Monday, December 21, 2015

Officially 1 year in Brazil!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  

   I love Christmas, it´s such a great time of the year!  It´s funny though, I feel like the last christmas was only a year ago...

   Anywho, this year has absolutely flown by!  I now officially have 1 year in Brazil!  A year ago I didn´t understand anything anyone was saying, could hardly speak portuguese, and was as green as 
greeny´s come!  Now, my portuguese is a bit better, and I´m a little less green than I was!  So that´s good.

   Anyhow, first, thanks a ton for the "Take Time to Be Holy" bookmarks that you E-mailed me. 
That´s such a beautiful poem, and something that we should all apply in our lives.  That reminds me of something that Elder Torgen, the area 70 said, when he came to the mission tour several months ago.  He said that one time he heard someone ask a primary class "Why does God want us to Pray?"  He said that a little girl responded and gave such a beautifully simple answer to the question.  She said "Para matar as saudades que ele tem de nós."  It´s a bit tough to translate because the word "saudades" doesn´t have a good equivalent in english, but a rough translation of the phrase would be "So that he doesn´t miss us as bad."  That´s a neat thought.  Often we think of prayer, scripture study, service, etc. as things that we are obligated to do, and it ends there.  But each time that we think that way we forget how much our Father in Heaven loves us, and how much he must appreciate it when we take time for him.  There must not be any other being in the universe who is faced with as much unreciprocated love as he.  The amount of love that he has for us causes our small amounts to pale in comparison, and we so often forget to even think of him as we make decisions in our lives about what we will do and who we´ll be.  We should make reciprocating his love for us as high a priority in our lives as possible!









 This week we also had a baptism!    M., a woman we´ve been teaching for almost two transfers finally got baptized!
had a battle to overcome as well as the fact that she worked every sunday, but with faith, patience, diligence, and long-suffering, the Lord opened the door for her.  First, he gave her the strength to overcome her challenge, and now after numerous attempts and relapses, she finally broke free.  Then, right when she was ready to get baptized, she began working every sunday.  She spoke with her boss about getting sundays off, but he didn´t give sundays off to anyone in the restaurant.  With time and prayers, he decided to give each of his employees one sunday a month, and finally her sunday arrived!  Even better, she has a potential job opportunity in the next year that will give her every weekend off, which actually is pretty rare to find in Brazil.  We´re hoping and praying that that works out!  The Lord´s tender mercies are over all those that he has chosen because of their faith, to make them might with the power of deliverance.  We saw so many tender mercies given to M. during this time because of her faith, and I´m certain that the Lord will continue to open all of the doors that need to be opened for her in the future.


 I love you all tons!  I´ve got the best family in the world and I
can´t wait to talk to you guys on Christmas!  Until then, make it a great week!

Love,
Elder Sweet


Monday, December 7, 2015

"God needs brave sons."




Families and Prayer


   
henry-b-eyring.jpg

I was reading the first Presidency message a few days ago, and once again was amazed by the example that Dr. Henry Eyring displayed and the love that President Henry B. Eyring has for him.  It was interesting the answer that he recieved from God to his prayer: "God needs brave sons."

   This caused me to reflect on the times that I´ve received answers to my prayers, and I noticed that all such answers have been childlike in simplicity, but marvelous in their depth.  He knows how to comfort us in the most trying of circumstances with just four simple words, and with that our pain somehow melts away and we see the bigger picture.  Perhaps this has more to do with the innate trust we have in our Father;  our fears melt away in trust and confidence in his divine wisdom.

 Anyhow, just thought that I´d share that thought with you guys really quick.  I love you all so much, 

Thanks for everything,
Elder Sweet

Monday, November 30, 2015

No Room to Sit At Stake Conference!

Hello, Everyone!
   This week was pretty awesome, let me tell you about it!
   First, it rained like crazy!  They don´t get regular rainstorms here, they´re full on monsoons.  We left the office on Thursday, walking in the rain to get to our proselyting area, when suddenly it started hailing.  My companion and I ran across the street to take cover in a barber´s shop, but not before I got nailed in the arm by a hail stone that left a bruise!  We waited there for a few minutes, contacted the barber, and then the other mission secretaries ran over to where we were.  We then went along making goals for our next stop point and running through the rain to our next source of cover!  The hail didn´t last too long, so that helped.  

