|Merry Christmas to my family!|
Thursday, December 25, 2014
It was so good to see and speak to Jordan today! He spoke with a little bit of an accent but we loved hearing from him in person! What an awesome experience it is to be a missionary and to have a missionary in the family! We appreciate his service and dedication to the Lord and to the people in Brazil.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
December 20, 2014
Today we don’t have much time to write email because our p-day was moved to Christmas day. I'm so stoked to talk to you!
We had our Christmas conference this week and it was awesome. Sister Fortunato does a really great job with all the mission events! We spent a while putting the conference together but in the end I think all the missionaries really enjoyed the musical and the food! The theme was "Our Legacy". Sister Fortunato put together a program all about the birth of Christ and the pioneers, which really went well.
We have been having a lot of success lately with our investigators and we are excited about their progress! Ailton stopped smoking and I've never seen anyone so excited and determined to be baptized like he is!
I love you family. I'm excited to see on Christmas!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
This week passed by really quickly. Things have been going super well recently in our area here! Last week was general conference and it was the best conference that I've been to on the mission. President Fortunato gave a talk on Saturday night about hastening the work with members too. In the middle of the talk he called out a few random members and paired them up with missionaries. We then left for 10 minutes to contact everyone in the street and invite them to the conference the next day. It was seriously inspired to do that activity, because the next day a family of 5 showed up who Elder Bellini and the ward mission leader had invited the night before. I've never seen a member get so excited like this man...it was as if in that moment he realized, "Hey! Missionary work is awesome!"
We have been teaching a family recently who are really cool. Ailton and Silvania have two daughters and are really loving the gospel. They went to the conference and felt the spirit strongly. Last night we had our ward's Christmas dinner and before, we were giving the family a little tour of the chappel. We ended by showing them the baptismal font. He looked inside and just sat there thinking. After a few seconds he looked at us with a sad face and said, "I really want to be baptized Sunday, but I can't because I'm still addicted to cigarettes." We promised him that he would be stronger than the addiction through the gospel of Christ, and he decided in that moment to never smoke again! I really love this family.
Rafael, our recent convert, is also being a great missionary. He has been bringing a few friends and his family to church! Missionary work always goes so much smoother when the members really get involved.
I love you all,
PS What is your skype address and what time can we call you on christmas?! Have you sent a package to Leonardo Monteiro?
Saturday, December 6, 2014
This week was pretty awesome.
On Tuesday night we had a Family Home Evening with our investigator named Helena. She has been coming to church for a while now with her friends from the ward and is one of those people that the Lord has been preparing for a while now. When we started teaching her, we found out that her English tutor, maid, and friends from school were all members of the church! They had all been helping her learn about the gospel little by little, and now she is ready to accept it. Tuesday, she accepted a baptismal date for the 20th of December! It would have been this weekend but her family and she will be in New York all this week and next. We are so pumped for her date.
I had a chance to go back to my last area in Progresso to watch the zone meeting this week. It was awesome! Elder Bravo and Elder McNiel are killing it there, and the missionaries are excited to work. They did a fun activity to help the zone learn about working together to reach goals and our full potential. During the meeting they talked about how every missionary plays a huge part in the mission. If any missionary decides not to do his part, the whole mission suffers the consequences. Elder Bravo chose a companionship and told them, "Yesterday, Elder McNeil and I hid 65 candies in the chapel. You have one minute to find them! GO!" They went searching but after a minute only came back with about 10 candies. Then they got all the missionaries together and made plans. Each companionship had a room to search and had one minute to find the candies. After all the companionships had searched, all the candies had been found. It was a fun way to learn how everyone needs to work. The candies represented people baptized and you can imagine how the example relates to the everyday work. If any companionship decides not to try their best for a day, or a week or a month, then God's children will be left unfound and without the blessings of the Gospel. There really is no time to rest and take a break on the mission!
I love you!
