Friday, August 22, 2014

Greenie companion, Itaguai and lots of walking!!

Weekly Email - August 4, 2014

Hey everyone, I hope all of you are doing well. This was a pretty good week for Elder Leal and I. The Portuguese is coming along, slowly but surely. We are excited about two of our investigators G------ and J--------, they are progressing really well. They are friends of a family in the ward and the missionaries before us started to teach them. J-------- is 19 and G------ is 15. We had dinner over at their house last night and a lesson. They have a date for the 16th for baptism. First time I have had dinner in a long time, haha, because of almoco (lunch) here is the big meal. Most of the area our ward covers is really hilly almost built on the side of a mountain. So it makes for a good work out walking all day. I'll send a picture of a road near our house it's nearly straight down, haha. It has been a really awesome experience being with a new missionary. I have learned a lot from Elder Leal. Coming out of the MTC missionaries have ´´greenie fire´´ as they call it, super excited to work. He has taught me a lot about trusting in the Lord, especially with the language. He has only been here 3 weeks but he has no fear to talk to people. We have a ton of work to do with less actives and inactives here, a lot of part member families as well. Out of everyone in our ward that has been baptized about 20 percent are active, a lot different than the states. This week we found a really awesome family knocking doors, B--- and S-------- and their 6 kids. They remind me a lot of Danny and his family, a lot of kids all under the age of 14 but the whole family is really calm, haha. Our ward desperately needs families. The father of the family is really interesting to teach. He is really intelligent and he knows the Bible really well but has been bouncing around churches trying to find one he likes. We also have been teaching a family, U-- and S------. They live with a bunch of extended family uncles, aunts, grandparents, nieces, ect so there is a lot of potential there as well. Every night in this area I am exhausted, haha, we don't get the bus like I did in my last area because all is probably at the most an hours walking distance. So we do a lot of walking and there isn't a level piece of ground here, haha. It's good to be tired, if you aren't tired as a missionary you aren't doing something right or you have a car, haha. I really hope we can help our ward out the best we can. It's a lot of responsibility as missionaries, sometimes its overwhelming because there is so much to do. We have to have the help of the Lord. The missionaries we live with Elder Lesueur and Elder Souza, they are our zone leaders also, have been great help and support for us.  I know that Christ lives. I know through him we can find peace. I know the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I know that the teachings and grace of Christ can change lives. I love our Savior and want to serve him the best I can.

Vamos la!
Elder Montanha

Weekly Email - July 28, 2014

Elder Leal and Elder Souza (another missionary they live with, Zone leader)

Where Nate lives in Itaguai. Notice the clothes hang drying on the porch,
no clothes dryer for these missionaries.