   Second, we saw a lot of miracles this week with the stake conference.  The Lord wanted his children there!  We had two families there, as well as another girl and several of her friends that we found a few days ago.  Aside from that, an Ex-investigator that we´d invited 3 or 4 weeks ago showed up too!  Everyone loved the conference!  First a young woman leaving for her mission spoke about how she decided to serve a mission, then a young man who had just gotten back talked about how all of us, before, during, and after the mission have people prepared to here the gospel from us.  After that another woman spoke about the liahona, and what our liahonas are and how we should always look for direction from the lord.  After that the stake president spoke and bore testimony of the blessings of the gospel, then Sister K.!!  She´s so incredible!  She shared a story of a sculptor in china who decided to scuplt a piece of stone that didn´t have a uniform color, and such uniformity is highly valued in this kind of chinese art.  Any other sculptor would have thrown the piece out, but he used it and made a beautiful scuplture now admired by many.  She talked about how we are often that piece of stone, even looking like we have no potential.  But God sees within our rough form a beutiful sculpture, and if we give him our hearts to mold and time to do the molding, he´ll make of us what we´d never imagine.  Then President K. spoke!!!  He spoke about his conversion and shared a powerful testimony of the savior and his atonement.  After them, an area 70 who was visiting, Elder L., spoke to finish the session.  He spoke a lot about the book of mormon, and how important it is that we continuously seek to strengthen and renew our testimony´s of the book of mormon by consistently reading and praying to know if it´s true.  He spoke of how this will bless our lives in many ways.  One of our investigators who went to chruch for the first time this Sunday said "It was incredible!  I just wished it had lasted longer, it ended so fast!"  It was so cool to see the church so full that we didn´t even have room to sit!  There were so many members and investigators, the Lord did a great work in the Goiânia stake!
   I love you all tremendously!  Remember that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a way of life, and as we live God changes our hearts and our minds and makes us like his oldest son!
Love you guys and I look forward to reading your letters next week!
Elder Sweet



http://www.stonecontact.com/products-195868/white-marble-elephant-statue
Image Not related to the story

Here's a similar story about a Sculptor.
Posted on March 23, 2015
In ancient India lived a sculptor renowned for his life-sized statues of elephants. With trunks curled high, tusks thrust forward, thick legs trampling the earth, these carved beasts seemed to trumpet to the sky. One day, a king came to see these magnificent works and to commission statuary for his palace. Struck with wonder, he asked the sculptor, “What is the secret of your artistry?”
The sculptor quietly took his measure of the monarch and replied, “Great king, when with the aid of many men I quarry a gigantic piece of granite from the banks of the river, I have it set here in my courtyard. For a long time I do nothing but observe this block of stone and study it from every angle. I focus all my concentration on this task and won’t allow anything or anybody to disturb me. At first, I see nothing but a huge and shapeless rock sitting there, meaningless, indifferent to my purposes, utterly out of place. It seems faintly resentful at having been dragged from its cool place by the rushing waters. Then, slowly, very slowly, I begin to notice something in the substance of the rock. I feel a presentiment…an outline, scarcely discernible, shows itself to me, though others, I suspect, would perceive nothing. I watch with an open eye and a joyous, eager heart. The outline grows stronger. Oh, yes, I can see it! An elephant is stirring in there!
“Only then do I start to work. For days flowing into weeks I use my chisel and mallet, always clinging to my sense of that outline, which grows ever stronger. How the big fellow strains! How he yearns to be out! How he wants to live! It seems so clear now, for I know the one thing I must do: with an utter singleness of purpose, I must chip away every last bit of stone that is not elephant. What then remains will be, must be, elephant.”
When I was young, my Grandmother, my spiritual guide, would often tell just such a story, not only to entertain but to convey the essential truths of living. Perhaps I had asked her, as revered teachers in every religion have been asked, “What happens in the spiritual life? What are we supposed to do?”
My Granny wasn’t a theologian, so she answered these questions simply with a story like that of the elephant sculptor. She was showing that we do not need to bring our real self, our higher self, into existence. It is already there. It has always been there, yearning to be out. An incomparable spark of divinity is to be found in the heart of each human being, waiting to radiate love and wisdom everywhere, because that is its nature. Amazing! This you that sometimes feels inadequate, sometimes becomes afraid or angry or depressed, that searches on and on for fulfillment, contains within itself the very fulfillment it seeks, and to a supreme degree.
Indeed, the tranquility and happiness we also feel are actually reflections of that inner reality of which we know so little. No matter what mistakes we may have made – and who hasn’t made them? – this true self is ever pure and unsullied. No matter what trouble we have caused ourselves and those around us, this true self is ceaselessly loving. No matter how time passes from us and with it the body in which we dwell, this true self is beyond change, eternal.
Once we have become attentive to the presence of this true self, then all we really need do is resolutely chip away whatever is not divine in ourselves. I am not saying this is easy or quick. Quite the contrary; it can’t be done in a week or by the weak. But the task is clearly laid out before us. By removing that which is petty and self-seeking, we bring forth all that is glorious and mindful of the whole. In this there is no loss, only gain. The chips pried away are of no consequence when compared to the magnificence of what will emerge.
–  by Eknath Easwaran,
from the introduction of 
God Makes the Rivers to Flow

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Gospel's Awesome!

Hello, everyone!

   So what´s everybody up to right now?  Savannah, congrats on going to dental assisting school, 
that´s awesome!  You´re so dang smart!

   This week was pretty crazy because we were tying up all of the loose ends for the transfers, and we had the Mission Leadership meeting.  That took up almost all of our time so it was really tough to visit our investigators, but we did our best.

   Neither M. or W. got baptized this week.  M. was called to work on Sundays, so we´re praying for a miracle so that God will somehow provide a way for her to come to church on Sundays.  This could be softening the heart of her boss, or providing her with a job that doesn´t require her to work on Sundays.  I´m not sure how he´ll do it, but I know that God always provides a way for us to keep his commandments. 
 We had a very interesting experience with another investigator this week.  He simply disappeared during the week, and try as we might to call him and visit his house we weren´t able to get in touch with him.  Then, he showed up at church on Sunday.  After the gospel principles class, We taught him about the atonement, and how Jesus Christ has put himself in between each of us and justice, and through him we can have the force that we need to truly repent of our sins and that we can be forgiven.  

