Monday, October 26, 2015

Dear people I know,

This week was a blur! A lot happened, but it all happened so fast, so I probably won't remember everything. It started off very hot. Like VERY hot. From what I was being told, it was around 39 degrees C, which is like 102 F. It was like that for the first few days, but then the clouds came and changed everything. It still hasn't rained yet, but I'm very thankful for clouds to block the sun.

Elder Vieira and I taught a ton of lessons this week and tried really hard to get a bunch of people in sacrament meeting. We ended up with one investigator, Paóla, who made it to sacrament meeting and also came to a baptismal service the night before! She is our focus right now, along with the sister of Karen, who is finally opening up a little bit to the gospel. We found Paóla by trying to locate the house of a reference, and accidentally knocking on her door! I'm convinced it wasn't an accident though. She is 18, shy, and has sincere questions and doubts, which is always nice. 

Karen has been doing personal progress with the young women this week and we gave her a triple combination to study! It's good to see her at the church and Helberth too. Helberth was in a full suit yesterday and was looking super fly.

Yesterday I cried in a lesson for the first time. It was a pretty emotional day. But I cried because I was teaching about families, and while I thought about my family it made me so grateful for the gospel! I know I can be with my family for eternity and that is such a huge blessing in my life!

Well the other news this week is that my pedometer went missing for 2 days, so my step count for those days is a conservative estimate. I also lost my umbrella, which I didn't even use once. Maybe it will show up somewhere though.

Some observations of Montes Claros that I'm just now realizing: Everyone has a mango tree in there backyard, neighborhoods are very different here (our house is literally on top of another person's store/house), and 50% of the shirts young people wear have very incorrect english grammar on them.

I'm gonna end it there since we have a ton to do today! I love you guys. Remember that the church is true and that Heavenly Father is always there. He hears our prayers and loves us perfectly.

Elder Searle

weekly steps: 106526

Monday, October 19, 2015

Week 12!


This week started off with sickness. I'm not exactly sure what caused it, but Monday night was not pretty or fun. I'll spare the details, but I had some sort of virus and my body wouldn't let me put anything in it. So Sister Fernandes put me on this crazy diet for the next three days that actually worked! I had to eat like a bazzillion bananas and drink gatorade and I couldn't drink milk or eat meat. But it was super sad Tuesday because after the Zone Meeting there was a bunch of ice cream, but I couldn't eat any of it :( I was pretty weak until Friday, but we still worked around the chapel. I'm all better now thankfully!

There were some very spiritual experiences for me this week. We taught a lesson this week to 10 people at the same time and that was quite the experience. People here, for the most part, talk like crazy. Like it's super hard to get a word in with some of our investigators, so you can imagine how it was like with 10 people who didn't agree on much religiously. It was so amazing though because when we got to the story of Joseph Smith, it was really powerful. As soon as I began relating his story, it got dead silent and I felt the spirit so strongly! I testified more boldly than I think I ever have, and no one disputed that part of our message. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and really did see God the Father and the Son. I am so grateful for Joseph Smith!

Yesterday I gave a talk in church so that was fun. I was nervous leading up to it, but actually giving the talk wasn't bad! I talked about member missionary work and how to share the gospel with your friends! It was really sad though because none of our investigators made it to church yesterday. For most of them was because of the time change. Unfortunately we weren't aware of the time change until it was too late to warn our investigators.

Oh transfers were yesterday! I am staying here with Elder Vieira and the other missionaries in our house are staying too. This is my companion's last transfer! I will be with him until he goes home. And I love all the missionaries in our house. The Zone Leaders and Elder Vieira are teaching me so much. One of the Zone Leaders, Elder Lima, just got done being an Assistant to the President and he is so powerful. And he knows English very well which is great. The only downside to having such good missionaries living with us is that our areas aren't divided and the members love them. We are getting better at gaining the confidence of the members though!

The one investigator we are focusing on who has the most potential right now is named Kiko. Kiko is super cool and is very receptive! The hard part is that he hasn't been to church yet, but we are going to make sure he gets to church these next 2 weeks! After these two weeks there's a District Conference instead of sacrament though, so he would have to wait to be baptized and confirmed on like the 14th of November. But hopefully we find more investigators this week to put on the same track as Kiko! Plus we are teaching a man named Newton who is working to get married on the 20th of November so he can be baptized after. I'm really learning to love these people. Kiko is going to be blessed so much by this gospel! He doesn't have a very exciting life and I think he's pretty sad most of the time, but I know this gospel is going to help him so much with that!!

To answer some questions from the fam-

Yes, everyone has an electric shower here. We had one in our old house, but we haven't installed it in this one yet because the water is actually a good temperature already haha! It is still hot, and still hasn't rained. Everyone says it's going to rain tomorrow though so I guess we will see!

The members always feed us lunch except on Pdays. Lunch always consists of beans and rice. And usually some type of meat and root. There are so many types of roots/potatoes here! I love their sweet potato. It looks nothing like what we call a sweet potato. And there's usually juice or guarana. Also, tomatoes and lettuce. And half the time with members they make us desert! This week I ate so many things made from mangos. There are mango trees everywhere here and I'm really loving this fruit. My favorite thing I ate this week was a brazillian truffle I bought that was a really good type of chocolate (brigadello I think it's called).

Our laundry situation is a little crazy. We have a washing machine, but with our new house there's not a place to hook it up right, so we have to use buckets to fill it during the cycles and have to kind of wash clothes by hand before sticking them in the washer. Because there's 4 of us, we can't all do laundry on the same day, so I wake up early Friday and do mine. There are no such things as dryers here, we have wires that we hang up our clothes on to dry.

