First off, I got to talk to my amazing family....which was amazingly amazing. I'm so grateful for modern technology and the opportunity I have to use it on the mission!
So SANTA MARIA IS HUGE......In Alegrete, I had to walk 30 minutes to arrive down town....but in Santa Maria, I have to ride a bus for 30 minutes just to get down town, and then I have to walk just a little more....so yeah, it's a little different, but it's all awesome. I love this city already. And my companion, Elder Chuman, is show de bala.
We've been working with a guy named Evandro. He lives alone in a really humble home, and he is really humble guy. He always let's us in and is always willing to fulfill the commitments that we leave with him. He's been reading the Book of Mormon from front to back and he is learning so much. He has some problems with the word of wisdom, and do we made some goals with him, and he's going to get baptized on the 17th of January! When we got to his house this week to visit him, he came out bald! He had cut his hair all by himself and he was super excited as he told us that this new year, he was changing his life...That he never again going to use drugs, or smoke, or drink, and that he was going to prepare himself to be baptized. He is so amazing so pray for him!
I don't have a lot of time, but I love you all so much! I Hope your week is amazing and full of miracles. Don't stop praying and don't stop reading the scriptures.
I'm being transferred to Santa Maria! I'll serve in the Parque Pinheiro ward and I'll continue on as District Leader there. My companion will be Elder Chuman. I don't know him yet, but I bet he's awesome.
It's so hard to leave this place! Alegrete is the best city ever. I love all of these people so much, and it's hard to say goodbye to these people that were a part of my life for these 5 months. Here, I was able to feel just a little tiny bit of the love that Heavenly Father has for all his children, as I served the people in this ward. It was amazing to be able to see the talents and abilities of each and every member that I got to know, and to get to know their potential as sons and daughters of God. I am so grateful that God gave me the opportunity to serve these people and to hear and be changed by their testimonies. I love this Gospel so much, and I know that wherever God puts us is where we need to be. Trust in him, and keep his commandments so that he can trust in you.
So this week was full of service projects, salgadinhos, and saying goodbye to loved ones.
So, yes. I have officially cut someones lawn with a kitchen knife.
On Wednesday, we 2 service projects. We cut one of the brothers lawn, and then we ran over to Vinicius and Claudia's house to do some more yard week. We pulled some weeds, and took out a bunch of trees. It was a lot of work, and I have learned, you should never let a Peruvian take out an orange tree. THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT. I cut the tree down with an axe, and then he told me he knew how to take the roots out. So he grabbed the axe and just started tearing apart the trunk that was still left. And all that it has now is just a crazy destroyed piece of broken wood sticking out of the ground, and it's 10x harder to take out. But it was awesome.
On Thursday, it was "Noite dos Salgadinhos". "Salgadinhos" literally means "Little Salties" but it's like little snacks that aren't sweet...like appetizers. Sandra, one of the sisters in the ward, made 350 salgadinhos for the ward, and they were amazing. We talked about how this Christmas, we will celebrate Jesus Christ, and that he needs to be our foundation. After the message, we sang "Que Firme Alicerce" (How Firm a Foundation), and then we ate salgadinhos. It was a good night.
Friday morning, we heard news about transfers, and the rest of the week was saying goodbye to members and investigators.
Sunday, was testimony meeting, and it was hard not to cry. Almost every testimony, the members got up and thanked me for my work in the ward. They let me know that I would be missed. I was keeping the dears in until Suzete, the mom of one of my favorite families, got up and started crying and told me that I'd be missed. My goodness, the tears filled up my eyes. It is so hard to leave these people that I love so much. AH! I know that Heavenly Father sent me here! This is where I needed to be, and now, in Santa Maria, I know that I'll go exactly where I need to be, as well.
The Church is true! This is the true church of Jesus Christ, and the only path to true happiness.
I hope your week is amazing, and I love you all so much.
Está semana foi maravilhosa e cheia de bolo. Ba, eu amo bola, tá louco.
So this week was quite awesome. Yesterday, was Stake Conference and Elder Cruz of the Area 70 came and visited us. He's from Rio DE Janeiro and his accent in Portuguese is so flippin' cool. It was an amazing conference! I wish you were all here to hear what he had to say. It was amazing. Anyways, so my week was also pretty awesome. Clôvis went to all sessions of Stake Conference and he loved it. It was so cool that he had the chance to hear so many testimonies about the Book of Mormon, because the Spirit was there, I know that his testimony was definitely augmented.
SO, on Tuesday, we did a Family Night with a really awesome family, Paulo and Sandra. They have 6 kids, and they are the coolest family ever. We talked a little bit about how we need to make sure that our personal desires are the same desires that God wants us to have, so that we can arrive in the last day and tell our Heavenly Father that we did what he wanted us to do. Afterwards, we ate the best coconut chocolate cake ever.
On Thursday, we did "Noite dos Bolos" (Cake Night) at the church, and, Sandra, the marvelous cake cook, made a bunch of cakes for the ward...and yes, her cakes are amazing. She made cinnamon banana cake, strawberry cake, coconut chocolate cake, and any cake that you could imagine (except for potato cake, because I'm pretty sure that doesn't exist). It was awesome. We left a special message about choosing the right path to follow in our lives, and we did a really fun activity that everyone liked. It was really cool because there were a lot of non-members there, for the cake of course, but even though they expected the cake, they got something sweeter...a message confirmed by the Spirit. There was such a strong Spirit in the church, and we were all able to feel the Savior's love for us. It was a cool experience.
