Monday, March 31, 2014

Fiery weeks

busted up missionary shoes
These weeks in Estação have been fiery. We have been praying so hard for the Lord to bless us as we work diligently every minute. These prayers have been our secret weapon because we are finding a lot of great people who start to open up when they hear about a church that isn't just centered on what we call "religion" but exaltation as well. I find it extremely interesting when people's faces change when they hear about how the Church that Christ established is here on the earth today. People find that so interesting. I have been studying the New Testament more than ever these past months and it is really paying off. When you can prove to people that Christ organized a church with prophets, apostles, priesthood, true baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, new commandments...and then you testify about it, it is really difficult for someone to say no. Firstly because they see the evidence in their own Bible (p.s. it's really fun to show people that they don't know what they are saying in their own Bible that they swear by....well it's not that I am mean, but I just show them that what I am teaching is in their sweet Bible) and then they feel the Spirit confirm through illuminating feelings and thoughts.

This week I was on exchanges with the Elders from the Araucária ward and some "evangelicas" hunted us down until there were 5 of them and 2 missionaries with a young man. They started to ask about how our chapels were constructed, if all of the legal documents were in the name of Christ, if I received a salary, and so on. It was really ridiculous to be quite frank.  As they tried to break us on our doctrinal knowledge I felt the strong urge to blurt out the question, "Do you believe in prophets?" They said "Anciently, they had to exist"..."Why?" "Because people didn't have the holy ghost to guide them"...."So you don't believe that a prophet should be on the earth to guide us these days because all of us have the gift of the Holy Ghost?"....."right....only false prophets."...."Why? Actually, can you show me in your Bible where it says that prophets ceased to exist?"....He looked at me for a while before he started to talk about tithing again. "Can I show you in your Bible some of the things we believe?" "Sure."  And so I did. As we shared about 20 verses with them and testified that there is a living prophet on the earth, the Spirit backed up our words strongly. We explained to them that our Heavenly Father loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us and to show us the way that leads to eternal life. We testified that the primitive church has been restored through a prophet of God, Joseph Smith. They had no words after our simple and vigorous testimonies. As the 5 of them started to turn their backs and go home, one of them turn back again and asked if we would be able to pass by sometime and share a little bit more about this "restoration you speak of". I said for sure we can.

Lots of these types of situations happen here in Araucária.  Many people want to know if you "truly" are a missionary. If you don't know your scriptures you have a problem. There are a lot of religious people here that want evidence. Well, like Elder Ballard has said in "Our Search for Happiness" --- we can't rely on physical evidence when we want a testimony from God. (2 Nephi 25)

I know that being a defender of truth and righteousness brings blessings. We all have to defend what we believe and testify to others that the kingdom of God is here on the earth led by a living prophets and 12 apostles and that the Book of Mormon is a testament of these spiritual and physical truths. I know that missionary work only accelerates as we share our happiness with others. We have to be proactive to gain what we love and adore. Not just 80,000 missionaries world wide is going to get the job done. A growth in the number of soldiers does not mean that you win the fight. But when the soldiers have a conviction of what they fight for, then, you win the fight. 

By the way, I've been called as the new district leader here. I have two sister companionships, one elder companionship, Elder Skousen and me. 
Spiderman District Leader notebook

This week was a roller coaster of fun and I am super tired. Nap time will commence in about two hours after we go grocery shopping at "Condor". 


Elder Forsyth needs a haircut

Elder Forsyth misses his guitar.

Elder Forsyth likes to make pancakes now.

Elder Forsyth finally learned how to clean house.

Elder Forsyth wants more food.

Elder Forsyth is happy


Elder Forsyth

Let us be united in the work of the lord. 
"A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, bring forth good things....for by thy word thou shalt be justified."

"please apply the following: stop it" On the mission I have grown the love the Savior's divine help in our hardest of times. Be a friend to everyone in your sight.
The Araucárias and Pinheiros that are a unique touch to Paraná. We entered into a favela that didn't have an exit and we ended up in the middle of the forest. We tried to find our way out but we realized that the entrance was the exit. I'm certain the police pass by that place because there is no all. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

King Konk

Elder Ritchie, Elder Fernando, and Elder Skousen. Elder Ritchie is from my MTC group.
I had to duck or my head would be cut off.

