Monday, September 29, 2014

The Power of Prayer and Scary Dogs

Well this week was pretty long... The start of the transfer is always pretty slow, especially if there is a new area or companion to adjust to. I have a few examples of the power of prayer from this week.
We had a bit of a scare this week when on our way home from the bus station in Porto Alegre on Tuesday after we traded companions we found ourselves on the other side of the city in who knows where. Apparently we were told to take the wrong bus and we ended up about 2 hours away from our area at 8:00 at night in some random place. I honestly was pretty scared because I had no idea where we were. The entire bus ride, I was thinking to myself, "none of this looks familiar but whatever, I'm sure it's right" and then we found ourselves being the only ones left on the bus and the driver turned around and goes, "end of the line!" CRAP. I instantly started praying for comfort and peace because I began to panic and within 2 minutes of me ending my prayer, a bus that I recognized was coming up the street and we got on and made it home safely!

A quote I like a lot by President Hinckley goes, "If life gets too hard to stand, KNEEL." I found myself on my knees many times this week praying for strength. I can say with certainty that I am receiving strength on a day-to-day basis to just push on. That's all I want, to develop the strength to push. There's a story in the scriptures (1 Nephi 7:16-18) when Nephi's brothers get mad at him and tie him up to kill him. What does Nephi do? He prays. But he does not pray that the cords just magically disappear from his wrists; he prays for strength to burst free from the bands. I like this story a lot and I feel that this lesson is often overlooked. We shouldn't pray for our problems and trials to just magically disappear from our lives because we won't learn anything from that; rather, we should pray, with faith, for the strength to burst free from those cords that often bind us down because that is when we learn how to be humble and of the true power that God has.

One night this week we were able to find a group of 5 friends who were beyond excited to hear our message and learn of God's love and blessings. We had a super spiritual lesson with them on The Restoration. It was honestly one of my best lessons. After explaining the Book of Mormon and inviting them to pray of its truthfulness, one of the girls decided to pray in that very moment to know if these things are true and the moment she ended the prayer, her phone rang and it was a business offering her a job that she had been trying to get for a while and was really needing. She explained to us that she had recently said a prayer, making a promise with God that if He would help her with some of her challenges in life, she would follow Him. BAHHHHHH! How cool is that?! I made a joke like "dang, that's probably the fastest I've ever seen someone get an answer!!"

But yeah, that's about all the exciting stuff that happened to me this week. Oh, I have developed a fear of wild dogs now. I forgot to say that last week I had my first dog attack (gave it a little whack to the face) and this past week I almost got bit twice in one day. The first one was this monster dog that jumped at me, and I dodged, but it grabbed onto my bag and I shook it off and went to take a swing at it but it dodged and backed off. My companion laughs at me because now every single time a dog comes near me, I get all hesitant. 

This is me and all my companions I have had so far here in Brazil. (Elder Jackson, Elder Allef, Elder Nelson, and Elder Buhler).

This is a picture that I like a lot of Jesus. Our apartment has a patio that has a good view of the night sky and I like to go out at night and lay there looking up and thinking and conversing with God like Jesus is doing in this picture!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bringing Brazil the Truth one transfer at a time!

E aí! Another transfer done! News: looks like Elder Nelson is leaving the area and I'll be getting my first Brazilian companion! This transfer seriously flewwwwww! Time is going so fast. I miss everyone SO much but I'm trying to not let that get in the way of me enjoying this very short period of time in my life.  

So this week was an awesome last week of the transfer because we were able to assist two special people with the sacred ordinance of baptism!! I've had the privilege of getting to know lots of people out here and help a good amount get baptized but these two and their family are different - they're SUPER awesome and I have a special bond with them! I know the ward was happy too because it's been 9 months since the last baptism here!  So that all went down on Saturday.  The rest of the week was filled with preparing for the baptism and other lessons. Elder Nelson and I started a DEEP study of the Book of Mormon. We found a bunch of study manuals in the house and started getting deep into the history, doctrine, etc.! All this studying has honestly strengthened my testimony of the truthfulness of that book! 