It was a great week with my boy, haha. This area and ward is really different than my first one here in Brazil. There is a ton of work to be done. This week we tried to focus on our contacts in the street. We were able to improve them quite a bit and Elder Leal is able to feel comfortable with the language. We found a place near our home that's kinda like an out door mall that always has a ton of people. That's perfect for contacts. I have learned a lot from him, he is fearless. He literally talks to everyone. We found a lot of new people to teach this week. Elder Leal seems to be adjusting to missionary life really well. He is a fun guy to be with. This week we had one investigator, R------ who is 19, on date to be baptized next Saturday. He is trying to decide if our church or the Seventh Day Adventists are right. He was really close to be baptized but he told his mother who is an Adventist that he wanted to be baptized in our church and she wasn't too happy about it. He doesn't need her permission because he is 19 but he doesn't want to make her mad. So on Saturday we fasted with him so he can know what to do. He still isn't sure but we are praying for him and his mom as well. The ward we are in is really struggling with attendance, we had 65 at sacrament on Sunday. So this week we are planning on going on visits with the bishop to families who are less active and come once in a while. A lot of the work here is going to be reactivation. The members that are strong in the ward are awesome. They go on visits nearly everyday to keep the ward afloat. I really like the people here in Itaguai, they all are always laughing, a very happy people. It's pretty easy here to get in and to teach the problem is getting them to keep commitments. The Lord is really preparing the people here. This city, and I think nearly all of Brazil, is going through a time like the time when Joseph Smith was alive. Everyone has a church here, everyone has a very strong faith in Christ, and there are a million churches here, all of which meet everyday of the week. Walking down the street all you here is sermons, haha, its pretty neat. The city here is kinda in the mountains so there isn't a flat piece of land, haha, everything is straight up or straight down. Yesterday we had almoco with a really interesting member, he was the second member of the church in Itaguai and he played professional soccer here in brazil years ago. he shared so pretty cool stories about sharing the gospel with other soccar players. Elder Leal and I are managing pretty well with the language, if I don't understand something he normally does or if he doesn't understand something I normally can. We have felt the Lords help for sure. This next week should be great, we have some investigators we hope will continue to progress. One is an older lady, C------, we met in the street. Her story is really interesting. She is older, 75 maybe and a devout Catholic. She goes to the Catholic church, which is absolutely massive, in the town square here everyday. Her son passed away four months ago from a drug overdose and it has been really hard for her. A member of the church who was friends with her son but since has moved to a different city helped her a lot with the funeral and visited her for comfort. So she invited us to her home and we taught her the plan of salvation and about eternal families. The idea of families are eternal was new for her. I can't imagine how hard the death of your son would be without the knowledge that families are eternal. That comforted her a lot and we will be back tomorrow to teach about the Book of Mormon. We have a couple other investigators as well, we really hope they progress this week. I know Christ lives. I know our Heavenly Father is a God of miracles. I know the gospel of Christ is so simple but so powerful. I am so grateful for the sacred opportunity to represent him. I know he knows us personally. He knows our joys and pains. I am so grateful that I can share that with others here in Itaguai.

Have a great week!
Elder Montanha    

Weekly Email - July 21, 2014

Elder Mountain and Elder Leal.

This how the Brazilians 'make' their beds by putting their flag on it so Nate is doing the same. Not sure why he doesn't have a sheet on his mattress.... 

Man what an eventful week. My new companion is Elder Leal, he is from Chile so we are learning Portuguese together. He is a quiet guy, reminds me of a 20 yeard old Seth (cousin). The ward we are serving in is called Itaguai. The city has two wards and we live with the Elders who cover the other ward. Itaguai is a lot different than Camorim. Here there are a lot of houses, it's kind of a middle class area where Camorim was either super rich or super poor. We are both new to the area so we have been trying our best not to get lost, haha, which happened quite a bit this week. The genious idea of street signs haven't made it here in Itaguai yet, haha, so the only way you can know is by asking people. The ward we are serving in, along with the other ward in the city, are really small. We only had 65 members at church, there is a lot of work to be done. The elders who served here before us where really awesome, they left us quite a investigator to work with. (? not sure what he meant?) We had interviews with President Cabral on Sunday, he came and spoke to our ward as well along with the other ward in Itaguai. Man he threw the hammer down during his talk, haha. He is not one to sugar coat his words. He talked about there is no purpose of baptizing if the ward doesn't retain them and the importance of finding the lost sheep. We had a meeting with our bishop and ward mission leader afterwards and they really want to get the ball rolling with reactivating. The members here we have met have been awesome to us, really willing to help out. Really good almocos, as always. This week I have really felt the power of the gift of tongues. With a Spanish speaking comp right out of the MTC I have needed to be able to communicate a lot more. I know the Lord helps those that need it. He is aware of all of our needs and concerns. We had one investigator at church, R------. He has a Seventh Day Adventist background and his only concern is which day is the Sabbath. I didn't know this but in Portuguese in the ten commandments it says the `keep Saturday the day of the Lord holy´ not ´keep the Sabbath the day of the Lord holy´ because the word for Sabbath and Saturday is the same in Portuguese. So it's a bit more difficult to explain, haha, but he said he has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and that's where it all starts. The Sabbath, word of wisdom, tithing and all of the other commandments build off that. Elder Leal is awesome at teaching already, a heck of a lot better than I was when I came out of the MTC. I have learned a lot from him already. We have a really large park near our apartment that's perfect for contacts. Last night we had a pretty neat experience. Interviews ended at 8pm so we just one hour to work so we decided to make contacts. We saw an older lady walking with a cane with her adult daughter. Elder Leal said we should talk to them so we headed over there and we started the contact. She said you are Mormons right? and she started to tell us a story about how her son, who lives in a differant city, joined the church and a couple months later her husband passed away. Some members found out about it and helped her out and visited her a couple times a week. She started crying and gave us both a hug, which we aren't really supposed to do, haha, and thanked us for the support the church gave her. It was awesome experience. We have a return appointment Wednesday. The life of a missionary is hard sometimes with things like the language but man is it worth it. Experiences like that are stuff I'll remeber forever. Love you guys. Have a great week.

