Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Leone e familia

The Leone e familia (Leone's wife, Leone, Davi, Gihermi, Ana Luiza)

Happy New Year!!!

I hope the electricity doesn't get jealous of our time together again today. Everyone is so big and deep-voiced!--with the exception of Mom and Rynda. I'd like to use the excuse that my excitement in seeing you kept me from communicating fluently in English. Now I'm "that guy" who says he forgot English, but it was perplexingly difficult to form normal Bryce phrases while I talked to you guys. 

I sent you a picture of a family we met last week. Leone, (hard name I haven't gotten the hang of -- his wife, Daví, Gilhermi, and Ana Luiza). We found Leone walking back from a service project in our normal clothes. He saw our name tags and started to talk to us. He went to our church 20 years ago and wants to go back now. He is very talkative and doesn't let a question pass in his mind without verbalizing it. This makes teaching him interesting. We have to be ready for any and all questions. He has gone to church 2 weeks in a row now and says after praying for God to open his mind, he is understanding the Book of Mormon and is considering and accepting alternate points of view. 

We met Maciel a while back but have only been able to teach him on Saturdays or Sundays. This week out of nowhere he said he would go to church and went. He says he wants to go to church and get baptized. After watching the 20 minute restoration video he accepted the 26th as a goal for his baptismal date. We want to teach his family as well. 

I've decided to start everyday with a question. I make it the focus of my personal study and ponder it throughout the day. My goal is to be able to answer it, or at least have a path cleared and planned to how I can answer it with my week's efforts. I have found that this motivates me and helps me understand goal setting and "taking things one step at a time." One of my continuous questions is "What can I learn today that I can teach to someone else?" I saw that questioned answered as I thought back to what I taught during the day. I kind of answered that question in reverse. As I thought about what I taught, I understood what I had learned to make that certain teaching moment possible. This happening reminds me of a saying by one of the McConkie's that we can learn by listening to what we say when teaching others. It's thrilling to explore that concept.

There is a crazy lady who runs to hug us every time she sees us on the street. Yesterday we did everything politely possible to avoid it, but she squeezed us like stress balls and called it a hug. When she sees us she yells "Irmãos!" and runs to us with arms open wide. We also saw about 10 men playing soccer in the street with dresses on...End of the year festivities  here could be more aptly called end of the year oddities. I enjoy the daily surprises they bring.

Happy new year! I hope you guys keep up the family traditions! I laugh thinking about all those times mom had to get us excited about banging pots and pans. She was so insistent on banging pots and pans at midnight. Keep it up mom! Bang  those pots and pans for the  neighbors to  hear. 

Elder Young

Friday, December 27, 2013

New Pictures from Bryce

A Brazilian postal worker

Enjoying Christmas Day watching the Christmas devotional with his snacks he enjoys

Christmas Day!

Practicing for the performance at graduation -Bryce playing the Brazilian National Anthem and the other Elders are singing

Elder Young's snacks on Christmas

Monday, December 23, 2013

Elder Bryce Young's Christmas 2013 letter

Last week the power went out in Santa Maria so we couldn't send emails. Sorry, mom, I know you probably worried about that. We do have good plans for Christmas. Irmá Rita, who is kind of like the grandmother of all missionaries who come to Santa Maria was so excited to hear that we wanted to eat lunch with her on Wednesday and started talking about how she's going to prepare the turkey and everything. Then we'll skype from her son's house. I've gotten to know their family pretty well and I love the friendship we have. Sorry about the lack of pictures. There are just a lot of things to think about the whole week and I don't have the same kodak moment awareness that I used to have. 

Last week I wasn't able to tell you about the graduation we participated in. Nearby Santa Maria, a language school had their graduation at the stake chapel, in Gama. They have it there every year, but this year our zone decided to participate in hosting the event. The public events rep for the stake organized our participation. Our zone, 14 missionaries, acted as hosts to show people around. We handed out books of Mormon and other things as people walked in. Weeks before we learned and rehearsed the Brasilian National Anthem. Luckily I found the sheet music online and practiced as much as I could the week before the event. I played the accompaniment on the piano and the rest of the missionaries sang the song in front of about 400 people at this graduation. It was funny because almost our whole zone is American, and we knew the words to the anthem better than the Brazilians that were there. This event was a good way to associate those weird kids who walk around in nice clothes (us) with the church. It was a good missionary opportunity as well. I was glad we could do something new and creative that week.

The night of the graduation, after getting off the bus at our stop. We started walking a different way home without really realizing it. Maybe Elder Magana did and I just wasn't paying attention. It wasn't until after we got home that I realized it. On our way we noticed an old man with a bandage on his head leaning against his truck. He was thinking about what he could do to get the furniture on his truck into his house. His wife had gone to get the neighbor to help. We asked if we could help and he thankfully accepted. I could tell he wasn't in good health conditions and he was very grateful for the help. I was happy to see how all the little occurrences of the night, including our taking a bus route we usually don't take, led to us finding that old man in the window of 1-2 minutes that he could have been helped. 

This week I started reading Grandpa Royce's journals again. I love reading the stories found in them. They've helped me escape stressful days and moments for a time. I really enjoy seeing how the beliefs and ideals of Grandpa shaped Dad's childhood and future as a Dad.

Yes, I'm with the same companion and will be until at least January 6th. 

Skype -  can you tell me the skype usernames and passwords? I'm planning on skyping you guys Wednesday afternoon after we eat lunch. It will probably be around 4 o'clock our time, which is 12 o'clock your time. Maybe sooner maybe later. I can only skype for 40 minutes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time

I remember when I signed up for so many snow alerts in Fayetteville (to alert me if school was cancelled) that I woke up on snow days with 10 text messages all alerting me that school was cancelled. Oh what joy filled my heart with each one I read. I remember when we went sledding dressed in giant trash bags and playing backyard football in the snow. The most we can hope for on Christmas here is rain. This Christmas I've seen more Christmas trees and lights than I did last Christmas. That makes me happy. 

