Monday, June 29, 2015

Relying on the Lord

Hello all! Humm... so just to start things off this week got really hot out of nowhere. It was actually really nice 21-24 C (70s F) But when it should be getting colder I felt that it was hot. On the contrary Elder Alencar has been loving it because in Ceará the weather stays around 24 C (75 F) in the coldest of winters and 34 C (94 F)the rest of the time. So he gets to feel a bit more at home which is needed sometimes for a new missionary to get your mind off some of the stress. Thankfully (at least for me) today and tomorrow bring in the rain and then it's back to cooler temperatures which I've been waiting for. 

This week is the end of the transfer so I'm not too sure how I feel about that. I've got an estimated 60% chance to stay or 40% to leave by my reckoning. President Parrela likes to give the new missionaries Step-Fathers (when another missionary finishes the training), but there's no use in worrying about that till Friday. I would like to stay here and finish the training of Elder Alencar and help see some more progress here in the area with our investigators but we'll see what the Lord has planned. 
Having fun with our plaquetas (name tags)

A cool experience that we had: we got a referral of a less active family that was wanting visits from the missionaries again last week. When we went there the wife was full of questions and doubts about the Book of Mormon, the church, eternal families and all sorts of stuff so we just tried our best to answer what we could. We also left them 3 Néfi 11 to read to try and help them rekindle their faith connecting the Book of Mormon with Jesus Christ. When we returned we were all prepared to answer the unanswerable and and use scriptures from the 4 corners of the earth and whatnot. But when we got there they just said "oh we know it's all true elders we just need to plan better to wake up on Sunday to go to church, that's the only thing between us and coming back." and it was a "huh? could you repeat that?" situation which was a nice change from the tumultuous lives of our investigators who seem to get more complicated every week. But hey if it wasn't difficult it wouldn't be worth it :) This week for district meeting I'm going to focus on our main need to find more new investigators. So I'm gonna make a board game with sorted practice situations on the various pathways to help everyone feel more natural in finding new investigators, that should be fun, haha pictures to come.

Until next week! Love you all and know you're in my prayers :)

Elder Pierce
divisão (exchanges) with Elder Chuman

Run Around Then Relax... and Run Around Again

          I found Sheila's cousin at our investigators Thais and Julio's house. His name is "Gringo" because of the blue eyes (me and Ana- Thais and Julio's daughter)
Today (Monday, 22nd of June) makes 1 year and 5 months that I've been on the mission... I'm starting to feel old haha. Also it's now been 2 month that I'm here in Livramento, which is weird because I still feel like I'm new here, time really flies by. This week felt really rushed because we had two different exchanges that I had to do. Exchanges are always from before lunch one day to before lunch the next day and these 24 hours feel like a weird time warp. It's almost like that day doesn't count in my mind or something so the week goes by really fast. There are some things I like about exchanges but in some ways they really just make things more difficult. For example exchanges can go one of two ways, we will have a day full of miracles, teaching everyone planned for finding new people and seeing real progress in our investigators. Or nothing will go as planned and everything falls through just because your with another person. Thankfully the two exchanges I had went the first way this time. I was in Elder Banks' area on Tuesday then on Thursday Elder Edwards was in my area so the miracles were evenly spread out haha. It's interesting to have the chance to influence the work of another through my assessments and suggestions as a leader. 
Exchange with Elder Banks
Exchange with Elder Edwards

I've been blessed with a district who works hard and is always looking to become better so that makes things a lot easier.  In our area we found a cousin of a member who is 16 and I thought was already baptised but 4 years ago his Mom didn't give permission and now she is letting him go to church again.
No one else tried after that so we asked him if he wanted to be baptized and he said "yea, it just depends on my mom" So that is definitely a miracle and we are going to help him out in that aspect :) On Saturday we were invited to a churrasco at Thais and Julio's house (our investigators). It was super good and I even found a long lost cousin of our dog Sheila! They call him Gringo because of his blue eyes haha. This was our moment of "relax" in the week but then everything went crazy again the next morning trying to get everyone to church on Sundays. The rest of missionary work seems easy compared to getting people up in the morning to go to church and this is the only thing that stands in between many of our investigators and taking the next step to baptism. It was a bit disappointing that Leandro and Fernanda weren't able to make it this week but for sure next week will work out! All in the Lord's time, and with active patience.
Elder Alencar chillin with Gringo

Love you all and have a great week! And a shout out the all the family back at the family reunion! Extra hugs around and PARABENS! (congratulations) Grandpa for your Birthday!