   This was a real eye opener for me.  As my companion and I talked that night about how our visit with him had gone, I realized that before my mission I would have been lost in that situation.  But now, it was like arithmatic.  I didn´t even have to think about what to say, which scriptures to use and what doctrines to teach in order to help this investigator see how much hope there really is!  I just followed the spirit as he showed me how to use the knowledge that I´ve acquired up til now.

   The gospel really is beautifully simple, and I´ve gained a slightly better appreciation for Christ´s role in our salvation.  He made it possible for the gospel to work.  Without his atonement repentance would not be possible, it would never change our nature.  Without his atonement, baptism would just be one person giving another a bath, but wouldn´t wash us of our sins.  Without his atonement, all of the faith in the world be be of no use; rather it would be a vain hope in a power that doesn´t exist.  But that power does exist.  I have seen it in my life and in the lives of so many others.  This is why Christ chose to establish a church in ancient days and in our day, to help the children of his father access and apply his atonement.  Ours is not a religion based on one of the many interpretations of the bible, nor on the pursuit of wealth or power.  Ours is a religion based upon the atonement of Jesus Christ, and the cleansing and enabling power that comes thereby.  This is a gospel of becoming, and through the power of Christ and only through that power can we fulfill his commandment to be perfect.  

   The mission is an exercise of learning to apply the atonement in our lives, and I´m loving it!  It´s so
hard at times, but from time to time the fog clears and we gain sight of the vista, of where we have come to.  I wish that I had a sufficient grasp of the english language to convey with all of the power that I feel the importance of serving a mission and the importance of the lessons that we learn during the mission!  It´s 2 years of one-on-one tutoring with the Lord, the creator of the Universe!  It is so important, so take advantage of it.  Don´t let this opportunity pass by, but do everything that you need to now to serve a mission and learn the lessons that God needs us to learn.

   I love you all, have a wonderful week and I look forward to reading your emails next P-day!

Elder S.    

In The Middle of a City with 4 Million Inhabitants... - November 9

Hey all!

   So how´s everybody doing?  It looks like you guys had an awesome
week up in Utah with Grandpa!  Thanks for the pictures!  I´ve got some
pictures to send you, but another obstacle got in the way.  This P-day
we´re at a Lan house that´s not so secure, it has a reputation for
wiping the fotos from our SD drives, so it´ll have to wait a bit more.
I even got to eat a cashew fruit this week, it was awesome!  I ate one
and carried the other one with me the whole day through the sun and
rain to take a picture to send to you guys when I arrived at the
house, but those´ll have to wait a bit.  Sorry!

The cashew fruit was pretty good though! 
It´s a very different taste, and there´s not a
really good way to explain it. But it´s cool!

   Okay, so this week we´re hoping to have 2 baptisms!  One is W,
a man who´s been investigating the church for almost two months, and
Maria, that really sweet lady that I told you guys about last week.
I´m so excited for them!  I´ll let you know how it went next P-day,
but for now let me share the miracle of the week!

*(Reference the following in the entry dated April 19, 2016 Titled He Was Put In My Path... Again.)

   "I´m not sure if you remember, but last transfer in I. Elder
M. and I were teaching someone named R.  He was so awesome!
Unfortunately, he started passing through some difficulties and told
us that he didn´t want to hear the lessons any more.  That was hard, I
loved that guy!  Anyhow, yesterday we were coming back from lunch on
the bus, and I was standing right in the middle.  It took me a couple
minutes to notice, but right at my side was R!  He was looking
towards the front of the bus and talking on the phone, so he still
hadn´t seen me.  I almost screamed when I saw him "R!" then he
turned around and saw me.  We gave eachother a hug, he finished his
conversation on the phone, and then we caught up a bit.  He told me
that he´d recently moved (so the missionaries in Ipiranga weren´t able
to get back in touch with him), and that his brother had been murdered
just one month ago.  That came as a blow for me, because I´d taught
his brother several times too.  He was a great guy, and sincerely
trying to turn his life around.  I expressed my condolences and then
bore the best testimony that I could that God knows what we feel when
we lose someone like that, and that he has prepared a way so that this
separation could be only temporary.  I told him that I´d pray and fast
for him, and invited him to speak with the missionaries again.  He
accepted, and admitted the fact that he´s in need of help right now.
I came pretty dang close to crying as I spoke to him on that bus, but
I am so grateful that the Lord is aware of him enough to have guided
me literally to his side, in the middle of a city with 4 million
inhabitants.  Our Father truly is aware of each of our struggles, and
I am so grateful for the succor and aid that we can recieve through
our older brother!  This gospel is real, and Jesus Christ lives!  He
knows our pains and never flees nor fails us; he is always, always
there simply waiting for us to accept the help that he wants so badly
to give but that he´d never force upon us.  He loves us and knows us!"
Me eating the cashew fruit, 
and putting on display my after-rain hair do! (did I spell that right?)


Have a wonderful week, everyone!  I love you all!

