Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas thoughts

Christmas day google hangout with the fam

Christmas was great. It was a really slow week because everyone went to the beach (note: it's summer here), so we talked to a lot of drunk guys that don´t have family to resort to this season and don´t like the beach. 

On the mission I have a really hard time organizing my thoughts in English so I always feel like my emails/ blog entries are poorly written and expressed. Maybe the terrible English shows you my love for the Portuguese language which truly isn't Portuguese because of the Brazilian modifications. Let´s just say I speak Brazilian. I can´t remember how the English hymn book goes nor can I remember my favorite songs. It's sad to my temporal mind but, on the inside, I feel free.

Ian´s Christmas thoughts

Who were the first to be alarmed by the angel of the Lord? The Shepherds.  

The first that knew of the Savior's humble and sacred entrance were the meek and humble shepherds. I wonder if I could be humble like a shepherd. Forgetting myself in the search of one lost sheep that has strayed from the path, or leaving my post to adore the greatest shepherd of all. I imagine the stable to be a solemn and lonely place. Mary and Joseph were alone and rejected because there was no place for them in the inn and the only covered shelter to be found was full of farm animals. I imagine that Joseph, the earthly father of the Christ, must have felt embarrassed because he couldn't find a place for our Heavenly Father´s son to be born. The Prince of all time was wrapped and placed in a manger. How happy they must have felt when they saw the shepherds come to adore him. Leaving their posts, the shepherds adored the Christ-child and gave the holy family company in the night. When we are called of God to be shepherds among his people, do we adore the Christ and give others company when needed?

Christ came to the world as a small and innocent baby. 

The innocence and holiness of the Christ-child makes me re-think my life a little. Everyone knows how I love little kids and love all of my nephews. It's pretty hard for me to get frustrated with them or judge them for their lack of knowledge. For me and for the rest of the world, we have a hard time judging babies. It's impossible! We want to take care of babies. We want to make them laugh. We want to feed them. We hold them until they stop crying and until they go back to sleep. We teach them. We do all these things for babies but we sometimes fall short of helping our fellow man. Just a couple of years older in our eyes, but in the eyes of God they are the same. On the mission you learn how gossip and poor-judgement are weapons. They destroy our self confidence and make us feel worthless. I have seen so many people fall because they were not loved or nurtured. When we look at the Christ child as a symbol of hope for new beginnings we should remember that when we see our fellow man we need to see them and treat them as Christ would. 

Christmas was strange because of the heat and no one throwing snowballs or wearing a scarf, but I saw it from a different perspective this year. There are a lot of people that don´t have a place to feel loved. As I walked on the sidewalks I saw a lot of lost people and I had the urge to help them. It felt good to know that God wanted me to help others. I felt like He confided in me.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Elder Forsyth

Monday, December 22, 2014

SPF = Saturday's Pretty Fantastic!, or, Sunburns Por Favor

This week was a good one. Matheus´s and Andrea´s baptism happened last Saturday. You should've seen Marlon´s face. When Andrea was all dried and dressed, he gave her a big hug and started to cry. The theme after the baptism was all about temple marriage and enduring to the end. The baptism was a good way to cap off the week.

junior missionary!

This week the Lord helped us invite people as if HE were inviting. I've been praying a lot so that I could lead people by the spirit so that THEY feel the urge to accept the Lord´s invitations of repentance. I've been studying the prophets, apostles, and angels from the scriptures so that I may be like them; Listening, hearing, asking, and inviting. Those in the scriptures are direct, vigorous and know that the Lord is pleased with their work. In order for the Lord to be pleased with them they had to work. My face is red from a lot of work. 10 investigators came to sacrament meeting yesterday! My mouth dropped. It was awesome to see all of them greeting us with their smiling faces. Just seven of many we invited came and the other three were the members´ friends. Radical.

Our 14 missionary zone is doing well. We should have 8 baptisms by the end of the month. Hey, that's pretty good for 7 companionships. My last zone had 28 missionaries. Double the size and finished last month with 19 baptisms. Proportionally speaking, that’s an even ratio. The missionaries in our zone are awesome, dedicated and diverse. We've got Sisters from Honduras, Argentina, Colorado, and Maranhão and Elders from Chile, Pocatello, North Dakota, São Paulo, Atlanta, Sacramento, Philadelphia, Belo Horizonte , and João Pessoa.

