Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Letter #87

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
It was super cool to talk with you all on Christmas, and it looks like everything is going well!  Thanks for the pictures of Sinter Klaas and the new journal.  Of the two Christmases that I've had on the mission, this one was the best.

I feel kind of sick, because I ate a lot of chocolate.  But I could have worse health problems than that.  Here I am complaining about a tummy ache because I ate too much chocolate when as we speak there are probably a kajillion people having a double-triple heart-to-lung tri-pass, which is almost certainly fatal.

Love you much,

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Letter #86

This week has been a good one.  Today has been especially good, because it's P-day and I've been reading stories of my ancestors on FamilySearch.  It's literally incredible some of the stuff that happened with them.  Some of the people that had the best stories were Jannigje De With, Jonathon Collins Crapo, and Peter Crapo.  This stuff is so good that you could make a movie out of it.  I translated to Portuguese one story from the life of Jannigje De With and I'm going to use it with one of our investigators.  I think i'm going to do the same thing with a few other stories as well.  There's one story with Jonathon Collins Crapo where he decides not to drink coffee and it makes all the difference.

This week was pretty stressful, we had to get everything ready for the Christmas Conferences and it was the first time we had ever done a conference of this size.  A lot of stuff went wrong, but in the end everything worked out and it ended up being a good experience.  Christmas is awesome!  I'm super excited to open up that little green package that Mom sent me.

We are getting used to our area, and the last missionaries that served in it didn't leave too much for us, so we're starting from scratch.  We had some great experiences where we were able to find some people, we just need to find the time to visit and help these people progress.  The other day we prayed to find somebody to teach and the very first door accepted us and said we could come back.  God's preparing his children!

We got a huge gift basket from one of our recent converts the other day and I've probably eaten my weight in chocolate already.  Maybe it's good that I extended the mish so that I can work off the kilos that I'm gonna gain during the Christmas season.  On Christmas we're going to make a huge American breakfast.

In closing, I'm going to include a quote from my great grandmother, Jannigje

“Loved ones, in this Church we can learn where we came from, the goal of living on the earth, and where we are going when we shall leave this earth, and also many other problems will become clear to us, which we could learn from the bible but did not understand, because we did not have an explanation for it.
“Many mistakes have I made in these five years since I became a member of the Church, but this I know, if we sincerely regret the ill we have done to God and men and we confess our guilt not only to God but also to those we have hurt through word or deed, it certainly will be forgiven. May we always remember more the warning of our Savior given in the garden of Gethsemane: watch and pray so that you may not be tempted, then we will make less mistakes, and go through life happier.”

Much love, 

Letter #85

I'm sorry if I scared you with my last letter.  I want you to know that we are absolutely safe, nothing happened and nothing is going to happen.  I was transferred to a new area, which I included a picture of.  I can assure you that nothing will happen in this new area because it's probably the richest area that I've ever seen in Brazil.

It was pretty funny our first day in our new area.  It was the exact opposite of our last one.  Our old area was Ala Ipiranga and our new one is Ala Irajá.  I would like to denote a few differences between the two.

1.  In our new area, the parks have ponds with fish instead of puddles with diapers.
2.  In our new area, people participate in running teams instead of drinking circles
3.  In our new area, there are fancy condominiums instead of unfinished brick houses
4.  In our new area, people have money and teeth instead of empty pockets and gummy mouths
5.  In our new area, people have shitzus with ribbons instead of wild jackals that eat trash
6.  In our new area, people have garages to fit five cars instead of deformed garage doors to fit the cars.
7.  In our new area, we talk with intercoms instead of talking with people.
8.  In our new area, people eat dry leafy greens instead of perfect, dripping barbecue.
9.  In our new area, thirst is drowned instead of quenched
10. In our new area, people try to sell us into pyramid schemes instead of saying that they lost their job.
11. In our new area, people have jobs instead of twelve laughing kids.
12. In our new area, the gospel is needed just like it was in the last one.

I loved my last area, the people we absolutely greaty, but I really am excited to try out a new environment to teach.  Our ward is super great, I am really excited to be there.  There are a lot of people that speak English, we're even going to teach in English tonight.  It will be good practice for Elder Zolet.

This week was super busy.  We had to supervise transfers as well as the reception of all the new missionaries.  It was a lot of fun to see the new missionaries showing up so excited about the work, straight out from the MTC.  Some of them were saying, "Wow, I can't wait to knock on some doors, when are we going to go tracting?"  It was pretty funny.

Today we're going to go to a sushi buffet.  We'll see how it goes.

I love you all so much!

Elder Vawdrey's Birthday

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Letter #84

Dearest ones,
We just got back from a Brazilian barbecue restaurant and it was super good.  We weighed ourselves before and after and I gained a solid 3.5 pounds.  Lots of meat, it was great.  But you just need to be careful, apparently when Brazilians want to be cool they mix weird foods with strawberries.  I went and tried a certain dish, which I thought would be dessert, because it had strawberries, but it was strawberries with lobster sauce.  It reminded me of the time we went to that Dutch Christmas at Noah's and all the foods looked like desserts but everything had fish or eggs in it.  Dirty Dutchmen.

Thanks so much for all of your letters.  It's always great to hear from you and everything that's going on.  It's weird to think that I'm going to turn 21 next week.  I'm getting old, just like Dad always says.  Dad doesn't even look old, he looks the same as he did ten years ago.  Mom hasn't really changed too much, either.

Thanks for sending my pictures of Penny.  I'm ready to meet her.  But all in due time.

I've been having a great time with my companion.  He's from Curitiba and he keeps telling me that I need to go visit him after the mission.  We'll just have to wait and see.  I would like to come back to Brazil at the end of July to see 4 couples that I taught get sealed in the temple, but we'll see how things go.

This week was good.  We are working in the office, but not too much.  We do our studies here in the morning, eat lunch at the mall or a local restaurant, and then making our way to our area.  When President Brum needs something, we do it, but other than that, it's pretty chill here.  Little by little me and Elder Zolet are figuring it out.

Last week we had a meeting with all of the zone leaders in the mission and me and Elder Zolet gave a training that I think President Brum really liked.  It was a lot of fun, I like to give trainings because it's like an adrenaline rush of the Spirit.

Yesterday night I was coming from our area and Elder Zolet and I started talking about what marriage is gonna be like.  Weird stuff.  I told him about my plans to have 12 kids.  It's gonna be awesome.

