Monday, October 16, 2017

Spring the clocks forward...10.16.2017

Hi everyone, 

     This week was decent. It was full of ups and downs. Lots of appointments fell through. This week the weather is starting to heat up. At the beginning of the week it was way hot and the end felt like someone was breathing in your face. Gotta love the Brazil Summer, but we've been eating a lot of acai to cool down. 

      As for the work, this weeks saving grace was Diego and his mom Adriana. Diego loves the Book of Mormon and keeps asking us to mark new chapters for him to read. His mom likes our messages as well and his stepdad showed some interest. We haven´t talked with him directly yet, but we will. This week we met Ruan. He was sitting on the ground and I said "Good Afternoon" and he responded "Good Afternoon Elders." I wasn't going to stop, but when he said Elders I walked back and talked with him. He said that after the tragedy in 2011 in Nove Friburgo the church and missionaries helped him a lot. (**You can see some of the news here: However, the missionaries were transferred and he lost their number. We wrote down his address and we will go there this week. 

     Sunday meetings were good and even had a surprise visitor called Phillip. He lost everything and is wanting to start a new life and is looking for a church. He arrived here and stayed the whole 3 hours. In sacrament meeting there was a good talk about prayer and another about faith. The talk about faith was given by Tiago, a young man that will serve a mission in Chile and leaves the 15th of December, and he made lots of reflecting questions to evaluate our faith. Do we have enough faith? What do we do to show our faith? How can we get more faith? It was well done. And in the talk about faith, Perola said that sometimes we have to pray to have more desire to pray. It was a great sacrament meeting. 

This week will have zone conference and just 2 more weeks until the end of this transfer.  If my package with the camera has arrived her in Brazil I should get it.

Does your mission president speak English very well?

The mission president is learning English right now, but he already speaks decently.

Did your last package from us have $1 bills in it when you got it?

yes it had the $1 bills. i already gave 2 away and still have 3. 

Who have been the most influential people you've encountered in the mission and why?

Elder Jared helped me a lot with being more actively engaged in the work and not being dragged into somethings. 

Elder Palomo taught me a lot about service. 

Daniel (Ward Mission Leader Nove Friburgo) is helping me see new ways to help investigators and work with members, Pres. Maicon helped me realize that 2 years is a short time to be a missionary.

Elder Ramos showed me how a sincere message changes lives. The list could go on but these are some that I remembered right now.

Did you put the clocks ahead Saturday night?  We are now 4 hours apart.  In November we fall back and will be 5 hours apart, so later email time for you would be better for me, but I'll be here whenever you are!!

Yes, we changed our clocks here. However, quite a few members forgot and showed up late or didn't show up at all. There wasn't the usual number of people there at church this week. 

Today we went to the center of the city and tried a Mate Suica and ate what they call the best acai in the city. It was good, but things were a bit overpriced to be honest. It was cool though. Now I will take a nap because I am dead tired and I will prepare for the zone conference. I was designated to give a training there so I have to prepare.

Until next week,
-Elder Smith

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Still training and working hard...10.09.2017

Hello everyone!!

This week there has been a lot of progress. Our teaching group is growing and we have people with a a desire to change. First off is Antonio and Eduardo. They are father and son who were brought to church by a member who is dating Antonio We taught the Restoration to them and they will read the book of Mormon. They just have to stop smoking and drinking but they want to.  We also met a teen called Diego. We left a Book of Mormon with him and when we returned he had read a chapter and loved it. Then he asked if we wanted the book back and we said that it was a present and he was really surprised and thanked us. He is 19 years old and if he gets baptized he could serve a mission. Antonia and Ricardo were full of surprises this week. Antonia would have been baptized but one day earlier, when we brought the bishop with us, she was drunk. Yeah... Then Ricardo, the one who is a little depressed, agreed to go to a pizza place with us. He went,liked it, and will now go to the youth activity this Thursday. He is starting to open up. Our recent convert Leandro brought his friend Joao to church as well. 

