Monday, October 28, 2013

For my Facebook friends (and everyone else,too)

With great blessings comes great responsibility.
I don't remember if I have already written this phrase that continually pops into my head. On this mission it is super easy to get discouraged with all of the rejection that one faces. But I have been trying so hard to count all of my blessings one by one, like I learned in Primary. I think 80% of the gospel truths that I have in my heart and mind I learned between the ages of 3-11. Hey kids, attend Primary! Anyway, this week was a good one. We are getting to know the area little by little but we are finding the elect. I love the face of the guy who sees the Book of Mormon for the first time, gives me a look of "what are you...crazy?" and when we bear testimony and read him Moroni's promise, he gets all excited and changes his attitude. We had an experience like that this week. We arrived to the gate, because every house in Brazil has a gate, clapped our hands and waited with faith that someone would open the door and gives us just the slightest look. We were passing this house constantly and I was thinking to myself, this is extremely ineffective. We are passing all of these homes just to get to our next appointment that has a high chance of falling through. Why am I not knocking on these doors(clapping my hands super loud when Shakira is playing from the bar right behind us)? So we stopped, turned and clapped. An elderly man left his living room to come out and speak with us. What began as a man saying that he was Catholic and wasn't  interested, turned into a man saying that he would change his mind if the Book of Mormon is true. It was a powerful experience for Elder Pesantes. With a new missionary it a little sad because we are trying our hardest to get to know the area but still we are finding people that are super firm.
It was for the Zone leaders but it was one heck of a baptism! As district leader I have the privilege to hold interviews for the candidates that are preparing for baptism. I had the most spiritual experience as I held the baptismal interview for Vinicius. He is 11 years old but he is one diligent seeker. We became friends and shared our testimonies with each other. At first he didn't really want to baptized but through the fasting of the other elders and through all of the prayers that Vinicus and I had we felt the Savior's love so strongly. Vinicius started to cry tears of joy and wanted to baptized. I have never seen another little boy so happy:)
Faith is key here in our area. We have great hope in the people we are finding and teaching. The people of Curitiba are so friendly and kind. I love it here. I couldn't have asked for a better experience in my life. I know that the work that I do is completely for the Lord. I know that He lives and I know that The Book of Mormon is true. Because I read it, thought about it and prayed about it. I was only 13 years old and God showed me with great vigor. I know that those who are reading these blogs and are not members should take a peek at the Book of Mormon. I know that it will change your life for the better if you read and pray about it with real intention. Not just because a scrawny 20 year old bore testimony on the internet....but because God loves you and he wants you the receive his mysteries.
Stay Sweet
Elder Forsyth 
(and here is the p.s. I got from Elder Forsyth explaining the lack of pictures):
this old computer in Brazil erased all my photos on my camera. :( I had a ton of great ones. with awesome videos that I was planning on sending you. AHHHHH. so sad

Monday, October 21, 2013

Trainer and Trainee

The new duo:  Elder Forsyth and Elder Pesantes

Opá. It is time to write the family and friends. Here it comes..
Vai da leite. A phrase from the land of Forteleza. It means...I don't know what it means directly but something along the lines of doing something over and over again until you get a product. Translation:  It'll give milk. My new catch phrase.
The details of a tired Ian:
The Lord doesn't choose those who are prepared. He prepares those He has chosen. I have been feeling the pressure of trainer, district leader and the white wash. But I am staying happy like always. To start things off, I butchered my new companion's name last week.  It is Elder Pesantes. He´s completely Ecuadorian. He speaks Spanish for sure. It has been a great week helping him with the discussions and learning more about how he gained his testimony. He is a recent convert to the church. A fresh 3 years. The missionaries found him and at first he had doubts and did not want to be baptized. When he realized that he was already keeping all of the commandments of the Lord, he started to feel the spirit more in his life. So he got baptized, but it took a little while. So, all of you missionaries and families out there that are struggling with investigators or neighbors....don't give up. Continue helping them understand how much happiness keeping the commandments of the Lord brings to you. I promise they will see the light in your eyes when you bear even just a small testimony of the joy of the message of the restored gospel. Elder Pesantes is super spiritually strong. the 3 s´s. He told me the other that the only reason he is on the mission is because his family needs the blessings that the mission will pour upon his loved ones. Man that hit me right in the core. I am super pumped to work with him in the work of the Lord. 
I also butchered the name of our area. Parigot de Souza. (pah-de-góo gee só-za)  It is more populated than Rio Iguaçu and Osternack. More stores, more main roads. I am the District Leader of Osternack. The promised land. I am so excited to do some splits there, speak to my investigators that I found with Elder Bastos and give a hello to my loved members.

