Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mission Conference, Better Navigating, and Living in the Coldest Winter in years in São Paulo

As gerações: Elders Amancio, me, Martins  |  (generations: my trainee, me, my trainer)

Dear family!

It is very cold here, like 3° C which is like 37°F I think. Feeling weak cause I shiver a whole lot. No heat in apartment. Everyone is talking about it being the coldest winter in São Paulo in 30 years! Yikes! I’m good and healthy, just having to blow my nose a bit.

There was crazy rain last week; flooding to the north of us, but this week was fine here. Just cold as heck.

Serving in the capital is pretty cool. Lots of more people to talk to in the streets which is preferable, and there is lots more street food which is delicious. I ate tres leches cake during the week —the Brazilian version! Though I’m sure Lisa’s was better ha ha. We’re navigating through the streets much better because we teach with the young men a whole lot—they know the area way better than us. The companionship is going well!

Elder Meireles and I were supposed to give a training with President Silcox on Sunday for the Stake Ward Mission Leaders and Bishops, and we prepared everything, but at the meeting the Stake President made some adjustments for times’ sake, and so we didn’t teach at all, but that’s ok. President Silcox gave a solo training and called us up to help him a little so was cool ha ha.

We were able to meet and talk with Mateus this week, and all is going well as he is learning more about the gospel. He wants his girlfriend to start learning about the gospel!

Tender mercies this week in the Mission Conference with Elder Pinto from the Area Seventy of Brasil. He talked about things I’ve been thinking about and studying, and that was really cool. President Silcox also talked about things I’d been studying—Sister Silcox too—so pretty much the conference was made just for my needs I think ha ha. I also saw Elder Martins and Elder Amancio and Elder Merrill and a bunch of others so that was also very good! Mini mission reunions are one of the best things there are.

After the conclusion of the Conference (which was in Penha, a Zone very close to Ipiranga) Elder Pinto called all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders into a meeting with him which was a Q&A type thing about anything but “deep doctrine.”  I asked a few questions and got even more answers I was looking for, so that was sweet.

Elder Pinto quoted Elder Oaks in his training for us that “the doctrine of Christ needs to be written on our hearts and right into the marrow of our bones.” I really liked that—are we allowing the Lord to write the gospel in our hearts? It needs to be part of our souls. I've been discovering over the last 11 months that truly reading the scriptures teaches how to invite Christ to do that. And without studying the scriptures, we have no way of knowing that in full.

I love you all! I hope all is well there! Have an excellent week!

Elder Hughes

How we study these days
​Zone Ipiranga after the Stake training activity yesterday
Me and Elder Amancio
Dream team—​Elders Merrill, Martins, Hirst, Miranda, me

June 6th / Navigating in São João Clímaco

Dear family!

The transfer went well without any problems and I’m in my new area—São João Clímaco—in the Ipiranga Zone.

My area is in the city of São Paulo. It’s the first time that I’ve been in the capital to work in an area. There are lots of buildings and streets that confuse us and such. Our area has Heliópolis in it, which is the largest favela in São Paulo. Woot! Navigating those streets is a difficult thing since we only have a map to use to try to figure things out ha ha. My comp is Elder Meireles from Recife, Pernambuco in the northeast of Brasil. He’s on the downhill slope of his mission. He has about 7 months left of the mission. We live with Elder Machado who goes home in 5 weeks and Elder D Silva who has a year and 8.

There are 16 missionaries here in the Zone including all the office elders and sisters, so Elder Martins and Elder Hirst are in the Zone! It’s awesome! I know almost everyone—just two missionaries I haven’t met yet—but we’re having a Zone training on Tuesday, so I’ll meet them then.

The first Sunday here was good. We were able to meet many members, and had a meeting with the Ward Mission Leader and the Bishop which has helped us with getting going. There’s a ward here called Monumento, because there’s an important monument commemorating the spot where Brasil declared independence from Portugal! Elder Holland visited Stake Conference here 2 weeks ago ... bummer ... just missed it!

One awesome miracle that happened this week was that a member, Wanderson, brought his cousin Mateus to church and Mateus asked to be baptised! Righteous!  He’s come with his cousin several times before missionaries were in the area, and we’ve been able to teach him this week and help him learn and prepare for baptism! It will be the first baptism in the ward in a long time, so everyone is very excited for him!

I’ve really liked reading and thinking about Mosiah 3:19 this week—about becoming better and becoming a saint through the Atonement of Christ, and becoming more like Him through learning and developing patience, humility and love.

Elder Meireles and I are going to help with a "working with the missionaries" training with President Silcox this Sunday evening for the Ward Mission Leaders and Bishops in the stake; will be awesome! And this Saturday, an Area Seventy, Elder Pinto, is coming to talk to our mission and it should be pretty cool. The entire mission will be together in one chapel for the meeting so should be pretty great I think. Looking forward to learning a good deal of things and seeing mission people!

