Monday, February 23, 2015

"I need this!"

First, we got a new Elder here!  He´s Elder M, he was my comp in Arizona!!!  Just kidding, but he is Elder M.  He's from the United States, which means he speaks English.  We still basically never speak English, but it´s nice to have someone here who speaks my language finally.  Elder M. is continuing the training of Elder P, and Elder U, and I are comps again.
 Second, we got two really cool new investigators this week.  Our Branch president is awesome.    He´s really young, I don´t think he even has 2 full years off of his mission yet.  He´s married and has a child though, and is full of energy and super missionary oriented (like you, Dad!).  Anyhow, he gave us a referral that we went to visit several days ago.  We knocked the door, and the girl that he´d referred us to wasn´t there but her sister was.  It was raining really hard, so she invited us in and we sat down and started talking to her.  It turned out she had absolutely no idea who we were, what we were doing, or what church we were from.  That´s pretty trusting, maybe it was our accents that got us in the door.  Anyhow, we talked with her a bit and she was super cool.  We left a pamphlet about the restoration with her (because she said that she likes to read), and planned to return the following day to hopefully find her and her sister there together.  When we showed up the next day, they were both there.  We talked for them for a while just to get to know them, and then after that we taught lesson 1.  It wasn´t the most technically perfect lesson that we´ve ever taught, but the spirit was there without a doubt.  The older sister, the one who we left the pamphlet with, had read the whole thing too!  She remembered things from it and already knew more or less what we were going to say.  It was pretty cool.  They both wanted to be baptized!  We´re still working with them, I´ll keep you up to date on how that goes.

   Third!  At the beginning of the last transfer, Elder A. and I had an investigator that we had taught the first lesson too.  He accepted a baptismal date, but then the emergency transfer happened.  My new companion and I weren´t able to visit him for awhile, and when we did he either wasn´t there or didn´t want to talk to us (I´m not sure which).  After several tries, we moved on.  Yesterday Elder U. and I were on our way to knock some doors near where he lives, and the thought ocurred to me that we could stop by him again.  It was the first time I´d thought about him in awhile, but nothing spectacular.  We caught him right as we was arriving at his house, and he invited us in.  We talked with him a bit, and found that a lot has happened to him in the past several weeks.  A series of events had occurred that culminated in his wife leaving two weeks ago, and he was in a really low spot.  We just talked to him for a while, and then shared a message with him.  We talked about how through the covenant of baptism we can have the Holy Spirit with us continuously, and how the bible teaches us that the fruits of the spirit are peace, love, patience, etc.  After we shared this message with him he told us how much better he felt as a result of our words, that they were exactly what he needed to hear then.  He said that he was happier than he´d been in a long time.  We asked him if he´d like to prepare himself to be baptized, and he said  ´´Would I like too?  It doesn´t matter if I´d like to or not, I need this!´´  We closed with a prayer, wiped the tears out of our eyes quickly, and headed out.  He told us as we were leaving that we came at the perfect moment for him, the moment when he needed us the most.  

   Elder Bednar spoke at the MTC about recognizing the spirit.  He said that if we are being ´´a good boy´´ or ´´a good girl,´´ keeping our covenants and living the gospel, then our ´´steps will be guided, your words will be directed.´´  It´s so neat to see this principle at work here in our area in Brazil.  The spirit didn´t come down, smack us with a 2x4, and tell us that we needed to visit José.  Instead, it came as a casual thought, nothing extraordinary.  When we are worthy, we are entitled to such guidance and will receive such guidance whether or not we realize it. 

   I´ve also been thinking a lot about love lately, and how charity should be my motive for working as a missionary.  I´ve read 2 Nephi 33 over and over again in my free time this week, and am praying for help and striving to apply those principles in my work.  We´re not just called to preach, but to minister.  I know of few greater pictures of what it means to minister than that given in 2 Nephi 33.  If you have the time, give it a read!

