Monday, February 23, 2015

Declare Repentance

We finally got on a nice bus to go to Santa Maria.
Entering Santa Maria

13 months definitely isn't as exciting as 1 year, but little by little the time is passing (sorry Mom for feeling like it's forever) The weather is starting to change here, I don't think it will go back to being super hot anymore. The entire week has been cloudy and it rains a bit every day making it almost chilly (relatively) at night and in the morning. (oh and of course it only rained in the morning on Sunday when everyone needed to go to church!) I think because of the weather change I've got a bit of a cold... runny nose fun. 

Everyone here has heard about the huge snow storm that's been going on in the US and asks me like I should be the expert of what's going on because I'm from there. But it's funny because I know nothing about it not watching the news or anything. 

Mom asked about bugs here, every once in a while walking in the street you will see a huge random bug that looks like it could be from the movie Avatar (the blue people). Mostly though it's just small insects that are super annoying that try to bite you. There are a wide variety of these bugs that fly around and bite and do some different things but if it's a small flying insect here they just call it a "mosquito". I think that's a bit weird... but it does make it easier to not have to remember specific names ha. 

In my studies this week I read Alma 29 and I realized something different. In verses 1-2 Alma is expressing how he wants to declare repentance to all people. Before I had just read that and it was like "oh that's nice" but this time I stopped to think about why he said that or in other words why he didn't say other things.  I thought "why didn't he say something like baptize everyone or have everyone get married, etc.?" or other things that we modern day missionaries try to get people to do. Then I realized that Alma understood something very important: that repentance is the root or the base to all of these results that we try to make happen. No one will ever be baptized or live a commandment like stop smoking or get married if they don't understand repentance and go through the process sincerely. So instead of worrying and fussing about the results we need to go straight to the root of it all and help people truly repent. That is why Alma just wanted to declare repentance, because he knew that all that other good stuff would come naturally if people repent.

Love you all! I hope the snow was fun, not another year till I will see some haha.

Elder Pierce

                                                     This is p'day here in São Pedro
 (laying in bed sleeping)
                              me trying to do something about the sunscreen stains in my shirts
Our DL did a division with me this week and we ate xis- yumm!

These are all of the fiscal notes and coins here in Brasil, I thought that would be interesting 
(no we aren't rolling in the moneys we got paid last week and the 100 is my reserve fund that we have to have ;)

There are animals on the back of all the money.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Workin it up

Elder Mazzagardi's  Mission Tour 
(President and Sister Parrela with Elder Mazzagardi in the front/center)
Today (the 16th) makes 2 months that I've been here in São Pedro do Sul. That's weird because I feel like I got here yesterday, but at the same time when I remember some of the stuff that has happened here it feels like forever ago. I didn't even remember that it was Valentine's on Saturday, they celebrate it on a different day here in Brasil. The big commotion this time of the year here is Carnival. Its interesting to see the "other side" of Carnival actually being here because you hear much more about the total mess and awfulness that goes on, not really the impression from that movie Rio haha. But no worries because its not a big thing here in our small little city. 

This week was definitely more relaxed and we even got a break from traveling. Instead of going to District meeting President Parrela told everyone in the mission to stay at home and practice doing baptismal invitations like Elder Mazzagardi instructed us. Staying here for the week was also very needed so that we could actually get some work done in our area. Since we have the entire city there are a bunch of people that we can talk to that you could call "investigators"... just about no one who progresses though. As Elder Souza Santos and I were talking about it we realized that we needed to focus our efforts and time more on those who are willing to show interest or in simple terms go to church! So we started to pray for the inspiration to know who is prepared and to know who isn't and I've really seen a result. The lessons that we've had were more effective and we are more able to narrow down our schedules to teach those 8 or so people who are closer to progressing and having the rest of the time to find new investigators. 
Dion and Fran back on New Year's Eve

This past week we had our "Family Home Evening" of the Branch at Dion's house. It was a very special experience, Dion and Fran have really come a long way and finally after getting some crucial stuff sorted out they have started the marriage process to be able to be baptized! Now its just patience because after all the paper work and money spent, it's still 30 days until the marriage is official. (By law the marriage has to be announced in the paper for 30 days so that if you were married before and didn't get a divorce or something people could notify the notary and then you can't get married, a bit crazy) 

So yea this week was full of working and teaching and walking and all that good stuff that happens on a mission.

Sorry for not taking any pictures this week! I will repent and send some good ones next week for sure. Love you all and have a great week with possible snow!

Elder Pierce

Monday, February 9, 2015

Traveling, Choirs, and Elder Mazzagardi


So this week was super busy! We went to Santa Maria (45 mins in a bus there and back) four times this week! (Once is usually more than enough) But all the traveling definitely value a pena (was worth it). 

