Monday, January 27, 2014

Strong gang of Young Men

John shared this story with Jordan:

I really liked hearing the story of Rodrigo. It's amazing what one person can do to influence so many others - both for good and for bad.
 
I remember we were teaching in the Bigorrilho ward in Curitiba.  We were tracting a newer working class neighborhood with dirt streets and no bigger than Century Oaks. We were introduced to a lady at church one Sunday, who lived in that neighborhood and had been invited by a friend. We asked if we could pass by her home that week to share a message with her and her family. She agreed but when we arrived at her door we could hear arguing within the apartment. We knocked and when the door opened we could see that the lady we had met at church had been crying. We asked if there might be a better time to come back but she insisted we come in. As we sat down the husband walked into the family room wearing military pants and boots without a shirt. He said, "My name is Magalhaes, I'm a military policeman, a tough guy, go ahead and try to teach me." We swallowed hard and began to teach.  The softening was almost immediate. He asked if we could return.  On the next visit, Mr. Magalhaes had read all that we had assigned, started obeying the word of wisdom and wanted to come to church. At church, people would ask him if he was visiting. His response, "I'm not visiting it's just my first time."  Magalhaes was known in the neighborhood as a ruffian who liked to frequent the corner bars, get in fights and generally cause a ruckus.  He, his wife and his sister were baptized. The change that was seen in him was immediate and contrasted greatly with his previously led lifestyle. Others in the neighborhood took notice and they wanted to know more about this gospel that had changed him so much. Because of Magalhaes' example, about 12 others in that neighborhood were baptized as well.
 
You never know the impact of one person, like Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah who changed their lives and became great vessels in the Lord's hands. Rodrigo made me think of that experience I had in Curitiba.

Jordan responded to John's letter:


That story is way cool.  I told my companion about it and he liked it a lot too.  Some people are so ready to hear the gospel and can influence others in the best way.  We've been really trying to focus on the young men in our ward.  There are about 10 that come every week.  Literally none of them have parents active in the church, but they have each other.  One of them is especially cool and so solid in the church.  His name is Lucas but we call him "Presidente" because he’s the teacher’s quorum president.  His whole family are members of  the church but no one else is active.  His mom lives with her boyfriend, his brother messes with a lot of sin, and his little brothers just look up to him.  He was the first young man in the ward to accept the assignment to give a talk in sacrament meeting this past week!  We went over there for an hour last week and helped him prepare the talk.  He totally killed it.
 
We are also teaching his cousin who has the same potential to be an  awesome example to his family.  His name is Ygor and he’s going to be  baptized this Saturday.  We were in a lesson last Monday night with Ygor’s family and we asked Lucas to bare testimony of the Book of  Mormon.  He said, "The Book of Mormon is true. Everything inside is the word of God. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."  It was just so simple and so powerful!  Ygor's mom was blown away.  She told us, “I already have my own church, but I want Ygor to be a part of yours." These young men are awesome. It’s not easy to make good decisions here but they know what’s  right and have no doubt that they’ll be better because of what they’re  doing.
 
Hey here’s something cool about Minas Gerais, Brazil.  Everyone here speaks at least two words of English: Why and train.  They say why all the time. Haha They spell it "uai."  Here’s a quick history lesson.  A long time ago the British came to Minas Gerais to visit the mountains and look for gold and other stuff.  The Brazilians here were doing stuff really different than how the British thought it should be done so they kept saying, "Why do they do this?" "Why is it this way?" "Why don’t they do that?" and the people here just picked it up. Uai doesn’t really have any meaning so they just throw it into sentences like,  "Uai! Just go to the store then."  "She’s my sister. uai!" "Uai! You didn’t read the scripture?" It’s pretty funny.  And train just means “thing" but only in this state of Brazil. They say "Can you get that train for me?" It doesn’t really make sense but everyone says it here.
 
I love you Dad,
 
Elder Marsh

Monday, January 20, 2014

Oil Lamp

Hey mom, I love you so much.  I hope everything was awesome on your birthday.

I forgot to tell you about a really awkward experience we had two Sundays ago.  Every couple weeks or months here the ward gives us a list of 5 names of less active members in the ward.  On Sunday we had a ward council meeting and we realized that two of the five names on
the list were IN the council meeting.  When it came to our time to talk, the bishop talked about the importance of the ward working with the missionaries to teach investigators and especially the less actives...then he asked us for the "names of the less active members the ward would focus on this month." I was just thinking "ahhhh no!" Luckily my companion is a quick thinker and said, “I just want to remind the council that these names aren’t necessarily inactive
members but just those who aren’t receiving visits from their home teachers."  Then he listed the names...I don’t think the members in the meeting were too offended, but it was a super awkward moment.

This week was pretty awesome.  We got to work a lot with the members here and found some really cool new investigators.  One of our companionship goals is to find more families to teach.  We seem to only teach individuals, but the gospel was built especially for families!  We found some awesome couples who have young kids and would really help out our ward.  Our mission has been really focusing on "real growth" in the church where the people who get baptized stay active for a long time afterwards and do work in the gospel.  We have some high expectations for these families!

