Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Good morning people back home!

So today we had transfers. Elder Stewart is no longer my companion, and left Cidade Aracy after 6 months of being there. He was pretty sad. But it was a good week! As I said last week, this transfer was extended a week, and Elder Stewart and I saw various reasons why it's good that he stayed for this last week. There were still a couple of things that he needed to do here before he left. And thus we see the Lord's hand in our work one more time! (The last part of that phrase translated into Portuguese sounds better than it does in English...) But now he's gone, and I'm with............... I have no idea yet. I'm actually here at the LAN house with the Elder's from Ala 3A and Ala 3B. Both of their companions got transferred as well, so we're all just waiting because nobody has told us who our new companions are yet! But here in about an hour they should be here and we will know. Almost our whole zone got changed. Only one companionship stayed the same.

Remember Sônia and Benedito? Remember their daughter, Júlia? And how she was working at the Mundial Church? (Which is an ironic name considering it isn't worldwide..) Well, a couple of weeks ago there was a fight between a few of the people that worked there and the pastor... I don't remember if I told you guys about that. But there was. And Júlia decided that she wasn't gonna go to that church anymore. So what did we do? Invited her to church, of course! Yesterday was the first time that Sônia came to church in 3 weeks, Benedito in 4 or 5, and the first time ever for Júlia! And she loved it! When she got home from church, Sônia said that Júlia wouldn't stop talking about it! She really liked it, and actually said that if she had known that our church is like it is earlier, she would've already gone a long time ago. Funny how people keep saying that our church is something it's not when they haven't ever gone... So now we're working with her, and planning on setting a baptismal date for the 10th of November!

Speaking of November, that came super fast. I hit 10 months yesterday! And Drew hits 8 here in a week or so! 

Oh, and Guilherme, our baptism last week, received the Aaronic priesthood yesterday as well. His brother went and talked to our Bishop and is working on going on a mission. Jonas is working really hard to stop drinking, and has found quite a liking to beer without alcohol. So it's all going great in that family! Just gotta wait for the marriage papers to come through and we'll have a baptism and a re-baptism!

That's about it for this week. I love you all and hope you have a good week!

-Elder Hopper #1

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22, 2012

Baptism this week! Wooooo!!!! We finally had a baptism that we've been working so hard to get! His name is Guilherme, and I'll go ahead and tell the story of him and his family right off the bat. So he is 12 years old, and he had been practically raised in the church. His mom, Shirley, had taught seminary for 7 years, taught institute for a couple more, and had been a huge power in this area. Theeeeen she made a little mistake and got excommunicated. Or I guess we could say that it was a pretty big mistake. But we won't get into the details there. A while ago, Elder Stewart and I were by her house and we were pretty thirsty, and so we decided to drop by and see if she had a bit of water that we could drink. So  we went in, she gave us some water and talked to Shirley for a while. Turns out that she has a pretty big desire to return to church! And bring her new husband with her who knows nothing about the church! His name is Jonas, by the way. The next week, Shirley went to church, and brought Jonas, Guilherme, and her other son, Gustavo with her. So the whole family was there! From that point, we started teaching Jonas the lessons, and we ended up finding out that Guilherme was never baptized! When he turned 8, Shirley and her husband were in the process of separating, so he never got around to getting baptized. So we started teaching them both, but Guilherme already knew everything. And by everything, I mean everything. Down to all the stories in the Book of Mormon. He practically taught us the story of Amon (I have no idea if that's how you spell his name in English anymore...). So we baptized him this week! Jonas has a baptism date set for the 3rd of November, but the marriage papers are still processing, so he might have to wait a little bit longer. And Gustavo is going to talk to Bishop Fabiano this week to talk about preparing to go on a mission, and Shirley is returning! Oh my goodness it is an awesome feeling to have a lost sheep come back into the fold. 

Then we've got Vanderlei and his family. He was another member that made a tiny mistake and got excommunicated (I guess these people really aren't making tiny mistakes, but that's alright) but wants to return. His daughter had a baby last week, so he's been pretty crazy running around helping her out with all that. We haven't visited his daughter in quite a while (she doesn't live with him), but we're going to try later today.
So this first picture is one of Guilherme, right before the baptism, which was crazy, by the way. There was a special someone who realllly did not want that baptism to happen. A special someone who doesn't like it when another person is baptized, especially when it's helping a super powerful family return to the church.

The second picture is a water balloon that we filled up a couple weeks ago. It was quite fun. Also, shortly after this picture was taken, the balloon exploded inside that tank. It was a very sad moment.

Well, I think that's all I got this week. We're currently on the 7th week of this transfer (weird, huh?) and we should find out at the end of this week what's happening with us!

Love you all! Have a great week!

-Elder Hopper #1

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ocotober 15, 2012

Hello family!

This week was a pretty good week. A bit difficult, but still really good. We are starting a new program here in our mission, which includes saying prayers in peoples' houses to help them with whatever difficulty they are having. But to start it off really, we did a fast. And before the fast, we took a whole day off of work to clean our house intensely. And even after a whole day of cleaning, we didn't have enough time to clean everything. It was rather tiring. On Thursday we had interviews with President Prieto, so that was good. Then later that day we had a training with the assistants. We spent a lot of time that day not working, so we basically lost two days of work last week. But we still managed to work a lot! 

