Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Our Very Own Path to Palmyra

I swear the weeks are passing by faster and faster as the time goes on. Not a whole lot went down this week. We were busy with visits, baptismal interviews, walking, getting chased by dogs, churrasco and chimarrão; the usual.

I bought a new photo album this week to organize my pictures. Bah looking at pictures from before the mission weirds me out. Not gonna lie, real life seems like a dream to me now. I'm at that point where I've been out for so long that I feel like I've been here my whole life.

I read a really good talk in the Liahona this week, "The Path to Palmyra", which is an extract from a talk that I heard at the MTC. It talks about how the very many trials and hardships that Joseph Smith and his family faced were ways that the Lord was preparing them for the great task of restoring the Gospel. We can learn that we too are often faced with trial and difficulty but we need to know that the Lord has put us on our very own "path to Palmyra" as well and He will help us along our journey so that we can arrive where He wants us to arrive and accomplish what He wants us to accomplish.
https://www.lds.org/liahona/2015/06/the-path-to-palmyra?lang=eng

We ran into some other elders from our zone in the center this afternoon while we were going out for lunch so we chilled with them and talked our way into the soccer stadium here in Pelotas so that we could take pictures. 
  


This is the last week of the transfer. Hope all of y'all have a great week! I hope Savannah had a GREAT 19th birthday! Love you all so much!

Elder Sanok

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rare Opportunities

Hellooooooooo! Another week on the mission has come and gone. I'm great, how are all of you? This week I had some pretty amazing experiences, some of which are so special to me that I'm gonna have to save the details for when I get home :)

Without sharing too much through email, I was able to learn an important lesson about the power of the Priesthood and the importance of always being prepared to use it. On Thursday morning, a brother from our ward came over to our house telling us that a close family friend had been involved in a terrible car accident with a semi-truck and was in the hospital. He wanted us to go with him to give a blessing. Of course we accepted and we headed out with him. When we got to the hospital we had to wait about an hour in the freezing cold until the hospital authorized us to enter. Once we got in, we headed to the Intensive Care Unit but at the door they stopped us and asked for identification because only authorized ministers could enter to give blessings, prayers, etc. Fortunately I had grabbed my wallet on the way out which has a fancy card signed by the prophet saying we are authorized to do things like that. However, my companion had forgotten to grab his and the hospital wouldn't allow him or the brother that was with us past. I was the only one authorized to enter the ICU. We discussed the situation between us three and decided it was important that the man receive a blessing. We called to see if it was okay to give a blessing alone. I then followed the doctors into a room where I was presented with something I wasn't expecting. The man was in a coma, completely unconscious and severely injured. I explained the scripture in James 5:14-15 that teaches that we place a drop of oil on the head of the sick or afflicted and then give a blessing by the laying on of hands. They then had me wash my hands, put on latex gloves, and a hospital robe. I was then left alone to give a blessing. I stood there for a good 10 minutes preparing myself mentally and spiritually until I went on with the blessing. I can't explain how I felt through email but I can assure you that there were angels present in that hospital room. He immediately started breathing more calmly once I finished the blessing and I know that God will take care of that man and in accordance with the prayers and faith of his family, he will get better. I can't explain to y'all how true this church is and how real the priesthood is. I know that God loves us and takes good care of us, at times through other people, even those that are weak like myself.

As you can tell from the pictures, we had one of those rare opportunities to be with a bunch of other missionaries. This week we had a special zone conference in which we said our final goodbyes to the Castro family, who has taken such good care of us here. It was pretty sad but like all things, the end arrived. We're all very excited to receive the Cruz family next week and see what kinds of things we can do together to help the work of the Lord progress here in Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. I love getting together with the other missionaries. I've made lots of friends on my mission which makes me love it that much more.

It's pretty weird having everyone tell me that I'm old on the mission. Today is June 22, which means that I've completed yet another month on the mission. I officially lack exactly 6 months until I come home. As of now, I have finished a sister mission ;) The time has flown and is flying. Keep up your prayers for me so that I can do all that I can with this short amount of time left.

Yesterday was Father's Day, huh? Not really fair that we can't do skype on Father's Day too, huh? Shoutout to the coolest, chillest, funniest, surf-loving pops out there! Love you, Dad. Can't wait to be chillin with you again! 
Also a shoutout to my Heavenly Father who is always lookin out for me! We're so blessed to have a father in heaven that loves us so much that He gave his son so that we can have an example in life and a guide to be able to return to live with Him and receive all He has to offer! Check out this awesome video about our earthly and heavenly fathers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5FxdCgD-qI

Anyways, know that I love all of you! Have a great week!!!

Elder Sanok
   






Monday, June 15, 2015

Feliz Segunda-Feiraaaaaa!

Yooooooooooo! Happy Monday to everyone! (I think missionaries and their families are the only people on the face of the planet that actually look forward to Mondays). I hope everyone is happy! I'm great! This week has been chilly but sunny! (Thank goodness because now my clothes can get some sun and aren't molding.)

