Monday, February 16, 2015

Está consumada. It is accomplished.

(Editor's note:  if you don't have time to read this flashback email, scroll down to "Elder Forsyth's last letter home" below)

My first greeny e-mail home:

Oi Familia!! Como Vai?

Woooo!! The MTC is absolutely great and I love the people here. There is a sweet spirit that resides here at all times and it makes it extremely easy for every Elder and Sister to be guided by the spirit when trying to be the best missionary they can be. Anyways, don't worry Mom, I wrote you a letter today on my P-Day which is a Tuesday which has all the deets especially for you:) So that will come in the mail in the next 3-5 business days. Honestly it could be sooner I have no idea how mail works. But expect it sometime around then.

It feels extremely strange when I have only been her for 6 days and my companion (Elder Baird: He is as great as I hoped he would be. Seriously the man will be a general authority. He knows his stuff and someday I strive to be just like him) and I were able to teach the first lesson...all in Portuguese. When the Lord has a will there is definitely a way. I am extremely humbled when words that have been stored in the back of my brain from 9 hour learning days suddenly start to come out of my mouth. We have a "faux" investigator named Antonio and the first time we taught him we were just getting by. It was so hard to understand his slurred, slang-like super cool Portuguese. We kinda just had to testify on the words we knew in Portuguese and let the spirit do the rest. It was was humbling to see how much work we had to do. Elder Baird and I are just working so hard everyday to let the spirit guide us on what we need to improve on and it is working great! We are able to have full on conversations with one another just in Portuguese and we decided that sometimes only speaking in Portuguese is the best way to learn. Also another great way is by teaching others in our district the lessons that we will teach Antonio. We are able to learn from each other and learn from the spirit at the same exact time. woo I am so pumped. In the mornings I am so tired from the mentally, physically and emotionally straining day before. But the spirit works wonders as I pray every morning for energy and for a fire to be constantly be burning in me as I go out and learn how to be the best missionary possible.

I am so grateful for everyone back home. It takes a village to raise a child and I completely agree with that. Everyone has played such an important role in my life and without you guys I wouldn't be the man I am today.

Soooo everyone told me not to play basketball due to the constant elder casualites that take place on the court. Yeah that is a true rumor. such a trumor. Elders are dropping left and right from sprained ankles and fingers to the eyes. It is kinda crazy. I have survived by avoiding extremely competetive basketball playing Elders and have joined the foursquare family. Elder Forsyth is now Elder Foursquare. Okay too cheezy I know but forgive me I am more tired than I have ever been. But also more aware of others too. Ed you were right. The MTC is one of the most emotionally straining things that have happened in m y life. But being set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ brings its pros. I have been able to love more than I have ever loved. I didn't know I was able to have all that love in me. You gain love for those you just glance at. I have tried with all my heart to see others as Christ sees them in every aspect. I know that through earnest and faithful prayers the Lord answers all of our prayers. I just feel different. It is the best different ever, though. I am happier than I have ever been :) Also reading the Book of Mormon and Bible as a missionary is a completely different experience. I am marking and noticing little things that have such a bigger impact on my life. Especially in 1st Nephi. Our district's Branch president asked us to restart The Book of Mormon from the beginning no matter where we were before and I am in 1st Nephi Chapter 17. There are red markings everywhere hahah. It is super cool :) It is really hard to decide what to write down since it feels like I have already been here for 4 weeks (there is so much learning that goes into one day. My brain is learning more in one day that it has in a while. It is very good exercise for my brain.)

The spirit works wonders in every missionary's life as soon as they enter the MTC if they stay obedient to the rules. Obedience is one of the major themes that I am discovering here at the MTC. Even the little rules that seem like they can be broken and nothing will change need to be followed. No matter what. Obedience brings blessings but Obedience with Exactness brings Miracles. I love everyone at home and only have a little time left so I just want you to know how grateful I am for all of your prayers and all of the love that is sent my way. I really can feel it all the way over here in Utah. Please send me as much mail as possible. It is a nice break through the harder days. But everything is great and I love all of the elders here. I wish I could write more but there is a 30 minute rule. There are just so many tender mercies I see throughout the day that I want to write down in this letter but I don't have time. More will come:) Pardon the typos......i really do stink at typing. There is love that is laced in the typos. lots of love.