Yesterday we found Wilson, who recently moved to Santa Maria. He served a mission in Sao Paulo in 1985. He showed us pictures and the flip charts with pictures the missionaries used to use. He has been inactive for awhile but said he will go to the Christmas activity this Saturday and to church on Sunday. His mom is also a member.

Slowly we're getting to know many people who still live in Santa Maria who have stopped going to church for some reason. We've been able to have a member come with us to visit many of these people too. I hope that with these few visits they can feel welcome at church again. 

This past Saturday we made pancakes with a member family. They enjoyed maple syrup and thought it was weird. 

We've taught the first lesson to many people these last weeks but only a few are progressing. We're continually looking for new creative ways to find people.

I hope you all feel warm anticipation for this month as I do.

Elder Young

Monday, December 2, 2013

Loving The Language

The computers we are using today are slow so I am not able to type as much today. The week flew by and I did a poor job of categorizing my thoughts to send them to you all in a nice package. We found more than 10 new people to teach and invited them, but none of them went to church. We managed to involve the members a lot every day, which makes things more fun and better for everyone. 

How I wish you all could meet the people I've met here. And communicate with them the way we communicate. I love sentence structure here. It provides a verbal environment in which you can build so many great expressions that I never could conceive in english. It's like leaving earth an discovering there's another world with different elements, different nature systems, etc. -- something like that. I don't know. But really, language has an interesting connection with culture. I believe our langauges have a lot to do with how we see the world. Our vision of things is built upon what we can communicate.

Thanks for the news and friendly emails,
Elder Young

Friday, November 29, 2013

New picture from Elder Bryce Young

This is Idamar and his family and Ellen, a member

Happy Thanksgiving from Bryce

Thanks for the Christmas music! I've listened to the other Reprise CD so many times. It's great to hear another one.
Saturday and Sunday we went to stake conference. The last speaker, Elder Cruz, among many other things referred to examples of youth in the old testament to teaching how we are capable of staying away from the depraved things of this world. Daniel and Joseph of Egypt were the two that demonstrated obedience to commandments that are most attacked in our day--the law of chastity and the word of wisdom. I enjoyed seeing high relevance in between ancient scripture and modern living.

I saw a direct application of the counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 46:2 to "conduct all meetings as they are directed and guided by the Holy Spirit." during the conference. Elder Cruz asked the choir to perform a second time the opening hymn "This Is The Christ" between the first and second parts of his discourse. He encouraged us to pay special attention to the words. I was always curious about the full meaning of that verse in D&C, but I believe I understand it a little better now.
After much searching this week, we found a two less active members that invited us in. After getting acquainted with them and sharing a scripture, one of them said they will go back to church this week. That was the greatest part of my week. Idamar has been helping us do visits, too. He's so excited. He animates me.

Last night we participated in a family night with João Vitor and part of his family. We read the story of Moroni and his title of liberty, and then asked everyone to make their own title of liberty to post in some place in which they will always see it. They were so excited.  I am continually taught by the sincerity of children. I marvel at how attentive they are in the right moments. One of the most palpable lessons I have learned so far is that a strong stable home makes all the difference in the future of a child. I have seen teenagers teaching little kids to smoke while listening to poisonously affective and crude music while walking on the road. You can see the uncertainty on their faces. I have also seen two little cousins holding hands skating down the road to greet us and tell us about a family night activity they have planned with eager smiles on their faces. The difference between those who understand the importance of a firm family and strong home, and those who are lost in poory aimed curiosity is tremendous. It is sad to see, but very affective in teaching observers why we are living--what we're here for. I am glad that I have learned this lesson here. I hope to be able to communicate clearly this truth to future generations.
What I'm learning here feels like the continuation of a long observational learning process that started a long time ago. I don't have any short specific to-the-point experiences this week for you guys, but I do know that even though we don't see many of the results, missionary work is important and I know that God really cares about all of us individually. He uses imperfect beings to accomplish his perfect purposes. We are his tools and he sharpens us by sanding off our rough edge weaknesses. We get dull faster than any cheap knife, but he still chooses to help us and use us the best he can.
Have a hungry thanksgiving break.
Elder Young

Friday, November 22, 2013

Still Serving in Santa Maria

This week's crowning experience is recorded in my journal. This email functions as a journal as well, so I'm not going to write everything again; it can be saved for later reading. I will share a summary, though. 

João Victor was confirmed yesterday at church. Yesterday afternoon Elder Magana and I visited a street contact, Tiago. We taught him in the park and João comes out of no where on his bike and he happens to know Tiago (who is a lot older). He talked about the church and invited him to come this Sunday to Stake Conference. Almost as a side note (João is funny, he always forgets things) he mentioned that his grandma asked for a priesthood blessing. We went to her house and gave her a blessing. A big dresser had fallen on her leg 2 months ago, and due to her diabetes, the wound hadn''t healed and had caused quite a bit of damage. She said that she had gone to so many hospitals (the healthcare is pretty poor here) and had given up on waiting for doctors that couldn't help her. She isn't a member but said she recognized us as servants of the Lord and wanted a blessing. I was privileged to her João's side of the story too. It is usually very difficult to find him at home, but yesterday, instead of taking his normal path on his bike to his other grandma's house, he felt like he should take another one. That's when we found us at the park. We were able to help him realize that he felt the influence of the spirit guiding him the very day that he was confirmed and given the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He said he was planning on telling us the next day, but remembered when we saw us at the park. His grandma said she had prayed that morning that someone would help her that day and had faith that it would happen. Later that night we were able to share the experience again together with João at a family night in a member's home. 

We started teaching Elisson and his brother Gilhermi last week. They went to church this week and last. They already have a few friends in the church so I'm looking forward to seeing how they progress. Last night we did a family night and showed the Restoration film. Joáo Victor and his family went, along with Lucas and his friend, whom we will start to teach this week. Many great things are happening, but these are the most relevant this week. 