Elder Pierce
                                         in the circle eating appetizers at the churrasco
                   the group Ana, Thais, Julio, us, then in the back are Julios nephew and his wife
the churrasco pit

Monday, June 15, 2015

Unexpected Surprises!

A picture of the Zone -everyone with their companion behind them.

This week went by well. It's starting to get cold here, around 30 some degrees in the early morning. Sometimes I think Elder Alencar is joking shivering in the street... but he's not joking, haha. He says that he can't support the cold very well but that he is liking the experience. We'll see how he feels about the cold in a few weeks. He promptly denied my proposition to run around in a field of frost one morning. Funny thing down here, frost is the ultimate sign of cold because it doesn't really snow anywhere in Brasil. Most all Brasilians have never seen frost and many people don't understand that the frost doesn't "fall" but forms on the ground, haha. When I tell them about how I had to scrape the frost off the car early every morning to leave for seminary they just look at me with big eyes O.O 

Anyway this week I had two surprises, one way cooler than the other. So I'll start off with the less cool but funny story. We taught a lesson to an investigator with the bishop's wife one night. The lesson went well but the investigator wasn't too interested in actually going to church but in just receiving visits. OK  that's normal but after the lesson was over bishop came to pick his wife up and give us a ride to our next appointment. As he pulled up he drove over the sewer "lid" (? it's the concrete slab over the storm drain) and here in Brasil things are a bit... less sturdy you could say and the concrete slab was shifted so that it wasn't square over the hole. Since it was dark the lid moved without us noticing. In a line Sister Claudia (bishop's wife) stepped on the lid to get to the car, then Elder Alencar went in the same path no incident, but when I stepped on the concrete slab the next thing I knew I was in the sewer, haha. The concrete had flipped and I was in the hole up to my mid chest but surprisingly, I didn't hurt myself at all just a bump or two on my knees. 

Suprise number 2 is much better. I was on an exchange with our Zone Leader Elder Edwards when we got a call from his companion and Elder Alencar back in my area. They had gone to visit a couple that we are teaching named Leandro and Fernanda. Leandro and Fernanda are super special and we received another witness that the Lord really is preparing people to receive the restored gospel. We already knew that Leandro had quit smoking for over a year and drinking for more than 5 of his own accord which is a huge step. But when I heard Elder Edwards repeat to me (he was on the phone at the time) "huh!? they are married??" (pretty much no one is married here in Brasil so that's a huge time process while people are preparing to be baptized) I dropped what I was holding in my hands and my mouth dropped. Then he said "you marked their baptism for the 4th of July and they accepted?!!" At this point I fell to my knees (this actually happened before the sewer incident) in the middle of the street (street in a manner to say in public we were actually on a sidewalk) and began to give thanks on high (thankfully it was night and no one was around, haha). So that was a super awesome unexpected surprise! Many prayers will be needed so that everything can come together for Leandro and Fernanda to be baptized on the 4th but I know that it is possible and that the Lord truly prepares those we teach :) 

Love you all and I hope y'all have a good week

Elder Pierce

                 exchanges tradition: xis! 
                 (Brasilian cheeseburger)

lunch last p-day

Monday, June 8, 2015

One More Last Try

                                                            Loving Life in Livramento
Another week gone by. Elder Alencar is doing very well. He came very prepared for the mission spiritually and went out with the missionaries a lot at home so he is even practiced at teaching. I feel totally normal with him here, I don't have to drag him around or explain the obvious etc. When I asked him how he felt he said that it still hasn't hit him that he's a missionary yet, haha. 
Taking pictures on the border.