Saturday was a holiday here. It was like the 4th of July for Rio Grande do Sul, or in other words, Gaucho Day! We scored a churrasco! I ate soooo much... But it's all good because I'm not getting fat here because of all the walking! :D

Monday, September 15, 2014

Keep your flame lit, and you will never feel darkness.

This week was pretty hard on me in terms of feeling homesick and all I wanted was to be at home - Satan sucks like that, putting feelings of weakness, fatigue, inability, and homesickness in my head. However, one night while watching the movie 17 Miracles, I found great comfort in the second verse from Come, Come Ye Saints:

"Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard? 'Tis not so; all is right. Why should we think to earn a great reward If we now shun the fight? Gird up your loins; fresh courage take. Our God will never us forsake; And soon we'll have this tale to tell--All is well! All is well!"

I don't know, I felt that that would be a good little something to share with you all. I think it's a good message for all of us. Life is not an easy thing. There are tons of bumps that we face along the way. Tons of hurdles to leap. Many times, we feel weak and unable but that is the biggest lie that Satan can put in our heads because we have so much help in every single thing we do. Our zone had a special training from a member of the 70 this week where we talked about the power of the Holy Spirit. He said something interesting; The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead, as we know. He literally works side to side with God. Think about it, we have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. We have Him to be with us at all times as long as we remain worthy. Let me rephrase that, we literally have A GOD with us AT ALL TIMES. With that being said, nothing is impossible and nothing can beat us down. 

This week was nothing out of the ordinary. Made a contact with a guy smoking weed right in front of us, as he broke down crying because he didn't understand why God loves animals more than man because he created the animals before man. I simply told him that's not true because God saved his best creation for last. With that, his attitude changed and he told us about 100 times that God is great, God is love, and God is the man. Like dude, I already know. lol.

I got to go to Águas Claras for Districto Amigo one day to help out the elders in our district. We worked in this like zombie apocalypse safe colony. It was strange, every single house was exactly the same (picture perfect little square homes) with really nicely paved roads, in the middle of nowhere. 

We started an English Class in the chapel with another American elder and an American sister. We actually had a good turn out. You can't find a better deal, a free English class with 4 Americans. I got to say the opening prayer in English -that was difficult. I kept messing up and saying words in Portuguese.

Update on interesting foods eaten here: I ate cow tongue. Not really a fan.

So I realized last night that I didn't have any pictures to send this week so I started thinking about what I could do. First, I took pics with a candle to try and relate it to the gospel.  Then we got creative and did some light writing.  

Candle:  The first words of the Bible are: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Gen. 1:1-4). We can see that God knew there must be light because it was a good thing, therefore, He brightened the darkness. We know that without physical light, we cannot see the things around us. We would literally be lost in the darkness, basically blind. We also know that without spiritual light, we are lost in terms of knowledge, understanding, and hope. Jesus says in John, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12). What is this message? God has given us physical light because it is a good thing and it helps us to see and enjoy the wonderful creations He has provided for us. He has also given us a spiritual light, His son, who is lighting the way towards eternal life. We know that throughout His life, He taught His gospel, faith, repentance, baptism by one who holds the authority of God, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We have the knowledge of this light. We hold this light. It lightens the darkness in our worlds. However, there are many who only know of some of this light and are struggling to find the way. It is our responsibility, and privilege, to share this light with all so that they can take a step out of the darkness and onto the path leading towards exaltation. Keep your flame lit, and you will never feel darkness.

Just wanna let you all know how much I love you and to remind you of the eternal love that Heavenly Father has for each and every one of us.
There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.

Elder Sanok

Monday, September 8, 2014

Álo povo da casa!

Wow this week went fast! Time is flyin. Monday we got to go to a family night with another set of elders and had fun chowin' down on the usual, rice, beans, and meat! I also had a blast jammin' out on the guitar. It's sad though because I'm slowly forgetting songs... :'(
Tuesday was a rainy day so we kinda just walked around getting drenched.
After doing the usual routine of knocking (clapping) doors on Wednesday, we went to another family night with the other elders and lucked out on a churrasco! I look forward to introducing y'all to churrasco when y'all come down in December 2015.