Love,
Elder Sweet

Come Unto Christ - November 2

Hey guys!  

   How did Halloween go for everyone?  Send some me some costume pics (thanks for already having done that, Mom!)  Savannah, that make up that you put on your face looked so real!  It was actually a bit scary to say the truth!

   I´ve got to be quick in this E-mail because my times already running short, but here it goes! 
photo from internet
First, we walked in a lot of rain this week.  Rain is so great!  It was so hot, and then all of a sudden the rain started coming down in torrents to cool us off.  Rain here isn´t like in the US, where is starts slowly and then ramps up the intensity.  Here it starts and then 5 seconds later it´s on 100%, and you´re soaked!  No time to run home and grab an umbrella, find cover, nothing.  You just get wet!  Elder C. and I just kept on walking, talking, laughing, and kicking water on eachother the whole night, we actually enjoyed being soaked in that rainstorm!  It´s amazing how something so fun like a rainstorm can quickly become a drag if we let our attitude down.  When we stop laughing and smiling, even the best moments in life become annoyances.  So don´t do that!  Life´s to short to waste time being annoyed!  

   Right now one of the people that we´re teaching is named M.  She´s a lady who´s about 60 years old, and has come to church 2 times now!  She´s loving every moment of it and wanting to invite friends too, which is a great sign.  We´re trying to help her to stop smoking right now, too.  She´s always wanted to quit, but has never been able to cut smoking for good.  So we´re helping her out and praying that the Lord gives here the necessary strength to do that!  

   There´s so many other people that we´re teaching right now too, but unfortunately there´s not time to talk about each one individually.  We had another S. moment this Sunday when an Elderly man that we´d invited to church in a park a few weeks ago showed up, too!  He loved the meeting and wants to come next week too.  

   Something that we learned in the last mission tour is that we don´t invite people to be baptized or to come to church, but we invite them to come unto Christ.  By coming to church, they make a step in that direction.  By being being baptized, they make a leap in that direction and promise to continue to make steps in that direction!  Everything that we do is with one goal in mind: to invite others to come unto Christ, to have peace in this life and eternal life in the next!  What an amazingly simple message!  Okay, got to go now, but I love you guys!  I know it´s been awhile since I´ve sent pictures, I´ll try to take more pictures this week and send them to you.  I keep forgetting my camera!  

I love you all!  You´re the best family in the world, and I´m so grateful for God´s plan to help us to continue being a family forever!  

Love,
Elder Sweet

Learn to Laugh! - October 26th

Hey guys!
   This week was a good week of work in the office and the field!  It was great!  First, a new Elder came to the office, his name is Elder O.  Because of that, our tri was divided into two companionships.  I ended up with Elder C, an awesome missionary from the south of Brazil, C!  I´m told that it´s one of the prettiest cities in Brazil.  He´s basically the brazilian Uncle Eddy, a lot of times he says things and I the first thing that comes into my head is "That´s Uncle Eddy speaking portuguese!"  It´s kind of funny!
   In the field we´re working hard to bring souls unto Christ!  Yesterday we had a kind of cool experience as we were knocking doors.  We passed a door with lots of music and other sounds of partying, so we decided to not knock it.  Then we thought, "Well, at the very least we can just do a contact and mark for a better day with them" so we knocked the door.  A man in his early 20s answered the door, and let us enter instead!  We shared a message with him and his friend, and they both showed interest in the message and accepted an invitation to baptism!  After that they even let us eat a bit of their barbecue before we left, it was great!  Now it´s just a matter of seeing if they´ll act.  That´s always the decider!
   The work in the office is going well too.  It´s a steep learning curve and very stressful at times, but 
I´ve learned a secret to get through stressful times.  Learn to laugh!  
This was one of Elder Wirthlin´s pieces of advice in his last conference talk "Come What May, and Love It."  As I´ve started to laugh at my own errors instead of stressing out, I´ve found that I can maintain a positive mindset easier and my resolve and initiative remain unimpinged!  Sometimes it´s not natural, but I start by forcing a laugh and then pretty soon it becomes so natural that I can´t stop laughing about that stupid mistake I made!  So, follow Elder Wirthlin´s counsel and learn to laugh!  

Got to go now, but have a great week, everyone!  I love you all!
Elder Sweet

Changes In The People - October 19

Hey Guys!

 
S's Baptism
Guess what, S. was baptized this weekend!  Let me tell you a bit about the story seeing as up til now I haven´t said anything about S, I don´t think.