Love you all much,

Letter #83

Dear Family,
Things are going well here.  It's kind of ridiculous how fast time is passing.  Ya gotta be alert.  I kind of feel like my life is a game of Fruit Ninja, and the fruit is the minutes of the day.  I feel like every minute is being thrown my way and I need to slice it like a sword with great accuracy.  If I don't it falls to the ground and becomes useless.  And with every minute the fruit starts flying faster and faster.  

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, go play some Fruit Ninja.

We had a good week.  Elder Madri and Elder Baker, the other two assistents, went on exchanges in Araraquara, so I chilled here with my companion, Elder Zolet.  It was pretty chill, I was teaching him how to use Excel.  I went nuts on Excel this week, grabbing a bunch of numbers and analyzing and comparing and doing averages and percentages.  It's funny how doing math helps to clear up the mind a bit.  Rarely have I had to use the math side of my brain on the mish, so it was nice.

Today is P-day, but we still taught a short English class.  English is hard.  I'm forgetting a few things, but little by little I'll remember stuff.

We're gonna have a baptism today.  It was pretty cool, we showed up in the area and there was already a girl ready to be baptized.  Her name is Kenia and she's going to get baptized today.

I've learned a new principle.  It changed my life.  I learned that the way that you start a project or activity with greatly influence the way that you end it.  If you start off playing well, you're more likely to end well.  If you wake up and are already laughing and smiling, it's more likely that you'll be laughing and smiling throughout the day.  If you pray in the morning, you'll have the Spirit sooner.  If you start off unorganized, you'll probably end unorganized.

So if you have a hard time with life, wake up in the morning and smile at yourself in the mirror for a minute straight.  You'll feel more optimistic about the day.  Elder Zolet is super happy and optimistic, that's how I learned this new lesson.

It's been a while since I've sent pictures.  Sorry.  Here's a free sample.  

I'm gonna be 21 soon.  Whoa.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Letter #82

Dear Family,
This week has been good.  We had some solids lessons, marked a baptismal date, and made a few people cry.  In a good way.  

Working in the office here is making me remember a bit about how it was in the office in Tallahassee.  A lot of the principles that I learned there are going to be applicable here.  We need to be organized and focused with the time that we have here in the office so that we can finish all of our necessary tasks.  Afterwards, it's time to do the best work of all: TEACH!  Being a missionary has really fortified my desire to be a college professor, because I absolutely love studying, writing, and teaching.  But not just teaching for the sake of teaching.  Teaching to reach an end.  To make people better.  It is a way that I can fulfill one of the counsels in my patriarchal blessing that says that I will be able to influence and bless the lives of others witht the knowledge God has given me.  I'm gonna do my best to learn as much as I can so that I can help others.  Learning is my passion.

Elder Zolet is my new companion, but I unfortunately didn't get to work with him this week.  There are four assistents here in the office, so we did an exchange for the entire week.  I stayed here in the office withe Elder Baker while Elder Zolet went with Elder Madri to help some desperate missionaries in Franca.  Kind of a bummer that I wasn't able to go, but I'm sure that Elder Zolet was able to help out the missionaries in the way that they needed it.

We had a great lesson yesterday.  Like I said, we made a few people cry.  We went to teach one of Elder Baker's investigators named Flávio, who was desirous to learn more but was having a hard to understanding what the missionaries were teaching.  But he was moving forward with faith with the hope that he would soon understand God's plan for him.  We were able to teach him about the Plan of Salvation yesterday and it finally clicked.  After reading Alma 16:16-17, it was amazing to see how well he understood when he said, "My very next prayer, I'm gonna ask God this question: 'Am I the lost sheep?'"  He showed a lot of humility as he understood that perhaps he was lost in need of finding, and that Christ had a plan to bring him back into the fold.  When his wife came back from dropping off the daughters the two prayed with us, both cried, and Flávio stood up and starting reciting back to his wife all that he had learned that day with us and how much it had helped him.  It was great.



Letter #81

So this will probably be the last time that you will hear from me...on Mondays that is.  My new P-day is Saturday.  I'm going to be serving my last two transfers in the mission office.  I'll keep you updated.  I'm going to stop drinking soda so that I don't get fat sitting at the computer.

My new companion is Elder Zolet.  From what I can tell he is super cool.  He's from Curitiba, super mellow.  He loves skateboarding, which is super sick.  I'm using all the skate lingo that I learned with Jake to make him think I'm cool, too.  I'm not quite sure exactly what we're gonna do, but whatever it is, we're gonna do it well.

My last week with Elder Souza in Araraquara was pretty boss.  I learned a lot with Elder Souza, but it was a good time for a change.  We lined up some good families right before I left and super soon they're gonna have some baptisms in our area.  I'm going to keep writing the people there so that they can know that I remember them.  Simple acts of kindness make a big difference.

Sunday was a lot better than Saturday.  I found out that I was going to be coming to the office on Wednesday of last week, so the days leading up to Saturday were kind of slow, because I was anxious about coming to office as well as sad to leave behind some super good investigators.  On Saturday night when we were finishing up our visits I was feeling super down and had to sit for a sec.  I said a prayer with Elder Souza and ended up crying.  I hope I don't sound like a wimp, but it was way hard to leave behind such great people.

But on Sunday everything went super well.  My tears seemed to wash away my sadness and the next day we were able to visit our investigators and say some goodbyes.  We had four investigators at church that are doing really well.  Elder Souza and I discussed a little bit more how things can get better in respects to our work with the members, because it seems to be lacking a bit, and I know for sure that it's gonna get better.  

I was also able to stop and say goodbye to Milanese, even though he's not investigating the Church anymore.  It was really nice to see him again and talk as friends.  I plan to keep in touch with him as well.

I hope that you guys are well and that are getting ready for an amazing Halloween.  I'm jealous because Halloween and Thanksgiving don't exist here.  When I get home in January I think we'll have to do a holiday recap.



Sunday, October 19, 2014

Letter #80

This week was a good week.  We were finally able to get one of our investigators to go to church this week, and another one we were able to get to pray for the first time.

The thing about missionary work is that you need to be creative and follow the Spirit.  We are teaching a family, José Mauro, Rosângela, and their three kids, and are seeing some great progress. Rosângela has been going to church quite a bit, but we're trying to help José get a little bit more involved and committed.  He started to read in the Book of Mormon and was understanding well, but we were having a hard time getting him to pray.

