Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment

Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment
Serving in God's Army


28 October 2013 - Uman Semana Cheia‏

  This week we have been family hunting! Two families were given to us by members of the branch. These families are great; lots of kids, willing to go to church hear our lessons and the parents want to give a good example to their children. Golden families haha, There is only one problem, the parents aren't married legally, ahhhhh man! So this coming week we will be going to the courthouse to help these couples get married.
One of the things I love about being a missionary is when people pray for you, or when you're at someone's house and they thank our Heavenly Father for sending you to their house. They call you angels or servants of God. The feelings you get when you hear those words are so gratifying. You really feel like your fulfilling your purpose, helping other to come closer to Christ. And another indicator is when the investigators receive answers. We were talking to one of the fathers of a family and he bore his testimony to us that he had received the answer to his prayers and knew that the church was true. He felt it. Man I just wanted to give him a big hug but he would've been all weirded out because he's a man's man, hahaha.
   We found out last night that neither my companion nor I will be transferred this coming weekend so we will both be here for when the wedding papers finally come through. :) This whole week everyone was saying that my companion would be transferred and I would be left to fend for myself as a zone leader and I really started to believe all the talk. So now I'm back to normal and not worried so much. I will be the last companion to Elder Gubler who will finish his mission in December. To tell the truth it's really annoying watching people finish the mission because they always put it in your face or try to make everyone in the house trunky. This last transfer a missionary that was living with us finished his mission and tried to take us with him... figuritively. He didn't really affect me but he sure did affect his companion, And now the companion of the missionary that went home is trying to go home, not only because of his last companion but for other reasons as well. The real reason that he wants to go home is that on Monday he got a gun put to his head and now he thinks he's going to get killed if he stays in Brazil.

   By the way, mom, if anything extremely dangerous and life threatening happens to me, I'm probably not gunna tell you till I get home, just to let you know. :) So this past week has been nothing but trying to persuade him to stay on the mission and it hasn't been coming along very well. We hope that the transfer and his new companion can help him get focused on the mission again.
   I'm super excited to see what God has in store for this next transfer, I'm so excited to get to work and baptize EVERYONE! This past week I dreamed in Portuguese about baptism... it was great, haha.
   I know this church is true and I'm so thankful for it my life. The Holy Ghost is real and testifies of this work.
   I'm so happy I'm here on my mission, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.



21 October 2013

   Well life in Lagarto is coming along. Right now we are working with this couple who, at the start, were having a lot of couple troubles, arguing, lack of trust, their family was really being attacked. It seemed like Satan had control of everything that was going on in that house. And now it seems like a whole different family. They have been coming to church, have been reading the scriptures together, have been saying family prayers, and have decided to be legally and lawfully married! This week we will be going with the couple to the courthouse to make the civil marriage! Woot Woot! I love weddings drinks all around. This week will are going to take another step forward and teach and invite them to live the commandments, word of wisdom, Sabbath day. Both of these lessons will test their faith but I honestly believe that they will be able to keep them.
   During this past week we were walking down a street to an appointment and I heard someone call us from inside their house. We returned back and a young woman came out and asked us what religion we represent. After a brief explanation about our church she said that she has been looking for a religion and hasn’t found the one for her and that she wants to get to know our church...... Alright, haha. So we marked a visit with her for the next day and when we got there, her mother answered the door and said that she wasn’t home. Alright, so we went back that night and the same thing happened, her mother said she wasn’t home. And then NEXT day we saw that young girl on the street and she was thrilled to see us and invited us in to teach her. She said that when we had passed by to teach the other day and her mother said that she wasn’t home, she really was.... Her mother doesn’t like people like us, religious people. Despite that fact, we taught her that day when her mother wasn’t home AND she came to church and LOVED it. Right now we will be teaching her at a member’s house that lives nearby. I’m excited for her. It’s amazing to see how the devil works and the things he does to try and destroy the work, but we, all of us we’re so much stronger than him.
   One thing that I‘ve been struggling to decide is when is the time to say something to someone who is doing something wrong and knows that its wrong. Be it a member a missionary, anyone. Where is the balance between patience and standing for what’s right.
   One thing that I learned this week is the difference between testimony and conversion. Testimony comes from the spirit and our teaching or testifying moments that someone receives so that they know that something is true or not. And a conversion is where you live your testimony; you humble yourself and act or show that you really have a testimony. A testimony of the truth can only help a person till a certain point, until then they will need to be converted to what they believe, or converted to their testimony. They have to throw down their weapons of war and live the gospel of Christ.
      I’m learning so much here on my mission. I’m so thankful for this amazing opportunity that I have to serve.



