Monday, August 29, 2016

Signing Off For The Last Time

Things are going great! I got back from my last divisions yesterday in R. V.!  We went to Stake Conference there, it was fantastic, I got to see several of the members that I knew when I served there, it was a fun experience!  
We moved to a new house!  I´m only going to sleep there 3 or 4 nights, but it´s going to be great for the next assistants and secretaries.  It´s very big, it has 5 bedrooms, a kitchen, another center room, and 4.5 bathrooms.  It´s pretty great!  Also, Elder C, my old companion, will be the next Assistant to the President.  He´ll be great!
G. was baptized this weekend, he´s a fantastic young man, he´s about 17 years old, and has a strong testimony of the gospel.  He says that he was deeply touched by the plan of salvation, and he has a testimony of the book of Mormon.  If he continues firm, he´ll be a great missionary!  Several of our other investigators will be baptized this next transfer.  We currently have 5 investigators with baptismal dates, so I´m very excited to see how they progress in the next few weeks!  When we got here in this area, there wasn´t anything.  There weren´t investigators, addresses, people with baptismal dates, nothing.  We´ve really turned things around this transfer.  Now we have 8 progressing investigators, and 5 have baptismal dates during the next several weeks.  The Lord has helped us tremendously!
 During my mission I´ve gone from believing to knowing that Jesus Christ is my Savior.  I´ve gained a far more personal testimony of the power of the atonement, the reality of the Lord´s sacrifice, and the eternal value of what He has done.  My gratitude for Him is so much greater now, and I can testify without hesitation of the healing and enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.   
The mission´s a tough experience, but all of the hardships seem to fall into the category of overcoming myself.  This is also a good description of discipleship, turning from doing our will to doing the will of God.  This is something that I´m still struggling with, but I´m sure that in the coming years and decades the Lord will continue to help me with this as He has up till now.
I love you all a ton!  Thank you so much for all of your support!  I´m very excited to see each of you on Friday.
I love you all!
Elder Sweet

Monday, August 8, 2016

Repentance and The Pure Love of Christ

Hey there!  How are you guys doing?

   I don´t have a lot of time today, but I wanted to give a quick update on what´s going on here!  

   First, right now I´m back in P de M!  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera in G.  I´ll send some pics next week!

   This past week was extremely busy.   I wrote a talk about repentance.  I´ve attached a copy of it for you guys, but it´s in portuguese.  If you put it into Google Translate, a decent although not perfect translation should be provided.  
love ya! Elder Sweet

             Repentance and The Pure Love of Christ
When we repent and truly feel the loving arms of the Savior embracing us, forgiving, and changing us, we feel the pure love of Christ alive in a real way in our lives. Only then can we show a similar love.

I. Introduction
   This principle is the foundation of conversion. When we apply this in our lives, we become more like Jesus Christ and receive His forgiveness in our lives. Then when we teach this principle to our investigators, the inevitable result is teaching with the power of testimony and the baptism of many converts.  Today, I have a better understanding of repentance, and a sincere desire to repent in my own life and an increased ability to teach and call others to repentance.

II. By Means of Repentance We Can Be Redeemed
   In preparation for this conference, President B. gave me some talks for me to study about the topic of repentance. The Lord reminds us of the importance of this principle in Doctrine and Covenants section 1: "For I the Lord can not look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; however, the one who repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven. "What a wonderful blessing it is! We all "[sin], and[are] the glory of God. "None of us could return to his presence in our natural state. One of the largest demonstrations of the Lord's love for us is repentance; through repentance we can be rescued from our state "removed" and return to God's presence. Through repentance we can be cleansed and worthy to live the fullness of joy in God's presence.

III. The Sinner’s invitation to be Forgiven
   Now, I'd like to talk a little about the experience of the sinner to be forgiven. I'll share a video from the Bible, one of my favorites. This video tells the story of the woman caught in adultery, and about the Pharisees, although their participation is silent, I ask you to do two things during the video:
1. Look in the eyes of the Savior, and think about what he was feeling during the experience.
2. Think of what the woman was feeling during your experience.

Video: Go and sin no more

First, what the Savior was feeling during the experience? I find it hard sometimes to think of what Jesus Christ should feel toward us. His love is so much more complete than mine, and empathy it is perfect because of the infinite Atonement he did. My empathy is so far from perfect. I try sometimes pray, so I can understand and feel even a little of what the Savior feels for us. When he saw the woman, he knew better than all the others that sin meant to him. "I'll have to pay for it. "Or this time he wondered" How many drops of blood will need to spill it? "Even with that knowledge, the Lord showed a love so perfect and complete as forgiveness for women. He knew well that he would have to suffer "suffering [do] that [he], God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed from every pore" for her. Still, the infinite compassion of the Savior is the predominant expression on his face.
   Now, what was the woman feeling during this experience? From my observation, the first things she felt were shame, guilt and fear. She was caught in the act of adultery, and she knew the consequences: she would be killed. She was humiliated when her sin it was declared publicly. I imagine that this woman was terrified and ashamed of what she had done. But at the end of the video, I believe her attitude changed a bit. When the Lord said, "Neither do I condemn you," I believe she felt what is best captured by the words of a hymn. "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me; Confused at the grace of its light. "She had a real experience with the forgiveness of Jesus. Her life was literally saved. How could she go through this experience without feeling the deepest love and gratitude for the Savior? The same goes for all of us when we repent truly. In the process of repentance we feel the pure love of Christ tactile way, real and individual.