We got mega, hyper, super sunburned this week. There were no clouds in the sky here! But don´t you worry, I started to use sunscreen again. The redness has gone away now due to my 50 SPF sunscreen. Sunscreen here is highly expensive,  around 40 bucks for one normal size container. But luckily I found mine because an Elder left one behind a couple of transfers ago. It’s so nice to find that the Elders leave the exact item you need. Socks, shirts, ugly ties, sweaters. 

So I´m in the Lan house (internet café) and I looked behind me to find the "He is the Gift" video as a huge youtube advertisement. Is the church project getting big in the USA? Everyone is sharing it on Facebook here so I’m assuming the members in the US are doing the same.  I hope. :)

I´m excited for Christmas, too! Woohoo google hangout! No one make fun of my accent. I've had a couple of American companions since the last time you've talked to me, family, so I think the English will be a little better, however, the accent will be super strange, I think. 

Elder Forsyth

Monday, December 15, 2014

When the Angels Party

The Priesthood of God is a real power and the angels in heaven have a party when you use it to help our spiritually ill brothers and sisters. Yesterday we had a Brasilian style reactivation. I hope there is a bunch of the following happening in the United States.

So, everyone knows we are teaching a wonderful family. The dad is coming back to church and is overcoming his cigarette addiction and his wife and child are accompanying him to church. They are very content with the feelings they have in the house of the Lord. Every time we teach them they share with us what they learned and what they want to do to change theirs lives. Yesterday, we set up an appointment with our Ward Mission Leader, Silvano, and we went over to the family´s house around 6 o´clock. We met up with Silvano at the church around 5 because they live in another city, so we need some travel time in the middle. (Contenda, look it up. It is super green and pretty). When we showed up at the chapel we found Silvano, his brother, Robson, and another member, Rogério, sitting outside of the church gates drinking Chimarrão talking about life. When we showed we all hopped into Silvano´s Ford F-1000. Yes, the number is 1000. Its a huge truck. I felt like I was in Indiana Jones because the trunk smelled like camping with a slightly good herbal smell in the seats, due to the Chimarrão. We hit the road and we hatched our "plan of attack", or in other words, lesson plan. We talked and talked and finally came to the conclusion that we needed to teach them about the word of wisdom and each brother would bear their testimony on how this great commandment has blessed their lives. To make a long story short, at the appointment with this family, Robson bore his testimony of how the priesthood can take away the desire to smoke if we have faith in Christ. Marlon´s eyes got real big and he told us that he was trying to stop smoking but it had been difficult. Everyday seemed like it was going great then someone would light up a smoke and he just would have to ask for one to kill the desire. I saw the depression in his eyes but Robson asked if he wanted a blessing from the priesthood of God and he replied with a teary eyed yes, so we took the lesson inside. We left the half full Chimarrão on the floor and we gave him the blessing. The words came to Robson's mouth in such a simple way. "Marlon, you are cured and know that your Father in Heaven has cured you. The Lord loves you and needs you back in his fold." Many more words were said but those, in specific, stuck out to me. Still teary eyed, Marlon stood up and gave everyone a tight hug. I don´t think I will ever forget that hug.

Now his wife and kids are set to be baptized this Saturday. It was kind of hard to deny the fact that the church was true after what had happened. Miracles happen and the the spirit of God is manifest through faith and works. We left the spirit to do the teaching in that lesson and left his house. It was awesome. Yesterday was a good day. Marlon was interviewed by the bishop and all is well. But, let's keep working. The hills are big but Missionary work is worth it.


Elder Forsyth

Opening Christmas packages!

Forsyth license plate

The center of Araucária looks European

Monday, December 8, 2014

Better than Shark Week

Miracle week is just as good as shark week.

Many miracles have happened this last week.  My legs are dead from all of the hills we had to conquer. The hills got the best of me and I am ready to take a huge nap.

