Monday, April 20, 2015

A Week for the Books!

This week was full of fun little adventures that a picture and maybe some acting on my part may be necessary for complete comprehension of some of the following happenings - 

Doing the Hokie Pokie
- This morning an elder said we were getting off the bus but after I and two other missionaries got off we saw that he had stayed on the bus. At the last instant as the bus was about to pull away he called us back on. One missionary jumped on before me and I hopped in after him, the only problem being that the door started to stop and the last missionary was still outside the bus. Over the last 20 months, page 31 of the Missionary handbook created my now innate instinct of never leaving a missionary alone. In the glimmer of an eye I leaped back down the bus steps as the door began shut on me. Fortunately I managed to bust almost all the way through before the doors shut.... The only appendage that didn't make it was my foot which stayed stuck in the bus door. There was no danger because the bus stopped imidiately but there was a good amount of humiliation as I got back on and everybody laughed at the crazy Mormon missionary that had just thrown himself from the bus for some unexplicable craziness.
With our friend and recent convert
Flavio that is going out teaching
with us nearly every day.
This week started off kind of slow on Tuesday afternoon things started to fall through but we decided to go to a referral we had written down from the church's site for referrals for our area. When we got there it turned out to be a less-active member's girlfriend! She expressed her desire to start a new life and is now preparing to be baptized. The next day we met her boyfriend and we found out that his daughter wasn't baptized yet but has already been many times to church in the past. We invited her to be baptized on sunday and yesterday she was baptized! It was a really cool experience and there was a great turnout for her baptism.

Other fun happenings
- While on exchange we saw a man taking a bath in the open sewage drain...
- One of our recent converts has been a little bummed lately because he never has anything to do and stays home all day every day and so we decided to solve the problem taking him out teaching with us nearly every day this week. It was cool because he is still learning a lot of things but we always have him say the prayers and it's always a very simple but sincire prayer for the family we're visiting. It seems like people are even more receptive when we bring him along even though he doesn't say much. 
With Sarah and her family at her baptism this week!

- My companion went to a sealing on Saturday of a family that he baptized at the beginning of his mission. Our mission president didn't want our area to go a day without us working so he had me stay with a "short-term missionary" that came from another area with the other missionary that went to the sealing. It was cool because I actually had already met him when I was in Itu a few months ago and I know his Dad really well. In fact the world is so small that his dad is moving to Utah and will probably be in Ogden, my family's new home town!
- A few weeks ago we did a dessert competition in the ward to integrate investigators and meet other non-members and less-active members and it was such a success that we did a competition with "salgadinhos" which means any sort of snack. Brazilians know how to make great snacks and so it was a huge hit!

"25 de Março"
Yet again another great week. This week is the last week of the transfer so with my luck next week I'll be writing an email about who will by my next companion to keep the streak going haha

Até mais!
Elder DP

Some photos:
- from "25 de Março" - a huge commercial street in São Paulo that we went to for P-Day. As can be seen I had an adventure trying to pass our informations from the week to the Assitants by phone in the middle of that crowd
 - from the ward activity, last time we had the op-out instead of giving the 1st place reward the
Ward Activity - competition with "salgadinhos"
Guaraná won first place but this time it was a 12-way draw for first. Great food and great people

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Parada Pinto

Another action packed week in Parada Pinto. It was funny because last week I received an email from a friend that said they met someone that passed through my area as well several years ago and the only question he had about the area was if the house was still small and smelly. The missionaries have lived in the same house for 15 years but we did some good cleaning this transfer so it's still small but at least not smelly :p

Yet another week full of exchanges. From Thursday afternoon to Saturday evening we did three different exchanges with missionaries for baptismal interviews and training new missionaries. I got to do an exchange with a new missionary from Guatemala called Elder Mac. I got to practice my rusty Spanish a bit and have some cool lessons with him.

Being here in Brazil and working as a missionary is such a special thing. There are so many things that we experience and learn here every day that you have to see to understand or have to be learned rather than taught. 

I've been listening again to several of the talks from General Conference and I think that one of my favorite was Elder Holland's talk where he talks about a boy who saves his brother's life rock climbing and compares that to Christ. 

Have a great week you guys, 
Até Mais,
Elder DP

Pictures this week are us with our recent converts and the chocolate egg they made for us and other pictures from a new area worked in a bit this week that is really humble and made me grateful for what I have when I saw these houses and tried to help the people there to improve their lives.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Apostles, Prophets, Pizza and Baptism

As missionaries General Conference is always really special, and not just because one of the members of the high counsel decided to buy pizza for six humble [and hungry] servants of God [namely the Elders] before the priesthood session. It was nice as well because in stead of one opportunity to bring people to church on the weekend we had FIVE! We had people all lined up to go to nearly all of them. Lots fell through but a few worked out and had great experiences. It was also great to hear so many uplifting messages. We had some other fun events during the week and weekend.

