Wednesday, September 25, 2013

We've Got Our Work Cut Out

How was your week?
Really.... different haha. Lots of hard work. 

How is your new area?
It´s going to be a workout.  

What is your new apartment like?
It´s a NICE apartment. Like really nice. The best one that I´ve passed through. 

What is your new companion like?
He´s awesome. We´re going to get along really well. I hope he ends up being my last comp cuz I´ve only got 4 transfers left. His name is Elder Bruno Dias de Araujo Souza. He´s from Joao Pessoa, Paraíba. He is SO COOL! We´re going to do some WORK here. The members are already getting excited. They´re ´´catching the wave.´´
New Companion in Sao Gabriel
Did you take a bus ride to your new area?  Do you ride alone on the bus to your new area or did you get your companion in Santa Maria and ride together?
I waited at the bus station for my comp to get there from his last city, then we came here together. There is another companionship that lives with us, Elder Christensen, from Orem, and Elder Santana, from the northwest in Brazil. 

Hello Family!
So, like I said above, we´ve got our work cut out. It´s going to be fun seeing how we can get the people here animated. The city is a lot like Rosario. The Elders in Rosario are part of our zone, so we talk to them frequently. I´m going to go there on a division this week to see if we can help them out, cuz basically none of them have a teaching group. Sao Gabriel has a population of about 65,000 people. It´s an older city, so all of the members are older. Our branch president, Rodrigo, is a young guy though. He´s really excited. Our branch hasn´t baptized in 8 months. The last baptismal record is from January of this year. We have 2 people that will be baptized on October 12th already. We can´t baptize in the next 2 weeks because next week is District Conference for Distrito Sao Gabriel/Rosario, and then the following week is General Conference. I´m really pumped for that! The last General Conference of my mission.... lots of mixed feelings about that :( I don´t really know what to say today.

This last week was just lots and lots of meetings. We met with President one day, we met with the District President another, and we spent the rest of the week with a map in our hands with just a list of names and addresses. We found this awesome woman to teach. Her name is Nilza. We were walking in the road and we knocked the wrong door. We got a good laugh and then she came out and invited us to come in. She had been praying to God for him to send someone to talk to her about the Plan of Happiness that he has for all of us. We visited with her and let her know that God loves her. That he really cares about her. She came to church yesterday and will for sure be baptized on the 12th. God is already establishing his kingdom here.    
I will send a camera card today and a letter to mom and Hailey for their birthdays, so I spent my time today naming the pictures on the card. You´ll love the pictures though. We had a zone meeting on Friday and established all of our goals until the end of the year. We´re looking at things on more of a weekly basis now and not a monthly basis. Then our missionaries can focus more on baptizing weekly and not just monthly. 

I love all of you very much!

Elder Shepherd

Monday, September 16, 2013

58 Attended My First Meeting Here in April. This Sunday there were 175!

Milena's Baptism Friday September 13, 2013

District Missionaries

How was your week?
Really really good. The best week of the mission for sure. 

Did the marriage papers come through that you sent off?
Not yet, it´ll be a few more weeks til it´s all ready to go. 

Are you surviving the heat?

Are you allergies getting better?
Not really. I still have a cough and i sneeze all day and itch my eyes. 

Have you gotten your transfer and new companion?
YES! I will be opening a new zone as a zone leader in Sao Gabriel. My companion is Elder Dias, I don´t know any more than that about him. 

Hello Family!
We just had an amazing week. WE HAD 175 PEOPLE AT CHURCH! It was Ward Conference, so the stake presidency was there, and president Parrela came. The leaders in front couldn´t even resist tears when they saw so many people there. (We had 11 investigators there.) We made some little invitations for the conference and worked hard to invite anyone and everyone this week. It was officially announced that we´re going to get a new chapel here and that it will be the stake center for when the stake divides next year. We didn´t just help the ward, we divided the stake!!! It was so cool. 

It was hard to let everyone know that I was going to be leaving. I found out last week on Wednesday exactly where and when. President called me at 8AM in the morning and told me that I needed to be in his office at 11 for an interview. We talked for quite a while about the work in this ward because my first Sunday, 6 months ago, there were only 58 people at church. The growth here has been incredible, and it´s all because of the work with the members. He told me that I was being called to be a zone leader in a city that President wants to transform into a stake. It´s really close to Rosario, and is in the same district. The mission will now be opening 3 cities close by to try and form a stake with 5 cities. (Caçapava, Cachoela do Sul, and Sao Sepe... along with Rosario and Sao Gabriel). My companionship and the other companionship in our ward have baptized almost 30 in these 6 months, let alone all of the people that have been re-activated. He feels like Preach My Gospel will be changed next year to be more focused on working with the members. We had our baptism for Milena on Friday. There were quite a few people there. Sorry the picture is bad. It´s from a different camera cuz my battery died and I forgot to charge it.