com amor
Elder Montanha

Cristo vive. Ele nos ama. Por meio ele nos podemos ter felicidade verdadeira. Eu amo minha opportuniy ser um missionĂ¡rio.
Translation: Christ lives. He loves us. Through him we can have true happiness. I love my opportunity to be a missionary.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Trainer, District Leader and Transfer! Oh yeah!

Weekly Email - July 14, 2014

Picture in the foyer of Grandma Hutchens' church. Made Popa think of his missionary.

Sorry for being super late today, has been a crazy day. First both Elder Veiga and I got transferred. We found out on Saturday. Elder Veiga had been there 6 months so that was no surprise he got moved, but I was shocked that I would be moving as well. Turns out that the new Mission President decided to move nearly half of the sisters out of their areas because their areas were too dangerous for his liking, haha. So our area is now going to taken over by sisters. It will be a big shock for the ward on Sunday. Today I found out some crazy news. First I will be training a newbie, my first son in the wilderness, haha. I have not met him yet, he will arrive from the MTC tomorrow. I am really excited but a bit nervous, not sure if he is Brazilian or American. If he is a newbie American we will be in trouble, haha, we will not understand hardly anything. I was also called to be a district leader. I am really nervous about that. It's a small district, only three companionships. I will live with the Zone Leaders so hopefully they can help me out. There will be a lot of headaches in the near future but it will do a lot to help my Portuguese. My new area is called Itaguai. The zone I am in boarders one of the Sao Paulo Missions so it is really, really far away, 5 hour bus ride I heard. Elder Veiga is getting transferred to a neighboring ward in Camorim. He was a great companion, I wish him the best. This week was pretty good. Sunday was really awesome, had 2 investigators at church that we have been trying to get there all transfer, M----- and M-------. Have a ton of pictures from this week but my camera is packed away in my suit case. Spent a lot of time in Cesar Maia, as usual. It was hard to tell the priests we worked with a lot there goodbye, they have become great friends. They will be great missionaries soon. Had a funny experience this week, we found a community behind Cesar Maia about a 5 minute walk through the forest. Our entire time there we had never heard about it. I felt like Kramer when he sees main street intersect main street, the nexus of the universe, haha. It was nearly identical to Cesar Maia but it was like they built it over night. Had a great last lesson with W------. He is probably who I will miss the most, I really hope the best for him. I know that with the help of the Lord he can turn his life around. He has already taken leaps and bounds from when we first met him. This week the world cup ended. Man the people aren't happy here. After Brazil lost people spray painted ´vergonha` all over the place which means shame. They still are pretty upset. They felt a little better when Germany won just because Argentina lost, haha. Trying to remember what else happened, I'm really tired, had to wake up at 4:30am today to get the bus to make it to the transfer meeting on time. Don't have my journal either, it's packed away also so it's all a blur. It's going to be an eventful week ahead. I can't wait to meet the greenie. Got to see nearly all of the district from the MTC. Elder Fox and Evans are training as well so I'm hanging out with them at the mission home until tomorrow morning. I have seen everyone from the district so far except Elder Seibers. Pres Cabral gave another amazing training today at transfer meeting, he sure is inspiring, very powerful. Showed a really awesome video it had President Eyring speaking about courage and the brotherhood of the priesthood and told a story of a guy in the army who died to save a fellow soldier, not sure if it's on the church site or something but i really like it. Anyways was a good week. A lot of changes are coming. I feel very very unprepared for all that that I was asked to do. It will be a learning experience for sure and I am excited and take comfort in Ether 12:27. The Lord works through the weak a lot of the times. Hope you guys have a great week!!

vamos la
Elder Montanha

Happy Hump Day to our favorite missionary!!!!