Yesterday night we went to visit them and we had a really good lesson to help José understand why we always invited him to pray.  He ended up giving all the same excuses and thought that he could get us to pray if he just resisted enough.  He thought he had us when I said to him, "Well, José, me, Elder Souza, and Rosângela have already said a lot of prayers here, and it's your turn.  I guess if you don't want to say the prayer, we're just gonna have to leave without saying one with you guys tonight." Elder Souza caught my drift and started to put his things in his bag.  We grabbed our bags, shook their hands and started making our way out the door.  He said to us, "Wait, you can't do that, we have to end with a prayer."  He had gotten so used to having a prayers that it seemed unnatural if we didn't say one.  We were just stepping out of the front door when he said, "Alright all say the prayer."  Gotcha!  He said a great prayer and in the future I'm sure he'll say many more.

We've been having to deal with some troubles with some of the companionships in our zone.  It's been a little bit rough.  I had to call out a missionary that lives in our house for being disobedient and since then he has been doing everything possible to avoid me.  I think it's the first time in my life that I've been the victim of a shun.  It's kind of weird, because some days it's funny the lengths that he'll go to to avoid me and other days I just feel bad because he's ended up isolating himself from everyone else.  I can tell that he's not happy, but I'm not really sure if I can do anything since he doesn't want anything to do with me or my companion.  Only time will tell.

It's super hot here and I think it's only going to get worse.  This week was 110 degrees, and we're just starting up Spring.  I may come home looking like one of Dad's dehydrated peppers.  But some chilly Utah weather will do me some good.

Well, I love you all a bunch,
Elder Jack Vawdrey

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Letter #79

So we had a pretty solid week this week.  We had six people at church this Sunday, which was super exciting to see.  By the end of the day we were pretty tired out, so it's nice to have a P-day now.

The other night we did a church tour with a couple that we are teaching that was really spiritual.  There names are Victor and Carol.  Victor is the the brother of a recent-convert named Evelim, and she was super excited when we started teaching her brother.  Victor and Carol talk a lot about getting married, but we're not quite sure yet if that just means move out and live together or actually get married.  I think we're gonna have to clarify things a bit for them.

But the tour of the church with them was super great, the Spirit was super strong.  I've always liked giving tours of the church because everything seems to come together well.  You show the people the cabinet with all the white jumpsuits, let them try one on, and then sneakily open up the baptismal font.  And then you push them in!  Just kidding, baptism is a sacred ordinance.

One the great challenges of the mission is teaching the lesson about the Restoration with crazy old ladies.  The other day we taught a mother, daughter and future son-in-law the first lesson and Cleide, this 75-year-old lady commented on every single point that we said.  She came to church this Sunday and was super funny.  During Sunday School she did the same thing, making comments about everything we said.  The Sunday School teacher had a baby recently, so we've been teaching Sunday School to the investigators, recent converts and returning members.

I feel a little bit bolder every day.  Yesterday we found a man sitting in front of his house on a little bench.  I'm not sure if it's because we had a long day and I want to keep things simple, or if it was the Spirit, but I went up to him and said, "Hey, we're representatives of Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ told us to come talk with you, sir."  He laughed and let us go in his house to teach.  That was pretty cool.  

We had a zone conference with President Brum this week.  He came here to Araraquara to talk with us about what defines a successful missionary.  It helped me a lot, because I am sometimes somewhat of a perfectionist and get stressed out.  Perfeccionism is not a virtue, it just makes you stress.

I'm getting everything worked out for college, Mom.  Wrote my essays and I'm going to request the transcript.  Thanks for all your help!



Letter #78

So I kind of weirded out today when we were coming to send email.  My companion told me that in my last interview with President Brum that he's gonna ask me what my goals are for when I get home, which made me freak out a bit.  I have less that four months left before I get home, and it's going by ridiculously fast.  Thankfully I have Mom that's on top of things and getting everything ready for school and such.  

So I have a favor to ask, probably more specifically towards Dad, Mom, Addie, and Ellie.  Since I'll be coming home in January, I'll have a good deal of time at home to work to save up for college, but to earn money, I will probably need a job.  If you guys to keep your ears open for something pretty steady that I could do full-time, that would be sick.  It would be pretty awesome too if you looked into jobs where I could use Portuguese, either in Utah or California, becuase I would probably make more money that way.  

We had some super cool experiences this week, that I have duely registered in my journal and recordings on the cell phone, so this week I'll have to update you later on.  Mom, I'll have those essays ready and in next week.  I looked at the BYU application, and all that is left is a high school counselor thing, my essays, and the transcripts from USC.  If you need anything really quickly, you can give the mission a call.

Much love,


Letter #77

Dear Family,

This week was super good, we got a lot of good work done.  Taught a ton of people and are developing our relationships with our investigators.

I know that my e-mails aren't too poetic; I think I'll have better perspective about my mission after having finished, so for now I'm doing the very best that I can to fill every moment and keep everything recorded.  Unfortunately the journal that Ellie tried to send never showed up, some mailman somewhere in Porto Alegre probably got me mixed up with some German guy named Johann Heinrich Von Drake, or something like that.  There are actually quite a few Germans in Southern Brazil, so if you make a visit down there, you'll see a bunch of blondies.

One day y'all will have to come to Brazil with me.  And we can visit a small city call Holambra, which is a mixture between the words "Holland and Brazil".  It's a little Dutch town not too far from here.  Who would have known?

Love you all so much,


Monday, September 8, 2014

Letter #76

So here's the beef.  Good week.  We are learning a lot.

Looking back on my mission it's super easy to see how much that I've grown.  This week me and my companion got a little frustrated with each other, simply because we're not perfect people.  Elder Souza is super great, and I'm doing my best, but sometimes people just don't understand one another, even when they are with each other all the time.  But, like I said, this was a good week.  Why?  Because we were able to maintain the channels of communication open.  Both of us, even with our differences, were able to talk things through without shutting down or getting super angry with one another.  In every moment when we felt like it was too much, we sat together for a minute and said a prayer and were able to keep the Spirit as our companion.  We are growing a lot.

Ellie asked me in her last letter about what I was thinking about pursuing as a career.  Before the mission I was thinking about being a doctor, but you know me, my dreams change a thousand times every ten seconds, so I no longer want to be a doctor.  My companion was studying environmental engineering, which sounded pretty cool to me, so I'm gonna research some more when I get back home.  He told me that environmental engineers in Brazil have the job of removing full-grown trees from one place and then planting them somewhere else, which seemed pretty intense to me.  Who knows, I've got time to choose.