   Well, I´ve got to go now!  I love you guys, have a wonderful week!

Elder Sweet 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cut to the Good Stuff!

Okay, I´m a bit short on time today so I´ll cut to the good stuff!

 We´ve been teaching a man named M. for the past week or two.  He´s super awesome!  He´s 19 years old and is a 4th division professional soccer player for the team Coríntios in São Paulo.  He´s in Itumbiara right now studying at a school here, and his teams paying for it all.  It´s a pretty sweet gig!  Anyhow, he´s super golden.  He´s so eager to live by every principle that we teach him, and God plays a major role in his life.  Hopefully he´ll be getting baptized in a couple of weeks.  I can definitely see him serving a mission in a year or two.  That would be so cool!  

   This week has been quite a roller coaster ride.  Elder O. was emergency transferred.  Enough about that, though!  The missionary that he was training, Elder P, is now in a threesome with Elder U. and I.  Elder U. is training 2 missionaries at once now, and apparently this is the first time that this has happened in this mission for a long time.  It´s going pretty well, they´re pretty awesome.  We´ve got some pretty high goals to reach and we´re working hard to do so.  I´ve been working on talking to more people during the last week, and it´s going well!  I´m trying to take 6 adresses each day.  

   Mom, a couple of weeks ago you asked about the culture in Brazil and if there´s anything that´s different or difficult to get used to. For the most part no.  The culture is actually somewhat similar to the US.  One thing that is different is that in Brazil it´s not rude to use commands.  In english it´s kind of rude to say ´´give me that,´´ or ´´get me this,´´ but in Portuguese that´s perfectly fine.  Other than that, people here shake hands differently.  That´s not too rough to deal with though :)

   It´s also been raining a lot lately.  We use clothelines here, so that means that our clothes never really dry.  That´s a problem!  Our washing machine broke too, so our white shirts haven´t been so white for the past couple of days.  Hopefully we´ll get that fixed today though.  I´ll let you know how that goes!
Brazilian Sweets

My birthday was awesome too.  The other missionaries here threw a surprise party for me at thechapel.  We´re all dirt poor, but they bought me some brazilian sweets and blew up a couple balloons.  It was fun!  I also read Amy and Trevor´s letter today.  Thank you so much for sending that!  You guys rock!  I´ve got to check out now, but know that I love and miss you all!

Keep being awesome!
Elder Sweet

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Chased Down..."

Hey there Family!!!

 How´s life treating you guys?  Congrats to Landon for getting accepted to BYU-Idaho!  I love that school, I´m sure he´ll have a blast there if that´s what he settles on doing.  Also, there´s no need to send the sheet music back with Landon, Mom.  Those ones I had to pay for, so I get to keep!  

I´ll start by answering the questions that Dad sent.  First, my new companion rocks!  He´s from Bahia Blanca, Argentina.  He´s toward the end of his mission, and still going strong.  He´s super goal oriented and likes to plan strategies to achieve those goals, so he and I get a long great.  He doesn´t speak much English, but my Portuguese is improving a lot.  This last week I made a lot of jumps in my language skills, and I´m pretty thrilled about that.  I´m also working hard to increase my vocabularly quickly.  Verb tenses that I´d had trouble with in the past are starting to click, and I´m understanding what other people are saying more than not.  The work is progressing very well.  We hit a bit of a low point this past week.  When the assistants were here, we were entirely focused on meeting the goals for January that President Kuceki had set for us.  Now that January´s gone, we have to start over again.  We´re doing a lot of contacting and have set ourselves up to do a lot of teaching this week.  Working with the AP´s and the mission Executive secretary was awesome!  They helped me learn how to contact differently, how to help investigators overcome their problems in order to get baptized, and how to work more effectively with other missionaries and the branch members as well.  The people here are loving the new chapel.  We´ve had a lot of activities there already, and a number of new investigators as a result!  It´s perked a lot of curiosity, it´s definitely the prettiest building in Itumbiara.  A lot of people have seen it and are curious about it.  

