Monday, January 26, 2015

Conversion story of the extraordinary variety

Joaquim's baptism
Conversion story

All conversion stories are miracles that are examples of God´s hand in our lives. This one is pretty big.

So Joaquim´s story is simple but extraordinary. Extraordinary means nuts, okay? We were with our Ward mission leader coming back from Contenda (the city near Araucária) and he was going to drop us off and introduce us to a less active but he decided to take a different route so he could show us how cool his F-1000 is. So we hit the dirt roads and we were bumping around inside his pick up. He turned the corner, stopped and put the car in reverse. He got out of the car and told us to hang tight for a little. He clapped for about 2 minutes, waiting for one of his friends to come out of his house. Right when he was walking back to the car, little Joaquim was riding by on his bike and bumped into him. The fact that he bumped into him shows you the condition Joaquim was in. Drunk and high. I started talking to him and he seemed like a super nice guy. We set an appointment for that Wednesday to go over with Silvano (ward mission leader) and teach him about the restoration. 

On the 3rd lesson we started to share the commandments without Silvano present so that we could be a little more courageous and direct with Joaquim so that he would truly give up many vices. Ever since that 3rd visit he hasn't put anything harmful into his mouth nor has he done anything against the commandments of God. The 3rd lesson was what truly got him on track to baptism. Every lesson after that we followed up with every single commitment that we left for him. So, if we taught him the law of chastity and the word of wisdom then on the next visit we would follow up with those two commandments and leave another commitment for him. He was always being reminded of the blessings and consequences. 

Ele é super bacana. (He is super cool.)

Some pictures from the week:

Remember Elder Gale?

Brasilian Oktoberfest and knitted chicken made by an investigator


It is HOT

Big panda 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Finding Families

This week has been tough but rewarding. What I mean is that the sun is killing us but we are getting bronzed. Just kidding. The sunscreen helps a little but I'm still looking like a little tomato out here.

This transfer we have six people that could be baptized. Three are pretty much set. The Lord has been blessing us with families. Many of the doors we are knocking/ clapping are full of families. I feel like a true Brasilian missionary now because we are teaching a bunch of families with little tan kids who run around shirtless in their board shorts. 

Funny experience:

We were striding down a steep "hill" (*cough* mountain) and we starting chatting with some teenage kids who were playing a Brasilian game called "bats". It's like cricket/ baseball and suicide all together. Actually, they stopped us because they started screaming, "ELDDDERRRS!" In Brasil, almost everyone has been taught by the elders. It's because we knock so many doors and contact a lot of people. They told us that they all had Books of Mormon and wanted us to come back. It was a Saturday and we didn't have much time because of our next appointment so we invited them all to church. They all said they wanted to check it out. Some of them had already visited the chapel but never progressed with the missionaries. It's funny to see these kids talk to older guys, us, because they start deepening their voice and say more slang words, cuss words, or they just get all goofy. I was the goofy one as a kid. Sorry, to all of my brothers and their ex- girlfriends. And maybe some of my sisters-in-law as well. 

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting about the sacred calling of a missionary. The bishopric asked me to make it like a recruitment call. I imagined Jesus with an uncle sam hat saying, "I SAY UNTO THEE,  SERVE THOU MY BRETHEREN." The talk went really well. I really did feel the spirit using me to reach the hearts of the ward and to get the youth exited about missionary work. After the talk Grandma Eva (ward chorister) came up to me in tears and said that my talk answered the prayers of her grand daughter. I saw her grand daughter crying behind her.She slowly walked up to me and said thank you. It was a great feeling. She said she had been praying to know if she should serve a mission or not. Lots of job opportunities have been popping up and she could get a lot of money out of them but she felt the strong desire to serve a mission. 

Elder De La Rosa made a miracle contact late last night. We saw a group of people hanging out by their gate and he contacted all of them. Stud. He´s super new in Brasil but his Portugues is picking up. By the end of the night we were teaching a young woman and she was really interested in the restoration. 

We are also teaching a guy in English. He lived in England for 4 years and we've met with him twice. He likes reading the war chapters of the Book of Mormon because he hates terrorists. Hopefully we can get him to go to church.

Yesterday we brought 9 people to church. It was fantastic. It was the first time for 6 of them and they all loved it, participated in the classes and hung out in the parking lot with a bunch of members afterward. I´m seeing and hoping for a lot of progress. It´ll come.