Yours truly,
Elder Forsyth

Elder Forsyth's last letter home:

For all of those that have wondered, "Where did Ian go for two years?" I´ll give you a wrap up of the mission that I have lived and accomplished. Many friends back home must think that I've been running through Amazon forests with my native-made machete, teaching Indians. No, I don´t use a compass to tread through dense brush nor did I see any anacondas in the Brasilian rivers. Yes, I did see huge spiders in my apartments and yes, one bit me on the neck. No, I didn´t get any spidey-like powers like I wanted. Portuguese wasn´t the easiest language to learn and I am still growing my grammatic and vocabulary universe. I've strived to absorb the culture and become a Brasilian. It worked. I don´t remember how to order a hamburger anymore nor do I know how to ask a girl on a date. So, what did you do, Ian? What happened to all of your manly skills? 

When I was younger, not so much younger than today, I thought manliness was a teenage dream. I thought it was who could eat a hamburger in less than 30 seconds, drift their sedan around a light post while blasting adrenaline pumping music, play guitar, beatbox, quote the most comedy movies, and jump off a high cliff (into water) without any fear. Though I still think these things are gnarly and righteous, my priorities have changed. What I've have seriously learned and will surely apply is the principle of being proactive. I used to be real lazy. I knew our family motto was "WE DO HARD THINGS" but I kind of just said it to be considered a Forsyth. I would rarely practice what I would say. That didn't help me man up so that I would be able to face challenges that would face me in Brasil. In Brasil, I've learned to get up, stop complaining about problems, and to be the solution what ever the situation may be. There is always a solution. 

Lehi said to his problematic sons: 
14 Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth.
 21 And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;

If we lay aside our laziness and fill our lives with activities, we will not, I repeat, we will not have time nor space to sin. Satan does not have power over those who have full schedules. To become a man we have to shake the dust that has been slowly building up and awake from a lazy, dormant state. We must be agents.

14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
You either act and stop being lazy or you are acted upon and do not progress. I learned it the hard way. I was called to serve as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ. Yeah, I had to change a lot to live up to his name. Luckily, the Lord reached out his hand of mercy to help me. He gave me a tool to refine my spirit and my human nature. Of course, it is The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a treasure that I have studied, read, re read and have kept close to my heart. I know it is true. I have come to know my Savior by revelation due to this amazing and sacred record. It is the book by which all men shall be judged and it has helped me become a man in a world where there are few gentlemen. It has changed my style of language. I'm not saying I sound like an old English major in writing style, but it has cut out the profane and the unnecessary and I have tried to maintain these changes. 

Refining the way I am has helped me to not judge others. Sometimes we see someone we don´t even know and we judge. Right on the spot. How can we do that if we don´t know the person? We don´t even know their name nor have we tried to get to know their name and who they are. If we cut the profanity from our lives will we see that the change will immediately affect the way we see others because our natural and daily thoughts will be pure and true. 

The Lord can make us a righteous people. Our good works will not just influence our immediate generation but many generations to come.

I found, taught, baptized, and confirmed, but I wouldn't be enabled with power if it were not for my Savior. I love Him and I want to maintain this spirit that I cherish so much. I love all of you back home. I have felt your earnest prayers. I have read many letters and cards that uplift my spirits and help me rise from the dust. I cannot thank you enough. Like I said at the beginning, it takes a village to raise a boy. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I´ll be coming home in a week. AAH!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The white pictures I promised, and more

upper row:  Silvano,  Iolanda, Miriam, Elder Costa, Elder Lima, Elder C. Santos
lower row: Heber (Iolanda´s spouse), Brayan (it is spelled like that), Gabriel
I baptized Miriam and Iolanda

Hi everyone!

I got to interview a bunch of people this week for baptism and I've learned so much. There are so many people with so many types of cultural and family backgrounds that it would be impossible for a 21-year-old East Coast American kid to understand their struggles, problems and be able to provide the necessary spiritual support to follow Jesus Christ. Only through the Spirit of God is this truly possible. He knows every single one of us. Down to the core. And we must confide in him so that we may have the discernment to help others in need. I've interviewed a ton of Brasilians on the mission and it´s hard for me to remember all of their names, but the experiences that I have gained I have cherished. They will be with me and will remind me of the mission I served for the Lord until the end of my mortal life. 

