Monday, December 22, 2014

I Won't Be Home For Christmas

HO HO HO! MERRY CHRISTMAS! almost... How y'all doin? I hope that everyone is feeling the Christmas spirit and making the most out of this time of the year. As they say, "it's the most wonderful time of the year!" I agree with that statement because this week is gonna be filled with skype and churrasco!!!

This past week was crazy busy. I'm enoying my new area, São Tomé. I mean, it's pretty much the same thing as my last area because it's only 15 minutes away but it's filled with awesome people.   

On Tuesday, I made the long journey here. One of my faixas (homies) from Montanha drove me to the new house and on the way he pulled off to the side of the road and bought me a giant watermelon as a gift! :D 

The new house is pretty fancy. It's an apartment on top of a super nice grocery store and is way huge. We live with two elders from another area - a Utahan and an elder from Cape Verde (Africa). However, they're not the elders that work in our same ward. In our ward, we're working with two Americans - one that has one more transfer and one who is fresh out of the MTC.

Wednesday and Thursday were filled with work and getting to know the new area that, surprisingly, is more hilly than Montanha.

Friday was our Christmas Conference where we met up in Porto Alegre with about half the mission. Had a good experience learning a little more about the Book of Mormon, watching musical performances, and feasting on American candies!

Saturday we got permission to go to the temple to watch a sealing of a family that my companion worked with in another area. We got there at 8:00 in the morning only to find out that the sealing was scheduled for 12:00 so we were privileged to help in the temple for about 4 hours doing sealings! BAH. Words can't describe how amazing the temple is and the sacred ordinances that take place in there. Let's just say that it was a good day. A very good day. Spritual battery = SUPER CHARGED.

I have a feeling that this transfer is gonna fly by (like all the others...except for my first one) because we're gonna be working so hard!  This is a very special week. Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I'm a little sad that I'll be spending it on the other side of the world away from family in the burning sun but I know that this is the best gift that I can be giving to my Heavenly Father and my Savior and I know that they'll be blessing me so much for it. This is a pretty big week though because it is marking the middle of my mission. I'll be home for Christmas next year! I love you all and wish you a FELIZ NATAL!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Transferred! (down the road)

Hello everyone! Well, looks like I'm getting transferred. Tuesday I'll be making a long 15 minute journey to my new area. Yup, that's right, 15 minutes. My new area is São Tomé. I'm staying in the city of Viamão (the same city that I've been in for almost a year now). I'm pretty sure in the history of this mission, I am the elder who has stayed the most time in this zone - 3 different areas in ONE zone. Here's to another transfer...

Well this week was full of visiting tons of people (including Águas Claras) because I thought for sure that I'd be heading far, far away. I had the opportunity to do a division with my district leader this week in Águas Claras. It was great going back. Honestly, it was amazing seeing the difference I was able to make in the lives of the people there. I got there thinking that hardly nobody would remember me but EVERYBODY did - including the guy that sells Caldo de Cana (a type of juice) on the side of the road! It was fun surprising tons of people as I showed up at their door. Listening to the people talking about what my companions there (Elder Jackson and Elder Buhler) and I did for their lives gave me comfort in that what I'm doing here on the other side of the world truly is worth it.

The stake had Natal Branco (White Christmas) this week which was full of singing Christmas songs, 11 baptisms, and Christmas messages. Us 4 from Montanha, the 4 elders from Águas Claras, and the 4 from São Tomé invaded McDonald's after!

I enjoyed my time here in Montanha. I learned a lot and was blessed to get to know tons of amazing people. I don't know what lies in store for me in my next area but I look forward to new experiences and trust in the Lord that He has a plan for me and will use me as an instrument in His hands to do His work here in Viamão. MISSÃO VIAMÃO!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hello from Brazil!

I hope you all had a great week! As for me, I'm just trying to survive in this blistering heat!

I had a pretty good first week of December. It's SUPER strange being in 100+ temperatures in December when normally this time of year, it's fixin to snow outside. I'm enjoying the Christmas spirit that's goin on, however it's a little weaker here than it is in the US. I think the biggest Christmas tree I've seen came up to my knee...

We were blessed with 3 churrascos this week! One was a surprise from Leila's family. We went over to their house just to say hey when we started smelling smoke and they told us that the neighbors were just burning trash. When we saw the table full of steak, giant sausages, and chicken, I was like, "this aint no trash!!!" We made a churrasco at our house one night and for lunch yesterday, churrasco to break the fast! :D Churrasco is the best thing about Rio Grande do Sul. Y'all are gonna love it when you try it!

