Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 26 | Christmas, loving the mission, and upcoming transfer

Hi all! You are my favorite!

Wow, what a Christmas present to get to talk with family.
I hope all was good yesterday!

This week was a really great week filled with lots of visits and lots of holiday-inspired reflections. I was thinking about how Christ´s birth has made a difference in my life personally. Because Christ was born, do I act differently? Or, how am I a different person because Christ was born? And how does Christ´s birth affect those around me? How does Christmas make me who I am? I think when we answer these questions we see our faith in action. We see where we place our faith and how it grows, and how it can bless us as well as those around us. 

It´s interesting to think how because Christ was born, all of us can be reborn. I like the fact that the gospel is Christ´s way of saying that He believes in our eternal potential. In fact, He believes in our potential so much that he was born so that he could die for us. President Hinkley once said that we can't really understand Christmas without Easter—the knowledge of Christ's atonement and resurrection can change how we act and how we see the world and everyone here. When I think of Christmas, I think of how I can do my part to bring this message to others and how it can bless others.

Loving the mission. Loving serving and talking with people. And sharing the gospel and listening to their stories.

My companion Elder Chartrand is a classical pianist so he played a little of the Messiah this week for us. It was pretty great. Cool how God inspires us to bless others in unexpected ways. Handel, who died many years ago, is still blessing others through his music. His ministry has continued after his death. Just like Jesus.

So tomorrow we will have the transfer! I'm  going back to São José dos Campos in the ward Jacareí. That´ll be my third ward in that stake; should be good! At 3pm, I need to be at Estação Portuguesa Tietê to get a bus to São José! Woot! And bonus, São Jose has really good açaí ha ha! I hope you all are well and loving the Christmas season! 

Love you lots; it was great to see you and talk to you! Have a great week! 

Elder Hughes

December 19 | Tender Mercies

Hi --I love you all lots!

We met many new people to talk with and teach this week which was really great ... One couple is Rose and Antonio. We went to an appointment the other day and it fell through, but Rose and Antonio were in the street where we were, and they spent some good time talking with us. They are a couple of about 77 years a piece. They invited us over to talk more with them.

When we were at their home, they had a whole lot of questions about the church and the restored gospel which was awesome. They stay at home reading philosophy and the Bible and religious books of all types all days. They both know Hebrew too. Their house has a library that is super open and has a piano too. They offered us Russian black tea at the end of the lesson, and we said no thank you, we don't drink black tea, so Rose said she had a different tea we could enjoy. It was super good, and we ate organic homemade apple-walnut cake she made too. She also gave us cocoa sugar which was awesome!! I kept the little paper wrapper from the tea and the next day I read it ... it was in French and said “Thé Noir.” Oops ... we ended up drinking black tea in the end... good thing we were innocent! They are super interesting people and feel a great need to be part of a church; their difficulty is in getting around and out to church, but we are hoping they come this week. Pray for them!

As for tender mercies, we have been able to recognize the Savior's hand in this area since we found so many new, interested people this week. There were three days where a whole lot of people came to us to learn about the gospel which was so different -- people stopping us in the street, the market, etc. Awesome and clearly a miracle.

My companion, Elder Chartrand is speaking extremely well for his two transfers in the mission field and is doing really well with the learning and adjusting to missionary life, so that is a miracle too. Overall, all is going really well!

Our sacrament / church meeting will be at 5pm our time here. Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas eve until (at least) midnight here.
Please pray for Rose and Antionio and Marcia and Rose (a different one) and Nilda this week!

I hope you have a great week and I can't wait for Christmas!

Elder Hughes

Secret Santa exchange: Elder Bush gave me a pig tail and chocolate. Yum!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

December 12 | Missionary Work

Elders Amancio, Vasconcelos, me
This was a good week!
It’s extremely hot here—got a sunburn through my shirt the other day while singing at a stake choir performance of Christmas songs here on a street corner on Saturday—good stuff!

What I love about missionary work right now is how we can see the gospel have a huge, transformative effect in peoples’ lives. I feel like maybe I’m understanding missionary work these days? Maybe? But I think the greatest thing I’ve learned is that love actually is the greatest commandment and the best way to teach and work in our service. That's often easily said but sometimes so difficult to do. God´s love is manifest through the gospel and the gospel changes us into who we can be eternally if we want. Seeing the changes that people choose to make with the gospel in their lives is awesome and shows that a loving God has a plan for each one of us.

What I really love about my mission right now is how I get to learn everyday and be converted to the Savior.  I love seeing how the Savior helps God´s plan unfold in our lives as we live the gospel principles. The Gospel put in context in the plan of salvation makes that conversion possible I think.

This week we had the Christmas Zone Conference devotional which was cool. It was with the Penha Zone in Penha. There was a training on our desires and how they affect our priorities and how our priorities affect our actions, thus determining where we go and who we become. The point was about making resolutions for the coming year and I thought it was really cool. It made me think about how I use my agency every day—how I choose to follow the gospel, follow Christ, and how I set my priorities and goals.

