Monday, November 25, 2013

Cat for dinner (3 months in Brazil)

November 25, 2013
We walked a lot this week.  We keep receiving strange referrals from the church headquarters asking for Books of Mormons and other videos.  Referrals are awesome but everyone we´ve contacted doesn’t remember asking for a visit and thinks it’s strange that we have their name and address haha.  Who knows, it’s weird but we´re trying to contact them all, and they live in the randomest places, so we´ve been busy. 
One of the contacts led us to a beco not too far away.  A beco is just a really small street.  The contact wasn’t home so we tried to teach their neighbor, Antonio, instead.  We talked about his religious background and we asked him, "Why is God important to you?"  His response was awesome.  He said:

One day I was working construction on a house nearby, and my wife brought me beans, rice, and salad for lunch. My co-worker asked me if I wanted him to heat up my lunch and I said yes of course.  But when he gave me my plate back, there was some sort of meat on it. I asked him,

"What kind of meat is this?"

"Eat it and maybe you'll find out." 

I was scared to eat this mystery meat, so I prayed to God and asked him to help me know what it was.  After, I had a vision of a giant black cat.  God had given me an answer.  I told my co-worker, 

"I know what this meat is! It's cat!"

"How'd you find out?!"

"God told me!"

Then I ate it anyways.  But now I know that God cares about me. 

I was laughing so hard that it was hard to keep talking about the lesson after that.  It was good though.  Experiences like that help you to be happy and excited about the work.  Some days are super hard.  Sometimes we plan well, work really hard, and one's home that day.  It’s a bummer, but it’s super important to stay excited because no one wants to hear how to be more happy from two sad looking missionaries haha. 

Sorry this email was so short. 

Elder Marsh

Monday, November 18, 2013

Eventful Week

Eventful week.

We had transfers a week early because lots of missionaries finished up there two years of service and went home.  I stayed here in the Vale do Jatobá but I got a new companion named Elder Lopes da Silva.  His name barely fits on the name tag ha.  Cool thing dad, he’s from Curitiba! I like him a lot and I think we´ll work well together. 

Grecia was really firm all week, but then Friday morning at 6:45 am we got a message that she didn’t want to get baptized because she was having doubts.  That was probably the worst text message of my life!  We got dressed really fast and went to a pay phone to try to talk with her.  Quick side in Brazil, they don’t have like cell phone plans, so you pay by the minute and it’s super expensive.  We get a 100 minutes every 21st of the month.  Usually we run out about two weeks before that so we use pay phones A LOT.  We could not get a hold of her after like five dropped calls so we just got on the bus and headed to her house.  Grecia was sleeping so we waited at the gate and talked with her sister.  She started asking us about living in the dessert with lots of wives...problem targeted ha.  After Grecia got up we talked with the family and resolved most of the concerns and Grecia was reanimated and ready to go for baptism again.

The baptism was really cool.  Her boyfriend’s dad baptized her and her boyfriend’s mom gave a short talk.   Small problem...I forgot to turn off the water to the baptismal font. Yikes.  There was like an inch of water in the bathrooms and it was starting into the hallways!  That was a mess.  It took a while to clean up afterwards.  I will absolutely never forget about that again. 

Also, along the same lines, we didn’t close our window yesterday because it was hot and sunny when we left the house.  It poured for like 45 minutes.  When we got home,  Elder Lopes´s bed was soaking wet and there was a ton of water on the floor throughout the apartment.  The good thing about Brazil is that every building and house just has tile on the floor.  I haven’t seen carpet in almost three months now.  That minimizes water damage I think. 

Church was really good too.  Lots of less active members were there and brought friends or spouses with them.  It’s cool to see people get excited about the gospel all over again!

I love you,

Elder Marsh

Monday, November 11, 2013

So Good!

November 11, 2013
This week was seriously incredible.  I learned so much.  We had exchanges with the Zone Leaders on Wednesday and the whole time he just tried to show me how to discern the intentions and the needs of the investigators.  Almost everyone here will listen to a message about Jesus Christ but not everyone is open to accepting the message of the restoration. We are working on finding those that are ready by telling them our purpose as a missionary right from the first contact.  Our purpose is to share the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ through a prophet and to help people make covenants like baptism.  A lot less people want to hear about that, but when they know they´re good!

