Friday, August 22, 2014

Come Back 8/18/14

We had transfers, my new companion is Elder Reynalds from Layton, Utah. He´s the most humble missionary I´ve met. A great desire to get better and learn and work hard. We´ve become close friends quickly and have learned so much together. We laugh quick and often.
We are so grateful for the amazing opportunity we´ve had working here. We´ve been having lots of lessons with less-actives and the Lord´s been doing miracles. With each less-active returning to church they almost always bring someone who´s not a member with them. 
As we´ve prayed, we´ve been finding many. On one occasion a 15 year old girl came sprinting across the road to stop us, trying to catch her breath she told us her name was Bionca. She´s from my first area Alagoinhas (I know her aunt), she´s a member of the church, but when she moved here a year ago she stopped going because she didn´t know where the church was. In tears, she expressed how she felt so alone. Her parents separated and are not members, her older brother had passed away and just the day before she had knelt done and asked God `have you abandoned me?´ 
When she saw us, she felt a large impression of ´I haven´t abandoned you, you´ve abandoned me.´ She ran over, and felt her prayer was answered. She´s came back to church. 
We have learned so much, how we must get out of the way of the spirit, so He can teach. Sometimes that´s asking a question that invites revelation and personal reflection, other times that means just shutting up and listening. At the home of a less active woman named Kelly, who hasn´t been to church in years, we knelt down with her and said a prayer, we looked her in the eyes and said ´If the Savior was Here, Here´s what He´d say to you......´Then we just sat there in the silence. My companion and I praying quietly that He may speak through us, but in that silence, before we spoke, Kelly began to cry. Then the words came `Come back.´  She has. 
I know the mission, truly is the university of the Lord. I´ve learned things that I would have never learned had I not come. I feel so much more fully prepared to return home and become as the Lord would have. I love you all so much. 

Reactivating Members 8/11/14

Late at night my companion and I were on our knees praying, and my companion asked an inspired question ´what is the greatest thing I could learn on the mission?´The answer came, was ´To Become.´
We then began to discuss and receive revelation. We spent about an hour of excitement writing down impressions and getting back on our knees asking if there was more. But in short, we learned the greatest thing we can learn here is the process of how to become. If we learn to become, we can learn to be whatever the Lord would have us be. All the rules and life-style are to help us become missionaries. We are to become humble, faithful, charitable, patient, and all other good things.  The word BE COME means  literally through the atonement of the savior we change. BE COME is the past tense or the after affect of us living the savior invite to come unto Him. How do we become? We become when we are willing to sacrifice everything we are for that which we could be. We, through Him, can become a missionary, a spouse, a parent, a church leader, successful, most importantly we become like Him, our fullest potential. Become as God is.  
Our purpose is to invite others to COME unto Christ, so that they (and us) can BECOME like Him, through us arms where we are WELCOME. (As Joslyn once taught me, we are welcomed at all church meetings to become)  
It is the moment we decide to do something, that we start this process, and give our will to His.
We aren´t accepted of Lord when we are perfect. We are accepted once we decide to act. ´Decisions do determine destiny.´ (Thomas S. Monson) 

I got THE PACKAGE!!! Oh you guys are trunking me out, I was good before, working hard, but I open the package and see all the love notes and the pillow and all other things I´ve asked for and you guys gonna make me cry. It was awesome, just got here this week. 

This transfer has been so amazing. I have changed so much, I feel more confidence, love, and joy. We´ve been focusing on the less-actives here, once we learned there are about 150 active members and over 600 inactive. As Gordon B. Hinkley said ´If they are worthy of baptizing they are worthy of saving.´ One has told me that here in our state of Bahia, there are enough members to have 2 temples by now, if we could just active the members we already have. The closest temple is far away in another state, so let´s get going! We´ve been creating good relationships with active members, who take us to the homes of inactives, I have come to know on a much deeper level the power of the Atonement of Christ through the sacrament as I often pondered why we go to church. I bear witness of that divine sacrifice, I know He gave his body and blood for each of us, we can´t give up, we must be strong, because He was. 
A 55 year old woman named Angela was baptized 8 years ago, months after seeing the amazing change the baptism of her daughter Ana had done to her. Angela struggled with an addiction to coffee before her baptism, but over-came and told us at her baptism she felt amazing, so clean, and uplifted. But, later, fell short and began to feel unworthy to take the sacrament, returned to drinking coffee, stopped going to church, stopped reading scriptures, etc.  
We asked her if she could feel the same way now, that she felt at her baptism, she said she couldn´t and asked why the Lord would do that, and leave her. We told her, that the Lord never leaves us, it´s us who leaves him, and then we try to fill our lives with sins to fill in that emptiness we feel from the lack of His presence. We testified and read of his love from the Book of Mormon. Than we invited her to repent, to quick drinking Coffee in the moment and return to church. She responded she would try. But as Yoda once said ´Do or do not, there is no try´ Because just saying I´ll try, shows doubt, and doubt and faith can´t exist in the same person. 
We gave her a blessing for her pains and for strength. After which, she was smiling and expressing how good she felt, like she use to feel. We asked if she knew why she felt so good. Then tears filled our own eyes as the spirit spoke through us and said ´It´s because you´ve been forgiven of all our sins, go and sin no more. ´ She then answered in her own tears, that she will. There was no word of doubt when we invited her again to quit drinking and get to church, that she would. 
Among others and amazing miracles. there is a family very close to my heart that I love greatly. That is Gilson, his Wife Luicana, and their 5 kids age 11 Samira, 9 Yasim, 6 Ruan, 4 Mateus, and a few months Samuel. Gilson was a less active, who isn´t married to his wife. He use to be really strong in the church, but fell away. He thought things were all good, he had lots of friends, drinking friends, and party friends, soccer friends. 
His leg became infected, nearly having to be taken off. Was in the hospital for 40 days, without any visit from his so-called friends. Just his family, and other good Christians who invited him to return to church. Humbled. He has returned, and we´ve been visiting his family nearly everyday. Samira and Yasim were baptized yesterday. We love them so much. They live at a bottom of a massive hill down by the jungle in a dangerous area. They live in a small one room brick home, just months ago, they had nothing and slept on the floor. But now with beds and never lacking food we are grateful for the Lord Blessing them. It´s tough for Gilson to make the walk to church, with his still very infected leg, but He does it every Sunday, and promised us he will until the day He dies. He and his wife are working on marriage papers, because she wants to be baptized as well. They are family to me here. 
The other is a photo of Gabriel who was baptized last week. 

