Friday, June 20, 2014

Week of Miracles and the World Cup

This has been a week of miracles. We feel successful. 
About 2 months ago, when my companion Elder Costa e Silva got here, he use to struggle starting to speak to people. Which is normal to start the mission a little hesitant to approach people and start teaching every where you go. As I was attempting to explain the principles of being natural about it, and why we do it, he looked across the road and saw a 20 year old girl at a bus stop. He said to me after we passed. ´That girl needed the gospel.´ I responded ´what girl? You wanna go back?´ Fearful, he started to say no. Said it would be weird or awkward. I told him, it only will be if you make it, what do you think the Lord would want you to do. He hesitated, but chose to go back. He was only able to ask the girl her name, Lois,  then the bus pulled up and she left. 
It was a rather insignificant experience for me. But to my companion he felt great sadness for hesitating,and unable to actually get an address or invite her to church. I told him not to worry, that there will be lots of opportunities. I would estimate we have spoken to over 1,000 people in our time together. We have had profound experiences, and met amazing people. Yet, he never forgot that one. A person he had only managed to ask their name.  He spoke about her nearly every day for the next few weeks. He had dreams of her dressed in white at her baptism. I thought it was interesting and kind of funny. But I heeded his pleadings to pass by the same bus stop at the same time at every reasonable opportunity, but did not find her again. Until, last week. We were invited to play basketball with some people, and were at the bus stop to go to the court. We began talking to another girl waiting for the bus as well. Amazingly, we found out she was the cousin of Lois, and they live together. We found Lois!. Yesterday we taught them both in a powerful spirit filled lesson. But most of all I am grateful for my companion´s example of constant prayer every night to find her again. And we did. He has taught me much. I am so grateful for this time I had to serve with Elder Costa e Silva and be his trainer. He was raised in the church with great parents, but had faced some great challenges in his life. Through the healing power of the Savior, he overcame and forgave. He is a powerful missionary. He has overcome his fears and teaches boldly with love. I no longer look at him as a companion but as a life-long friend. This week has been an amazing one. We laugh often, dance, and sing. We have had moments that we have cried together, cried for the pain and sins we see.  But the greatest moment is when we weeped, not of sorrow, but from the witness we have recieved that we are not alone.  Never have been, and never will be. Our hearts burn within us. Humbly I tell what I know for myself. Jesus is the Christ. He is infinitly loving, merciful, kind, and paitent. As we study His life, and search in the scriptures for His character, we will find greater joy and know how we must also live. He is our example.  I know He lives.  p.s  I´m going to a conference tomorrow (man, that bus ride again)   And I´m excited, it´s nearly the whole mission, President has asked me to sing for one of the numbers as well.     

Destry's letter for Fathers day 

Oi Daddio
Deserted. The city was Completely abandoned. On The 12th of June the normal rush of music, people, stores, carts, horses, cars, fruit barrels, even the beans and rice in the city were completely gone. Everything was shut down in the afternoon. In the distance a slight yelling could be heard. I felt like I was in the Walking Dead, fully ready for the zombies to start coming out. 
It was the day of Brazil in a soccer game for the world cup. Everyone, and I mean everyone (except for some Mormon missionaries, who weren´t allowed) were watching the game intensely.  The city looks like spirit week in high school, but bigger. Christmas here wasn´t this big. There are tons of flags and people are all dressed in jerseys of players, it´s neat. 
The one place open would be a gas station, but would still have the game on for the workers. 
I went into our church, at it was full of people, more than I´ve seen before,  just jammed in there in the dark eating popcorn with a projector and the game on. We said ´oh, ok, when we cleaned the church yesterday nobody comes.....but now ya´ll here.....and where were ya´ll for general conference?´ 
So, during the hours of the game for the next few weeks, we just go home. There´s nothing we can do, except watch the fireworks that go off when Brazil scores a goal. 
Happy Father´s day. I´m Sorry you and I got jibbed not getting to talk today like mother´s day. I still look up to you, I always will. Some missionaries have asked me where I get all my energy to work and work and work and have fun. It´s just the way my dad raised me. I´m so grateful for you. I love you!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Teaching people not lessons

Mom, I love your stories and how much you love the primary kids. It´s inspiring. I love how creative you are in teaching simply. I want to be more like you. You teach children truths that will stay and help them through their entire lives. You don´t teach a lesson, you teach children. That´s what I want to do. I want to teach the people, not lessons. I want to help them find the truth through inspiring and uplifting ways that causes them to seek it out for themselves.  I would like to respond the same way when I get a transfer call to another area, ´Oh President, please don´t take me away from Barreiras, I love those People!´ 
Let me just tell you of 2 amazing people we love deeply. Ricardo (in his 30´s) and Nilda (in her 50´s). They are just an amazing couple. We met them on the street. They invited us in with warmth and kindness. They were touched by who we are as missionaries, Nilda a week later said ´It´s just so amazing the job you guys do. Away from home for 2 years. You don´t gain any money, in fact you pay for your mission. You´re not here to increase membership of your church, or anything like that. You´re here to bring people to Christ, unselfishly serving and loving others. The night I met you I was so profoundly touched I couldn´t sleep or stop thinking about it. I thought, with people like you in the world, how can I be so prideful? How can I be so selfish? How can I get angry and be impaitent with others? I should be better.´ 
Ricardo and Nilda invited a neighbor or a friend over each time we went to visit them. Every time we go by, there are about 4 new people that they had invited over to hear us. They tell their friends ´Oh, these are the missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints, they aren´t paid anything, they are just loving people here to help us. Listen to them.´
Ricardo is a man I believe will one day be baptized and become a great leader here. He works as a sercuity gaurd, but has a big heart. He expressed to us his desire to change his life, and help us in bringing others to christ. 
A good friend of mine Elder Hunter Muse recently told me, ´we are to bring these people to christ, literally take them by the hand and put their hand in the hands of the savior, we can´t do that if we don´t know where He is................we don´t need to worry about a number of baptism or anything like that, when we focus of the Lord Jesus Christ and follow his example, baptism will just be a natural consequence, our purpose is to first bring them to the Savior.´ 
I bear my witness that I know He lives. He goes with us and with you in the callings of His kingdom on the earth. 
Love you!  