I also love learning from 'out loud' prayers. Recently, I have been more tuned to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost as I listen to the prayers said by investigators, missionaries and members. The Lord is answering my prayers through the prayers of others. Now I know that each prayer is truly a fine communication with our Heavenly Father. Each prayer is something that must be listened to and pondered.

Double Rainbow

it rained so much that it punched a hole in the wall (jk)
a little too much rain


counsel not taken

the district
There's gonna be a rumble...a spiritual rumble...toni-i-ight!
Elder Forsyth

Monday, February 2, 2015

Brotherly love and Brasilian driving habits

From left to right:  Elder C. Santos, Elder Costa, Elder L. Morreira, Elder Tavares (remember him?), Elder De La Rosa, Elder Forsyth, Elder Lima

Happy Groundhog day everyone!

Next week I'll be sending some pretty white pictures. White clothing, not my nerdy white kid personality.

So, Elder De La Rosa was transferred to Irati. It is in the middle of nowhere. I went there one time during an exchange while I was serving in Prudentopolis. By the way, one of the Elders I trained is now the Branch President of the Irati Branch. That made me feel like a proud father :)

I have a new companion now: Elder Lima. He was the residential and referral secretary (at the mission headquarters) for a time about a year ago. He´s the 3rd ex-secretary that has been my comp. 

Teaching with the missionaries, Brasilian style,once again. We headed over to Contenda to visit our recent converts and they are still doing great. We helped them out by clarifying some laws and ordinances of the gospel and had an extremely powerful and brotherly-loving lesson. But the ride there and back was still wild. Brasilian gospel music blasting, three Brasilian brothers passing around the chimarrão and the three of us Elders in the back laughing because of their crazy comments. One of the hilarious comments was from our Ward Mission Leader. He was driving super fast on the highway with his F-1000 and was passing in between little Fiats yelling, "I'm in the hands of God, I am not afraid!" I think it would be funnier if you were there. One of those situations where you need to be part of the experience. 

I´m trying my best to work harder than I ever have on the mission and prepare everyone to be baptized. Now we have 7 baptismal dates -- some of them, with faith, will happen before I leave, some of them are set up for after my exit. 

It cooled down a little bit in Curitiba and I am hoping it stays like that because I've been sweating a huge amount. I've been eating a ton of chicken/ rice/ beans/ more fried food but I wasn't able to maintain the weight because all of the water in my system was coming out of me. Because of the cooler temperatures, I am gaining weight again. Pray for me so that I don't come home like a toothpick.  

It was so hot that my sweat wasn't even cooling me off. It was evaporating seconds later. Yeah, 42 degrees Celsius is pretty intense when you´re in dress clothes all day. 

Pictures are coming real quick. 

Elder Forsyth

stay sweet

p.s. If you ever come to Brasil, watch out for a unique animal they have. The Brasilian driver. It gets sketchy sometimes. I´ll leave the details for post-mission chats. There are a lot of things that I will need to describe that I can´t really post on the blog. Just ask me afterward and I'll let you in on the details.
our teaching get-away car, the F-1000

Elder De La Rosa heading towards inner Paraná

Monday, January 26, 2015

Conversion story of the extraordinary variety

Joaquim's baptism
Conversion story

All conversion stories are miracles that are examples of God´s hand in our lives. This one is pretty big.

So Joaquim´s story is simple but extraordinary. Extraordinary means nuts, okay? We were with our Ward mission leader coming back from Contenda (the city near Araucária) and he was going to drop us off and introduce us to a less active but he decided to take a different route so he could show us how cool his F-1000 is. So we hit the dirt roads and we were bumping around inside his pick up. He turned the corner, stopped and put the car in reverse. He got out of the car and told us to hang tight for a little. He clapped for about 2 minutes, waiting for one of his friends to come out of his house. Right when he was walking back to the car, little Joaquim was riding by on his bike and bumped into him. The fact that he bumped into him shows you the condition Joaquim was in. Drunk and high. I started talking to him and he seemed like a super nice guy. We set an appointment for that Wednesday to go over with Silvano (ward mission leader) and teach him about the restoration. 

