Monday, February 24, 2014

State of the Mish

Elder Skousen speaks Portuguese super well for only 7 weeks in Brasil....and wow I think my soul is starting to shine brighter. I am slowly getting darker.
Reckless banter.  With some guitars, piano, an old Brasilian organ, and some worn out ties we made some soulful music. This is Elder Rocha our district leader. Let's rephrase that. This is Elder Rocha the man. I decided to send the awkward face picture. And here it is. Elder Rocha is from Salvador, Bahia and majored in music back at home. He plays piano, speaks fluent English (like an American) and wants to be more like his Savior, Jesus Christ (and Alex Boye).

Dear family and friends. 

Its really hard to concentrate on this letter because the lan house is playing Karate Kid (the original) right next to my face. The tv screen is literally right next to my face. Mr. Miagi now speaks Portuguese with a Chinese accent. I cant stop laughing. Anyways let's give a report on the week.

As I said in the previous letter, I am training the greenie Elder Skousen and he is the man. I had a companion that had the same music taste (Elder Cesar) and now it's a companion with the same movie taste. A lot of quoting Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Hot Rod with the occasional "boy scout Russel" line from Disney´s "Up". It is all good here in Prudentopolis. I found a restaurant that makes a huge delicious brownie with ice cream on top. I've already eaten three this week. But it doesn't seem to do anything. I still feel skinny because of the walking, which we do a lot. I bought some new styling dress shoes that look pretty cool and are extremely comfortable and durable. It took a little while to find the right fit and style but the search was worth it. 

Daniel San is painting the fence.

I bought a notebook the other day that is starting to be filled with random thoughts, drawings, Brasilian music lyrics, revelations, and notes from members and recent converts. It should be super cool by the end of the mission. One year on the the big mish is coming up and it is really hard to believe. Elder Forsyth is already at 11 months and is still learning a bunch about the gospel.  I feel like I only know .001 percent of what I should know. Every day is a diligent search to find more gospel truths that will make my future life easier and I think my future wife's life, too. I've gotten a lot calmer on the mission and I listen a lot more to ideas of others. I am a lot more attentive and motivated to study. I am much more kind and loving. I know how to set achievable but challenging goals. I know how to make better pasta. I know how to manage my money a little bit better. I know how to converse with my Father in heaven. I don't mean to write these differences as points of arrogance but more as an "I feel good about my progress" type of thing.  It's good to to think about where I came from and where I am and where I am going with my life. This all happened because I am just starting to understand the word diligence. Diligence for me now means "with love". We have to grow our talents and grow a love for them too.

Elder Forsyth

Monday, February 17, 2014

Q & A Time

Luis, aka NEGINHO. We think he looks like 50 cent. He was the most recent one to be baptized in his family. We just have to work with the mom now. He is 11-years-old and is a trooper. I asked him the other day why he really wanted to be baptized and he responded that he "couldn't wait any longer to answer the answer of the Lord." What a kid.  

This week we feature answers to questions I asked Elder Forsyth last week.  He needed a little reminding, but here we go.  

Question:  What do you feel are your biggest challenges right now?

Biggest challenge:  Satan likes to hurt investigators on the day before baptism. 

Question:  What have been the most important lessons you have learned from your first year

The lesson of patience has been a big one. I arrived in Brasil without speaking very much Portuguese to now, when I feel I can teach and communicate well. But things sometimes just don't turn out the way I plan them. You get one step from your final goal and you can't put enough force to get the job done because you have a huge weight on your foot. I see these hard final steps as challenges given from God to his little son Elder Forsyth and I am learning patience.

Question:  Has your perspective on service changed since you got there?

Completely. I see Christ's example and the work that He put into the first three years of ministry and the last three days of ministry. He knew that He would die as he left the garden of Gethsemane but fulfilled His purpose so that the real growth of mankind could be accomplished with justice and mercy. As He died he forgave those that crucified Him. How? I don't know. Just think about it for a little bit. If you knew you were going to die, would you help yourself or others? The first thing that would come to my mind is to do all the things that I was never able to do before. Like drive a Ferrari or give Stevie Wonder a hug, I would find a way to accomplish my own will. But would I put the same amount of effort into serving those that had never heard of my name, those who didn't know my character, who persecuted me, who didn't understand me, or who had already died? I don't think so. As I wake up each morning, I try to start my day off with the spirit so that the type of people that might seem like my enemies become my best friends and feel my love.

The Guarapuava Zone, without Elder Cesar.  BTW Elder Cesar was transferred and I am with my first American companion, Elder Skousen from North Carolina. 

Not Just Getting By

As I am here on the mission I hope to please the Lord, reviewing my day in my nightly prayers and asking, "What did I do wrong? Was this day a good one? What can I do to reach my potential? What can I do to help your children reach their potential?" As various prophets have described,  faith is hoping in the truth that is not seen or is maybe hidden from our eyes. But why is it hidden sometimes? Why can't I have a perfect knowledge as Alma describes? Maybe because I'm not widening up my spiritual vision. At times we are content with blurry vision because we can make everything out. We can recognize the faces of those we are familiar with and we can "get by". "Get by" is dangerous talk, my friends. "Get by" is like studying half the material so that you can get a C+ on the test of your life, just so that you can pass. I did that in high school sometimes. And everything leads to a consequence. I am learning now, on the mission, that the amount of work that I put into what I desire will affect the outcome. This outcome will reflect my internal desire. Getting by is not good enough for the Lord. That's why we need to take some vision tests and self- assess ourselves daily. Study, pray and ponder daily. It doesn't always have to be about spiritual things, even. Think about a choice you are about to make and then think, what will my 40-year-old self think of this? Option one, "wow I was such a goofball when I was younger. Why did I even think that way?" OR, option 2 says the following, "Yes, I was a rockstar in being wise." Our hope needs to widen and our disposition to do well in all that we do needs to grow. Study, ponder and pray, but with a desire to do well. Have faith and be strong. Don't let the little challenges drag you down. They add up really fast! Work hard and the blessings will follow.

