Monday, October 28, 2013

Focus on the less actives

October 28, 2013
We had a good week in Brazil. 
So last week we found a family of ten people in between appointments.  Usually we try to focus on referrals from members, but we were not about to pass up the opportunity to teach 10 people at once!  We stopped by the house on Tuesday.  You wouldn’t believe that the entire family could possibly live there.  7 kids and one of their spouses share one room.  We taught the message of the restoration, and they seemed very interested, so we left a Book of Mormon and asked them to read 2 Nephi 31.  The next day we returned to see how the reading went and teach the plan of salvation.  We were a little surprised to hear that only one of the family members read the Book of Mormon.  When we asked why, they told us that their 14 year old girl kept it to herself the entire time.  It turns out that she read the chapter and then wanted to understand the entire book so she started from the beginning and read all 22 chapters of 1 Nephi. That was pretty cool.  She told us that she could feel her relationship with her Heavenly Father growing as she read.
We really tried to focus on teaching less active families this week.  Our mission president promised that we would have baptisms if we started reactivating families.  The bishop and his councilors gave us a list of 10 less actives that they wanted us to visit.  It’s a bit of a sacrifice to try to visit all of them because our area is crazy huge.  It takes about 45 minutes by bus to visit some of the people.  So far though, the blessings have been much greater than the sacrifice.  All of the families have been very receptive.  They have promised to return to church and they still totally have a testimony of the church.  It seems like all we really had to do is show up on their door step and invite them back.
There is one family we taught on Saturday that was extremely active a few years ago but for some reason just slipped away.  When we stopped by we asked their 19 year old daughter to read Ether 12:27 which talks about humbling yourself and then Christ can make your weaknesses become strengths.  She started to cry and told us how she had always loved that scripture and that she remembered reading it often when she was having a hard time.  Everyone in the room could feel the spirit and we promised them that they would feel the same thing if they returned to church.  They will be there on Sunday!
Also, I'm getting way better at soccer.
I love you and hope everything is well,
Elder Marsh

(He also sent photos, but he didn’t label them.)
Our district! With Elder Carnauba as district leader
Home made pizzas with our Portuguese neighbors!
 Rose who loves to help the missionaries out.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Week--who really knows?

October 21, 2013 
Awesome awesome week!  
This week was pretty great. So on Sunday I heard that we would be doing exchanges this past Tuesday with the district leader, Elder Carnauba, and his companion, Elder Oaks, who is also American and has been in Brazil less time than I have.  I just kind of assumed that I would be on the exchange with Elder Carnauba so I wasn’t too worried. I found out on Monday that that was not the case and that I would be in the other area with Elder Oaks.  I was pretty stressed and was praying like crazy. 

When I got to their area, Elder Carnauba gave me the phone and told me some things (all in Portuguese) about the lessons they had planned and then left me with Elder Oaks.  It´s a little scarier being in Brazil without a native by your side.  Two Americans in white shirts and ties really stand out.  The day went pretty great though.  We ended up teaching ELEVEN lessons!  We taught 10 lessons to investigators and 1 to a less active member. We also got 6 new investigators, which means they said they’d read the pamphlet of the restoration, pray about it, and be baptized if they got an answer. So sick! It was probably the best day yet of my mission.  There were two lessons that were particularly good. 
We were looking for a girl that Elders Oaks and Carnauba had contacted in the street a few days earlier and ended up finding her dad, José.  He is pretty old and had a hard time understanding our Portuguese, so we just slowed things down and taught as simply as we could.  The spirit was super strong and we promised him that with the principals of the gospel, his home could be a place of peace where his family could feel true happiness.  We gave him a Book of Mormon and said a closing prayer.  After the prayer, he was holding the book against his chest and told us that we were like angels.  Super cool! We left that house smiling.
The other lesson was with Rachael.  She is less active and hasn’t been to church in years.  She lives alone so we just taught her outside the house.  Elder Oaks gave an awesome short message about persevering to the end and to Christ.  That was a little miracle because his Portuguese is kind of awful right now and she totally understood everything he said.  After, I asked her what she needed to do to persevere to the end.  She said, “Probably go to church and read the scriptures, but I feel shameful returning to church after not going for so long.” We promised her she would feel the spirit there and no one would judge her....She was totally at church yesterday!  With her son!  I was so excited.
Another cool thing.  We taught Magno and his family this week twice. It was really fun because I got to teach in English.  It’s so nice to be able to just say what you need to without thinking of words in Portuguese.  He is a great guy and has been reading.
Marcelo, the man who has a member friend at work, quit smoking this week and was baptized on Saturday.  He was so pumped.  He’s going to be a great member.   