This week we started the marriage process with a couple we're teaching and on the 18th of July we'll be hosting a wedding/churrasco/baptism! :D Like I've said in my past few emails, we have a ton of great people to work with in our area. The members here are helping us a ton and are always up to joining us in lessons and bearing their testimonies about the Book of Mormon or how they overcame an addiction or the importance of marriage and we're seeing tons of positive results. For this reason, I invite EVERYONE back home to make sure your testimony is ALWAYS ready to be shared with others because it has serious power.
  

 
I've also been seeing the importance of strengthening recent converts since I've been here (because there are a lot). President Hinckley taught that every recent convert NEEDS a friend when they enter into the church; you can be that friend. It means a lot to these people. When you're their friend there are benefits too! For example, we had a churrascÃO (giant churrasco) this week with a ton of people.  I love seeing the fire in recent converts' eyes.
  


Last Monday was awesome, we went to a fair and hung out eating food and checking out the shops. 
  


Today is going to be a more relaxed P-Day; McDonalds for lunch, e-mail, sleep, etc.
 
I don't have a whole lot to say but I want everyone to know that there's a lot of love comin' at ya from Brasil! For 6 more months I'm gonna give it my all and then I can party for the rest of my life. I hope y'all are doing great! Keep me updated!

-Elder Sanok



Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Another Week in Pelotas

Hey hey hey! What's goin on?! I hope all is well back home! As for me, I'm doing great! Nothing out of the ordinary happened this week... same ole, same ole.

On Monday I was able to relax and enjoy the shops in the center of Pelotas with some of the other missionaries in the area. Afterwards, we had a FHE with some of the most ELECT investigators I have known on my mission. I don't call them "elect" just because they make us a ton of food everytime we go there but also because they are SO prepared and are progressing a ton! We should be starting their marriage process this week!

Tuesday I gave a training about the importance of the Book of Mormon not only in our missions but also in our lives. Bah, I love the Book of Mormon. We did a game where everyone chose a character from the book and had to act out who it was while everyone else had to guess.

Wednesday-Saturday were normal days of work. The area is on fire! We have a really strong teaching pool and are seeing lots of miracles!

We fasted Saturday-Sunday for people to show up at church on Sunday and were blessed to have 4 people come! Yours truly is the new pianist in the Fernando Osório ward... I regret not taking piano lessons as a kid but I'm happy that the Lord has been blessing me with the ability to play decent enough for the congregations of Rio Grande do Sul to sing along in Sacrament Meeting.

Love you guys a ton! I hope y'all are doing great! The time is going fast. Make the most out of every minute of your lives!

Elder Sanok

Monday, June 1, 2015

JUNE JÁ?!

Hola muchachos! What's happenin? To be honest, I'm doing very well here in my new area! My comp is Elder Walkennedy from Aracaju, Sergipe in the northeastern part of Brasil. I arrived in the new area not knowing what to expect but my new area and new comp are awesome! During the typical "ice-breaker" conversation with the new comp, he asked if I was a fan of football or basketball but I told him that I don't really watch those kinds of sports because I like surfing. "WHAT?! YOU SURF?! I SURF TOO!" That was the first of one of the many things that we have in common. He's way cool and way funny and is working super hard since he's at the end of his mission. 

The area is full of awesome people and I'm pretty sure I've already gained a little bit of weight because EVERY SINGLE HOUSE that we go to gives us something to eat (cake, churrasco, pizza, pudding, etc.). 

We live with two other elders, Elder Fernandes (Recife, Brasil) and Elder Van Oene (SLC, Utah). The house is pretty small. The bathroom is the size of one of those bathrooms on an airplane. My bed is broken so I sleep on a mattress on the floor. The fridge is broken and smells like rotten eggs mixed with dead fish. The patio where we hang our clothes to dry doesn't get any sun so if it's a humid and gray week all your clothes will get moldy. The power likes to randomly shut off so sometimes I only get to iron half my shirt or have to take freezing cold showers. BUT I can honestly say that even with all that, I'm happy.

This week was full of hard work. We have tons of good people to teach and recent converts to work with. I guess winter started this week because it is freezing cold and poured rain half the week (not very fun when you don't have an umbrella). 

I'm happy to have stayed in Pelotas because last night we had a fireside with President and Sister Castro and I was able to see all the missionaries that I know here in Pelotas as well as a ton of the members from Ala Fátima. 

I can't believe that it's already JUNE! The time is flying. In about a week or two I enter into the 6 month range... :O Keep up your prayers for me. Love you guys a ton!

p.s. Went to McDonald's today with Elder Van Oene and had a typical American lunch - McGangBang (McChicken on top, Big Mac in the middle, and Cheeseburger on bottom). Unfortunately I forgot my converter at the house so I can't pass any pictures today but next week I will for sure!

p.p.s. I'm doing great on my Spanish! I study every morning for an hour in Spanish! :D

Açaí, banana, and granola milkshake!