Monday, September 22, 2014
Elder Reynolds has a gift or a curse, or some magical power to draw drunk people to him. I´ve never had so many drunk people stop us on the street. I think it´s his blond hair, that makes him stick out and gives these intoxicated men a desire to talk to him. They try to speak English with him and discuss things of the US. The only English they speak is ´Goodie Morniningie´ which is an attempt of ´Good Morning.´
It often makes me laugh. Yesterday on our way to church, there was a dirty, drunk man in the middle of the road arguing with and bugging another person. He was shouting at someone. Elder Reyonlds put his arm around him and said ´Brother.....let´s go to church.´ I could hardly believe my eyes that he came with us. He didn´t say anything more, than let´s go, and the man followed. He came and sat through the priesthood meeting with us.
I heard a member say concerning my companion ´what manner of man is this, that even the very drunks obey him?´
Graziela called us this week and asked for us to come and teach her father and brother. ´they are also less active,´she said ´ And they are tough in the heart with no desire to go back, but so was I. So come over.´ We´ve had some powerful lessons with her family this week. And we can´t help but smile, they gave the same excuses that Graziela gave. But now she´s back and is encouraging her family. She brought her sister law Kelly, who is not a member, to church yesterday.And we are excited for the progress that is happening.
Zeek, is a still a powerful member missionary. We´ve been teaching his cousin Josey and her husband Daniel. Yesterday they went to church together. Along with Zeek´s friend Hogo and his wife.
I am so grateful that Joslyn and Nate are praying for these people. Please do. It makes a large difference.
We had a zone meeting. 4 Elders were unable to come, because their areas are too far, over 8 hours. This week, we're headed up north to our zone to give a training and fireside in the smaller branches with our mission president. Transfers are tomorrow, I´m staying here with my companion, But our zone is about to get even larger and receive more missionaries, so we´re excited for that.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
I believe that the spirit of the Hastening, is the holy ghost bearing a thrilling witness of the work speeding up through divine assistance of members on both sides of the veil. I felt this spirit when I was in Las Vegas, it was the feeling of the missionary work changing, become something more effective, the converts greater retained, and the help of angels increased. The members not only giving referrals, but planning with us, finding with us, teaching with us, and baptizing with us.
However this spirit, or feeling of the Hastening, in my view, hasn´t seem to be quite hitting here in our mission. The work here hasn´t seemed to change for the past 10 years. Missionaries still doing contacts in the street and knocking on doors, they often baptize without much help from the ward. I have seen specifically here in my ward the horrible effect of the lack of unity between members and missionaries. I got to this area to find that there were hundreds and hundreds of less actives. Lunches with members were struggling, for many had been offended or upset with past missionaries. I felt there was a lack of coordination in the ward and the work.
Elder Driscoll and I, and now Elder Reynolds and I, have prayed and fasted and strive to do all we felt to do to help this ward and bring the spirit of the hastening. This week has brought an amazing joy to us, as have started to see some of the fruits of our labors. Some of the things that have helped us, is getting in a personal meeting with the bishop each week to discuss the ward and the week. Each Sunday, trying our best to get in every ward council meeting we can. We found it helpful to do everything we could to try to make our lunches with members as spiritual and uplifting as we could. At first, they would leave us alone to sit at the table by ourselves. We insisted that all members of the home eat with us. While we ate we would get to know them. We have a goal to learn the name and conversion story of every single member, even to the children.
We found singing hymns for the members at lunch was a great way to bring the spirit. We would have solo´s and sing in parts and practice to make it an uplifting experience. As we met with them, we were always on time, and we leave on time. We discuss the people we are teaching near them, and mark dates for the member to come with us. We ask them, ´who do you want to see at church?´ If I ever hear a missionary complain that members aren´t helping them, I remind them, we are here to help the members, to bring to church who they want to see there, whether the person be less-active or not yet a member. We are to help the members become missionaries, I am convinced that the spirit of the hastening means that literally all work is through and with the members.
The potential in the ward is incredible, it´s full of returned missionaries. The first councilor of the bishop, was probably the member who disliked the missionaries the most when I got here. He often complained of us. We have sought to serve him, to receive and follow his council and gain his trust. This week, he called us and asked where we were. He came and got us in a car, and told us he wants to visit all the people we have with him. We spent nearly the whole day together visiting less-actives, investigators, and he showed us some new people. It was the first time he´s gone with missionaries in years. He´s become on of our good friends. He feels the spirit of the hastening.
