Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 2012

Hello family!
This week we had transfers. I got transfered to an area called Cidade Aracy. It's in the city of São Carlos, which is about 2 hours away from Ribeirão Preto, so I got to go on a little bit of a bus ride. Before I got here while I was waiting in the bus station, everyone was telling me that the city is beautiful, the chapel is amazing, my new companion is awesome, the house was huge, and that everything here was good. But the area is a favela (translation: slum!).

So my new companion is Elder Stewart. He's from Fresno, California and has just over a year on the mission, but less time in Brasil than me. He was in Alabama for 8 months, and he was actually there at the mission office when I got there, and when I left. So I already had met him one time, but had really forgotten about that until he mentioned that he was there in 'bama! It's been pretty cool so far, even though I've only spent a few hours with him. And everyone was right. São Carlos is really a beautiful place, the chapel here is huge and beautiful as well, the house is big, Elder Stewart is really cool, but this area is pretty poor. It's a bit far off from the rest of the city, and it's pretty much just a hole off the side of the city that people settled in. But I should like it here. Sounds like they have pretty good success here and that the ward is pretty strong.

This last week in Ipiranga was pretty good. Elder Henrique and I got along really well this week and we had some pretty good lessons. We had been teaching a man that had some problems with drugs, and another lady that was having problems with depression and smoking. It was pretty sad to say goodbye to them, but they will be in good hands still. Two Sisters ended up replacing us there in our area, so I'm sure that they will take care of our investigators. 

That's all I got for this week. This upcoming week should be full of fun, exciting, new experiences!

Happy Birthday, Dad!

And Brad last week, too!

I love you all!

Elder Hopper #1

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 2012

Hello family!
This week we went back to work! It was a week of... interesting things happen. We have officially started working in both areas at the same time, which has proved incredibly hard. We have been walking A TON, but it's all good 'cause that means I'll start to lose this weight finally! We've had luck with finding investigators at the end of both areas, so when we want to work with everyone we spend at least an hour walking from one house to the next. But the people that we have are progressing well! On Thursday we worked a lot with an investigator that has some problems with some addictions, and we were able to clean up his house a bit and give him a blessing and then yesterday we dedicated his house. After our visit on Thursday he went through and took out all of the things that he shouldn't have in his house, and when we went back yesterday, you could feel a huge difference. The spirit was able to be there and we were able to teach more effectively. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes just to have certain music and films taken out of the house. And Paulo (the investigator) said that he has been able to feel a difference, too. He's gone to church 3 times now, but he's gotta wait a little bit longer to be baptized because of some other problems that he has. But he's progressing really well!

We spent a bit of time with another family this week too, who have been members for a while now. Last week the dad and one of the sons got in a big fight, and the dad ended up kicking the son out to live on his own. We were able to talk to the dad and he told us that he missed his son and wanted him back in the house after all that happened. So we called the son and talked to him for a while and he finally agreed to coming back and talking to his dad for a while. When he got there, the son and dad hugged for a while, and they both ended up crying. They talked for a while, just the two of them about what happened, and we all left them alone. It seems that everything was worked out and that everyone is happy now, but hopefully it stays that way! It was so good to be able to help them out and be a part of helping their family come back together. Never allow a little bit of anger overcome the love that you have for your family! The family is ordained of God and is here for a reason. Always be sure that your home is a place where the spirit can dwell and where everyone feels loved and like they belong. 

That's all I got for this week!

I hope all goes well with Girl's Camp! I look forward to hearing about it!

I love you all!

-Elder Hopper #1

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16, 2012

This week!
We still didn't work much, between the baptismal interviews and me still being sick and the other meetings we had. There was plenty of stuff to do this week, though. We had a meeting with the Brazil Area President, and it was awesome. Elder Costa is his name. He's an amazing man and he had so much insight into the gospel.

At the beginning of the meeting he just answered questions from the missionaries that were there (it was a bunch of the zones in the mission, but not all of them) and it was awesome the way that he was able to answer every question. I was going to bring my notes with me to the LAN House today, but I ended up forgetting... Sorry! I'll try to remember stuff that he said. 

Elder Costa told us a story about when he was a mission president in Brazil. He had two elders call him up one day and said that they were teaching a family, and the family decided to bring in their pastor from their church to talk a bit with the missionaries, so the missionaries invited Elder Costa to come along. Elder Costa prayed about it and accepted, and also received a little bit of inspiration to ask one of the elders to bring a Bible in English. Which is kinda weird considering they're in Brazil, right? Where everyone speaks Portuguese and all. So the elder brought the Bible and they got to the family's house, and it turns out that the family had invited not just one, but 3 pastors from their church to come and talk with the missionaries. 3 vs 3 - Fight! So they got to talking about the training that these pastors had gotten, and one had a doctorate in theology and had 13 years of education, one had a masters in theology and 9 years of education, and one was almost finished with his masters in theology with 8 years of education, and all three of the spoke English. Then Elder Costa talked about the training that him and the missionaries had. One of the elders was Brazilian, so he had 19 days of training. The other was American, so he had 2 months of training. Elder Costa had 3.5 days of training. Seems like they were pretty outnumbered, huh? Well, they started talking and the biggest thing that these pastors had a problem with was about the day of rest, which happens to be Sunday for us, but Saturday for the pastors' church. In the Bible in Portuguese, it clearly says that "Sabado" is the day of rest, which is the word for Saturday. But Elder Costa grabbed the Bible in English, which the most educated pastor had said was correct and the word of God, and showed that it doesn't say "Saturday," but instead it says "Sabbath," which happens to mean a day of rest. Elder Costa then asked the main pastor what day was the day that he took off from work as a day of rest, and he answered that is was Sunday. After a little bit more of this banter, the pastors left and the family ended up being baptized. Moral of the story: Listen to promptings of the Holy Ghost! They might seem ridiculous in the moment, but there is always a reason. Never lose an opportunity to follow the guidance of our Heavenly Father. He always knows what is best for us, and will always help us down the right path as long as we seek out his guidance.