Weekly Email - July 7, 2014 
Hump Day Week!!!

Man time is really flying by I really can't believe I will hit a year this week. It's unbelievable. I still think I'm 16 a lot of the times but dang somehow I got old, haha. This week was great had G------´s baptism on Saturday, woohoo!!

After emailing you guys I took Elder Veiga to Subway he doesn't have it over in Campo Grande where he is from and he had never eaten there before. Some restaurants are different here in Brazil than in America but Subway seemed to be exactly the same, even had the cold cut trio, haha. Elder Veiga really liked it. After cleaning the house we headed out to Cesar Maia. We had a lesson with G------- with two of his friends who are members about the Sabbath day. We also set up some lessons with more of the friends of the youth in Cesar Maia and contacted there. Had a lesson with an interesting guy in the street. He really, really was interested in the Book of Mormon. It's pretty cool here telling people this is a history of your people! Did you know Christ appeared to your people? Almost everyone wants to hear at least a little more. 

Spent most of the day in Jacarepagua at a Zone Conference. The stake center we meet at is about an hour bus ride away. The chapel there is huge; bigger than some temples for sure. It is three stories tall and has a huge steeple. I've been meaning to take a picture of it. Zone Conference was pretty good, was trained on some changes the church has made here with preach my gospel. Now we have to teach lesson 5, which talks about temples, family history, missionary work, callings things like that before baptism. Before we would teach it after baptism. Also, recent converts are now the missionary´s responsibility not the Bishops. Retention is a big problem here so they want to make sure baptisms are truly prepared and that they aren't forgotten afterwards. I can imagine being baptized and then learning about the concept of temples 3 months latter could be weird. After zone conference we had to head back home because Elder Veiga had a pretty bad migraine. He gets them once and a while. He seemed to have found a cure though. A sister in the ward told him to put oregano in some water and boil it then breath in the steam. Sounded really weird but he said it worked like magic, haha. While he rested I made some grilled cheese and listened to almost all of the 1973 April conference, haha. good talks. I really like Mark E Petersen and President Kimball. On Tuesday the USA was eliminated from the world cup, sad day, haha.

Interesting day. We left bright and early at 7:00am back to Jacarepagua to meet the new Mission President, President Cabral. Man did he leave an impression. He is from Forteleza. I have heard they speak crazy Portuguese there but luckily he was a professor of Portuguese, so he speaks everything grammatically perfect. Which is really rare in Brazil but man it makes it easier to understand. He is super short, maybe 5 foot 2, haha, but he makes up for it with energy. He is a convert and he definitely has some evangelical preacher in him, haha. He wasn't afraid to pound the pulpit or raise his voice, very powerful. He talked for about 2 hours and the whole room was completely focused every minute of it. He is really funny as well. There were three zones there so I got to see Elder Evans again. The mission president shared his vision with us that missionary work starts with missionaries living the gospel themselves and everything else follows after that. Also the sacredness of our call and the priesthood. He was really motivating. At the conference I got the mail from you guys. I got the card from Rae and Grandma H´s letter, so it takes forever but the mail does eventually make it. We had ordered pamphlets and other materials so we had to haul them around all day, which was no fun but we really needed them. Once we were back in our area we had a lesson with W-----. We could tell he had been drinking the night before so we taught the word of wisdom and committed him to live it. He only has a problem with drinking. He said he has only started drinking since his wife left him not too long ago. We also helped him clean his apartment. There was some mold starting to grow on one wall so we bought some bleach and cleaned it with him and did his dishes. On the way to the store to get the bleach we saw a heard of pigs eating trash in the road (common sight here, haha). But one of the pigs was dang massive like a small cow. I said `nossa um porkao zao` which is kinda of a goofy way to say dang that's a big pig. W----- thought that was so funny, he was laughing and laughing, he said have you never seen a pig before. No not a massive pig on steroids like that I haven't, hahavisited a less active family in Cesar Maia, really big family 8 kids. They were really nice and insisted on giving us a pizza. We ended up giving it to a homeless guy we talk to a lot. After Cesar Maia we made contacts in Barra Bonita