The story of the mission so far

 It all happened in Rio Iguaçu. I forget to tell it to the world through blogging. So we were running a little late. Missionaries need to be in their homes by  9:30 pm at the latest. It was 9:20 and we were far from home and I was in need of a bathroom. I'll leave the pains I was feeling to be imagined. I had to really had to go. We are prohibited from entering other churches. It is a world wide rule for missionaries... I think.  I saw a funeral home, Elder Lima and I jetted for the doors and searched desperately for the bathroom. A funeral was taking place...and we busted it.  1st woops.  I found the bathroom. When I came out alive, Elder Lima from Forteleza told me that it was a Catholic church and that the family thought we were the main speakers that came late to the funeral. They thought we were the Padres from a catholic church located in the Fazenda Rio Grande. The family started to question Elder Lima about the topics we would present, how long it would take, etc. They were in shock when he showed the little name tag showing the name of our church. "Hey, we can come back and explain the plan that our Heavenly Father has for us and tell you where your father is right now," he explained. I left the bathroom running trying to get home on time. It must have looked really strange to see two Mormon missionaries jetting into a Catholic church during a funeral and then jetting out. Silly elders.
John 13:34. More love from Elder Ian
Life is good. Mom reminded me that I have 7 months on the mission. I wasn't counting and it has flown right by.
The ward mission plan here is super good and we are on the hunt to find prepared people. The area wasn't really nourished very well and so we are on the clean up crew.
Elder Forsyth

Monday, October 14, 2013

Good Changes (which are also a little sad)

Changes and Transfers. I have been transferred back to my original district in Padego de Souza as a district leader and trainer. This will be extremely interesting as I feel I am not prepared for this at all. But here we go. Whether I feel prepared or not, the Lord will provide. I need to think like that...right? I don't know, all I know is that it will be a white wash (for those who are not or were not missionaries, white wash means 2 new missionaries in one new area and they need to fend for themselves to pick up where the other missionaries left off). I am super excited to return to Sitio Cercado where I was "born" and help the people there again. They are such a great people. I'll also get to say hello to all my beloved members in Osternack when the missionaries need investigator interviews or we are on splits! I am sooooo excited. I miss those members. I don't know who my new companion is but I think he is Brasileiro because of the name....Biszatch...something like that. There is a conglomerate of Polish and German people that reside in Rio Grande do Sol where Ross Pagotto served so maybe he'll have European decent.  I don't know why i am trying to figure out his descent, it really doesn't make a difference....but all in all I am pumped to train. 

This has been little bit of a sad process, too. Elder Lima Silva and I have left 6 souls that will be baptized this next month. We were in shock when we heard that both of us were being transferred. The Lord has a plan for these people to be baptized with or without us. We just need to keep looking forward to our new purpose. I am a little nervous for the great responsibility that has been placed upon me but I pray that I can continue being the same Elder "Ian" loving others through the message of the restored gospel. The past week we have been visiting all of our progressing investigators helping them approach closer and closer to the waters of baptism. It was a lot of bus rides, dirty cuffed slacks, happy tears, and a lot of smiles. Dirty cuffed slacks, happy tears, and smiles is what I try to do best. You know me. 

So today I have to head up to center Curitiba to receive a training session on how to become an effective district leader, How to conduct interviews, and how to train the fresh missionaries. It will be a good day. I am hanging loose with Elder Herrera for the time being writing this email and buying snacks for Elder....Biznatch....Bisnootch.  I promise I will have a biography about his life next week with the correct name. I already love the elder. 

Here is a great scripture I love sharing with members who are just cruising along and not sharing the gospel to their fullest capacity. The gospel is simple, lovable and easy. So be wise and share it. Simple things come from God. Remember that. 
11 O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life.

12 O be wise; what can I say more?
(verse 12 always makes me laugh.) 

Enos 1:1-12- The difference between Repentance (v. 1-8) and Sanctification (v. 9-12). For me repentance is abandoning error and sin by way of the merciful atonement of Christ. But what is sanctification? For me it is the removal of human desires by way of the grace of God. Action. Grace for me is the power of God to raise you to higher planes after all that you can do. It is necessary. We cannot overcome the natural man alone. We need some fire to purify and sanctify our impurities. I want your responses, too! 

tempo dos fotos. 
With much love and all the rice and beans that have been ingrained into my system,
Elder Forsyth
p.s. Stay sweet