That’s pretty much it. Oh, and there is indeed pizza here, and its tasty. I think Brazilian pizza is generally better than American pizza. Don’t’ know why, but it’s rull good.

I think that’s it! It’s been a good week! Love you all and hope you are doing well!

Elder Hughes

Elder Meireles and me
Before transfer, Zona Mogi

* Favela image, courtesy the internet

Monday, June 6, 2016

May 30th / Transfer to São João Clímaco

Dear family!

How is Syd in Africa? Doing well? I haven’t gotten her emails for a few weeks but I’m sure she’s fine. Awesome that she was able to help the chillens get glasses! How was the Vets home? I remember going to the cemetery after the Linger Longers and walking up and down the rows and really liking being there. It’s crazy to think about how many people have dedicated their lives to the service of the country.

Seminary ended! Man, was it bittersweet? What last verses did you read in the Book of Mormon? Reading the Book of Mormon is an awesome goal! I read the Book of Mormon in Portuguese with Elder Amancio during his training which was a really neat experience. I was able to notice things that I hadn’t ever noticed in English as I read which was really cool to me. Will next seminary year be Doctrine & Covenants? Book of Mormon? New Testament? I think New Testament, right? I’m reading in Romans right now in the New Testament. Awesome stuff!

+ A teaching experience this week: I was in splits with Elder Ewerton this past week and we went to visit Kaué to teach him more about the Plan of Salvation. We taught him the lesson which he really responded to, and we were able to help him resolve some of the questions that he had about the importance of the gospel, and why it is important to find answers for ourselves through the Spirit. It was a really good experience for all of us, and we felt the Spirit strongly.

+ Service: We helped build Irma Ana´s house this week!

+ P-day plans are pizza

+ I’ve been reading a lot about the Atonement lately and why its so necessary to overcome the natural man and the effects of the fall. A church member told me this week during lunch that a demonstration of having a testimony of the Atonement is how willing we are to fight the natural man in our lives, which I really liked and thought was really interesting. The gift and power of the Atonement of Christ can really be something amazing in our lives.

+ I got the transfer call last night and President wanted to talk to me. He reassigned me as a District Leader Trainer to finish the training of a new elder in “one of the best areas of the mission.” I accepted the assignment but I got a call this morning from him again that I’d be a Zone Leader in a different zone because of some different something there. I’ll be going to the Zone Ipiranga, area São João Clímaco, next to the mission office area. I’ll be opening an area again for the 4th time, so that’ll be fun! I was gonna be in the same zone as Sister Kinnaman and Elder Merrill from the MTC; he was also gonna be a ZL there and I was also gonna live with Elder Miranda again. Oh well. I’m excited to go get to work now!

I hope you are all doing well and that you are happy and healthy! There’s lots of good rain here and I’m really liking it! I hope you have a great week! Love you!

Elder Hughes

May 23rd / A Left Shoe, a Blitz, and a Fireside

Zone Photo! We were going for a super hero theme!

Dear family! You are excellent!

Thank you for sending the left shoe to me!! :D

I do have a jacket that is warm enough, thank you! For p-day today I’m gonna buy a sweater and pants that fit since my others are too big now haha.

Ah man! Wild how soon seminary is ending! I remember Arbitrary Chef Fridays. Those were good days I thought. I always liked the hot chocolate that had chili in it. That stuff was awesome! Hot chocolate almost doesn’t exist here, so I make chocolate milk in the morning and put it in the microwave that we have and its almost the same thing. Only just a little different haha.

+ The Zone Leader responsibilities are going well! We always have district meetings on Tuesday mornings here in Vila Lavínia. The whole zone comes here and then divides into their districts and I go to one meeting and Elder David goes to the other.

+ We did a blitz this week in Guararema, an area in the Zone. We all traveled there early Saturday morning and it’s kinda far so we got up at 5:30am and got there at 8:30am, had breakfast really quick at the chapel, and we all left with members to contact people and visit less-actives and inactive church members. It was very cool and we had an excellent time supporting the Branch there. The area is really touristy—reminds me of St. Helena and Calistoga! I’d gone there once with Elder Rojas in December when there were a bunch of Christmas lights and tons of decorations. There was also a bunch of heavy rain which was crazy, and lunch for everyone when we got back to the chapel around 12:30pm.

+ Only lunch appointments this week, though we got pizza last Saturday night.