One more week and this transfer is already over. I hope I stay for another one. 

Have a great week!
Elder Young

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

News from Elder Bryce Young

This week Elder Adams came to Santa Maria Sul and I went to his area with his companion. While he and Elder Magana were walking they asked someone if they knew anyone they could visit. They said something like "you could visit that house with the green gate over there" so they went. They knocked on the door and found themselves in the middle of a big argument between a mother and her daughter, Mona Lisa, and Sara. They listened and tried to calm them down. The mom explained how much she has provided for her kids in the past. She was upset because her daughter doesn't respect her as she should. After some talking, Elder Adams and Magana were able to explain what they do and teach a little about the restoration. Elder Magana and I went back to visit them again on Wednesday. Mona Lisa mentioned that she had been praying that afternoon that God would help her because she didn't know what else to do to help her daughter. When they knocked on her door she welcomed them in right away. She read the restoration pamphlet and told us that after weeks of not sleeping straight, she was able to sleep the whole night. She said she usually takes medicine for back pain and forgot to take it that night as she read the pamphlet. She described her feelings in a way that we often describe the influence of the Spirit at church. We invited her to read more and to come to church. She couldn't come to church but she's progressing in her reading, as well as her daughter. Sara is reading the Book of Mormon and her mom mentioned that her behavior has changed every since she started. It's a privilege to be able to see the change they can make in their life if they want. We invited them to a family night we planned for today. I hope they can come and build friendships with the members. 

This week went by super fast because I spent two days in other areas. I enjoy learning from other missionaries and seeing their areas. Their examples caused me to reflect on how we can better involve the members in our visits. Our planners get filled up before the week even starts. It's crazy. 

I just got an email from Elder Santos telling me that Vanessa (from Porto Nacional) got baptized! The less actives we were working with are going to church now! I'm really happy about that. 

I'm enjoying Elder Young (the younger)'s emails. Thanks bro. And thanks for the constant updates on life at home. 

I love you guys,

Elder Young

p.s. Christy sent me this quote from the book she's reading that I puts into words an idea that could be of profit to many.

"I'm glad that I'm not required to believe in the infallibility of any human being. My faith in the gospel has never depended on the behavior of people. I know my own weaknesses too well, and observe similar tendencies in others too often to believe that anyone is perfect. But since I believe in a God who is a wise and concerned Father, I'm willing to trust him to guide his sons to whom he has given the responsibilities of leadership as he sees fit. Sometimes they may do things I can't understand, but that doesn't change my relationship to God nor my faith in Him, nor my obligation to behave as I know I should. Free agency is a wonderful gift and a very great responsibility." 
Vanessa's Baptism

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Joao Vitor's baptism

Joao Vitor's baptism -He is a great kid!

After Joao's baptism he said, "Estou tao limpo!"  - "I'm so clean!"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elder Bryce Young in Santa Maria


Haha, the pizzas are real pizzas, mom. Tortillas is a Mexican thing. It's hard to find tortillas here. They were for a big family night, yes. At family nights here the members have a tradition to invite basically the whole ward. Iza makes a delicious banana/cinnamon pizza. Oh, how it is delicious. 

On Halloween we knocked on more than 30 doors but no one gave us candy. And I spent so much time ironing my costume. We did see a black cat and see a few orange houses, though. That's the closest we got to Halloween. 

We went back to visit the little boy with the bouncy ball and his family. It was one of the saddest moments I've experienced teaching a family. After hearing about how the gospel can bless their family, the dad told us that he respects our beliefs but doesn't agree with a lot of things. He started listing things, but as he listed them and explained he realized that we believed what he believed on about every point. But he didn't accept to read the Book of Mormon because he didn't agree with the concept of vicarious ordinances as he understands it. It was sad for me because I saw the Mom listen to the message of the Restoration in interest. I saw the little 4 yr old boy, Rian, run to his room to get his little Bible and accompany us as we read. As I bore my testimony about how much the gospel can bless their family, I felt an overwhelming feeling of love for them and I told them that I loved them. I saw them in my mind as the family they could become. He said he plans on having two more kids and I imagined them all growing up together with these two wonderful parents, knowing how they can build a safe home as a refuge from a cruel world. Seeing all this in my mind and hearing him reject what he didn't understand was very hard, especially after witnessing this happen countless times on my mission, and knowing that we were at THAT house for a reason. I've never felt so strongly to knock on a random door as I did that day. I left dwelling the gift of agency we've all been freely given and its purpose. I hope that someday he and his family can be invited again to accept the gospel. 

João Vitor got baptized yesterday. I really like João. He's a special kid. As he left the bathroom after changing clothes he said "Estou tão limpo!" - "I'm so clean!"
I'm excited to continue visiting and teaching him this week. 

This week we gave a blessing to a member, Fransisca. She was feeling a lot of pain and couldn't sleep. She felt a lot better immediately after the blessing. She went to church this Sunday for the first time in many months to bear her testimony. She said she couldn't let a month go by without sharing her experience with others. She said she felt something tell her twice that she should call the Elders while she was lying in pain. She bore her testimony about the priesthood. I believe her experience was a blessing for her and for others because many testimonies of this subject were subsequently given.

Have a great week!

Elder Young

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

To celebrate, I made banana pancakes and ate them with maple syrup. It was a fantastic surprise to my eager mouth. I felt like how I felt is parallel with the feeling of the song "Wonder" by Mack Wilberg. 

I feel like I don't deserve to be in this wonderful place. Every day feels creative and I don't feel the humdrum I have sometimes felt in the past. We found many new people to teach and we found them in a natural way--we didn't feel like we were running behind a search. 