Mom - When you took a picture of the Português Book of Mormon did you take a look at it and try to read? Since you are pretty close to the temple maybe you could go and buy one, read a little and memorize some scriptures and when I get back I can help you speak and understand. That would be awesome. 

New Area : Estação (which means station or season) It is on the left side of the BR high way if you google map ARAUCÁRIA. It's an excellent area to serve in because everyone is super friendly and has a certain soft spot for the restored gospel. I don't know what it is but it has been pretty easy to talk to people on the street and mark future appointments. And when I say future appointments that means the next day or two. They are really open to converse about spiritual topics and really open to accept our invitations to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. 

To sum it all up, it's a lot of fun to be back in a ward that knows how to work. We have "name tagged" receptionists that help out timid church visitors find primary or elder's quorum or gospel principles. It rocks. It is really organized and efficient here. 

It was a little tough on Monday because we came home to an Area book that wasn't updated and a lot of colored post-it notes with a bunch of names....these names didn't have addresses nor teaching records. We are starting from scratch and I really hope that I don't get transferred because I already have developed a great love for the people here. I feel like I came back home, because Araucária is a Curitiba suburb. Its a lot like the Fazenda Rio Grande (my second area). If you go back to the pictures that I took there, it is very similar. The type of people and everything. The only thing that is different is that I like it a lot better and the ward is very supportive of us (the fresh new missionaries). I felt really lost for the first couple of days, running around the city with Elder Skousen and city map the size of a chalk board. Two white American guys in ties with a giant map in the middle of the Brasilian round-abouts trying to find strange road names. 

Elder Skousen is progressing so much with the language and is getting the hang of the new area with me. We went to the bus terminal to catch a bus line to the tippy top of our area. It was a really smooth and long ride with the constant thumping motor. It was so easy to crash....on the glass window next to my head. We passed out and passed our planned destination in "Jardim Industrial", almost leaving our area limits. 

I have a growing bus-sleeping problem. Even if it is just a 10 minute ride I almost konk-out. King Konk.

Tudo tranquilo aqui. (He just sent the following in Portuguese.  I will do my best to translate one paragraph at a time. If you are fluent you can tell me if I got close at all.)
All quiet here.

Um abraço por todo mundo li em casa. super longe. Eu oficialmente tenho um ano na missão e o tempo está passando bem rápido. Não dá para perceber e parar para pensar. só trabalho.  Tenho notado que sou muito diferente e tenho um perspectivo bem diferente a respeito do mundo, desde o último vez que vocês me viram. Estou bem animado a não conseguir falar inglês quando eu voltar para casa. Que Deus os abençoe com seus empreendimentos e sonhos. Fiquem tranquilho com suas dificuldades e confiem no senhor quando tudo parece impossível a superar.  Nunca vai padecer em suas problema si voce tiver bom ânimo confiança que o senhor proverá...por que ele venceu o mundo. Eu estou muito grato pelo sacrifício expiatório do senhor e poder que eu possa receber, ao me arrepender e entrar no rebanho a cada dia. 
A hug throughout world - at home and super far away. I officially have a year in the mission and the time is passing very quickly. Not to notice and stop to think. Only work. I have noticed that I am very different and I have a different perspective and view of the world, since the last time you saw me. I am very excited that I cannot speak English when I return home. May God bless you with your ventures and dreams.

Estou super bem aqui no brasil. são se preocupe. Só felicidade e trabalho. 
I am super well here in Brazil. No worries. Only happiness and work.

Muitas vezes, pensamos que temos que ser perfeitos em tudo que façamos num mundo tão imperfeito com os padrões perdidos.  O sehnor não pague pelo resto de nosso esforço, que não conseguíssemos conseguir. ele pagou por tudo. apenas guarde os mandamentos com todo energia do coração e seja fiel ate o fim. O senhor não abençoará um filho que não procura a cumprir. Eu sei que nosso senhor vive, está, e vai estar conosco quando nos cairmos por que ele é nosso pastor que vai correr atrás nos; Eu sei que ele deve ser nosso amigo. Eu sei que não podemos servir dois mestres. Eu sei que minha mãe me ama e eu a ama e tudo mundo. Paz. Amor e Felicidade acontecem quando guardarmos os mandamentos. Se ja tem caida, volte e junte-se à nos.
Many times, we believe that we have to be perfect in everything that we do in a world so imperfect with the standards lost. The Lord does pay for the rest of our effort that we could not achieve. He paid for everything. Just keep the commandments with all energy of your heart and be faithful to the end. 