We have been learning a lot these weeks because of some trials, but it's been for the better.  We learned more about the importance of Family History, getting referrals from members, and helping the missionaries be organized.  Boss mode.

Love you all a ton,

Monday, September 1, 2014

Letter #75

We had a good week this week, just like all the other weeks.  It seems like every the week the mission is becoming more and more of an intense experience, because we always have a new challenge coming our way.  But like I said before, I think one of the greatest lessons that I have learned from serving a mission is from the example of the sons of Mosiah.

Alma 17:13

"And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders ofthe land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves anddeparted one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken."

That last phrase makes this scripture my all-time favorite scripture.  Why did the sons of Mosiah have such great success?  Because they had vision, they believed that what they were doing was something spectacular, something beyond comprehension. That's the attitude that we need to have every day of our lives, we need to believe that everything we do is going to be the best thing ever.  It's optimism at it's finest, and it makes life more fulfilling. 

Another cool thing that I learned these days that makes me want to live life to the fullest: nobody writes books about failed attempts.  We always here the classic phrase, "The good guy always wins."  That's because nobody writes books or makes movies about the average guy that doesn't ever succeed.  It doesn't even have to be a huge success, just some sort of victory.  

To illustrate my point, just wanted to include a scripture that said that a lot of people tried to rescue the lamanites from their own unbelief, but only one short scripture was written about them. And why wasn't their story included?

Enos 1:20

And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey;dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.

Love y'all so much, hope things are going well!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Letter #74

Why, hello...

Dear Family,

Things are going really well here.  We have been in a trio for the last three or four weeks, which has been pretty trying, but thankfully tomorrow the stress will end.  Well at least the stress relative to the lack of a companion.  We're gonna get an American that was serving in the US waiting for his visa.  We're gonna pick him up tomorrow, so tonight we are going to catch a bus to Ribeirão Preto.

It's good to hear from you and get the pictures of Penny.  I think 7/8 of the pictures I get are of Penny, which makes me a little jealous that she still doesn't even know who I am.  But it doesn't matter, I'm still gonna be her favorite Uncle Jack anyways.

This week we has some more opposition, simple because we have very little time in our own area.  We go on splits with another companionship at least once a week and we also have to travel to to baptismal interviews, which is pretty time consuming.

Want to here something cool?  The word for jungle/weeds in Portuguse is "mato", which means literally, "I kill".  We have a city in our zone that is called "Matão", which means "The Big Kill You", basically.  That's where we went to do interviews last week, and we are going back this week, too.

Yeah, I don't really have anything too special to tell you.  Everything about the mission is special, so I think when I come home and see the difference between missionary life and normal life it'll be easier to tell stories about things that have happened.  But my constant search is to do things that are unprecedented, not so that I can show off, but to be more like Jesus Christ, becuase that's exactly what he did.  There's a video that the church published a while back that is super cool, it's called "Because of Him".  You guys should look it up because it basically talks about that, how Christ did things that know what else did or could have done, even though we has a carpenter, teacher, and outcast.  Super cool.

Love you all,


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Letter #73

Dear Family,

We had a good week this week, but with some serious opposition.  Number-wise, the week didn't turn out as well as I had hoped, but there were a lot of good lessons learned.  

I did a baptismal interview this week that was super amazing.  The man didn't pass, but it was amazing to see how the Spirit was able to lead me to say what needed to be said to help him understand.  It's an experience that I'll never forget, and it will be interesting to watch when I get the chance :).

Like I said, we experienced some serious opposition this week.  We found a family of five to teach this week, taught them the Restoration, and marked a baptismal date with all of them.  When we went back two days later to follow up with them, we were met by the house owner, who said that she had sent them away with one day´s notice because she wanted the house for her son.  I sincerely believe that she sent the family away because she didn't want us to come back; she was pretty rude to us.  

Because of this and other experiences, I've been pondering quite a bit about opposition.  I know that opposition is necessary, and that it is part of God's plan so that we can learn and grow.  But because of the things we passed through, I really want to gain a deeper understanding of why we have to be tried and tested.  It's one thing to say and believe that we need to have opposition, but I really want to understand so that I can help others understand as well.

I'm hoping to have a restful P-day, because I'm needing it.

Tell Tanner "happy birthday" for me.

Love, Jack

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Letter #72

Dear Family,

My first week with Elder Souza was super good.  We got a lot of good things done and are ready to work our butts off.  Or our feet, because we walk a ton, but we getting to work!

So here's the scuttlebutt.  In the mission we have a standard of excellence, which is basically a mission-wide goal for the number of people we talk to, teach, bring to church, and baptize.  The standard is pretty high, and up to this point on my mission I've only been able to reach the standard a few times in a few of the areas.  But my companion and I started a new project in our zone.  Every week we are going to focus on a few of the key indicators and the entire zone is going to do their best to reach the standard for those indicators.  We're starting off on the indicators that we can control, like contacts and other lessons taught, and by the end of the transfer we hope that we can all be hitting the standard for baptisms and confirmations.  After one transfer here in Araraquara, we haven't baptized anybody yet, but pretty soon here we are going to be having some serious baptsimizyzing.  Be ready.

This week we focused on contacts on the street, and we were able to hit the standard.  It was the first time in my mission that I had reached the mission goal, and it was super sick.  I got super pumped.  Every day I get a bit more excited to do missionary work.

We had a seventy visit our mission a few months back, and something that he said really marked me.  He said that every day of our mission should be an adventure, and I'm starting to understand why.  The mission is just like a secret agent film:  you've been trainded, you wear nice clothes, you carry your weapon (scriptures), you know the deets of the organization (the ward), sometimes you have to be discreet, you have to investigate, follow trails, sound people out.  And the best part of all, there's the Chief Boss Man in charge that sends you hints and extra help when you get stuck.

It may be sacrilege, but I'm starting to visualize the mission this way.  And I like it.  You have to be super focused and attentive so that you don't get caught in a bad spot.  And it helps me remember that you can't ever give up.  At the moment when it looks like the world is going to end, the bomb is going to go off, the world is going to explode and the bad guy is going to win is when the story really gets interesting.  That's when the thrill factor comes into play, and you have to be ready for it.  On your toes, listening to the Spirit, ready to respond any question or comment that your rival might throw at you.  Stressful yet fulfilling

Elder Cavalcante, that goon over in Franca, sent me another picture this week.  He baptized another person!  That goofball is on fire!

