in a neighborhood a little higher and it was raining and had a lot of wind and my skin turned a little purple. I can easily say that it was the coldest day I have had here. 

Until next week!
-Elder Smith

Monday, June 26, 2017

Another transfer 06.26.2017

Hey everyone,

     So this last week was pretty great. We have been working a lot to find new investigators and help our current ones. We were working a lot with 2 in particular Analisa and Pedro. They both had baptism dates for this Saturday so we passed by every day. Analisa was baptized Saturday and confirmed Sunday! Pedro would have been baptized but his grandpa died the day of the baptism and he was really upset and didn't want to talk much with anyone or be baptized. He passed the baptismal interview and everything, but this week wasn't his time.
     It was great because we had the baptism of Analisa at 5:30 and then a stake activity at 7:00. It was an activity that the missionaries had to pretty much plan everything and it worked out well. President Lacerda came and spoke about how lucky we are to have a living prophet, apostles and leaders in the church and how they can help us if we support them. Then we did a play of 4 friends in the pre-existence going to earth. Two friends being born in families living the gospel and then the other two the opposite. The two that were born in the covenant served a mission and were companions and found their old friends and baptized them. It was pretty spiritual and funny at the same time. Then we sang Bring the World His Truth and I played the violin. 


    This Sunday there was a special sacrament meeting where the two wards that share the same building were united. There they announced that the two wards would be joined forming one ward. It was packed with 140 people. They released all of the leaders and called the new bishopric. The missionaries that were leaving the mission ended up going to our ward as well. So I got to see 8 missionaries leaving the mission and talk with them a bit. I knew 7 of the 8. Then that night they passed out the transfer information and I will be going to Nova Friburgo after just 2 weeks here in Juiz de Fora. I didn't expect that at all. but I will be the companion of Elder Cruz. I have no idea who he is. I will also be the District Leader there.  I will leave the house with 3 Americans to go to another house with 3 Brazilians. I knew it was too good to be true ;)   So my new area isn't that far away. I think it is 4 hours by bus. But I will have to use 3 buses to get there and the hours that they arrive at the stations are off. So I will be leaving at 10:15 in the morning and will get there 8:30 at night. So another whole day of traveling!

Today I will not be doing much. I just want to relax, pack my bags, and relax some more. We are going to celebrate the baptisms with some all you can eat pizza later on and I will pass by a guitar store to look at the prices of things. If it is cheap I will probably buy one. I am messing with my bags to fit the violin in the big suitcase and then put the guitar on my back. I am a little tired of packing up a ton of stuff so I am leaving a few things in this house.

Someone told me they only have sacrament meeting some places in Brazil.  Have you experienced this? 

 I have not experienced this. Every branch or ward has sacrament meeting, but some don't have the other classes after.

What package did you get last week?  The one I sent doesn't show that it's arrived yet...

It was a false package. Kaiser saw that there was a package for Elder Smith, but it was for the other smith...

What was the occasion for the Facebook video of the violin accompaniment on the mission site?  It was awesome!

We had a stake activity that the missionaries planned and we had some presentations. That video was after the activity because president wanted to record it. But the original was better and had other components. 

How often do you write in your journal these days?

Funny that you ask I just wrote today, but the last entry was may 30... I am really bad at this while writing thing.

Do you bless the sacrament or teach classes in the branches you've served in very often?  Speak?  Bare testimony?  Music?

I had to teach and bless sacrament a little bit in Varginha, I spoke my first Sunday here in Juiz de Fora but forgot to write about that, and I have played violin with some choirs here and there.

Until next week.

Monday, June 19, 2017

To Juiz de Fora again....06.19.2017

Hey everyone,

     This week a lot has happened and at the same time nothing has happened. Tuesday at 2:00 the assistants called me and asked me how I was doing and then told me that I was being emergency transferred to Juiz de Fora Grajau. So I had to say goodbye to everyone and pack up my suitcases and the next day I left. I got here and my new companion is Elder Papalino. When I arrived at the house someone had tried washing clothes but took the hose out of the drain and flooded the whole apartment so that was a good welcome to Juiz de Fora. 