On Wednesday we were walking down a street and decided to knock on (clap our hands in front of the gate) someone's door. They didn't come out so we kept on going. A kid called us back and said that someone came out to answer us. He said that they came from the neighbor's house, so we decided to go ahead and knock on the neighbor's door too. A lady came out and said she was busy but would accept a visit later in the week. When we came back we started talking and asked if anyone else at home would like to hear from us. She said that her daughter would love to. Her daughter had many great questions that led the lesson to the points we wanted to get across. She is reading the Book of Mormon to find answers to her questions.

Another day we were walking by a house and a little kid playing with a light up bouncy ball said something like "goohoshgoshh" that I didn't understand and then said Tchau after he showed us his toys. We were in a hurry so we kept going but we came back two days latter. We talked to his mom and she invited us in. We made the center point about the eternal nature of families and taught her the restoration, inviting her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. I was surprised at the receptiveness we encountered this week. I believe that our initial mention of families was key in receiving such receptiveness. 

The members are referring us to many of their friends and family members. One of the people we started to teach, João Victor (10yrs), is planning to get baptized this Sunday. I'm excited to re-visit the others to see their progress. 

To answer a few questions that were made in emails to me. 
My companion is 19 and he served in Alabama for a little while and just got to Brazil. I got a call just now that Elder B. Gomez picked up a box for me that has my suit in it. Thanks for the other family news! I'm jealous about Brandyn getting to see Gladys Knight. Send me some pictures of Halloween happenings! I attached a delicious meal that irmã Iza made for us. 

Picture of the nice meal Irma made for us!
Me and Irma making Pizzas for family Night
A breakfast Bryce made for himself!  He has become quite a cook!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Elder Young in Santa Maria

I'm doing great. I'm blown away by how willing the members here are to help. I've never been through an area like Santa Maria. It's already my favorite area. (And it's a lot cooler )My companion is Elder Magana. He is from Chicago and from a Mexican family. He knows Spanish and that helps him a lot with Portuguese. He served 6 weeks in Alabama and got to brazil this week. I arrived with him in Santa Maria, so we didn't know anything at the beginning of the week about the area. It's funny that with the exception of Porto Nacional, I arrived in all my areas together with my companions not knowing anything about the area, investigators, or where members lived. It's a healthy trial and Im very excited to work closely with the members here. We spent this week getting to know them and gaining their trust.

On Saturday, Berivelton got married to his now wife, Rosimeire, and he got baptized yesterday. A few months ago a family got baptized. We visited them the first day we got here. I love them. Idamar, Aldeilde, Ruan, Renan, and João. They are so very eager to learn. I'll take a picture soon to show you all. 

Yesterday we were walking down the street with Pedro, our ward mission leader. We were on our way to meet the secretary, Delson. On the way, a lady that looked like she was from the proud family waved at us saying hello. We went over to meet her. She and her family are members from Recanto. They were visiting their family that lives in our area. We met their family and marked a day to come back and teach them. 

Delson showed us a cool board game he found while on vacation. It's called "O Jogo do Livro de Mormon" The Game of the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Mormon Game. It's ideal for family night. Maybe you guys can find it online somewhere. 

As I left the mission office last week I offered mike and ikes to the guy that sits at the door. He loved them and I told him I would send him some. Could you send him some for me? Put the same address as always like you're sending something to me, but put this in the place of my name: Antonio Pereira da Silva - Térrio

There are a lot of things that happened that I wish I had time to write about. Santa Maria is a lot different from the other places I've been and I like it a lot. Everyone helps so much!

Until next week,
Elder Young

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Elder Young has been transferred to Santa Maria (By Brasilia)

I found out Saturday that I'm being transferred to Brasilia. I leave today at 4 to go to Palmas. I will leave Palmas at 7 and arrive in Brasilia about 7am and then go straight to my new area. It's very difficult to leave this place. I love the people I met and it's so hard to say goodbye. It's interesting that even though this area brought with it a great number of personal challenges, it is one of the hardest to leave. I realized today that the next area I go to could be my penultimate. It's unthinkable. 

Thankfully, I was able to download all the sessions of General Conference. I re-listened to them all on my phone while ironing my shirts, brushing my teeth, making breakfast, and taking a shower. I realized as a result, how much time each of these tasks require as a whole, and how each second adds to make a day, something a spider spinning web probably understands well. Does there exist a better time to have this great mini epiphany than listening to talks that describe this very concept? Every time I re-listen to conference I gain more appreciation for the specificity and pointedness of each orator. They aren't redundant and they don't waste words. Their preparation is prayerfully intent, making all their main points palpable for listeners of every age. I probably sound like a fanatic, but I just love conference. 

I don't have much news this week. We continue to find new people every day and teach them, but they aren't progressing. Vanessa still hasn't decided to get baptized, but I know she will in the future. 

I just found out that I'm going to Santa Maria. I don't know who my companion is yet, though. There are two areas there, South and North. My companion Elder Santos has already served in the north and Elder Reese has already served in the south. So either way, one of them will be happy and be able to give me tips. 

I love hearing from you and seeing pictures. Thanks for your prayers.

Answer to a question dad asked:

I watched the first in Portuguese because I didn't know the americans were watching it in English in another room. Someone told me and I went to watch the rest with them. I know the language well enough to communicate everything I need to in missionary life. I hope to expand my vocabulary to discuss various subjects. They smile when I say some words because the accent is more discernible, but many ask if I'm Brazilian. 

Elder Young
This is the Braga family.  I love this family!  They made me feel so at home.
Ludimila, Jura, Amon, Presidente Braga, Elissa, Rebeca,Bryce, and Yuri

Monday, October 7, 2013

Only six more months until General Conference!

Saturday and Sunday were extremely quick. I want to watch more conference. I really enjoyed the arrangement of O Divine Redeemer the choir sang Sunday morning. 

Before Dad tells me his favorite talk, I want to guess that he really liked S Gifford Nielson's talk about the shoes and about making a game plan. Elder Nielson has such a great announcer voice..."exclamation point!" I'm glad I got to watch that part in English. I'm also glad I can use his talk to help the members share the gospel.

