Monday, November 30, 2015

Hello! In a few hours we fly to Belo Horizonte for Elder Vieira to go home and for me to pick up my new companion!! We will stay the night there and I will get a surprise companion tomorrow morning! I'm very excited :)

I don't have much time, but this was a good week of learning for me! One thing I really struggle with is comparing myself to other people/circumstances and I want to share an experience I have had with that. Sometimes I will think how much better/easier off I would be in a mission where I didn't have to learn this language or be in a different area and it's really easy to think like that when the mission is your life. I found some scriptures (Alma 29: 6,8,10) that really helped me put things into perspective this week. From verse 6, I have no right to be wishing for something different because where I am and what I'm doing right now is exactly what the Lord has planned for me, and who am I to try and change His will? And also verse 8 helps me to realize that this language learning is so important to help the people here receive the gospel in their own tongue. And verse 10 is humbling too, because when I look at the people here it makes me so grateful for all that the Lord has done for me! I'm so eternally indebted to Him.

We were met with more than a few challenges this week, but I'm so grateful to have learned from them! I'm learning to think about the good things that are happening and forget the sad things.

I hope everyone is enjoying the beginning of this Christmas season! Brazil is a very very christian country so the people here are all excited haha! It's such a blessing that everyone we talk to has the same basic beliefs of Christ and understand His significance. He is becoming more and more significant to me every day. Whenever I think something is hard or unfair I think of Christ and remember how unbelievably hard and unfair it was for Him. Truly He showed the path and enabled us to change. I am so grateful for my Savior.

I love you guys!!

Elder Searle
115011 steps

Monday, November 23, 2015

Hello all!

This week will be my very last one in training! I'm excited to have more time for proselyting, but it will be sad to see Elder Vieira go home. Chances are I will stay here because I know the area, but I will travel to Belo Horizonte next Pday to pick up my new companion! We haven't got travel plans yet, but there may not be time to email next week so just a heads up for that! Today we are going to a big mall to get Elder Vieira chique clothes and are going to do a big bbq for him too! It should be fun. He's very excited to be going home and get an IPhone haha!

At the beginning of the week I had my very first experience trying to teach a pastor of one of those yell-really-loud-during-the-meetings churches. Most of the churches in Montes Claros are like that actually. If you walk down the street on a Sunday night there is a lot of yelling haha! But anyways, it was kind of cool because even though he was very unreceptive and a little aggressive, I felt good and even confident teaching!

It rained almost every day this week and it's also been quite a bit cooler which was the biggest blessing ever.

Our investigators this week have been doing pretty good. Many of them made it to church yesterday and really enjoyed it! We had our Primary Program and yes, it's just as hilarious of a meeting here in Brazil. Also, since our Branch President found out that I'm going to study accounting, I have been assigned to keep count of the attendance at church haha! Yesterday we broke 100 people for the first time in history!!
Hopefully I will have some good news in the next email! We are working very close with the investigators we have. They are such amazing people and I wish you could see them and talk to them haha! I think in general I'm going to wait to do big descriptions of them until their big day because all too often something or another gets in the way of their progress. But one really cool spiritual experience I had this week was with Vicente! He's pretty old and has a lot happen to him during his life and he was telling us all these difficult things that happened and kept feeling such a great love for him! I told him that God loves him more than he can imagine and that as missionaries we love him too. And then the craziest thing happened. Vicente, the super tough old man, got emotional and was starting to cry. It was a very spiritual moment for all of us.

Have a great week you guys! I love you!

Elder Searle


Typical Lunch - Yum!!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Greetings from Montes Claros Ramo 3!

I'll get the bad stuff out of the way first. Fernando was working out of town the whole week and Vicente traveled at the end of the week so their absence at church was sad yesterday. But thankfully this is the only sad thing I will talk about haha!

We had someone come to our house and make some adjustments to our water system and now we have water 90% of the time instead of the other way around! It's also been raining and cooling off a little so I'm super grateful for that!

This week really strengthened my testimony of prayer. There were actually 3 really cool experiences I had with prayer this week:

-At the end of a lesson, the family we were teaching asked us to pray for rain so in the closing prayer that's what Elder Vieira did and 10 minute later it downpoured.

-During a difficult morning I got my Patriarchal Blessing to read for comfort and before reading I prayed that it would help me out. Holy cow was that prayer answered. I have already seen so many blessings being fulfilled out here on my mission and I know without a doubt that I am being guided out here.

-Saturday afternoon was pretty hard with the heat and our lack of appointments. I prayed in my heart pretty desperately for Heavenly Father to just help us out somehow. He blessed us so much! We ran into members to teach lessons with that night, and were even able to make a really spiritual visit with our Branch President. It's hard for me to describe how miraculous this day was actually.

I've been reading in Alma this week about many wars. I got a lot out of the analogy of "cleaning the inner vessel." That's something I'm learning for sure is I have to be clean and have the spirit with me before I'm gonna affect anything or anyone externally. it's so important for us to repent every day so that we can be clean and worthy of the Holy Ghost.

