Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just One More Lesson

Well I don’t have a ton of time but I'm going to try and fill you in on the good stuff.  It’s getting hotter and hotter here in Brasil.  And well, I’m not a fan of the heat, but I am a fan of this work! We have been so busy this transfer teaching and finding new people. Just last night we were about to go home when we thought, no, just one more lesson, and we knocked on a door and two brothers were home who let us in and just seemed like they were elect.   We got home a little late, but we were so happy to have found these two brothers who were ready to hear our message.  This week we had a pretty cool experience happen.   We were preparing a baptism and the energy went off in the city and all the lights went off at the church and it was getting dark.  We didn’t want to have the baptism in the dark, but as soon as the other Elders walked in the door with the man who was going to be baptized the energy turned on and stayed on until the closing prayer, when it shut off after just a few minutes. It was really a little Brazilian miracle.  

I hope you all are excited for this next week, which is General conference!!!  Woot Woot.  I am so excited.  I’m ready for that spiritual boost because we as missionaries can definitely use all that good spiritual love and messages we can get.  The gospel is true, and all is well, because we are winning the war.  I can see it every day here in Brasil. 

So this morning Elder Merrill and I woke up really early to take a bus to small city called Pilar we will spending the week here teaching people and trying to help start a branch here it is going to be really fun.  The weird thing is we get to stay at a "hotel" which is more like a room in some random persons house.   But we are having fun and excited to see what will happen the next few days. I hope you all have a great week and don’t forget to watch conference.  Love you all!
Love, Elder Mender

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Best Two Years

Hello every one!

I love P-day because it gives me time to write this weekly letter to you all.   During the week we don't have a lot of time to think and relax but as I'm writing this letter I am able to see all the blessings that happen  daily and even hourly in my life.  This week has just been an amazing week!  We have a woman who is marked for baptism this Saturday and her husband is an inactive member and all her sisters are members.   As she has been on this journey preparing for baptism we have seen the excitement growing in the ward and in her life.  It really is such an amazing thing.  We also have an young man who  lives about half an hour from town but is preparing for baptism and willing and happy to make the sacrifice to come into town every sunday to go to church.  I remember something....I think I learned in the MTC about why we have the right to ask people to make these drastic and hard changes in their lives or why they even should make these changes! And the answer is because its true, every single little part of this gospel is true, and when we live it our lives are blessed immensly.  This is the best week of the transfer because you and your companion teach "perfectly" together you have already had a lot of time together and you know what they will say, what you need to say, and you just let the Spirit guide the lesson it is really amazing.
I have a joke which I read in a coloring book that one of the crazy churches down here puts out.   It was a cartoon strip and in it a man asked the other man what was all powerfull, rules our life, and starts with a "D"  and the other man answered "dollar!" (the word for God in portuguese is Deus).  I thought it was funny, but also sad, how true that cartoon can be in our lives often times the hardest part about a person accepting the gospel here isn't if its true or not, but the fact that they don't want to give up the things of the world.  That is one of the saddest things to watch as a missionary.   Well my time is short today but I want you all to know that I know this Church is true!  And I know it not just because my parents told me, but because I recieved an answer myself  and it's for this reason I'm here in Brasil having the time of my life preaching this gospel.  I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Love, Elder Mender

Better than Duct Tape!

Hello everyone!
  Publish Post
Well this week has been another crazy fun week in Brasil! To start off with… we absolutely destroyed (I think this is a good thing?) in lessons and new investigators this week and then no one went to church.  It always seems to work that way, it’s sad because you have to wait a whole week to get them to church but we know that this week will be good and that with time it will all come! So the work is good and we are tired but extremely happy.   We are teaching a family whose son has epilepsy?  I don’t know but it’s close to that in Portuguese.  And it is really hard to get them to church because of that but this family is elect. We have some amazing lessons with them this week. We watched Together Forever (not a good movie for Elders to watch because it has cute young newly married couples that sometimes might make you trunky as your watching it...) but as we watched it and talked about eternal families the spirit was so strong you could see how interested they were in this idea.  I love watching investigators interest grow because you can see the progress and you know that they will really try hard to pray and do the things you ask them and you know in time they will get the answer they are looking for. I think one of the reasons I love teaching this family is the son is always so happy and funny as I look into his eyes I swear I can feel the love of the Savior and our Heavenly Father. I always leave that house happy and ready to teach the world.

This week we had a special training on Joseph Smith by President that was just absolutely amazing.  I have such a testimony of Joseph Smith.  I love him and am so grateful for the sacrifice he made to bring us the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  Then after the training we found out that next month Elder Oaks will be visiting our mission!  We are so excited it is going to be amazing. Such a special day.  Also it is sweet because the transfer will be extended another week because of it!! So we have a seven-week transfer.  That is amazing!  I have at least another week guaranteed with my companion and here in Senhor do Confirm. 

