Monday, August 26, 2013

It Makes you Think if we're really Prepared to Meet God

Sipping a local herbal tea called "Chimarrao"

Spider from the yard! Ugh

How was your week?
I also had a boring week cuz I´m still sicker than a dog. Remember when I got sick at this same time last year because of my allergies? Yep, same thing here. I went to the mission doctor, who is a Bishop here in the city. The worst part of it is my bad cough. I have my companion take the Epi pen around in his bag just in case and I´ve been using the inhaler a lot. It´s starting to get better so I´ll be good to go here in a couple of days.

How is your young new companion doing?
He´s doing well. He´s learning a lot. He´s learning what the real world is like living with grumpy me haha. We´re finding some more success re-activating people. The doc told me to not even go out for a week, so we´re at least being a little productive. There´s no way I could sit still at home and rest for a week.

What does he do for food and expenses?
His parents just give him money each week. Their ward attends the same chapel so they give him money there, and we eat lunch at his house on p days haha.

Did your new family get their marriage papers in?
NO! it´s frustrating me because they´re both from different cities so it´s just taking a while for the papers to get here.

How's the apartment?
I hate it. It´s old and big, so it´s a pain to clean. We´re changing houses with some other elders at the transfer because we live in their area and they live in ours. I have no idea why it´s like this in the first place. Transfer is in 3 weeks though, so I may be transferred by then.

Any other packages or letters?
Yes some of my recent converts responded finally. They usually take a little longer, but they´re still active!

Hi family!
Sorry but I just had another boring week so not a lot to say today. Taylor and Hailey are already going back to school! That went by so quickly! Taylor´s going to be a big senior and Hailey a Sophomore. Good thing that she´s prohibited from talking to the guys til I get home. Time really does go by so quickly. It makes ya think if we´re really prepared and ready to meet God. I feel like I just got out here into the field and I´m already coming home in 6 months. Tay, make sure you make up your seminary credits and go all out this year. All of the scripture masteries and references you NEED to learn. They´re so helpful out here in the mission when you´re teaching a discussion and need to quickly respond to a question as efficiently as possible. What better efficiency is there than scriptures?

We visited all of my recent-converts and some less active families this week so that we could have some calm lessons. This next week should be a lot more efficient. I´ve dedicated a lot of time this week to pondering and praying. I feel like the Lord has left me in this area for this long to find one more family. The area is so great, and the members love us. I just feel like there is one more golden family waiting for me. My companion is going really well and he´s excited to get out to his own mission and start his two years. Yesterday he and I went to the stake center and watched training on the new Family Search website. The missionaries are going to start using that as an effective teaching and finding method. I had no idea how to use it or anything but it was a good training and seems to be simple. I´m going to use that in my training for district meeting tomorrow to see if that´ll get the missionaries a better way to find new investigators.

My district is going really well but a lot of the missionaries have been in their areas for a long time. And this week was freezing and rainy so it just wasn´t good for anyone. My dupla and one other had investigators at church. The pictures I attached are of a huge spider that a member found, and one of me drinking chimarrao; that´s what they drink here in the south, it´s like a really bitter herbal tea. You´ll see it when you come pick me up and they´ll make you drink it with them. I´m used to it now, but it´s not my preferential choice. We´ve basically got our teaching group down to two or 3 families now.  
 Oh my, so I ordered some garments on the online store and put my address down to send them to me. On the same order I ordered the Liahona as a present for Marco Aurelio for a year and put his address for that. The church messed up and sent the garment box to his house in his name. He opened them up and told his wife that he thought they were the baptismal clothes and so he washed them and dried them. The order form in the box was in my name and with my address, so they messed up big time. Marco called me to let me know and we went right there to explain it all. It was funny but then I got thinking that maybe the church does this often? Man, that wouldn´t be good. At least he understood and got a good laugh of it. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

He's Read every church book I have given Him

How was your week?
Eh, it was a little slow again. Just cuz I didn´t get my new comp til Thursday so I was basically shut down for 3 days. 

Did you get the pictures I emailed you from the wedding?  I think I sent a couple of them.
Yeah i got a cute picture of Ryker, Mckayla, and Bronson. 

How is your new companion?
He´s really cool. He lives here in Santa Maria, in the other ward that attends our same chapel. His name is Maicom da Rosa. He´s doing one of those little mini missions until he leaves for his mission at the end of this transfer. President called me and asked if I´d stay in a trio with Elder Sol and Elder Henderson and I told him NO. Working in a trio is too hard and too complicated and you can´t get into a rhythm. So he called some bishops and found a temporary companion for me til the transfer, in 4 weeks. 

When did your companion from last week go home?  
He went home Wednesday. There is a couple that works in the office here as service missionaries, and I stuck with them for the day. They went to Rosario do Sul to work on some house issues for the missionaries there, so I went with them. I got to visit the Silveira Family that I baptized almost a year ago. She is the Relief Society President and he is the Elders Quorum President. They want to go to the Temple in November, but then she said that they want to wait til the temple caravan after that to go to the Temple with us when you come pick me up. What do you think? I think it´d be an excellent opportunity. 

