Sunday, May 10, 2015

Homecoming Talk

I was thinking about things have changed since I have been gone.  I was looking out on this group here and I half of you I don’t even know.  My name is Jordan Marsh and I have been in Brazil these last two years.  I wasn’t less active, I was just in Brazil.  I was thinking about my mission and how it really affected my life and I was thinking about two experiences I had—one at the very beginning, before I even left and one at the very end that I had with my mission president. And these two moments I had really had an effect on my mission and really made the difference for me.  The first experience I had was with Elder Evans.  He was here right before I left.  I remember sitting right here and before he left he said, “Jordan before I leave I want to say something to you. I want to ask you a question.”  I said, “Alright.”  He said, “You are going to be a missionary now.  What will you do?”  I thought that was a pretty good question.  I said, “I will teach the gospel.  I will help people be baptized.  I will do something.”  He said, “Nope.  You need to be perfectly obedient.” That changed my mission forever, and it changed my life forever.  Through our obedience we receive blessings from God.   It is the first law of heaven and really the most important.
One of the last experiences I had I was talking to the mission president and he was giving me a little advice before I went home,  for my life.  He said, “Remember patience.  Patience is a fact of faith.”  That really affected me too.  I thought about these two things, obedience and patience and how they are really related. How obedience to the Lord’s commandments brings blessings but we have to wait for these blessings.  Patience is a lot different than we think sometimes.  We think that patience is just waiting.  For example wait for the bus to pass by in the Brazilian streets in the hot sun.  That is patience which we learned a lot, and there is also patience where we are waiting for the Lord’s blessings.  I have a couple experiences where I learned a lot about that.
One of the examples had to do with the last few weeks of my mission where we were asked by the mission president to help as many people as we could.  To go out and teach as many people as we could and he promised us that if we would teach all that we could and work as hard as we could that week and do exactly what they need that we would be blessed with a baptism a week, which the most exciting thing in the world for a missionary. To see someone get baptized is the most wonderful thing in the world.  He promised that blessing to us.  We were pretty excited, me and my companion, because we already had someone that was ready to be baptized that week.  We were pretty excited that it was coming up on Saturday, and then we got a phone call on Thursday night.  Our investigator told us he had a few problems that he needed to resolve and he was actually going to be raveling for a few weeks. We were pretty bummed about that.  It was our baptism for that Saturday, but we didn’t get down.  We thought we weren’t working hard enough. We needed to be obedient so the blessings would come. We decided to ask the bishop what we should do.  We called up the bishop and said, “Bishop, where do you want us to work?  We’ll do anything we can.”  He said, "You need to work in the center of the city."  We thought,  Ok.  The center of the city is pretty hard to work because there are a lot of big buildings and the doormen won’t let the missionaries in. So we said we would start with our building, because we could get in there and there are about 5000 people that live there. So that was a pretty good place to start. We started on our floor, knocking on every door .  The third door we knocked on the lady opened the door and looked at us. She just looked at our faces and then she invited us in.  We talked to her a little bit and taught her about the gospel.  The next day she prayed and received an answer and wanted to be baptized.  We said, “ok, when?”  She said, “as soon as possible.”  She came to church on Sunday and was baptized that day.  She told us afterwards that she had been praying for that.  She said that when we came to her door she thought we were angels.  I could just tell how our obedience and our patience and knowing the Lord would bless us brought the blessings.  Sometimes it doesn’t happen that fast.  Sometimes it is a little bit slower.  In our mission the leaders ask us to talk to everyone in the street and ask them if they had been to church before. If they had been to church they would be a good person to be baptized.  So we went out and were talking to everyone in the street.  We talked to this lady that hadn’t been to church but said she could receive us that day and then I was transferred that week.  I thought that was weird because we were told that if we talk to everyone we would have a baptism that week, but I was transferred that week.  I went ahead and contacted the next missionary that was there and he contacted that lady and because of her and her family they were going to be baptized in the next few months.  The blessing was realized.  The blessings were kept, we were inspired and in the Lord’s time the blessings were kept.
I know these things are true and through our obedience and our patience that in the Lord’s time we will always be blessed and we will see miracles happen.  As we desire to do the Lord’s will we will see miracles happen in our lives.

