Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Shooting Star

Hello all,

Well,  guess what?! I’m 20!!!!!  That’s weird... I feel like I have to be serious and not funny like my parents or something. No, I’m just kidding!  My parents are amazing!  I need to stop picking on them. I love them to death.  Well this week was a wonderful week! We started of the week with interviews with president I’m getting less and less scared of him so that is good right?! Ha-ha! No, I love my President he is an amazing guy but I think all mission presidents are. They just seem to know your problems before you say anything and they always have the perfect words and the perfect scriptures to help you out.  It’s a pretty cool thing!  After interviews our zone went out to lunch together at an all you can eat macaroni place!  That is pretty cool huh? I didn’t know they did all you can eat in Brasil... and it was only five reis! That’s about 2.50 in dollars think about that!  
This week I saw my first shooting star in Brasil!  The nights are so clear and beautiful I miss sleeping under the stars like we did in Petrolia. I love staring at them and thinking about whatever.  That is one thing that testifies of God I mean look up there! It didn’t happen by chance!  Look at Orian's belt that was done by a perfect artist, our heavenly father.

Well this week we did a ward activity to help get the ward excited for missionary work and we had been planning it out and getting everything ready for weeks and then last Saturday the bishop showed up and another RM and that was it. So we just went and did divisions. I’m starting to understand a little bit more about the joys and pains of organizing church functions.

Then yesterday was my birthday!  And I was sick! It was so lame who gets sick on their birthday?!  in high school you are all excited to be sick because you get to stay home and watch TV but on a mission being sick is the worst thing ever because you teach a lesson and sprint home, teach a lesson and sprint home. I’m pretty sure I did about three of coach gambles hard workouts in one day.  But it wasn’t all bad!  One sister made me a cake another bought me a box of chocolates and I had a lot of people sing happy birthday to me!  It was a fun day then at night the Zone leaders came over and we made pizza and did what all missionaries do on P-night played games.  Dominos, Uno you know the usual. 

That’s about it for this week!  The good news is the church is true and we don’t ever need to worry about that!  I hope all is well and that you have another great week! I love you all.

Elder Mender

World Cup!

Hello all!

How are you doing?  So this is going to be really short im sorry... since transfers just started i have a new planner and my old one has all the stories so yeah this is just going to be about the past two days! Lets start with Monday morning we found out the elder Almeida was being transferred and i would stay and elder Conrad would be my new companion!  For those of you who don’t know elder Conrad is the best Portuguese speaker on the mission and is from Connecticut, so i am really excited to work with him. We were in the same zone in Petrolina and he helped me a lot there.  We said it would be amazing if we were comps and then BAM we are comps.  Tender little mercies of the Lord! Well yesterday i had to wake up at 4 am to go to Salvador to pick up elder Conrad. I absolutely love transfer day all the missionaries in the bus station telling about their crazy experiences in the transfer it is a really big missionary party.

Yesterday was also the Brasil game. Now i cannot explain to you how the world cup is for Brasil it is bigger than the super bowl, world series, NBA playoffs and any other sport thing combined it is huge!  We were walking from burger king to the bus station and a 75-year-old woman sprinted past me in a Brasil jersey because the game was about to start and she had to be by a TV.  Then in the bus station in Salvador when a goal was scored all sense of order vanished and screaming and bombs going off and horns blowing all started and continued for about 20 minutes.  Soccer is not just a sport here it is life and the world cup is greater than life.  The next few weeks will be very interesting for the work!

And one funny story about two hours ago we showed up at our house and it was FLOODED.  The washer hose had gotten jammed and water just spilled out onto the floor so elder Conrad and i got a bucket and two rags and sat there sucking up water and squeezing it into the bucket by hand for a good 45 minutes it was quite and adventure. I was lucky that none of my stuff got wet.... other elders not so much.   

Well things are amazing here and i cannot believe another transfer has started! Time just flies.  I hope you all are happy and having fun because i know i am!   Until next week have a good one!


Elder Mender

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Know you are in Brazil When....

Tudo bom!!! Com credenza!