I love you guys so much. I love you mom, I enjoy every email each week, and with excitement I tell my companions and others your primary stories, each time we feel the spirit. I love you dad, the greatest role model I could have is you. As I have felt the mission has prepared me for parenting, I often reflect on how kind and generous you were to me and sacrificing for my wants, but without spoiling. I love you Joslyn, I think you did a lot of the package, and I´m so grateful for your testimony. I love you Nate, I treasure every word of advice that you learned on your mission, send more. I love you Kendyl, I know you´re just being amazing and I love your personality and humor. I love you Rayna, I´ve never seen a more loyal friend (except for Toby) I love you Sienna, you´re just awesome, how´s the braces? I love you Lilly, I´m grateful for your angelic prayers for me. I love you Dylan, your friendship and support means the world to me. I love you Seth, when I think of pure in heart and intention you come to my mind. Also grateful for my Grandparents, other Family members. And friends, incluiding Moranne who has been a ray of sunshine and support as well. With love, (and that´s about all the word love I can take for the day) Elder Pollard

Understanding the Atonement 8/04/14

This week, has been............difficult. Yet, at the same time I´ve loved every moment of it. As my companion and I reflected on the week, we came to the conclusion our Heavenly Father looked down at the start of the week and said ´Well, Elder Driscoll and Elder Pollard, I´m going to teach you about the Atonement this week.´ Then Boom! He brought it.

We´ve had an amazing symbolic week of the events that make up the atonement. Now, I´m not saying we went anything near of what He faced, but through a special and symbolic experiences our testimonies of the Atonement have been strengthened through a very personal way. We were amazed by the ability for the Lord to teach us of these events in a way that caused pondering and personal reflection. Though I will not tell all the events here, I would like to tell some and how I experienced it.
Elder Driscoll fell sick on Tuesday, he stayed in bed all day. Wednesday Elder Spiller (Who lives with us) became sick as well, I took His companion Elder Marchado and we went to work, but ended up coming home early because Elder Machado came down with a fever. I was the last one, until Thursday night it finally got me. I awoke in pain, the sound I could hear was that of ´Father, please heal me......´ Repeated over and over, then I realized I was the one saying it. Buring up with a Head-ache and stomach pains, I finally got up and went outside and threw up. While I was there outside on the ground, the scriptures from Luke 22 came to mind as the savior was in agony.  `Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless not my will, but thine be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.´  
In that moment, I began praying that the Lord´s will be done. Yet, I felt alone and thought my prayers where being left unheard. So I asked that the Lordif he would send an angel to me, to comfort me. As I prayed with earnestness, there came a real and loving voice from behind me. Dressed in white, in the language of Portuguese, was a concerned voice of a man behind me `Elder Pollard, are you okay?´ 
He sent one to me.  
In that moment I knew He had answered my prayer. He awoke Elder Machado, who came out and with love and compassion and helped me up. He gave me some medicine for my stomach. I asked him for a priesthood blessing. He made me a promise that as I remember the atonement and continue to cry to the Father, I would be healed.  I was comforted. I felt a great feeling of peace and appreciation for my Father in heaven who knows my pains, and my Savior who passed through all of them. I was grateful for Elder Machado, who told me he had just awoken in the middle of the night with a feeling he needed to do something. He heard me go outside and went to see what was up. He was an angel sent from God to me. His promise to me was fullfilled and I was soon healed. 
I am so grateful for the Atonement in our lives. This experience had me contemplate a lot of what the Savior went through that night He bled from every pore, no human mind can comprehend. But I know I personally have been cured, healed, lifted and strengthened for that which He did for me. The Atonement consists of His suffering in the Garden, to the beatings and difficult pass to the cross, to his cruzfication, to his organizing and preaching to those in spirit prision, to his glorious resurrection, and this week I have come to know deeper each part on a level I didn´t think possible. I know it is through this eternal atonement that all mankind can be saved and that all unfairness in the world can be resolved. I know the Savior Lives and He never leaves us alone, it would be against His character to do so.  I am so grateful for the miracle He has given to my life. 
We´ve been teaching an amazing family of Dilson. I´ll tell their story next week, but it´s a complete family with 5 young children. I am amazed of your teaching techniques for children and how you do it in a simple way and a fun one. I am lost when it comes to teaching them. Please send me tips on teaching children. What have you learned over the years? If you could, read the topics of chp 3 of Preach my Gospel and tell me what Ideas you have to teach these things. I want to create an atmosphere where they can feel the spirit like you do for your primary, I feel the spirit so strongly just sharing with others what you do in primary. I love the ideas and want to apply some here. 
Among other families we´ve been helping a less active Diane come back to church with her son Gabriel (who´s 8) Her mother is an active woman who´s been great a great example. Yesterday Gabriel was baptized. I was so happy to that family return to church. 
Elder Pollard.