Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 17 | Prayer, Baptisms and Easter

Elder Rodrigues’ last day

Hello! Another great week here in Jacareí,

Friday was Zone Conference in Jardim Paulista. President and Silster Silcox came, and they taught about the importance of prayer. But we started off with a message from the Stake Presidency actually which was cool. They came to coordinate how we can better integrate the Stake and missionary service, and had some great ideas that will be really helpful working together. We read the story of the prophet Enoch, how he was slow of speech and how he felt like all the people hated him, but God told him he just needed to focus on serving and testifying and he would be blessed with the words and abilities that he needed. Great!

Sister Silcox taught about the necessity and blessing of prayer in our lives to talk with Heavenly Father, and also how it is necessary to bring the gospel—Christ and His Atonement and Ressurrection—into our lives. She shared a bunch of examples of the need for prayer and examples when prayer was used, and examples and results when prayer was not used, from the scriptures. Really good. President shared a message with the same story about Enoch and of his own personal conversion, and talked about how when he was a college student he thought his life was excellent but one night he realized there was something more to life and dedicated himself to God´s service. Super powerful message.

Afterwards I had a baptismal interview for a woman named C. Her son is currently serving a mission in Ceará, Brasil, and she decided now that she was ready and prepared to be baptised. Though a series of very divinely coordinated events, President Silcox spoke with her son’s mission president—who was in Sao Paulo this weekend—about setting up a skype feed for him to watch his mother’s baptism. President also happened to be in the chapel in on Friday for the zone conference, which was C´s baptismal interview day, so she got to call her son and tell him she was going to be baptised! Wow! Very, very sweet experience.

Friday night was N´s baptismal interview which was wonderful. He did great, and was ready and was excited about asking Lucas Galhardi, the church member (recent returned missionary) who initially contacted him, to be the one to baptise him.

Sunday was great at church with a focus on Easter of course. N´s baptism was held after church meetings, and he was very happy. He was a little nervous before hand but when he was baptised I think he felt that Heavenly Father was really blessing him. Very wonderful baptism. That good man was very ready to receive God’s divine help.

This week I was thinking about Easter (of course) and about what Easter teaches us about God´s character and my personal progression on earth. Easter is Christ´s Atonement and Resurrection--what bring us back to His presence and allow us to progress continually. That teaches me that God actually loves me! And just as we learn in the scriptures, He does nothing that is not in our benefit. His happiness in our progress. The resurrection gives me the knowledge that my progress will continue eternally if I desire and thankfully I have eternity to progress. I am grateful God sees me and all of His children for potential to be like Him and not for who we've been. I’m very grateful to be here in His service this Easter Season.

Here in Brasil, Easter eggs are a thing too, only there’s this tradition where the kids will make a giant doll (kind of like a scarecrow) of Judas and drag him around in the streets and tie him up in trees. A little different than in the states. The Easter weekend observances start on Holy Friday, continue on Saturday (Passion of Christ), and culminate on Easter Sunday.  Easter in Portuguese is: Páscoa.

I hope you are all well and in good health. Have a great week this week.
Please keep praying for us!

Elder Hughes
District shirts

April 10 | Blessings

Two new horse friends this week
This week was a great one! I think we walked more this week than any other week during my mission since all of our compromissos were super far away from everything. Wild. We got to know the area a little better though so that’s a plus. We were also able to help prepare N for his baptism this Sunday which is so awesome! Really happy for him.

On Tuesday we went to the chapel at night to welcome home Guilherme who just returned from the Fortaleza mission in the Northeast here. He is Irmã Marta´s son. We’d been hearing lots about him every week so it was cool to meet him! We ate salgados (which are like little stuffed dough balls with chicken and sausage and cheese and things) which are so good. They are quite tasty so I was happy haha. Elder Rodrigues got a little homesick though since he goes home on Thursday. His birthday is Wednesday so he´ll have it in the misson field still.

Yesterday we visited some families so Elder Rodrigues could say goodbye. We ate lunch with the Galherdi family, and the returned missionary from Buenos Aires that I had previously met was there. He was in the same zone as Elder Cook! Lucas Galhardi, who also returned from his misson recently was there; his birthday is also Wednesday, so we commemorated both birthdays, and then we went to visit André and Miriã and their two sons. They also made a cake, so we ate more! We had a family home evening there and talked together about 1 Nephi which was really great. Then we went to Marcia and Evandro´s and ate more salgados. Ha. We ate a lot yesterday, and tonight we have another family home evening! Woot! It’s all so good; so many good people and so many blessings.

This week I was thinking a lot about the purpose of our mortality and why we came to earth. We know that we chose to come to earth and that we have the opportunity to walk by faith to learn how to choose—to choose the right and serve and repent when we need to. I liked Elder Ballard’s remarks in conference that we are to return to God and receive eternal life—and that’s it exactly!—eternal life is our goal. It’s ok to have faith and trust that we will receive eternal life. Knowing our goal makes our vision clearer and our decisions along the way easier to make. Thank goodness for the gospel plan.