I really like these two topics too because it really relates to motherhood.  The most patient people in the world have to be mothers.  Having patience as a  mother isn’t just about having to deal with rowdy kids or sassy teenagers but it has to do with being able to see what their kids can become.  Not just who they are right now, but what they may become afterwards.  So mothers have this power.  They have this ability, this vision like God does, to see His children for what they may become. Mothers see this vision and they look at their kids and they teach their kids in that way.  They are an artist in the way they help their kids fulfill their full potential.  I am so grateful for a mother who taught me these things, who is very patient with me, and who has really blessed my life. I owe her so much.  I am so grateful for the examples of mothers I had in the mission as well.  I think about the mothers in Brazil.  In a lot of places in Brazil there are slums that are really dangerous. In these slums there are houses built upon houses and narrow streets about as wide as this pulpit. You walk in the streets and there is sewage in the road and there are little kids playing in the road with their toys.  A lot of the reason they are there is because they don’t have mother figures in their life.  They don’t have parents to really take care of them.  We would see kids from the age of three or four going to get bread.  They would walk a half mile and get the bread and return all by themselves.  These kids would flock to places where they could feel love.  There was a lady in our ward, whose name was Camita, who was a very powerful woman.  She was about 80 years old.  She was a very powerful woman, and when she would shake your hand she would squeeze it very tight--tighter than I could squeeze hers.  She would always bring people to church, bring the kids to church.  Her whole street would call her grandma or mom and she would bring them because her house was a house of love. Her house was a way out of the streets.  Whenever you would go to her house you would see a lot of kids.  Her kids were already grown but she would be there with a lot of kids around making pao de quejo, salty cheese bread.  It was really great to see her working like that, because these kids didn’t really have their mothers or their fathers.  They really didn’t have any way to grow unless someone provides for them.   I know that through this gospel mothers become better mothers.  Their mission goes beyond this life.  They see their kids as they may become, not just in this life but in the life to come as well. 

I am really grateful for the opportunity I had to be a missionary--to go and teach the people and to serve. I am so grateful for the blessings of the Lord.  I really do believe that this church is true.  I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.  I know these things. I know that patience is of faith and that through faith we receive power, and power from God cannot be taken away from us.  I know that this church was restored by a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true also.  I have seen these things change people’s lives for the past two years. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The kick

Dear Mom,

I dont even know what to say. "The time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream." That scripture in Jacob starts to convey my feeling. 

This last week was awesome! We had two great meetings with President Fortunato. On Wednesday, we had a meeting with all the missionaries that have gotten on the mission since the beginning of the year and their companions. We split up the group and elder Juergens and I did practices with these elders for 3 hours! Thats a lot of time but it goes by so fast. I love teaching, so naturally I love practices! Presidente stayed with the others groups and gave some inspiring work about hard work and diligence. He always teaches the most simple things about the gospel: Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the Holy Ghost.  If we have a missionary has a strong testimony, he will always work hard. How could a missionary be disobedient or have a bad work ethic if he knows exactly who he's serving? Heavenly Father truly expects the best from us.

On Thursday, we went to the city of Riberão das Neves. There are seven companionships there and last month was very rough. We went ther with president to make some changes. After the meeting, Elder Juergens and I went on exchanges with the missionaries in a Bairro called Sevilha. At the end of the day, we found 9 new investigators and someone who is going to be baptized tonight! Such a miracle. The next day, we went to Neves, my old area, and were blessed with more miracles. I love this work so much.

Heres a picture from Helions baptism last week. I love that man.

I love you so much,
Elder Marsh

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Buzzer Beater

Dear Mom,

We had super fun week!!!!

We went to Divinópolis to watch a zone meeting that was super spiritual. All the missionaries in the zone there made "covenants" like Captain Moroni and his soldiers did to live the most highest level of obedience and hard work so that the Lord could bless them with baptisms. On Tuesday when we got there, there was no one with a baptismal date, but until now, there have already been four baptisms in their zone! After the meeting, Elder Juergens and I spent the day in Divinópolis with the zone leaders. I stayed with Elder Galvão, who was in the MTC with me. I love him, and we had a good day of work together. Elder Juergen and I then got to stay in a hotel, which was also super nice because I got to get a good sleep. Side note: We live in an awesome apartment on the 18th floor of the building that is on the right hand side of that picture I attached. The only problem is that we have to sleep with the windows open to keep the room cool, and the noise from the city takes a toll on your sleep after a few months. I’ve gotten used to it though I think. The next day we went to Pará de Minas, which is an awesome area, but that was having troubles with having baptisms in the past few months. We had an awesome time working with the elders there, and there were two baptisms in Para de Minas today!

The Lord really does just bless us so much. This week while we spent most of the time away from our area, we were worried about how our investigators would do. Yesterday night though, we taught Helion who got back from a trip recently. He decided that he would be baptized today! He is the greatest. He is from Rio de Janeiro and moved here about a month ago. His roommate is a returned missionary so getting him integrated in the ward was very easy!

I love the gospel and missionary work. It’s the greatest!