(to the tune of Barbara Ann)
Fa fa fa, fa famalams
fa fa fa, fa fa fafala-a-ams


Elder Jacko

Letter #71

Dear Family,

I was having a little bit of trouble deciding if I should return a transfer early to go to school quickly or not, but I prayed and fasted and I am going to stay on the mission until January 19.  Just make sure that when I come back I can be super involved, because I don't want to cool off.  I want to keep working hard and stay focused on the future.

Oi, I need President Fenton's address and email.  Can you guys send it to me in my next email?

This last week was my companion's last week on the mission.  He left Friday morning, leaving me to chill with the other companionship for a few days.  My new companion, Elder Souza, arrived today, but we are going to continue in a trio because one elder from the other companionship left and the new missionary isn't going to arrive for another four weeks.  It's gonna be another four weeks of stress, because we're going to half to take care of the entire ward, which is a pretty huge area.  If it weren't for the strict organization and daily routines on a mission, things would be a lot more difficult.  But thankfully we have ways to organize our numbers, our investigators, and our time so that we can stay focused on what's most important.

I had a super special experience this week that helped me to grow in faith that God really is preparing His children to receive the Gospel.  We got a call from a member that said that there was a less-active lady that wanted to return to church.  We went there the same day and it was super boss what happened.  

Milanese, Adelita's husband, is not a member.  When we showed up, we introduced ourselves to him and he was super nice.  After sitting and talking for a little while, he basically told us that he wanted to be married in the church, wanted to be baptized, wanted to become a full member.  Boss-mode.  We taught him the Restoration this week and marked a date for August 23, Tanner's birthday.  It's gonna be sick!

Not only that, but he said that he already received an answer to his prayer.  Two days before he met us, he was telling his wife how much he felt that they were being selfish and needing to serve more.  He said, "We need to be more like Jesus, who washed the feet of his apostles."  That Sunday, when he came to church, every class talked about service and charity.  When he walked into the classroom for Gospel Principles, there was a painting on the wall of Christ washing the feet of his apostles.  When we opened up the manual, the topic was service, and the picture was of Christ washing the feet of his apostles.  It immediately caught his attention, and he is super prepared.

Love you guys so much, chillski.  See ya in a few months.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Letter #70


Oh my heck, I can't even explain to you how happy I am.  Yeah!  I got an email from my last companion, Elder Cavalcante, and he sent me pictures of 5 more baptisms that he had in my last area, three of which were people that we worked with together.  Super cool!  My heart is super full and I can't even explain how happy I am.  OH my GOODNESS!

Wow, so cool!  I am super happy with everything that happened in that last area, and everything that is happening in this area as well.

So I'm still getting used to this area here.  There is a lot of work to be done and everything is going to turn out great.  I feel a lot like I did when I first came to Brazil, kind of unsure about the way things were gonna go down, but after getting a feel of things, miracles started to happened.  I really feel like I was sent to Franca to get things rolling for a great work to happen, and God sent Élder Cavalcante with perfect timing so that everyone could get excited and ready to work.  And now I'm in another area to help accelerate the work here.

In all honesty, up until this moment I was a little bit frustrated with the way things were going here, but now I'm seeing that the same thing happened when I first arrived in Franca; I was a little bit overwhelmed by the environment but when I got settled in and really focused on being obedient and organizing things, everything worked out.  It gives me a lot of hope that the same things are going to happen here.

I've learned some good lessons this transfer from my current companion, one of which is communication.  A lot of people have noticed that when I get offended or frustrated I'm not very good at expressing  my feelings, and just kind of close up and wait to remove myself from the uncomfortable situation.  But when you're on a mission, your entire life is kind of an uncomfortable situation, and when you are with some 24 hours a day, you have to learn how to communicate what you are feeling.  We had a good long talk about communication last week, and this week I've been doing a lot better about expressing my feelings.  I still like to be reserved about some things; I don't like to talk every second of the day saying everything that comes to mind.  

Yesterday I was walking with my companion, and I was a little bit frustrated because I felt like we were wasting our time with some activities and that we weren't doing our very best to fulfill our purpose.  He was a little sick this week, so I think that may have added to my frustration because we lost a lot of time, but also in general I felt like we weren't taking advantage of the greatest resource we have: time.  I expressed myself a lot more openly this week, and even though he got a little bit irritated (he almost punched a druggy that came up and talked to us), it helped me to see what needs to be done to make a real difference here.

We found a super great family to teach that I have no doubt will be baptized soon.  The family consists of three women, a mom and two daughters, and the three of them went to church this Sunday.  They are really liking our message because it's clarifying a lot of life questions that they have.  I love teaching the gospel!  

Love you all so much.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Letter #69

Dearest Loved Ones,

This week was pretty good.  We didn't have a ton of success, but we worked hard and learned some good lessons.  My companion is helping me learn a lot of simple life lessons that I can apply for the rest of my life, which makes me super happy.  It's been pretty different living in a house with three Brazilians, but I've learned a lot and know that with six more months I still have a ton to learn.

I think my favorite part of being a missionary is applying the knowledge that I've learned from scripture study to bless the lives of other people.  Something that I've really loved to do is memorize scriptures.  When I memorized scriptures, it seems like those scriptures turn into powerful tools.  When I teach or give a talk, it seems like the Spirit brings to mind those scriptures and I'm able to speak with them in regular conversation.  When that happens I can feel the power of the scriptures and it's super awesome.

We are teaching one lady in particular that has been having a lot of struggles.  Her name is Claudia and she is very intelligent when it comes to the gospel, but she has kind of a rough life.  She has two children and no husband and has some problems with marijuana.  But her knowledge of the Bible is incredible; there was a six-month period when she was attending church and it seems like she absorbed tons of knowledge.  But even though she has a lot of knowledge, there is still a lot that she doesn't understand.

The other day we went to her house to talk a little bit more.  We're not able to teach her inside because she doesn't have a man there, so we sat outside to talk for a little bit.  She was super chill at first, telling us that she had been reading in the Gospel Principles book when she came across the principle of agency.  As soon as she touched upon this topic, she began to cry.  

She began to express to us a lot of inner hurt that she has because she doesn't understand why a loving God would let his children suffer.  She doesn't understand why children in Africa suffer for things that aren't their fault.  She said that she would rather have stayed in God's presence as a prisoner without agency than have come to the earth to be a prisoner of her own wrong choices.  It's a pretty serious dilemma, but we showed her a ton of scriptures to help her understand.  It's interesting, because I remember very vividly what she said, the difficulties that she was passing, but I can remember very little of the things we said to her.  I guess it's just kind of that way when you speak by the Spirit; it's not you teaching, it's the Spirit, and it seems to just pass straight through you.  It's edifying and humbling at the same time.

