Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Message of Hope for Families of the Kiss NightClub Fire tragedy in Santa Maria

How was your week?
Well, it went super well, then ended really sadly. 

Will you be staying there in Santa Maria for a while?
Yes, I have a feeling I´ll be here for a while. Who knows though. 

Do you still live with the same 3 guys?
I live with Elder Gula, Elder Morrison, and Elder Pagotto. Elder Pagotto is from Philadelphia. 

Do you now see Elder Mason?  Does he live close to you?
I see him every once in a while. He is on the other side of the city.

Any new investigators at church this week?
Yes, we had a family! And they are legally married so I am super stoked!

Hi Family!

Dad sent me the email about the fire that happened here. It was massive. It happened a few blocks away from our apartment. It was really really sad. 233 teenagers and young adults died. It was a freak accident, and the club only had one exit, so everyone was just trapped inside. They brought all of the bodies to a military base in front of our apartments so that the families could come and identify the bodies. After church we were there at the military base all day volunteering. The members all came too, wearing those helping hands vests. We passed out water and food to all of the people waiting in the lines. It was just a sickening scene. There were people crying, screaming, it was just a mess. It was way sad in the area where the bodies were. We went in there to help out and it was just a tragic scene. We gave away a ton of the plan of salvation pamphlets and gave a ton of consolation and comfort for families. It really threw everything into perspective for me. How much we take for granted, and how important families are in God´s plan. The city is basically shut down right now. It just shocked the community and no one has desire to get up and work now. This is the perfect time for us to show people that there is a light, and that they will see their loved ones again. 

Please keep these families in your prayers. There weren´t any active members in the city that died, but I don´t know any more than that yet. We were supposed to have zone conference today, but it got moved to Thursday so that president could deal with some things. This is God´s plan, not ours! So now we just need to go out and work and help and love these families!   I think we´re going to go back to the military base at 6 to do some more volunteer work. Only half  of the victims have been identified because a lot of them were college students, so their families live in different cities and states. The military base is right next to our church, so the church opened up and there were signs outside inviting people to come in for bathrooms, water, and to just sit in the chapel and rest. All of the meetings were cancelled after church, and President Ribeiro was supposed to talk but that got cancelled too. He came over to the base in a helping hands vest and started volunteering as well.

We had a family with us at church yesterday! Elizabeth and Thuane won´t be getting baptized ‘til the end of the month now because they just left out of town ‘til then. they are both super ready though. Renan and Fernanda and their two kids came to church with us yesterday. I am so excited to see how things work out with them. We´re going to their house on Wednesday with our Bishop and his wife, and we´re going to try and mark a date for the 9th for their baptism. It might take a little longer because I want to be really careful. This is a family, and I don´t want to lose them.  The message on Wednesday will have to be super spiritual, which is perfect because the Bishop here is such an inspired man.

I´ll try to send something off soon that you could give to President Morris.  He is an awesome man. I´m glad he was the one who got to send me off. The rest of the week was really good. We have a good investigator group, and a lot of them didn´t come to church because of the accident the night before. Next Sunday I´m sure we will have at least a few more at church. I will try and get the bag of protein here, I´ll try to find it. Dane was probably in a city called Riveira. It borders one of our cities. I haven´t served there yet, so I probably won´t get to see him during my mission. It´d be really cool though if I did. The weather here has been so so much better. It´s cooled off quite a bit and there has been a nice little breeze going through the city.

Thanks so much for the little preach my gospel book. It is so much better. I hated hauling the big one around because it doesn´t fit in any of my bags. It´s getting pretty beat-up too, so we´ll have to give it a break and I´ll use the little one. I´m excited for zone conference on Thursday. President always gives good insight on revelations he´s received for us to teach better.
Austin [Phelps] said that the language is getting a lot easier, so now the work is picking up for him. It sounds like he´s having a blast and doing really well. Bryan [Nance] didn´t send me his email yet this week but I´m sure he´s doing really well. I haven´t emailed Trevor for a while, but I´m sure he´s doing just great.    

