Monday, March 30, 2015

Miracle March: Fechado!

Well, another month of the mission FINISHED.  March truly was a month of miracles.  Our zone was able to set a new record for Pelotas by baptizing 20 in one month.  It definitely was not something easy but through much prayer, fasting, and HARD work, we achieved our goal!  I still don't know whether I should call it 'Miracle March' or 'March Madness' because it was a little of both...

This weekend we were able to have a few baptisms in our ward which was great! I'm getting much better at piano because I've become like the official pianist at baptisms now.

The week flew by because of all the divisions we did. Our zone has two district leaders and we're the ones who have to do the baptismal interviews but the other district leader is in Jaguarão, which is an area that sits on the border of Uruguay (about 2 hours away by bus) so I was running all over the place here in the city doing interviews for the other missionaries.

We also had zone conference this week with Zona Rio Grande so that was cool to see some old friends. It was a day full of uplifting messages from President Castro, Sister Castro, the AP's, and other people invited to speak, as well as some cool training.  Zone conferences always boost my energy and leave me excited about the work.

Speaking of getting a boost in energy and spirit, GENERAL CONFERENCE IS THIS WEEK!!! :D I hope all of you enjoy hearing from our Prophet, apostles, and other leaders! Don't miss a single session! And dad, I'll keep our tradition alive by going to McDonald's (since there isn't a Five Guys here in Brazil).

Well that's about it for me. My week was super busy but went by super fast. Can't believe we're entering April this week...

Love you guys!

-Elder Sanok

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Baptisms, Dr Pepper, and Cold Weather -- Does It Get Any Better Than That?

What's good peeps? Today we were at a member's house today for a birthday lunch for one of the elders here and a ping-pong tournament (if anyone asks, I won). As for my week, it was pretty good! Baptisms, Dr Pepper, and cold weather!

So to be honest, I don't have a lot to say about the week. I can wrap it all up by saying that we were able to perform a few baptisms, I got a special gift straight from the USA (Dr Pepper), and it's finally cooling down! 

Alright I'll go in to a little more detail... So the sisters had a baptism on Saturday and we did too so we decided to do it all together which would be cool. I did the interviews for their baptisms so it was great to get to know them and then participate in that. We were able to baptize the daughter of a member that we've been bringing back into activity. One of the awesome members of this ward was also able to baptize his adopted son. It all worked out perfectly because just a few weeks before his 8th birthday he was able to get all the papers worked out to officially declare him as his son and now they'll be able to go to the temple soon and get sealed! :D
We have an awesome family in our ward who is always lookin' out for us. They have 2 daughters that live in the USA and one was coming down to visit and the night she was in the Dallas airport, we were at an activity and one of the daughters was face timing her so I asked her to bring me a Dr Pepper and a Root Beer aaaaaannnnddddd she did!!! :D Que felicidade. My comp liked the Dr Pepper but said it has a bit of a medicine taste.
And yeah, it's finally cooling down which is great! Literally on the first day of fall, we woke up to a cold and windy morning! I am now sleeping with sweatpants because it is so cold at night. I guess that's the plus side about the second most humid city in the world: when it's cold, it's COLD. WOO, #sweaterweather.

Well that's about it. Enjoy some pics of me with canned happiness. 

Paz e Amor,
Elder Sanok (Dan)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Don't Forget Your Clown Wig While Drinking Chimarrão

Dear family, friends, and anyone else who takes the time to read these weekly updates of my life here in Brazil,

HAPPY ST PATRICK'S DAY! I almost forgot that tomorrow is St Patrick's day. Since they really only celebrate Carnaval, Christmas, and Easter here, I forget what holidays are holidays in the USA. But it's all good because I've got a green tie just in case anyone here knows about the whole pinching thing.

This week was a pretty productive week. We're having a lot of success in a part of our area, Laranjal (the beach town). It's an area about 15 minutes away from the city by bus so the missionaries haven't really ever worked there.  Fortunately there are TONS of houses out there so we never run out of doors to knock (by clapping hands at the fence). We've been able to get a good teaching group going out there which keeps us busy throughout the week. The majority are progressing in terms of reading the Book of Mormon, praying, obeying the commandments, etc. but it's hard to get the people to church because of the distance. Lol this week we decided to start knocking houses that have cars in the front because then they can't give us excuses for not going to church. We had a pretty cool experience this week when as we were headed to catch a bus back to the city, my comp's legs locked up and told me that he didn't feel like we should leave yet. I was like "dude, we gotta catch a bus because it only passes once per hour!" and he turned around and started walking down the road telling me that there was something we still needed to do. I'm crazy for spiritual experiences and love seeing the outcome of a prompting because you never know what'll happen so we headed off down the road. We came up to a GIGANTIC house and my comp looked at me and I looked at him and we were both like "ah crap, this is the house..." lol just to explain, rich people usually just give us the finger and tell us to get lost so we don't spend a lot of time knocking doors like that but since it was a prompting we gave in and clapped our hands... Long story short, we met a super awesome and receptive family that is super interested in the church. So far we've only said a prayer to bless their family and explained a little about who we are and what our message is about but this week we're headed back to teach an awesome family about the awesome restored gospel!