Elder Forsyth

Branch activities with the youth.  Recent convert Didi going for the goal.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Field of Dreams and a Bum Ankle

This week was a good one for sure. A baptism and lots of fun in inner-Prudentopolis. They speak a different language here sometimes. It is a mixture of Portuguese and Ukrainian. Jonathan would get the hang of it a little faster than I am. Prudentoplis is a Ukrainian colony that was settled many years ago. I think in the mid 1950's...can someone google search it for me? Obrigado. I am learning a little Ukrainian here and there. The majority of the heritage in this town is European and more people look like me. Here people think I am Brasilian because sometimes I put on their goofy accent. I don't know if I wrote how the accent sounds in the previous emails buts it is like a farmer from West Virginia. The Portuguese is super different. 

This week we grabbed a bus to eat lunch with Prudy´s first branch president. Here are some pictures of the bean fields. 

When I saw the bean field I thought of every bean as someone that has not yet had the chance of hearing the gospel. It was sad to think of at first but then I remembered that I was called to make a little difference with some of the beans. Elder Cesar was called to make the difference with some other beans and other elders and sisters all around the world were called to help other beans sprout. I then got really happy and started to run in the bean fields. 

Field of dreams

The field IS ripe and ready to harvest.  I am so grateful for the authority that I have to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. At times I forget the huge responsibility that God has placed on my shoulders. Here are some difficulties that I would ask everyone's prayers for:

1. More focus on the work every minute.
2. To walk and not be weary. (it's not that I don't have energy, but we walk a ton)
3. Unconditional love for all.
4. No more judging of others.
5. Willingness to be corrected.

I would appreciate prayers for me to overcome these weak points so I can become a better missionary and a better servant of the Lord.

Ademir was baptized this past week. Elder Cesar was working with this family before I got here and we only have to baptize one more to help all of the brothers and cousins. Please pray for the family Alves de Oliveira. 

Newest Prudentopolis members

Prudentopolis youth
We went for a jog this morning and the American twisted his ankle. But it is all good. I already placed the ice, anti-inflamitory spray, advil, and ankle brace to keep it in place. It does not hurt as bad as it did this morning. I was out for the count and asked for a blessing.

Stay sweet, everyone.  Thank you for all your prayers.
Elder Forsyth

Monday, February 3, 2014

Minimalism and Definitions

So hot.  Waiting under a tree for our investigator to come to the door.

I loved your letter today, mom. The gospel is the direction for a minimalist life. The material things are drifting away as I grow older on the mission. 20 ties have fallen to 10. I am just giving things away as I go. As I give away my materialistic life I find that my spirit is a little bit fuller each day. I am trying to return to my sacred grove when I started my spiritual adventure, everyday. Something that has really helped me stay calm and happy here in Brazil, is daily repentance every single night before I sleep. Daily repentance and asking for forgiveness everyday from my companion, even when I don't know of anything wrong with my actions. I know that there is something more I can work on. 

Purdentopolis graffiti

My shirts are a little bit more yellow than usual. The shoes are a little bit more busted up. Missionary work {Elder Forsyth´s definition} -- When someone walks in the chilling rain and hot sun for 10 hours a day to invite someone to come unto Christ. Result: A lot of happiness and beat up slacks. Other definitions-- lots of laughing, sweating, guitar lessons for little kids, testifying with your soul, and lots of Brasilian hot dogs on the street. 

Edinéia´s baptism was great! Her sister was baptized 2 weeks ago and a couple of days back she took the leap of faith. Her progress has been super.....I'm not from Minnesota so let´s rephrase that, Her progress has been...just up? How would I say this in English? Her progress has been excellent. I wouldn´t have said that either when I was at home but, whatever. It was excellent. She is so much happier than happy and is taking an English course with her sister from Brother Daniel. A Peruvian Japanese Brasilian. He is the man. 

I love seeing how the gospel slides in perfectly with any type of situation. Sadness to happiness, you can always be helped through applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It just takes some prerequisites. Humility and a willingness to change. Those feelings lead to a world that, generally, many people are not familiar with. A lot of us don't want to change our habits and we think we have nothing to learn because we are content with our current life style. Let me tell you something. I'm not the same guy that came to Brasil 8 months ago. When I arrived I knew that I had to have this attitude in order to improve my at home American habits. Humility and a willingness to change helped me transform into a better person. I know that I still have much to learn and I'm not the best missionary. But I do know that I am surely different than when I arrived. 

Elder Ian

p.s. You translated my portuguese perfectly, momma. Portuguese doesn't really have very kind words to describe goofy people. So, we grabbed a goofy fruit name and now we call each other "Goiaba" It's just a thing between some missionaries in the field and the young men of the ward, here in Prudentópolis.