On Thursday, we had Distrito Amigo in our area which is when everyone in the district goes to one area to work for the day. Without thinking, we sent elders to all of our investigators and to the best places to knock doors and we were left with pretty much nothing to do so we decided to go make snickerdoodle cookies at Leila's. I came home with a stomachache because I ate so much. It's not every day that I get to eat my favorite cookie in Brazil.

Today, to do something a little different for P-Day, we got up early to go to a state park. There wasn't much to do but it was nice to escape being in the city and get out into nature. We found a lake which was cool. 

Btw, the church is currently doing a real cool project called 'He is the present'. We have little pass along cards that we share with everyone. During this time of the year, we often get so overwhelmed with what types of things we're gonna buy for someone or what we want when we forget about the biggest present of all that we already have, our Savior and Redeemer. Check out the video on :D

Love you all.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Faça Alguém Feliz!

HAPPY DECEMBER! Holy cow, I can't believe it's already the last month of the year! 2014 has been flying. December of 2015 sure will be a good month! ;)

Wednesday we did a rather interesting service project where we smashed hundreds and hundreds of cans for recycling and scored a churrasco as payment.

Friday we had a zone conference in Porto Alegre with one of the Area 70. It was pretty cool seeing some mission friends and feasting on some uplifting messages. The purpose of the conference was to help us gain a better understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to give us more of a desire to share the truth with others, gain more of an appreciation for it, and use it more in our lives. The highlight of the conference was when he asked us to kneel down and for about 15 minutes offer a prayer asking Heavenly Father to take us to the Garden of Gethsemene to gain enlightenment. It was a neat experience and is something I've started to do every night. I challenge each of you to start doing it too and to look for the difference it makes in your lives.

When we got back to our area, we swung by the grocery store to grab a Coke to accompany us in a game of WAR (a board game) and we started joking about buying a case of Coke to the point where we actually did and came home with 18 liters of delicious Coca-Cola! :D Coca-Cola's slogan right now is "faça alguém feliz" (make someone happy) - I testify that I sure was happy with 18 liters of Coke in the house.

Well that's about it on this side of the world for the week! I hope all is well back in the good ole South! Saudades... Love you guys; have a great week!

p.s. - I finally got my scripture cases!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oh the weather outside is frightful. It's like a FIRE and it ain't delightful​!!

Well this week went super fast! Kinda like this transfer... kinda like his year.  They say that time flies when you're having fun. However, when you're workin' hard, time ZOOMS!

This week was filled with scorching heat, a trip to the temple, churrasco, attempting to catch a rat, and my area's version of "cirque du soleil".

I started listening to Christmas music this week to get into the Christmas spirit, but, due to the heat, I changed the lyrics to the song "Let It Snow" to "Oh the weather outside is frightful. It's like a FIRE and it ain't delightful!" Yep, another week of walkin', sweatin', and dyin' in Brazil's summer sun.

Wednesday we had the opportunity to visit the temple which was awesome as usual - not only because of the cool air conditioning but because of the amazing spirit felt inside the House of the Lord. 

We scored two churrascos this week! It's a good thing if we get one a week but we lucked out with two this week. Leila's family spoiled us as usual :D and our ward mission leader threw us a little party to give us a break from the heat and intense work us 4 elders have been throwing down here in Montanha. 

Yep, it's true, my worst nightmare came to life this week. We have a rat in our house.  I'm not sure if it's a little house rat or more of a cat/rat.  It knocked over the trash can and pulled out all the garbage, pushed a pan off the stove and ate part of the cake we made, and ripped open my bread and ate a corner. We bought some killer rat traps but he's a clever little demon and hasn't fallen for em yet. 

Haha, so we were walking the other day and found some circus tent thing set up and I started joking like "hey, cirque du soleil came to Brazil!" since you guys got to go a few weeks ago. It's not as fancy as the one y'all had ;)

But yeah, that's about it for my week! One more month till Christmas! Not gonna lie, I'm missing the cold weather, Christmas lights everywhere, and repeated songs on the radio for a month straight; however, I know that what I'm doing is a good thing and that I'll be able to enjoy a good ole American Christmas next year! 

