On Tuesday we went to the office for transfers and I met up with my new comp, his name is Elder Singleton and he is from Ohio. He is a tall lanky blonde american, so now there are two tall lanky blond Americans in Itapeva. Haha just about everyone talks to us here to find out about the US, it has been interesting thus far. We left the mission office at about 2:30 PM on Tuesday and got into our area at 10:15 PM that night. It was crazy. We are just super far away from everything out here!! We spent our time waiting in bus terminals and on the bus rides planning for the next day and planning our Zone training that happened on Wednesday and it went really well. There are only two other smaller cities that have missionaries in our zone, but each area is huge and has several cities in the them. We are excited, we really are trying hard to be exactly obedient, we need all the help we can get and we know that as we are obedient we receive the blessings of God. I know that God knows where these people are that are ready for baptism, we need to do our part so He will guide us to them. On Thursday we planned a split with Itararé, the farthest area in our mission and I went there to get to know their area and their needs. It is just tiny there, it cracked me up! But we worked really hard and were able to have some success. I was with Elder Irineu so it was nice to work with him again, he is the District Leader so we were able to work hard and teach each other.
We have been opening our mouths and talking to seriously just about everyone! Everyone. There are about 90,000 people here in Itapeva and we tried so hard to talk and teach as many people as possible this week. We are teaching well and trying hard. Elder Singleton knows this area really well and is passing along as much information to me as possible so that I can get to know the area quickly. We had a baptism this last weekend, it was really great. A young couple were baptized, their names are Rodrigo and Vanessa and they are so great. It was wonderful getting to know them last week and being able to see the joy that the gospel has brought them. The branch was really helpful and a ton of people showed up to the baptism here. We were really pleased and grateful. They both said they felt so good after the baptism and on Sunday they were happy as well being confirmed. On Sunday several families here that usually come didn´t come to church for various reasons and there were still 72 people in total at church! This branch could totally be a ward, but it is the biggest in the region so the others are all pretty small!
We invited everyone to come to church this week and on Sunday morning we were everywhere inviting people and passing by the houses of investigators who said they would come with us. It was kind of heartbreaking, not a single one came. We had been praying so so much and everyone fell through. So we came back to teach Gospel Principles class. Now rewind to Friday. We were in a part of the neighborhood we usually don't work a ton in and I saw this little old lady sweeping the sidewalk next to her house, so we did a contact and I felt like I needed to tell her about family history and ask if she new her great grandfather´s name. We told her she could find out through the church and she said to us that that was her great desire in her life, to get to know more about her family. It was incredible. So we told her she just needed to come to church on Sunday to get to know the people there who could help her. So go back to Sunday when no one had come. During Sacrament meeting in walks the same little old lady!!! She walked in and sat next to us and listened and at the end was talking to all the members and we marked a day for her to come to the family history center here and work with some members!! It was a miracle. We were so grateful. Heavenly Father really did help us and touched this little old ladies heart to come and learn more at Christ´s church. It was great. So we did our absolute best and when that wasn´t enough, God blessed us.
It has been good here thus far, we are just throwing ourselves at the work. There is a lot to be done and we are trying our best. The members here are so used to having a branch for so long that a lot of them don´t believe they can have a stake here, we are hoping to help change that feeling and help them really believe and do the things that show their faith. Well, love you all, have a great week!
9/8/14- Well my second week in Ariston went really well. I love this area, and it is just full of hills, haha so many steep crazy hills. And it is covered EVERYWHERE with houses, it blows my mind to see how many people live here. I had a couple moments this week when I could look out on the city and see all the houses and just think about how many people there are here that need to hear the Gospel.