Miracle #1
Sunday I was super lost because I didn't know all of the membros. Just the ones that I knew from my days in Ala Estação. So, many people wanted to get to know me and talk about deep doctrine or my life before the mission. I didn't really have time for that because I had to host my investigators around the chapel. During the second hour we have gospel principles and all of our investigators were well received. It was awesome. They all were with smiley faces as they walked out of the class. Que benção. I sat next to an isolated man named Marlon. He shared with me that he´s been inactive for 9 years and now he has finally gathered up all the courage he could to return home. He felt like the prodigal son coming home after a long time. Ever since his exit, his life has never been the same. He is now married and has two kids, one being 8 years old. He told me that his wife never wanted anything to do with the church because she would go once a year and never had the interest to continue. Now she is loving the church. Yesterday was her 2nd Sunday and the Relief Society sisters basically jumped on her just to get to know each other. Their children are in primary and Matheus wants to be a missionary :). Marlon told me that his biggest goal is to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. So, he asked me for my help. I felt like a servant of God in that moment. It was one of the few times I was called to help someone. Marlon is extremely humble and has the biggest desire to change his ways. He wants his son to be baptised and serve a mission so that generation can be changed. We taught them yesterday and Andrea (his wife) has officialy decided to follow her husband in the church and support him. We are so excited for them.

Miracle #2
Yesterday was also hilarious. We had homeless men asking for our ties, shirts and money. We walked in the middle of a bar party and taught some college students and burned a lot of calories from the long and hard walking. I seriously feel like spider man because the incline is not normal. 

But when it hit 8:45 p.m. we were outside of our house and I, personally, just wanted to open our apartment door, plan for the day, grab the zone´s numbers and crash. The constant thought of, "no one wants to talk to you at this hour"  and "you worked really hard, you can stop now" entered into my mind. I was tempted a ton just to walk through the door. It didn't seem like a sin. I was just going home after a hard day´s work. There weren't any problems, right? Missionaries aren't allowed to finish their day until 9:00 p.m. hits. But I just wanted to sleeeeeeeep. I was sooo tired. My body was stiff and my mind was almost logging off. But I knew what I needed to do. I had to open my mouth and talk to someone. Probably one of our neighbors. "But our neighbors surely have already heard from the missionaries too much", I thought. "I'm sure they hate us by now". "OPEN YOUR MOUTH"...."No, don´t do that....your bed is calling....." "OPEN YOUR MOUTH"....."no, you are sweaty and no one wants to smell you"...."RING THAT GUY'S DOORBELL"....."GO REST". The temptation got louder and louder but I rang our neighbor's doorbell. We looked up, because his lawn was facing us due to the hill, and we saw a chubby face with glasses peek outside of the door. I waved and he ran inside again. "Great, I should've gone home instead of being rejected", I thought, but he ran out shirtless and gave us a huge "HELLLO!!". He was so excited to see us, he looked like a Disney character. "I just have to grab my sandals to come outside". He told us that he had gone to the United States on vacation and visited Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C., and Delaware. He described a bunch of stuff that I had already seen and loved back home. So we had a cool chat. 

He told us "I was driving down the highway in D.C. and we came up to a bend, but on the other side we saw a really white building with an angel playing a trumpet. We drove, but we couldn't keep our eyes off the pretty building. Good thing we didn't crash" he said. I thought it was funny because that temple probably causes a lot of car accidents. I explained to him that a lot of people love to look at that temple. He continued with his story, "Yeah we took a bunch of pictures and went into the visitors center. They didn´t let us in the temple because we aren't members. The fountains are so AWESOME!" I´m telling you right now. The man was super pumped to talk to two Americans about his travels to the U.S. "Can you guys come over sometime for lunch to tell me more about these Mormon temples? " I accepted because of the food....kidding....I´m kidding. He really wants to be taught and he is our neighbor. Perfect. The chapel is on the other side of the street. You drive out from his house and turn left and you can see the steeple. Heavenly Father prepares those who are close to his representatives. EVERYONE -- TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS AND THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE CLOSE TO THE CHAPEL. 

And if I didn't follow the spirit? Would I have thought to pass by another time when I had free time? I can tell you right now. I would have passed by his house because it's a mansion. I usually knock all the rich people's doors but this one was our neighbor so I didn't think anything of it. Let's see where this goes. 

Love, Elder Forsyth

stay sweet and share the love

New comp - Elder de la Rosa
Ripped my pants on this jump

Monday, December 1, 2014

And it's back to Araucária

Head in the clouds
Dividing edge of the field

Brother Antonio has been investigating the church for 20 years. Now, you ask, Elder how did you convince him? I really didn´t. He started going to church frequently when the new ward opened. We taught and taught, explained and explained, fasted and fasted but it seemed like nothing was getting this guy to accept the truth. Until he had someone give him a motivation. His son has been inactive for 8 years, but has recently returned to the church in another ward in Curitiba. Both of them --Antonio and his son-- had to overcome some Word of Wisdom issues, so they decided to help each other. Through true repentance, the family bond became much greater and Antonio's grandson got baptized as well. Miracles happen, but the never ending principle of patience was pushed to its limits. On the other side of things, our constant missionary exchanges turned out great and our zone was the #1 baptizing zone with 19 at the end of the month.  