Did they ever figure out what your last week's companion had?
Ee had a bacteria in his stomach that he had to go and get treated. 

Hi Family!
So I basically told you everything above. The week was really slow. Up until Thursday we did basically nothing. I just sat in the mission office and my companion was at the hospital. Then when I finally got my new comp I just showed him our investigators and the less-active families that we´re helping come back to church. I´ve got a really bad cold today so this email is going to be short and boring. Just like my week haha. The wedding sounds like it was so awesome. I wish i could have been there. I´ll tell them congrats when I get home in 6 months. We had Stake Conference this weekend and out best investigator, Marco Aurelio, watched all three sessions and talked with President Parrela a lot, and the Stake Patriarch. He´s the best investigator I´ve ever had. Smart and loves to read. He´s already read every book that I can possibly give him about the church and church history. They´re hopefully going to get their wedding papers put in this week. I love you all very much. Thanks for all of the love and support. 
Have a great week!

Elder Shepherd

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

He Did Get to Baptize His Only Week in the Mission

How was your week?
Really long and ineffective... I will explain below. 

Did any of your investigators from last week's weddings and baptisms turn into new prospects?
Yes! We´re teaching a couple of new families.  None of them are progressing yet though, just taught them all once. 

How much longer for your braces?
5 months!

How much do they charge you for your braces?  Do they charge you per visit?  How often do you go in for your braces?
I go in once a month and pay 70 Reals. so about 34 dollars. It´s really cheap and they´re doing a really good job. And I always teach a lesson when I go in!

Did you have baptisms this week? 
Yes! We had a miracle baptism. We re-activated a man named Valdomir, and he has been bringing his whole family. He has a step-daughter named Vitoria that we baptized. She´s been coming to church the past few weeks and called us this week with her mom letting us know that they all want to be baptized. Her mom needs to be married to Valdiomir first, but it will take a little while to get all of the papers right. It´s been an awesome experience here, so I´m so happy that I stayed in this area. 
How many investigators did you get from last week’s marriages and baptisms?
Like 8-10. The rest of them live outside of my area, but I gave the references to the missionaries there. The wedding just created a chain effect and now the whole family is receiving the missionaries. 

Did you find some new shoes?
Yep. I got some nice, durable, boot-like shoes. They look like hiking boots a little bit, some nice big and thick soles. They´re pure black. I used them a little bit this week and it went really well. They´re comfy and my inserts go well in them. 

Did you get a greeny from the mtc? Full name?
Yes I did. His name is Gustavo Benega da Silva. He´s from Marilha, Sao Paulo. He got here and immediately didn´t want to be here. He broke his foot a couple of months before he left and was sick throwing up the whole time in the MTC. President called and got mad at the MTC for even sending him here in this condition. He has to go home tomorrow to be treated for bacteria in his stomach and we have to go to the hospital right now cuz he´s really bad today. It was a good experience for me to test my patience. He´s an awesome guy, just caught a turn of bad luck. Hopefully he can get back out here in a couple more months. Today will be really short I am sorry, because we´ve got to go to the hospital soon. President has been calling me constantly for updates because he´s always in the hospital. The health care system here isn´t very good so the wait is hours and hours to be attended to. I slept in the hospital from Saturday to Sunday in the waiting room. 

Hi family!
So, you just read about my entire week above. I didn´t even have my precious personal study time this week because he was sick every morning. They said he either has a bacteria in his stomach or a kidney stone, but we went to a public hospital so they didn´t treat him very well and the medicine didn´t do anything. He did get to baptize in his only week in the mission so he was really excited about that. He´s a good guy and I really hope that he´s able to come back out. He´s got a great testimony and his whole family are members, they´re supporting him a lot. We had zone conference yesterday and I was barely able to participate because I had to be with him by the bathroom the whole time. Poor guy. 

I taught another English class at Elaine´s School on Wednesday. It was cool and they´re all coming to my free English class tomorrow at our chapel. I had to go to a different area of the city to do some baptismal interviews on Friday. The sisters in my district baptized a family! The two boys were sooooo timid. They barely even talked with me. The younger one said he´d only be baptized if I went there to baptize him. So Saturday I went to the baptism there at 5, then we had to run and get a bus to get to my baptism by 6. It was a crazy week!

After my baptism the ward had a dinner for father´s day. Father´s day in Brazil is the 2nd Sunday of August. It was sweet! And the food was so good. The attendance at church yesterday was a little down because everyone was traveling for the holiday. Have you guys gotten my package with the camera card in it?? And have you sent the package yet? If you could send some Ice Spiker gel with it that´d be awesome!

And with what Dad said about staying longer. I´ve already been in contact with my President about that and we´re going to see what we can do. He said he´d really like that, but it depends on the Area Presidençy in Brasil. I´d love to stay for two more years, so we´ll see if two transfers more will cut it!

I love you very much! Have a great week!

Elder Shepherd

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two Beautiful Weddings, Five Baptisms

How was your week?
So so so good. It was the best week of my mission!