Good day today except the water heating thing on our shower broke again so we have to take cold showers. COLD showers, freezing, haha. Wakes you up in the morning for sure. After studies, we had almoco at a pretty good self serve place. Elder Veiga gave me some of his tea he was drinking called cha leao. I'm not a fan, tasted like dirty water to me, haha, but a lot of the members like it here. After almoco we had a lesson with E------, she is 11 and is living with some members for a couple months and is interested in learning more about the church. After that lesson, we headed to Cesar Maia. We had a good lesson with T-----. He is 17 and has been investigating the church for a long time. He has a hard time recognizing answers to prayers, so we taught him about the fruits of the Spirit and told him like it says in Moroni 10:4 to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon is NOT true, instead of asking if it is true. Sometimes changing the question is all it takes. After that we had a lesson with G------ about the plan of salvation and finished up the details for the program of his baptism. He said it was a perfect weekend, Brazil game on Friday, Baptism on Saturday, Holy Ghost on Sunday. After that we made contacts at Barra Bonita and treated ourselves to a pizza, haha.

Today was the Brazil game against Columbia so all of our work was before 4:00pm. We didn't have a lunch today so Elder Veiga and I decided to fast. After studies we headed to Cesar Maia. We had a lesson with M-----. Last time we were there we found out he is living with a different woman than he is married to, we gotta change that, so we taught the law of chastity. After that we visited W----- again. We could tell he had been drinking again so we asked him what happened. He really, really wants to change but it's hard to break away from addictions. We taught about turning to the Lord for strength and gave him a blessing. He said he knows drinking is ruining his life and was crying like a little kid. He said pastor, he always calls us pastor instead of elder for some reason, please have patience with me I need your help. He is the truest example of humility I have ever seen. Every time we . After W-----, we leave his home he gives us the biggest hug so tight I can hardly breathe, haha. When we left we told him alright soon as we shut the door pray to God for help with your addiction and he will give you strength. After we shut the door we peeked through his window and saw him praying. There is nothing more humbling than to see a man on knees praying to Heavenly Father. I have had some of the most powerful and humbling experiences teaching that man. 

Baptism today, woohoo, what missionaries live for. Baptism was great despite some hick ups. G------'s brother came down with the flu so he couldn't make it to the baptism so Elder Veiga ended up baptizing him. Also when we got there there were a ton of members there cleaning the building. It was chaos really, haha, but when they found out we had a baptism going on they stopped for a bit and most of them came and watched. The more people the better. G------ had his non member mom and aunt and cousin there which was cool. After the baptism in the morning we had a lesson with T------. It was a really good lesson, she accepted a soft commit to be baptized, woohoo! A miracle there. We tried to set a date but the best we could get was the end of July. We really, really need to get her to church. After that we contacted for the rest of the evening. We had a goal of a 100 in two hours and ended up with 101, haha. 

Great Sunday. Went to ward council and the ward and Bishop gave us a ton of stuff to do in the coming weeks. A lot of families to reactivate. It's really sad the activity rate here is about 20%, a lot of less actives. The Bishop really needs our help with all of them. I really respect and like our Bishop, he is only 28 but he really holds our ward together. He is the only Bishop I know that teaches gospel essentials and priesthood nearly every week. There was a 18 yr old girl, F------, who came to church and came up to us and said she wants to be baptized. Another miracle, haha. We have a lesson with her this evening. 

Great week! This week is the last week of the transfer, man time is flying by. I know Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. Only through him can we find lasting peace. He lives and it's a joy sharing that message everyday.

Elder Mountain