Thanks to our fantastic relief society president, Saundra, and many other amazing women, who have told all the women in the church how much they enjoy our lunch appointments, we are booked with lunches for about the next 2 months. These lunches always result with us planning with these people to visit their family members and friends to bring them to God´s kingdom.
A few members gave the same reference of a less active woman named Graziela. Graziela was sealed and married in the temple to a returned missionary. They had a beautiful daughter. Graziela was a powerful member missionary who brought many to the church, and helped many stay in it. She was a connection to the conversion of many members. However, a difficult trial came and she and her husband become divorced. Her husband continued going to church and ended up dating another member there.
Graziela, as you can imagine, stopped going to church. Despite the visits of friends, she refused to return. Her relationship with God began to weaken. Soon the scripture study stopped as did her prayers.
A member named Ana Sales, after lunch, was the first to take us to her home. Graziela greeted us with big smiles and a upbeat attitude. Yet, we had a feeling of much seriousness, and saw through the outer layer she was displaying. She remarked ´You´re different than the other missionaries.`
Each visit we had with her was remarkable. She was always so kind and upbeat and insisted to us that she was happy, without the church and had no desire to go back. Through the spirit we could see through that, and patient as we felt, we were bolder than we wanted to be as we spoke to her.
On one occasion we continued to insist that she would open up with us, she said in some frustration ´you won´t understand, you don´t know me.´ Tears filled our eyes, as we told her, ´But we want to know you.........we get on our knees every night and pray for you......we worry about you.......we won´t ever get up.......you can say what ever you want, do whatever, and we will never be offended, we will never stop coming.´
That was the first time we saw her fall apart, as she began to cry. She gave us some advice that has changed my life. She told us ´Don´t ever let that love you have change, you need to have that same love for your family when you return home. It´s so sad that those who are closest to me, express their love the least, while those who hardly know me tell me they love me the most.´
That night was her turning point. She began studying the scriptures and praying again with more intensity.
Another night, we were in the church, it was late and we had to one more quick visit for the night, we prayed where we should go. We felt it was Grazeila. She lived far from the church, but we knew the impression was from God, so we began running. We caught a bus just in time and were at her house faster than I thought possible. We went in, and the impression was clear why the Lord had sent us, we asked ´Grazeila........do you want a blessing?´
She answered instantly she would, and that just moments ago she was thinking to ask for one.
This week we watched a video of missionary work and the Atonement with her. We saw her starting through the repentance process. She told us that she was rather comfortable before we showed up, now things were changing and she feels a sorrow. That sorrow is essential for change.
Pleased to say, that yesterday she was at Church.
Love you so much mom! Thank you so much for your letter Kendyl. My advice for you to get through high school and doing scholarships and preparing for college, is to be child-like. Not childish. But Child-like. Sometimes get on the teeter- totter with a friend. Be quick to laugh. Quick to forgive. Quick to share. Quick to sing a hymn or primary song. And lastly be close to mom and dad. I wouldn´t have made it without them in my hard times. Go to them for advice often.
Love you all!
Here are a couple of videos that someone in Brazil posted on Facebook and shared with us. The first one is of Daylen pretending he's got a machine gun I guess. We have no idea what he is doing but it makes us laugh each time we watch the opening scene.
(Nanette and I had no idea the profound effect our words and actions would have on our children's life seemingly simple interactions and life lessons have really made and impact. These were really no BIG moments to us just trying to be what we thought were good parents. We are so proud of Daylen and all our children for the examples they are and are humbled that they think that their character had something to do with the way we "raised"them. Destry) I had a neat experience this week that gave me a greater appreciation for our family. We were at the home of the releif society president, named Saundra. She´s just an amazing member, of only 2 years in the church. She has 3 young children, and with all the many things she has to do, still managed to make us lunch this week. She asked me, if all my family were members of the church, I told her yes, and as one of my new favorite things to talk about I started telling stories of our ancestory from Thomas Grover to early pioneers to missionaries.