On the 3rd lesson we started to share the commandments without Silvano present so that we could be a little more courageous and direct with Joaquim so that he would truly give up many vices. Ever since that 3rd visit he hasn't put anything harmful into his mouth nor has he done anything against the commandments of God. The 3rd lesson was what truly got him on track to baptism. Every lesson after that we followed up with every single commitment that we left for him. So, if we taught him the law of chastity and the word of wisdom then on the next visit we would follow up with those two commandments and leave another commitment for him. He was always being reminded of the blessings and consequences. 

Ele é super bacana. (He is super cool.)

Some pictures from the week:

Remember Elder Gale?

Brasilian Oktoberfest and knitted chicken made by an investigator


It is HOT

Big panda 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Finding Families

This week has been tough but rewarding. What I mean is that the sun is killing us but we are getting bronzed. Just kidding. The sunscreen helps a little but I'm still looking like a little tomato out here.

This transfer we have six people that could be baptized. Three are pretty much set. The Lord has been blessing us with families. Many of the doors we are knocking/ clapping are full of families. I feel like a true Brasilian missionary now because we are teaching a bunch of families with little tan kids who run around shirtless in their board shorts. 

Funny experience:

We were striding down a steep "hill" (*cough* mountain) and we starting chatting with some teenage kids who were playing a Brasilian game called "bats". It's like cricket/ baseball and suicide all together. Actually, they stopped us because they started screaming, "ELDDDERRRS!" In Brasil, almost everyone has been taught by the elders. It's because we knock so many doors and contact a lot of people. They told us that they all had Books of Mormon and wanted us to come back. It was a Saturday and we didn't have much time because of our next appointment so we invited them all to church. They all said they wanted to check it out. Some of them had already visited the chapel but never progressed with the missionaries. It's funny to see these kids talk to older guys, us, because they start deepening their voice and say more slang words, cuss words, or they just get all goofy. I was the goofy one as a kid. Sorry, to all of my brothers and their ex- girlfriends. And maybe some of my sisters-in-law as well. 

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about the sacred calling of a missionary. The bishopric asked me to make it like a recruitment call. I imagined Jesus with an uncle sam hat saying, "I SAY UNTO THEE,  SERVE THOU MY BRETHEREN." The talk went really well. I really did feel the spirit using me to reach the hearts of the ward and to get the youth exited about missionary work. After the talk Grandma Eva (ward chorister) came up to me in tears and said that my talk answered the prayers of her grand daughter. I saw her grand daughter crying behind her.She slowly walked up to me and said thank you. It was a great feeling. She said she had been praying to know if she should serve a mission or not. Lots of job opportunities have been popping up and she could get a lot of money out of them but she felt the strong desire to serve a mission. 

Elder De La Rosa made a miracle contact late last night. We saw a group of people hanging out by their gate and he contacted all of them. Stud. He´s super new in Brasil but his Portugues is picking up. By the end of the night we were teaching a young woman and she was really interested in the restoration. 

We are also teaching a guy in English. He lived in England for 4 years and we've met with him twice. He likes reading the war chapters of the Book of Mormon because he hates terrorists. Hopefully we can get him to go to church.

Yesterday we brought 9 people to church. It was fantastic. It was the first time for 6 of them and they all loved it, participated in the classes and hung out in the parking lot with a bunch of members afterward. I´m seeing and hoping for a lot of progress. It´ll come.

In one of our lessons we were teaching a father who has a tough time finding out what is truth. Not if God exists, but what is He made of and what does He do daily. We watched a sweet Mormon Message with him: Heavenly Father, Earthly Father. The sound was pretty loud because of their speaker and his wife who WAS kind of against our religion walked into the room half way through the video and sat down next to her husband. She never listened to our lessons. It was strange. At the end of the video she quickly turned her head and started asking us a ton of questions. We talked about the plan of salvation, church dances, barbecues, youth programs for her kids, For the Strength of Youth, etc. She randomly looked at all of her family members and decided the following, "We are going to visit your church tomorrow. I´ve always found your denomination loving and family oriented but never had the courage to leave my church to visit yours."  I was just thinking, "wait...what just happened."  She changed. Instantly, it seemed. They went to church and she felt super open to participate and make comments. It was awesome. 


