Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Brazilian Fathers Day 08.14.2017

Hey everyone,

     I don't have a lot to say about this week. We have started to work in a new neighborhood. We are finding a few people here and there, but this week we didn't get to do a lot of teaching. Lots of people were busy and so we just gave summaries and marked return visits. 

     Our recent convert Maria is going really strong. She made cake and calda de candica for us. She waits in the window for us to pass by and talk with her and she already entered in the lunch calendar for the missionaries. She has a strong testimony and loves the change that she has had in her life after her baptism. 

    Sunday was Father´s day here in Brazil. So Happy others fathers day dad. But because of this the church was a little empty and we didn't have many investigators there. They had all planned to do things as a family and I wasn't going to tell them not to do family things and go to church. So I hope next week we will have more investigators at the church.

     The stake president gave a great talk about the importance of fathers in the home. How it is their responsibility to provide for the family. He told the story of the dad who brought his son with him to work. He worked raising bridges to let boats pass beneath and then lower it to let trains pass. That day he was distracted and his son entered in the chains and a boat was approaching. He was panicked and started to run to save his son, but knew that if he saved his son the people on the big boat would die. So with tears in his eyes he pressed the button to raise the bridge and sacrificed his son. This is what god did for us so that we could live. It is a great story to put in perspective what god did for us. 

Questions:

Do you have your drivers license or did you leave it here?  If you have it, when does it expire?

I have my drivers license with me and it doesnt xpire until febuary 2019.

What is the school year for kids in Brazil?  Are they headed back now, or have they been in and they are out during the summer there, which is?

The youth had a break for i dont know how long, but they just went back to school at the beginning of last week.

Did you get your package yet?

There is a leaders conference tuesday that the ZL´s will be going to so if it is there they probably will pick it up, if not or it hasnt arrived there i will get it 12/09 which is the zone conference.

What is your favorite song on the drives we sent?

To be honest right now I haven't been listening to music. But I think the favorite song right now is called Pergunte. It is from the Brazilian FSY music.

What talk is your favorite from last conference?  Or one that you've been studying lately?

I haven't studied a talk in months. I am just reading Jesus the Christ and the scriptures.

Until next time..

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The work is progressing...08.07.2017

Hey everyone,

     So this week was really good. It had lots of walking and a baptism at the end. We were working with 9 people that could have been baptized this last Saturday and they live in 2 locations that are 1 hour away from the other. So we were running a lot. Everyone progressed, but only Maria baptized this week. The others we made a plan for them to baptize in the next few weeks. Transfers also happened, but I will be staying here with Elder Cruz for the next 6 weeks. Elder Rufo and Elder Gutierrez will be in the house as well. So no changes happened here. This week I also officially passed the one year mark. We celebrated that, as well as the baptisms, with pizza. 


     There aren't any new things that happened this week because we only passed in the houses of those 9 people. Oh, but we had a service project at a members house that he is building. He has a lot of land and it is overgrown with weeds and little trees. We spent 4 hours there trying to fight against the jungle. I started out the day with a scythe and Elder Cruz with the weed wacker that swapped the plastic line for a rotating blade. We switched near the middle, but I liked the scythe more than the weed whacker. 






There was a fruit tree on the land and we picked 2 bags full and brought it home called ameisha. I think that is how you spell it. But to get a lot literally there was a wooden ladder and two people held one side of it and I climbed up. It was a little sketchy, because it meant they acted as the wall to put the ladder against, but in the end it worked out fine. Lots of things like this happen here. It is called the jeito brasileiro, which literally means there is a way to overcome any obstacle using just the things at hand. 

     Spiritual thought of the week is that the simplest of testimonies have the biggest impact. Of the 3 weeks that the family of Romulo went to church they said that the best talk was one simple, not written down word for word talk, that was given by a girl of 14 years. You don't have to be good with words, or have a huge knowledge of things to make the difference. 


Questions:

Do you get to see the dentist on the mission?  

No you dont go to the dentist on the mission, unless there is a problem.

Have you been sick even 1 days in the mission? 

Nope. Maybe a headache here and there. 

Did you find a new apartment?

We found 2 and passed them on to the finance secretary and now it is in his hands.



Today we just went to the center of the city, ate pizza, and looked at a few stores. Looked at ties, Elder Cruz bought new boots, and we went to a sports store. I didn't buy anything, but it was cool to go and look at some stuff at the mall. We were all dead tired so didn't end up climbing a mountain today, but maybe next week. 


Until next week.
-Elder Smith

Saturday, August 5, 2017

One year down...07.31.2017

Hey everyone,

     This week has been great. We have been running to try and follow up with all of our investigators. This week as well we had 2 baptisms and the other dupla had 1. Daniel and Yanca were baptized. We have been working with them for 5 weeks already. They are siblings and we are working with the rest of the familly still. This Sunday as well we had 10 investigators at church: Lara (sister of Daniel and Yanca), Joao (their cousin), Fabiana and Ronaldo (the parents)  Jerson and his son Leandro, Renata, Romulo, Thaisa, and Emilee (another family). Almost all of these people have a baptism date for this week, so we will be running to try and prepare them this week. Please pray for them. Oh and don't forget Maria who would have been baptized Saturday but had to travel so she will be baptized this week. 