   The last transfer that I had here, about 2 months ago, I contacted a man on the street and invited him to go to church with us on Sunday, and then on my last Sunday there he just showed up!  I hardly even remembered who he was at first because we talk with so many people each week, but soon I remembered when and where I´d talked with him and guided him from class to class at church.  After that, I was transferred to Ipiranga and my companion, Elder S, and the previous financial secretary, Elder T, began teaching him.  It was so neat to be here and see how far he has progressed and how much happier he is now!  There is no greater joy than seeing these changes in the people we teach on the mission!   A few weeks ago, he wanted to just give up.  Something, though, made him pick up the Book of Mormon and start reading.  Since then (2 weeks ago) he´s read half of the book of mormon and is nearing the end of the Book of Alma already!  It´s pretty cool because in the middle of lessons he starts talking about how Alma and Amulek applied the same principle that we´re teaching, or something that he learned from Lehi´s vision of the tree of life.  It´s awesome!
Our District 

Our District

   We´ve also got another investigator who has a baptismal date marked for this weekend.  His name is B, and he´s great!  When Elder T. and Elder S. started teaching him, he had a problem.  Elder T. and Elder S. taught him about the Word of Wisdom and the power of the Atonement, but then lost contact with him as the rush of transfers took up the majority of their time and at the same time B. moved to another part of the area and lost his cell phone.  We taught him again for the first time yesterday, and a miracle happened!  He said that he prayed for strength to quick smoking, and then from one day to the next he lost any and all desire to smoke.  It´s been three weeks now that he hasn´t smoked, and he´s excited about baptism!  We didn´t even have to remind him, but he asked about it as soon as we got there.  Not only that, he introduced us to another friend who was equally excited about baptism with whom we marked a baptismal date for the 7th of November.  I´m really excited to continue sharing the light of the gospel with everyone here!

So that´s what´s going on!  I love you all, and we´ll talk again next P-day! 

Love,
Elder Sweet

Pray Always - October 12

Hey everyone!

   Okay, so I´m officially back in the office now!  I thought that I´d have a week with the previous secretary to get back on top of things, but I actually had 2 days.  This week was definitely the most stressful of my mission, but being in the office is a lot of fun.  There´s a lot of pressure, but it´s a lot of fun.  All three of us in the office now are basically new in our positions, so we made a lot of greeny mistakes this past week.  But, we´re getting back on top of things!

   So, really quickly let me sum up some of the things that happened this week!

1. I studied Elder Bednars talk "Pray Always," and it´s incredible!  I´m trying to apply the principles that he taught better in my prayers, and as a result I am feeling much more of the guidance and protection of the Lord in my work.  Putting the focus of our communication with God on how we can help others makes a huge difference!

2.  There was an emergency transfer today, so we had to go to the office this morning.  On our way there today we saw one of the tender mercies of the Lord.  Okay, that´s a bit exaggerated but it was still cool!  We saw a Ferrari 458 Italia, it passed us and then stopped at the bakery were we sometimes buy breakfast on the way to the office.  It was pretty cool!

3.  I got to see the recent convert  Elder S. and I baptized two transfers ago!  She´s still going strong and sharing the gospel with everyone!  She brings us references of people that she met in the market, professors, friends, she just doesn´t stop talking about the gospel!  She´s already been a big part in the conversion of another family that was baptized in the past transfer, has done her family history back for who knows how many generations, and is preparing to go to the temple.  It´s so awesome to see people that you´ve taught in the mission staying strong and sharing the joy of the gospel with everyone!  It´s incredible!

So that´s a bit about what happened this week.  Just to wrap up, here´s a challenge!  "Ponderize" a new scripture this week, and if you want send me a quick E-mail about what you learned!  It would be great to read your thoughts about the scriptures and learn with you all!  

And, a final thought!  Elder Neal A. Maxwell was an incredible Apostle, I love reading his talks!  In one of my favorite talks he said something like this "It is true that we must count our blessings, but we must also make our blessings count."  I´ll leave that quote with you guys, but we´ll talk next week!  

Love,
Elder Sweet

General Conference Was Incredible! - October 5

Hellooooooooooooo Família!

   So guess what!  I got transferred again!  My companion, Elder M, has finished his mission and goes home this week to Santiago, Chile.  As for me, I guess that President K. decided that I do more damage in the field than out of it, so he´s decided to bring me back to the office!  This time though, I´ve got one week to get up to speed and refresh my memory on how to run the mission´s finances, and then the old Secretary´s heading out and I take the chair.  I´m a bit nervous going into this, but the Lord doesn´t call the qualified but qualifies the called!  I´m just praying that he qualifies me!  I´m going to be in a trio with my old companion, Elder S, and the other Secretary Elder C. It´s going to be great!

   I´ve had a few wierd transfers like that in my mission, for example my companion in Rio Verde, Elder H. had been my companion for half a transfer in Itumbiara as well, and now I´m going for the second time to the Goiânia ward with the same companion that I had last time I was there!  The mission´s great!
General Conference was incredible as well!  Man, what talks!  Elder Holland´s talk about Mothers was incredible, and it made me think a lot about my Mom!  There is no one, save the savior himself, who is more deserving of the love of a child than that´s child´s mother.  The mission has helped me to see just how much you´ve done for me, Mom!  I love you!
Elder Costa´s talk was incredible too, 
he talked about gaining a testimony of the atonement of Christ.  

I was almost crying in Elder Bednar´s talk when           
he spoke of how blessed we are to be guided by wise men inspired by God! 

Elder Christofferson´s talk about the role of the church was perfect for two of our investigators who came to the session and had expressed the same question just a few days earlier.  We´ve got a lot to study and learn from the conference!  

I loved this talk about "Ponderizing" as 
well.

Just to wrap up here, a Family was Baptized! 
 Let me send some photos!  I haven´t done such a great job about taking and sending photos this transfer, sorry!  I´ll do better this next!

