Sunday, June 4, 2017

May 8 | Principles and Blessings


This week was awesome.

So Last Friday, the leadership council was scheduled in the mission office, but there was a "paralização" or paralization / strike of all transport in Brasil due to the economic crisis, so the meeting was moved to this past Tuesday. It was great, and much of the training was about the Book of Mormon, its importance in conversion and using the scriptures. Elder Amancio, who is a zone leader in Mogi das Cruzes now, shared the experience of when we read the Book of Mormon together every morning during his training in Cidade Jardim. He said it was through that reading in his training that he gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Pretty much had to fight back the tears a little bit. I pretty much felt the Spirit stronger on very few occasions. I also was asked to bear my “last testimony” (which is odd for me to hear). I said that we can never be scared or embarrassed of the gospel!

On Sunday yesterday two investigators appeared in the chapel unannounced, both named Lucas. One of them has been searching for the true church of Christ (his own words) for some time now; he read about the Restoration of the gospel on the internet and has done some serious research and study himself and decided to come to church yesterday. We set up a lesson to meet with him for this Saturday! The other Lucas has been part of another church for 10 years but felt like it wasn't answering his questions and now he goes to many churches in search of the truth (Elder Moraes, who came to the mission field 1 year after his baptism, was part of the same church that Lucas went to. He also had been a member of that church for 10 years before meeting the Mormons). We are going to teach that Lucas tonight and tomorrow. He said he wanted two lessons haha.

We've also been blessed to find and meet some new people to teach which is exciting. The zone as a whole is doing well so that is also pretty exciting too! Woop! 

On Tuesday we will start teaching an intensive English course for three weeks only since I only have three or four more Tuesdays here I think. We’ve got about 10 people signed up to come, members and investigators.

This week I was thinking about many gospel principles and things, but one really stood out to me. The majority of the changes we experience through the Gospel, the majority of blessings we see, and the majority of the relationship we develop with Christ happens as we continue to carry on and endure to the end. Faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost prepare us to endure to the end. Those first four principles of the Gospel bless us and allow us to receive the strength necessary to allow us to grow and progress as we are continually converted to the gospel and to the Lord.

Love you!

Elder Hughes

April 24 | And Last Transfer

Last photo in Jacareí
Well, last transfer ever! I got transferred to the Penha Zone to serve. I'll go there tomorrow. The Bishop there is the Sao Paulo institute director so that is great.

This past Wednesday, we had District meeting and we went to Cidade Jardim after to do split with the zone Leaders. It was cool to see the ward members there one last time. We visited some investigators and at night we went to the Chapel to play volleyball! Elder Clawson was a volleyball player in high school so he showed us all up. He said the next day that he was a little too competitive though since he was extremely sore haha. All in all, good splits!

Nelson was confirmed this Sunday which was cool! He´s excited to continue learning about the gospel and he really likes the whole lot of support the church provides through activities and all the classes, home teaches etc. It will be great for him. His daughter has been coming to church too so I think Elder Clawson and his new comp will start teaching her more too. 

Yesterday we went to a Family Home Evening at André and Miriã´s house which was really good. It was nice to see them before I leave. We all took a bunch of pictures which was good but also difficult. There are so many people here I love. All will be well!

This transfer was a good one, and I had it confirmed to me that people to be loved are more important than problems to be solved. The words of the prophets are true!

Have a great week!

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