To start it off last Monday I got a call while we were chillin "Oh Elder Pierce you knew about the choir that you're going to direct for the special conference we are going to have with Elder Mazzagardi this Thursday right?" ... ummmm nope thanks for telling me, hahaha. So we had to go to Santa Maria on Tuesday (#1) for a zone meeting but more for the purpose to organize the choir. I have to say it was pretty fun leading the organization of the choir. President Parrela wanted the best that we had to offer in a small group performance (no more than 15) to the hymn "Brilham Raios de Clemencia" (I'm forgetting the English name for it but its one of the men's voices hymns). I had the 30 or so elders that volunteered divide into the voice parts and then each part gathered around the piano and sang while I listened in the middle writing down names of who would stay or go. I called out the 13 or 14 who would stay and we worked out standing arrangements (power! haha). After we had run through the hymn a few times and switched around some people and giving choral tips and singing directions I got a call from President Parrela. He said it was for me to sing with the choir and sing the second verse as a solo... alrighty. After lunch we had an extended practice where I and Elder McMaster (who plays the piano Jon Schmidt level) put our heads together and worked out the arrangement of the hymn. We decided that everyone would sing in 4 parts the first verse acapella, then I would sing the second verse as a solo with the choir doing hums and ooos, and for the last verse the choir would sing all together and Elder McMaster would sneak to the piano and work his magic to really bring it home. 

With all of the expectations of President Parrela (who said he wanted a Madison Garden performance) and my reputation on the line, after the practice which went well, all I had left to do was pray. And that's what I did pray pray pray that the Lord would bless the voices of the elders who would sing that we could have a good performance but more over that we could bring the spirit through the music. Until the big day on Thursday the mission tour in Santa Maria (#2) with Elder Jairo Mazzagardi of the 70, counselor of the Brasil Area presidency. After Sister and President Parrela gave a few short remarks and before Elder Mazzagardi, it was show time! All the elders got into place and it went... Awesome! Super cool and super strong, my companion even said that President Parrela teared up during the performance (yes!). And when Elder Mazzagardi went to the pulpit to speak the Lord had answered my prayers in a very specific way. Elder Mazzagardi thanked us for the beautiful music, for our talents and preparation, but more over for the spirit that he and all present felt through the music. Mission completed job well done :) 
Elder Jairo Mazzagardi

And just WOW the conference was just awesome. Elder Mazzagardi has a big deep booming voice( similar to Big Joe, haha) so it was just too cool to hear him talk. And the inspiration (he had nothing planned to talk about I think) and knowledge and power with which he spoke was very cool. Here are some of the topics he touched on: our pre-ordination to serve in the exact place we are, the literal and frequent guidance that the apostles and prophet receive from Jesus Christ, our need to study the doctrine of Christ and to practice challenging people for baptism every day and a lot of other stuff. The next day feeling very content and uplifted after the conference (like everything was over) we get another call "Hey Elder Pierce, Elder Mazzagardi liked the musical number so much he wants you all to sing it again for the Saturday night session of Stake Conference, alright? Alright. tchau (bye)!" ...ummmm OK, didn't even know we were invited to the conference and just filled with joy that we were going to have to pay for yet another trip to Santa Maria (#3), we made the plans and thankfully worked out at least one car ride back to São Pedro. Everything went smooth on Saturday with the choir and we got another chance to hear Elder Mazzagardi who talked a lot about self reliance and preparedness and cool after we sang our hymn he had all the wards do a mini ward counsel. Then on Sunday was the Stake Conference (#4) where the stake presidency was reorganized and again we got to hear more from Elder Mazzagardi. 

So yeah, that was my super busy week, I love you all and pray for your well being every day!

Elder Pierce
                                        THANKS Grandma, Grandpa & Brett for the package!!! :)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Looking Up

A brand new companion and things are looking up! :)

Life here is very different with Elder Souza Santos. First off, he has 9 months on the mission and has already passed through various areas and companions so we have much more to talk about. He is from Salvador, Baiha (northeast coast of Brasil) which means it took a day or so to get used to his accent. So far we've been walkin' and teachin' a ton so that's all good. 
Elder Sousa Santos and I in front of our church building here in Sao Pedro.

I don't know what happened but after my new companion got here things seem to be looking up for our branch (fingers crossed). We had 3 different ward activities last week that went really well and we met another family of members who will move here from Santa Maria who will be a great help. 

My favorite of the 3 was the Elders quorum activity that we will have every Thursday now. The goal is to get together and strengthen the priesthood brothers. So everyone helps bring something for a dinner and there's a small message and it went really well. There were 16 people that came and 3 were investigators which is awesome! The goal is for everyone to try and bring a friend or a neighbor or whoever wasn't there to next weeks activity. So I hope that will keep rolling and we will have a great success with that. 

Also this week we will have a special mission tour with Elder Massagardi of the Brasil area presidency, I'm looking forward to that a lot. 

Love you all and have a great week! 

Elder Pierce
Goodbye to Elder A