Vanessa was able to watch the Saturday sessions of conference. Without any question from us, she told us that she really enjoyed it, and felt that many talks were just for her. As I'm sure all missionaries did with their investigators, when President Uchtdorf said "Come, and join us"(or something similar -- I didn't hear it in English) I looked over at her from the corner of my eye to see her expression. I enjoyed seeing her doubts resolved by the talks in conference. 

I was reading Drake's email that you guys forwarded to me and read that he and his companion set up a table of pamphlets and Books of Mormon and such. We tried the same thing here. In the 4 hours that we sat on the plaza in Porto in two days, we talked to one person who was interested. One interested person is better than 50 uninterested people, right? It was worth it. We're going to visit her and her family this week. 

Last week our 7pm appointment with Eloisa was moved to 530 because she had something to do at her church. Right after we changed the time, a member called us invited us to a family night at 7pm with a non-member family. In total, there were 10 people there. We ended up teaching the Restoration as the message to the whole family plus 5 members that came with us. It all came out of no where and was organized last minute, but it brought great results. We planned to visit the family again next week. This member's decision to share the gospel with her friend at work influenced at least 9 people. It is soooo much better to teach with members than it is to knock on doors.

This week may be my last in Porto--we'll see next Monday. Have a joyous week!

Elder Young

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pictures of one of Bryce's favorite families

Eloisa, Edipho, Ana Maria, Elder Santos, and Elder Young

Elder Santos

Happy Birthday Brooks and Braxton!

I am jealous that Brooks and Braxton saw Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I remember watching that movie while at the dentist (watching the tv that's in the ceiling). What a happy experience (perhaps due to the nitrous oxide within me at the time). It's incredible that the twins are already 9 years old. I won't even be able to pick them up and toss them onto my bed anymore.
Every week seems to be more strenuous. We're finding a lot of people, even by inefficient means, like knocking on people doors, but almost none of them are progressing. Our three principal investigators, Luziene, Eloisa, and Vanessa are progressing in their own ways. Luziene is beyond prepared, but her husband still doesn't want to get married.

Eloisa is such a wonderful person. She's like that kind grandmother you see in the movies, but she's 34. She loves to talk and takes such a great interest in our lives. She is attentive and understands what we're conveying to her. It's great to see her daughter, Ana Maria, reading the Book of Mormon with us as well. Yesterday we all sat down and read Alma 32 together. We then discussed how what we read could be applied in Eloisa's life. We gave them the 1hr movie of the restoration (she loves movies) and invited her again to continue reading the Book of Mormon and pray about it. They think American lifestyle is just great and they're all excited about making American pancakes with us this Thursday. They always ask me if I've tried this or that (different kinds of food) and laugh when I tell them that I have and loved it. I'll attach a picture of them. If I leave next transfer, they'll be the hardest bunch of people to leave.
Vanessa has known the missionaries for a long time, but is really progressing now. She has become great friends with one of the girls in the branch. It's so great to see them becoming friends. In our recent lessons, we've focused a lot about choosing real friends that will be a good influence for you. She mentioned that Nahiman (this girl in the branch) is probably the only "real" friend she has. Vanessa said that she wants to wait until after conference to get baptized. We're praying that she'll feel that her prayers and questions are answered during conference. I really hope I can be here when she's baptized.
I feel like each passing day is a perfect example of "opposition in all things" and in all ways possible. Apparent progression often meets a sudden end but frustrations are often met by unexpected joys. I feel like I'm living in a box of Neapolitan ice cream. When I go for chocolate, I get strawberry. When I finally decide that strawberry will do, I find that a little chocolate is left. Haha.
Attached are two pictures. One of my companion, Elder Santos, and the other, Eloisa and part of her family.
Enjoy conference!

I forgot to include an experience we had this week. On Thursday all our appointments fell and we set out to find new people. I remembered, as we passed by the city hall, that one of our ideas for finding new people was to go to the city hall to see if there was any volunteer service we could provide. We asked around and were informed that to find what we were looking for, we needed to walk another 20 minutes to another building. We decided to go. As we were on our way, someone was leaving their house and saw us and called to us, "Elders! Elders!" I didn't recognize her so we went to talk to her. We discovered that she is a less active member who hasn't been visited in awhile. We marked to come back. Afterward, we continued walking until the building. They were having a meeting and asked us to come back another time. On Saturday we went back to her house and got to know her. She basically told us her life story. In response to one of our comments or questions, she shared a story about one of her trips to the temple. She started to cry remembering how her experience had built her testimony of family history work in the temple. Our conversation was very enlightening for all of us. She told us about her friend that we are now going to visit as well. Being out and about doing what you should be brings results, even though they seem insignificant.

Elder Young

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

An Empty Bag Is A Good Day

My week organized itself into a few themes.

1. The attributes we act to require are found following the powerful principles of God's gospel. 

In God's "GPS gospel," he gives us the coordinates, and we have to follow them to find the geocache, which is replete with attributes we all desire to acquire. I really miss geocaching, by the way--what a fantastic way to spend one's time. 

My brothers will appreciate the references to a few "good ole days" memories to try to explain what I've learned about this topic.

In Tony Hawk Pro Skater, as you progress through the game, you learn tricks, tips, moves and principles. One of your objectives is to find "hidden skate tapes." These tapes are usually hidden in hard to reach places and almost always require the use of some cool maneuver. If you use the tricks, tips, and principles that you have learned, your intuition will guide you to those tapes. 

In Midnight Club, a street racing game for PS2, you are assigned certain races depending on your distance in the game's story. Many of these races are optional, but there are always races you must race to progress, and those are normally the hardest ones. As you do the assigned races, using tips you have learned, you gain credit to tune your car's attributes. 

