Sunday, January 31, 2016

Study, Work, Serve; Happy

#domingoãobrothers  |  photo: diogo jones
Elder Vera, Elder Vasconcelos, Elder Amancio, Elder Hughes, Diogo Jones, Clayton Rodrigo


Not gonna have time for a full email this week like usual --

How are you all?? 
This week was good and I had a lot of answers to prayers; working more on recognizing the Lord’s hand in my life. Studying, working, serving. I’m loving the scriptures and I think I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Seriously. I love the mission and just getting out and doing the work!

We moved this week! 
The move was good, though on the fly (literally got a call 30 minutes before the movers showed up that we’d be moving that day) and the new house is really nice. lots of space. And mosquitos. Hot water too.

We had interviews with President!
Interview went well! He’s pleased with training; Elder A is doing really well. Talked about my goals; he was happy with the ones I’ve set. I told him I’d prayed and sought guidance about them. He prayed for me to feel and continue to develop more charity and patience, so I’ve taken a hint and went to the books this whole week to learn more. Also, kinda nervous about the transfer coming up, but we’ll see.

Had a sweet Missionary devotional from Provo over the wires!
Quotes from the broadcast:

“You are called to testify of Jesus Christ and to invite people to do what He has required to come unto Him and walk the path He has defined by His doctrine ...” —Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Speak of the Savior. Testify of Him. Speak of His doctrine, of faith in Him and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.” —Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Hope all is well there!

Love you!

Elder Hughes

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dreaming in Portuguese

Elder Amâncio, Bispo Alan Cardoso, me, J. and G after Saturday's baptism.

This was a good week and also a really wet one. It rains everyday now—and it’s summer—so it’s hot and really humid. And it makes me sweat. I’m getting used to it! 

This week we received many, many blessings. We met a family with the help of a church member, and they are eager to accept the restored gospel and be baptized! Awesome! Many other people appeared almost out of nowhere during the week who have interest in hearing and learning about the gospel and what it has to offer in their lives, and we’re super excited about the work in this area now! This week we had two baptisms—two sons of a member who were never baptized for various reasons. Awesome stuff. They are 10 and 11 years old, and were baptized on Saturday and confirmed yesterday (Sunday). Also, a wedding date and baptism date have been scheduled and set for M. and G. today! They are a 75- and 73-year-old couple who have been together for many years. They will be baptized on Valentine’s day. The examples and faith of these good people are incredible and I’m learning a whole lot from them!  I’m trying hard to be immediate in my giving thanks for the blessings. One of my favorite parts of the day is personal prayer at night and just conversing. Good stuff. 

I've been dreaming in Portuguese and practicing my pronunciation. I had a dream last night that I was traveling through Mexico, correcting people on their grammar because they were speaking Spanish. I have a better Brazilian accent in my dreams haha, so I think my mind is telling me that I have work to do. 

I love the scriptures and I feel like in Portuguese I’m understanding them much more and like I’m understanding not just the words, but also the doctrine and teachings, and why everything is important in Heavenly Father’s plan for all of us. I’m reading only Portuguese; English is hard. My testimony grows a little more each day and it’s awesome to see that and feel it too! It seems the more I fast and pray, the weaker my tear ducts become haha.

When I speak English now, I notice phrases and things that I use of dad's and mom's and it makes me laugh. I pick up Portuguese phrases from the people I live with which is fun too.

This week I was thinking a lot about the Atonement. The Atonement is Christ’s gift to us that allows us to become cleansed from sin and return to Him and to Heavenly Father after this life if we remain faithful and actually try and use those blessings. The blessings of the Atonement are essentially conditional upon our discipleship; we actually get to try and work to be worthy of that gift. That is why we have commandments and the ordinances of the gospel, like baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. They help point us in the direction we should move forward in to show Christ that we respect His sacrifice, and for Him. Doing this willingly, because He knows better, allows us to use the blessings of the Atonement completely. Christ said he died for his friends, and his friends are those that keep the commandments. I’d sure like to be a friend of the Savior! 

I hope you are all doing well, and I will continue to pray for all of you,

Elder Hughes 

In Vista Verde last week after splits with Elder Zamudio from Uruguay.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Direct and immediate answers

photo cred: Jessica Gonçalves


How are you all? 

This week was super good. I’m totally in awe of how the Lord answers our prayers. Last Sunday, we fasted for 24 hours to know how we could best help our area, and this week we received direct, immediate blessings from this fast. We’ve been able to contact many amazing people who have been prepared to hear the gospel. I shall explain: 

We had Family Nights with many people, and many invited their friends who wanted to hear about the gospel. We were able to talk with many people that way and share the message of the Restoration! We also contacted C, the friend of a member here, to see if she had interest in learning more about the church and the gospel. She sure did! She accepted a baptismal date in the first lesson—actually, she asked to be baptized before we even started the lesson with her! This week, a couple we are working with also received—with much help from the local bishop—paperwork needed for them to get married so they can be baptized soon. So many blessings have been received this week, and I have been stunned by the answers to prayers we have received. 