Oh yeah, I have to fill everyone in on some news. I got transferred again. This will be my 9th area on the mission and I'm pretty sure the last. I´m opening up a zone in Araucária. Does anyone remember this city from my blog 9 months ago? Well, yeah, I'm back for my last 2 transfers and I am super excited. It was hard to leave Parque da Fonte, but I feel like I learned a ton, from my companions to the members. I made a lot of new friends and found many less actives. We reactivated, baptized, and confirmed.  I grew my personal testimony that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is in the reach of all that search with an open and sincere heart. We, as members, must have the desire to share the gospel. Even if it is in the simplest of ways, the Lord with show us who is searching and needing in the right hours. 

Memories of Parque da Fonte
1. Crazy homeless guy chasing after us and shooting us with his imaginary gun. He thought we were aliens from another planet. 
2. Singing in sacrament meeting. Elder Schirmer and I sang "Nearer My God to Thee" a capella.
3. Bed ridden for 2 weeks. That's a terrible but funny memory because I just talked about life with Elder Nixon because he was sick, too. BTW Elder Nixon finished his mission. 
4. Working with excited members.
5. Making life long friendships. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Independence Villa

Hi Everyone,

My airplane-tire-soled shoes are finally giving up on me. I need to re-sole them with the help of our neighborhood cobbler. I hope he can do the job again. Airplane tires do not touch the ground so much because you know, airplanes fly. I need 18 wheelers on these bad boys.

We've been walking a bunch, mostly in one little villa. It's called Independence and the name fits the villa because it seems like there is no police here to enforce the law. The people are free to do whatever they want. We teach people and we hear a different crazy Brasilian story every lesson. The crazy stories go from homicides in the town to extremely skillful soccer moves.

This week we should have another baptism. Next week I will be giving you all at home the down low. It's going to be a great and uplifting story for the blog next week.

Our zone had 8 baptisms just this last week and we are really proud of our Elders. The other week I got a phone call from President that wasn't the most pleasing. He didn't burn me or harshly correct me or anything but he sure let me know what our zone´s difficulties were. To make a long story short, he told us that our zone had in-experienced Elders that needed a lot of help. Elder Schirmer and I quickly made some plans to get to know every area of our zone better. It has been great to see the qualities of every Elder. I swear that there are many things that they can do that I honestly haven´t achieved yet. The past exchanges have helped me understand that I have much to learn to become a well- tuned missionary of the Lord. We set goals with them and they set goals with us so that we could follow up with one another on our daily check-in calls. The best part is that everyone is achieving their goals and is growing their faith.

Splits with Elder Laurentino,
Elder Forsyth

Monday, November 17, 2014

One of the best stories of my entire mission

Luciana Foi's baptism

Uma das melhores histórias de minha missão inteira. (One of the best stories of my entire mission):

Yesterday, around 7:50 we found a super kind Jehovah´s Witness and we had a healthy conversation about why we believe in temples and the Book of Mormon. He asked us why the Book of Mormon was attacked with great frequency and we let him know that it is the keystone of our religion. 

But the best part is the following: When we were leaving his house he offered us a ride home. Then our phone rang. It was another companionship from our district and they needed a lot of help. I heard the elders on the other line trying to tell me something really important but it was hard to understand because they were talking in a really subtle quiet voice, like a whisper scream, if you know what I mean. I had to distance myself from our new investigator's barking dogs and listen closer. They told me that they were being chased by two cars but they were able to run away and hide in the woods. It was super nuts because they told us that the cars had been following them for some time and when the elders decided to change direction the one car passed them then made a u-turn to follow the elders once again. So they split. I told Elder Schirmer and the JW what was going on. Our new friend looked at us and said, "Lets rescue some Mormons". I thought I was in a movie when he said that because he gave us a really serious stare. It was funny because he´s a really short guy - maybe 5 foot 3 - that has a lot of energy. We hopped into his hatch back, he hurried over to the other side of his car to take out the baby seat, got into the driver seat and hit the accelerator pedal. We were on the line with the elders the whole time and they gave us directions over the phone. We zoomed around a bunch of corners, and down dirt roads and cobblestone streets. The variable terrain gave it a more adventurous feel and the inter-denominational relations saved the Elders from the punks. It was sick to say the least. 