I love you guys,

Elder Marsh

Monday, October 14, 2013

Week 7--Crazy 2 year old

October 14, 2013
Ok really good week.
I want to start with how interesting of a day yesterday was though.  Church was awesome.  We had 5 investigators there.  During fast and testimony meeting a member got up and started bearing his testimony about how in his first life he was Noah and could have married any woman he wanted but was too busy building an ark.  It just got weirder from there.  Oh well!  The investigators didn’t seem to be bothered by it, and the rest of the meeting was great.  Then we went to our almoço at Leodetes’ home.  He is our ward mission leader. His wife brought 2 non-member families and both said they’d go to church with Leodetes’ family next week.  So awesome.  There were like 3 two year old kids running around the house the whole time--which made things really fun to watch.  But while I was eating I felt something like water dripping on my shoes so I looked under the table and there was a kid there peeing on me!! Everyone seriously just laughed and laughed.  Super funny.  I cleaned my shoes up and everything is good now.  After almoço it was different than any other day yet.  Cruzerio and Atletico played each other yesterday afternoon.  The streets were empty. Not a soul in sight.  Walking in the street was like walking in a mine field because no one was out and then every couple of minutes there would be a huge explosion!  People just randomly throw firecrackers the size of dynamite sticks in the road and then when a team scores...its nuts.  
Elder R. Souza has been having a tough time walking around this week.  He has an ingrown’s hard to be patient with someone when they can’t walk because their toe hurts, but I’m trying.   We were still able to teach some new people and do some really good work. 
Apparently, our mission is really good at getting people to church but not so good at setting dates for baptism.  So now we have a new rule from the president.   If a street contact says yes to an appointment, we are to then invite them to be baptized right then!  It’s kind of scary, but I like it.  So far the reactions have been way good. 
I met an awesome guy this week.  His name is Magno.  He moved here a year and a half ago after living 8 years in Connecticut.  He speaks English really well so that’s fun.  He has had a tough time here.  He lost his job in the USA and can’t find good work here.  He isn’t married but has a 2 year old and his girlfriend was supposed to have another son yesterday!  He told us he needed direction so we are trying to teach him about how the gospel can bless his life, and we talked to a member who might be able to get him a job in a hotel where he´ll be able to put his English to good use. 
I had a really good personal study on Tuesday.  I was studying the section on faith--the Gospel of Jesus Christ lesson in Preach My Gospel.  I found an awesome scripture. 1 Nephi 7:12 It talks about how anything is possible if we EXERCISE our faith and are faithful to Christ. This really hit me.  There’s a big difference between having faith in Christ and being faithful to Christ.  It’s not so easy to be faithful and follow all the commandments of our Heavenly Father, but when we do, that’s when the blessings come.
Te Amo 

Elder Marsh
 12 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all athings according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise bfaith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.  1 Nephi 7:12

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 6 Pictures!

October 7, 2013 

I’ll give you a description of the photos first:

Rainy season is starting up.  Sunday night the rain was so hard that it sounded like people were throwing rocks at the window.  These are the clouds that roll in over the mountains.
This is a family in our ward.  Hugo and Rita are the kids in the picture.  Rita speaks English which is fun.  Their dad is an English teacher here.  The mom and Rita left to return to their home in Portugal after being in Brazil for 4 years.
It seriously rains so hard here!!!  We were soaking wet, but that's OK.  People will let you into their house when they see you are freezing cold and wet.  Also, you can see the graffiti on the wall there.  That's basically every wall here in the Vale do Jatoba.  Lots of it is actually super pretty.
You can buy fresh coconuts here for less than a dollar.  There's a fresh market that sells them near our house.  So good!
We went to a wedding on Saturday.  Geam and Monica got married.  Geam is one of our investigators.  Monica is a great member and we have a date set with Geam for later this month.  I was pretty psyched.  There were tons of members at the wedding too!

This was at conference.  Me, Elder Souza, Diego, Ana Clara, and Rebeka.  Diego and Ana Clara are our two investigators.  Rebeka is their cousin, and she is a member.  Rebeka’s brother’s name is Moroni.  They are a huge blessing in getting Diego and Ana Clara to church and making them feel welcome.  Diego is probably my favorite person here in Brazil.  He is super cool and keeps all the commitments we give him except for baptism.  He says that he thinks that this church is A church of Jesus Christ, but he doesn’t know if it is THE church of Jesus Christ.  We have a lesson tonight with him about the atonement.  He has lots of questions after the Sunday morning session of conference.
Conference was awesome this weekend. As a missionary, it is the equivalent to a Jason Bourne movie.  I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen because I didn’t want to miss any of the action. We only got to watch the two sessions on Sunday, but I learned so much!  The power of the atonement to change people is something that we need to incorporate better into our lessons.  Thomas S Monson is without a doubt a prophet.  When he speaks it’s so powerful.  I also loved the story about the Man in Papa New guinea who accidentally started a fire too big to control.  After he had done all he could do to stop the flames he prayed for help and God sent rain.  We must do all that we can first, and then after that, God will send us the miracles in our life.  Also, I have a new favorite scripture.  Hebrews 12:1 Run with patience the race that is set before us (something like that).   
We had some really good lessons this week.  We found a great family.  It’s a family that’s kind of different than most.  We are teaching an older woman name Lucimar and her son Luis who is 23.  Luis has two sons that live with him that are 6 and 3 years old.  We also teach a friend of Luis, who is always at the house name Eduardo.  Then we also taught the fiancé of Luis.  We taught them about the restoration and the plan of salvation.  They like it. It’s always exciting to see people understanding and learning about the church.  I get seriously pumped up!  This is one of the most important messages of their lives!
I love what we do here! The church is so true and will always change people for the better.

Elder Marsh
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the asin which doth so easily bbeset us, and let us run with cpatience the race that is set before us,  (Hebrews 12:1)