Well, that's all I got for this week.

I love you guys!
Elder Hopper #1

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9, 2012

Well, I seem to be pretty good at getting me and my companion stuck in the house. I came down with a pretty bad cold with fever and everything this week, so the mission doctor told me to stay in the house until it passes. That was on Tuesday night that he told me, so we've been in our house since then, except when we left to eat lunch on Saturday and go to church on Sunday. So we had a pretty uneventful week. I'm still a little bit sick, but for the most part I've gotten better. We spent a lot of time cleaning, studying, sleeping, listening to EFY music, and then doing it all over again. This week we're gonna go out and work a bit more and hope that my companion doesn't catch this cold. 
One good thing that has been happening lately is work with the members in this ward. The members have been helping us out a lot, and we've been having a lot of lessons where they come and help us teach. Which also was a little bit unfortunate for this week since we had marked a lot of ward members to come out with us and visit some people, but we had to cancel all of it. A little bit disappointing, mas faz parte. 

That's so awesome that Dad was able to get an engine! I know that he was looking for a 390, but a 460 is even better! Bigger and louder! And sucks more gas... But bigger and louder! I hope that everything goes well with the truck and that you can get it all put back together... I hope I didn't cause too many problems when I took it apart! 

Well, that's all I've really got for this week... Not much exciting happened. But next week I promise to have more exciting news! We have the area president coming to our mission to give us a little training meeting this Friday, so that should be good. Hope all is well at home, and get better, Mom!

Love you!

Elder Hopper #1

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2, 2012

This week was a bit crazy, and it's assured that the upcoming few weeks will be even crazier. So to start out, I don't know if I told you or not yet, but in the area that we're in, there's another companionship living in our house. Elder Henrique and I take care of the area Ipiranga, and the other two take care of Ala 1. Buuuuut a few things happened and we had a bit of a change this week. The two elders that were in Ala 1 were Elder Soares and Elder Hartung. Elder Hartung is from Pittsburgh, for all you Steeler fans. Elder Soares has been having health problems lately, and ended up passing out one time during personal study. He's been constantly physically weak and unable to really work. So he talked to President Prieto, and after doing tons of exams in local hospitals, no one could figure out what he had. On Thursday this week, Elder Soares went home. And Elder Hartung went to Birigui. So now Elder Henrique and I are here taking care of Ala 1 and Ipiranga, which is a pretty big area. And we don't really know anything about Ala 1. So it should be fun! It's been a bit lonely in our house the past couple days, but we're getting used to it. We get the bigger room now, each of us have our own bathroom, and it's a lot cleaner around the house. It's kind of nice, but at the same time it's weird only having two missionaries in the house.
 The problems with Elder Soares took up a lot of time this week, so our week wasn't terribly productive. But we still had a couple of really good days with one of the youth in our ward who has been visiting people with us lately. On Saturday, he was with us after our studies until 9 at night, so we had a really productive day. We went to the store to buy our lunch, and this kid, his name is Natanael, told us that he felt that we should make a contact with a lady and her daughter who were in the store. So we waited a bit and continued shopping around, until we needed to go and pay. We got up to the front, and guess who was in the line ahead of us? The lady and her daughter! So Natanael got the courage up to make the contact himself, and ended up carrying some bags out to this lady's scooter and talking with her. We went outside after paying and met up with them, and started talking about who we are and what we do and all that jazz. Turns out this lady has been searching for a church for a while, but didn't know where to look. She is Catholic right now, but she hasn't gone to church in a long while. We combined to meet her at her house later that day and share a message with her and went home to eat. After we got done eating and visited someone, we went to the house of this lady, her name is Maria, and guess what? She wasn't there! She told us she would be at home at 3:00 in the afternoon, but when we got there, no one was there! So we went and made a few more visits, talked to a couple of Natanael's friends (one that we met is the first person in Brazil that I've met that plays League of Legends), and around 8:00 at night we went back to Maria's house. And she was there! But, she ended up going to a friend's house and drinking a bit. She was still coherent and able to understand everything, so we taught her the first lesson and invited her to church. Everything was good, but then guess who didn't come to church the next day! Maria! So we'll have to return to her house this week and talk to her a bit more. 

Moral of the story: All of the members of this church have the power and spirit to know who needs to hear the gospel. When you feel like you should share the gospel with someone, don't be afraid to get out there and do it! The Spirit will guide all of you as you ask for the guidance that you need, and you will be blessed for listening and following those promptings. 

I've got a couple of pictures here that we took this week. One of our investigators has like 10 of these little birds, and they're pretty friendly. She has one that will just come up to you and start climbing up you leg sometimes. It's pretty cool.

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!

-Elder Hopper #1