 Cristiano came to church again. He´s stopping drinking and really taken on the challenge of the church. I feel like he´ll be baptized this Saturday, but I´m going to officially challenge him tonight when I say bye to their family. If he accepts I´m going to try and challenge him to be baptized tomorrow morning so that I can baptize him. Now the mission is just passing by quicker and quicker and I´m hating the thought of finishing. Right when this ward gets awarded a new chapel, I get transferred.
My companion and I will be more of traveling zone leaders instead of having just a fixed teaching group. We´re going to have to find housing, and existing members in those 3 new cities so that the missionaries that President puts there are ready to work without being lost.
Saying goodbye to people yesterday was really hard. I have for sure fallen in love with the people here. I´ll finish saying goodbye today and then just gotta pack my bags and move on. Marco was really sad that I won´t get to be here for his baptism. I told him that he needed to get his papers all ready to go a lot earlier than he did! He just got a good laugh about that though. He´s now read the Book of Mormon twice and he´s reading it again with the Institute BoM guide.
I haven´t got your package yet, so maybe it was a gonner... hopefully it gets here soon! I get my braces off in 2 months!!! Finally.

I love you all very much and I´m glad everyone is safe and doing well! Have a great week! 

Elder Shepherd

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Lord blessed Him for the Faith that he Showed

How was your week?
Really really good! We finally put the wedding papers in for the two couples. So many prayers were finally answered, on the Lord´s time.

When does your companion leave on his mission?
He´ll leave right at the transfer, so next week.

Is everyone still on strike?  If not, did you get your package?
No only the teachers are still on strike. I haven´t gotten my package yet though. I feel like it could be backed up at least a couple more weeks.

Is it getting cold?
No it´s getting HOT! I haven´t stopped sweating this whole week. Literally I sweat in the shower, during study, sleeping. It´s a good way to get skinnier though haha.

Did you have any baptisms this week?
No but this Friday we´re going to baptize the daughter of one of the families, Mileina. She wanted to be baptized before I leave.

Is there anything you want to say your soccer friends & families in the soccer newsletter?
Ummm. Not really anything special. Just that they all need to remember that this is the best two years. No regrets. They´ve got to live for every single moment they´ve got because there is no coming back to starting over again. That´s helped me have so much success.
Hi Family!
So, like I said above, we had a great week. Yesterday we had 130 at church. There were some ward members who cried when they walked in late seeing all of the chairs filled with people. We had 10 investigators at church. All with baptismal potential in my 5 week window. It´s too bad transfer is next week though. The Bishop called the Stake President after church on Sunday and told him of all of the growth. Then the Stake President called president Parrela and he called me last night. It´ll be interesting to see what happens. I am just very happy to have been blessed to be a part of all of this progress here. Marco and Claudia and turned their papers in, and Tiago and Tatiane turned them in last Monday before I emailed you. This area has really made a huge impact on me and been a true blessing. I´ve learned as much from the people as I have taught to them. Elder Mason will be finally leaving the mission office next week as well. Hopefully we get to go to the same district somewhere. I think I´ll stay here in the city, but that´s just a hunch.
Dad, there is a member here who said that her sister served in your mission at the same time as you. Her name was Sister Pereira. The member´s name is Carmen. It´s a really common last name so I told her that you may or may not remember her sister. She´s living in Novo Hamburgo now, so pretty close to here. She´s not active in the church anymore because our church hasn´t reached that city yet.

There are so so so many in-active returned missionaries here in our mission. I don´t understand it. Literally knowing the truth and being so close to the spirit. It may be difficult, but there is always a way back. The Atonement makes it all possible. My district is doing really well with the members and the number of baptisms goes up each week. I think that it´s amazing that I haven´t baptized in 3 weeks. I feel like a bad DL doing that. This week we´ll start up the rhythm again though.
Our bishopric was so pumped up about the attendance at church that they all went and did visits to all of the inactive people that were there last night. Next week we have Ward Conference and one of the members is making us little flyers to pass around to everyone. Our goal is 180 for my last week. There were some members that were sad when I told them that it may happen last night. I have totally fallen in love with the members in this ward. We´re going to focus this whole week on getting everyone to church that has been in the past. My area book is full of names of people and that´s all I´m going to do. If we hit 180 the Stake President has promised a new chapel to the ward, since it´s the smallest chapel in the stake and there are two wards that attend there.
We did a service project this morning for Anderson and Angellica to help them move houses. We found them their new house out of one of our investigators, Fatima. They´re going to live right next to her, and the family of Jefferson and Sandra. It´ll be perfect for them. We made some funny district shirts this past week as well. I´ve never felt so much unity inside a group of missionaries before. We are all great friends.

A scripture I really have come to understand is Isaiah 55:8-9. I also read and studied D&C 18:10-13 this week. I love doing the training exercises in the mornings with my companion because it also helps me stay up to beat with my studies and my teaching skills. I sure hope that I get your package soon cuz I need my razor blades!!

We finally were able to get Cristiano to come to church. He was one of the men who got married the same day in the church. His wife is really firm and we were finally able to get him to come because we gave him a specific promise. He was really worried on Saturday night that he wouldn´t be able to come up with the money to make the payment for his motorcycle by today. I told him on the phone that if he came home early from his mototaxi job and was to church on Sunday, that he´d get the rest of the money by Sunday night. He ended up coming to church and let us know that he got 99% of the money he needed before midnight. SO COOL. he said that he´s never had that much success in one night in his life. I know that the Lord blessed him for his faith that he showed. Our work this week will also be focused on getting Claudia to come to church with Marco. She´s so ready, just so nervous that she can´t get herself to church. She get´s anxious. 

I hope you all have a great week. The Lord has sure blessed all of us to have this gospel. I´m so grateful for the opportunity that we have to live in it every single day.
Sorry if there aren´t all of the details that you´d like in the emails. I´m doing my best! I love you all. Be safe and have fun!

Elder Shepherd