Sorry, not a lot to say today. Yesterday kinda just rocked things up and I´m lost on what happened this past week. I feel my testimony growing so so much, and I know that this gospel is true. Every time I bear my testimony I feel the spirit testify through me and it is such an amazing feeling. Taylor, study the Book of Mormon every day. Learn cross references to the bible for The Preach My Gospel lessons. Those two things will help so much when you get out here. The plan of salvation message is also really powerful, especially in times like we have here right now. People have all of these questions right now, “if they´ll see their family members again?”. So study chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel, and make sure to at least read a little out of the Book of Mormon every day. Try to set a goal to read it as many times as possible ‘til you leave on your mission.
I love all of you very much! Good luck in swimming Tay, and good luck with softball Hailey! You guys rock!
The snow is just making me trunky, I think I might miss that as much as anything else haha. Have a great week!

Elder Shepherd

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Carson's Mission Pictures from Rosario do Sul

Going Gaucho Style [Brazilian Cowboy]
Farm in the countryside of Rosario do Sul

Awesome Family getting Baptised in Rosario do Sul

My companion baptizing in Rosario do Sul

The Golf Club in Rosario do Sul

Me lounging with a Black Lab

Panorama of the countryside in Rosario do Sul

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Got Braces!

How was your week?
Really busy, really good. Good success

Did you get my big package yet?
Yes I got it today! I haven´t opened it yet.

Did you have a lot at church yesterday?
Yes there were 160 people. This ward is really strong

How many wards or branches attend church in your building?
There are 2 wards. Both are really strong. My ward, then the ward that President Ribeiro goes to. 

Do you have to teach any classes at church or is there enough members to support the programs?
There are plenty of people, so we just sit in on the classes. 

How is the YW/YM programs?
Both really strong here. There is a group of 4-5 priests that are getting ready to serve missions, so they´re always willing to help us.

Hi Family!

Well, the highlight of this week is that I got braces on! haha.  I´m on a 10-month plan, so I´ll be getting them off during the mission too. They did exams and put the braces on and everything and it was way cheap. I did it at a University, so there were tons of students watching. Really weird haha. 

I wrote down a few ideas for things you can send me... Book of Mormon and Bible stickers that you can put inside your scriptures,  dental stuff (like things that´d be good for braces), and English paperback books of Mormon. Those things would be sweet! 

We had a really good week this week, and found some new families to teach. Our bishop here is super super helpful. He was driving in the streets doing visits the other day and just stopped and talked to this family sitting in their front yard. He gave us their address to go do a visit and they were so great. They´re legally married too! We had 4 investigators in church yesterday, so we´re seeing some improvements there. Elizabeth and Thuane will be at church next week, then the following Saturday they´re going to be baptized! I´m really excited for them. I sent Dad an email of something I need you guys to send me. Take a look at it. it should fit easily into one of those smaller packages you send me. I taught the restoration to like everyone inside the dentistry while they were looking at my exams. They probably thought I was crazy, but it was good to let them know why they had an American inside the school. My teeth have already moved a ton though. The dentist said it´s because I already had braces on before and because she put a lot of tension on the wire so we could speed up the process. It looks like there is a ton of snow there at home. I´m really jealous. This week wasn´t super hot, and there was a lot of wind. So it´s starting to cool down just a little bit. Sorry my emails are getting shorter and shorter. I write every single day, so one day you´ll maybe be able to read all about my experiences and my thoughts.

My companion and I are doing really well together. He provides a lot of the scripture work because I´m still learning my way around the bible. The Book of Mormon is really easy for me to remember certain things now. We are really starting to adapt the lessons a lot better to fit to people´s minds. It showed because this week we had a lot more people who invited us to come back to receive another visit. Elder Mason got transferred today. He´s going to be the new secretary of the mission. We have 2 secretaries. They deal with all of the paperwork and financial responsibilities of the mission. Elder mason will do the paperwork, and the other new guy will do all of the financial stuff. It´s a busy busy calling and they are in the office ‘til 6 every day. So only three hours a day to find people to teach and to baptize. It´ll be good for him though. Elder Mason is a smart guy.