This week we will have Zone Conference on Friday, N’s baptismal interview, Elder Rodrigues will go home, and we will keep on working.  Keep praying for us and twill be swell! 

Have a great week!

Elder Hughes

Elders Clawson, Hughes, Rodrigues

April 3 | General Conference, Interviews and Successes

District T-shirt

This week was a pretty great week here! We had general conference, interviews, successes—and some really good lunches so that was a bonus!

At interviews on Friday we went to the Jardim Paulista chapel about an hour away from us. We got the bus at 9 am because we had interviews at 10:30. And my package was there! Woot! I got it opened right away and ate the Skittles haha. Thank you!

Thank you for praying for me. I felt many answers during general conference about post-mission and school and such, and I think that was definitely a result of the prayers and dad’s fast for me. Thanks for helping me out! :) Also for loving me.

The missionary work is going well! N came to Conference on Saturday and he even brought his daughter. So that was awesome! She normally is not interested in listening when we teach him at his home so that she came was a truly miracle.

Also, today is Jacareí´s birthday, so nearly everything is closed down. There´s no one in the streets and it looks like a ghost town which is odd. Anyways, happy birthday Jacareí!

For General Conference, we stayed in Jardim Paulista almost the entire weekend. We left Saturday afternoon at 12ish and went back home at 11pm since we had permission to stay for the Priesthood session. And on Sunday we ate lunch at the Bishop’s house at 11am and went home at 7pm after the afternoon session. The sessions here were live broadcasted so all were after lunch here instead of morning and afternoon sessions. I loved this conference! I felt like many talks were directed exactly, specifically to me and I felt a lot of answers. It’s a great blessing to have a living Prophet on the earth today and to have the Apostles and general authorities as well. I sustain them.

This week we are planning on bearing testimony a great deal. President Silcox has a mission-wide challenge for the missionaries to reflect on our personal experiences with the Atonement so we can bear testimony to everyone about the power of forgiveness and blessings of the Gospel. We will speak with many a person this week!

I appreciated in Conference the emphasis on stretching spiritually. As we stretch ourselves beyond that which we have done before, the answers will always come. Just as the woman who stretched to touch Jesus’ clothing, as we stretch ourselves we will feel His influence in our lives and the Holy Ghost, as promised by President Nelson, will tell us all things that we need to do.

And that was essentially it for the week! Loving the work. Loving serving.
I hope you have an excellent week.
Please keep praying for all of us here in Jacareí!

Elder Hughes

Friday, March 31, 2017

March 27 | Happy and all the good things.

The trio
All is well here in Jacareí! The new companionship is great. Elder Rodrigues is only here for 2 weeks and then he goes home. His two years as a full-time missionary are all up; he will go home on the 13th. 

Vitor was baptised yesterday! That was awesome!! Yesterday was ward conference here, and there were about 300 people in the ward. Usually the Sunday attendance is around 220 more or less but yesterday was exceptionally packed! Adalberto, a member here, received the Melchizedek Priesthood too. He was assaulted once about three years ago and when he was trying to protect his family, he ended up being shot two times. He is now unable to walk, and each Sunday we take him to the chapel in his wheelchair. He was so happy today.

After the meetings was Vitor’s baptism. He asked Elder Rodrigues to baptise him which was really cool. Vitor has a brother and a sister who are church members and he´s been coming to the Church for a few years and decided to be baptised now. He asked us — that was a great miracle. Super happy for him. Good things!

We will be able to watch General Conference this week and stay for the Priesthood session too. I’m excited! I’ve got questions all ready too, or at least a few of them.

Our investigators are doing well. We were able to do a move this week as a service project which was cool; loving working here and getting things done. 

I was thinking this week about repentance and how the Savior promised to forgive our sins and never remember them anymore. That teaches us that God cares more about who we can be—our potential—than who we have been. Repentance is a testimony that we can become more, and that Heavenly Father sees in us our divine potential as His children. When we repent and continue to change, we can reach our full potential.

Super happy; super busy. Keep praying for us!

Have a great week!

Elder Hughes

the district

Sunday, March 26, 2017

March 20 | Transfers, Turning Blue and Singing in English

At CNA with some students. Elders Clawson, Freitas and me.

This was a good week! Pablo and Nelson are doing great. Another young man named Vitor who has been coming to all the ward activities asked to be baptised this week! There are some great things happening here in the area for this coming week!

We got the transfer calls yesterday—Elder Clawson and I will be staying in Jacareí for another transfer but Elder Freitas was called as the Financial Secretary so he will be leaving. However, we will still be in a trio. Another Elder, Elder Rodrigues, will be coming to the area. He is from the same home stake in the state of Ceará as Elder Freitas actually. Should be a good thing. Elder Rodrigues is finishing his mission this transfer so this will be his last area.

This week it rained a whole lot actually. Yikes!

We went to CNA this week—an English school here in Jacareí—a church member who is a professor  there invited us to give a short presentation and help with Q&As about life in the states so the kids could practice asking questions in English. I don't really remember typical american foods very well, and speaking English is difficult ha ha. Elder Clawson did most of the talking ha ha. We went to another classroom where the younger kids are learning English by singing songs. They wanted to hear our accents so they asked us to sing for them. A little awkward, haha but all was well.