Em nome de Jesus Cristo, Amém 
Skousen doing laundry

Monday, March 17, 2014

One Year

ONE year on the mission. I'll be honest -- the first year on my mission has flown by. I'm sure that the second year will be 2x as fast because I'll remember my prior areas. Like, ..."wow, a year ago I went to the MTC," "in June I arrived in Brasil" "CHRISTMAS WAS JUST A YEAR AGO?!?!....nooooo." "I'm home now? what?" I'm sure it'll be a lot like that. Remembering past dates and working really hard. 

These past few months I think I put my work ethic into third or fourth gear. I had started to drift away a little bit. With almost everything. I lost a little bit of my greeny fire. I talked to President about it and and we have made some awesome goals so that I can get back on my Elder Forsyth groove, helping the maximum number of people possible. 

The mission helps you understand where you are mentally, spiritually, where you are with your work ethic, where you were, and where you want to be. This is only one of the reasons I love the mission. There isn't any other job that requires 12-15 km of walking per day. There isn't any other job that makes you feel stretched to your absolute limits emotionally . There isn't any other job that requires 18-21-year-old guys to make personal and team goals every single day and plan out how they will reach those goals. There isn't any other job that helps you understand so well that work needs to be placed before play. These are just a few of the things that I am going through. Waterfalls and Brasilian hiking included. 

These parts of my life are helping me become a better man (in general), leader, future husband, employee, team player, planner, counselor, adviser, cook, shoe shiner, hair cutter (the hair cuts that I have given are not that great. but they are so much better than before...when I never gave haircuts), a better walker, persevere-er, conversationalist, Christian doctrinal student and enthusiast, salesman, creator, and son. My work helps me value 8 hours of sleep. My work helps me value Christ´s last sacrifice and helps me understand how nothing is impossible (spiritually and physically....just put your mind to it.) My job helps me be a better listener as I can only teach as I learn the needs of others.

I place son as the last point on my list because as I am preparing to be a man in the world, I am also preparing to be a better son of my Heavenly Father. He loves me and blesses me as I bless others as I proclaim His son´s word. I know that the message that I carry is special, simple, firm, lovable, gives me more conviction, and gives life-repairing help. I know that through the Bible and the Book of Mormon we can understand and get to know God´s and Jesus Christ´s characteristics much, much better. I know that through these two books we can understand the fullness of Christ's gospel.  I don't carry just one branch of the tree of knowledge but I carry with me the seed that needs to be planted so that one can understand the entire organism of God´s plan. 

I know that the Book of Mormon is true, through study, deep thought, and through conversing with my Father in Heaven. He showed me that it is true to my heart and feelings, through miracles, and life's changes.
I know that The Church of Jesus Christ contains the restored gospel and the divine authority of God. I know this because I have seen how the priesthood has blessed the life of my friends and my family.

I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet because God would not waste time giving a sacred record testifying of His only begotten son to a false prophet to translate and publish to the world (the Book of Mormon). And Christ wouldn't re-establish His true church through any man, if he were not called of God.

I know that I am blessed for my decisions and I also know that I am on the path to eternal life with an eternal family. I know these things without a doubt in my heart and with full conviction because I have studied, thought about it deeply and prayed about them. Read the Book of Mormon to find out for yourself what road to take. Then take that road! It is a wise man that takes advantage of God´s opportunities when they are given. 

Year 2 here we come!  I will see you all on the other side of the world next March or Feb. I am not exactly sure. 
Love, Elder Forsyth

p.p.s. I got transferred to Estação. It's a small town that is in the middle of Araucária (a city). Today has been super busy with bus rides from Prudentopolis to Curitiba. but the four hours of extra sleep was a life saver because I have been super tired. Now I'm in the mission office waiting for a brother from the ward to give me a ride to our house. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Adventures in the Brasilian Forest

These past weeks have been wild. We've been going out on the edge having some pretty awesome adventures, hitchhiking (don't worry, with 4 missionaries it's tranquil), meeting people who travel all over South America. 