+ I’ve been reading in Chapter 6 / Preach My Gospel about Christlike Attributes. It’s amazing to me that Christ mastered all of them. I really liked Moroni 7 and 10 from the reading. In 7, Moroni talks about faith and real intent which he then explains are necessary to receive a testimony of anything in Moroni 10: 3-5. I thought that was pretty cool. I’d never thought to read Moroni 7 with Paul’s writings—1 Corinthians 13 is about charity—so I’ve been reading there too. I've recently noticed that he says that charity is what defines a true follower of Jesus Christ—which is kind of intimidating. Means that we should probably try and develop that haha. I think that it means that we become the sons of God because we learn and develop his nature and we start keeping the first and second great commandments better, and that makes us eligible for greater blessings. We can become more like He is. I’ve had experiences with investigators, and it’s a very cool thing to feel that charity for them. Sister Silcox told me one time that actions are the fruits of our charity.

+ We’ve found great people to teach this week! We found a family of 4 to teach this week, and they came to church on Sunday! Please keep Kaué and his family in your prayers.

+ We were able to teach a lot of lessons which was awesome, and we were able to find many of new people to teach. We’re having a great time here and we’re working hard. We went to a fireside last night with the Stake President, President Bernardo, who will be released in two weeks at Stake Conference. He’s been the Stake President for about 11 years (a really, really long time!) and he had never spoken at a fireside before. He recounted the history of the Stake during his time as president—the changes that have happened, new people that joined the Church, missionary work there over the years, and so many things over the course of his service. It was very cool. He bore his testimony at the end and said essentially, “I’ve given it all I have,” and then bore his strong testimony of the church being the true Church of Jesus Christ here on the earth. It was beautiful and there were tears shed and laughing and everything. I really loved being there with the saints, and was struck by his testimony and how emotional he was. He shared Mosiah 2:17, which I really like—when we serve others, we are only serving God, and we serve others in order to better serve God. It was an awesome experience and has helped strengthen my testimony.

Well that was it! I hope you have an excellent week! Love you all!

Elder Hughes

Saturday, June 4, 2016

May 16th / Zone Conference, Pizza, Listening to Elder Holland here in Brazil

Visiting Zona São Miguel to listen to a transmission of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaking in São Paulo.

Dear family! All great here in Mogi das Cruzes!

(Q:  Did you have Zone training this past week? Trying to remember ...)
A. Yes! We had Zone Conference this week. Ours was combined -- Zones Mogi and Itaqua. The Zone Leaders in Itaqua are Elder Merrill, my MTC comp,  and Elder Vasconcelos, who I lived with in Cidade Jardim. Great to see them again! Elder David and I taught a training to everyone called Revelation through the Book of Mormon. I like teaching! We did a prática where everyone there (the two combined Zones) went out on the street to talk to people and invite them to church. It was very cool to have 30+ missionaries all together, stopping people in the area of the church and talking about the gospel.

(Q: How many pizzas did you have during the week?)
A:  I have had 2 pizzas and several esfihas, which are like mini pizzas.

(Q: Did anything happen this week that made you laugh out loud?)
A. Being with Elder David is generally a laugh fest because he’s a very hilarious person haha. As for specifics, I can’t even remember, but I laughed a whole lot during the week!

(Q: What tender mercies did you recognize, or what were you grateful for this past week?)
A: Last night we went to nearby zone São Miguel yesterday to see a transmission of a talk Elder Holland gave at the Stake Center near the São Paulo temple. It was a tender mercy because Elder Holland talked about a lot of scriptures that have been in my mind lately, and he related the scriptures back to families which made them much broader verses to me. He talked about Malachi 4 and how the last promise of the Old Testament from Malachi was also given to Joseph Smith from Moroni to open this dispensation--that fathers and sons -- families -- need to be united. I’d only thought of that scripture as referring only to the importance of the sealing power but it made much more sense for me when he explained it yesterday, that we are preparing now, with our families, for life together in the eternities. “Heaven wouldn’t be heaven without the ones we love.”

Also, we have found a few people to teach, and that has been a mini miracle!

I’m totes gonna read about Ezekiel this week with y’all! I too am reading the scriptures and manuals and such like crazy. I love the scriptures and am having an awesome time with Personal Study.

I’m grateful for your support and emails. I like to hear about the blessings you are seeing!
Next transfer I will hit the year mark of my mission! It is flying by super fast!!

I hope you have an excellent week! Love you!!

Elder Hughes
- - - - -
Found a very large rabbit.

Quote from this week that I've really liked:

“As Moroni puts it, grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior (Moroni 7:48). The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can live after we die but that we can live more abundantly. The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can be cleansed and consoled but that we can be transformed.  ... The grace of Christ is sufficient—sufficient to cover our debt, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation process takes. The Book of Mormon teaches us to rely solely on “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.” As we do, we do not discover—as some Christians believe—that Christ requires nothing of us. Rather, we discover the reason He requires so much and the strength to do all He asks. Grace is not the absence of God’s high expectations. Grace is the presence of God’s power .”  — Brad Wilcox, BYU Devotional, “His Grace is Sufficient”