Did you have baptisms this week?
Yes, 5 of them! 

When are the next transfers?
They were today. I´ll explain below. 

Did you get some shoes?
Not yet, but I might try to get some today.

Hi Family!
We just wrapped up one of the best weeks of my mission. Two beautiful weddings and 5 baptisms. The mission President came to the weddings and the baptisms and gave me a big hug after. Then he ended up coming to church yesterday and talking in the new members/investigators class. He testified to all of them about the importance of only one true church. [I have 1,000,000 photos of the weddings and baptisms, so you´ll be able to experience it all when you get the next camera card. I sent one like 3 weeks ago with a letter for dad, so let me know when you get that.]

Everything went so so well and Bishop did a great job with the marriages. I baptized the mom of the Power Rangers, Luciana, and Anderson. Elder Lopes baptized Angelica, Bruna, and Gustavo. We did a ton of running around to get it all good to go. We got to the chapel on Saturday morning at 7 to start setting up and getting the water heated up. It was such a special day, lots and lots of tears. Then Sunday was Fast Sunday. Luciana got up and bore her testimony and left all of the members bawling.  Anderson also got up and spoke and told his testimony. I was the last one to talk because little Bruna came to the back where I was sitting and asked me to go up on the stand with her. I pulled the little step out for her and she gave a testimony that just left the spirit so strong for me to give the last testimony. I testified about families and how these two families just entered the path that will lead to eternity.

The husband, Cristiano, isn´t quite ready yet, but he will be baptized soon enough. There were 52 investigators at the weddings. And almost half of them live inside or close to my area. President pulled me and Elder Sol into a separate room with all of them afterwards and we taught the restoration. It was so cool to be able to teach with him. I was so nervous until today, just thinking about the transfer. I LOVE this area with all my heart. It would have killed me to leave them. Elaine, the one from Sao Paulo, is my second mom in Brazil, for sure. She even called and told President to leave me here.  We had about 120 people at church on Sunday. That was a true miracle for this ward.

Today has been really hectic because the cell phones aren´t working so we´ve had to find people and basically all of the missionaries have been huddling in the mission office waiting for the transfer. We just left there a few minutes ago. While we were there President came out and pulled me into his office. We talked for about 20 minutes, I will be the District Leader for the biggest district in the mission, and I´ll be training a new missionary who I don´t even know yet. He gets here on Wednesday so I´ll be sticking with Elder Sol til then because he is also going to train. He´s going crazy! He´s excited and nervous at the same time because he doesn´t think that he´s ready. I´m excited for him. President told me that he doesn´t think I´ll be staying in this area for too much longer.  

We have baptized more people, 20, in the last 4 months than any other district in the mission. And that´s just me and my companion! Our district has baptized 54, which is more than any other zone in the mission. There are 14 missionaries in my district.

We have an investigator, Marco that gave a really good testimony during our Sunday school class. He talked with President Parrela for like a half an hour afterwards. He will give the papers in for marriage either this week or next week. He said he´s been studying an hour to two hours a day the doctrine. He is awesome! We´ve got another family. Tiago and Tatiane. We re-activated him and she told us that she received her answer and knows that this church is true. They´re going to put their marriage papers in this week as well. We had a lesson this last week at Marco´s house and he invited all of his military friends to listen. We brought 3 members who work in the same branch of the military as him with us. So it was a fantastic lesson. There are some members that live by him that he´s been bringing to church with him each week in his car. His wife, Claudia doesn´t really want to accept anything right now, but she hasn´t been keeping him from doing so.
Oh! So we ended up having the baptism for little Gustavo on Saturday night. The wedding and everything else was in the morning til about 2 in the afternoon. He was SO scared while there were all of the people watching that he just wouldn´t be baptized. He cried and cried. President Parrela tried everything that he could to help the little guy but he wouldn´t do it. We went to their house later that night and he said ´´vou me batizar amanha!´´ [I am going to get baptized tomorrow morning!”] we told him that that wouldn´t work, so we´d go put hot water in the font right then. A few hours later we had the baptism for the little guy. He´s a cute little guy. He´s the one sitting in the chair in the picture behind President Parrela. He was TICKED the whole wedding.

Our ward mission leader is helping a lot with our work and ran around all of the process with us. Bishop and his wife helped both of the wives get their hair all ready and all the make-up stuff going. The wives both got to the wedding an hour and 20 minutes late. Apparently it´s normal for the wife to come late? I dunno cuz I´ve never seen a wedding haha. I was the designated pianist for the weddings. I played some hymns to keep everyone quiet, then two separate romantic songs as each bride walked in. Everyone loved it. Sister Parrela gave me a hug afterwards. Next week I´ll have to describe to you all about my new comp because he´s still in the MTC in Sao Paulo. Elder Sol will train an American. 

I´m doing well and I´m happy. I´m excited to go and buy some new shoes and retire these old ones. I love you all very very much. I am so grateful for you and for the family that we have. We´ll be together forever, there is no doubt in my mind about that. My testimony of that grew more and more this past weekend.

Have a great week! Be safe!

Elder Shepherd