Sorry I couldn’t write much today. We have P-day to work on the stuff for our Christmas conference, so we're kind of busy today! I sent a photo too. Elder Bellini and I found some sweet sweaters in the office ha.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
We had a really, really busy week, starting with last Saturday Night. We have our p-days on Saturday which means we work from 6 to 9 Saturday nights. A miracle happened in these three hours last week. We visited an older member of the ward to ask for a glass of water and see if she had any referrals for us. At first she said that she didn’t know anyone but told us about how she had been bringing her granddaughter, Geovana, to church for the past year and was hoping that she could be baptized sometime soon. Up until that point, Elder Bellini and I had thought that her granddaughter was already baptized, because she always was in sacrament meeting and participated in all the activities! We ran to Geovana's house and talked with her mom a little, who thought that it’d be a great thing for her daughter to be baptized! We then invited Geovana to be baptized the next day, with Rafael, and she happily accepted! We were so blessed. Geovana was already prepared by the primary organization and just needed a baptismal invitation!
We had transfers this week. With these transfers, 13 new missionaries entered in our mission and 7 finished and went home. We also had a Mission Leadership Council Meeting. There were a lot of things to do. We stayed really busy until Friday afternoon when we could finally return to our area to work a little.
The tree looks great! I love you,
I bought you a Christmas Present today! Finally found a nativity set for you. It's really Minas Gerais. Our state's name means "General Mines" and the nativity set was made here out of rocks...cool right?!
Saturday, November 22, 2014
November 22, 2014
We had some really good experiences this week. It started with the first rehearsal for our mission’s Christmas conference! Sister Fortunato always puts together an amazing musical for the missionaries and then we have an event for the members and non-members a few days later. This year I will be part of the choir…I will need a lot of practice. It’s going to be a great conference this year.
We started teaching a boy named Rafael this week who is super cool! He came to church last Sunday with his buddy and we taught him the Restoration right after. He accepted the baptismal invitation really well! The next day we went to follow up on the invitation and he had read and prayed about the Book of Mormon already. We asked him how he had felt about it and he said, “I felt weird, I went to sleep and had a dream that really confused me. I dreamed that I saw a golden man blowing a horn.” Wait…doesn’t that sound like the angel Moroni on top of the temples? We then showed him a picture of Moroni, and he got a little freaked out and said, “That’s the man from my dream.” He got a powerful answer that this is the true church, so we moved his baptismal date for tomorrow. He’s super pumped about it and so are we! It’s cool that Moroni makes a promise at the end of the book of Mormon that anyone who asks with a sincere heart and real intent will receive an answer that the book of Mormon is true. It’s even cooler that the angel Moroni was the actual answer to Rafael’s prayer!
On Thursday we went on splits with missionaries in Riberão das Neves. They had been having a hard time in the past few weeks finding new investigators and teaching people in general. Because of that they had been getting a little discouraged, so Elder Bellini and I decided to go to their area and see if we could get them pumped up to work again! We prayed a lot the day before. The day went super well! We split until 4 o’clock and in that time we found 4 people who had already gone to church multiple times and accepted to be baptized this month! It was a miracle!
I’m loving the work. I love you,
Saturday, November 15, 2014
That night we taught a man named Geraldo. He's a great guy and we talked to him at the perfect time in his life. He accepted way well the first lesson and the baptismal invitation and is now reading the Book of Mormon every night at his job. Someone saw him the other day with the Book of Mormon and asked him if he was "switching religions." He said, "I'm thinking that I will. Maybe you should come with me." He's so cool! Yesterday we taught him about the word of wisdom and we found out that he smokes and drinks coffee. We invited him to stop it and told him that he could call us up any time he needed to ask for help if he was tempted to smoke. Last night we got a call at 10:30--right before we were going to bed. Hhe told us, "Hey guys I just want to let you know that I'm staying strong! It’s not easy but I’m toughing it out!"
I love the mission,
|Central Belo Horizonte|
|Elder Hatch, Elder Belini, Elder Bunch and I playing soccer on Pday|
Saturday, November 8, 2014
This week was really busy. I had the opportunity to visit a few parts of the mission that I had never seen before. Our mission is huge. It takes up almost all of the state of Minas Gerais, but I have never served anywhere longer that about 30 minutes by car from the mission office. This week we went and spent a day working with Elders in Sete Lagoas, which is a city about an hour and a half from Belo Horizonte. We were able to teach a few people, and then we helped put together a special Chapel open house event. The Chapel sits on a lakeshore that has a boardwalk for runners and bikers. The members decided that they would put up a water stand in front of the church for the people who are always passing by. The missionaries handed out fliers about the church and offered to show the people inside. It went really well, and lots of people were able to learn a little about the gospel.