Sounds like Taylor and Hailey are getting all geared up for trek. good times for sure haha. Carnival is the first week of February here, so all the youth leave the city to go do some campout for a few days. We just have to work in the streets and put our tunnel vision on. Ask dad how that is haha. We´ll just say that the laws and customs here in Brazil aren´t the same. That´s no fun that Tay´s swim meet got moved. He´ll kick some butt tomorrow though! I´ve been off of pop for forever too, and it´s feeling way great. I´m back down to about 186 pounds but I have a ton of energy during the day. I´m getting really used to my area here, and it really isn´t that big. We cover a lot of the ground usually in about one day. The ward is getting a lot better with passing references to us, and those are always the best people for us to talk to. Things in this ward will for sure pick up a lot during this transfer! I´m really excited! I love all of you so much! Have a great week! Enjoy the snow for me!


Elder Shepherd

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Reactivation Efforts

How was your week?
Really good and really productive!

Did you get any new families this week?
Yes we found two couples. I feel like they´ll be baptized within a 3 week frame

Are your baptisms still set for next week?
No, they´re moved till the first week of February now.  They couldn´t come to church yesterday and can´t next week. but they are both firm with testimonies now. 

Hi Family!
We had a really productive week this week and made some good progress with the people we´re teaching. We didn´t have anyone in sacrament meeting, but they all had good excuses (if that exists). Elizabete and Thuane made us Lasagna last night and promised us that they would start coming to church once their school break gets done. They will be baptized the first week of February. I´m really excited for them! At church yesterday I talked to President Ribeiro, because he lives in the ward that meets right after ours, and I asked him a good technique to get into an apartment complex and teach. He said for me to say a prayer in my heart and to just push a number. I did that right after church and they let us in! It was the first people that have actually let us in. It was a way good message. Their names are Lucas and Patricia. They´re boyfriend/girlfriend and don´t live together, so I´ve got a really good feeling that they´ll be baptized here within a few weeks. 

The hardest part about this area is that no one comes to church. The investigators give us their word and then bail at the last second. I have a feeling that I might train again after this transfer, President talked to me a little about it. The first week I got here there were 145 people in sacrament, and this Sunday there were roughly 175-180, so I feel like the Lord is putting me where I need to be placed. We have been working a lot with the young men in the ward that are planning on serving missions. There´s a big group of them, so we usually try to take one of them proselytizing with us every other day. It´s seems really helpful because they all have friends that we can pass by to teach and they can all provide insights that missionaries can´t really provide.  

Hopefully I can help get this area going on baptisms so that we can get the Stake divided. We only need 5 more Melchezidek Priesthood holders per ward to divide it. I want to try and get 10 re-activated or baptized in my ward alone.  President told me yesterday at church that the area where I´m at hadn´t baptized in over a year until we baptized Eduardo. He challenged us to baptize weekly in February, so let´s see what we can do! Sorry this week is really short again because we didn´t teach a lot of new people. We´re working with the families that I told you about last week. The picture attached is of Elizabete and Thuane last night when they made us the food.

It´s so cool how all of the guys are getting out on missions. Almost all of my friends are gone now. The members here are all getting way more excited about missionary work, and we stop by their houses every time we´re nearby to invite them to do some visits with us. Sorry today is short again. I really tell you everything that´s going on! I am so dang jealous of all of the snow that you have and the cold weather, that´s definitely my favorite time of the year. I wish they had snow here, I´d for sure talk my companion into going snowboarding with me. All we do on P-day is walk around the city and take pictures, send emails, and sleep.

 My testimony grows every single day, and I can just see miracles in the people. It´s not one of those miracles that we read about in the bible, but the changes that come into people’s lives from the Gospel are a true miracle to me. It´s amazing how much I took for granted being born into the gospel. These people have amazing changes come into their lives when they come into the church. Ttheir personal light illuminates 10 times the second that they say yes to an invite. PLEASE SEND YOUR EMAILS NEXT WEEK BEFORE 8 IN THE MORNING ON MONDAY. SO SEND THEM SUNDAY NIGHT OR EARLY MONDAY MORNING. I WILL NOW BE GETTING ON THE COMPUTER EARLIER!  
I love all of you! have a great week!

Elder Shepherd