Hello everyone I hope you all had an amazing week.  First of all I need to say thank you to everyone who has sent me letters and packages it is always a ton of fun to receive a handful at conference.  This past conference was amazing and not just because of the letters I received although that didn’t hurt. :) As many of you know Elder Godoy of the Seventy was at our conference it was just an amazing spiritual conference where we learned soooo much. Kind of like a mini general conference.  He taught so well and the Spirit was so strong.  I remember two things specifically….  The first his wife said. She was telling a story of when she was leaving her mission she was in tears and her mission president said, "You don’t need to be sad the next thing will be better" HOW TRUE THAT IS! Those were the exact words I needed to hear at that time. The lord loves us he knows what we need and will give it to us. So we don’t need to worry or be sad just take comfort in the Lord.  The second elder Godoy talked about three questions we need to ask ourselves as missionaries but I also think we can ask it as members too.  1) What are we NOT doing that is keeping blessings from us? 2) What ARE we doing to keep blessings from us? And 3) what do we need to KEEP doing to receive blessings? As we answer these three questions and form goals around the answers we will see the blessings of the lord pour more rapidly and abundantly into our lives. That is true.

I have a lot of stories this past week and stories from others weeks that I have forgotten to tell so sorry this email might be a little long!  First this week Elder Domelles and I had a chance to change a light bulb while we were on divisions now this might seems simple but the ceiling was high and they did not have a ladder so we did what all good missionaries do and he climbed up on my back and changed it from my shoulders it was actually quite impressive and made a good video!

Second, a few weeks ago we went to play soccer at the institute building and while we were playing a man came to work on the front gate. Great right that good? well when we finished and had to leave he wasn’t finished but he couldn’t open the gate because he was changing the metal plates in between the bars well this is where the story gets good... all the skinny elders squeezed their way through the opening without a problem then it was me and another larger (but not as large as me) elder I naturally being the polite man that I am let him go first well he struggled a little bit and finally got through as many of you can imagine I’m freaking out right now in my mind thinking there is no way I’m going to fit through this!  Well I’m an Elder and there are about 20 other others on the other side of this gate so I have to try if I want to keep my man status. Well I put my arm through that BARELY fits then my torso hits the bars stop. all forward progress stopped I push a little bit not going to happen no way so I start to back out  but elders always willing to help grab my arm and start pulling! (I’m about 90% sure they did it to see me in pain) well with elders pulling on my arm I get about halfway through. Uh oh stop again! I now cannot breath at all  the pictures from this point make me look like one of the toy heads that you squeeze and the eyes and ears pop out. Yeah I was in pain but not to be out done the guy working on the gate starts pushing! so I feel kind of like a ragdoll in the hands of little boys being pulled pushed and beaten to a pulp at about the last second when I’m two hundred percent sure I’m going to lose consciousness because of lack of air I pop out the other side fall to the ground with the worst pain of my life in my chest!  Needless to say it was a fun adventure! And the pictures are priceless. I’ll try and send them...

I have realized that the best time for a nap is when the missionaries are at your door, kind of like the best time for a relative to die is during finals in college...

This week we were having a delightful lunch at a members home and of course the sister asked me to eat more. "come mais elder" is a favorite saying of the members here in Brasil and a saying you hate to hear as a missionary well I went for some more chicken and BAM it happened I somehow stabbed the chicken in the right way and chicken grease and the ridiculous amount of oil they like to cook their meat in spilled all over my brand-new white shirt! Oh I was so sad but what can you do but laugh when this happens?  Nothing all you can do is laugh so for the next five minutes we all had a good little laugh at my chicken stained shirt, which is good we all need to laugh every now and then right? Well I feel lucky that I made it as long as I have with spilling it was bound to happen on the mission!

I had another "you know you’re in Brasil moments when..."   this week it was really quite interesting. So there we were teaching a lesson and a chicken walks through the living room. You know you are in Brasil when a chicken walks through the house and you are the only one that feels this might not be the right place for a chicken to walk freely... but i guess ill learn right?!
Well this week and the past few months certainly have been an adventure. I truly am learning to love the work and love the people here.  This place is so beautiful and every now and then you will get a glimpse of a sunset and a view that just takes your breath away and you fall in love with Brasil all over again.  The work is wonderful to see people’s lives change because of the gospel that you are teaching ... there is nothing sweeter in the entire world. This gospel is beautiful I hope you all know of the testimony I have and the love I have for my Savior Jesus Christ who without this work and really this life would have no eternal purpose.
I love you all and hope you have another great week.