Tapes, car tuning, and geocaches. These three memories and this week's events somehow helped me understand the way in which God leads us to develop Christ like attributes. If we simply follow the guidelines given, which are the principles of the gospel, we will eventually, no matter how far off we were at the beginning, find ourselves in the service of others, doing what Christ did and would do. 

One more direct example is can be drawn from Family History Work. We are counseled to search out our family's history and go to the temple to perform ordinances and covenants for those who have passed away. Sometimes I have wondered why, if during the millennium things will be so much more efficient and error-free, so much emphasis is put on family history. Just as daily scripture reading and daily prayers lead us to develop Christ like attributes, so does researching our family history and going to the temple. In the same way that duties at home are divided between family members to help them learn, God's work (which he could very well do himself in an instant) is administrated among us, so that we can learn and acquire attributes that He has. 

2. Going back to what we know

Music is a language, so during our language study time, I've been teaching Elder Santos, my companion, to play piano. It's been great to learn how to teach better and to observe how people approach the piano. It's been so long since I was introduced to the piano, that I had forgotten some basic things and how to teach them. (one of them is how to teach fingering and build hand strength). I also observed many beginners want to learn fast, and want to practice fast, and want to play an entire song fast. After learning the first line of a certain song, E. Santos started with the second line, but every time that he made a little mistake, he started at the beginning again to be able to hear what he already learned linked with what he was trying to learn next. Instead of starting on the second line and going straight to the problem, he started at the beginning every time. He was very anxious, as all beginners are in any learning effort, to go back to what he knew. 

I learned that there are, in my mind, different kinds of "Going back to what we know." There's a good side and a bad side. Elder Holland talked about the good side in his talk entitled "Lord, I Believe" (http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/lord-i-believe?lang=eng)

He said "In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know."

During the times of trouble, when we feel like we are lost or confused, it is comforting and appropriate to go back to what we know. Many times we need reassurance to be able to continue on. Neal A Maxwell explained that we should take advantage of these secure moments in which we on flat ground that we know well.

"The flat periods of life give us a chance to reflect on what is past and to be readied for stirring climbs ahead. Instead of grumbling and murmuring we should be consolidating and reflecting."

We cannot always live on the confusing side of things. If we do, we run the risk of being led into broad roads (1 Nephi 12:17).

On the other hand, some unknown roads can be healthy for our progress, if we endure them well. The Savior took an unknown road as he took all of our sins upon himself as part of his infinite atonement. His perseverance made our eternal progress possible. Lehi and his family took an unknown road as they traveled in the wilderness being led to a land they did not know. The were led to the promised land The Jaredites took an unknown path, putting their barges in the water, trusting they would be led to safety, and were. Every day we take unknown roads as we leaps in faith, acting in Christ like conduct in the risk of derision. Our trials are traveled on unknown roads that have no shortcuts. If we don't take those roads, we can't progress.

3. Memories, like talents, are to be shared

I have tried to apply the parables of the talents to memories, and it's been helpful on many occasions. The parable teaches us to invest in our talents and to use them. If we invest our memories in the lives of others by sharing them, memories can be multiplied as well. 

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matt. 6:21)

In my mind, I have switched two words to give this verse another meaning.

For where your heart is, there will your memories be also.

If we put our heart in something, we will reap memories. 

It's a little bit jumbly to try to talk about how the people we visited this week taught me these lessons, but an overview of what's going on is here:

Luziene got married at her church, but not legally, so we have to wait for her to get married or separated. Her husband doesn't want to get married. She is going to church every Sunday though. We still haven't gotten in contact with Romilda, but one of our investigators, Vanessa, is progressing a lot and will probably get baptized soon. Her teacher at school gives her are hard time about receiving the missionary lessons and going to church, but it doesn't bother her much. We had a cool experience finding new people to teach. We were looking for an old investigator named Lucicleide. A super rare name. We started asked around for her. Someone told us that she new a Lacicleide that moved her a little while ago. We found her house and it turns out that it's not the person we were looking for, but she has basically the same name. She had never talked to missionaries before. It was crazy. She enjoyed the 1st lesson. 

Elder Young

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In Palmas for a zone conference

I'm sorry to say that today I won't have much time again. We're in Palmas for another zone meeting and we are all using the same lan house, so we have to be quick. 

To answer a few of mom's Q's:

This week went well. Luziene (Loo-zee-ay-nee) has a goal set to get baptized this Sunday. Yesterday in church we asked her when we could teach her again this week. She said "I want to be prepared. 5:30 everyday until Sunday." She is very determined. We're excited to have a firm appointment set every day and to see her progress. We haven't gotten to talk to Romilda again. She hasn't answered her phone. We passed by her house and happened to see her relatives there. They said she's having a hard time but would benefit from a visit. We are going back this week. Hopefully we find her at home. Antonio has been reading but he doesn't want to commit to anything. He said some day he'll visit the church. Yes, I got the ping pong game. I don't really have time to use it though. People enjoy playing it at zone activities. Yes, I got the pants. Can you send me some new shirts from mission mall?

It's so great to hear from Brandyn. I didn't even need to see the email address to know who it was from. No one uses exclamation points as frequently as Brandyn. Thanks for your shared excitement! Haha.

I apoligize for my brevity! Next week I'll include more.

Elder Young

Monday, September 9, 2013

Staying in Porto Nacional!

Hey family,

I'm staying in Porto Nacional! My exclamation is positive, because I want to stay here. Elder Santos is my new companion. And no, he hasn't already been my companion. And yes, it's just us here. Many people have this last name in Brazil. He's excellent. He's always in a good mood and we get a long very well. This week was very successful. We found a ton of new people to teach. We don't have control over whether they will progress or not, but at least we're finding people that are curious enough to hear the message of the Restoration. 

Our priority right now is Luziene, a member's friend, who is loving the Book of Mormon and has gone to church 2 times. She participates in the classes at church and has already gone to a family night in the ward. We will hopefully teach her the restoration tomorrow. 