The missionary opportunities come when you want them to come. You have several more doors to open because you are looking for them. I´ve been learning a ton here in this ward. The Elders Quorum instructor is a philosophical/  spiritual guru who likes to make the lesson really dynamic.  I have a little "Renault" french car notebook that I write all my newly discovered physical and spiritual secrets in. The other day I learned that when we put our faith on paper and when the practice is put in gear, our faith, which is an unseen truth, becomes reality. Because of this newly found faith we have been able to set 4 baptismal dates for the 29th of this month. They are a family of four that are extremely prepared and ready for the restored gospel. Just to give you an idea, we left 3rd Nephi with them and on the 2nd follow up lesson, the mom shared with us how she thought it was so cool that the Savior appeared in the Americas to ordain Nephi to the priesthood, giving him the authority to baptize so that there would be no disputations among the people. 

This last Saturday we followed up a church invite to another family with our ward mission leader (the man is on fire) and we met the dad (I am concealing the names until the baptism). The dad told us he has been looking for the right path to find salvation and the mom gave us a huge head nod. Yesterday they stayed for all 3 hours of church and we set an appointment for that afternoon. We showed up right when they were finishing up the other marked chapter of the Book of Mormon we left for them. They sat in a row with eyes on us to hear our message. We read Alma 36 to help them understand that our purpose is to help others repent of their sins. They understood that the Lord was calling them to be a part of the church. As we asked them more and more questions they seemed to realize that the Lord had been answering their prayers this past week. One of the daughters had a smile on her face but she wasn´t looking at us. Her eyes were locked on the ground so we asked her what she was thinking of the church and all this. She told us that she had prayed the night before to receive an answer from God.  "God confirmed Moroni´s promise," she said.  They are a great family. They are charismatic and speak English. So, I've been teaching them slang and what Americans "really" say. I am super excited for this family. They are an answer to Elder Schirmer´s and Elder Forsyth´s prayers and fasting. Many more doors must be opened to receive us.


We´ve been working with the Foi family for 4 weeks exactly. Luciana used to be extremely evangelical, but fell away from Christianity because of marital and other common Brazilian problems. She is living proof that the Book of Mormon and sincere prayer with real intent can change the lives of those who have fallen away from the path. Instead of teaching lessons, we have basically given a "how to be a better friend and spouse" course to them and it resulted in baptism. I´m not married. So I don´t know how it was possible to help and guide a broken marriage. But I do know the spirit let Luciana find true spiritual conversion. 

We had a ton of Leadership meetings and adventures this week. It has been a blast. I will share my stories of people chasing after me when I get home so that no one gets worried.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fogo nos ossos novamente*

*Fire in my bones, again.

This week we had a bunch of high participation ward council meetings. We are coordinating a lot with our ward leaders now.   I don´t know what it was that got them going. They have been giving us a bunch of referrals and are driving us everywhere to drop us off at our investigators' homes. It's paradise here in São José.  I feel super lucky. I called President the other day and tried to bargain with him. The root of my worries was that I would be transferred for my last two transfers. I had to promise him a couple of things in order for him to leave me in the area until I "die." This is one of my favorite areas by far. I feel like I have reached a level of teaching where I can talk with just about everyone and feel comfortable resolving many difficulties (difficulties that I have never personally experienced in my life). Like Ammon in the Book of Mormon, I don't want to seem arrogant because I know that the Lord is blessing me with his spirit to understand those who are lost and have passed through many problems.  These are problems that I may never face in my life.  I´ve never been married but Elder Schirmer and I have been able to start the delicate process of helping two frustrated couples repair their marriages. They are now happy and have been going to church for the past four Sundays. The Portuguese is getting a lot better as well. Elder Schirmer has helped me a lot just by talking. His accent is super cool because it comes from the Rio Grande do Sul. Where Ross Pagotto served. 

This is God´s gift to mans´ stomach.  I must admit that the Brasilian meat and grilling style is much more advanced and tasty than the classic American barbeque. We have been eating a lot of this every week during our family home evenings with investigators and membros. 

