Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27, 2013 "Short and Sweet!"

Dear everyone,

I am so sorry I´m not going to be able to send off hardly anything today! It´s been super busy lately, even on P-day, getting everything ready for the end of the transfer. And Elder Miller has his shopping to do for his family before going home :) But I am alive and well! Promise. Gildete got confirmed and is coming along really well. Aside from that this week was definitely on the more frustrating side. We had a good 3 days straight where everything we had marked and planned fell through. But this week will be better. As will my email next week.

Love you all!

Elder Sears

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May 20, 2013 Filling up the Font

Querido todo mundo,

Today is officially 6 months in the field and yesterday was 8 in the mission. Crazy huh? The transfer is coming to a close in 2 weeks and once again I´m left wondering where all the time went. But it passed by in all the right ways for me this past week. I´ll start with Gildete, who was baptized yesterday shortly after Stake Conference. YES!! We passed by a bunch during the week to help her put a stop to her smoking habits, gave her a blessing, and she passed the baptismal interview on Sunday just a few hours before we had the baptismal meeting scheduled. One of the talks in Stake Conference was about the temple and went into a level of depth that I was afraid would overwhelm her. But instead she came up to us after the meeting and told us her favorite part was about the temple and that she´s excited about being able to go there a year from yesterday. It was an absolute race to get the baptismal service ready because we didn´t know she´d be able to be baptized until that day when she passed the interview. We scrambled to call everyone we could and got to the chapel to set up the room and look for baptismal clothing of her size. We found one suit (is that the right word--I´m forgetting it in English?), but the zipper was broken. We looked everywhere but there were only children´s sizes. I think Elder Miller and I said about a thousand frantic, silent prayers that we´d be able to find one. He opened up a random cabinet in the relief society room and there was a suit just her size at the bottom. One more miracle from the Lord. The service itself was small, short, and simple, but felt so good and so right. Gildete, who is not huge on smiles, seemed really happy and starting talking about the members in her family left that she wanted to get baptized. Her daughter, Gabriela, has a date marked for June 2. So, in light of the baptism, my week and my Sunday were super good. 

Stake Conference itself was really neat. So many people came that they had to set up tv´s in 3 different rooms for everyone to watch. We had 9 investigators there which was a huge, huge blessing and each of them seemed to like it bunches. Elder Leal, one of the area 70´s here, spoke about the importance of daily Book of Mormon reading and weekly partaking of the sacrament. A good reminder to me, you, and all. Baptism and conference aside, the first part of the week was frustrating! We found 4 consecutive couples that had lots of interest in the gospel but none of which were married. And marriage, if you remember how it was with Lena and Reobe, takes forever to get going here. But we´ll be marking lots of baptisms for June 29 with these couples so we can have a huge marriage and baptismal celebration with everyone together. I´m really hoping it´ll work out. Ever since Elder Anderson showed that picture in General Conference of a solid 10 couples from Mozambique getting married and baptized on the same day I´ve been dreaming of a similar situation. Saturday night we finally found 2 investigators with interest that didn´t have marriage as a barrier. We were knocking doors and I started talking with an older, very stern lady named Maria. Before I could start talking to her she came to the door and said "what do you want?" She thought we were Jehovah´s Witnesses. Haha. But when she found out we weren´t she opened up a bit more and invited us in to talk with her son, Jean. He got super interested and said he´d had a lot of contact with the Elders in a neighboring city but lost contact when he moved away. He told us the fact that we found him here was a sign to him that God wanted him to find out a little more about the Church. He and his mom both accepted baptism for June 2. We still have to get to know them better and there´s a lot of work left to do (including helping him to stop smoking), but I´m excited to have the 2 of them to work with. And I´m glad Maria doesn´t answer the door the way she did the first time :)

Today, for P-day, Elder Miller and some other Elders from the zone in their last transfer went downtown to get some presents for their families. I went along and got to know "Shopping Dom Pedro," supposedly the biggest mall in Latin America. I was skeptical at first but it was HUGE. I was beyond amazed. For lunch we stopped at a Burger King that was there and I had my first-ever hamburger in Brazil. It was a Whopper. It was good but not as good as I remembered. And expensive...18 reais (9 dollars) for the sandwich, small fries and a small drink. But hey, at least I can say I did it. 

Love you all loads! And happy birthday to Brother and Sister Shell (the 17th and 21st)!!

Love, Elder Sears

P.S. this computer is not letting me send along a picture of the baptism. Grr. I´ll see what I can do next week.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May13, 2013 Radiating Light

Hello everyone,

Happy Mother´s Day!! Especially to my mother :) It was so good to be able to talk to you, the rest of the family, and the Shell´s for an hour yesterday face to face! I had been looking forward to that for a while and it definitely lived up to all expectations. I am SO grateful for family. Mom, I sent you off a missionties letter today that I hope gets there soon. Let me know when it does! The plan was to have it all sent off and ready for Mother´s Day but I didn´t get it off in time. It´s on the way though! I apologize in advance that this email is going to be super short. We had a district activity on P-day that got done late and put me in a jam to get an email off to everyone like I wanted to. But just some quick updates about me, the work, and the area...