Elder Mender

A Bite on the Butt


What an amazing week it has been here in Bahia Brazil!! We are getting ready for a zone conference with Elder Godoy of the Seventy which will be amazing tomorrow except that we have to wake up early, like... 3:30 to get there on time but that’s OK I'll get over it, right?

Well let’s see exciting stories from this week...  do you remember how I said you could become a real missionary one of three ways? A dog biting you, pooping your pants, or being robbed?  Well I think I found a new one to add to the list!  So there I was at church talking to a member and a kid comes up and BITES me on the butt!! No like a child soft bite but a horrible painful bite that I'm pretty sure will scare over!  It was the craziest thing ever all the member could do was laugh out of pure shock... I mean what can you do in this situation?!

This week was elder Almeida’s one-year mark on the mission so I made him two cakes. Yes you read right I made two cakes for him! And they turned out ´pretty good too!  I even put sprinkles on it.  I'm thinking my wife is a pretty lucky woman, I mean, what more do you need then a man that can make and decorate a cake?!

Well here in Brazil they like hot sauce on their food and this one sister made some of the best hot sauce I have ever had so I asked her to teach me how and she said that she would make a bottle for me! Well yesterday I picked up the bottle and I could tell it was going to be good.  My companion just looked at it really scared and told me to run my finger over the opening and not touch it and then stick it on my tongue so I did and my tongue was burning just from the fumes of the hot sauce! I am so excited to use this it is amazing!  If anyone wants I’ll make it for them when I get home.  I'm thinking my dad will love it!

Well this week while we were teaching this really cool parable came to my mind! I love it, tell me what you think.  It’s called the parable of the ice cream shop:

The kingdom of Heaven is likened unto an ice cream shop.  The owner of the shop wanting all to partake of the best ice cream in the world will do everything he can to help people enjoy his ice cream.   The owner tells how the journey will be hard and long but the reward worth it so we all agree to try. Since the owner is the only one who knows where the shop is he gives us a bike (because it is long and impossible to get there in feet), a gps (because maps are outdates and a gps is cooler), and money for the ice cream once we get there. So we get on our bikes and start out. Along the way are other shops that seems good but their ice cream is not even close to as good as this one shop and after a while there is shade which looks really nice since its hot and the journey is long finally we make it to the shop because be paid close attention to the gps, stayed close to our bikes and those of us who have the money pay and are able to eat and enjoy the best ice cream in the world with all the joy and peace and happiness what we were promised.  Now wasn’t the journey worth it?

As many of you can tell the ice cream is eternal life, the owner is God but the other symbols in the story aren’t so clear.... the Gps is the Holy Ghost and prophets and it only works if we listen to it and pay attention to it. The Money is baptism God has made it available to all but not everyone will accept it and if they won’t when they reach the final destination if they don’t have it they cannot enter and receive (john 3:5).  The bike is Christ we cannot get to the end without Christ we are totally and completely dependent on him and if we walk away from him and do not gratefully partake of the atonement we will not end up where we want. the shade is the joys of the world or immediate gratification is makes us happy for a minute but in the end it isn’t what we wanted and last we have the other shops which are other churches that look good and offer good things but they do not have the fullness of the Gospel and the fullness of the joy that we can receive if we endure to the end and make it to the real place.
This is a fun little story that points out what I have learned to be the most important parts of our message to the world and my testimony.  

I know that God lives that he has given us His beloved Son and it is only through Him and by accepting His atonement and baptism that we can be saved at the last days. I know that God has given us everything we need to return to live with Him again if we will only listen to the words of the prophets and give heed to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost we can endure to the end. My prayer is that we can all humble ourselves and stay strong in our journey to live with heavenly father again. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and that because of his works and sacrifice we have the true and living gospel today.  His fruit for us is the book of Mormon which testifies that Jesus is the Christ. We cannot look beyond the mark or away from the staff of life if we want eternal life with all of its many blessings.  This is my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I hope you all have a great week and know that I love you so much. Never forget your purpose in life and life will be that much easier.  Not easy but easier. I love this chance that I have been given to serve a mission and I am so grateful for all I have learned here in this short time.  Ate mais meus amigos!

Te Amo,
Elder Mender