During Christmas the membros like to grill ribs outside with fires they make in the ground. I am so excited because it will be my first time at one of these shindigs. Friends, be advised, the churrasco here is the best thing in the world. I would buy a plane ticket just for everyone to get to know Sergio from our ward, a diamond in the roughness of the favela. 
Here are some pictures that were taken a while back from an Integration activity we planned:

Monday, November 3, 2014

An unusual week

This week was an interesting one because I was sent to Portão - Curitiba to go through some exams to see if I have something wrong with my stomach. I got the exams done and everything's normal. I think it's just Brasilian food and getting everyone´s germs when I shake hands. 

We lost a lot of time this week because of the various exams and tests but a miracle happened yesterday. I think I shared with everyone that we were bringing a lot of people to church but we hadn't been able to help our investigators understand the purpose of baptism nor set a baptismal date. It was difficult and kinda frustrating for the past weeks. To give us a spiritual boost we've been asking every member family we come across, whether it be during our lunch appointments or on the street, to accept a little piece of paper with our names and investigator's names written on it. We explain that the written names are children of our Heavenly Father and have high potential to start their trail towards exaltation through baptism. We've been challenging everyone to pray for these precious souls and we promise them that their prayers will help their lost brothers and sisters enter into heavenly rest in the celestial kingdom.  The prayers have helped a ton. Yesterday, we were able to clear all the doubts of a great family we are teaching and help them understand why they need to be baptized in the true church of our Savior. They sure got it. It came to a point in the lesson were I got really excited and started raising my voice asking them, "Do you have faith, my friends?.....yes.....a little louder please.....YEESS....  Great!  God is answering your prayers and you just need to act to give thanks for his divine intervention. Will you be baptized on this date?..Yes." I felt like Reverend Alonzo back from my Oak Lane robe choir Presbyterian days. The spirit testified of the message and they felt it for sure. 

I love the spirit. I've learned to distinguish my random Ian thoughts from the promptings of the spirit these past months. I've been praying earnestly so that the Lord can help me with this. Because it's hard to know when the Lord is telling you to do something or when it is just my head doubting or inferring. It's tough. Also I wanted to share something. Ever since I was a little kid to now, my personal prayers have been weak and I have had trouble expressing my true thoughts to my Father in Heaven.  Everyday now I feel like the Lord has been helping me spill out my heart to him. It was a tough battle. Sometimes I feel so tired at the end of the day or sometimes I just don't feel like I have anything worthwhile to say. Reading the scriptures before my nightly prayers has guided me to what I need to ask for and express gratitude for in my plea. I know I feel more comfortable when I converse with my Heavenly Father now. I know the Lord doesn't take us away from our weakness and drop us off in a paradise full of strengths. I know the Lord doesn't just remove our sins or challenges. He cleanses our sins and strengthens our abilities when we face challenges.

Brasilian culture that I've slowly but surely picked up:

- Hand signs. If I'm talking, I'm for sure talking with my hands.  
- I'm more friendly. What do I mean by that? Anyone that passes by on the street I holler (holla) at them. It sounds like "wow" mixed with "a opa". Woooohpa tudo bom? Sometimes it's just "bom" which means good. BAAWWHM. You've got to hear it to understand why it's super strange but very normal here. 
- I shake hands with everyone. I walk into a room and I have to shake everyone´s hand. 

Pictures are coming tomorrow from Elder Nixon's camera.  I will send them from the chapel where we have wifi.   

Elder Forsyth  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Stake Conference Surprises

Hello Everyone!

This week we had Stake Conference and our stake was visited by a Brasilian Seventy, Elder Soares. It was pretty cool because he called Elder Schirmer and me to the pulpit to talk about how members and missionaries need to work together. Does everyone remember Vigilatto? He is strong in the church and has been going to the stake choir rehearsals every Sunday. They performed very well as they were accompanied by a sweet spirit when they sang "Eu creio em Cristo (I Believe in Christ)." If there were visitors there that think we don´t believe in Jesus, the spirit testified otherwise. I saw Vigilatto when I was called by surprise to the pulpit and I shared his conversion story with the congregation. Then Elder Soares called him up by surprise to testify of what I said. It was his first time bearing his testimony during a church meeting, but he spoke really well. He said, "I took my glasses off so I can´t see anyone staring at me." We had dinner at his house that night and he shared with us how honored he felt to be called up by a Seventy of the Lord. It was a great experience he will never forget. 

