Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One of the Most Exciting Weeks!

"Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost." 2 Nephi 31:17

This week was definitely one of the most exciting weeks that I've had on my entire mission. It was like the end of a marathon watching all of our plans come together and how things actually work out and it was just amazing.

I'll start off with the wedding on Friday. All of the planning and decorating was behind and 7:30 was show time! Fran asked me to sing a hymn as their entrance music so I sang "Love at Home" (that's the name right?) Everything worked out perfectly, the hymn even ended exactly when she walked up to Dion. It was always a dream of hers to get married in a white dress and all so this night was very special for her. It was funny too because we were expecting Fran to be crying the whole night with joy (she gets emotional often) but she didn't. And afterward when we talked with them she said "I just couldn't look at either of you or I would loose it!" During the party part after the ceremony was super funny too because Dion came up to us and he said "finally now that that's over we can get to the real part: the baptism!" haha that's Dion for ya. Over all it was a great night and everyone invited had a great exposure to the church and after we too were ready for the baptism! 

                                                                Happy, Happy, Happy!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday we got everything ready and were off to Santa Maria at 2:30. This is a day a long time in the waiting (these were the first baptisms the branch has had in almost a year) and Dion and Fran have been investigating the church for about 6 months. Also seeing how the Lord is blessing others like the family of our branch president. He is working hard with all his relatives here in São Pedro so that they too can have the joy of the gospel in their lives and Kelvin was the first. The baptismal meeting was so full of the spirit. It almost felt too good to be true, haha but that's the mission, that's life, that's the gospel. I felt a peace that these events were only the beginning of the Master's plan in the lives of Dion, Fran, and Kelvin. Also it's an astounding feeling to know that you helped a family enter the path to be eternal. I look forward to a year from now to get the Temple invitations from Dion and Fran and to see their family grow. 
Baptism Day

The actual ordinance went well, everyone went under the first time. Pres Gilmor was just a bit forceful with Kelvin and his feet slipped out from under him and I think from shock he breathed in some water and came shooting back out gasping, but in a very goofy, funny Kelvin type way. So of course everyone laughed and it was all good. After everybody had changed clothes I sang the primary song "I like to look for rainbows" (again name? I'm forgetting in English) and the spirit was like a wall and just filled the room and half of everyone started crying, especially Fran this time. And after Dion and Fran bore their testimonies and who wasn't already crying, started. Dion spoke about the miracle of how he changed and when the Lord says it's time there's no getting around it and how he hoped that his family too would feel the same joy that he has felt. Then Fran spoke about how she always knew that God was with her and that was why she had such patience all these years because she knew that after the storm came the peace and now she had no doubts that this is the path and the truth has brought her such peace in her new life and family. Feelings you can't describe :)  With the help of our District Leader we will help Frederico be even better prepared and hopefully by that time his mom and brother will be ready too! We also are still working with some other nephews of our branch president. The work of the Lord will always press forward, I'm just happy and grateful to be a part :)  * More pics below!!

Love you all!

Elder Pierce                                               THE WEDDING
us at the wedding
The chapel in "wedding mode" with me in the corner ready to sing!
Irmã Fran walking in with her father
The cake (I found out that the flowers weren't for eating...)
"if you like it then you should put a ring on it" haha
us with Frederico
This explains exactly how Gabriel (Dion's brother) is, haha
                                                                 THE BAPTISM
On the bus to Santa Maria for the baptism!
us with Dion and Fran
us with Kelvin
Dion e Fran
Dion and Fran with us and his family. The baptism really helped them feel the spirit
and have a new force to be baptized 
Everybody from the branch
(we love the look of suffering that Gabriel made in the picture, hahaha)

Monday, March 23, 2015

God's Plans

3/23/15                                             Breaking out the long sleeves

A common saying here is "I make plans but then God makes others" and in some ways I think that's very insightful, but I'll get more to that in a bit. 

38 degrees C = 100 degrees F = Freaking hot
on the bus on the way back from District Meeting
Yesterday (the 22nd) makes 1 year and 2 months on the mission yea! Can´t really say now another year to go now (just 10 months ooo). I remember that I wrote a few weeks ago that I thought it would stop being so hot here... yea I was wrong at the moment. On Tuesday after our District Meeting we had to walk probably a kilometer to get to the bus stop carrying a box with 25 hard cover Book of Mormons (super heavy) in the solão! (freaking hot sun) When we got on the bus we saw that it was 38 C! (100 F) so that was rough, haha. But this weekend the weather has done a full 180 and we are going into fall weather. On Sunday we even broke out our long sleeve shirts because of the cold wind that was blowing all day. (of course relatively cold probably 12 or 15 C) This weather is my favorite :) I'm having lots of flash back memories about a year ago in Urlandia starting out the mission in this weather and also of holidays like Thanksgiving that happen in weather like this back home (a bit weird right?). 

Anyway like Mom was telling me this month really is March Madness but not because of basketball, haha. Last week went by I think the fastest any week has gone by in my entire mission. And this week looks to be even faster. As the title of the message God has his plans for us here in São Pedro and plans for our investigators too, we just need to do our best to carry them out. 4 of our investigators are ready for baptism this Saturday! Dion & Fran, Frederico, and Kelvin. The others are still on their way but will need a bit more time. So now we are in the count down for Saturday getting everything ready. Today we are getting all the details done: finishing up paper work, getting people on the list for the bus to Santa Maria,  and planning with the bishop of the chapel where the baptism will happen for the timing of the baptism and everything. (back story for going to Santa Maria for the baptism: At the new chapel here in São Pedro the only water pipes to fill the baptismal pool (yea it's a pool thing) are outside of the house and everyone in the street walking by can see and it is getting cold and so yea) 
Our District

Wedding invitation

Tomorrow as always we have District Meeting and we'll have to go to Santa Maria. Wednesday and Thursday, review teaching and baptismal interview questions with everyone to make sure they're ready. Friday is a mess, our District leader will be coming in to do the baptismal interviews and we have Dion & Fran's wedding! They've already given us the invitation, the picture they used was the first picture they took after the first totally happy day that they had together so that was really meaningful for them and it just makes me happy too :) the gospel changes lives.