TCHAU! Love you guys. Have a great week. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Welcome to The Twilight Zone, Elder

Hey guys, sorry for the delay - we were eating lasagna with one of our awesome friends!!

"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call THE TWILIGHT ZONE." Why am I quoting The Twiglight Zone you may ask? Because now that I've reached double digits, I have entered a time period on the mission in which another elder and I nicknamed, "The Twilight Zone". I now have a good amount of time on the mission - I'm officially old! However, I still have a loooooong time to go. The twilight zone lasts from having 10 months on the mission to only having 10 months left.

Well, the two newbies arrived this week. It's a greenie training another greenie. One has 3 months and the other has 3 weeks. I'm the oldest in the house! Kinda weird. But it's fun having 4 elders in the house. Pizza and pranks!

This week was a rather eventful week. Full of work, rain (YES!), walking, work, more walking, migraines and puking because of the heat, and cow tongue.

Aside from me getting trunky due to the fact that my bro Jason (former Elder Miller) finished his mission in Mexico (CONGRATS!!!), I had a sad realization this week when our only investigator in church on Sunday was some drunk guy that decided that it'd be cool to check out what goes on in the big Mormon church. It just makes me sad that no matter how hard I work, how much time I dedicate to someone, or amount of hours each week are spent kneeling in prayer, people have their free agency and decide they don't want to be helped. Two years away from home in a foreign country speaking a language that isn't mine is just part of a huge sacrifice us missionaries make. Please keep me in your prayers as well as all those that we teach. We're all needing a little strength.

But aside from that, I'm doing good! Hills and heat all day, every day. Big hug to everyone back home comin at ya from Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil!

Elder Sanok

Thursday, November 13, 2014

"well you're a long walk down the street, and I'm DYIN IN THIS SUMMER HEAT"

Olá peeps! Closed another transfer this week! I can officially count how many transfers I have left on both hands. Looks like I'll be staying another here in Montanha. We're pretty excited because we'll be getting two more elders here to help us with our monster sized area. We'll also be able to order more pizza.

Ended the transfer great with one more baptism! I've seen the power and importance of working with members this transfer. This one is the son-in-law of a member who has known about the church for 9 years and finally decided to accept the gospel and follow the Savior by entering the waters of baptism!

As All Time Low sings it, I'm DYIN IN THIS SUMMER HEAT. Literally. Had to beat the heat by hiding in the house some this week because I was getting super light headed and suffering some bad migraines. It's so weird being in November and it getting hotter each and every day.

Well, honestly not too much happened this week. Just pushing on. As hard as it can be, I'm super grateful for the opportunity I have right now to be serving the Lord 24/7. Not only do I have a front row seat watching the lives of others change because of the gospel of Jesus Christ but I am also seeing my life changing every day for the better. It's a marvelous thing. I love you all and am constantly praying for you.

Com amor,
Elder Sanok

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Never Have I Ever...Got​ten Kicked Out of a Cemetery (until this week)

Wow, November already?! This week wasn't too eventful, aside from pizza night and getting kicked out of a cemetery...

So on Tuesday, to celebrate the baptisms of Yuri and Angelica, my companion and I headed over to Leila's house and ordered 2 super família size pizzas and we all pigged out!  The rest of the week was just filled with regular visits and what not.

Halloween in Brazil is just another day.   On Sunday, it was Day of the Dead, a holiday here where everyone goes to the cemeteries to remember their loved ones that have passed away.  President decided that it would be cool for everyone to go to a local cemetery and try teaching the Plan of Salvation. We went to a super fancy one that's close to here with another set of elders. As we showed up, we saw a huge group of people from another church outside the gates passing stuff out and we were like, "psh, let's go in and pass stuff out!" so we followed a group of people in and saw a good couple hundred people.  The other elders covered the entrance and we headed towards the center near a giant stage and set up camp. For a good 30 minutes or so we were making good progress talking to people until a huge choir came walking in followed by some people dressed up as angels with giant wings and paper white skin. It maybe lasted another 2 or 3 minutes until security came over to escort us out of the place, hahaha getting kicked out of a cemetery for talking about Jesus...that's a new one!

One more week of the transfer to go. We have some big plans for this last week!

Love you all! :D

ps - got my Christmas package a little early... mmm, buttermilk biscuits for breakfast is perfeitíssimo!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

There Can Be Miracles, When You Believe!

