Monday, September 30, 2013

Week 5 Humility on P-day

September 30, 2013

This week was good as usual.  Today is p-day, which means one of the most humbling days of the week.  Almost every P-day, Elder Souza and I play soccer with two other Elders that live close by.  They are all Brazilian which means I don’t stand a chance. Every Brazilian is born with magic feet.  They make me feel like a giant uncoordinated American just running in circles.  I seriously look like a giant everywhere we go because I’m always standing next to elder Souza.  I’m about 8 inches taller than him and weigh almost 70 pounds more than he does.  He likes to call me "grande americano".  Two weeks ago we played ping pong in the church instead of soccer.  We didn’t have a net so we used hymnals instead.  It was pretty legit. We played for like 2 hours. I went all out and showed the elders that I’m not completely uncoordinated.  I have pictures but I forgot my camera.  I’ll send them next week. 
Yesterday it rained.  It really rained hard.  The roads were totally flooding while we were walking to church. You know how in the movies cars drive by and splash people with water?  That really does happen.  Two cars drove by us on the way to church and afterwards I was soaking wet from my waist down. 
Brazil gets better and better every day.  I can almost understand what people are saying now. That makes life much more fun.  I love speaking Portuguese too.  I’m really working on my accent because it’s kind of terrible.  Most people can understand me but sometimes I need Elder Souza to translate.  Tomorrow is going to be interesting because two different member families are bringing nonmembers to fhe so elder Souza and I are going to split up with members.  I get to give the entire lesson at fhe by myself so I’m praying everything goes well!
The members here are awesome.  Yesterday we had 4 investigators at church, and we were only expecting one of them.  The church is a long ways away from our area so it’s hard to get people to church some weekends.  The other 3 people were friends of the members that they wanted to bring to church.  We have lessons with all of the people this week too.  Members are what seriously make the difference.  We can work work work but lessons go so much better with members there, and the people love church when they have a friend, that’s not the missionaries, to sit with. 
I love working here.  I love the people and the church.  I love you all.

Elder Marsh



Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 4 Fasting really works

September 23, 2013
Dear Family,

This week was pretty sweet.  We read in Alma 17:2-3

 2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel afirst appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had bsearched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
 3 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and afasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with bpower and authority of God.

and decided that we needed to do a fast this week for the people we had been teaching and to find other people. We planned to fast Thursday, and the Lord totally prepared a way for us.  We decided to contact a referral that lived a few miles away, which is usually hard to do because it takes so much time to walk to homes that are that far away, but it was totally worth it.  We found the referral, William, in the street drinking with his buddy Luis, and they invited us in to be taught.  It turns out that William has like 5 brothers and sisters and they all live there with their mother--super humble people.  We taught 3 of the siblings, Luis and the mother the Restoration and the spirit was way strong.  They all committed to reading the Book of Mormon and being baptized when they found out it was true.  Later that day, we went to the home of an over aged youth, which is a member who was blessed as a baby but was never baptized, I think...Her name is Ana Clara and she didn’t know very much about the church, just that her mother left it when she was about 6 years old.  She also committed to reading the Book of Mormon.  She’s pretty hesitant but said we can come back and teach her whole family later.  Then we went to the home of Marcelo, the guy who has a co-worker who is a member, and set a baptismal date with him.  Basically, Thursday was the greatest day ever.

I wish I was physically able to fast every day!
Our shower heater broke a few days ago, but that’s ok because this week was hotter than hot.  I saw that it was about 37 degrees Celsius two day ago, which is like 90 something in Fahrenheit! 

Another cool experience-- Elder Souza contacted a minister of another church in the road on Tuesday that started a heated discussion between the two.  Elder Souza likes that stuff, but I don’t that much.  He started talking about prophets so I jumped in and bore my testimony that the Book of Mormon is proof that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that he would know that too if he read the Book of Mormon.  Elder Souza bore testimony after.  He didn’t want to read, but he was impressed and wished us luck as he walked away.
I love you all, I know this church is true and I love being here in Brazil sharing the message of the restoration with other people.

Elder Marsh

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 3 in Brazil "Show me in the Bible"

September 16, 2013
Dear family,
This week was really fun.  My Portuguese abilities have increased dramatically.  I think the main reason is because we started making lots of street contacts.  That basically means that we stop people in the street and ask them if they are interested in hearing a message about Jesus Chris.  I have a couple kind of rehearsed approaches for people.  The main one is "oi! tudo bem? Eu sou Elder Marsh. Qual é seu nome? Somos missionarios da igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ultimos Dias.  Nós compartilhamos uma mensagem sobre Jesus Cristo e oração.  Podemos pasar sua casa uma otra dia?"  After that I summon all my mental strength to try to understand them.  It’s usually best if they just say "Pode." That mean yes.  It's really fun though!  It helps me understand different accents of people.  Portuguese is much different than I was expecting it to be.  The way that people say my name here is Ma-this scrapy sound that you make with your throat-sh.  Lots of people can’t say the "rrrr" sound so they use that instead.  It's rad.
I'm learning a lot about the Bible and how to connect scriptures from the Bible to the Book of Mormon.  Everyone here believes in the Bible already and we hear the sentence "show me in the Bible" a lot.  It's awesome when we can share a scripture and then elaborate with the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon has so much power!  Seriously, all questions can be answered through the Book of Mormon. 

We are using the members a lot to find new people to teach.  Lessons are so much more affective when the people have a member friend there.  Yesterday we went with a couple in the ward and taught the wife’s sister's family.  It was way good.  The member told them how much the gospel had blessed her family and how she wants her sister to have to same thing in her life.  There were about six women in the room and every one of them was crying.  It was a really spiritual experience for everyone there. 
We have an investigator named Marcelo.  He is the perfect example of how members are a huge influence on the people around them!  He was going through some rough times and realized that he needed to change some things in his life.  He noticed that one of his co-workers was always happy and didn’t drink coffee.  I don’t know how he made that connection, but he asked the co-worker a few questions and found out he is a member of the church.  Now Marcelo doesn’t drink coffee or alcohol, and only smokes 2 cigarettes a day.  He goes to church every week and should be baptized within the month.