Lilly wrote Daylen a letter letting him know of her upcoming birthday and her future baptism
Here is his response.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!! I love you so much!!!!! Wow, it seems just like a couple weeks ago I wrote you a letter for your birthday for last year. Time is flying by my little pet shop unicorn. (Do they have unicorns? They´re good pets.) Lilly, I´m so proud of you and your decision to be baptized, write how you feel in a journal! 
I do remember Joslyn, I remember her baptism, she was my role model, and when I saw her and dad I wanted to do it to. I remember being worried that the water might be cold, but dad told me it would be warm. The water was, we entered in  dad said a prayer,  As  he spoke I was impressed by what he said and I remember having a feeling of our dad is a man of Christ. Then it was over quickly. It was super  cold  changing back into normal clothes. I thought it was over. But I remember Grandpa Hatch there, he and our dad and some other men, had me sit in a chair. I didn´t understand fully why. But they gave me the gift of the Holy Ghost. I had just a really good feeling when they gave a blessing, I felt so much lighter and happier after. 
I am reminded of my baptism each time I see one on my mission. I´ve spoken at 2 this past week, Gilberto and Barbara were baptized. Now, I understand deeper the promises we make and the blessings we recieve, and I am so grateful for my own. The angels of heaven will look down at your baptism with joy.

I love youLilly 

Monday, June 2, 2014

`For that which ye do send out, shall return unto you again.´

This week has been impressing. Often, if not daily, in the mission field we face disappointments. Disappointments with investigators, less actives, and sometimes in ourselves. Although this week, there have been many who impressed us and placed smiles on our faces. Among them was a woman named Vivane, a wife and a mother of 3. We met her sitting outside in the front of her house on Tuesday. We sat with her, taught the restoration of the Gospel and gave her a Book of Mormon. I didn´t think much of it, though she seemed to have the potential of being a great investigator. She had been to many churches, but never felt right about joining any of them. She gave a sincere prayer to understand the Book of Mormon and what´s true. 
We passed by again only 2 days later, we asked if she had read the part we marked (3 Nephi 11). She said she hadn´t got there yet, she wanted to start from the beginning. We asked what she did manage to read. She opened the book to show where she had stopped, she read 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, Jocob, ect. She was at the end of Mosiah! She had started from the title page of the Book of Mormon and gave an impressive summary of the story of Nephi´s family leaving Jerusalem and coming to the Americas. She bore a testimony that she knew it true, because she has the same feeling she has when reading the bible, except the Book of Mormon is clearer. 
Another impressive investigator was 18 year old Jildson, he was invited to church by a friend the recent member, Hogo. It was Jildson´s first time at church, (though he did come the day before with Hogo to clean the church) he arrived in jeans and a t-shirt carrying some kind of Science book. Yesterday was an amazing testimony meeting, there were many. I especially enjoyed the one from the young Kedson, who spoke about waiting for his baptism for over 3 years, and now he´s happy. Jildson was moved as well, he got up and bore his testimony. Shortly after, in the Priesthood meeting, we were, well, talking about the priesthood and ordinances, Jildson rose his hand and asked a question. ´eu posso me batizar no próximo domingo?´ Which means, for you Americans, "Can I be baptized next week?" 
I also had the great privilege to interview 14 year old Pirulito (his name means lollipop), to be baptized here. His smile and joy in feeling that he had repented of everything was amazing. He was invited to church weeks ago by Hogo as well. Hogo was ordained a Priest on Sunday, and had the opportunity to baptize his friend.    That was a really special. 
Thank you so much for everything. I feel so utterly and eternally grateful for my parents. I feel so grateful just to be here. Just the thought of returning home at the end of the mission brings huge mixed feelings, that I don´t like to think about it. I have learned this week that we really will receive what we put out. I learned this in our relationship with the Savior as well. I desire so badly that He will embrace me with His arms of love, despite all my faults. I think of how I would want Him to treat me now, than I strive to treat others in that way. I want Him to walk with me, uplift me, love me, inspire and encourage. Never condemn or make me feel bad about who I am, rather help me overcome through mercy and understanding, and love. Thus, it´s what I´ve been trying to do with others. When we live in this Love in serving others, we come to know Him. I know He lives. `For that which ye do send out, shall return unto you again.´ (Alma 41:15)