Well this week FLEW by. It was a really good week, complete with churrasco and baptisms! 

So apparently Monday's churrasco wasn't sufficient because we had 2 more this week. Once we received word that our friend finally quit smoking for good and wanted to get baptized this week, we ran by his mom's to share the exciting news and what was only supposed to be a quick visit turned into a churrasco! :D I've really grown close to this family during my time here in Montanha and it has been a huge blessing to work hand in hand with them, helping to share the peace and happiness that comes from the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

We worked hard this week trying to reach the standard again but fell short just by a few numbers. Oh well, it doesn't matter because we were able to lead THREE people into the waters of baptism on Saturday! As the Prince of Egypt sings it, "there can be miracles, when you believe!"  

All in all it was a great week! We celebrated with a churrasco today! mmmmm. :)

Yeah, you're probably wondering why the heck I have socks on my hands and I'm kneeling at a chair in that picture. We have a sister missionary in our ward that just got off her mission and she did a family night for our friends, and we played a game that is pretty hard to explain but super fun. Basically, you have to roll a dice and if it lands on 6, you have to put socks on your hands and using only spoons you have to open a piece of chocolate and eat it a certain way using the spoons. You have to eat as many as you can before someone else rolls a 6. I tied in first place!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Elder Sanok, O Mestre de Churrasco!

Olá! If you're wondering why I'm emailing so late, it's because Churrasco is a delicate art and I am a master artist. That's right, made my first Churrasco for lunch! But why, you may ask? To celebrate our awesome week of knockin' out the standard and breaking records! WOO! :D

So the first thing to know about this week is that it literally poured rain ALL day EVERY day (except for today). But as you already know, I enjoy walking in the rain on the mission because it allows me to rake in wife points.

This week was filled with tons of miracles. Unfortunately, miracles are not free and it costs knocking door after door, street contacts, and asking for references. However, Heavenly Father recognized our efforts and blessed us with success. Weeks like this are much needed because they give me that push to continue on. The mission is like a roller coaster - extreme ups and downs. Our lives are too. I think the downs are necessary because they help us realize the good things that are happening in our lives. If every single day and every single moment of our lives were filled with good things and absolutely no problems, how would we ever learn or grow? For this reason, I am grateful for trials. They suck but I am grateful.

I don't have too many interesting stories to share this week such as dogs eating dogs or aliens in the sky or choppin' off chicken heads. Just a normal, chill, busy week!

Com MUITO amor,
Elder Sanok

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's a Dog-Eat-Do​g kind of world!

The title of my email this week isn't referring to the well-known phrase, "dog-eat-dog", meaning high competition, but in the literal sense; I saw a dog eating another dog. Yep, this week was an eventful one.

So Wednesday we had the opportunity to go to the Porto Alegre Temple! I was able to witness God's helping hand on Wednesday. We had no idea how to get to the temple but using our faith, we just went. I've never met a nicer bus driver who went off his course to drop us off on a road super close to the temple. When we got off, a random woman came up and gave us clear and precise walking directions to the temple. As we were arriving, we both realized that we had forgotten our temple recommends. We ran in to explain our situation and the temple workers told us, "fortunately for you guys, those little black name tags y'all wear work as recommends!" They gave a quick call to the mission pres. just to be sure though. Anyways, we got in and had an awesome experience! As we were getting ready to leave, the temple president came up to us and told us that they needed two more people to help.  That was way cool. The temple president was telling us "in just a few short years, you'll be sitting in a room like this in some temple in the world with your fiancé." I was like, "HECK YEAH I WILL!" It was cool to see how Heavenly Father led us to the temple and helped us with everything because He knew that they would be needing two more people to help with the work. We got pizza for dinner.

On Thursday, us and another set of elders went and painted a house in the morning and scored churrasco for lunch! That was a good day.

Friday I did divisions with Elder Philippelli (our district leader that I lived with in Águas Claras) and we were able to teach some awesome lessons. As we were walking from one appointment to another, we saw a dog eating a dead dog on the side of the road. Left me a little uncomfortable.  One of our awesome investigators sent us free Xis (like a hamburger but way bigger and loaded with all kinds of stuff).

Saturday we went to some place in the middle of nowhere for an activity with our zone and another zone to talk about how we can divide the stake. It was fun chasing sheep. We got churrasco that day too.

Overall, it was an eventful and super fast week! I hope you all had a good one too!