I'm also learning how to love and see people as children of God. Yesterday night we taught a woman named Maria (which is actually the name of like 50% of woman here) who has severe depression. The whole lesson I was just taken over by how much God loves her! I hope our lesson helped her. We taught about how faith in Christ and acting on that faith can help her find more peace and happiness. And we also sang I am Child of God for her! I hope it helped her out and that she can find the strength to act on the faith she has.

I hope things are going well back home! I love you guys.

Elder Searle

Elder Searle and Elder Vieira getting work done!

(Last weeks letter)

Dear Family and Friends,

Good morning! This week seemed to go by really fast. But a lot happened!

Yesterday we had a District Conference which was really good. We got to ride on a bus with our Branch to get there and were able to take Fernando and a new investigator we found this week named Vicente!

Vicente is very cool. He is also very old. Despite his age, he is very active and had no problem walking to the church that isn't very close to his house. He also wakes up at 4AM every day haha! Early in the week saw him sitting outside his house and felt like we should teach him. He lost his wife 30 days ago, so we taught him the plan of salvation. It really resonated with him and I think that the knowledge that he can live with his wife again helped him accept the restored gospel during the week. He has such a humble and open heart. Usually when we teach people they always have excuses, but Vicente literally is willing to try anything we ask him to! I can already see in his eyes that this message is changing him, because he is willing to change.

I also had my first exchange this week! It was really good. I worked in with Elder Lima and I learned a whole lot about teaching and contacting.

This week it didn't rain, so 90% of the time we didn't have water in the house. We have been getting smarter though, and every time there's water we fill up a bunch of buckets to use for showers and cleaning. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to learn from this, but I hope it will start raining here in Montes Claros soon.

So my goal is to finish the Book of Mormon in Portuguese before my birthday! I'm a little past halfway now, and am on a good track to finish before then. Reading is continuing to help me with the language. I've also been trying to have more one on one conversations with people and that's been helping too!

I wish I could remember things better haha! I know a lot more happened this week that I'm forgetting, but oh well. I guess just know that the Lord is guiding the work here and that I know without a doubt that this church is true. Every day the Spirit testifies of that to me. I know that God loves us and wants us to have joy! And even though this life isn't easy, it's more than worth it. I love you guys!

Elder Searle
weekly steps:125912

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Weekly Steps: 10210
Dearest people I know,

Yesterday was a Holiday here in Brazil so our Pday got moved! It's a good thing it did because absolutely nothing was open yesterday. But as far as I could tell, there isn't any special activities that happen on the day of the dead.

So this week I had a pretty cool experience. During weekly planning on Tuesday, Elder Vieira and I prayed to know specifically which member we should go to get referrals from. I had a sister from our branch pop into my head when I was praying so we decided to visit her and do a "Noah's Ark", which is basically having someone write everyone they want to "save" from the water when the rain comes. So we get a list of all the people close to them, and then visit the ones that are in our area and aren't members! During the week it became difficult to find time to visit Vanessa, and I was starting to doubt it would even be productive to visit her, but Elder Vieira was very good at making sure I followed that prompting! We visited her Friday, and were able to visit her cousin named Fernando that night and present the gospel for him. Saturday, we did a family home evening with him and Vanessa's family, and yesterday he went to the Branch activity! We will be working with him these next few weeks. My testimony was really strengthened from this experience though because he really is a golden reference and we found him because of personal revelation!

This Sunday we also had an awesome opportunity to train the new branch missionaries! I will send a picture of all of us if I have time. It is great to get the youth excited about missionary work and to help them prepare for missions of their own.

Portuguese is getting better! I'm understanding better, and communicating better. I still can't say everything I want though so that's a little frustrating. I have made it halfway through the Book of Mormon in Portuguese though!!! Reading has really helped me understand grammar and sentence structure better.

So the weather report for this week: It rained!!! Finally! We had some good rain for two days at the start of the week and it was a bit cooler, which was really nice. Now it seems to be turning back to how it was before though. Also, every day this week we had water in the morning and that was it. The water is so fickle. But I'm super grateful I've been able to shower every morning and that drinking water isn't a problem since they bring jugs of water to us when we need it.

We finished teaching Karen lessons after baptism this week and she has been helping us teach new investigators!! My word she is a good missionary. And she told us this week that she actually does want to be a missionary in a couple years!! How cool.

If only this people were a little more willing to change their lives for better. We are teaching and finding, but it's super hard when you have people who believe the truth, but aren't willing to follow it. I know the Lord will continue preparing them though, and I hope one day they will accept the Gospel!

I hope everyone is doing wonderful! I hope you all know how much I appreciate all the support. I decided this week that this has to be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but holy cow it's so worth it! I know I am supposed to be here, and even though it's hard, Heavenly Father is watching over me and giving me everything I need.

Elder Searle

Weekly Steps: 102106

Young branch missionaries