Love you all.  Mom, let me know as soon as possible what USC says.  Do everything you can to persuade them to let me go back in Fall 2015.  The secretaries in the mission office are getting ready to by my flight, so let me know next week if you can.



Friday, July 18, 2014

Letter #68 (6 MORE MONTHS TO GO!)

Hey, Famalams,

We had a good week this week.  It was somewhat difficult because we had to stay inside our house during the world cup games when Brazil played, which kind of sucked.  When Germany beat Brazil I was a little bit scared to leave the house, but it turned out alright, nobody threatened me.  A few people did ask me if I was German, but no threats.

Here in a week I will have only 6 more months on the mission.  It's crazy how fast it's gone by, but I've only just begun to grow.  I think my favorite part of the mission is learning how to rely on the Spirit, and it really is an adventure when you are chasing after spiritual promptings.  My companion is helping me to gain a lot more perspective about everything, which is great.

Mom, if you could follow up with USC as soon as possible, that would be great.  Were you able to find my student ID?  Here in a few weeks the mission office is going to be sending my flight information, so I need to get in touch with them as soon as possible, just in case I have to come home a month early because of college.

Love you all so much,


Letter #67

Hey, famalams,

So I'm not as stressed anymore!  Thanks for your patience with my last letter, but this week improved a lot.  So I was assigned to be a zone leader, which has a little bit more responsibility than my last position as trainer and district leader, but now that things are nice and organized, I am really enjoying.  I always tell my companion that my one true joy in life is teaching, and I'm starting to realize how great it is to not only teach investigators, but teach other missionaries as well.  It's awesome!

These past few weeks I've been focusing in a lot on memorizing scriptures.  If you don't usually memorize scriptures, start now!  There's power in reading a scripture that you already know word for word.  You get much deeper meaning from it.

We had a solid week this week.  We found a bunch of new investigators with potential, and within a couple of weeks we should be having a baptism.  I really miss the people in my last area because I was there for such a long time, but now I am beginning to love the people here as well.  The accent here is a bit different, but I think it's sick.  I'll probably start to pick it up.

My parasite is gone!  If I remember right, I think it was E.coli, but now I'm clean.  Thank heavens.

I felt the Spirit super strong this week because we were teaching a lot of great lessons about the Restoration and invited a lot of people to be baptized.  BAPTISM!

I know that I sound really excited.  It's because I am.  And I don't have a ton of time so I'm typing at lightning speed.

Love you all so much, thank you for your letters and pictures!  You're the best!



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Letter #66



I'm a little bit stressed out.  So I was assigned to a leadership position in Araraquara, and I'm pretty freaking stressed out.  Give me a week to get used to things, and I'll be alright.

Last night we had a few meetings with the bishop and with the stake president, and when we came home we had to collect all the numbers from the missionaries in our zone.  Thankfully I have a really patient companion who helps me out a lot.  He got the numbers from the missionaries that I am taking care of and let me rest.  I went to pray for comfort and I got it.

I went into the other room to pray alone.  When I kneeled down I started to pray, and the only two words that I was able to get out were, "Heavenly Father".  Instantly a rush of comfort came over me and I was able to relax a bit.  I wasn't able to say anything for a few minutes, but I didn't even want to.  I just kneeled in silence for a little while and let Heavenly Father take away the stress.  It was a pleasant experience and gave me enough strength to help my companion finish organizing the numbers.

I'm still a little bit stressed, but your letters always help.  And a restful, studious P-day  is going to help too.  Y'all are fantastic, and I hope that you have a great week.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Letter #65

Dear Family,

So I wasn't able to finish up my story from last week.  Here's the rest.

So we showed up at the house and there wasn't any man there, so we weren't quite sure what we were going to do, because it was night time and we weren't able to call a member to come make the visit with us last minute.  So what did I do?  I said a prayer to have the courage to say what needed to me said.

So I went for it and I asked the family if we we would be able to open up the garage door, because we normally meet out in the garage anyways, and that way we could not be alone with these women.  When I asked, the mom ended up saying, "Well, we don't really like to keep the garage door open at night, or pretty much ever, because we have already been robbed at gunpoint three times here."  They had already told me about the experience, so I already knew that would be the response.

There was somewhat of an awkward pause after she said that, and I didn't really know what to do.  But suddenly Cida, the mom, got up and said that she was going to go fetch her neighbor.  My heart returned to its proper beat and location, because I just hate it when I have to disappoint people.  But she went and got her neighbor, Wilson, who came in and listened on our discussion.  It was a super spiritual lesson, Wilson participated a lot and he ended up tearing up a bit when we spoke about the Restoration of the gospel.  It was really cool.  Because I exercised some courage, God gave us an opportunity to teach another person that may not have ever accepted a visit from the missionaries.

This last week was super eventful as well, but I don't even know if I can put in words all of the miracles that happened.  I don't know if I already said, but I started recording my journal entries on the cellphone.  Ellie, I think that journal that you bought me is going to arrive here in maybe six more months, but when I get it I am definitely going to use it.  But yeah, I've been recording my journal on the cell phone and saving them on my flash-drive, so here in a few months I'll let y'all listen to a few of them.

But the highlight of the week happened yesterday night, at the every end of the week.  But I need to sum up what happened the other days of the weekend, otherwise you won't know what happened.  So on Friday night, we found out about transfers.  I was transferred.  After seven and a half months of serving in one area, I was finally transferred.  I had been in the Aeroporto Branch ever since I had arrived in Brazil, and just now I was transferred.  It was super sad to leave. 

 I ended up giving a talk on Sunday, and at the very end of my talk was when I revealed the news to everyone.  It seemed like everyone was pretty shocked to have such short notice; a lot of people told me that they didn't want me to go.  

Leandro and Tatiana put together a little farewell party for me that night.  It was super cool to see the families that I had helped coming to say goodbye and hear their testimonies.  In all, Jander came back to church, his wife Ana Paula was baptized; Sandro came back, married Jessiane, and she and her daughter were baptized; Sidnei and Ana Paula came back, and their son, Victor Hugo, was baptized; Marli came back, will be getting married on the 31st, and her husband, Sebastião, is planning to be baptized.  Their testimonies were the most powerful for me and they helped me grow so much.  I am going to miss that area a lot, but now I am ready to make more memories with more people.

