Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Dear family and friends,

It was the best to hear from so many of you! And to see and talk to you my family the other day! An awesome Christmas, I do say! I hope the rest of the holiday was excellent and that everyone ate too much! We certainly ate too much here. Brazilians know how to eat—that is a fact.

This month was the awesome opportunity to celebrate Christmas as a missionary—which means really focusing on the life of Jesus Christ. That has been an amazing experience for me. I’ve been filling out an advent calendar (sent from home) with scriptures about of the life of Christ, one scripture for each day. That was a great part in keeping my thoughts on the true meaning of Christmas, and I was able to understand a little better the importance of why we celebrate the birth of the Savior. And able to serve a little better because of that gift.

The actual day's celebration here was a little different than the traditional Christmas at home: on Christmas Eve we missionaries went to a church member’s house here and had mission permission to stay at their house until midnight as is the custom here in Brazil.

We arrived at the member’s house at 9pm, when we usually are just getting ready to wrap up the day. While walking there, there were horns and fireworks going off, and people running in the streets, and it was like unto a war zone haha. Kinda crazy actually! We had a giant churrasco (barbeque) at Irmã Sandra’s house. There was linguiça (!), meats of assorted types including chicken as well. Mmmm, animal protein. We were all pretty wiped out, but we pushed through the tired and ate like champions. I was quite stuffed. When it was midnight, there were even more fireworks and all sorts of crazy noises that I don’t know what they were. It was awesome! We then went home and had the blessing of sleeping in a little—a mission gift. We normally wake up at 6:30 everyday. Woot! Christmas day we spent with members as well; 10am we went to the ward (congregation) Mission Leader’s house to have breakfast with lots of delicious things. Clayton (ward mission leader is preparing to go on a mission as well. Diogo was also there, and so was Jota Silva. They are all great people, and help us so much with missionary work in this area. We ate well. We then had lunch with a member, and later had more dinner ... and were completely filled.
Ha, and yes, I was ready to get back to work.

Christmas was also one of the two days per year that we can skype with our families! Elder Amâncio and I used the computers of the bishop here, Bishop Alan Cardoso. Skyping was awesome and it was the best to see and talk and laugh with family. Honest, it was hard to say goodbye after the allotted one hour, but Mother’s Day is coming soon.

Thank you to everyone who sent me letters over the holidays—that was awesome! Thank you so much for the time you put into sending me cards and notes and jokes and letters, stories, photos and a peanut Santa Clause, santa socks, a handmade Minion hat and Walker’s shortbread, socks and candy and ties. I’m so grateful for all of you! I felt the love.

My spiritual thought for the week is in D&C 76:22: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives.”

Christ lives! We celebrate His birth because through Him we can live too. And that is the gift of Christmas—true joy.

I love you! I wish you all a Happy New Year bringing joy to people around you,

Elder Hughes
Elders ​Vasconcelos, Amâncio, Vera and me
​Elder Amâncio, me, Diogo Jones at the Christmas Eve churrasco

​Elder Amâncio, me, Diogo Jones, Jota Silva and Elder Vera

   (photo courtesy Diogo Jones)
Christmas breakfast  (photo courtesy Diogo Jones)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Transfers and Training

Hello all! How are you?

This week was awesome for so many reasons! There was a baptism, a Christmas Conference, and I found out that this coming transfer I will be training a new Elder here! I will go to the mission office tomorrow for transfers and pick him up there. I have no idea who he is or where he’s from but it should be exciting!

This past week we had a Christmas Conference with the entire mission which was something else. We had a huge round with all of the missionaries singing the “12 Days of Christmas” which was really entertaining— there were only about 20 people who actually know the song, or even the language it is usually sung in. We separated into groups—one for each of the 12 days—and each group had an action move that represented our respective day. My group had Day 7—Seven Maids a Milking. When the song came around to our part we sang and pretended we were milking cows. Odd, but I think people understood, more or less.

Now on the most important part of the week: E´s baptism. She is the aunt of a church member here in the ward (congregation) and she was so spiritually prepared to hear our message and learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ. She followed the spiritual promptings she received after praying about the Book of Mormon and was baptized yesterday by her nephew. It was such a neat experience. People who follow the promptings of the Spirit and act in faith on the Lord’s promises inspire me to be better, and to want to help others more. Awesome experience.

We also had the chance and permission today on p-day to visit an old area of Elder Rojas´ before he goes home in six weeks. The area is called Guararema, and it is absolutely gorgeous here. It’s in the middle of a green, green valley and has huge trees everywhere—and has more Christmas decorations than any other city I’ve ever seen, and it rather looks like Stars Hollow from “The Gilmore Girls.” There’s a small little branch (congregation) here with about 40 people, and it feels like home to me. Elder Miranda from Guanajuato, Mexico is serving here now— we both served in São José—and it is nice to see him again. We all went on a hike to visit a waterfall area, then ate a huge lunch that a church member cooked for us, and then promptly took naps.

During my personal study this week I read a bit in Doctrine and Covenants Sections121–123, when Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail. The chapters are all about enduring through circumstances and hard experiences—how we can be humble through those times. When we need motivation because our circumstances seem too hard or challenging for us, we need only remember the message of those scriptures that our trials are only tiny things when compared to an eternal perspective. And as eternal beings, our trials, if we let them, can be for our personal benefit and a blessing in the long run. Looking for the positives and looking for humor can be blessings. And we are promised that as we turn to God, He will be with us.

That was the week! Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will find out who my Filho, or trainee, will be at the transfer meeting! Exciting! I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Hughes

Also, please pass along a congrats to Troop 206 Eagles!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Painting and Preparation

​Left to right: Clayton, Edna with 4-month-old Davi, J Silva, Renato, Diogo Jones, me, and Elder Rojas

Hello y'all! 

This was a good week! 
We are working hard  ~

And I am now 20. I feel old and like unto an adult. I'm as old as a bat. 

This week we were going to teach Edna, the aunt of a church member here who is going to be baptized this coming Sunday. We were going to meet at the member’s house, and when we got there, all the lights were off. We were still invited in, and when we went in, the lights went on, and there was cake and soda and balloons. The lovely members of the ward here threw me a surprise party! The cake had an American flag (attaching a photo) and there was lots of good company! It was awesome, and I appreciated it so much. : )

We painted a house for a member this week, and all four of us elders were covered in paint. It was a cool way to serve—and was a lot of fun. I also learned the importance of waiting for paint to dry before leaning on a wall.

This week I also learned the importance of being prepared for assignments in the priesthood. The priesthood is literally the power to act in God´s name to do His work here on earth. He trusts us with this authority to help us become more like He is as we serve others. We must all be worthy and ready to bless the lives of others. It is a power that is meant to bless us and encourage us and inspire us. All of us, regardless of circumstance, need to have faith in the priesthood blessings that are available for the benefit of men, women and children, and receive the blessings of the priesthood in our lives. Without our personal preparedness we cannot receive the full potential of blessings, and we aren’t able to achieve our full potential either. The power and authority and grace of God are available for all of us as we work to be worthy of the blessings that come from Him. That’s what was in the mind of Elder Hughes this week! 

Well, I hope you are all doing well and having a great time prepping for the holiday season. I’ve started rereading Luke and Helaman in preparation for the glorious day of Christmas! 

Love you all and have a great week! 

Elder Hughes 

​Me, Elder Rojas, Elder Vasconcelos, and Elder Mota. Painting the house of Sister Sandra
Photo courtesy Bruna Franciele
Photo courtesy Diogo Jones