Saturday was a super cool day. The other elders had 4 baptisms which I got to know really well as they have been attending church lately and I was able to do their baptismal interviews. The coolest part was that one of the elders (an American) had just finished his mission and his parents flew down to pick him up and they were able to participate in the baptism. His dad baptized one of the people - cool situation: an american baptizing in Brazil in Spanish (because he speaks Spanish). lol. They were awesome people and appreciated my help translating for them. Made me excited for when y'all come down to pick me up! We also performed a special musical number with two young women - I Feel My Savior's Love with Elder Dan on the keys.

Sunday they pulled a last minuter on me and asked me to give a 10 minute talk right as sacrament was starting. It all went well. I gave a talk about the importance of keeping our spirits well nutritioned. I spoke about 3 simple things we can do to keep our spirits strong and healthy, daily scripture study, prayer, and attending church.

Just to explain this picture real quick: we were at lunch the other day and as I was chillin on the couch drinkin some Chimarrão, the little 2 year old of the family came running up with a clown wig and told me to put it on so I decided to take advantage of the situation and snap a pic.

Hope y'all have a great week! LOVE YOU ALL!

Elder Sanok

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March Madness or Miracle March?

E AÍ LOVED ONES!  Well, I closed up another transfer this week. ONLY 6 MORE TO GO!!  Looks like I'll be staying here in Fátima Norte with Elder Navarrete for another transfer of hard work and miracles! I'm not sure if I wanna nickname March 'March Madness' or 'Miracle March' but they both mean pretty much the same thing: lots of awesomeness!

Usually I'm feeling pretty dead at the end of the transfer but this time was a little different.  I started something new where I said a special prayer everyday specifically asking for enthusiasm and strength to accomplish what the Lord wanted me to do.  One of the duplas in my district was having a hard time so I gave them this advice and I thought, "hey, I might as well give it a try as well" and it seriously made a huge difference in my attitude and spirit.

Being a missionary is pretty hard but when I look at the big picture I realize that it's actually way cool and I enjoy it. Two years is a pretty long time but it goes by so fast. When else in my life am I gonna have the opportunity to go around all day teaching people about Jesus and how to have a better life? NEVER. That's why I've gotta just learn to love it because it a'
int ever coming back and if I don't make the most out of my time, Imma be super sad one day. 
One of my friends who just finished her mission sent me a super cool quote by Elder Holland this week:

"Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn't it go better? Why can't our success be more rapid? Why aren't there more people joining the church? It is the truth We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don't people just flock to the font? Why isn't the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?

You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be a easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.

The atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him- the Way, the Truth, and the Life."

The work is going great. Time is flying. Lovin my area. Here's to another week!

Oh, and add this missionary message:

In life we need to step out of our comfort zones. We will never be able to progess or enjoy all that life has to offer if we just sit around relaxed with no worry in the world in our comfort zone. By stepping out of what seems comfotable to us, we will be able to see that we are so much more capable in doing things than we ever imagined. We all know the story in Matthew 14 when the apostle Peter asked the Lord to walk on the water with him. He had to do what? Step out of his boat. Yes, as we know, he started to sink but who was there to catch him and lift him up? As Jesus lifted Peter up out of the water, the winds calmed and the faith of everyone in that scene was increased. It's the same thing with us! God has plans for us but we'll never be able to accomplish them if we don't act! We need to learn that it's gonna be alright to step out of the boat and walk by faith because the Lord is always gonna be there to pick us up when we fall and put us back on course. In order to see the beauties of life, we need to step out of our comfort zones. One thing I've learned out here on the mission is that stepping out of my comfort zone is the first key to happiness and success. It's a lesson that I'm learning on the mission that I will apply for the rest of my life.

Elder Sanok

Monday, March 2, 2015

Entrando o Mês de Março!

HAPPY MARCH!!! Wow, crazy to think that this week marks one year that I stepped foot on Brazilian soil! Time is honestly flying... 

So nothing out of the ordinary happened this week. Carnaval was a thing here but we avoided all the madness of that and nothing happened to us. 

Just want to take the time to say how much I'm loving this area. I feel like I was put here for a reason. Not only to help the people but also to help me. Ever since I got here, I've been able to feel immense feelings of peace and calmness (I owe that to the ocean). It's like I've received a boost of energy that helps me work harder. I won't lie, physically and mentally I am SO dead but something keeps pushing me along. 

We've got a pretty solid group of people to teach.  
The work is moving along great! 

Love you all and hope ya'll are having a great start to your March!