14 October 2013

This week was a wet one! All my shoes are wet and almost every day we come home drenched from head to toe. But it’s all worth it in the end, haha. All these Brazilians are complaining about the rain and everyone is getting sick with cold and runny noses and IM Loving it! Being from the rainy state. :)
   This Sunday I spent the whole time in the sacrament meeting running after kids and trying to keep them quite so there parents who were visiting the church for the first time could pay attention to the testimonies. There was a space of about ten minute that I had five of the kid-sitting down “criss-cross applesauce” in the backside of the chapel as I passed out little stickers to them that were behind my name tag. And I asked them to touch and identify their nose, face, eyes, ears and other parts of their body to keep them occupied. Needless to say I didn’t hear a single testimony beside my own, when I finally decided to run up and bear my testimony on families. The branch president got a kick out of it as he watched me trying to quiet down the kids. :)
   Something really special happened this week. One of our recent converts has been planning on going to São Paulo to work for his brother where he would earn a lot more money and would be able to pay off some debts and would be able to move into his own house. BUT where he would move to doesn’t have the church AND he would have to leave his family here in Sergipe, FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR! I was shocked that he has been considering it. We have been really worried about him going to São Paulo because he is recently baptized and needs to learn a lot more before he is strong enough to be alone in the world, and he and his wife were married just a few weeks ago and it’s crucial that they learn and grow together, because they really do push one another. It’s kind of funny. So last night we passed by their house to go over a few matters and right when we came in they handed me an Ensign and asked me to read it out loud. I started off reading and came to a scripture that said something like this, Fear God more than man, and before ye seek riches, seek first the kingdom of God. Boooom and the man explained to us that that scripture and that Ensign was written for him and he has decided to not go to São Paulo and will stay and be with his wife and nurture his testimony of the church. He felt within him that God will prepare something better for him than what São Paulo has to offer! YES! That was an answer to many prayers, including my own.
   I am enjoying reading Jesus the Christ during our trips to other areas in our zone. I’m learning a great deal about the life of our Savior Jesus Christ and his magnificent teachings. They really are amazing and have helped me to understand more fully my purpose as a missionary, specifically about planting a seed of testimony in the hearts of those that I am teaching. But the seed is the same but it really depends on the soil. Many times I’ve asked myself why people don’t accept our message. It’s because they are not prepared for it yet, and it’s my job to offer that seed to them and testify about how that seed can grow to be an enormous tree and give fruit. LOVED IT :)
   I’m so happy that I’m on my mission, serving and learning more of my Savior :)

Dad, it's a REAL truck....

Every Sunday we have to kill all the crickets and sweep them up prior to the meetings.


7 October 2013 -- YES!

Got the shirt from the Family Reunion 2013 - Thanks!!!
   This week went by extremely fast. First I, my companion and the other zone leaders in Sergipe traveled to Maceió to have a council meeting with the president, his wife, the assistants and the secretaries.
My companion, Elder Gubler and me
   They passed a lot of information to us on how we can help our zone improve. The material that they passed was very helpful and I believe that it will help our zone. The president talked about changes, and real repentance and when he talks he lets any one make a question to him and the other missionaries, and I was able to ask a few questions and make a couple comments and I felt really uplifted after the meeting. After the meeting we headed back to Sergipe.
Elder Ralph & Elder Novaes
      In total I spent about 20 hours on a bus this weekend and I feel like sitting on a bus is more tiring than working from 10:30 to 9 in the sun. When we got back, my companion and I had to get straight to work on our zone meeting that we would have on the following Thursday. We had to pass the material that we learned at the council in a reduced specific manner to our zone. And guess who decided to come and watch our zone meeting, my first zone meeting, the mission president and his wife. Man, he won't leave me alone, haha. Talk about great pressure, haha, he came to see if we were paying attention during the meeting or not, haha, and how well we help our zone.
Zone Meeting