     This week sadly didn't have the baptism planned. But this week there was a surprise party for the stake presidents wife, Keila. We didn't know about it until we stopped by the church to use the bathroom. But it was good to animate us a little bit and a member introduced us to his friend Carol and we took her address and will go there this week Friday, I also went on splits with Elder Mires to do a baptismal interview. He is really excited and a hard worker. The interview went well and Andrea was baptized for the other dupla. This Sunday was fast Sunday and this ward loves it.There is always a line to bare testimony and many talked about missionary work and the Book of Mormon. Some of the members asked for another Book of Mormon to read at work.

Well until next week. After I finish email today the stake president invited us to a BBQ at his house!

Elder Smith

Monday, October 2, 2017

Great General Conference weekend...10.02.2017

Hello everyone,

The mission rule  changed to just an hour of email on p-day and  I am adapting. For those who don't know I am a  trainer. I am training Elder Miranda who is from Sao Paulo. It is different than normal. We have an extra hour of companion study to do a program for all new missionaries called "The first 12 weeks."  I have to do most of the planning a resolving problems but I try to show Elder MIranda how to do things. It is a learning process, and he is pretty humble and observes everything that I do. 

     As for teaching we are teaching Antonia and her son Ricardo. They want to change their lives and are really excited. If all goes well they will be baptized this Saturday. Ricardo is really timid and lost his dad recently so we got to teach about the Plan of Salvation which really helped him. We also encountered a women called Sueli this last week. She has a huge family of 10 kids and more than 20 grandkids. She liked our message, accepted a baptism date, and invited us to come back. There is also Altair and Joao . Altair is 77 years old and just needs to stop smoking. Joao is 19 years old and we want to baptize them together. 

     This general conference was really good and had a lot of talks about the Book of Mormon. Russell M. Nelson started off with a great story of how a king of an african tribe was converted because of the Book of Mormon. Then he went on and asked 3 questions, one of which was " How would your life be without the Book of Mormon?" It is a question that all of us need to ask ourselves. I know that my life would be drastically different without the Book of Mormon and not different for the better, but for worse. Tad R, Calluster gave a great defense and then took the offense against people trying to challenge the authenticity away of the Book of Mormon. It was a great talk. I would also like to give an honorable mention out to Craig Zwick who gave my personal favorite talk of conference. He gave some good stories and examples to talk about how our perspective is really important. There were lots of good talks but these 3 were some of my favorites.

Did you get to watch priesthood live?  That would have been 9-10:30 your time?

We got to watch the first 30min only. I will have a member download them onto a pendrive to hear later. 

How was the dermatologist?

Long story short the dermatologist wasn't there... I don't want to have to go to Teresopolis just for this again so I will just try that soap thing that you had sent me 2 weeks ago.

 Until next week!

Elder Smith

Monday, September 25, 2017

Training Elder Miranda...09.25.2017

**Nina here*** No group email from Ethan this week.  He's finding that he doesn't have much time to email with the new 1 hour time frame.  Hopefully he'll figure out to email the group letter first.  He didn't even talk about how he's got a brand new missionary companion (Elder Miranda) and will be training him this transfer.  He also has 2 people who are planning to be baptized this week.
Here's some things he said to me and of course the question and answer portion that I think is fun to share***

Elder Miranda is a native from Sao Paulo. Have you seen a photo of him? I am pretty sure Pres. Lacerda put something up on Facebook. 

The plan for today is go into centro and relax. We already played some basketball and pingpong and now we might go for some acai. The hike wont be happening very soon. No one has a camera to take pictures and that is the main purpose of the hike and the cool hikes are only open on mondays if there is a holiday. 

Oh this Wednesday I will be going to Teresopolis for a dermatologist appointment. Sister Lacerda was here at the stake conference and said that the mission would pay for it if I went so why not give it a try. Lets see what the Brazilian doctors can do. Don't worry about a medication if there will be one, because I have to have everything passed by Sister Lacerda first. 

Time is ending...

We will be getting 80 Reais more every pay period so that will help a ton. This money must be used for healthy foods and we send the receipt to the mission home to prove it. It will be great.

Who else lives in the house with you now after transfers?

I am training elder Miranda, Elder Guiterrez stayed in the house and his companion is Elder Mires.

Did we send you with a micro fiber towel?  If so, do you use it?  Would you recommend others bring one?

No I don't have a micro fiber towel, but i know people who have one and yes I recommend one. If it is what I am thinking it is, it is much smaller, lighter and helps to not take up much space.

I ordered a replacement camera and have a courier service that will take it to Brazil and mail it from within the takes mini sd cards.  Is that what you have?

Yes I do have a mini sd card to use with it. Is it the same camera, or is it different and you have already bought it?

What small and light things could I put in the package for the courier?  Sunscreen?  Deoderant?  Hard candy?  Chocolate? Peanut butter?

Sunscreen I can get here, Deodorant i still have 3, candy is always great. If you want you could send a violin song that you like that is a little more challenging and I will learn to play it. I am wanting some new songs to play. Peanut butter would be good as well. Oh and some reeses!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Zone Conference and 2 baptisms this week!! 09.18.2017

 Hey everyone,

      This will be extremely short. Our internet time got reduced to 1 hour and I will have to get used to managing my time a little better. But this week we had zone conference which was great, but I lost my camera... The mission paid a bus to take the two zones to the zone conference and on the return trip I left it in a pocket in front of my seat. I slept the  whole 5 hours and forgot that I had left it there. I called the bus company but they said that they didnt find it... So yeah I lost all of those photos, videos, and don't have a camera anymore. 

I will be going to Juiz de Fora tomorrow to get my new companion because I will now be a trainer. We had 2 baptisms of Jerson and Leandro. I am loving the mission and learning a lot. 

Until next week!

Elder Smith

Packages???  Did you finally get any??  I hope there was one from us and one from the Goodriches...

Yes I got both of the packages thanks. It was great.

What are you studying in your personal/companion study time?

Every day I study something to help my investigators so it varies a lot. One day The plan of salvation, another priesthood authority, another baptism.

Are the members getting excited about General Conference?  Do you get a good attendance at General Conference meetings?

No one is saying anything about general conference. General conference meetings though seem to have a lower frequency.

Is church the same there as here?  3 hours?  Is sacrament meeting first?  Does it start on time?  Are you in a ward or branch?

Church is the same 3 hours. Sometimes it starts with sacrament meeting, or sometimes it starts with sunday school. Right now it starts with sunday school and i am in a ward.

What was the theme at your zone conference?  What zone(s) were there?  What zone are you in?  Who did you see there?

The theme of the zone conference was obedience and desire. It was My zone( Teresopolis), Petropolis, and Volta Redonda. I got to see Elder Goodrich, Elder Crandall, Elder Ricks, Elder Kaiser, Elder Gale, and some others as well.

Baptism of Jerson and Leandro!!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Brazil Independence Day and a promise 09.11.2017

Hey everyone,

    The highlight from this week was September 7th (Independence day of Brazil), hospital visits, and splits with the assistants to the mission president. 

     Well, September 7th we got a promise that if we worked hard we would find a family that has a son who could serve a mission.  So we went to work to find this family. That night we hadn't found anyone and we went to visit one of our investigators and we found a wallet in the street. We started knocking on doors to try and find the owner and with some help we found him. The owner was a man that we had knocked his door the day before and he had opened it and closed it in the same second saying he didn't want to know anything about religion. But once we gave him his wallet he humbled himself a lot and asked for forgiveness. Then we said the least he could do was hear our message and he said that really it is the least he can do and marked a return visit for the next week. He lives with his wife and son, so the promise was completed. The Lord works in mysterious ways to open doors.
     The assistants to the mission president made a surprise visit with us this week. They showed up Saturday night and slept there to prepare for the splits the next day. I stayed with Elder Kaiser and Elder Cruz went with Elder Taporosky. It was a really good division and the lunch was BBQ. BBQ is the best lunch possible here because it is real meat: stake, sirloin, ribs... Brazilians know how to have BBQs. 

    We visited some investigators and at the end of the night we made a visit with the Stake President as well. He went with us to Jerson and Leandros house, who have been investigating the church for almost 3 months. It was a powerful lesson and the stake pres. took control and marked a solid baptism date for this Saturday. It was a powerful lesson. 


How is your contact lens supply?  Will you have enough to last?

You wont even need to worry about my contact supply. I think that i still have 8 boxes. enough to last 4 more years. 

What time was stake conference last week?  It seems like i got the live feed from President Lacerda at 1:30pm and 4 pm my time, which would make it 3:30pm and 7pm your time.

