Monday, August 25, 2014

Weeks Like Days and Days Like Weeks

A big, nice tree that marks the boundary of our area.

Well as stated in the subject, my second week here has flown by! But there were some rough days that wouldn’t end, haha. First off a bit of an explanation of the terrain in my area. It is filled with huge hills! Everywhere is a hill there is no getting around it. And 80% of the roads are all cobble stone but the cobble stone is different here than in Santa Maria. And by different I mean worse and not as smooth but ya get used to it.
Going UP!!!!
Going DOWN!!

 (this street is Fancisco Alves if you can find it on Google maps, you can see tiny people if you zoom in at the top and bottom of the hills in the pictures)
So this past week decided to switch to summer and it was hot!  And on an especially hot day last Friday nothing worked out. All of our plans fell through and we literally only entered one house all day, a house of a member to drink some water. So we just kept walking to one appointment falling through after another hot and sweaty. We are trying really hard to find new investigators because Elder Gois only has had one transfer here and obviously I’m new so we don’t have much of a teaching group which we need to help out planning our days effectively and such. So Friday was one of those days but diligence brings blessings and Saturday was great! And we ended up having 7 new investigators this week! And one in particular has great potential, a friend of the Bishop and some other members of the ward who even went to church for a couple months last year who is making the decision to come back, pretty awesome and your prayers are always appreciated!
Also a cool experience of how the Lord works with what we study especially as missionaries. This past week in my studies I was reading (brain fade on the name in English) Efésios 4:5 " Um só Senhor, uma só fé, um só batismo." (One Lord, one faith, one baptism.) Most people here use this scripture as an excuse that it doesn’t matter what church they attend because its "all the same". But as I was thinking about it and how the scripture means the opposite and how we really do need to be baptized in the correct way with authority and by immersion at an age of accountability I thought of an example. I took out a note of 5 Reais and drew a fake note to demonstrate that just because it "looks like" the real thing doesn’t mean that they are all the same and that there is only "one true money" like there is one true way to baptize. That night we had a lesson with a woman and she used that exact scripture Efésios 4:5 while we were talking with her about different churches and why there were so many and it was perfect! I whipped out my example and Elder Gois was totally smooth in the transition and I explained about how the money "appeared the same" but that doesn’t mean that I could use which ever and she understood really well, cool. Oh yea and I’ve got 7 months on the mission now! It’s kind of funny because now Elder Gois and I have the same time in months, haha.
My R$5 example
Love you all and best of luck to all starting school! 

Elder Pierce
My new district

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Week in Cruz Alta!

Well I’m here in my new area Cruz Alta 1 B!! And today's been a little crazy because it’s a holiday here for the city's birthday, anyway get to that later. After packing and saying good bye to lots of awesome people in Ala (ward) Urlândia in Santa Maria and cramming stuff into my suit cases I had a 2 hour bus ride to my new area Tuesday morning.                                                                                                                                                         
                                                     Saying goodbye to Santa Maria!
The joys of packing. 
Last Santa Maria Selfie
Farewell for now, my friends.
First off my new companion Elder Gois, from Parana Brasil. He is a great guy and we get along really well. He actually only has 2 more weeks than I do in the mission and the day I entered the CTM he left for the field kind of cool. Also his 19th birthday is coming up this next month. And our apartment is on the second floor in a good building except for my semi-ghetto window and the walls in the shower give a slight shock if you touch them while wet haha taking a shower is like playing that game operation, but it’s safe for now, we think...
New Companion Elder Gois
 Our ward here is awesome and the lunches here are great, I spent a lot of the week walking around the area and getting to know the members here. Everyone is impressed with my Portuguese which means that I’ve really progressed a lot or that they’ve had some Americans serve here who really were awful at the language (a bit of both I think haha). Our chapel here is really nice and pretty new, we had a ward activity for the cities birthday and a late father’s day here in Brasil, which was super fun and had good churrasco.
Churrasco at our ward activity.
We had a great turn out to our activity to celebrate the birthday of Cruz Alta and a late Father's Day in Brasil!

Also I was a bit out of the habit of singing a lot back in Santa Maria which I changed the day I arrived there in Cruz Alta. And this Sunday I got to sing a special hymn "O Meu Pai" (Oh My Father) as a special musical number for sacrament meeting and the Stake President who was there said that he wanted to see a ward choir here when he next visited so we will see if he was joking haha. 

I am super excited to be serving here with Elder Gois and I know that we will see miracles happen here in the obra missionaria (missionary work)! I love you all back home and good luck getting ready for school!

Elder Pierce
Beautiful new chapel
The Elders in Cruz Alta
Our ward boundaries and my area is marked to the south (if you can see it).
New room- its a bit drafty with the window right there.
The view out of our window the first morning in Cruz Alta
Our apartment is on the second floor.