The man with the backpack with the missionaries in our district is on a life long trip to get to know God's wonders. He has two sets of clothes, some money, a Bible, lots of maps, and a face that tells of many experiences. 

Today we hitched a ride to get out of the Brasilian forest with some construction workers and a bulldozer. I had an encounter with a hundred ants on my legs going at my flesh.  It was a lot of Indiana Jones fun.  Some bites, some scratches and a lot of experiences that will never be forgotten. 

Today was our second attempt to try and reach the hidden waterfall. The last time was a failure, because we ran out of time and had to catch the bus back. This time we made it a little bit further, descending down the mountain but the ants made a very large barrier so that we could not enter any further into the green Brasilian forest. I felt like Cusco from Emperor´s New Groove because I saw several little flies stuck on spiderwebs being eaten by spiders the size of my face. I'll send some videos through a member's email (our missionary email does not permit us to send large files). Some awesome Brasilian wilderness footage awaits everyone at home.

p-day fashion

bus ride home

We also headed up to Guamiranga to make some hard cement floors with Brother Elias and his wife. They have some pretty land where they raise puppies and chickens.   I learned how to make an area with a wood perimeter, fill it with dirt and then pour and place the cement. It took a whole day to make the cement flooring but it was surely worth it. Making cement floors and chasing after really fast chickens. 

Editor's observations: 
1) There must be a different definition for "tranquil" than the one I know.
2) It appears that the elders have no more white athletic socks.  Only dark dress socks.
3) It also appears to be nearly impossible to pose for a picture without the ubiquitous Brazilian hand gestures.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mountains, my inner Rock Star, and a great video

more on this later...

Our p-day was switched over to Tuesday, only for this week, because of Carnival (last day before Lent) tomorrow. So, I'll be writing this letter and then hitting the street in the pouring rain, woo! Nothing happens here in Prudentopolis during Carnival. Just a little bit more beer and more people sleeping on the streets.

Tomorrow we are going to go hike some mountains and explore some waterfalls in Guarapuava. I am so excited to get on top of something extremely elevated. I miss the feel of clouds in my face and the fresh clean air. Tomorrow we'll catch a bus that will take us to a stop where we will get off and start our hike. We planned it all our on our last zone conference with President. I hope we don't get lost. It should be super tranquil there. This part of Parana is really known for its waterfalls and mountain trails. I don't know if I have written on the blog about how much I miss the mountains. I'm sure Sienna knows. I think I draw her a picture of a mountain each time. If I talk too much about the mountains please forgive me. I don't know what it is about them that brings me home. The scriptures say much about revelation and foundations in relation to mountains.  Nephi, a young ancient American prophet 600 years before the birth of Christ, climbed to the highest mountain to search out and speak with the Lord. 

I have a question for everyone at home. What can we do every day to bring ourselves closer to heaven and gain some insight from God? As Nephi searched diligently for the Lord´s insight, he prayed and prayed and prayed. Prayer is something that can be practiced.  I find that a lot of people here in Brasil don't know how to pray. When they learn, they tell me that they are so much happier. So much changes in one's routine when they add prayer, but even more changes in that person as they pray. We become more efficient with our everyday choices because we are asking the one who knows everything. We become more reverent because we choose to start and end our days with the spirit of peace. We know ourselves better as we discover our relationship with God because he knows us the best. These are only a few of the various blessings of prayer. As we pray we can resist our hardest temptations and we can become spiritual strongholds. 

Couldn't resist the temptation of this wig, though
Before teaching some recent converts I just had to grab the wig that was hanging on their wall. The goofball side of Elder Forsyth came out and I found my inner Guns 'n Roses . I then had to get myself together to teach an extremely special message about reverence. I used my photo shoot as an example of irreverance. It showed how we can have fun and still be reverent people.

Before I sign off, here is a great video.  Watch it!

stay sweet everyone,
Elder Forsyth

p.s.  I FINALLY GOT THE 49ers T-SHIRT and old candy! the package you sent me on November 20th finally got to me last week while I was in Guarapuava at zone conference. I also got all the letters and the package from the Sheffield family and the Young Women of the ward. Thank you!  I can't read them until p-day (tomorrow), but thanks for all the love everyone!