Also, yesterday we had a Regional Conference of sorts—this one was for all of Brasil. It was from Salt Lake with Elder Holland, Maynes, Presidente Costa (General Authority President of Brazil Area), Elder Costa (General Authority Seventy from Argentina) and Sister Cordon from the Primary Presidency. Elder Holland spoke in Portuguese for a good 5 minutes too and then spoke in English with a translator, but he bore his testimony in Portuguese in the end which was awesome! 

Have a great week!!  Love you all!
Elder Hughes

Thanks for all the birthday wishes too! Not a surprise, but we ate pizza which was an excellent choice if you ask me haha.

Generations: Elders Chartrand, Martins, me and two "sons," and Martins’ trainee Elder Heredias del Cid
Me and Elder David
Com Papai Noel
Elder Merrill and I

December 5 | Sharing Hope and Being an Influence for Good

Hi all!

This week was good and I'm feeling a lot better, though the sickness got a lot worse before it got better. I called Sister Silcox and got a medicine that helped, though I think it made me a little loopy (maybe) 'cause every night this week I dreamed about Thailand. Odd, but maybe cause Syd and Ben were there? Who knows.

This week was fairly uneventful due to the getting sick but we had some cool experiences with contacting people in the streets and talking about the Light of the World program that we are also participating in. People are much more gracious for talking with us and most of them invited us back for second visits so that was a miracle! Good stuff is happening here in Sao Joca!

As for those quotes* that everyone can be an influence, and that we all are influences...

Ive been thinking a lot about how we can have a perfect brightness of hope in everything and how we can share that hope, and how we can be an influence for good for others around us. When we talk to people on the streets and teach people, we often don't ever see the full fruits of what we share, but we know we are able to influence peoples’ lives in some small way as we talk about Christ and share how He can bless us and change us. Teachings have an amazing way of teaching for years after the teacher leaves. For example, a brother from the ward shared a story with us that he heard while on his mission, which we then shared with like 5 investigators and members afterwards, and I’ll definitely share it more times. That brother heard the story from a companion on his mission who heard it from a family tradition story telling. So one story being shared has influenced the lives of probably hundreds of people over many years. That is wild to me. And very clearly shows me how we can all influence others in some way, whether small or large. 

Well, tomorrow I will be 21. Tomorrow I will be old. Like even more unto an Adult. Though I don't feel like an adult. I feel like a missionary, which is safer. I will be old and such and we will likely eat pizza which will be rad! Wish me luck and health! 

I hope you have a great week! Love you!
Elder Hughes

- - -

*" Every person who lives in this world wields an influence, whether for good or for bad. The effect of our words and acts is tremendous in the world. Every moment of life you are changing to a degree the lives of the whole world." —President David O. McKay

" God does watch over us and does notice us, but it is usually through someone else that He meets our needs." —President Spencer W. Kimball

Somewhat awkward photo in Corinthians jerseys.

November 28 | Being Sick, Gratitude, and the Road to Emmaus

Thanksgiving Feast
This week was a good week. It was both super hot and super cold and rainy like normal (which is odd at times). But there´s no complaining. However, I did get sorta sick this week so any prayers would be excellent! We spent the day at home on Saturday. First time of the mission like that for me but very necessary. I was having a rough time—had a wild fever but that's gone away now, now its just a cough and sore throat. Called Sister Silcox and she gave me some ideas for medicines to buy so I will do that today right quick! Worst sickness I've had since Junior year of high school I think, when I stayed home for a week, though I´m quite better and keeping positive! All good! Tell the grandparents I'm praying for all of them to get better soon too.

On the 7th of December we have the Zone conference/Christmas conference with the Penha zone as well. Elder Martins, Elder David (both of whom are leaving for casa on the 27th of Dec.) are in Penha, and so is Elder Amancio (all previous companions)! It´ll be cool to see them all again! And yes, we will be doing the Christmas Light the World acts of service! We have a little card that tells us what each day´s theme is so we can participate. Should be great!

I really like that story about the disciples on the road to Emmaus. It´s one of my favorites in the New Testament. Shows how powerful the Sacrament can be for sure. And how many times is Christ by our side but we don´t recognize Him?

I´m happy the holiday went well! What all did you cook for the fam there to the Calistoga? We ate some pizza to celebrate Thanksgiving—though the pizza we ate was quite glorious, so that was quite worth it—tough due to lots of pizza recently we are now abstaining from pizza these days ... though pizza here is so good... sigh. Elder Miranda has been making horchata for us all these past few days which has been pretty awesome. Definitely tasty! Also the house is all painted and is doing well. I missed you all on Thanksgiving too, but as for the saudade, I felt saudade only like this, "Man the family is all together! Next year will be great!" Your prayers worked in my behalf.

Maria and Eduardo are excellent! They noticed I was a wee bit sick yesterday at church so Maria gave me lots of sickness medicines that she had with her in her purse haha. 

This was a great week filled with gratitude and thankfulness. I think sometimes we don´t recognize the Lord´s hand immediately (at least that's something that I am trying to do better with). However, one of the keys is gratitude. Showing and giving thanks for His hand in our lives is how we can better recognize who He is. Like the disciples going to Emmaus, they only recognized that Christ was Christ when they ate bread He had given them. When we recognize the daily spiritual bread Christ gives us, we can understand who He is and know how to come unto Him. And we feel happier --

Love you! That was the week! It was good and filled with gratitude.