Here another picture of this Family's baptism! 
This family has been investigating the church for 2 years now, but finally got married and baptized!  They wanted to be baptized by one of the firsth missionarys who taught them, so he and his companion came to the baptism.

Here´s a picture of our Zone!

Brazilian omelette, anyone?  This thing was so good!

Consistency Amid Change - September 21

Hey all!
This week was pretty great!  Let me tell you a bit about it!
So first, I did my first division this week!  I went to the ------- ward to work for a day with the District leader there. 
I´ll be honest, there´s a pretty steep learning curve to just about everything about being a Zone Leader, but I´m climbing it little by little! 
The Elders were having trouble talking to a decent number of people.  This area in particular doesn´t have a lot of people on the street, so when you get an opportunity to talk with someone you need to take advantage of it.  In all we saw that it´s not too difficult to talk with a decent number of people even in this area, you´ve just got to be consistent.
Consistency (that´s how you spell it, right?  I´m forgetting how to spell a lot of words in English, it´s a problem.  I tried speaking english a few days ago with a guy that we met who spoke english, and my english was worse than his, I could hardly get half a sentence out before switching back to portuguese or coming up with some kind of syntax that works in portuguese but just makes no sense in english.  Oh well, got a good laugh out of it!) is an interesting principle.  Something that we´ve been trying to help the missionaries here understand is that we have to be consistent in living gospel principles if we want to see the gospel blessings.  Sporadic application of true principles is not sufficient to work miracles in our lives, rather it is the consistent application of the basic principles of the gospel that brings miracles to pass.  This applies not just in the gospel but in many aspects in our lives.  Often we as missionaries are told that we need to talk with a lot of people to find the people that God is preparing to receive the gospel, so we get excited and talk with a ton of people for a day.  The next we work, but not with the same fire driving us.  Pretty soon the excitement dies, and we end up doing what we´ve always done.  Bu it is not this sporadic application of a true principle that brings the blessings!  Those missionaries that consistently apply themselves to talk to a large number of people each day are those that are guided by God to a greater number of people who are ready to listen!

A similar process is at work in our lives.  It is the consistent application of the basic principles of the gospel of Christ that brings to pass the mighty change in our hearts that the scriptures speak of, that causes us to no longer desire to do evil.  This is what God wants for us, but we must have the faith to act consistently in accord with the gospel to see this blessing in our lives. 
Okey-doke, I´ve got to go now!  I love you all a ton, keep telling me what´s going on on the home front!
Love,
Elder S.  

Time Goes by Fast - September 14

Sunrise Goiania, Brazil
(Picture from the internet)

Okeydoke!  I´ve got to be fast (again), sorry about that!

Really quickly!  We´re teaching a cool family right now!  We got a reference from the church media, some people in our area had asked for a book of mormon on Mormon.org.  So, we went there and taught them, and they want to be baptized!  It´s awesome!  Their names are F. and D, and they´ve got a baptismal date for the 26th of September.

R. wasn´t able to go to church this week, but we´re going to keep passing by to see if he´s really interested or not.  

Anyhow, we´re working our butts off here!  I´ve never worked so hard in my mission, but man is it fun!  I just can´t believe how fast the time goes by though, it´s actually a bit scary.  Yesterday we were working and I felt like it should have been 3 or 4 in the afternoon, but then the sky got dark all of a sudden!
Sunset Goiania, Brazil
(Picture from the internet)
It was 7 at night already, it´s nuts how fast the time flies.  But I am loving my mission and I miss you guys a ton!

Got to go already, but I love each and everyone of you!

Love,
Elder Sweet

Serve a Mission

I. Square (Photo from Wikipedia)
Hey guys!  I´ve got to be quick today, but how´s everyone doing?

So, really quick here let me tell you about some awesome investigators that we have right now!  First: R!  
He´s 23 years old and super cool.  He sings rap and works at a food stand at a local park that sells these awesome brazilian style hamburgers (google X-Tudo Hamburger, that´s your typical brazilians burger) and these giant omelettes!  It´s pretty great!  He´s loving everything about the gospel and recieved an answer about the Book of Mormon in the middle of the lesson when we taught him about it!  This morning after studies we went to his house and watched the Joseph Smith video with him, he said he was fighting to not cry at several parts.  He´s pretty well set in his determination to be baptized!  So pray for him!

We´re also teaching a family right now, there names are J. (Dad), L. (Mom), A, A.(Sons).  They´re a great family and they went to church last sunday.  We talked with J. yesterday night and he said that he wants to go to church one more time, but that after that he wants his whole family to be baptized!  He already knows that they´ll have to get legally married first, so we´re helping make the steps towards that goal.  It´ll be my first wedding in the mission!  They´re a super cool family and they love the gospel!

So this week is going to be great and we´re going to work until we can´t work anymore!  It´s going to be a week full of miracles, I can´t wait to tell you guys about it!

Word of Wisdom to all, Serve a mission!

Love you guys!

Elder Sweet

Hey Everyone

Here´s one picture from outside our house.  There are these giant, super awesome apartment buildings in the middle of our area.  It´s gives a pretty stark comparison because they´re the only buildings with more than two stories for miles. 
So what´s everybody up to?  It looks like things are going well for everyone up in the states, and things are going great down here!  Let me tell you about it!