In one of our lessons we were teaching a father who has a tough time finding out what is truth. Not if God exists, but what is He made of and what does He do daily. We watched a sweet Mormon Message with him: Heavenly Father, Earthly Father. The sound was pretty loud because of their speaker and his wife who WAS kind of against our religion walked into the room half way through the video and sat down next to her husband. She never listened to our lessons. It was strange. At the end of the video she quickly turned her head and started asking us a ton of questions. We talked about the plan of salvation, church dances, barbecues, youth programs for her kids, For the Strength of Youth, etc. She randomly looked at all of her family members and decided the following, "We are going to visit your church tomorrow. I´ve always found your denomination loving and family oriented but never had the courage to leave my church to visit yours."  I was just thinking, "wait...what just happened."  She changed. Instantly, it seemed. They went to church and she felt super open to participate and make comments. It was awesome. 


Monday, January 12, 2015

What I've Learned

The Jaca fruit

Dear Family and Friends,

One more transfer until  I come back home. Everyone asks me if I´m super trunky. Well, now I am after everyone asking me! Being an old missionary has its pros and its cons. The pros are:

1. You´re experienced
2. You understand how the mission works
3. You feel comfortable in any teaching situation
4. You've overcome many obstacles
5. You can speak the language

the cons:

1. Everyone thinks you are rotting and slowly dying. Hey. I've seen worse. There is a difference between dead and mostly dead. I hope people back home get that movie quote.
2. Sometimes you think you perfectly understand what it means to be a missionary , but unfortunately you don´t.
3. You are physically tired.
4. Homesickness comes back.

So for the past two weeks we've been teaching a guy named Joaquim. I´d have to say he is one of our best investigators. He just gets the gospel. He´s never been a religious person and has never really been interested in this whole, OUR LADY OF "fill in the blank" Catholic tradition that everyone seems to be born into. I saw a baby with crucifix earrings the other day. He must have been 3 months old. Wow, side track. We found Joaquim through our Ward Mission Leader that was giving us a ride from Marlon´s place. He abruptly stopped in the middle of a neighborhood, started going in reverse and stopped in front of a old wooden gate with over grown weeds.He told us that one of his long lost drinking friends, from his non- member glory days, lived there. We taught him. We are currently helping him stop a lot of things that hurt his body and spirit and now he is on date. We watched the other elders´ baptism last Saturday and Joaquim loved it. He keeps telling us that the church is way better than any high that he´s had. The spiritual rush is lifting him up every day. Esse cara é bom mesmo. 

One of our roomates, Elder Vieira, finished him mission and is now waiting in the airport for his plane. Ah, it was cool to see him reminisce about his mission but the fact that I just have one transfer left hit me in the face when he starting talking about the things he´ll be doing when he gets back home.

I've leaned a lot this week abut who I am and what God is expecting me to do to endure to the end and prepare for my arrival back home. He´s been helping me a bunch in my personal prayers. I try to make each one count instead of falling into the missionary prayer routine.


Elder Forsyth 
Elders in the Zone

Jaca face

Monday, January 5, 2015

This is where I work

This is where I work

My Zone. Zona Araucára
Man on the street video, answering the question "What is the Book of Mormon?":

I´ll throw in my thoughts about The Book of Mormon.

In my view, I see the Book of Mormon as one of the greatest adventure stories to ever be documented on planet earth, one of the greatest stories of war, fraternal love, and one of the greatest stories of men who devote themselves to the service of God by helping His children. If we study this book we can find that God has so much more in store for us than we can imagine. Like the guy with the mustache said in the above video, I too feel like there are people who don´t understand why they need "more.” My question is, "What if there is "more" and you just are not aware of it yet?". When I say "more" I want you to imagine what is missing in your life. Whether "more" be true love, kindness, humility, or bravery, The Book of Mormon has the divine power to fill up the gap and make you complete if you apply its eternal principles. 

.I know this to be true. I've progressed myself and have helped many people fill their gaps, achieve the "more," and change their lives for the better, all because of this book. 

If I could only give my friends back home just one piece of advice that I have learned from my mission, it would be to read this sacred record. Meditate and think of the message it contains. Apply it. Then ask God if it is true. I know that it's true and I know it is not an ordinary book. Some may say that’s craziness. Some may not understand why I would want my friends to read a small blue book. Some might ask me why I would spend two years of my life in a shirt and tie talking about this. 

Paul explains it well, 
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God....
...we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them,because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mindof the Lord, that he may instruct him? But wehave the mind of Christ....
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men...  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak thingsof the world to confound the things which are mighty."
(from 1 Corinthians, chapter 2)

My personal knowledge of the Book of Mormon wasn´t proven to me by the words of man, but by the Spirit.  I know the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, seer and revelator, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is guided by the Savior through his modern day prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

Have a good week, everyone! :)
Elder Forsyth