Elder Marsh

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Que Bencao

We got some really awesome news this week! Do you remember Graça, who was baptized in the end of December, when I was here with Elder Bellini? Well, when we were in the process of teaching her, she had broken her shoulder, and the doctors had told her that she was going to need surgery to get it fixed. (Something about how the ligaments had stretched out, and because of her old age, they were no longer able to hold her arm into place.) She was very worried about this and told us that she only wanted to be baptized after her surgery. We felt impressed to tell her that if she was baptized, she would no longer need surgery and that she would be healed. So she took a leap of faith and was baptized. Now after a few months, she said to us this week, "Remember what you had promised me before I was baptized? Well I went to the doctor, and he gave a definite answer about the surgery. He said that I would no longer need it because the arm had healed itself sufficiently!" I am so grateful for the Lord keeping the promise that we had made.

The mission leadership council meeting was this week and it was one of the greatest we have had yet. President Fortunato had asked us to prepare our trainings about teaching techniques, and we had prepared them. But the morning of the council, President asked us to change and talk about focus and hard work, and to hear the missionaries as much as possible. He is an inspired man. The missionaries really opened up, and we had some spiritual experiences talking about how hard work really does make the difference. We made some awesome goals together, and we could just feel the power in the room. President said at one point, "Look Elders. Your calling starts when it begins and only ends when it's over!" Maybe that’s obvious, but it was a great reminder for us all to endure to the end in any calling or situation!

I love you so much, and the mission is just great. The elders that serve with us are amazing examples, and President and Sister Fortunato are truly inspired.I am ataching two pages that Izabel(baptized 2 weeks ago) wrote bearing her testamony. Its actually very touching. See if dad can translate it for you. If not, let me know and I can type it up in English.

Elder Marsh

Saturday, April 11, 2015

CRAZY week

Dear Mom,

I loved conference weekend. It always seems to come at the time that we need it most. My favorite talk was from President Monson in the Priesthood session. He said something very powerful: "Doing all I can, to the very best of my ability, has been my goal in any position I have ever held." Is that how one becomes a prophet? It sounds like it. The constant and consistent dedication for a lifetime of God's work must bring the spirituality he needs. 

This week was way good but also very very eventful. Presidente Fortunato was called to be an area 70! He is about to get even busier with his combined responsibilities! He was in Utah the whole week of general conference and came back to mission on Tuesday night. That same night we had to call the mission about transfers. That’s fun because we tell the missionaries when they'll be transferred at 9 o’clock pm and they have to be in the central bus station at 8 o’clock am...they get pretty anxious to know what will happen the next day.  This transfer we got 9 new missionaries and 19 went home! That was a lot of people and we had to go to and from the airport 5 times to get the new missionaries and send off the olds (that meant waking up at 4 am two days in a row so that they didn’t miss their flights and eating pizza for lunch and dinner for two days, because we didn’t have time to go to members homes). I love the mission! It’s crazy at times but always fun.

Elder Bunch left the office to become a zone leader on Wednesday. It was sad because we've gotten pretty close. We served for a transfer in Lagoa together and then served here in the office for 5 months! He's a great friend and an awesome example. He'll see miracles in his new area!

Izabel was baptized and is so stoked about it! She is telling all of her friends about the church and we'll be getting some referrals soon. Her baptism was such a miracle. I could hardly believe it when we entered into the font together. 

I love you so much.

Elder Marsh

We went to a Brazilian photography exhibition from the 1940s today.  Hope you don't mind but I spent some money buying some Brazilian things that are pretty cool.  Here are some pictures.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

General Conference

Dear Mom,

Thanks for the pictures! I love seeing the family together. It looks way fun! When does Ryan leave? And who is that next to Chris in the picture? If you start building a house, when would it be ready?!

This week was so awesome! So full of miracles! First of all, we got a new group of 9 missionaries on the mission! I love getting new missionaries because they are always so stoked to be here and their only desire is to help others come unto Christ through baptism!

Elder Juergen and I talked to our bishop this week and he asked us to start working more in the center of the city. It was kind of difficult at first because everyone is so busy so street contacts weren’t working out.   There really aren’t many members of the church who live here, so we changed our approach. The main problem is getting into the large buildings, but we can get into one...ours! and ours has 5 thousand people living in it! We started knocking on our neighbor’s doors and giving them pass along cards as an "Easter Present." Most of them love it! Our building is full of Brazilian hippies and foreigners.  We taught a guy from New Zealand named Steve who told us all about how his religion was playing cricket...? It was fun but he was not interested. But we actually ended up finding a super elect lady on our floor who will be baptized tomorrow! Her name is Izabel, and she told us that she has been waiting for missionaries to find her her whole life. It’s so awesome! She makes amazing summaries of the chapters of the Book of Mormon after she reads them 4 or 5 times so she can remember. I don’t know if I have ever taught someone who is so ready. I know that the Lord is at the front of this work and that he prepares his children. The work that we have to do is find those that are ready. 

Also, we started a mission Journal! I'll send you an attachment.

Lets get ready for conference! I love you mom,

Elder Marsh