Like always, we have been speaking Portuguese. However, this week I had difficulty separating Portuguese from English. Sometimes I can’t tell. Some words now have been completely replaced with the Portuguese word, and it’s kinda odd. I have to think about English now which is surprising—however, it’s continuing progress! I still have a Portuguese/Portugal accent from my trainer and not a Brazilian one, but we’re working on it. Lots of prayer and fasts to learn the language are being answered. 

During the week we did splits with the bishop here and visited several less active church member families in the area. In one lesson we taught with him, the Bishop asked if he could teach about stewardship and share the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy. He shared scriptures in Doctrine and Covenants 104:11-16, and he explained how the Sabbath Day is a way we show our respect for our stewardship, or our responsibility to take care of what has given to us. We’ve been given the ability to go to church, to know that we are children of God, to give back and to serve, learn, and humble ourselves, and to become clean and be forgiven, and we can take the sacrament. It is our opportunity and responsibility to do this because God has given us the ability to become more like Him through these things, and since we know their importance, we don’t really have an excuse for not using them. That is an awesome thought! I’d never thought about a stewardship like that before, but in the lesson it made perfect sense—and the family joined us at church two days later! Awesome experience! 

The APs (Assistants to the Mission President) came to the zone last week to do some training. They gave us good tips for the area and that should be a big help to us. One of them, Elder Homer from New York, should be at home now, but he was asked by the Area President to stay one more transfer as AP. Probs good idea to take the advice he gave me. 

We´re working hard, and having a good time. The gospel is true. I’m praying for all of you!

Elder Hughes 

photo cred: Jessica Gonçalves

photo cred: Jessica Gonçalves

photo cred: jotasilva

photo cred: jotasilva

photo cred: jotasilva

Monday, January 4, 2016

Welcome 2016


Hello all! 

This week was a really good week! T’was New Year’s, and we Elders from Cidade Jardim partied until 7:00pm! Yes, P.M.! We were in the apartment at 7:00pm, and were advised not to leave due to the wild festivities that were to occur in the streets haha. We watched some fireworks and then later got some sleep, but only after having a small celebration feast of cookies and herbal tea. Good stuff. 

I actually woke up right at midnight to welcome 2016. There were all sorts of fireworks and sirens and such making a racket; hence I woke up. But it was awesome! Elder Amâncio woke up at 3am to welcome the New Year due to his being from another state and the time difference and such. Funny stuff. On New Year’s Day, we were invited to the Bishop’s house (and he absolutely magnifies his calling; it’s awesome to see) for a bbq dinner, or churrasco. Tasty.

There was crazy rain this week which was wild—flooded streets and other things like that. They say it’s summer here, but I remain skeptical. 

On January 1, I started reading the Book of Mormon in Portuguese from cover to cover with the goal to read it together with Elder Amâncio during his training. I’ve been reading in Portuguese of course, but this is now a definite goal to accomplish within a few months. Even in just a week I’ve felt the spirit so strongly, and have been able to understand so much better. I’d been praying for inspiration for what my resolutions should be, or if I should make any, and this was one of the things that kept coming to mind. So I made the goal, and have already seen the blessings. Once again, James 1:5 pulls in for the win when you lack wisdom! 

A phrase from my reading this past week that is very motivating to me: “Eu vou acordar e servir até o pó!” — roughly “Awake, and shake off the dust.” I think that is an awesome phrase. I’m working hard and working to give my all. It can be stressful, but I am loving it.

As for the work in the area, we have been meeting with several people who are learning and who are progressing towards baptism. We’re super excited for them! We are also starting to work with many new people too, and we are happy with opportunities here in the area—helping through service and helping others come closer to Christ (I think I may be the one learning the most). Awesome stuff here in this area now! 

Because of the rains, the chapel here flooded really pretty good. We got to the church Sunday morning to see a flurry of mops and rags and buckets. Everyone instantly rushed to help clean up and there was no complaining. Through it all, the sacrament was still prepared. Each person was doing their part and what was needed to make it possible for everyone to take the sacrament this week. I learned a whole lot from the examples that I saw about how we should act as disciples: acting in all diligence to serve our neighbors, without complaint, and with a smile.

That was it for the week! I hope you are all doing well and I love you all! Happy New Year! 

The book is blue; the church is true, 

Elder Hughes