There is a young man that has been coming to church for a little while that wasn't baptized yet and when he saw his friends getting baptized last month he wanted to be baptized as well but his mom didn't let him. Last week we got permission for him to be baptized and we had the baptismal service this week so that his mom could be there. My companion made a banana cake which was a hit among all that were there. 

Members in the work!
The last few weeks a member has wanted us to go visit some of their friends but it kept not working out to go there together. We finally managed to make it over there but we got there and they were in the middle of a party and they were very welcoming. We left a short message and invited them to church and they accepted. The member gave them a ride and they enjoyed general conference and are planning to go again next week. Their teenage daughter has passed through some hard times recently and she didn't want to say the last prayer during the second lesson but we worked her over to do it and she said a very sincire and special prayer and her mom was visibly touched afterwards which was really cool. 

Every week is a great week in the work of the Lord, hope you guys have a great week as well!

Um Abraço,
Elder DP

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Miracles Weekly

With Elder Hunt
Being a missionary is so darn great because you get to participate in so many cool experiences every week! Seriously I can't believe how many cool experiences there were this week I'll try to tell some of the best and send some pictures off.

Exchange #1 - Elder Hunt
So the first exchange this week I got to work with Élder Hunt from Las Vagas here in our area. He is well known in the entire mission not only because of his monstrous biceps but also because the guy never stops smiling. He's an amazing missionary because he's always so darn happy! We had a cool experience where we went to visit some recent converts and they weren't home but another investigators mom was at their house. I had never talked to her but I knew that her son wants to be baptized but she hadn't let him even though he's been going for months. We stopped and talked for a while and by the end of the conversation she signed the paper giving him permission to be baptized next weekend! It was so cool to see the spirit working as she thought the decision through and she told us in the end "There are so many parents that let their kids go out on the town, go to clubs, and do other dangerous things - it's the least I can do to let my son make a good decision instead of a bad one." It was really cool

With Andrezinho
Exchange #2 - Elder J. Lopes
I got to do a baptismal interview on this exchange that was really cool to be a part of. The young man (Andrezinho) came running to the door to answer us when we got there. He's 10 years old and as soon as we sat down he pulled out his Book of Mormon and plead with us to read it with him. He brings it to school and reads it all the time. During the interview he talked in a great way about how much he loves God and wants to see him again someday. I was able to go see his baptism as well which was really cool (picture attached).

Exchange #3 - Elder Dallto
With Elder Mac from Guatemala
This week was basically completely in exchanges and I got to go with my former companion to do a bunch of baptismal interviews for him as well. One of the interviews was one of the most special of my mission. Before we said the first prayer she already started talking about how she had doubts about being baptized that Sunday. I asked her to say the first prayer and she finished crying and began to talk a lot about her doubts. All I really had to do was listen and once again I could see the spirit work within her as she talked and thought. She passed the interview with flying colors and was baptized this Sunday. 

Magazines and Desserts
With Elder Hunt - Vai Brazil!!
Saturday was crazy! Our zone is close to the mission office and they have a ton of left-over Magazines sitting around there and they don't know what to do with them. We decided to get the Zone together and all go to the same spot close to a bus station with lots of people and do a ton of contacts and hand them all out for free. The zone got super excited with the activity and we got a ton of referrals for our zone and for other areas in the mission.
We also organized a dessert contest in our ward Saturday night so that members could bring their friends and we could bring our investigators. We were kind of nervous because they forgot to announce it during Sacrament meeting and so we had to work hard for everyone to go but there was a great turnout and the non-members loved it. One of our investigators that was baptized Sunday has been nervous about having to change his group of friends with his baptism and left the activity talking a ton about how cool all the youth are there at church and wanting to participate in more activities including institute. 

With the Wagna Family
The family that I mentioned last week was baptized yesterday. It was so cool to see how their baptism has been a uniting thing for them. The ward has been great at integrating them as well. Sunday afternoon after their baptism a member called us asking for their address and went there without us to drop off a bunch of sunday clothes for them and talked to them to help them find work. They're a super fun family and a few of them are already talking about being missionaries!

Sorry for the long letter this week, I couldn't help but share having had so many cool experiences. 

Elder DP