It’s really strange that I’m starting my 2nd to last transfer here in São Paulo Leste. In mission slang here, I am “Blue” now. On the list of missionaries that President has, in the second to last transfer your name turns blue, and on the last transfer it’s red. Very odd all of this haha. But I am still excited about getting the work done and to keep serving and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ’s gospel.

Love you—Please keep us all in your prayers!
Have a great week,

Elder Hughes

Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 13 | Pondering, Pie, and Preparation

Comps at the temple

I am going to try to eat some pie this week. Tomorrow perhaps, as it will be Pi day! Only here there is no pie like there is in California. I will shed one tear and get over it.

This week was a great week here with a Temple trip, Zone Conference and a baptism.

We went to the Temple Saturday with André and Miriã. We took family names with them on the ward Temple trip. (There was Zone Conference this week so we asked/received permission to go from President Silox). It was a really great experience. They brought their parents´names and were able to be baptized and confirmed for them. Which was amazing. I was able to do the confirmations which was cool. Very good experience, and they are already planning their return trip later next month.

Thursday was Zone Conference, and we´d been asked to read 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 27 in preparation. Sister Silcox was teaching that part and she explained very thoroughly the Doctrine of Christ which was awesome. She talked about how the Christ’s gospel is: faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  She said that even before faith, the first step is always having desire. Then she read 3 Nephi 27: 1-2 and talked about how Christ’s disciples had desire, how Christ appeared to them asking what they wanted Him to give them, and about the importance of how they needed to ask for an answer from Christ. Great conference. President Silcox also spoke a bit on proper use of technology.

In the temple trip, one of the Temple Presidency members talked about desire, pondering, and meditating as preparation for spiritual experiences. Essentially, this whole week was about preparation and desire for spiritual experiences and receiving answers.

Tamires was baptised! Her interview was Saturday, and yesterday she was baptised. This was a huge miracle; her family is being reactivated now and her brother Ricardo will be able to receive the Priesthood.  Elder Clawson performed the baptism which was his first ever. This is the family that contacted us in the street while we were walking to lunch one day and asked us to go to their house to teach Tamires. Miracles are real!

What I’m studying in the scriptures now is a lot about a lot of things. But recently I was studying the Restoration, and how Joseph was prepared, and how he clearly had desire for some sort of experience with Heavenly Father. Why did he pray? Because he had faith and accepted James’ invitation in the Bible. Why did he read the Bible? Because he was confused and wanted direction from God. Why was he confused? Because the people around him were in a war of words and had so many opinions. Why? The Apostasy. When he needed an answer, he accepted the invitation to ask God. He knew that if he called on God´s name, God would respond to him personally by name—which is exactly what happened. Sometimes we forget that God is a personal God and that He´s actually our Father, and that experience is a great reminder. When he was tempted to quit asking, he kept going and he received in the most difficult moment the answer to his prayer. How can we do the same? We can trust in God´s promises and trust that He will answer us and that He is preparing us for great things to come.

Love you all—you are my favorites!  
Elder Hughes

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 6 | Noite Familiar, Splits, Cidade Jardim and Good Things in Jacareí

Splits with Elders Moura and De Jesus

This was a great week! We had Stake Conference yesterday so I actually went to Cidade Jardim twice! I saw lots of members from Satélite and Cidade Jardim so that was really cool.  Splits was good in Cidade Jardim. We went on Carnaval so almost no one was home... so that was a little tough in terms of teaching people. However, we had a Noite Familiar (family night) with some church members there. We saw Jota Silva, Clayton, Diogo, Renato, and a few others. Overall super cool. We also ate really good pizza so that was a win!

In the area in Jacareí, we are planning on the baptism of Tamires this coming Sunday. She’s excited, and the family is ready to support her and be at church as well. And another young man who plays soccer at the chapel every week also is planning on being baptised on the 18th. His name is Pablo and he is very excited about it! And we are very excited for him.

Also! André, Miriã´s husband who was baptised recently, received the Melchizedek Priesthood at Conference. I think on Saturday we will be going to the temple with them for baptisms. Awesome!

At Stake Conference, Elder Dias of the Area 70 (Uncle of Sister Dias who was in my district for 4-5 months in Ipiranga) came and presided. He spoke for 50 minutes on the doctrine of faith which was literally awesome. One of the best talks I’ve heard on faith. He talked about how sacrifice can help develop our faith which was interesting. I got thinking about the Law of Moses and the various sacrifices that were required as way to prepare the people for the law of the gospel, the higher law. The sacrifices were all types or signs of Christ. The law was there so the children of Israel could learn to look to Christ in all things and begin developing faith in His sacrifice for them—the Atonement. Though at times they they failed to recognize the symbols of Christ's sacrifice. When we take the sacrament and always remember Christ’s sacrifice for us, our faith and trust in His promises grows. When we make sacrifices ourselves to be a little better every day, our faith in Christ can grow too.

Have a great week!
Love you!

Elder Hughes

Noite Familiar

A storm rolling in which let much water fall upon the city