      So right now I am trying to learn a whole new area, meet the members, and work. The good thing about this area is that the people are really receptive and if everything goes well there will be a baptism at the end of this week. The downside of the area is that we have to climb 3 huge hills to get to our house at the end of the day... My new companion is Elder Papalino from Sao Paulo. 

     The second day that I got here we had a service project of helping a member move houses. We spent 7 hours moving everything from the old house to the new one and I died after that. Her first apartment was on the thrid floor and then the new one was above a mechanic shop. So it had a huge ceiling meaning we had to climb even more stairs to put everything in the new place. I died.

     I am starting the process of getting to know the members again and this Sunday we went to a members house that is really far away because I want to visit all the members and Elder Papalino said that he had never gone there so we went. When we got there the family was really happy to receive our visit and offered lots of ideas and suggestions on how to help the ward. It was crazy because at the end they said it was the first visit from members/missionaries in the last 8 years. We are going to definitely continue working with them. 

      My thought of the week is do your family history. It will help you overcome the temptations of Satan and it is really easy. Oh and did you know that the church gives all the presidents of the U.S. when they enter a mural with their family history completed? Yeah I didn't.  That's cool.


Who cuts your hair on the mission?
Well sometimes it is members, sometimes it is done by professionals, but the last time it was cut by Elder Sousa. He knows a little bit and it turned out relatively well, although it is a military cut.  I haven't had a bad haircut here, but this last one left me hair really short. Like I wake up and don't have do do anything so that is nice. But when I run my hand through my hair nothing happens so I don't like that part. 

Do they have Father's Day in Brazil?
I don't know if there is a fathers day in Brazil. No one here has said anything about it.

Are you near the mission home now?
I am more or less near the mission home. I think today i will go there to deliver some more reimbursement and pick up a package that they said arrived there.  I am 15 minutes from the church and it starts at 9:30.

How many are in the apartment?  Who?
In my apartment right now there are 4.Elder Western, Elder Kuperfer, Elder Papalino, and me. 3 Americans and one Brazilian. I haven't taken any pictures of the apartment yet, But there are 6 missionaries in my district.  The apartment is small but works for 4 people. It is bigger than the one in Resende. 

What is Acai summer?
Acai summer is a brand that is really good of the healthy ice cream like thing that used to only be in Brazil. A worker there showed me photos of acai summer in Florida, but it doesn't seem like you saw it. 

 Until next week.
-Elder Smith

Friday, June 16, 2017

Busy traveling week 06.12.2017

Hey everyone,

     So this week I literally didn't do much. I had to go to Juiz de Fora to renew my visa. So that means I am almost at the 50% done/left of my mission. The time is going really fast. But going to Juiz de Fora is 7 hours each way so we lost Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in terms of work, and then Friday I had to go to Tres Pontas with Elder Wilson to do a baptismal interview. 

So this week has really been sitting in a bus.  

We had to drop those investigators that were going to be baptized. Lots of things happened in their lives and they lost the desire to be baptized for now. So yeah that was really hard. Luciana still has a testimony, but she isn't progressing with the testimony. We lost the whole last week pretty much because of going to Juiz de Fora as well as baptism interviews in another city.
     So I don't have anything much to talk about. But last week there was a Family Night at a member´s house and he told a good story I can share with you. There was a meeting with a bunch of people and they all agreed to make a cross to represent the problems that they all have. They all went and made their cross and when they all returned everyone saw that there was always someone with bigger problems than they have. So we have to not worry about what we have on our plate, but how to solve the problem. You cant make others feel sorry for you, because there is always someone that needs more help than you, but god he only gives us things that he knows that we can handle. There wont be a challenge greater than we are capable to handle. Never forget that. 

What spiritual gifts you are developing on the mission?

I am not sure how to answer this question. Literally there is a gift of the spirit for everything. In the gospel precepts class we talked a little bit about it and literally everything from being good at teaching to believing in other people is a gift. But I don't know what gifts i have been developing. Maybe a bigger awareness of where I am and how to talk a little bit better with people.

What has being gone from your family made you realize?

Washing dishes is probably the worst part. Oh and having to cook for yourself too really sucks. Like last night I had everything that I needed to make a meal, but I didn't want to work 30 min to eat so I ate ramen. Little things like this. 

What is your favorite thing about Brazilians?