The first picture is of the missionaries that serve here in the Vale do Jatoba and the next area, Barreiro.  It goes Elder Oaks (an American from Colorado), me, Elder Carnauba (our district leader), Cristian (a new member), and Elder R. Souza (my companion). 

Cristian was baptized yesterday.  It was such a cool experience.  He is married to Idice, an all-star member in our ward.  She has been bringing Cristian to church for a very long time and taught him all the principles of the gospel.  He was basically a member in every aspect except for the baptism part.  We have been teaching him for almost a month now and set a date for yesterday.  When we went to their house on Saturday though, he was still unsure if he wanted to go through with it all.  We went over all the baptismal interview questions with him.  He knew it was all true but still was uneasy.  I kept hearing the spirit say, "just pray, pray, pray."  Elder Souza was hearing the same thing and asked Cristian to offer a prayer and ask for guidance.  All four of us knelt down and he prayed.  It was maybe the most sincere prayer I’ve ever heard, and the spirit was so strong. After, he said, "I think I'll accept the Elders' invitation."  It was so cool.  At the baptism, Idice gave a short message and bore her testimony.  She bore her testimony of the church and then thanked Cristian for making this decision so that they could have the priesthood in their home.

We also have an awesome new investigator.  The girl in the second picture is Grecia.  She was a referral from a member in the ward, and she is so elect!  We shared the restoration with her on Friday and tried to answer all of her questions (she had a lot). On Sunday she came up to us at church and said, "Elders, I already received an answer. What do I need to do to prepare for baptism?"  What?! I didn’t even know what to say. Also, she is dating a returned missionary who is less active.  She told us that she wanted to reactivate him and has already brought him back to church once.  This morning, at 8 o’clock, we had a lesson with her and taught the Plan of Salvation, the Word of Wisdom, and keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.  She just kept asking questions!

This is so fun. 

I love you,

Elder Marsh

Monday, November 4, 2013

Speaking in tongues?

November 4, 2013
This week was inspirational.  We had an awesome zone conference.  Our president is so powerful and bold.  We learned about how to go from just hard working and diligent missionaries to missionaries that baptize.  He gave us three words: Ânimo, Ousado, and Dedicação, which pretty much means excitement, boldness, and dedication.  People can see when you not happy.  No one wants to join the church if the missionaries aren’t excited about what they’re teaching.  Get excited!  Being bold is something that I’ve been working on my entire mission.  This week I made a goal of talking to at least one person every time we get on the bus.  Let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it sounds.  Most of the people on the bus have head phones on or are sleeping and just don’t want to talk to a stranger. Also it’s super loud and hard to understand what they are saying.  It’s all part of the game!  My contacts on the bus are generally different than street contacts.  I usually try to start a conversation with the people and work the gospel in naturally. After talking for a while most everyone wants to know what I’m doing here. So far I have 16 bus rides strait that I’ve talked with someone.  Dedication is so important. Whenever I’m tired, hungry, disappointed, or just really sweaty, I just think to myself: Just keep going! I don’t have time to waste! It’s only two years!
President Fortunato also talked about how to work in ward council meetings.  We had one last Saturday.  It was great. The bishop only talked about missionary work.  Every quorum or auxiliary has a goal of reactivating 3 members by Christmas.  It’s going to be an awesome time to work here.  I saw our ward numbers this week.  We have almost 800 members in the ward but only about 100 at church every Sunday.  Our goa,l along with the bishop, is to reactivate and baptize enough people that we can have a church building of our own. 

Meriele, the girl that read all of 1 Nephi in one day, is now almost completely finished with the Book of Mormon.  She was at church yesterday and really liked it.  That was awesome.  The members are helping us so much now. We have so many new referrals.  There were 8 investigators at church and 5 of them were brought by their member friends.  So solid! 
Funny experience this week too.  We visited a referral this week that was kind of sick.  I gave her a blessing and then after she asked me if I was speaking in tongues....nope...I thought I was speaking in Portuguese haha.
I love you,
Elder Marsh

Delicious BBQ
Steepest hills
Sizing up our dinner
 Contagem Zone with President and Sister