   My companion rocks.  He´s in his last transfer on the mission and after that he´ll return to Chile.  He isn´t a little bit "dead" to use missionary lingo, but is working his butt off with every hour, minute, and second that we have.  
It´s great!  This week I learned a ton about the relationship between hard work and smart work, and how we have to have the two together to be succesful.  We worked harder and smarter this week than I´ve ever worked, and I´m learning so much!  The mission really is the best experience in the world, so serve a mission!!!

   Right now we´re trying to help the missionaries here do two things, invite EVERYONE to be baptized and talk to lots of people.  Many times as missionaries we judge people and decide that they aren´t interested in the gospel, and so we don´t even invite them to be baptized or come to church.  We´re encouraging the missionaries to invite everyone to be baptized, without deciding for ourselves first if they´ll accept or not.  We had a neat experience with this yesterday, when Elder M. and I were teaching a man that we found knocking doors yesterday.  As we talked to him he didn´t seem to be to interested, but he said that he´d be able to go to church next sunday so we decided to enter the house and teach him.  We got in the house, said a prayer, and taught him about baptism.  Even though he didn´t seem to be too interested, we still invited him to be baptized and he accepted!  He seemed to get a bit more interested after the invitation to baptism.  This is just one of many instances that we see the importance of this priciple.  So, moral of the story: Don´t judge people!  Just invite everyone to hear the gospel and let them decide if they want it or not.

   I hope that all of you have an excellent week, and I love each one of you!  Always remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and pray earnestly to comprehend and appreciate more deeply his incredible gift to us.  This is the foundation to conversion!  Got to go now, but keep being awesome, tá?

Falou!!!!!   E boa semana para tudo o mundo!

Elder Sweet

I didn´t take a lot of pictures this week, but I´ll do better this next time around!   Anywho, more pictures to come next week, I promise!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Changes" August 24, 2015

Família!
Me and Elder M.!
How´s everyone doing?  Thanks so much for sending the awesome photos and videos from the family reunion!  It looks like it was a blast!  That´s pretty cool that you guys got a motor home too!  Dad, I think a trip up to Capitol Reef is in order when I get back!


Okay, so here´s some news for you.  President wasn´t too impressed with my work as Financial Secretary, so I got transferred!  I didn´t see that coming, but it was one of the "changes" that I mentioned in my previous E-mail.  This transfer I´m in a part of Goiânia called Ipiranga, my companion (Elder M.) and I are the Zone Leaders of the Goiânia North Zone.  He´s Zone Leader 1 and has a lot more experience than I do, so I´m pretty grateful for that!  I was pretty, well, I think terrified out of my mind´s the right word here, when I was coming into this transfer, but Elder M. is really motivated, sincere, and has made it very clear that he´s here to help me learn!  I´m going to need that help for sure!

So, about the mission tour!  It was incredible!  Elder T. is the Area authority that came to visit the mission, and what an incredible experience that was!  He spoke about faith, prayer, charity, it was incredible!  I want so badly to see everyone that I know go on a mission just to have the opportunity to be taught by such incredible servants of the Lord.  Elder T. had a very neat kind of humility to him, and as he spoke I felt so strongly the Holy Ghost testifying to me that he is a servant of the Lord.  He told us about "the veil of unbelief" (See Ether 4:15) and how we must break this veil in our lives to become servants through whom the Lord can work miracles.  He taught us how to counsel with the Lord in our prayers, and emphasized the importance of inviting not just to come to church on sunday or be baptized, but invite them to come unto Christ.  He did several roll-plays with the missionaries and it was incredible to see the love of the Lord that he conveyed.  When the mission tour came to an end, he threw us a curve-ball and asked President K. for permission to say the closing prayer himself.  It was so neat to here one of the Lord´s Seventies praying!  

I want so badly that everyone can serve a mission!  There opportunities to learn to love God´s children and be taught by his servants that are incredible but only exist on the mission.  What a marvellous blessing from the Lord is a call to serve a mission!  So go serve a mission!!!  Everyone!  Do whatever you need to do to put your life and testimony in line to serve him.  The two years are so short, but so rich with growth in knowledge, charity, spirit, testimony, and in our relationship with our Heavenly Father!  So, serve a mission!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I's  baptism on Saturday!  
The sisters had three investigators who chose to get baptized on that day too, 
so it was a good crowd!  I. is in white at the top left of the photo.


I´ve got to go now, but I love each and every one of you!  You are all chosen children of a divine being, a God who loves us and wants each of us to have joy.  Trust in his wisdom and knowledge of how to obtain that joy, because he knows how to have it so much better than we do!  Seek to learn his word and live it!

Have a wonderful week!

Love,
Elder Sweet

Another picture of I's baptism!
P.S. Landon, check your E-mail!  