Then, I heard from the concerned and worried voice of our mother for her children, she asked me. ´How do you feel towards your parents? Did you ever fall away from the church? How is that they raised you to be strong in the gospel? What did they do?´
My first thoughts I shared were on dad´s attitude, whenever I complained ´do we have to? Do we have to do this?´ He answer was always the same ´No, you get to.´ Dad had a way of understanding personal agency, and that we must do things for ourselves, or our character and attitude cannot be changed. We will not benefit from the work or service if we don´t want to do those things. We cannot be happy doing the things that make us happy, if we don´t want to do those things. I never felt I had to read or pray or go to church. Dad even asked me if I was sure I wanted to go on the mission, I knew he would have given full support had I choosed not to or to wait. I knew I would never be punished for falling short, when I once returned home from school with poor grades, he responded lovingly to keep trying, they were better grades than what he got. Because of that, I wasn´t ever ashamed to come to him when I struggled at school, because I knew he would understand. The relationship, motivated me to do better in school and try harder.
It has been dad´s earnestness and honesty about his mission, that has often carried me to keep going on mine. And be the best I can be.
Then I spoke of you mom, one experience brought me to tears as I told it. I was coming home late one night. I knew I was in the wrong. I was late to the hour I should have been home. Hastenily driving home, with only pathetic exscuses to give I arrived to find you not home. Pain and nervousness hit me as I learned you had left, out looking for me, this had my guilt only grow. I expected a lecture or a punishment, anger, dissapointment or frustration to come from you by the time you had returned. But you suprised me, with tears in your eyes, you gave me a hug, and said ´I´m grateful that your okay´
That changed my life, more than any lecture ever could have. You didn´t even give a lecture, just assured me of your trust in me to be doing the right thing. That trust and love, helped me in times of temptations and trial. It drove me to do my best in all things, it brought the best I could give, because I knew it´s what was expected. I still made many mistakes, but I felt my parents love was always there. Faith in your and my families love, brought me to faith in the Savior´s love.
The member here, Saundra began to cry. She thanks you. She thanks us for having great missionaries in the ward. The ward has been so good to us, and nearly all we do, there is a member with us, helping us find and teach and re-activate. There is no greater call, than the call of a parent. Your influence in my life, as affected many lives here. Thank you mom and dad, for your love and support. Until next week.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!!! PARABÉNS PARA OS MELHORES PAIS DO MUNDO! I love you so much. All the kids are growing up so fast. I agree with what you said mom, I have found my place, my people, my language, I´ve found who am I am. I´ve never been more confident or more sure of things. I feel the work is about to start hastening here, and take a different spin. We´ve been having meetings with our mission president and stake presidents and other church leaders. This past week we´ve been visting area´s of our missionaries and giving training's and learning from them. I´ve learned this week that we become confident in ourselves and our personalities, only as we think about others. As are thoughts are entirely focused on serving those around us, we will lose ourselves, and thus find who we really are as we serve him. We shall not be afraid to open up with people, because we won´t be thinking of ourselves, but who we can bless the individual.
At the end of a day I spent with another missionary he told me, he learned about charity that day. He said he never met someone who knew so little about, but shared so much with him. I´ve learned we must share with people who we are, not what we know. We share it often through our talents, we receive more as we serve more.
This week, i´ve learned the great value of standing in Holy places. There is no other place here that I feel so at peace and so safe, than the church chapel. When things get rough and we feel we are being attacked by the adversary, we return to the church building, to receive strength, then we get back to work.
We are busy, started going with members and searching for the less-actives here. Now, We have more than we know what to do with. What I have learned as we´ve met with so many amazing people is that we are so much more than our weakness, the savior loves to forgive, and through Him we can do it. I hope that we never doubt that perfect character He has, and who quickly He comes to help us as we just decide to act.
Dinese is an active and always cheerful member here. Her daughter is Kelly, who after our visit, went to read scriptures instead of going to a party, and has been returning to church. Dinese has been very so kind to us, and this week she asked us for a blessing. Before we gave it, we asked what she was feeling. This last week, she´s gone to the hospital, and found she has cancer. We could not hold back our tears, for it was only 5 years ago that she had lost her son, who was 21 to cancer. She reassured us with a smile, ´don´t worry elders, I have faith in the Lord, let it be according to His will, the question isn´t if I live or die, it´s if His will is done, there may be others needing me on the other side.´ As the spirit filled our hearts, we gratefully gave her a blessing, in it, we gained another witness that death is not the end, and that these people on the other side live.
I am so grateful for my family, and how we are all safe and well. I love you. Things are all good. My camera isn´t working, so I don´t have photos to send yet, but I´m going to try to have it looked at today. Tchau!