Have a great week!

English class on Thanksgiving

Attempt at making tacos

November 21 | Transfers, Painting, and Ponderizing

The Zone
Hi all!

This week was pretty great. This week was transfers, and my new comp is Elder Chartrand from Turlock, CA. He studied Piano and Chemistry at BYU for a year before the mission. He was in the Itaquera zone for a transfer; he is in his second transfer of training right now, though again, I am the one learning. Going well!

We got a call from the House Secretary on Wednesday that he was gonna pass by to look at the house since we had asked him to come last transfer. He ended up re-cementing the floor in the bathroon because it was leaking, and he came back Friday to paint inside the house! So essentially two days were used for the house repairs but they were much needed. We are putting the second coat on right now so after email we are going to paint! Woot!

Ruana was baptised yesterday. She came to church a few times my first transfer here and then wasn't able to attend again until more recently. Elder Moraes and Miranda have been teaching her, though I had taught her a couple times in the first transfer. We are all super happy for her. The baptism was yesterday at 4pm and was super good. There were a bunch of people there to support her and the Young Women sang a hymn for her. Overall super cool experience!

This Thursday will be Thanksgiving and we will have English Class! Will be good to speak some of the native tongue on the National Holiday.

As for this week, I was ponderizing what it means to truly do something and to act in Christ´s name. In the GEE (Bible Dictionary in Portuguese) it says that to do something in Christ´s name means that we do what He would do and act as He would act and speak as He would speak. I think doing thing´s in Christ´s name means that we always remember Him, that we keep the commandments, and are willing to take His name upon us. The Sacramental prayers. At Ruana´s baptism, a ward member commented how quick the ordinance of baptism is, which made me think about how quickly we can make the change to follow Christ. Then as we make these small changes continually to follow Him every day, we can act in His name.

Well, I love you! Have a great week!

Painting the house--Elder Melo

Me, Ruana, and Elder Chartrand

Taken 30 minutes ago, finishing the paint job

November 14

At the Temple
Lost on Avenida Paulista

Elder Rodrigues´last day (with Eduardo)

Forgot how to spell class in english class

Breakfast today

November 7

Zone Photo, half of us thought it was serious and half funny

Eduardos baptism and his family!

October 31

October 24 | Setting off Alarms and Kneeling in Prayer

Hi all I love you to pieces! :)

We went to Vila Mariana on Thursday to do a baptismal interview, and the sisters who were also there had stopped by the Mission office earlier that day, and they brought my box! I was very happy, I do say!! I now have happy feet. Thanks for sending everything!

This was a pretty great week. The busiest day was Friday. We had interviews this Friday so we all went to the Stake Center in Monumento (where we had the independence day activity) and when we got there, President hadn't gotten there yet. We tried to open the chapel but ended up setting off the security alarm so that was fun. It turned off really quickly but we went in and waited for President to get there. We had interviews with Sister Silcox in our duplas about the Area Book and planners and then with President. It was all super quick and then we went home.

That afternoon, we had a lesson with Adriano. We were teaching him (following up really) about the Book of Mormon to see if he felt it was true after reading, and after praying to know. We had a good discussion, and he then asked to be baptised the next day! That was awesome! He will be baptised this coming Saturday because we all felt it better for him to invite his family to come to the baptism. Super happy for Adriano!

At night we taught Eduardo. He is Maria's husband—Maria, who was baptised recently. We called him earlier in the week to schedule, but he couldn't come. He called us Friday morning after the interviews that he could come that evening. We went to the chapel to teach him right after Adriano. It was one of the most strongly spiritual lessons while teaching on my mission. Eduardo has been going to church ever since Maria's baptism some months ago but never has accepted a baptismal date because he wants to wait to know the church and the gospel better. We taught about how we have to open our eyes and ears sometimes to see God in our lives--we have to actually try and work for it. In the end he accepted to go through the baptismal interview which is awesome. He didn't accept a baptismal date but stepping stones! Good lesson.

We also had stake conference which was super good and President Silcox talked about what our life would be like without the gospel, and without divine help, which was perfect for some of the great people we are teaching.

This week I read that in only one place in all of scripture is Christ´s mode of prayer described. In the Garden of Gethsemane Christ kneeled. It is so simple but He kneeled to suffer for our sins. When we kneel to pray every night, we do so in the likeness of the Savior in Gethsemane as He suffered for our sins. That made me think differently about personal prayer. As I repent of my sins on my knees, I do so in the likeness of the Savior as He suffered my sins. I felt that was really interesting too. Prayer is a powerful tool, and I wonder how much I underestimate it at times. And what would the quality of my life be like without prayer? Prayer is powerful and is necessary; it is how we can also seek the Heavenly Father´s will, and not ours.

Well I love you! I hope you have an excellent week filled with foods and good things!

Elder Hughes

Also, I am feeling a little bit with a cold but I'm doing good. It's Elder Rodrigues and Miranda that are sick now. I hope its not because of me! Love you!!

October 17 |