We are teaching two very special families that have high potential. They both went to church and loved it. The more evangelical family told us afterwards that they wanted to shout "gloria!" and "hallelujah!" when they felt the spirit. It reminded me of my Presbyterian robe choir days. When I share with other Elders that I sang in a gospel choir, played guitar in the Presbyterian church, attended a high rate of meetings there, and during the Christmas Eve service there were more Mormons than Presbyterians in the pews, they think I was less active. It's funny to see the Brasilians look at me like I'm crazy. They have a reason because most of the evangelical churches here claim to expluse demons and speak in unknown toungues. 

Honest health update: My stomach has hurt everyday since my virus but I kinda just try to forget about it. On the mission I've been blessed with few days of irritable bowel, but there are still times where it hurts a bunch and I have to tough it out.  I've learned a lot about mind over matter. Like dad used to say. "it's die time" or "it's just mind over body; you can do it." My new motto is, "fulfill your dreams -- no pain no gain."

We had to get Elder Nixon to our town´s health clinic because he was throwing up all night long. We registered him with the clinic´s receptionist and when it was his turn to receive the butt shot they called in the intercom, "José João". His name is Joseph John, so it took awhile for us to realize that it was him. I died laughing. Why would they translate his name? They hooked him up to an iv and now he is smiling. The nurses are taking good care of him. It was hilarious because we left him there with his new American companion, Elder Peal, who doesn´t speak Português at all. He just nods or shakes his head. He's a little timid because of the culture shock but he´ll get over it soon. I felt like him when I got here, too.  

with love,
Elder Forsyth

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mostly horizontal this week

I love being a missionary and the chance I have to strengthen others in my zone. Transfers have come and gone and Elder Schirmer and I will stay together in Parque da Fonte. We've had a tough time getting people to accept baptismal dates. Every Sunday has been great with investigators attending sacrament meeting but helping people understand and commit to baptism is a struggle.

I was super sick this week so we couldn't contact many of our good investigators. But....yesterday we were shown a golden family that lives at the end of our area. They were invited to go to church by another ward´s bishop and THEY WENT. The elders from the São Marcos Ward were their guides during the Sunday meetings and grabbed their address, passed it to us after lunch, and we hauled ourselves over there. When we showed up it was raining super hard. The road that led to their house was unpaved so the dirt-covered road flooded and we had to tread through a little. When we clapped our hands the head of the household passed through the hung laundry and when he saw our faces he exclaimed, "Already? Wow that was so fast. What are you doing in the rain? Come on in!". They are a great family looking for a lot more direction after coming out of some really difficult times. 

p.s.  I hope I can get 100% better this week.  It was a bummer because I  was bed ridden and had a high fever that kept me home for 5 days.  I just worked for 2 days and I'm still feeling a little weak. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Instaurator ruinae

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

surprises and general conference

I could've sworn that President Thomas S. Monson was going to give us a mind-boggling shocker because everyone was preparing us by exhorting,  "FOLLOW THE PROPHET and SEEK FOR REVELATION and CONFIRMATIONS TO YOUR DAILY PRAYERS." When the prophet gave his main talk I was expecting something huge, show stopping and even hard to accept, but on the contrary. he spoke of the Lord´s example that we must follow. His gentleness was shown in the way he addressed the Lord´s people yesterday. That truly struck me - his gentleness and humility were apparent to my spirit because I felt the need to change.  While he spoke I sensed I needed to improve many attributes to be closer to the Savior.  Yesterday, so many general authorities praised President Monson for his service, kindness and obedience and I saw it in the way he spoke to us.  I have been praying to the Lord to orient me as I direct my zone to higher peaks and goals.  Now I know that I need to be like the prophet. Always following up with the lesser skilled/experienced missionaries and comforting them in hard and struggling times as the prophet comforts us. I must:

"Reach out in helpfulness....and try to do the right thing in all times and in all circumstances." --Thomas S. Monson

Jefferson and Jose Jefferson

Birthday surprise. We are reactivating Jefferson and on my birthday we went over to his house to follow up with some of the goals we set with him. Little did I know that he made me a cake and bought some soda to celebrate with his whole family and me. I went on splits with José Jefferson (other member) who was planning it with Jefferson. I will never forget Jefferson and his desire to talk to our bishop to clean up past mistakes. He is a man of simple understanding but his spirit is listening with ease as he puts away the carnal man. It was a fun and happy festa. 