After this time in Brazil, here are my impressions.  It rocks!  I know it´s super cliché, but the people here are the best.  There really kind, open to new ideas, outgoing and eager to learn about the gospel.  The people in America are wonderful too, but a lot of times it takes a while before you get to know them enough that their comfortable around you.  Landon said it really well when he said ´´South American´s think like ´You´re my friend until you become my enemy,´ but in the US we think like ´You´re my enemy until you become my friend.´´´  I think that´s my favorite thing about Brazil is just how cool the people are.  

My schedule from last transfer and my new one!
The people here are super ready for the gospel too.  Yesterday we literally had someone chase us down, tell us that they want to hear our message (he´d been working with some Elders here a few months earlier), and then walk halfway across town with us!  That was pretty cool.

Also, I got two Dearelder letters today, both of them were Kaydon´s mission E-mails.  I´ve got to go now, but I love you guys!  Keep being awesome and have an excellent week!

Elder Sweet

Monday, February 2, 2015

Conversion Is Consistently Being True

Hey all!

Well, my first transfer in Brazil is officially over!  I´m getting a new companion, but I haven´t met him yet.  He´ll arrive sometime this week.  His name is Elder Uboldi.  He´s from Argentina.  I actually met a friend of his while I was serving in Arizona!  The further I get into my mission the smaller the world seems.  Anyhow, about this week!

The octet has officially ended.  Elder Creer is going home to California (did I mention that he knows Burke, Mom´s cousin?  He´s in the same ward that they are), Elder Sales (my trainer) is going back to the mission office, and Elder Loreiro is going on another assignment from President Kuceki to help prep an area that is also getting a new chapel.  Elder Manrique is being transferred, which leaves me and Elder Oliveira here.  Elder Oliveira will be training a new missionary this transfer, and like I said I´ll be receiving my new companion in a couple of days.

Also, do you remember the family that I talked about a couple of weeks ago that was super prepared?  They got baptized!  I´ll attach a picture to this E-mail.  We have a couple other investigators that we´re working with right now, but we do have some more finding to do.  One of our investigators took us to his ´´hauncho´´ for lunch a couple of days ago too.  It´s a nice house that he has right outside of town next to the river here.  It was super cool!  Elder S. said that I might see a Toucan, but no luck this time.  I´ve seen one toucan so far, but it just flew over so I didn´t get a picture.  Maybe next time!  I also saw a tortoise yesterday.  I took a picture with it, so I´ll attach that to the E-mail too.  

That´s about all that happened this week, it wasn´t too crazy.  In any case, I´ll share a quick thought of the day!  

Elder Bednar rocks.  That´s all.

Okay, I´m joking.  There´s more!  So, like I said, Elder Bednar rocks.  What I love is how he sums complex principles up in just a few words.  It´s simple enough that you can think about it and discover more about those principles on your own.  In a talk he gave at the MTC about hearing the voice of the Lord, he gave the following definitions:

A testimony is knowledge that is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit

Conversion is consistently being true to what you know.  

As I was thinking about those a couple weeks ago, I noticed something that needed to change in my own life.  I realized that my testimony far outweighed my action.  In other words, I know far more than I am consistently true to.  When we´re in this situation, when our testimonies outweigh our actions, according to Elder Bednar's definitions what we lack is conversion.  This, obviously, is a problem!  So how do can we combat this?  One way that I´m finding to be effective is this:  I pray to heavenly father and ask him to bless me with a deepening conversion.  After that, I tell him that today I am going to do all that I can to act in accordance with my testimony, and in return I ask that he blesses me with a conversion equal to the action that I give.  That way, I´m putting my foot forward and showing God my faith in my testimony and in his ability to bless me with the conversion that I seek.  

Well, that´s all folks!  I miss you all like crazy, but I truly am loving my mission.  Have a wonderful week and keep in touch!

Elder Sweet