I love you,
This week was really kind of crazy but way fun. President and Sister Fortunato were in São Paulo Monday thru Thursday at a seminar for mission presidents. They couldn’t answer their phones which meant that Elder Bellini and I had to answer all the questions and help all the sick Elders and Sisters haha. It was exciting on my first week. We had a Mission Leadership Council on Friday when president got back. I attached my training slides that I gave about baptizing and preparing our investigators to be baptized.
8 months in the office is a long time. Did you have much time to spend working in your area? This week was interesting too because it’s the first time that I’ve actually worked in upper class neighborhoods. We have an investigator that lives in an apartment building that has an elevator for cars so that you can park your car on the floor of you apartment. It’s a little harder to promise blessings for people who seem like they have everything, but I am learning how everyone really does need the gospel in their lives.
I love you dad,
Saturday, November 1, 2014
It’s been kind of crazy these past few days. On Wednesday night I was called to work as an Assistant to the President. It’s been way different than I thought it would be. My new companion is Elder Bellini. He's from São Paulo and was my zone leader for most of the time that I was in Riberão das Neves and Lagoa. It’s going to be really fun working with him.
Since I got here, we've been pretty busy with transfers and taking missionaries to the airport. Our schedule is a lot different than normal. Wake up a little before 6 am to get to the office around 7, and then we study and talk with the Elders and Sister on the phone. Sometimes we meet with President for a few hours to plan things out. Then we have to do some things on the computer, and I don’t even know how to explain what happens because it moves a little everyday haha. Usually, we are working in our area by 5 pm.
Our area is in the center of the city in the Santa Lucia ward. There are lots of buildings and apartments now so we talk to a ton of people in the street. It’s sweet.
|Elder Bellini and Elder Marsh|
|Elder Marsh with Elder Hatch, the executive secretary|
|The Escritorio Staff|
Monday, October 27, 2014
|Missionary Slumber Party|
We had a cool week with a mission tour on Wednesday. The whole mission participated, so on Tuesday night our house had 8 missionaries who had traveled to Belo Horizonte for the tour. We only have 2 beds in our house so 6 missionaries had to sleep on the tile floor for a night. haha I don’t think missionaries really mind.
We learned about a new way of doing contacts with Elder Antunes. It’s like this: "Hi, we're representatives of Jesus Christ and we are here searching for God's elect children. We'd like to go to your home now to say a prayer and bless your family." I like it…It’s simple and powerful. What’s different is we don’t say anything about a church because that usually chases away people. In Brazil there are 2 or 3 different churches on every street, so people get tired of hearing about churches, but everyone here loves God and prayer!
Marcia was baptized on Saturday! She’s the mom of the less active girls that a member brought back to church. She’s one of the most firm baptisms that I’ve had yet. She could hardly wait to be baptized and was so happy afterwards. When she got the gift of the Holy Ghost she said she felt a heat start from her feet and then rise up to her chest...cool stuff.
The zone was super blessed too. Saturday morning our zone of 18 missionaries only had 1 baptism planned for the weekend, so Elder Bravo and I called every companionship and told them, "Red Alert! There are God’s children waiting to be saved in our zone, and we just have to find them!" We made a new rule for the day that every lesson and street contact had to have a baptismal invitation. At 4 o’clock we got a call that the Elders had found a family of 4 who was just waiting to baptized. They were baptized 3 hours later! It’s so fun to watch the Lord’s work happen.
I love the work.
PS That was such a funny analogy that Chris gave in his talk. Elder Bravo and I laughed a lot. I love the story of Lori. Missionary work is so good.
|Elder Dunford and his Parents|
Monday, October 20, 2014
Things are heating up in Belo Horizonte. There have been record highs this past week and we are in a pretty serious drought. I figured out why God gave us eyebrows...they’re to keep the sweat on your forehead from dripping into your eyes. Yeah, I sweated a lot this week.