   But even with the pressure the meeting went well and we were able to pass everything right on the money. The president in the council talked about statues and how they are made from big blocks of marble that has nothing special nothing significant and the artists turns it into a beautiful masterpiece. And he related it to us and how we need to take out or break off all the parts of us that are bad or not like Jesus Christ. So to simulate this I put a big tub of water in the freezer to make an ice block and at the meeting I had one of the elders try and carve something out of it. It was fun!
    Before we knew it Saturday and Sunday came along and we spent a great deal of our time running around inviting our investigators to the conference. We were able to get a couple people to come but not as many as we wanted. I LOVE the conference. My favorite talk was Elder Uchtdorf during the Saturday morning session because he talks about a number of things that missionaries hear on a daily basis. LOVED IT. Conference sure did give me a fire, and energy, I don't know why I was just hyper and excited all day! I couldn't stop smiling or talking!
Happy 50th Birthday President!
   Love it! I'm super happy for everything that is happening to me, all the things that I'm learning. I'm so happy to be a missionary and to be serving the Lord here in Brazil! I couldn't have anything better. Of course I miss my family like crazy and I can't wait to see them again, but I know that the Lord will bless all of them for the service that I am rendering for these two years, thank you all for your support! You guys are the best! :)



30 September 2013 - YO

This week went by way fast. What happened? Where do i start?
   Well this week we ran around a bunch trying to help a couple get married so they could be baptized and helping a girl defeat all the doubts and challenges that satan was throwing at her in relation to her baptism, and WE DID IT! The lady that was baptized is super, super afraid of water and literally ran out of the font once she was baptized and the other girl literally danced her way out of the font, haha, I thought she would slip and fall cause she was dancing and jumping on the tiled floor. But everything ended well and it was a great service.

   Once day we contacted a reference a wonderful family. In the family there is a young girl who has the same problem that Samuel my little brother has but her situation is a little worse. I felt so much love for that girl and her family. It's hard to describe! At the end of the first lesson I went to shake the girl's hand and she held it without letting go for about two minutes. Usually when this happens its kind of weird, and usually happens when the person is drunk, but for her it was totally different. I didn't want her to let go! Visiting that family reminded me of my little brother and how much I love him and how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family, and I pray so hard that this family will accept the gospel because I know that it will help them more than anything!

   I will say one thing about this week that really helped me to be more humble, patient and loving. The president showed us a video a while back of Elder Bednar talking about an experience that he had with Elder Eyring. Elder Eyring told him that if he hadn't been rebuked by the spirit recently he needs to improve his prayers. I would say that I was rebuked by the spirit this week. I've been studying a lot about charity and trying to apply it to myself. During a lesson we were being attacked by someone against what we were teaching and the situation was really bad. I said something that I shouldn't have. It wasn't anything bad or disrespectful, what I said was true it just didn't need to be said at the time. I can say without a doubt that the spirit left me at that moment. Everything that I had been studying during the week about charity came to my mind. The feeling of the spirit leaving you even for a second or feeling the spirit tell you that you did something wrong is a horrible feeling. What I said was corrected and apologies were made on both sides and everything returned to normal, except for me. I couldn't get rid of that feeling, that sadness, it seemed like a light left me for a while. What I said wasn't that bad and it was right but it wasn't necessary. I learned a lot from that experience, I learned that I have a lot more to learn, and I felt the need of the Holy Ghost constantly in our lives.

   Sunday during the second hour the president of the branch asked me if I could talk in place of someone who didn't show up. And I accepted the challenge, wahaha! I came up with a story about a seed that grew or sprouted in the middle of the road and grew in difficult conditions and what we can to do to grow and stay strong in the gospel even with our challenges of these days. It was pretty good for five minutes of preparation. I don't know. I feel like I'm starting to be more calm with the language and with talking in front of big groups, haha, it's a good feeling. Later on Sunday we had a workshop with the leadership of the ward and I talked about how we need to be shepherds and not fisherman. And I related it to how we treat people who come to church. I taught them how they can be missionaries at church and help our investigators have a better visit at church. It was good and I feel like they really learned something. And this Thursday me and my companion will be having our first zone meeting and most likely the president and his wife will attend! Ah I'm nervous! :) Pray for me, haha.
   I'm so happy to be on a mission, I love it! It rocks!
Elder Ralph