Saturday we go to Santa Maria again for the baptism and Sunday will be the confirmations. The Lord's work is moving forward. It's been quite miraculous to see how God's plans unfold for every one. Not always is it what we expect or when we expect it, but it always is right in the end. 

BIRTHDAY  SHOUT OUTS to Tanner and Gitta and Julie and Cameron this week! 

Love you all and have a great week!

Elder Pierce

Monday, March 16, 2015

Count Down

                                    At our Branch President's house teaching his nephews.

Sorry for the short email this week and the few pictures, but I loved getting letters from all the brothers you guys rock! 

Last p-day Elder Souza Santos and I made a flippin' sweet calendar and planned out everything that we needed to teach our investigators to prepare them for baptism. I wrote each topic on a slip of paper so that we could move them around to make up for what didn't get done and such. I felt quite proud :) 

This week makes 2 weeks before the baptism on the 28th so the rubber really hits the road now. But I have a firm faith that the Lord's will shall be done! Not everything works out perfect but in the Lord's time everything works out. This week makes 3 months that I've been here in São Pedro and as Dad asked me in his email I have definitely felt the assurance that this is where I'm supposed to be. It's quite exciting to see the gospel change peoples lives. Haha it's almost like a "novela" (soap opera?) every day getting to see what happens next as we keep progressing.

Good luck for everybody back home and lots of love!

Elder Pierce

Monday, March 9, 2015

Period of 6 weeks of Promise!

                "In the sweat of thy face" (Genesis 3:19) the work rolls on in São Pedro do Sul. :)
Drum roll... Elder Souza Santos and I will be staying together here in São Pedro do Sul for another period of 6 weeks! (President Parrela is trying to disassociate transfers and the work to monthly goals not goals for the transfer. It makes sense but it's become almost taboo in the mission to say "transfer" so we have reverted to saying "period of 6 weeks" (which is the same thing)). 
Pizza! celebrating Elder SS's 10 months & my 1 year in the field (4th of March) 
and another transfer together!

So I'm pretty excited to be staying here because the Lord is really getting stuff moving here in the branch and with our investigators. This past week we had 49 people at sacrament meeting! A huge improvement from not getting over 25-30 for over a month. Also we had 7 investigators there all of whom are being prepared for baptism this month (much prayer, hope, faith, and fasting inquired- "requested"??). Elder Souza Santos and I are getting into an awesome groove with our schedules and plans to teach everybody and accompany all of their progress and such. So again I'm glad that the Lord is giving me the chance to be a part of it all! 
Santa Maria from a new view!

Mom asked about day light savings time and yes it happens here... I have a strong disdain (looking not to use the word hate) for it! During the "horario de verão" (time of summer) it doesn't get dark until 8:45pm or so that is wonderful for proselyting we can do contacts and bater portas (hit doors) until the end of the day if need be and everyone is still awake and it's great. Now that the time has gone back it gets pitch black at 7:30. That means that no one is in the street, no one wants to open their door, no one wants to talk with anybody and half of everyone is in bed. In other words much more complicated for us. But all is solved with some tactful activities at the church during the night and set appointments. 

So yea that's pretty much it :) Love you all and have a great week!

Elder Pierce
Back in the normal bus to Santa Maria
Our Zone
My shoe is happy :)
All of my planners until now and the one in 
the middle is the one I did special for General Conference this transfer

Monday, March 2, 2015

Rain and Marriages!

                                    The sandwich I made last p day for lunch=YUMMMMM!                

About everyday this week it has rained a bit. This is good and bad and all around normal for this time of year. It's weird that it's already March, this week makes 1 year that I've been in the mission field (after leaving the CTM) cool. 

Storm clouds rolling in.
Elder Souza Santos as we were walking one day.
I really like my companion Elder Souza Santos and we get along great. He likes to eat all the fruit that he sees on the trees in the street and always offers me some, but I'm not too fond of "street fruit" haha. He was baptized when he was 12 and through him his family became members of the church. Its good to have a companion who is a convert because people seem to listen to them more. Since he was raised learning with his grandmother, who is a a Jehovah's Witness, he know every way to disprove what they talk about using the bible. We both have a passion for Marvel movies, that was a fun conversation one night when we found that out. An interesting point is that he has trouble sleeping well. So he counts how many times that I turn over in my sleep but he's working on that, haha. 

Walking to our District meeting
Some good news, Dion and Fran have officially started their marriage process! The date marked to make it official is the 27th of March, oh yea! (we'll just have to see about transfers this upcoming week haha fingers crossed) Dion & Fran also bore their testimonies on Sunday which was a super sweet experience. 
Us at Dion & Fran's house with Dion's little brother and their dog. :)

Love you all and I hope you have a great wintry week!

Elder Pierce
We found a rock with a hole in it, so I took a picture.
Our District
The storm clouds that were in the background rolled in 2 minutes after the picture.

Double Rainbow! Outside our window one morning.