We had another miracle happen on Wednesday. Every Sunday we get a list of less active members to visit. We were trying to visit a family who had gone inactive a few years ago but no one knew why. When we knocked on the door we were greeted by lots of little kids. We went in and started talking to the father. His wife was a firm member of the church, but died suddenly from some health problems she had. We could see that he was discouraged and a little run down. Working and taking care of 5 little kids is not easy for him. We talked for a while, the spirit was strong, and he decided that he would start taking his kids to church the way his wife always had. He needs the gospel so bad. His daughter was baptized yesterday and he was so proud and happy with the decision she made. He should be baptized shortly as well.
I'm so happy with the members here in Progresso. Real growth in the church comes because of the members, not because of the missionaries. Our ward is a little small but the members are firm in their callings and testimonies. Last week the young woman’s president, Shirley, visited some less active girls and then brought them to church on Sunday. We went to visit the family and found out that their mom and brother weren’t members. The whole family went to church yesterday and now wants to be baptized as well! All of this because Shirley wanted to fulfill her calling. I love it.
Today has already been awesome! I met Elder Dunford’s parents! They came and said hello when we were studying. I was so happy. I love Elder Dunford, and it was so good to meet his parents.
I love you,
Monday, October 13, 2014
|Baptism of Yola with Elder Marsh, Bravo and Sisters Amado and Holmes|
This week was so awesome--just full of miracles. First, Elder Bravo and I had a way cool experience baptizing the Sisters' investigator in our zone. Her name is Yola, and she's Daniel's (The awesome ward mission leader from my last area) grandmother. We participated in her baptism because she is Bolivian and only speaks Spanish, so Elder Bravo taught her most of what she needed for her to be baptized. It's interesting because since her daughter and Daniel where baptized, she had always been very against the church. She was very Catholic for her whole life and didn’t want to accept a new religion. But since she has been in a wheel chair and completely dependent on her daughter, she has been going to church. Her heart was softened and she decided to be baptized! She is 83 years old and doesn’t walk, so Elder Bravo and I baptized her together. I held her above the water in my arms while Elder Bravo said the prayer, and then we lowered her into the water. It was really a spiritual experience, and it was way fun to work together with other missionaries in our zone. The Sisters in the picture are Sister Amado and Sister Holmes. Sister Amado finishes her mission this week, and it definitely ended on a good note.
|Baptism of Marcos|
We were super blessed in our area too. On Wednesday night we were heading back home and passed Marcos' Barber Shop. I had been told that he had already been to church a few times and had received all the lessons but wasn’t baptized. After walking a few steps down the street, I felt the impression that we should go back and talk to Marcos. He welcomed us in and we talked about the gospel. At the end Elder Bravo invited him to be baptized Sunday, and he accepted saying, "It'll be so good to be clean." Awesome!
I love you,
Monday, October 6, 2014
First a funny story. Converts to the church are so awesome. They are so excited about the gospel even if they don’t understand it perfectly. Our Elders Quorum President, Bras, has been a member for a little more than a year and is 83 years old. Last week, Bishop asked him to bare his testimony about the importance of prophets and conference. Bras went to the pulpit and said, “Prophets are really important. I know that Thomas JOHNSON is a prophet of god."
Conference was way cool. I loved the people giving talks in their native languages. I am a little biased, but Elder Godoy gave one of the best talks. I liked the question he made, “If I continue living the way I am, will I receive my promised blessings?" Sometimes we have to change to do something that is a little bit more difficult, but it’s totally worth the blessing that come after.
|One of the Districts in our Zone|
Elder Bravo and I had a great week. We had a Mission Leadership Counsel with president Fortunato on Thursday. It’s always so fun to hear President speak. The counsel was short and to the point. "You need to be better." The goal for our mission in the month of October is a high one. We are going to have to work harder than ever but I’m excited to see a miracle happen.
This week we are going to have a sweet baptism. Our investigator, Valdo, who WAS an alcoholic hasn’t drunken in 2 weeks and stopped smoking last week! I’m so stoked for him. His family has been totally impressed with the changes he is making in his life and his baptism will only make things even better. "Baptism is the end of a process and the start of a life."
I love it.