I am now serving in Araraquara with Elder Nascimento.  He was serving as an assistant to the president for the last seven months, and this is going to be his last transfer.  I have a lot of confidence that we are going to have a miraculous transfer.

Thanks so much for you letters, I love you all!  Ellie, if people add me on Facebook, you can accept them.



Week #64

Hey, Family,

So this week was a trip.  We are working a lot, but we had a lot of trials this week.  It was super weird, but in the end of the week it seemed like everything just started to fall apart and we got super discouraged. But in the end, everything worked out.  And it all was part of God's plan because we learned some super good lessons.

First of all, I have a parasite, which is never very fun.  I've been taking medicine, so I'm getting better, but in general I just get pretty tired.  I've been feeling pretty exhausted lately, but it'll be over soon.  I have to take some medicine that makes my urine turn bright gold, which is pretty funny.

But yeah, when Friday the 13th came along, it seemed like a blanket of discouragement and unhappiness descended upon us and things ended up just being straight up hard.  Super weird, because neither Elder Cavalcante or I can explain what caused it, but we both got super discouraged.  But it all ended up for the better.  Because of our discouragement I ended up looking for some good counsel in my patriarchal blessing to help me out and I noticed something that I had never noticed before.

Previously I had never thought there there was a specific part of my blessing that talked about my mission, but because of this trial I ended up finding a part that explained exactly what I was needed to hear at that moment.  In this part there are two words that are repeated two times: courage and confidence.  It says roughly that my confidence and courage will lead me to go forth into the world as an ambassador for the Savior.  Interestingly enough, two weeks prior I had read the conference talk by President Monson about courage and had prayed for an opportunity to demonstrate courage.  Those two words, confidence and courage, ended up sticking with me for the rest of the day and throughout the end of the week.  

Saturday was really hard, but we had success.  I still didn't understand why I was feeling so miserable.

Then came Sunday.  When we made it to the end of the day, I was still looking for an opportunity to be courageous and hadn't found it.  But just like anything good, you normally don't receive the best part until the very last minute.  Sunday night we made our way to our last lesson of the day.

When we got there, we were expecting that the family that we were going to teach was going to have a man there, because as missionaries we have a rule that we can't make a visit with a woman if there is not a man present as well, or we have to make the visit in a public place or in the yard or something like that.  It's a rule that some missionaries have trouble with, but I've always done my best to obey it, despite a little bit of embarassment.  When we showed up, this family ended not having a man there.

I'm going to have to tell you the rest next week.  Sorry!  No Time!



Monday, June 9, 2014

Week #63

Dear Fam-alam,
Sorry my letter last week was so poopy.  I got caught up watching the Bible Videos on the church site and ended up eating up my hour of computer time.  Sorry.

Hey-ski, I've got a challenge for y'all.  If you haven't already, put lds.org as your internet homepage.  That way, every time that you go to use the internet, you'll start things off thinking about your beliefs and something cool will catch your eye.  I just watched some cool videos on the church site about religious freedom.  Watching the church videos is a great way to increase your understanding of the doctrine of Christ and how it applies today.  So the challenge:

1.  Put lds.org as your homepage.
2.  Look for something new to watch or read every day.

So this week has been pretty good.  We are finding a lot of new investigators to teach.  We are trying this new way to get referrals from members.  In the past, every time that we asked for a referral, the response was always the same: "Oh, Elder, I've already talked with everyone that might want to accept a message, and nobody wants it."  So instead of asking, "Do you know anyone that would like to hear a message?" we ask "What's your neighbor's name?"  They give it to us, and then we go there, preferably with the member.  So far it's worked really well.

My Portuguese is getting a lot better because my companion helps me a ton.  Elder Cavalcante is way cool, and he's helping me learn a lot more about the culture here.  For example:  I don't know why they taught us how to say please (por favor) in Portuguese, because nobody says it.  They just tell you what to do.  I still say it because I want to be polite, but I don't get as offended when it seems like my companion is commanding me in everything.  

We are still teaching Jamil, who is getting ready for baptism.  That man is a straight up goofball.  Thankfully he is learning to control his language in front of us, but every once in a while he lets slip a swear word or two.  He is really anxious to be baptized, and we're doing our best to get him ready, but he loves to talk and it's going to be difficult to teach him everything before this Saturday.  Last night we took away his pack os cigarrettes, crumpled them up and wet'm down in the sink.  He's getting there, little by little.  

We found a few more people pretty strong in the faith, so we will be having some more baptisms this month.  We are also working on reactivating a few people, because with two more Melchizedek priesthood holders, the branch is going to become a ward.  Super cool stuff, and I got to witness it all.  

Like you know, I've been in this same area ever since I've arrived in Brazil, and during this time there has been a lot of growth in the branch.  There was one night when a quick arrogant thought passed through my mind that it was me that made such a big difference.  But I quickly banished that thought when I realized that all the experiences that God has given me and the investigators that he prepared had nothing to do with me.  He did all the work.  I didn't make this area, this area made me.

I love you all so much, you are great!



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Week #62

Dear Family,
Sorry to be so sucky, but I don't have a ton of time to talk today.  We had some legit baptisms this week, and I sent you some pictures of the five baptisms that we've done here in our area.  I hope you have a blessed week, and I promise next week my letter will be way better.



Week #61

Dear Family,

So I'm going to continue my account of what happened last week, just so you don't miss the rest of the story.  When we left off, Elder Hanley was really down and embarassed on the bus, and I started to notice that something was wrong.

"I gripped his shoulder a bit and when he turned I saw that he was crying.  He explained to me that he has been frustrated in general about the language and everything, and it has been very discouraging.  Because of the experiences that I had been having those past few days, I was able to have some real empathy and talk with him.  I could tell that it made a big difference for him.  For anyone that passes through a trial like that, the most important thing that you can do is trust in the Lord.  Let Him be your crutches.  Lay off your yoke and take His yoke upon you because He wants to push with you."

Sadly, Elder Hanley wasn't able to stay in the mission.  I found out yesterday that he had to return home because of psychological problems.  Hopefully he is able to return at some point.