Monday, August 11, 2014

All in the Lord’s Time

Baptism Day for Olmiro- what a great day!
To start things off lets go back to Wednesday when Elder Usieda and I had a lesson marked with Olmiro to get everything ready for his baptismal service on Friday. I don’t remember if I sent home pictures of Olmiro when we first met him but he had hair down to his shoulders and when we arrived on Wednesday he practically had a missionary hair cut! So that was cool and unexpected. Anyway we start the conversation and are going through the baptismal questions with him and he stops us and says "I’ve done my research and everything says that drinking coffee is good for you and I have to drink it at least once a week." Imagine the smile that was on my face slowly drooping down into a stupor of confusion. And Olmiro and his Mom who was also part of the conversation started to laugh and said that that was enough for the joke. Phew, back to all smiles, then he said "but seriously I can’t be baptized on Friday..." and again my smile starts to fade but he continues "... because my Mom will be working on Friday so we were wondering if we could have the baptismal service on Thursday, tomorrow?" So after a couple seconds of shock we were like "YEA... umm... let us make a few calls." So we called Bispo and our district leader and as if in a magic dream, or the power of prayer and the timing of the Lord, everything worked out and fit into place and we set up the baptism for Thursday evening. So Thursday we set up everything in the chapel for the baptism and had an awesome spiritual baptismal service with the missionaries, Olmiro, his Mom and another young man who lives in front of the chapel and was preparing to be baptized the next day as well. Haha we didn’t have time really to contact anyone else to come to the baptism but that also worked put because Olmiro wanted it to be smaller and intimate. I had the honor to be the one to baptize him and he is the first person that I’ve baptized in my life so that was an amazing experience, and I feel a bit proud that I did it right the first time.

And now on to Friday, transfers. So as usual we were waiting all morning but not too excited because the news doesn’t normally go out until after lunch when President Parrela unlocks himself from his office and then the phone calls start ringing down the chain of command. Elder Gama and I were talking all together about what might happen or where we would like to go if we could choose and we said cities like Cruz Alta, Uruguaiana, Livramento, Santo Angelo etc. etc. just waiting to get the news. And a thing I hate about transfers is that with all the prank calls and such it’s hard to tell when it’s the real deal or not. After 2 prank calls that I could tell were total fakes we got a call from our DL and the news that all 4 missionaries here in Ala Urlandia would be transferred, Elder Almeida to his house, Elder Gama for Uruguaiana, and Elder Usieda as DL in another small city, and that I would be going to Cruz Alta. Even after a pinkey swear I didn’t believe that it was true because Elder Usieda wanted to stay another transfer and Elder Gama and I would be going to the cities that we guessed before and it was just too good to be true. But then our LZ called too and all the information matched up and then it started to get real and then that night the imperial march rang and Elder Usieda got the official call from President Parrela that he would be a DL and so it was true and I leave for Cruz Alta Tuesday morning. Woohoo but it is a bit sad to be leaving all of the people that we’ve met here and these last couple days have been filled with lots of picture taking. Sunday Olmiro was confirmed a member of the church, received the Holy Ghost and my work here in this area came to a nice close.
Thank you all for all of your prayers support and love. My next email will be from my new area in Cruz Alta with my new comp Elder Gois, wish me luck!!!
Elder Pierce
Study time
Woah, look out- another bridge. :)
Elder Usieda was dying to get on a horse!
Our last Sunday together in Santa Maria.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Last Week Blessings (Hopefully!!)

Catching a glimpse of the view from a bridge in our area of Santa Maria

We are heading into the last week of this transfer all too quickly! By this Friday we will know who goes or stays and all that jazz and we will be on the alert for the imperial march ring tone of Presidente Parrela. Quick note, yesterday (Sunday) during sacrament meeting President and his wife came to our ward by surprise, thank heavens I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and had shined my shoes that morning (both of which are rules). And the members seeing and feeling inspired with President there or something decided to have a "GH" testimony meeting of the Elders (GH, Gloria dos Homems, the glory of man) and started to bear testimony of all the great things we do. Such as Reunião Famíliar (Family Home Evening) with the YW President which has been really successful for our investigators and when we visit this elderly sister through the week which has really helped her out (the member friend of our investigator Elza). So that was just kind of funny.

Also the weather here continues to be crazy but I have recognized the pattern. First it’s cold and then it gets really hot then the "north wind" comes in for a day and brings a ton of rain. So yesterday was a lovely, sunny, windy day and today came the rain, joy. At least when the rain stops the dogs that live below us to stop barking at 3 in the morning. 
Note from my studies, I re-read the talk that Pres. Uchtdorf gave this past conference on gratitude and it gave me a great boost to not only be grateful for the things that we can see or count (like the number of lessons we had that week) but develop an attitude of gratitude which he counseled is the catalyst for all Christ-like attributes which ties in with the study I've been doing for the past weeks, pretty cool.
And on to the blessings of hard work, diligence, obedience, and I’m sure many prayers and fasting from many of you. Elder Usieda and I have a pool of investigators where 4 or 5 of them could be baptized at any time but they all have their own problems that keep them back and so we just keep trying to help them along. One of those cases is our good friend Olmiro. He went to church for over a month but due to some doubts and change in weekend activities, he stopped coming to church with us for a time. We always take the time to visit him in the week and mostly we just talk about whatever with him and his family because they've already had all the lessons and we just keep our relationship open. But yesterday was different, we went over to his house and were talking about this and that and of course we brought the news that changes could be happening this next week and he brought back up the gospel. We felt inspired and invited him again to be baptized and explained that baptism isn't for people who are perfect but for those who are trying. And he accepted! which was a surprise and an awesome answer to prayers and a blessing, so we are helping him to be ready for this Friday when another young man will be baptized with the other elders. So that’s exciting and prayers would be appreciated!
Love you all and don’t let summer go by too fast! 
Elder Pierce
                            We really like these dogs and say hi to them in the street daily, haha!

Birthday party of these little girls who always invite us to festivities :)