Today we made some burritos with whole wheat tortillas, guacamole, onions, and diced up chicken breast. Elder Nixon and I were tearing it up in the the chapel´s kitchen. I have never made better food. I have to be honest - I only cut the ingredients. The ingredients were all chosen by Elder Nixon, so he was the true genius behind our cooking today. 
Three of my past companions plus my current companion (Elder Martins, Elder Costa, Elder Andrade, Elder Schirmer) 
District Meeting

Thoughts of a 21-year-old in Brasil 
- Accept trials. setbacks and surprises as normal things because millions of other people have the same difficulties. Why would I be the exception? I need to acknowledge my weaknesses but I cannot let them compromise me. 
-  It's hip to be square. 
-  What I eat is what I am. 
-  Be kind to everyone, friend or foe. 
-  Give everyone I love a little bit of my time. Ask people how they are doing. It can change someone's life. 
-  Being a good and healthy "different" in a rugged world takes courage. 
-  Who am I to judge others, when I have trouble overcoming my own problems? 
-  God won´t live our lives for us. We must live our lives for God. 
-  Just because you don't like the truth does not change the truth.  Because if you step off a cliff the law of gravity will get you....even if you don't believe in it.
-  We are all equals and because of this we must support others in our troubles. 
 - Time to go to work. 
Elder Forsyth  (more pictures below)
Old man Forsyth with his hot chocolate and magazine on his birthday
And as my favorite alter ego

Monday, September 29, 2014

Some good fruits this week

A week in review. 

Deivid came to my ward to tell me he was going on a mission. (Read about Deivid's miraculous baptism last January here.) I saw some fruits of my labors yesterday when he decided to share a scripture that helped the Sunday school teacher explain a deep principle. He whipped out his smart phone and went to town with the scripture lds app. It was rad.
That's Deivid in the middle

I went on a lot of exchanges with the elders in my zone. It was a great experience because I learned that I have a lot to work on in order to reach a high level of teaching, ministering among my elders, and comfort for the elders that may need help in the future. 

On Friday I grabbed a bus with Elder Santos and headed over to Ala São Marcos to interview two of the elder´s friends who were getting ready for baptism. The bus ride was a great because I could grab some zzzs but I was sadly woken up by the glass window beside me when the bus took a sharp right turn. To make a long story short and to sum things up, the interviews went great and both of them passed. Wooo!

We had some pretty great experiences. The President told us that we need to conserve our Book of Mórmons for the people who will truly read them. Yeah, I know. It's really different than a European mission. We have to hold back our Book of Mormons so that we don´t run out. Elder Santos told me that there was a mentally retarded man who didn't know how to read and possessed a Book of Mormon. We clapped our hands outside of his gate and he came out to attend us. He gladly let us in, but I had the strangest feeling when I walked into the house. I saw his mentally ill wife on the couch smiling at us and I felt bad that we were there to take away a Book of Mormon. I thought to myself again, "let's ask them where it is." Elder Santos asked them if they knew where the blue book was and they said they gave it away. Whew....that made things a lot easier. 

Then I remembered what Jonathan told me one time in an email. "Elder, people-sweep the house." I then asked them with confidence, "Is your son home?"  It seems like a weird question to ask someone you completely don't know. But I felt prompted because I sensed that there was another man behind the kitchen wall. And surely there was. We taught him. He understood and shared with us his fears and doubts that he had been struggling with these past weeks. I won't go into details but we used a fresh new Book of Mormon out of my torn up messenger bag to answer his doubts and to calm his fears. He got really happy and asked us where the church was located. Yeah. I say success to that. Instead of taking away an unused Book of Mormon, we gave one away to someone who needed the doctrinal answers. 

When we passed through their gate to leave and go to the next planned appointment,  Elder Santos looked at me and said, "O Senhor é tão misericordioso com os seus servos que seguem os seus mandamentos colocados pelos profetas. eu vi um milagre lá. Cara, aquilo foi bem legal. Nós fomos para pedir de volta o livro de mórmon mas em vez de tirá-lo dele, nós demos pra alguem que necessitava. Aquilo foi bom de mais."  (" The Lord is so merciful to his servants who follow his commandments placed by the prophets . I've just seen a miracle there. Dude, that was pretty cool. We went back to get the Book of Mormon but instead of taking it from him we gave to someone who needed it. That was too good . ")
(translated by the mama using google translate. Serrana or Hikari if you are reading this please send me any corrections!)