"The day continued to imrove as we prepared for the three baptisms that evening.  All six of us missionaries met up at the church in our area, and Ana Paula, Jessiane, and Kemily were all interviewed at the same time.  I was a little bit anxious, because just as I explained to my companion, I have issues with relinquishing control.  It's kind of a mixed up psychological issue that I have.  I think perhaps it's a fear of failure.  I'm basically like this: I almsost want to be pulled out of situations before the final test comes, because somehow that exempts me from any potential failure.  But if I am still a part of the process when the final judgment comes, I hesitate to relinquish control for fear that I have not fulfilled my part.  It's somewhat complex, and it's definitely something that I need to master.

"So that's how I was feeling.  Gratefully the three of them passed their interviews and were cleared for baptism.

"The baptismal service was such a great experience.  We had a mountain of  people there, including a ton of investigators who had never seen a baptism.  Jander baptized his wife, Ana Paula, Elder Cavalcante baptized Kemily, and I baptized Jessiane.  It was sucn an amazing experience.  The three of them have entered in the gate, and are not only procuring their own personal salvation, but are acting as shepherds, leading their friends and family towards the true Church.  These were my first baptisms here in Brazil, and I am so grateful that Heavenly Father blessed me with the opportunity to work with them.  They were truly elect women chosen by God."

Really good experiences, and even more great ones happened these past few days, but there's not enough time.  We'll just have to talk after the mission.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Week #60

Hey, Family!
So today I'm just going to type out a journal entry that I did the other day that sums up how this week has been.  I was feeling a little bit of discouragement during the week, but it ended up super good.

17-18 may 2014

"What a fantastic couple of days.  And it all ended with me being extremley tired and spiritual.

"Yesterday was Sandro and Jessiane's wedding, which was super fantastic.  I was realy happy to see them taking such big steps in preparation for her baptism.  And Jessiane was absolutely beautiful, it was so great to see the two of them together.  Their wedding was up in Leporace's area, so we ended up spending the night there.

"This morning we came back to our area and pretty early in the morning had to teach a lesson to Jessaine and Kemily to get them ready for their baptismal interview.  After lunch with President Marlon we made our way downtown.  We did some pretty interesting splits today.  I went with Elder Hanley and Elder Valente to eat lunch with a group of students learning English.  We talked with them about out families, ate waffles with maple syrup (importe, Wal-Mart brand) and just had some fun.  At the end we were able to get the names of everybody and their addresses, so we'll see if it leads somewhere.

The other dary I wrote about the spouts of discouragement that I had been experiencing, and today I learned a little bit more why God lets us pass through these problems.  When we left the English-speaking lunch, we had to return to Portuguese becase a young lady who expressed some interest started to speak with us.  Elder Hanley is having some struggles with Portuguese stil, and today it kind of reached a head.

"When we got on the bus, he gave two bucks to the bus man, but the bus fare is 2.80.  The bus man and Elder Valente were trying to help him understand, but he wasn't able to comprehend right away.  I ran up the aisle and gave him another coin to even things out.  When Elder Hanley turned around, he accidentally spilled his change al over.  It was a pretty humilhating experience, and when he sat down I could tell that he was pretty embarassed.  He was sitting in front of me, so I couldn't see him directly, but after a bit I could tell that something was wrong."

Alright, well I don't have time to finish the entry, I'll tell you more the next time.  Forgive typos, I didn't proofread.

Until next week!


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Week #59

Dear Family,
It was great to talk with y'all yesterday on the computer.  It looks like a few things are changing but is just about the same as it was before.  

I did the math, according to my calculations, 86 kilos is about 190 lbs, so I have lost weight since I got here.  But everyone, including my companion, says that within five years or so I'll be fat and bald.  I guess that's just part of the culture here, everyone wants to tell you that you'll be ugly at some point.

We are preparing for some baptisms and a wedding this week, which should be super fun.  I'll update y'all the next week.  I'm foreseeing some great advances this week.  We had a general authority visit with us this week and it made a big difference.  I learned a lot of new things to appy in the work and it's already bringing some results.  The mission is turning more and more fun every day.  Like an adventure.

Love y'all,


Week #58

Hey, Family,

It's been another great week of missionary work.  We are having a lot of success in our area.  It is absolutely crazy for me to think that I have been in this same area for six months, it seems to have passed by so fast.

These last few days have been fulfilling and difficult.  I caught the flu on Friday and started to get sick.  On Saturday we had to return home after lunch to rest, and I ended up sleeping for a solid three hours before we went back to work.  On Sunday we worked until late, but by the time we arrived at home I was dead.  I went to sleep as quick as possible and didn't wake up until late today.  I'm feeling a lot better, but it was pretty difficult to keep going last night.  Thankfully our last lesson was with Jánder and Ana Paula and they did their very best to take care of me.  They are the best family ever.

This last Friday night we had an activity in church that was super fun and made a big difference for our investigators.  President Márlon and Flávia organized the activity, which was basically a big pie-in-the-face fest.  People answered basic questions and then got pied.  Super funny.  It was Jamil and Jecylayne's first visit in the church, and I don't think they were expecting something so silly.  Jecylayne used to attend the Christian Congregation of Brazil, which is a very strict church.  In that church, women can't wear pants, use makeup, pluck eyebrows. or cut their hair.  I said to my companion the other day, "I'm confused.  Why would any man ever want to go to that church?  I want to go to a church where the woman are pretty."  Maybe that's whay Jecylayne left that church, because she is a very stylish lady.  But yeah, I think it was a somewhat of a shock for them to go to the church and watch some pie-smashing, loud-laughing madness.

We had a ton of investigators in church on Sunday, it was a super special experience.  Jánder came to church wearing a brand new suit and was ordained a priest.  Ana Paula is getting really close to give up smoking, and within a week or two she should be baptized.  Jamil and Jecylayne went to church as well and had a great experience.  Up until this point, Jamil has been pretty averse to the very idea of going to church, but it seems like they really enjoyed it.  Jamil loves to talk, and he got some great recognition from the members.  The members are great here.

My Portuguese is getting a lot better because of my companion.  He helps me a lot, and I'm adding to list of useless words.  So far I've added bedpan, weeze, comic book, wart, parallel parking, bunkbed, and vagrant.  I'll be fluent in no time.

Love you all so much, and thanks for your letters.  I will be calling y'all next Sunday, and since my call can only be 40 minutes long, maybe it would be better if y'all gathered together in one house.  I was thinking 20 minutes for Mom, Dad, and the brothers, and then ten minutes each for the two couples.  If it's possible, let's Skype again.  I will get on about 6 o'clock my time, roughly, if that's alright with y'all.  But I will check my email right before to see if there are any problems with that.

Y'all are the berst.