Friday morning, we didn't have lunch, so we ran to the market to grab some rice. It just happened that I entered in this tiny market at the right time, because as I entered, a man asked me if I was American. I said yes, and he told me that he had just been to Washington, DC! He started showing me photos of the capital building and the Washington monument and all the cool stuff back at home. I was messing with him and freaked out a little and told him that I saw my mom in one of the photos. He was like "whoa...really? THAT'S CRAZY!" I told him I was kidding and we started laughing. At that moment, another guy walked up to me and asked me if I was American. I said yes (because I am American) and he started speaking English with me and told me that he lived in Canada and was moving to England soon. I was able to tell him that my family had lived in England this passed year and that he's going to love it. As I started to explain our message to them, they kind of "had to leave" so we weren't able to talk much to them, but it was kind of a crazy coincidence that I ran into them.
Then, that night, we had a Family Night in another one of my favorite family's house, Luis and Suzete. They are awesome. And Cesar and Maria and Clôvis and Mariana (his daughter) also came. We were able to have a fun conversation and then leave a really spiritual message about loving your family and showing your love for your family. It was really cool the was that we all learned by the Spirit and were able to feel our Savior's love for us.
So I wanted to share a story with you that Presidente Parrela shared at stake conference:
So there was a city in the hills in the middle of nowhere. There was a wise man traveling through the hills, and as he arrived in the city, he noticed that it was very poor. The land wasn't very good and it was hard to plant seeds and farm. The only thing that they had was a tiny, skinny cow that gave them all milk. As the wise man arrived in the city, he noticed that all of the people were really skinny and poorly nourished. One of the people in the city went to talk to the wise traveler. He explained that they suffered all day and that they only had this skinny cow to live on. The citizen asked the wise man what he could do to have a prosperous city. The wise mine listened, was quiet for a little bit, and then looked at him and said, "Go push cow over." The citizen thought it was a crazy idea, but being obedient, went to the skinny cow and pushed it over. The skinny cow fell over, and broke his leg. The citizen ran to complain to the wise man, but the wise man had already left the city. Within a few days, the skinny cow died. About a year later, the same wise man was passing through the hill, and he came across a prosperous city that he had never seen before. He entered and ran into the same citizen that he had talked to a year before. The wise man asked what happened and the citizen said "Well, after the skinny cow died, we were desperate. So we were forced to work 10x harder to work in the fields to try and plant seeds. We had to work harder to harvest our crops, build our buildings, herd our animals, and basically, survive. Because of this, our city developed and now we are prosperous"
Sometimes, in our lives, we have a "skinny cow", and we need to kill that skinny cow so that we can prosper. Sometimes, there are things in our lives that are stopping us from progressing, things that seem good, but are stopping our progress. In our lives, we need to recognize this "skinny cows" so that we can overcome them, work harder, and have prosperous lives. So everyone, this week, it's time to push over the skinny cow in our lives. And it's through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we will be able to work harder to "harvest our crops" and have a prosperous life.
I love you all so much, and I know that this Gospel is true. Only through sincere repentance and loving our neighbor that we can really feel the most pure love of our Heavenly Father in our lives. He loves you and knows you personally. So push over your skinny cows so that you can all experience the potential that we have as children of the one true God.
On Monday we visited Clovis and taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel. He loved it and was able to understand it really well. We were able to bear a powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon and he told us that he was ready to be baptized! He told us that he wants to get baptized with his daughter when she turns 8 in January! That made me really really happy! We told him that he could get baptized this coming week and the he could prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood so that he could be the one that baptizes his daughter. He really liked that idea, but we told him to pray about it to see what God wanted him to do. He is such a good guy, and he really needs your prayer. His name is Clovis and also pray for his wife Carla and their daughter Mariana. They're an extremely special family to me!
On Tuesday, I did a division with Elder Hayes, from Illinois. This is his 2nd transfer on the mission, and he is still learning Portuguese, but golly goodness, he is speaking really well for just 3 months on the mission! We visited a lot of people, and we got a crazy, radical church lady to pray and ask God to help her find the true church, that has a living prophet, 12 apostles, and authority to baptize. She prayed in the very moment, and I think she really actually wants to find this true church!. We left her with a Restoration pamphlet and Elder Hayes is going to return with his companion to teach her that there is really the true church of Christ here on the Earth! We had to treat the situation really carefully because she is a faithful member of another church for 48 years. So we taught her from the Bible, and now the other Elders will Return and help her to find the true church of Christ!
We did an activity for the youth this past week. We went to the park, set up a table, and passed out church materials and invited people to look at the website natal.mormon.org . It's a site that the church put up for Christmas. Check it out! Then we got all the young men, and their non member friends, and took them into the church, where we taught them all how to pray more sincerely and prepare to be worthy missionaries. It was cool because most of them weren't even members, but they listened, participated, and one of them went to church on Sunday! It was pretty awesome.
So this week, I was studying in Jacob 1:18-19, where it talks about magnifying our callings. It talks about how Jacob was set apart with a certain calling in verse 18. And in verse 19 he talks about how he magnified his calling. Read this scripture! It's so important that we magnify our callings! God trusts us and he designated us to a specific calling to help him grow his kingdom here on this earth. We need to trust in him, and then we need to show him that he can trust in us. Through magnifying our callings, we can show him that he can trust in us, and then we can show up at the last day spotless, without sin. So magnify your calling and prove to God that he can trust in you! He called you and in that, he qualifies you! So get to work!
I love you all so much! You are all so amazing and I am so grateful that I can be here on a mission! i LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH.