Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Really Happy Week


How is everyone doing today?  I'm doing great this last week was a really long week and a really happy week. This Sunday was the baptism of a young man named Crislam.  He plays soccer semi-professional.  He is such an amazing guy. I was so happy he decided to be baptized. He will be an amazing missionary.   We are preparing a man named William and his girlfriend Sandra to be baptized this Saturday. They are so special. I love teaching them they just soak up everything. William told us the other day how Sandra would have to wait for him because he wants to serve a mission. It was such a powerful lesson.  Im pretty sure we all cried.   I love this area when i got here we had a bad rap because the missionaries before us did some pretty bad things but i can tell the mood of the ward is changing and people are starting to trust us more.  I love this work and i can’t imagine a better thing to do with my time. 
   The past few weeks we have been working a ton with the members.  And man has it been helping.  Everyday we do a division with a young man or we do splits with the quorum of elders. And they bear powerful testimony.  They don’t always know how to teach perfectly but you can tell when they bear testimony that the investigator feels the spirit. I love this work. I love that we have to work closely with the spirit or nothing happens. We have to teach people how to gain a testimony of Christ.  I have to run but just to wrap up i want to say read the Book of Mormon. It should be an IMPORTANT part of our lives. Family and personal. We need to read it love it and use it.   I can’t stress it enough and we can’t stress it enough for our investigators.   I hope everyone is getting ready for general conference it will be a great few days when we can refill our spiritual batteries.  I sure love you guys. Have a great week.

Elder Mender

Updates from Brazil

Heloo everyone!!!

How are you all this week?  Well this week was amazing for us here in Santo Antonio de Jesus.  We had the baptism of a man who is amazing. His name is Rafael and is has 20 years old.   He told us this week how he started going to church because of a girl (see why its good to "flirt to convert"!!!)  But then he realized that Heavenly Father was using her to bring him into the church. Yesterday he went to a family night with us and bore an amazing testimony about the gospel of Jesus Christ.   We also had the baptism of Adriano he is the young man who has been going to church for over a year and his mom didn’t want him to be baptized.  This week he surprised us by saying he got the signature of his dad.  It was a complete miracle and the baptism service was one of my favorite services here on the mission.   They asked me to sing the music from EFY "one voice" in Portuguese and it went really well.   This Sunday they both received the priesthood and Adriano told me that in two years he would serve a mission.  It’s always nice to hear that your converts have an eternal perspective.   It seems like the Lord has been pouring out his blessings on our work the last few weeks.  It is an amazing time to be a missionary here.   

   We are teaching two families who are really amazing. One is a young man whose brother is already a member and he has a lot of problem with the commandments but has made a ton of promises to himself the lord and his family. It is the most amazing thing to see the changes that are happening in his life as he studies the Book of Mormon and is praying. I can really see his testimony growing.   The other family is a family from Argentina some of the family are members and others now.  It has been so much fun to teach this family. Sometimes i have no idea what they are saying but im grateful for the spirit that helps me know what to say!  We usually have really fun lessons full of laughter and the spirit.
    Well this week is Carnival and luckily here in this city it doesn’t mess-up our work.   The only thing that happens is the city completely shuts down and the people who don’t leave to go to Salvador get really drunk but we still manage to find people to teach. Im loving the work.  Hope you all have a great week.   I’ll write more next week. Love you!  

Elder Mender

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I LOVE the Mission

Bom dia,

Well it’s been a crazy week here. It’s been a crazy transfer. Probably my favorite transfer on the mission. I have learned so much and am thankful for my time here in Santo Antonio de Jesus. You know I always thought that the best transfer on the mission would be when I baptised a million people and saw the numbers that prove that I was a good missionary. This transfer I didnt have any of that. We baptised one person and inspite of all our hard work had about 10 other baptisms fall through. I once heard a missionary say he wondered who was really winning the battle - Satan or us. Well this was one of those transfers were I had to stop and ask if we were really winning the battle. Is my work here in Brasil worth anything? If I’m not bringing people into the church what am I doing here? I’m not trying to be negative it is just a question that I used to analyze my work. Let it be known, I LOVE the mission, I LOVE this work, and I know that there is NO better place on for me on earth than this beautiful land called Bahia. This transfer I had the chance to really get to know the people here. I spent many hours talking to people I now call friends and learning about their pasts. I’ve heard things that I never thought possible that I never imagined was possible. Things in horror movies and tv shows.... but its real and its been a part of my life the past few weeks. I’ve seen peoples lives and families destroyed because of drugs, alcohol and abuse of all sorts. Many of our baptisms fell because families wouldn’t let or wouldn’t support them in their decisions. I often cried myself to sleep wondering how it was possible that our loving Heavenly Father could let things happen. Why a young man of 16 years couldn’t be baptized because his mom wouldn’t let him after more that a year of going to church, being more of a "priesthood holder" than the other young men. Why some of the most faithful saints I have ever seen had to be born into families that beat and abused them. Why loving moms have to live poorer that dirt because some drunk decided to abandon his family, why kids that when you look into their eyes you see the pure love of Christ have to be born to mothers who are drug addicts and can’t take care of them properly. I spent many, many hours struggling with this... of course the simple primary answers came to my head (because our Heavenly Father loves us and knows what he is doing/we have to learn from our trials/ the Lord doesn’t give us more than we can handle) You know, I would love to say that I found out the answer and I came to peace with this problem but the truth is I haven’t. I was told a quote from an apostle who said "sometimes in life we have to be like a stick and not a rock, when a rock is placed in a bucket of water it sinks. When a stick is placed in a bucket of water it floats. Being a stick or a rock you are in the water, a part of the problem but the difference is the rock becomes overcome by the problems while the stick manages to stay a float in the problems and help from the top" as a missionary I’ve had that struggle and I think I’m doing ok. I’m so grateful for the things I have learned and seen here. I know I will never forget my time here in Santo Antonio de Jesus.
Yesterday was transfers and.... drum roll please.... I’M STAYING!! I’m really excited to be staying. My companion, Elder Araujo was transferred and I have a new companion Elder Castro he is from Rio Grande do Sul. I’m pretty excited for this transfer and know that we will have a lot of success. We have been teaching some really good families and are excited to continue working with them. This week we found a woman who just moved here and is recently married she has always wondered why we don’t have prophets today and was really excited for the chance to read the Book of Mormon and pray about Joseph Smith. I know that my calling here is so much more important than a missionary but we are really just tools in the hands of the Lord delivering a message of the gospel. A message of eternal hope.
I sure love you guys hope you all are enjoying a winter with snow because the summer with sun is sure killing me! I don’t see why we cant just get a little snow here in Brasil. I don’t think I’m asking a lot! Remember to study the Book of Mormon EVERYDAY and pray EVERYDAY. It’s really important. It’s how we get the strength to continue on even when you don’t think you can. It’s how the Lord guides us in our day to day life and it’s how we show our love and respect for our Heavenly Father.
Have a great week!!


Elder Mender