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.