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Book of Mormon is the Word of God

Hey guys!
 What´s everybody doing?  Anything cool?  Tell me these things!  
This one´s of the staff!  From left to right,
Elder C., Elder T., Elder S. and Me!
Okay, so this weeks going to be pretty crazy here in the office!  We have a mission tour, and after that it´s already transfers.  Crazy, right?  We´ve got to coordenate the transfers as well and help everyone get to their new areas.  We´ve been working a lot in the past week!   Elder T, one of the Seventy, is going to visit the mission and give some training to us.  It´s going to be great!  Tomorrow the AP´s are coming into town to help us coordenate the mission tour, and then the other missionaries will start arriving.
The rest of the mission office
Next, this week I got to see how President Kuceki does the transfers.  I didn´t have quite the same image of how he does it, it really changed my perspective.  It is completely based on inspiration; I´ve got a much stronger testimony of that now.  President was working on the transfers last tuesday, and held a meeting with us that afternoon and told us what was going to happen in the transfer.  He explained what he was going to do with each of us and with some of the other missionaries, and then said that he just needed to say a prayer and get a confirmation from Heavenly Father that that was indeed what he wanted.  We finished the meeting and he entered his office again while we went back to work.  Then the time went passing by, and he didn´t come out.  10 minutes, 30 minutes, I think he passed a little over an hour in his office.  As we were getting ready to leave, President Kuceki came out of his office, smiled, and said "It changed!"  He then invited us into his office and showed us where each of the missionaries would be.  It was really neat to hear him explain it!  A lot of things had changed from what he had explained before, and with many of the transfers he told us that he didn´t understand why the Lord wanted so-and-so in such-and-such a position, etc.  It´s someting that´s difficult to explain, but my testimony in the fact that the Lord guides his church has certainly grown as a result of seeing President Kuceki doing the transfers.
   
   Finally, I. will get baptized this saturday!  We´re really excited for her, it´s been such a neat experience teaching her.  She studies a lot, I´ve never taught anyone that put so much time and effort into studying and understanding what we leave with her.  We spent a whole lesson explaining her questions about 2 Nephi 2:5-7, she wanted to understand the atonement well!  We´re really excited for her baptism, so keep praying for her!
Our "salinha,"this is where the Finance Secretaries do our work!

   Okey-doke, I´ve got to go!  I love you all so much, and i know that Christ lives!  The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and anyone who reads and ponders it with an open heart, and then asks God can know that.  What a marvellous promise!  I love you all so much, have a wonderful week!

Elder S.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Night the Lights Went Out

Hey all!

   Okey-doke, let me tell you guys a bit about this week!  First, sorry for not sending any pictures last week, the LAN house that we went to has a reputation for somehow deleting all of the pictures on storage devices that are used there, so I tried to avoid the risk!  This week went pretty great, though!

Isa. traveled this weekend to visit her Dad in Brasília, and will travel up there this weekend as well.  So, we've remarked her baptismal date for the 22 of August, and she´s excited for it!  She also started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning and is loving it.  She especially enjoyed Lehi´s vision of the tree of life and the explanation of that vision given in
Nephi´s vision.  It´s so awesome to see someone who just loves everything about the gospel!

On another day this past week we got home at night and found that our lights weren´t on.  Elder T. and I knew that we had paid the energy bill, so we were a little confused about why that happened.  Anywho, our land lady lent us some candles and we got to do our planning by candlelight!

 Elder Santos at the desk the night the lights went out. 
We´ve since organized our desks a little better to reduce
the fire risk should that happen again lol!  
It reminded me of a talk by President Monso (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/the-divine-gift-of-gratitude?lang=eng)
where he talked about a family that had used candlelight for many years, but then managed to get electricity.  During a year especially difficult for them (they were farmers), the heavy rains had destroyed all of their crops, with the exception of just a few turnips.  That thanksgiving they had nothing but a rabbit to eat with their turnips, and the children were so upset by the lack of substance to provide them with "something to be thankful for."  To try to bring things into perspective, the father asked his children to fetch the old oil lamps and candles that they had used in the past and to light them.  They then turned off all of the electric lights in the house, and they could hardly believe how dark it had been all of those years that they had lived by candlelight.  The children, struck by the contrast in lighting, suddenly realized that they had a lot to be thankful for, and even in a tough year they had still been abundantly blessed.  We figured out the problem with our electricity the next day, but I was able to take some pictures first!  I´ll attachthem to this E-mail.

   The work as Financial Secretary´s going pretty well, too!  I´ve gotten hang of almost everything except the houses.  There´s always something that we´ve never seen before going on with the houses: missionaries who just move into a new house without giving us time to get a contract put together or not even lettinng us know, landlords that want a rent increase, the law company needing us to update the data on the houses, etc.  I´m still lost when we start working on the houses, but I´ll get up to speed there eventually!  It is a lot of fun, I´m pretty excited!  

   In two weeks an Area Seventy is going to visit the mission too.  This week is going to be pretty busy for us because we´ve got to buy all of the bus tickets to bring all the missionaries in the mission to Goiânia, and then the next week is going to be the visit from the seventy and that´s going to be crazy as well.  The week after that is transfers, and that too will be crazy!  But crazy´s good!  We enjoy the challenge!
Brazilian BBQ for P-day!  It was my first time trying Picanha,
 it´s the king of the cuts here in Brazil!  It was pretty dang good,
 i´ll be honest.  We made Garlic Bread on the grill too, try it!












 I´ve got to take off now, but here´re some pics for yáll!  Have an awesome week!

Love,
Elder Sweet