Brazilians in general will buy something and then immediately share it with others. Many times eating less than everyone else. It is really different. But there are always exceptions to this. Some Brazilians are chill and others are really annoying.  

Until Next week.
-Elder Smith

Monday, June 5, 2017

Happy Summer to you all 06.05.2017

Hey everyone,

     This week has passed really fast. I don't have a ton to talk about because I literally don't remember what all happened. However, I know that we have been working a lot with the members here and they are starting to give references and walk in the street with us to make visits. It is really good. 

     The best thing that happened this week though was that we had an activity called Lehi´s Dream. We got a lot of 3 colors of string and we made 3 paths with the string. It started behind the church in the soccer court and we had the members climb hills go around chairs, crawl under a table and much more. In the end we had prepared 3 rooms for people to go to. Each room was a different kingdom. In the Telestial kingdom their was water and salt crackers, in the Terestrial there was rolls and juice, and in the Celestial Kingdom there was cake, fruits, soda, and everything good. The role of the missionaries was to lead everyone to the Telestial kingdom and it went well. We may have lost a little trust of the members but it was worth it! jk. But I led people by hand to the Terestrial. In the end we had hot dogs for everyone so everyone left with a belly full.
     The rest of the week was pretty normal. We found a family that has a lot of potential. Their names are Leandro, Katia, and Alice. They didn't know anything about the church, but a member had worked with Katia before and I happened to make a contact with Leandro, the husband. When we went there we taught the Restoration and it went well. This week we will return there. But I will have to go to Juiz de Fora and will lose 3 days of work to renew my visa, but I think it is worth not getting deported. 
Spiritual thought of the week:

Don't be afraid to talk about the church or about what you believe with others. This Sunday a member had just comented about the church to one of his work friends and the friend, Thalles, showed up to at church Sunday and loved it. It was funny because the member that had talked to him about the church wasn't even there, but he really liked the church. You don't know the impact of a simple testimony has on people.

Did we send a mosquito net with you?  If so, did you ever use it?

You did send a mosquito net with me, but i never used it. One there isnt many mosquitos particularly in this mission, like i dont even have to use bug spray. And all the walls are made of concrete so it didnt work to hang it up with the supports that it had so i left it in Uba. yeah...

Is 1 sweater enough?  I saw you wearing it in a picture...so you use it??

Well it wasnt really cold here until 3 weeks ago. I dont usually use the sweater to work, but i use it in the mornings. It was bad luck because i traded my really warm adidas rainjacket for a workout system thing when messias was transferred and now it is a bit cold. I could use one more in the next package, but it isnt a huge rush, but if you send one a light grey cardagan would be really cool. That kind with buttons and a v-neck. 

Are you required to do a certain amount of service each week in your mission?  What kind of service do you do?

We are not required to do any service. If something pops up we just offer our service and help out. In Varginha there hasn't been any service opportunities yet.   I actually like doing service projects, because you get that little break from just walking and finding people to teach and teach them. But in the 3 cities ai have served in there hasn't been a single library, but one time the branch did a service project at a nursing home. But really my mission doesn't have a lot of service no.

What do you do when you are feeling discouraged or like things aren't working out?

Generally i take a little break and just sit on the curb of the street in the shade, go eat some acai, or visit a member. Just do something to have a mental reset.

I've lost track of transfers...when is the next one? 

We are in the middle of this transfer. In 3 weeks will be the next transfer. 

I also read in Elder Rick's email that you will be renewing your visa.  Does that mean you'll travel to Juiz de Fora again soon?

I will be going to Juiz de Fora tomorrow and will get back Thursday at night. So yeah i have to go to Juiz de Fora again... Which wouldn't be a huge problem, but it makes it hard to check in with our investigators and be a constant presence, and I am waiting for reimbursement.  It may take 3 days because I will go in the afternoon, the next day I will have to do the whole renewal process, and then leave the next day in the afternoon because of the bus schedule. Maybe I get back in 2 days, but it is unlikely.  When I do get back I will have to go to 3 Pontas to do a baptism interview with Elder Wilson so there will be a lot of traveling. But it will be really good seeing some of those guys from the CTM. I think I will see everyone minus Nichols. He already had his visa renewed. 

 Until next week!
-Elder Smith