     Thursday we had a killer Family home evening with the family of Renate and Romulo with the Stake president. We showed 3 videos. The first was the Bible video of Christ calling the fishermen to be fishers of men, the second was when the rich young man asked Christ what he needed to do to inherit the kingdom of heaven, and then Thomas S Monson's talk about decisions, how if we don't have a destination in mind than it doesn't matter what choices we make. We used these videos to show them how Christ calls everyone, but we need to accept his call and that the fisherman, without knowing who Christ was, followed him because of the Spirit. The young rich man wanted to follow, but wouldn't give up his earthly treasures, but the same invitation was made to him. All of this focused on recognizing the Spirit and then acting. It was really spiritual and people cried. It was a great FHE.

     This Sunday the Patriarch of the stake gave a great talk of the responsibility of members and how we can't be sitting in the last days. How we have to do our part. Our part is doing family history, spreading the gospel, and living the standards of the church. We can't just go to church sit there and then leave and forget everything. We have to use the meetings Sunday as a battery recharge and then go and get things done. It was a really good talk. Well, the mission is great, I am learning a lot, and my time is up. 


Do you have the hangers we sent for the CTM or did you leave them there?  Did you need them?


Yes I still use those hangers that I brought, and it is probably good that I brought them. Some houses have tons of extra hangers, but others have none at all. 


Will you be burning a shirt this week for your official 1 year mark?  Any other traditions for the anniversary?


I will burn a shirt this week for sure. That is the only tradition that I will do, but we baptized 2 and the others baptized one this week and I said if we baptized 3 I would buy pizza, so I will combine that celebration with the 1-year mark.



Do you go bye the church much?  You haven't sent photos from the church in a while.


I live next door to the church. Literally 30sec to get there, but I always forget or in the rush of things don't have time to send them. We have been bringing 8-10 investigators to church these last few weeks and have been running to talk to everyone at the end of meetings as well as arrange a ride with a member to get to lunch.


Where do you do your email time in Nova Friburgo?


In a LAN house close to the bus station.


What is the craziest thing someone has said to you when you are tracting?


Umm, I have no idea. Maybe I am already saved? Someone told us that they don't need to talk with us because they already knew that they would be saved. Then there are drunk people that always talk with us. People yelling random phrases in English when I pass them, and other things. 


Do you clap your hands or knock on doors?

I do both. Most of the time I clap my hands.









Until next week!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Happy Pioneer Day to Utah!

Hey everyone,

     This week has been bitter-sweet. We had 4 baptisms fall through, we worked a lot, did a service project, and we found a golden family. So the service project was cutting down bamboo with a machete for the ward Festa Juninho. Bamboo is deceptionally heavy. Bamboo doesn't grow everywhere, but there is quite a bit of it. They used it for decorations for the party. That machete we have is actually ours now. We asked our neighbor if she could lend us one and she said we could keep it. So yes now I have my very own machete.  Not sure it will come back with me though.





The golden family that we found is a family of 4 named Romulo, Renata, Thaiza, and Emilee. We had met them at the beginning of the week and just made a contact and marked a return visit. When we showed up there they were all waiting for us and we shared our message and they had lots of questions. We left the Book of Mormon and marked a chapter for them to read. The next day we felt the desire to invite them to the Fest Juninho literally 30 min before it started and they went!! Then when we went there the next day they had already read the chapter as a family out loud and understood everything. Then they went to church yesterday as well. We haven't marked a baptism date yet, but this next visit we will.  I'm so excited for this family!





     This Sunday we talked a lot about how we need to live our lives in a way that we can return to the presence of God. They tried to stress the importance of keeping the commandments now to be really blessed after this life. This life is just a test with promised returns if we just follow the gospel. After church we made a visit with Maria, a women who has lost her son and husband and has problems with depression. We taught her about ordinances that are done in the temple and eternal families and she asked us how she can do this. We then taught about baptism and she now has a baptism date for this Saturday

We borrowed a ball from that new family that we encountered and will be playing after email time. We invited some investigators and we will see who shows up.  We played basketball at the activity as well.





 We are planning on doing a hike or the ski lift thing this next p-day. There is a hike that we can do that puts you above the clouds and there are some killer photo opportunities. That family that we met like to do this sort of thing and they told us about some hikes and places that we can go. 

Miracles are happening here!

Questions:

How do you describe the opportunity of being able to serve a mission and all that you learn?  What would you tell someone to help then understand?  What does your mission mean to you?

The mission is a great opportunity to learn a lot about life and have a spiritual awakening. It is an experience that you cant get any other way.  

I'm excited for your week coming up and hopefully a great pday next week.  Did you like your package?  I wonder what happened to Sister Goodrich's?  

Yeah I liked the package. The whole camel thing was interesting, but we already talked about that.(***The camel theme package was in honor of "hump" day, or Ethan reaching the halfway point of his mission. As excited I was about gathering camel things, he didn't really see the point, but appreciated the package any ways...I guess some things just don't convey to a super focused missionary**)
I don't know what happened to Sister Goodriches package, maybe it just didn't get here before the zone conference.  That will leave something to be excited about receiving next time we get mail.


Until next week.
-Elder Smith

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.







Questions:

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