Stake conference started at 4 p.m. and went until 6 p.m. 

Do you have senior missionaries in your mission?

No my mission doesn't have senior missionaries

Do you use the sausage and shrimp seasoning I sent?  What do you make with it?  Do they eat seafood in Brazil?

I have used that seasoning. I already used it with sausage, stroganoff, and some other things. Most brazilians love sea food, but it is a little expensive.

How many missionaries are serving in the office?  2 AP's and then who else?  Do they stay there longer than other typical missionaries?

Staff has 4 missionaries: Executive secretary, financial secretary, and the two  assistants. However, the two assistants of the president don't stay in the office much. They work in the field and just go to the office when required or to travel with him. 

Where will you be tomorrow for Zone Conference?  Will you be there overnight?

Zone conference will be tomorrow in Volta Redonda. I will take a bus to Teresopolis tonight at 7:00 and then the mission rented a bus to bring Zones Terespolis and Petropolis there and back. I will get back to my area Wednesday morning.

I saw somewhere it was Brazil independence day last week...was that a big deal? 

I thought that it would be, but nothing happened. Everyone just stayed inside their houses and slept or had bbq´s and drank. I didn't see any flags or any fireworks. Brazil doesn't have a lot of patriotism. 

Tell me about one great person you met this week?  Why?

Leonardo. I had made a contact with him 2 weeks ago in the elevator of going to an investigators apartment. I went back there yesterday in a division with Elder Kaiser and we said a prayer and marked a return visit and he liked the fast visit a lot. He has a wife and a daughter and they seem to have lots of potential.

     Now I am off to zone conference tomorrow which will be good. I am out of email time now, so this is all you guys get. 

Until next week!

Elder Smith

Monday, September 4, 2017

Stake Conference 09.04.2017

Hey everyone,

    This week has been pretty good. There were two things awesome that happened. The first one was an activity that we planned for 3 weeks. It was called "Testemunho Alado" which is Winged Testimony. In this activity, we did a play with some of the members that was really funny about our daily life and how the members can help us. We interacted with the audience and everyone laughed a lot. Then we got ballons filled with helium and we gave everyone one with a note attached. They had to write their testimonies on these note cards and then we went outside and had a ceremony to release the balloons to spread the testimonies all around the city. It was a great activity.

     The other thing was the stake conference. It was the best stake conference that I have been a part of in my life. To be honest it was more spiritual than any other meeting that I have been to. The first talk was about virtue, and how the simple act of defining our standards when we are young has a great impact. It was the "worst" talk, but was still great. Next was our Ward Mission Leader called Daniel. He returned from his mission 4 years ago, married, and has a daughter. He talked about why we as members joined the church of Jesus Christ, and pretty much taught the restoration with lots of scriptures and challenged all investigators to be baptized. Next was Sister Lacerda, the mission president's wife who pretty much told her conversion story and it was really spiritual. After that Pres. Lacerda gave his talk. He talked a lot about how we can be the miracle in the ward. How we have to make changes in our lives and go forward. How we choose to either enter the church doors and make them doors of transformation, or a veil of forgetfulness. We need to hear and then apply the things we learn in our lives. If we just sit on the benches than we will never improve. He also gave a great analogy asking us if we missed our own baptism. Then compare that to missing the sacrament. That sacrament is us baptizing again and we need to understand the importance of that. Then the stake president closed with a really spiritual talk about where do we want ourselves to be. It seems like I have written a lot about this meeting, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. But yeah that is what happened this week. 


How are you making your video logs?  I thought your camera only recorded 30 seconds at a time and those are 2-3 minutes (I love them!!)

I can only send 30sec low-quality video logs frfom my camera using wifi, but I can record high-quality videos and send them when I link my camera with the computer. The lan house here that I use is safe so I can hook up my camera here to send them.

How often can the members in your area go to the temple?  Which temple do they attend?

It seems that this ward has a caravan (I don't know the word in English) 8 times each year. There are x spots available for each ward because it is a bus for the whole stake maybe 2 and they sign up and go. They go to Campinas.

Did you finally get packages?  Or do you have to wait until zone conference?

I will have to wait for the zone conference to get the packages... 

What do you call a sea full of spaghetti?  The Apostacy!!

Just no...

Until next week.

Elder Smith