So as for the interesting Brasil stories it goes like this...  I have been using the same pair of shoes my whole mission (Rockport’s are amazing) but lately the sole of the shoe has been slowly coming off and rather then bringing them to a store to be fixed I went out and bought some crazy Brazilian super glue and fixed those puppies myself.  I’m pretty sure I can get a few more months out of them! And if you think super gluing your shoes is lame I say its better than ductape!  Also the other day Elder Merrill and I were on a division walking through the center of the town and we passed a mom with her daughters talking to another women and she said "yeah I think ill try and marry my girls to the Mormons" I guess she didn’t think we spoke Portuguese because they stated laughing but I thought it was pretty funny because we knew exactly what they said. Jokes on them. Hah

Well my last "fun" story is that me and my companion were talking the other day and he told me how he hated cats and he said "they don’t show love, they don’t listen to you, and they only play with you when they want something but dogs are faithful, show love, listen intently are your best friend and will never leave you” and of course I responded " are we talking about cats and dogs or women and men because it sounded like you just described women and then men...." sorry if that offended anyone but we laughed our heads off. It kind of reminded me of that computer joke where that class described if the computer was feminina or masculino. 

Well I hope all is well I love you all and im so grateful for your support.  Keep the letters coming and know that I love you. Have a great week!

Love, Elder Mender

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hump Day

Hump Day Poem --

The Camel is the Symbol of the Seasoned Missionary

As you come to the one-year mark of your mission, I am sending you a camel
to remind you how far you have come, and where you are going.  There are
many similar characteristics of a great missionary and a camel.

The first is the "hump"
Yes, you have crossed the mark and now are over the hump of the first year.
But remember, the hump of a camel is used to store food for the long
journey.  Camels can go far for long periods of time without food, but a
wise missionary will store the knowledge he has gained and put it to greater
use the second half of his mission.

Another important characteristic is what the camel does to be prepared to
carry his load for his Master.  A camel sometimes protests his heavy load,
but he drops to his knees for his Master and once started, he patiently
carries his load.
As a missionary, sometimes the load seems heavy and difficult to carry.

But when you drop to your knees and succumb to the Master's will, he will
carefully lead you and you can bear the load patiently, and do your Father
in Heaven's work as he would have you do.  This is why the camel's knees are
heavily padded, as a missionary; your knees are calloused from many hours of
kneeling in prayer.

The camel has high set eyes, which enable him to see long distances.
A missionary has his eyes set on higher things, he follows the Spirit that
enables him to see the Children of God, those who are seeking answers, and
he teaches them the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The camel has broad, two-toed feet, which keep it from sinking in the desert
A missionary has a broad knowledge and a firm testimony of the Gospel.
This enables him to teach with boldness and stand steadfast and immoveable.
The people you teach do not yet have the blessings of such a sure-foot, but
as you teach with love and the Spirit, you will help them gain their own
testimony, that will help them walk on firmer ground, the path that will
lead them back to their Father in Heaven.

So you see, a Missionary has a lot in common with a camel.
Put this camel where you can see it often.
Dedicate yourself to do as the camel does. (No spitting) Serve your Master
well and patiently over the long journey.
You have come a long way; there is still much ground to cover.
Continue to move forward, serving with love, until your mission is complete
and your Father in Heaven will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful

No One Notices the American

I hope all is well up there in North America! This has been an amazing week!  We got to work hard this week and have been ridiculously busy! It has been a fun week. I have a lot of crazy stories to tell but of course we just came from playing basketball and I left my planner home... I’ll try and remember some of the fun stories.  To start on Sunday we had a man show up at church so we got his address and set up a time to go teach him last night. Well last night we went to find his house and of course he lives in the middle of nowhere half way up a mountain so we hike up the mountain for about 40 minutes and when we get to his... shack? He wasn’t home. Claro. So we decided to wait fifteen minutes hoping he would come home.  And wouldn’t you know it, just my luck, while we were waiting a ridiculously drunk guy came up and started talking to us. He really liked the fact that my companion is Japanese (I love having a Japanese companion because no one notices I’m American anymore! It’s all about him! BEAUTIFUL) Well, I thought we were up this mountain, we might as well try and preach the gospel, you know…. do our job, so I asked him why he was drinking and I got a long winded answer saying that its what he does with all his money.  Oh great.  I then asked him if he had work tomorrow and he said of course but he would get drunk tonight and then work tomorrow because he was a tough guy.  That sure impressed me.... not. I asked him if he had a family, he said yes, and five kids but his ex wives took care of them so he didn’t have to worry. He then went on to tell us that his dad had five houses but wouldn’t give him one and we told him that we thought we knew why maybe if he stopped drinking he would be responsible enough we then told him how God commands us not to drink and at this point he zoomed out of reality and started singing crazy drinking songs.  I was blown away that he was content to live his life like that and even though it was really funny at the time it made me sad to think that his five kids didn’t have their dad that this man was not fulfilling his obligation to his family.  How much happier they all could have been if he could just put away the bottle.  
Another fun story is this week we had to take a bus to lunch but the bus driver didn’t want to stop so he just opened the door and I got to jump on my first moving bus!  It was quite the adventure. Luckily he decided he could stop to let us off.
What else oh this chapel here is so beautiful!  It has air conditioning and a piano that plays by itself!  It is so nice to finally sing with a piano again.  Oh when I got here I was told we had a firm baptism for this week!  So went to go teach him and from the first lesson I could tell something was off.  And in the second lesson I knew why. He told us he was worried about tithing because his tithing would be thousands of dollars every month...?  (He is living with his grandma.) He then went on to explain that he found a way to create electricity from leaves and that he was going to create a house in which people could enter and pay fifty dollars to take a light bath. The idea being they would walk in between the light bulbs powered by the electric leaves. He told us he figured out the idea while he was on about six different (illegal) drugs after he got out of the mental hospital. He was in the hospital for five years.  Well as it ended up our firm baptism wasn’t so firm after all.  It was probably one of the craziest lessons I have ever taught. 
To wrap up this week we had the chance to study the Book of Mormon. I love the Book of Mormon.  It is such an important book I love the quote by Joseph smith that calls it the keystone of our religion.  On of the first things we need our investigators to answer are if the Book of Mormon is true.  Once we know that the Book of Mormon is true everything comes into place! Joseph smith was a prophet, the restoration really happened, Jesus is the Christ, we have answers to the most important questions in life, and we know that we can receive personal revelation all this is so important to our salvation.  Its not just another book or another bible but it a book that has the power to help us in our lives if we will study it and apply its teachings in our lives.  I hope you all take time to study the Book of Mormon and use it daily because it is amazing.
I love you all and im so grateful for your support! Have a great week. 

Love, Elder Mender

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Hello Everyone!
How are we all today?!  Well as you can all tell that I was transferred and that is why I’m writing a day late.  It was really sad to leave Coite, I spent the most time on my mission in Coite! I have a lot of good friends and memories there but I’m learning when the Lord calls we just do and we don’t hesitate.  I was transferred to a city called Senhor do Bom Fim. It is located in between mountains and is a really pretty city. I am very excited to serve here, I have only heard really good things about this area.  I’m sure many of you are dying to know who my companion is and his name is Elder Sato, he is from Sao Paulo but his dad is actually Japanese (funny how Japan is a common theme for my companions) I have also only heard good things about him so I am very excited for this transfer lets just see where things go!
So I’m trying to think of things to say because I forgot the paper, which has what I wanted to say.   I do have some fun stories from the past few weeks that I have missed.  First a baptism! We baptized a woman named Vivianne, her husband and sisters are already members but she --for a long time wanted nothing to do with the church.   One day she came to church and told us she felt like God was telling her she needed to get baptized so we began teaching her and two weeks later she was baptized.   She is such an amazing woman and it was very sweet to be able to complete this family. Now they are working on preparing to go to the temple!  How exciting is that?!  Story number two,  I found a person who really doesn’t like me!  So it all started on a Sunday afternoon while were eating lunch I walked into the kitchen to get some food and as soon as this littler girl saw my face she started screaming and crying and throwing her silverware.   The only thing that calmed her down was when her mom turned her face away from me. I thought dang that’s weird she must just be cranky... nope a few days later we were teaching a lesson and the little girl walked into the room, saw me and started crying and whining at me so we had to wrap up the lesson fast and leave it was very sad!  But wait you say two times could just be a coincidence.   OK, yes, I’ll give you that, but want more? A few days later we walked into a house for lunch and this little girl who was ALL the way on the other side of the house saw a GLIMPSE of my face and started screaming and crying it was the most bizarre and kind of really sad thing of my life. All the Elders were saying it was because I picked on her in the pre-existence but I just don’t see me doing that. Do you?
Finally my last story I think I told you how zone conference have been moved to every other transfer we on the off transfer we have what’s called a special training were a district or a few districts get to have training essentially one on one with the president and it was a really cool training this past meeting as we got to role play and get feedback right from president. Mission Presidents are some of the coolest people in the world.  Just one look into their eyes make you want to get to work and go out and baptize the world.  The church has put out a new training to go along with Preach My Gospel and as we have been applying it in our work it has just been amazing.  I truly know that this work is really important.   I have a testimony of Jesus Christ.   I love that everyday I get to go out and testify that He lives as an authorized representative. It is amazing, I love it, and I hope you love it too this amazing gospel that we have! 
I hope you all have a great week and keep smiling because life’s too short to live it another way!

Love, Elder Mender