Monday, January 12, 2015

What I've Learned

The Jaca fruit

Dear Family and Friends,

One more transfer until  I come back home. Everyone asks me if I´m super trunky. Well, now I am after everyone asking me! Being an old missionary has its pros and its cons. The pros are:

1. You´re experienced
2. You understand how the mission works
3. You feel comfortable in any teaching situation
4. You've overcome many obstacles
5. You can speak the language

the cons:

1. Everyone thinks you are rotting and slowly dying. Hey. I've seen worse. There is a difference between dead and mostly dead. I hope people back home get that movie quote.
2. Sometimes you think you perfectly understand what it means to be a missionary , but unfortunately you don´t.
3. You are physically tired.
4. Homesickness comes back.

So for the past two weeks we've been teaching a guy named Joaquim. I´d have to say he is one of our best investigators. He just gets the gospel. He´s never been a religious person and has never really been interested in this whole, OUR LADY OF "fill in the blank" Catholic tradition that everyone seems to be born into. I saw a baby with crucifix earrings the other day. He must have been 3 months old. Wow, side track. We found Joaquim through our Ward Mission Leader that was giving us a ride from Marlon´s place. He abruptly stopped in the middle of a neighborhood, started going in reverse and stopped in front of a old wooden gate with over grown weeds.He told us that one of his long lost drinking friends, from his non- member glory days, lived there. We taught him. We are currently helping him stop a lot of things that hurt his body and spirit and now he is on date. We watched the other elders´ baptism last Saturday and Joaquim loved it. He keeps telling us that the church is way better than any high that he´s had. The spiritual rush is lifting him up every day. Esse cara é bom mesmo. 

One of our roomates, Elder Vieira, finished him mission and is now waiting in the airport for his plane. Ah, it was cool to see him reminisce about his mission but the fact that I just have one transfer left hit me in the face when he starting talking about the things he´ll be doing when he gets back home.

I've leaned a lot this week abut who I am and what God is expecting me to do to endure to the end and prepare for my arrival back home. He´s been helping me a bunch in my personal prayers. I try to make each one count instead of falling into the missionary prayer routine.


Elder Forsyth 
Elders in the Zone

Jaca face

Monday, January 5, 2015

This is where I work

This is where I work

My Zone. Zona Araucára
Man on the street video, answering the question "What is the Book of Mormon?":

I´ll throw in my thoughts about The Book of Mormon.

In my view, I see the Book of Mormon as one of the greatest adventure stories to ever be documented on planet earth, one of the greatest stories of war, fraternal love, and one of the greatest stories of men who devote themselves to the service of God by helping His children. If we study this book we can find that God has so much more in store for us than we can imagine. Like the guy with the mustache said in the above video, I too feel like there are people who don´t understand why they need "more.” My question is, "What if there is "more" and you just are not aware of it yet?". When I say "more" I want you to imagine what is missing in your life. Whether "more" be true love, kindness, humility, or bravery, The Book of Mormon has the divine power to fill up the gap and make you complete if you apply its eternal principles. 

.I know this to be true. I've progressed myself and have helped many people fill their gaps, achieve the "more," and change their lives for the better, all because of this book. 

If I could only give my friends back home just one piece of advice that I have learned from my mission, it would be to read this sacred record. Meditate and think of the message it contains. Apply it. Then ask God if it is true. I know that it's true and I know it is not an ordinary book. Some may say that’s craziness. Some may not understand why I would want my friends to read a small blue book. Some might ask me why I would spend two years of my life in a shirt and tie talking about this. 

Paul explains it well, 
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God....
...we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mindof the Lord, that he may instruct him? But wehave the mind of Christ....
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men...  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak thingsof the world to confound the things which are mighty."
(from 1 Corinthians, chapter 2)

My personal knowledge of the Book of Mormon wasn´t proven to me by the words of man, but by the Spirit.  I know the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, seer and revelator, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is guided by the Savior through his modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

Have a good week, everyone! :)
Elder Forsyth