To deal with the heat, we drink a lot of water and sweat a lot. I'm just kind of getting used to being hot and it's not a big deal anymore. We have fans for sleeping, and I haven't really used a blanket since São Paulo.

We get around by walking! I have yet to ride a bike, but we use the ônibus to get to central, and sometimes will use a members car to go teach someone. Most of the members don't have cars though, and even the ones that do don't like using them because gas costs so much here.

There are actually 12 missionaries in Montes Claros! It used to be 8, but the sisters arrived last week. It's us 4 from my house in the 3rd branch, and 4 missionaries in the other branches too. We are the only branch in our chapel, and the chapel downtown is where the other 2 branches congregate.

The language is still coming! I always feel like I'm not making any progress, but when I think about how much I know now compared to a few weeks ago, I realize that my tongue is truly being loosed.

I hope everyone is doing well! I'm sorry if my emails don't make much sense grammatically. I've figured out that there's no reason or time to plan out what I'm going to say beforehand, so that's why they aren't as nice! Hopefully they still make sense. Anyways, have a splendid week everyone! 

Elder Searle

weekly steps: 102593

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear family and friends,

It was a good week! We're settling into our new house, the work is moving along, and Karen was confirmed yesterday!

The first day in our new house the electricity hadn't been turned on so that was a little hard. But at least it was only a day! This house is a lot nicer than our last one and I finally have a desk to study on in the morning! I love my desk.

This week we did a lot of finding and teaching recent-converts. B is doing really well and so is Karen! It was really cool to confirm her yesterday. I was super nervous to perform the ordinance, but it went well and the Spirit was strong! Her family still isn't very supportive of her decision, but she is working on changing their hearts and we will hopefully be able to even work with some of them this week! We gave her a pamphlet to fill out her family history with a tree and biographies. She loves family history already haha! And guess what? Elder Vieira is going to do her father's temple work when he returns home in December! Karen is super excited to one day get sealed to her dad.

Like I said, a lot of finding this week. The members haven't been too good to us as far as references, so it was a little difficult. But holy cow, the Lord really does guide by the Spirit. Multiple times this week we would be walking down a street and would knock on the perfect door with someone who would listen to us and accept the invitation to read the Book of Mormon.

All of the missionaries in the house are doing the memorizing a scripture a week challenge from GC! You guys should do it too if you are't already :)

It's been a fairly "normal" week other than that! We lost water a couple times, it still hasn't rained since I got here, and it's hot as ever. It was Elder Lima's birthday (another missionary in our house) yesterday and that was fun to celebrate a little last night with our Branch President! Unfortunately I didn't take many pictures this week, but I will try to take some for next week!

Thank you for the prayers and support. I love you guys!!

Elder Searle

weekly steps: 119186

Monday, October 5, 2015

A picture from last weeks Zone Conference

Zone Conference

Good News and Bad News

Dear family and friends,

So a little bit of bad news and lots of good news this week!! I will save the best news for last :)

The water returned!! Monday night it started coming back and Tuesday morning it was back completely. When I turned the faucet on and water came out I literally fell to my knees haha! I never realized how much of a blessing it is to have water.

I guess I'll give the bad news now. Monday night we visited Jaime and he had suddenly lost all interest in being baptized. He won't be direct with us, but someone probably talked bad about the church to him. It's so sad because he received an answer and we taught him everything. We brought members that we taught him with and tried to explain the importance of this decision, but he won't budge. Hopefully with time he will realize what he's missing! Truly this gospel would bless his life so much.

General Conference was the bomb! Unfortunately our chapel doesn't have the capabilities of showing it so we had to travel to center city and I only got to watch about half of it. But I loved everything I could watch!! I know that the new Apostles truly were called by God. I remember Elder Rasband giving a talk in a Priesthood Session once that I absolutely loved! I was able to sit next to Helberth when President Monson was talking! I told him that was our Prophet and he leaned over and said that it's the voice of the Lord whenever he speaks! How cool that he recognizes and remembers that from the lessons.

One of the many things I loved from conference was something Sister Stephens said. It was something like this "Commandments are an expression of God's love for us, and our obedience to them is an expression of our love for Him." How true! I keep learning out here that obedience truly is the first law of heaven, upon which all things are predicated. And it makes so much sense to think about obedience as an act of love rather than an obligation!

We are in the middle of moving to our new house!! It has been a crazy crazy weekend because of that so sorry if my words don't make very much sense- I wasn't able to think about what I would email beforehand. But our new house is sooo great! I'm thankful to be moving.

Teaching Karen this week was amazing! Every day we taught her with youth from the church and she continued to love every bit of the gospel. The Plan of Salvation rings so true to her and she has a huge testimony of prayer. This week I gained a larger testimony of prayer too. Elder Vieira and I prayed for Karen a lot this week. Her family is not supportive of her and her boyfriend threatened to leave her if she got baptized. It was a tough situation. The Lord surly did answer our prayers though! Karen made it to General Conference and was baptized in between sessions on Sunday!! Her boyfriend has had at least a minor change of heart, and said he will go to her confirmation this Sunday! And her family is nicer to us now. Truly this baptism was a miracle though. At times we would be going all over to find her because she doesn't have a phone and it was really stressful leading up to this weekend. But it all worked out! And she has two really great friends in the church now (other than us). I'm excited to be able to confirm her on Sunday! Karen is inspiring. She was willing to leave her relationship and go against her family to embrace this gospel and live with her Father again after this life.

Karen's baptism!! Such a spiritual experience. Our Branch President, who is the father of one of Karen's friends, performed the baptism. Even though Karen technically was found by our own efforts, we couldn't have done this without the help of members.
I love you guys! Thank you for the continued support and prayers.

Elder Searle

Weekly steps: 120964