We have been working really hard to find new investigators which cam mean some long hours with little results. But it was an awesome testimony builder for us on Wednesday when literally we were just about to throw in the towel for the day having searched and searched and nothing happening and we decided to knock (well clap really) one more door and the lady stuck her head out the window and was like "nope". Unsatisfied with no the whole day and various appointments falling through I knew that we had to have at least one yes. So I decided to give it one more last try and knocked on the next door that I saw had lights on. The guy stepped out and we did the normal introductions and he was like "umm yea, you can come in" Elder Alencar and I looked at each other with an expression of "really?!" We taught him and his wife the restoration, they liked it a lot, we felt the spirit, and we marked another visit. The whole day of no was worth it for that one yes :) We went to bed extra happy that night. 

This week President Parrela came to the city to do a round of interviews with the zone. It'
s always good to have interviews with him because he is in his what he calls "with sugar mode" (not his without sugar mode haha). As I talked with him about a situation that Elder Alencar and I went through this week he told me "Elder Pierce you now have a certainty beyond faith that God exists." President Parrela really has a way with words :)

Love you all!! and have a good week

Elder Pierce
                                             "Missionary Life" Cartoons by Elder Pierce
 *Riley takes pics of little hand written notes to his brothers and sends them by email and he often includes a little cartoon drawing that each brother might enjoy.  We thought you may enjoy them too. :)

Monday, June 1, 2015

My Son!

                                                            My new "son", Elder Alencar!

Here's the birth story: After saying our goodbyes Elder Lailson Silva got on the bus at 6:00 am and I stayed with some of the other elders. We went back to their apartment and had our morning studies I ate a small lunch (a sandwich) which was all we had time to do until my bus left at 12:30 pm. 
Byebye Elder Lailson Silva

In the middle of the way we stopped by another city and picked up a sister missionary who was also going to pick up her new daughter. We were the only missionaries on the bus so we talked (across the isle) for the rest of the way to Santa Maria about 6:45 'ish. It was a bit weird, haha because we got to the bus station and we were the only ones there and so we called a taxi together (me in the front and her in the back) and went to the hotel where we were to sleep for the night. And by this time I was starving! not having eaten a proper meal the entire day and so driven by hunger we went straight to the restaurant in front of the hotel that the mission pays for everyone to eat at. Again a bit awkward because we were the only ones there... haha missionary problems. But in short time other trainers came and it all worked out. 

Meeting up with old friends Elder Rios and Gama
I got to room with Elder Rios and Elder Gama who are both from my group and I spent time living with both of them in the same house in past areas, super cool to see them again passing the night (before 10:30) swapping stories and such. Then Wednesday morning with a "wonderful" rain falling we had the long awaited presentation of our new companions. The other singing elder, Elder Wassom, also is training so we got to sing a blasting duet to awe the greenies, haha. After a mini meeting with Pres Parrela for just us trainers we reunited with the new group (10 missionaries the biggest group in a while) Pres Parrela called me up first to meet my new companion. Pres always does a "gh"about the trainer so he talked about my singing and mentioned about my work in São Pedro which he informed me has continued to grow. Then he has us, the trainers, explain a bit about the area so I talked about getting to go to Uruguay on P-day and everything "chubby" (haha ask Noah). And finally drum roll... Presidente called out "Elder Pierce your new companion will be Elder Alencar!" wooo yea! Meu amado filho (my beloved son) haha Elder Alencar is 19 from Juazeiro do Sul, Seará (north east of Brasil) and he has 3 years as a member of the church. After everyone got their companions we had to run and eat lunch and call a taxi to get to the bus station for our bus back to Livramento which left at 12:30. We almost didn't make it because of the rain and the lazy taxi drivers not answering phone calls but we ran to the bus just as it was about to leave and success! The first week of the training has been well and I'll let you know more about it next week! Elder Alencar is dying of the cold here in the south and is a bit traumatized from some contacts that we did with rude people but it all makes part of the experience, haha. He came very well prepared spiritually and we will do a great work here!

Love you all and have a great week!!!

Elder Pierce
This is the border to Uruguay so I'm about to leave my mission, haha. 
I got the package from home in Santa Maria.