Last night was really fun.  We had weekly planning, but we didn’t have any energy in our house.  We only had one flash light and no candles. Being the dedicated missionaries we are...we starting looking for solutions to the light problem so that we could plan an awesome week. Looking around our messy house, we found enough supplies to make oil lamps.  We have these weird tiny metal bowls, and we cut a hole in the bottom of one of them. We cut a t-shirt to get a strip of cotton, and then soaked it in cooking oil. Then we put the strip of cotton through the hole in the tiny bowl and put that on top of another tiny bowl full of oil. It worked! The lamp gave us enough light to plan for the week.  It was actually really disappointing when the lights turned back on like 20 minutes later.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Marsh

They had the oil for their lamps...they were prepared!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rodrigo's baptism



Happy Birthday Mom! I hope it’s great.  What are you all planning on doing? Disney sounded awesome. Those pictures are great.  But hey Chris! Dude! Be careful ok? That picture is nuts.  I’m glad you’re all ok!

This week was awesome. Rodrigo got baptized!  He had a lot of family support at the baptism.  His grandma and a few of his cousins came. Everything went really smooth.  The next day he got confirmed and received the priesthood, so next Sunday he'll get to pass the sacrament!

Happy Day for Rodrigo, Elder Marsh and Elder Clark
The young men in our ward are really cool.  There’s about 7 of them that come every week.   They are always together and look like a gang of kids when they walk around church.  Sometimes they get into trouble because they eat all the food in the fridge without asking haha.   Sunday, they ate a cake that Elder Clark and I bought for the ward council meeting! The cool thing though is that they all come to   church by themselves because either their parents aren’t members or they are inactive. Hopefully we can do some work with their families!

Jacob's Selfie
We have a really cool member in our ward here.  He’s in one of the pictures--the one where the guy with the beard took a picture of himself.  You might be thinking, "Hey that guy looks super American!"  He is. His name is Jacob and he’s from Washington state and served a mission in Sao Paulo. He married a girl from our ward that he met when he was in the MTC. He’s the ward mission leader here, so we do a lot of visits together. It’s strange because two Americans walking down the street look out of place and now we have three!  Jake is really funny though, and the investigators like him a lot.

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting yesterday. I was super nervous, but it went pretty well...I think. I hope the members actually understood what I said.  I know I messed up a little when I was talking about the story of Ammon guarding the king’s sheep.  I accidently said that the men tried to attack Ammon with "mirrors" instead of swords.  That may sound like a hard thing to mix up but the words are similar in Portuguese haha.  Espelho and espada.

Basically the talk I gave was about the importance of speaking up about the Church of Jesus Christ.  As members, we are super different than the rest of the world.  We eat differently, drink differently, speak differently, dress differently......People notice that! People question, "Why does he do that?" so our job is to respond!  Everyone needs the gospel whether they know it or not.  But some people will never get the chance to learn about the gospel unless we talk to them about it.  There is a scripture I like that talks about this in
 

 1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

This church is true and I love you,

Elder Marsh

 

Elder Clark, Rodrigo and Elder Marsh

Rodrigo's baptism with all his family

 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Transfer


January 6, 2014

So we had transfers this week.  I left the Vale do Jatoba and headed
to my new area called RibeirĂ£o das Neves.  The name translates to "Big
Creek of Snow." I think that’s funny because I’m positive this place
has never had snow and never will.  The area is awesome.  The members
here really like to work!  So far, almost all of our lessons have been
with a member.  My new companion is Elder Clark.  He's from Mapleton,
Utah.  It’s a town his ancestors founded right outside of Provo.  This
is his last transfer of the mission, and he will be heading home in
February.  Elder Clark is seriously an awesome missionary.  He teaches
so well!  Our investigators probably are the most prepared people that
I’ve met on the mission.  I have a lot to learn in these few weeks that
he’s still here.

One of our investigators is a 13 year old boy named Rodrigo.  He likes
soccer, flying kites, junk food, and learning about the restored
gospel of Jesus Christ.  He’s seriously awesome!  I don’t know if any of
you have seen the pamphlets that missionaries hand out to people, but
they are usually ten pages long with lots of pictures and questions in
the back that people can answer.  The questions aren’t super easy, but
Rodrigo has read every pamphlet and filled out all the questions!  He’s
not baptized yet, but he is the kid that wakes up the other members
his age and brings them to church!  I think he will be a general
authority... He hasn’t had an easy life though.  Both of his parents
are in jail, his three brothers sell drugs in Rio de Janeiro.  Rodrigo
is a smart kid and wants to have a better life than most of his
family.

Right now the cool thing to do in Minas Gereis is fly kites.  The kids
make them out of dry bamboo and trash bags.  The kite skills of these
kids is very impressive.  The kites only have one string, but they can
make them go right, left, up, and down...I don’t understand the science
behind it all.  The coolest thing is they have kite wars.  If your
string cuts the other kite's string, you win.  The string they use is
special for battles.  They dip the string in a mixture of water, glue,
and broken shards of glass and then pronto...you have a deadly weapon.
It’s nuts and super illegal!

Happy Birthday Chris!  18 years old! That’s awesome dude.  Keep up the good work.

I love you guys,

Elder Marsh