So after the fast that we did, we said a prayer that basically was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. Elder Stewart and I both had things in mind that we had written down that we were praying and fasting for, and we switched lists, and prayed for these things for one another. I won't tell you guys what I asked for, but I'll just let you know that I got the biggest spiritual confirmation of my life after Elder Stewart said one of the things that I asked. I know with certainty that that thing will happen. I'll let you guys know what it was later, after it happens ;)


Also, our ward got a second counselor yesterday! The ward had been without one for about 6 months since they got a new bishop, but a less active that my companion helped reactivate was called as the second counselor! It was great to see him receive that calling. He's definitely someone that will help this ward a lot.


One last thing - we just got an email from the mission secretaries saying that this transfer (which was supposed to end after this week) will be extended another week. We'll have a 7 week transfer! One more week with Elder Stewart! Woooo!!!


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

-Elder Hopper #1

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 8, 2012

Conference!!!! Wooooo!!!!

So this week was pretty much lost... We had 7 lessons on Tuesday, and then I woke up sick on Wednesday morning and was still sick pretty much until yesterday. So we didn't work for the rest of the week due to me and conference. But conference was really good! So many changes! So who from back home is planning on going on a mission sooner now that the age requirement changed? And Lainey, you better get yourself ready! You're going to one year of school with me at BYU-I and then you're going on a mission! Woooo! 

Conference was reallly good this time. I loved all of it! I don't even know where to start... One of the scriptures that they cited a lot was Isaiah 40:31, which I actually have memorized in Portuguese. It's a really good scripture that promises strength to those that put their trust in the Lord. Really, that's all we have to do in this life. Trust in the Lord, do our part, and know that everything will turn out alright. And while our part may not be too easy, it's still made very possible by the help of the Lord. As it says in 1 Nephi 3:7, the Lord never gives us commandments without preparing a way that they can be fulfilled. Many time in the Book of Mormon it says that those who keep the commandments of God will prosper on the Earth. So we need to fulfill the commandments of God so that he can bless us! He loves us and wants to give us everything we stand in need of. We just have to be willing to accept his help and ask!

I forgot my conference notes at home so I kind of forgot the other things I wanted to say... But go read the talks as soon as they get up on! It's worth it! They were all super good. Especially Elder Utchdorf's talk on Saturday morning. That one was suuuper good. And Elder Holland's talk, too. Go read and educate yourselves! It's good for you!

Anyways, that's all for this week. Hopefully we'll have a couple of baptisms here pretty soon! We have one marked for this week - we'll see if it goes through!

I love you all! Have a fantastic week!

-Elder Hopper #1

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012

We've made it into October! September passed by super fast... I didn't even get to stop and smell the roses! 

So this week we started doing something quite different in our mission. You know how missionaries walk around knocking on doors and contacting random people a lot? Well we've changed how we do that quite a bit. We have started offering blessings at people's houses to cure the sick and help out with whatever difficulty they are having. It's something that Jesus told his 70 disciples to do in Luke 10:5-9. So we have been doing that and have been having a lot of success with that lately. The last couple of weeks we've had real problems finding new people (and by that I mean last week we had 0 and the week before that we had 2...), but this week we had 11! That's a 550% improvement from two weeks ago and an infinite number times the ones that we had last week! Needless to say, it was a pretty good week. 

Also, while we're in the business of blessing people, why not curse people at the same time, right? Well, that's not exactly what we were trying to do, but it just kind of happened. A couple of weeks ago we were working with Sônia and Benedito, and Benedito was really working a lot more than he should have been. So we told him that he needed to stop working so much, stop smoking, and start living the commandments or his life would be destroyed. We specifically mentioned his family, his work, and his salvation. Salvation's just a small part of that. Buuuut guess what he did! He went right back to work the next day as if we hadn't said anything. And the next couple of weeks went really downhill for him. He sells oranges out of his house, and normally Sônia sits and sells them all day. Usually they sell in the range of R$100 per day. Since two weeks ago when we told this to Benedito, they've sold maaaaybe R$50. In two weeks. And the papers for the marriage have gotten even more messed up than they were before. And they've been fighting a lot with their daughter, Julia. 

We were really worried about Sônia, because she's doing everything that she needs to and following all the commandments, but she's kind of being hurt by all this that's happening. So on Friday we went over there and offered Benedito one more chance to fix everything. We told him that if he started living all the commandments and stopped working on Sundays and did everything right from that day on, the blessings that he was receiving would be restored. But if he didn't, that it would get a lot worse. The last time that we said this stuff, Elder Stewart said it, but this time I said everything. When I said that things would get a lot worse if he didn't stop, I felt this power that really kind of scared me. As if there was no doubt at all that he would be much worse of a little bit later. And Elder Stewart said that he felt it, too. The good news about all this? Benedito went back to work on Saturday. And didn't come to church on Sunday because he was working. We saw him pull into his house (he lives across the street from the church) at about 12:10 PM on Sunday. 10 minutes after  church ended. I'm really kind of scared about what will happen to him. Sônia has been talking about leaving him so that she can finally get baptized, which, sadly, might be the best thing for her right now.

Hopefully we'll have a baptism here pretty soon! We've got a couple of men that we're working with as well. Manuel and Cleomar, who are trying really hard to get themselves ready to be baptized. They actually set their own baptism date for the 13th of this month. We'll see how that goes! And they said they'd come to General Conference!

Well, that's all I got today! I love you guys! Have a good week!

-Elder Hopper #1