IV. The Sinner that Refuses to Repent
   Now, I have one more question. Did the scribes and Pharisees feel that same love of Christ in their lives? Of course not. The sinner who repents not can never know the pure love of Christ as the sinner who repentance is truly complete.
   The Savior Himself declared, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. "He never knew them because they never took upon themselves the yoke of Christ, they never took the brunt of it. What is the yoke of Christ? What is this burden that he asks us to take? Largely, it is repentance. "And again I say unto you must repent and be baptized in my name (...) or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily I say that this is my doctrine. "If we deny the same to know the Savior, choose not to repent, we will never know the pure love of Christ the same way as the penitent sinner.

V. Knowing the Pure Love of Christ through repentance
   So, for the sinner to know Jesus Christ and his pure love, repentance is necessary. Jesus likened himself to a hen who wanted to "gather her brood under her wings," but they "would not". How can the chick who refuses his chicken mother invitation know the loving embrace of her wings? This principle applies to both missionaries and members, as teachers. We cannot know the pure love of Christ without repentance. Let us not be the missionary who prophesied in his name, or cast out demons in his name, or who did many wonderful works in his name, but never met him. Knowing the Savior through repentance is infinitely more important to us as missionaries than as we teach others how to do this. It is impossible to encourage another to do what we do not! This reminds me of one of the last teachings of the Savior: "And this is life eternal that they might know thee only, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.  Now I'm beginning to see a little better the eternal value of repentance.
   Jesus Christ taught "my arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive, and blessed are those who come to me. "Elders and sisters, we are willing to pay the price to be inveloped by his merciful arms, the price of repentance? I suggest to you that this is exactly the same price necessary for us to know the pure love of Christ. The scriptures say that the repentant sinner "[fills] with joy. "Elder Anderson said," I marvel at the arms of mercy and love involving the repentant, no matter the sin. "I testify that when we truly repent, we experience and feel the pure love of Christ in our lives. Only then can we show a similar love.

VI. Conclusion
Now, I'm almost at the end of my mission. I have reflected a lot about what I'm going to take me home because of this experience. One of the things I will take with me what I most cherish is a stronger testimony of my Savior. What has changed is not so much my understanding of the Atonement, but surely this was expanded. The biggest change was the firmness and conviction of my belief in the Atonement, and the vigor with which seek to apply it in my life. I also found out that to show charity first must experience charity. When we repent and truly feel the loving arms of the Savior, sometimes even our Heavenly Father, we embracing, forgiving, and turning, we feel the pure love of Christ alive and real way in our lives. Only then can we show a similar love. The sinner who refuses repentance and forgiveness through Christ will never be able to express to his brother the pure love of Christ, because he never knew Him. One of the greatest expressions of gratitude that we can make for the sacrifice of the Lord is to repent; We show our gratitude for his sacrifice using his sacrifice. I know that Jesus Christ took upon himself all our sins. So let us take upon us his name. I know that Jesus Christ bore alone the yoke of our pains and ailments. Then can we carry, next to him, the yoke of true discipleship? The thing that causes me wonder about the Atonement of Christ is that he suffered for us because He wanted to suffer for us, He offered to do the will of the Father on our behalf. So let us offer ourselves to the Father's will to show our gratitude. He died and He rose again, and because of it there is no doubt in my heart that my family can be eternal. I pray that I may be deeply grateful for his infinite sacrifice, and I can show it to the Lord by repenting more deeply.  In the name of Jesus Christ amen,

Monday, August 1, 2016

Working With The Members

Hey all!  

   This week has been great!  We´ve been working like crazy, and we have some great new investigators now!

A. - 16 year old who has a lot of desire to be baptized on the 13th of august!
A. - One of A´s friends who´ll probably be batized the week after A.
C.- A member reference that was praying for the Lord to show her a path to follow!
M. - Another woman who is progressing really well toward her baptismal date on the 13th of august!

   This week we worked a lot with members!  We taught 11 lessons with member present and we recieved various referrals!  Working with the members is making all of the difference here!  I´m sure that we´re going to see even greater results in coming weeks because of their desire to participate and serve!

   This week the first of 3 Zone conferences is going to happen, so we´re excited!  We´ve got a lot of work to do, but it´s going to be great!

I´ve got to go now, but I love each of you a ton!  Keep the E-mails coming!

Elder Sweet

Here´s Some Pics!

Zone Meeting in R.!  It was a lot of fun!  I got to do a division with the Zone Leaders in R, my second area here in Brazil!  It sure was fun to work there again, it brought back a lot of memories!

Elder M, one of my companions from almost a year ago, came to visit the mission!  I got to take a photo with him really quick!  It sure was great to see that he´s doing well!

Hey all!  E-mails going to be kind of quick today, but here´s what´s up!

   This week I´m going to stay in G, and Elder B is going to M G!  I´m going to do some more divisions here in G, and we´re all thinking hard to plan our Zone Conferences!  The first, second, and third weeks of August we´ll be giving the Zone Conferences in the mission, so we´re preparing some pretty cool trainings to give to the missionaries!  The topics are probably going to be:
1. Using the Book of Mormon
2. Teach when you find, Find when you teach
3. What is Repentance?
4. The Brazil Area´s Goals

   I´m really looking forward to it!  It´s going to be a great opportunity to learn and teach!

I´m back in A G, this is the third time I´ve passed here so I already know all of the members pretty well.  There´re much less people going to sacrament meeting there now, so I´ve got 5 weeks to make the biggest difference possible! 

I´m grateful for the encouraging E-mails from each of you and from the prayers that I know you say for me and my investigators.  The prayers of the righteous can have great impacts!  I´m so grateful that we can communicate with our Father in Heaven in prayer.  It is such a sublime experience when we pray sincerely, and wait patiently for a response.  At times the answer to a question is not given in words or specific thoughts, but a simple yet profound feeling that all will work out.  I know that the Lord is in control, and that everything will work out!

I love you all a ton!

Elder Sweet