I decided to do a fast on Thursday for our investigators as well as strength to keep pushin' on. Of course, it was like the hottest day of the week and we ended up walking a ton because most of our appointments were falling - but that's all part of the process, right? We have to suffer a little if we want that extra help from the Big Man Upstairs. That night turned out great. We have some people that we've been dreading teaching the Law of Chastity to but when we went there on Thursday night, they brought it up. They had received a For The Strength of Youth booklet in church and asked about it so we were able to explain it a little better and they said that there were no problems there and we explained it all perfectly!
On Friday we were able to introduce a lady to family history and explained that she could research her family members.  We were able to teach a lot about the Plan of Salvation which was perfect because I've been studying that kind of stuff recently. Our lesson really excited her to the point that she went to the ward activity the next day as well as church on Sunday!

Saturday we had a ward activity. It's so funny how the church is the same all around the world. You have the primary kids running around, screaming and messing with the lights, the youth all grouped up in a corner on their phones, the women separated from their husbands, probably gossiping or something, the men grouped up talking about X-Box or sports, and the missionaries hanging out by the food table all night. ;) The activity was centered on how to have Family Home Evening, which was fun because I was able to think back to the many awesome memories of FHE that I've had with you guys or when I was out at school. 

Sunday was our ward conference and we sang in the choir. There was a special spirit there. The ward passed out missionary plaques to the parents of the ward (there are 8 missionaries out) and I was able to feel a special kind of spirit as I saw how happy and full of love those parents were to remember their kids who are serving because I know my parents are the same exact way.
Today we made french toast and syrup! We got the syrup recipe after calling like 4 different American missionaries. Once I have a craving for something, I follow it until I get it. I was thinking about french toast and then I was like, "HEY, I WANT ME SOME FRENCH TOAST AND SYRUP" so I got me some french toast and syrup.  

Oh, funny story --- So, we were walking the other day to one of the family nights and this drunk guy comes up to us, and in between giant swigs out of the bottle, he's telling us that all though we're 2 big German guys (everyone here thinks we're Germans), he can tell that we have a lot of faith, more than even we can bear and he respects that. Then he gets down on the ground and kisses our feet, gets up, takes a swig out of the bottle, and waddles off.
The things that happen on the mission...

Here are pics of me making the syrup and holding up 
our liquid gold.

Here is a picture of me drinking Tererê out of a pineapple. 
It's like grass and juice. Really good.

Oh, and of course, a pizza. Can't be a week without a pizza.

Monday, September 1, 2014


My 20th birthday was a success! It was great to go back to Águas Claras (my first area) for the day and visit a ton of people! Although it had only been 2 weeks, everyone was super excited to see me. We ended the day by going to the Molina's house to have a little party thing. I had a great time jammin' out on guitar and carron with their son, Matteus, and all the other elders singing along and then chowing down on American-style hot dogs! Then the lights went out and they came walking in with a cake and everyone started singing! I was super excited. Then I got a phone call from a member in my area that said someone dropped off a cake for me to pick up! So the next morning we went and picked up the cake and was surprised to also have a box of American foods like Peanut Butter, Swiss Miss, Reese's, gummy bears, and Oreos! Shoutout to Mom for hooking that up for me with her friend here in Porto Alegre; it was a great surprise. I had an awesome birthday. I was also able to enjoy a couple pizzas this week! mmmmm....chicken heart pizza.... :) We decided to go for the standard this week and worked super hard to get it and only fell short a little but its all good because our efforts are what count! Oh, Saturday was pretty funny. So we helped someone with a move in the morning and it ended around lunch time so we learned how to make Churrasco and then ate it! It was soooooo much food. Then later that night, after a lesson with this one family we're teaching, they bring us into the kitchen and lo and behold, more Churrasco. But yeah, that's about it for the week. All my pictures have me and some type of food in them, lol. Today I made an American lunch: burgers and fries.