Romilda is traveling this week so we haven't been able to teach her again.

This week we had many days in which we didn't know where we were going but found many great people. I have gained a much better sense over the last few months of how to know what to do when you don't know what to do. Following this new understanding of inspired thoughts, we found a man, Antonio. We taught him the restoration and he agreed to be baptized this month when he receives an answer that the church is true. We went back yesterday to see how the reading of the Book of Mormon went/was going. He told us that he wants some time to read it. We explained again the importance of pondering and praying about what he reads. He didn't seem as excited as he was the first time, but at least we have invited him and explained what he needs to do to get an answer. I remembered just now that he mentioned to us that he had a dream the night before we came of some discussion about religion on his front porch. He said he knew it would happen but didn't know it would be us. Pretty cool.

As we have found success in finding many people, I have become almost too conscious of how often we are going to find people who don't want to go after our invite to learn more. Logically, it makes sense that as we find more people, we're going to run into this sort of thing more often. But also, it means that are chances of finding more gems (which are people prepared to hear us) increases. It's a nice little gospel math lesson. When more is given, more is required. When more opportunity for teaching is given, more effort and sacrifice is required. There is no easy way out. I'm grateful for having learned this lesson.

I'm glad my companion is funny. His first day here, we found a garage remote control on the ground in front of a house. No one was home so we determined to come back another day. As we walk around the city, he clicks the little remote control to see if it will open any of the garage doors around us. We joke that whatever door opens is clearly a door that we should enter.

Yesterday I was asked to give a talk in sacrament meeting. My subject was huge--Jesus Christ. In part of my talk I talked about attributes of Christ that we can all acquire by observing examples of people around us. The Light of Christ shows us all what is good and what is bad. It is this influence that teaches us through our experiences. As I studied to prepare the talk, I thought about my brothers and parents and how each of them emanate an attribute of Christ. It enjoyed being able to use examples from my family to describe the attributes of Christ, such as humility, knowledge, diligence, charity and love. I'm glad that you have all shared parts of your lives with me so that I could share parts of your lives with others to teach about Jesus Christ.

I'm looking forward to hearing from Brandyn soon! 
Have a good week!

Elder Young

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Elder E. Santos is Elder Young's new companion

So I'm in Aureny right now, close to Palmas. I'm stayed here last night and I will stay here until tomorrow. I found out this morning that my new companion will be Elder E. Santos. I'll meet him tomorrow and then go back to Porto Nacional.

We haven't been able to visit Romilda again. We're going to visit her the first chance we get this week. Her niece, who lives in Palmas told me that the last time she talked to her (Romilda) she seemed a lot better than she was the week before. 

I'm super excited for Brandyn. He's lucky that his last meal will be In and Out. 

I've gotta go,
Elder Young

Monday, August 26, 2013

Elder Nascimento's penultimate week serving with Elder Young

This was probably Elder Nascimento's penultimate week here, and we spent it as such. We increased our focus on encouraging the members to bring friends to church and activities. As what seems like a result of this effort, two members brought their friends to church, and two follow-up visits were marked yesterday. I hope that member missionary work can continue to gain momentum in the next few weeks.

This timely spark of member missionary work will contribute to the progress of a new person, Romilda, who we met this week. Romilda is a referral of a teenage member, Beatriz, in Palmas, the stake's center. We were in Palmas for an interview and she excitedly greeted us, telling us that her aunt, Romilda, lives in Porto Nacional and that she would like us to visit her. She told us that Romilda's husband (a less-active member of the church) passed away recently and that Romilda had dreams of him telling her to go to church. She is prayerfully hoping that her aunt will accept the invitation to go to church and learn about the plan of salvation. Yesterday we found Romilda at home and got to know her. We ended up teaching her the plan of salvation. Her questions led us to teach the whole plan. She thanked us for the visit and we planned to visit her again on Thursday. I hope that she considers the eternal significance of her choices in this life as we teach her the principles of faith, repentance, and baptism. I am eager to involve the members in the lessons with Romilda to strengthen their comprehension of the plan of salvation as well as their commitment to share their testimonies.

Have a great week!
- Elder Young

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Elder Young's District

Lehi's Dream in Vanessa's back yard


Sorry I forgot to send my last email. At least this week you get two. I wish I could have been there to hear you all sing/to sing with you. I'm sure it was great. I hope everyone had a good day back at school, even though you probably didn't sleep very much. We've all secretly wanted to go back to school before after a few weeks of summer. 

Last week I wanted to have time to talk about a lesson we had with an investigator named Vanessa. We've been teaching her for quite some time. She's 18 and has had the lessons taught to her by many different missionaries. She has prayed about the Book of Mormon and has told us that she knows it is true. She continues to go to church but still has something holding her back from becoming a member. She says she doesn't know why but feels like something is holding her back. Last week we had a great lesson with her about the plan of salvation. We were reading Lehi's dream in 1st Nephi. She asked about the significance of all the elements in his dream, like the iron rod and the building on the side. We read Nephi's interpretation and took advantage of her backyard to illustrate the principles of the dream and to cliken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our dprofit and learning. (1 Nephi 19:23)

She had a few trees in her backyard and a plastic hose just chillin on the ground. We presented the tree as the tree of life and the hose as the iron rod. It was a bit silly, but she really got thinking as we used this example. It was thrilling as she asked questions, just like Nephi does in chapter 11, that lead in perfectly to the next explanation given. She asked about the people that ate the fruit and then fell away because they were ashamed. We likened her house to the big and spacious building, with material treasures and things of the world. She understood the analogy well. We asked, after explaining everything, where she would be in this analogy. She replied that she feels like she's on the edge, looking toward the building that represents the world. It seemed like she answered her own questions while thinking about this analogy. It was a pivotal lesson, and it has made her think more and more about what decision she wants to make with the knowledge she now has at hand. She went to church again this Sunday and liked it. The hard part is getting her "fellow shipped" with the members.