Diego and Kaoana. They are preparing for marriage and Kaoana will be baptized. Diego is a member that is returning back to the church. The
 topic of eternal marriage always is brought up. When we asked what his the 
greatest moment that he remembers as a member of the church, he responded "my family
 sealing in the temple is what I cherish most." Bam. right to the heart. 
Vanessa (Mom with baby: Johanne) Lais the teenager girl 13 years old, and Tiago, 14 years old. They have a super strong testimony of the gospel and will be baptized. I am so excited for them. They have been progressing so well and we are all great friends now.
Where is the incredible hulk toy in this photo?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Poetry, Loss and Strength

(A little explanation for you dear readers:  Ian refers to himself as a little sweaty kid in Primary. When he was around 3 - 6 years old he always looked like he had been under a hose when I went to pick him up from preschool or school or playing -- such a sweaty kid.  I think he outgrew it.  Also, in a separate email to me he described always being tired, which is common among hard-working missionaries, but I'm sure he would appreciate your prayers. And just a personal note, I opened and read this email while waiting for my car to be serviced.  With no Kleenex.  Live and learn.)

Forgive me for the short letters that I have been sending home, folks. I think it has been because my Portuguese has been improving and it is kinda difficult to find the words I really want in English. 

General Conference
Watching it in Português was a different experience. But I still felt the same spirit that I always feel when I hear the voice of the prophet. 

If there was one point that hit me the hardest during general conference, it was when President Thomas S. Monson, the prophet of the Lord, began to speak of his dear wife who passed away just a few weeks short of six months ago. I watched it all in Portuguese so the translation is a little rough but he explained: that the phrase "missing her" doesn't even begin to describe the feelings that enter his heart when he ponders of all of the wonderful times and adventures that he had with her. Her life was well-lived and centered in Christ. He knows where she is, waiting for him in the spirit world to greet her again, but even then the pains of missing someone dear to your heart strike the prophet of the Lord just like they would strike any man. He has a perfect knowledge of the Lord and the authority to speak for him. As he spoke of the loss of his dear Francis, he went on to describe the adversities that each one of us will encounter. This poem was just too perfect for a missionary who was missing his dad, too, 

The tree that never had to fight
For sun and sky and air and light,
But stood out in the open plain
And always got its share of rain,
Never became a forest king
But lived and died a scrubby thing.
The man who never had to toil to live,
Who never had to win his share
Of sun and sky and light and air,
Never became a manly man
But lived and died as he began.
“Good timber does not grow at ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length,
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, in rain and snow,
in trees and men good timbers grow.
Where thickest lies the forest growth
We find the patriarchs of both.
And they hold council with the stars
Whose broken branches show the scars
Of many winds and much of strife.
This is the common law of life.”
—Author unknown

Poems make me think of my dad. Especially The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost. He loved poems so much that he made me memorize that one while we were in line for a Disney ride. That's my dad. :)

Whether we receive the hardest blows to the soul or the slightest paper cut, every trial from the smallest to the biggest will make us better than we were before. From mistakes to conflicts that we can't control. Because Good Timbers grow within these. The more the wind the better the trees. 

With the loss of his dear wife, the prophet knows that he is stronger than he was before. In my life, when my father passed away I didn't have the firm testimony of the atoning sacrifice of Christ I thought I had. It was extremely tough for me to face the reality that I would not see my father ever again in this life. I cried in our downstairs bathroom for what seemed like hours, not wanting to talk to the people that were on the other side of the door, waiting to show me their love. I didn't know how to face the reality, but a still small voice entered my heart to get on my knees and pray. Ever since I was a little sweaty boy in primary I was taught to always be ready for the "still, small voice" by little songs I always sang and by little lessons each Sunday that I always heard. Also, I was taught that families were forever and by the atoning blood of Christ it was possible to live forever with those that you love. As I prayed, I pleaded for an answer. "Why did this have to happen to me...will I really see my father again?" An angel didn't descend from heaven to answer my cry, but the still small voice was all that I needed. I felt my heart rise and pump a little quicker. I didn't feel any more tears running down my face. I felt happy because I knew that my Heavenly Father loved me so much to send the comfort that I needed in that time of need. I just felt so good inside. Missing my father doesn't begin to describe the feelings that I have. Probably because I can't describe them with words. But I know that I can see him again. I wouldn't be here in Brasil helping others recognize this same love if I didn't have a surety. As we missionaries love to say, "We leave our families for just two short years so that others can live with theirs, forever." 

We have found so many great families these week -- people that have been waiting for the missionaries to knock on their door. The words that will never leave my head are those like, "We have been waiting for this message for a long time. I think God has just been preparing us for this right moment in time. For these young men to enter into our house and show immense amount love for people they don't know at all, like us!" 

I don't really like writing down the names of the people we teach, but I promise that when the baptisms come, I will write down their whole story. From when we found them to when they leave the waters of baptism. 

Elder Forsyth