It was a good week, we worked hard and were trying our best to prepare some great investigators for baptism. One of our investigators, Claudina, is wonderful. Her daughter is serving a mission right now and her other daughter is a less active member of the church. She never really accepted the Gospel and when I got here Elder Gimenez had been teaching her for a while. She has had such a mighty change of heart, it has been incredible to see. She was always really hesitant to get baptized and really nervous and this last week she just had such confidence and peace of mind, the Spirit truly worked in her heart. We are also teaching her sister who lives next door to her (who lives next door to us) and her sister was able to come and see her get baptized. It was such a great baptismal service, it was the day before the year anniversary of their mother´s death. She´s a champ, she is going to be a blessing to her family and I am sure her daughter is going to be happy to find out. She was excited to get confirmed on the anniversary.
Last week I was able to go on a couple splits, haha I have been able to get to know my area really well because it seems like we always have to go on splits with the other elders here. We went on a split on Saturday with a Young Man in the ward named Kevin, he is great, just really socially awkward and super shy. We went with him and I invited him during a couple lessons to bear his testimony to the investigators and you could tell he was really nervous but he did a great job. I don't know if the investigators will progress or not, but either way it was so good for him. His parents came up to us and thanked us for working with him and on Sunday he bore his testimony about missionary work, it was cool to see.
This last week was good, we just worked hard and were praying a lot to help this people and achieve the goals we set as a companionship and as a zone. The members here are great, they really help with the missionary work.
Today I got a phone call from President and I got transferred! I am going to be a Zone Leader in an area called Itapeva. Remember when I was in Itapetininga? Haha well Itapeva is another like two hours away from Itapetininga, even farther away!There is only one other area that is farther away in the mission. So it is going to be very very different from Ariston. I am excited, President told me that he wants to create a Stake there (they are districts that are a part of the mission right now) and so that is our goal in working there. I am excited, it is going to be a challenge but I know that is where I need to be right now. So I will be transferred tomorrow and get there and start working my tail off!
That is about it for this week, just loving the mission as usual. I feel so so blessed to be here, I am eternally grateful to be a missionary.
Love you all!
9/2/14 Man it feels like so so much has happened since the last time I sent an email to you all. It was a long week, but it just flew by! Haha so the moral of the story of this email is that this area is super great. Just fantastic. Haha I am loving it here. It is kind of just only hills which has been making me feel pretty fit again! Loving that. Last week we were able to work our tails off. On Tuesday my comp had to go to a meeting in São Paulo so I did a split with another elder who is from my group but I don´t know really well, his name is Elder Ihasz. His comp went to the meeting as well and the LZ´s decided we would work together for the day and in my area... which I don´t know at all! Haha it was an adventure! But we rocked it! We just spent the whole day trying to contact old investigators, less actives, and find new investigators. We were so blessed, it was humbling to see how merciful the Lord is. We worked super hard and had a great and successful day. So woo hoo! And Elder Ihasz is great so it was good to get to know him a little better.
On Wednesday we had a great day and we went to the house of an investigator who had stopped progressing recently and who had already been to church three times and seminary. We went there and I met her and then we called her to repentance... haha we invited her to be baptized and promised her the blessings that she would receive. And she accepted! So that was a miracle! We were really excited for her, her name is Bruna.
On Thursday we had a Zone Conference with Elder Aidukaitis, who is the 2nd Counselor of the Brazil Area. It was so great. He let us ask him questions and even did some practices with us to show us how to be more effective teachers and better servants of God. It was really uplifting and I felt the Spirit really strongly.
On Friday Bruna was interviewed and then her parents decided at the last minute that they didn´t want her to be baptized, which broke our hearts. So we called some members to go and talk with the parents and they went and the parents changed their minds! So Saturday morning Bruna got baptized and it was such a spiritual baptismal service. We were really happy. On Sunday she unfortunately decided to travel, even after a lot of encouraging and testifying from us and the members, so she is going to get confirmed this Sunday instead.
After church we had a great lesson with another investigator named Bruno, he had a lot of questions about the Plan of Salvation, and it was such a great lesson, the Spirit was present and it was wonderful to see his understanding. We are teaching like madmen here and trying our best and truly trying to offer our all to the Lord. I love working, haha I am so tired, but so happy! I love it.
Well thanks for everything, today we went to the temple and it was such a great experience, very needed and now I feel re energized and rested spiritually.
Love you all!