I asked my companion to teach me how to make some Brazilian dishes.  this morning he taught me how to make jello...Not what I had in mind since Brazilian jello is the exact same as American jello haha. 

Another cool thing about Brazil is that you can always know the score to soccer games anywhere you.  Well here in Belo Horizonte the teams are Cruzeiro and Atletico.  Whenever one of those teams scores a goal people throw these giant fire crackers in the street that sound like gun shots, so even during lessons and church you know the score.

I love all of you,

Elder Marsh

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 2 in Brazil-- Rice and Beans YUM!

September 9, 2013
Dear Family,
All mail (that is not emailed) should go to the mission home and I’ll get it during our district meetings or whenever.
Good week. I’ve never had such good food in my life.  They like to keep it simple here--rice beans, a meat, and sometimes a salad. (A salad consists mostly of shredded lettuce with olive oil and salt all over it...good and healthy sort of).  I seriously eat to my full capacity every day.  There is really only one meal in Brazil called Almoço or lunch in English, so I have to eat 24 hours’ worth of food in like 30 minutes.  Don’t worry I don’t think I’ll gain too much weight because we walk like crazy everywhere we go. Belo Horizonte has the craziest steep hills I’ve ever seen.  There are seriously places where I have no idea how they got the concrete to stick to the side of mountain.  I’m building some pretty nice calves and quads because of it!  Our area is huge.  I’m not sure ofcthe square mileage, but we are located right in the middle, and it took us 35 minutes on a bus to get to the bishop’s house on Saturday.  The whole area is just houses too.  I have no idea how we are going to cover everything!!  But it also means that we have plenty of people to find and teach.
Cool experience at church this Sunday.  In Sunday school the teacher asked how many of the people there had been born into the church.  I was the only one!  In a class of about 20 people, 19 had been baptized by missionaries.  I thought it was pretty cool and got kind of pumped up to do work after that.  I love church because it’s the only place where people like to speak English with me. It’s nice every once in a while not to be the one who has to use all of their brain power to understand a conversation. 
We met a family last week who is interested in the church.  The cool thing about almost everyone here is they have faith in Jesus Christ and are willing to hear from us.  They have a son who has come to church 3 times now and is reading the Book of Mormon.  I think it’s just a matter of time before he finds out that it’s true. People are so open to listening to the gospel that we have awesome spiritual experiences everyday helping people gain more of a testimony of Christ.  I love being here. 
Congratulations Anna for scoring a goal in field hockey!! That’s so sick! 
I love you,

Elder Marsh

Monday, September 2, 2013

First week in Brazil

September 2, 2013

Dear Everyone,
This has been the craziest week of my life.  I left for Brazil on Monday morning of last week at 5 am and then didn't get to the mission home until Tuesday at around 3pm.  Monday and Tuesday felt like one long day of constantly wearing a suit.

President Fortunato and his wife are really cool.  President Fortunato has a strong spirit about him.  Even when he was speaking Portuguese and I couldn’t understand what he was saying.  I could feel that he was like a powerful guy.  I’m excited to get to know him more.
That night we stayed in a hotel in Belo Horizonte.  The city is seriously nuts.  Its huge!! People are everywhere.  Ok something different about Brazil and maybe the rest of the world is that people who are crossing the street don't have the right of way and cars do not slow down at all for people! It’s like playing real life Frogger. Drivers are crazy but still really good.  Cars and busses drive as fast as they can wherever they go because there are no speed limits and then there are motorcycles that are weaving between the cars and in-between busses. The motorcyclist put Jesus Christ stickers on their bikes to keep them safe. I’ve only seen one accident since I’ve been here though so it must be working.

My companions name is Elder R. Souza.  There are so many Souzas in Brazil that they use his first initial for his tag also.  He is from Belem Brazil and doesn’t speak any English or when he does I can’t understand him because of his accent. That must be how he feels with me all the time.  We live in a cool apartment in the Vale da Jatoba.  It’s a suburb of Belo Horizonte. There’s a picture of the view from our window attached. You can see that it’s seriously just houses everywhere.  Most stores are run out of the garage of people’s homes. The first 3 days here were the hardest of my life.  I thought that I knew Portuguese pretty well but when I actually started talking to people my thoughts changed.  Every sentence in Portuguese sounded like one really long Chinese word.  I honestly felt like I was going crazy because I was so lost. When people saw that I didn’t understand they would try to use the little English they knew but that basically sounded like jibberish so then we both felt like crazy people haha.  It’s ok though because I’m learning pretty quickly out of necessity.  Now I can separate all the words in the sentence, which helps a lot, and usually communicate fairly well.  It’s rough but it’s better than nothing. The only person I can’t understand is my companion because he has this accent and talks so fast!
We had a baptism this Saturday!  Yeah I seriously hit the jackpot! Gabriela was baptized by her brother Matteus who was baptized only 2 months ago it was awesome.  People are great here--so humble and willing to give you anything you want or don’t want. haha They just give you stuff. 

That other picture of my face that looks like I have bad acne...those are mosquito bites. They ate me alive one night. Everyone laughs at me and says “they must like American blood”   haha whatever.
I love you and my companion is standing over my shoulder waiting so I better go!

Elder Marsh

He has arrived!

First Saturday in Brazil.  Baptism of Gabriela by her brother Matteus.

Mosquito bite acne

Brazilian feathered friend!

View from apartment window in Vale de Jatoba