Thursday we found a really neat couple to teach. All our lessons had fallen through and we stopped in front of a house to plan what we´d be doing next. A 3 year old came to the gate and would not stop talking to us! We were trying to plan but she kept shouting so we turned around and her dad was walking down the driveway to pick her up. We did a contact with him and he invited us in. We accepted, taught a normal first lesson but with a pretty abnormal reaction from his wife, Debora. When we got done with telling the First Vision she stopped us to tell us she was getting a really strong feeling that she´d never really felt before. She paused for a few seconds and then told us, "I believe it already." In our follow-up visit on Saturday with the Book of Mormon she told us she knows it´s true because every time she reads it she gets that same feeling. And she told us that that first day when we were stopped in front of her gate we seemed to be radiating a kind of light that made her really curious to get to know us. So that was really cool to hear and be a part of. Unfortunately she and her husband aren´t married and didn´t make it to church...but we´ll be working closely with them in the future!

Jaime and Gildete are really having a lot of difficulty with getting over smoking. We´re praying and fasting and following up bunches so that they can get baptized this weekend as we´d marked with them a few weeks earlier. Fingers crossed!

Oh, just a funny sidenote before I close...while waiting to get skype set up for Sunday, we were at a member´s house (Felipe, Camilla, and their 3 year old daughter Sophya). Sophya was getting really impatient so I got out the Plan of Salvation puzzle I got from my mom and started explaining it to her (in a way a 3 year old would understand). Her mom went back and reviewed it with her and asked, "So Sophya, do you remember where you were before you were in mommy´s belly?" And Sophya responded, "in daddy´s belly!" We all laughed. She´s adorable, and her parents were so nice to get everything set up for the Mother´s Day call. 

Well, we´re off to the work again, but I love you all. I really do. I will make up for the short email next week!

Love, Elder Sears

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

May 7, 2013 Seeking Light, Teaching Truth

Dear everyone,

I apologize this is coming one day late! We had a meeting downtown on Monday so Elder Miller and I are taking our P-day today. This past week has been a really productive, hot, and tiring one. Technically Brazil is supposed to be in the middle of Fall right now but it´s been getting into the mid to high 80´s everyday. It´s good though because we get home and I have absolutely zero problems falling asleep as soon as I hit the mattress. We´re working in particular with a family of 4 who all accepted baptism for the 19th--Jaime, Gildete, Gabriela and Guilherme. Their story is a really neat one. When Elder Miller was with his former companion, Elder Tupou, Bishop had asked them to visit an older member of the ward who had just gotten done with a major foot surgery. While they were there Gildete knocked on the door as part of her business delivering gas and water to everyone who calls in to order it. She dropped the supplies off and walked out, but a few seconds later opened the door up again and told the missionaries she had the distinct impression that she needed to talk to them. So, they did, and eventually got to know Jaime, her husband, and her 2 kids, Gabriela (21) and Guilherme (22). We´ve had a couple of really spiritual experiences in our lessons with them. Twice Gabriela cried because of the spirit that was there and the types of questions they´re asking are just exciting to hear. Gildete has loads of questions about life after death and has told us no other church has been able to satisfy her desire to know what´s going to happen in the next life. She´s finally found the right Church that´s going to be answer everything. We´ve got a lesson scheduled Thursday night on the Plan of Salvation. Seeing people like her, yearning to know things I´ve known since Sunbeams, makes me really grateful for the simple and yet profound doctrine we´re familiar with as members of the Church. 

JosĂ© continues to love his experiences at church. He wasn´t baptized this past week because he wound up in the hospital for a couple of days but he´s recovering and we´re hopeful for the near future. Dimas has been running into some heavy opposition from his wife but he knows The Book of Mormon is true and if his moment isn´t now he definitely has the foundation to accept the gospel in the future. 

I´m finding the time I have to play piano going up which is SUPER rewarding for me. Every Sunday morning at 7 we have a Priesthood Executive Meeting with the ward and then a good 30-45 minutes of down/study time before we´ve got to start getting rides arranged for investigators to come to church. So that´s my piano time. I brought with me some really cool hymn arrangements in a book that Grandma Julie got me (thanks Grandma!) so I´ve been working on those. My personal study has been really enlightening lately as well. President Perrotti emphasized in the training he gave yesterday the importance of each missionary experiencing conversion by applying the doctrine of Christ personally in their lives and in their teaching. He recommended that we study King Benjamin´s talk in the beginning of Mosiah and I´ve found some really interesting connections between putting off the natural man and the nature of light, truth, intelligence, spirit, and elements as explained in Doctrine and Covenants 93. I have no idea how people can say they don´t think the Church is true. There is SO much to learn and so many things that tie together between the standard works that just aren´t possible to be categorized as man´s wisdom or expertise. It´s been really exciting for me to be learning what I have been.

I love and miss you all. If I´m forgetting to answer any of your questions please remind me! Time is super short when it comes to email but I will continue to do my best to squish in as much as I can. 

Love, Elder Sears