This experience made me think a lot about how Jesus taught. The book Jesus the Christ taught me that in more than one occasion, He used his immediate physical surroundings as the theme our background for his parables. In the parable of the sower, the path and field that He mentions could be found behind where He was teaching. The subject of His parables almost always pertained to the work His listeners found themselves in each day. When you teach in this form, the student cannot help but reflect on what you teach as they go about their day, because the setting for your teachings is where they live! Now I know that every time Vanessa looks at her backyard, or at that tree, she will remember 1 Nephi 8, and she will remember what she learned when we talked about that tree. 

I don't know if she'll decide to get baptized soon or not, but I'm glad to be a part of her learning process. She has already used phrases such as "When I get baptized" or, "After I get baptized." I hope it's soon!

This week we found a bunch of new people, but very few of them are progressing. The members are starting to give a few more references than normal, so I hope we can do divisions with them and get them more involved in the work. It's crucial that they are involved and that they invite instead of us. Adriana, Akira, and Fabricio are hard to contact because someone in their family died. We can't visit them for awhile because where they live is very dangerous. 

Sorry for the recent lack of pictures. It's just that not a lot is new. Tell me what you want pictures of.

Have a singular week,
Elder Young

Quick letter from last week -
Today I have to be really quick; sorry I can't respond to all your emails. We had a zone activity today and have very little time to send emails. This week went very well. We found a lot of new people to teach. It's refreshing to change our routine a little bit. We're staying in Palmas for the night and we get to do divisions with Elder Stacey and Elder Silvera.

I love you all!

 - Elder Young

(I wrote this all last week and I had to leave quickly, so I forgot to send the email) 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Witnessing the Lords Work

Lately I have been describing my weeks to myself in terms of general experiences that have the length of a week. This helps me to remember what happened during the week and also what would be of most avail to those who read my newsletter.  People like stories, and nothing will replace the human desire to hear things in the form of stories, which is a hard fact to take in because I've never been too great at story telling. Thankfully, the events of this week seemed to knit themselves together into a story.

Our daily efforts this week were focused on finding less active members and finding new people to teach. We have a really old list of members. We consider the people on the list that we haven't met yet as less active, inactive, or relocated. So we began searching for the addresses we had close to our house. A great majority of the people on the list had already moved. As we were searching for Paulo, we passed a group of 4 people relaxing and soaking in the shade, a common Tocantins occurrence. We couldn't find his address so we made our way back. I didn't want to go down the road and back for no reason, and felt like we should ask those people if they knew Paulo. We introduced ourselves and got into good conversation without even asking about Paulo. They didn't know him, but we talked and planned to come back the next day. We came back and it turns out that none of them actually lived in that house, so we thought nothing of it and went to the next thing. One day we ate lunch with Maria Joana, a member that has been here for quite some time. Lunch went by quickly, so we determined to stay a little longer to get to know her and ask questions about the area and old members. We got talking and asked if she knew anyone we could visit. She mentioned many people, including her daughter, who hadn't gone to church in some time. She explained to us where she lived but it was very confusing. Elder Nascimento wrote down her name and directions as best as we could. After lunch we passed the house we previously passed looking for Paulo. We decided to stop again to see if one of them was there. A less active member, Cleane, answered the door (gate). She said that she didn't know the people we were looking for. She told us her name and Elder Nascimento looked at his planner, looked up to her, and then to me, then back at his planner, then back to her, asking her for her name. She said she was Maria Joana's daughter. We were really surprised that she lived there--we never expected to find her house. She invited us in. We got to know her and talked to her about a lot of things. She said that she has felt empty since she stopped going to church. She told us how she met the missionaries and about becoming a member. We read the scriptures with her and shared our testimonies with her. I talked about how the gospel has blessed my family and how it is crucial in the lives of her children. She thanked us for the visit and said she would go to church on Sunday.

Yesterday she came to church. When she sat down, I told Elder Nascimento that she came and pointed to her. We gave each other hidden high fives (it was much like Shawn and Gus when they get excited about something). She gave her testimony in testimony meeting and expressed how happy she was. Her daughter came along with her. Looking at them sitting together made me so happy. The testimony meeting was fantastic. After she gave her testimony she sat down with a smile on for the rest of the meeting.

I wish I could express how I felt seeing the week's events culminate into yesterday, many of which were extremely coincidental (we weren't even supposed to each lunch at Maria Joana's house that day. There was a mix-up in the lunch calendar) Yesterday's happenings made all the sun, long walks, vain visits, and challenges of this week worth it. 

Ether 12:6

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that afaith is things which arebhoped for and cnot seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no dwitness until after the etrial of your faith.

The witness came duly after the trial of our faith. Not faith just in our own efforts, but faith in the guidance of the spirit, which led us, on two specific occasions to be able to help Cleane in some small way. I remember often the words of David A. Bednar in a MTC address. When asked how to recognize the spirit.

"Quit stewing about it. 
Quit Fussing. 
Quit worrying. 
Just be good boys and girls. 
Just be worthy. 
Sometime you will look back and see that you were in the right place at the right time. And you will recognize that you were prompted and directed."

As we do what we know we should do, as we are in the right place at the right time, our steps will be guided. 

Moroni 7:16
 16 For behold, the aSpirit of Christ is given to every bman, that he may cknow good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

Every thing which inviteth to do good is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ. I've learned that I don't need to double think thoughts that invite me to do good. We don't need to be over preoccupied with whether or not what we're thinking is the influence of the spirit or not, just "be a good boy" and guidance will come.

Before I forget. Another less active came back to church yesterday because a friend of a friend shared something about the church on facebook. Continue to 

stand ascwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death (Mosiah 18)


and be ready always to give ban answer to every man that asketh you a reason of thechope that is in you with dmeekness and efear (1 Peter 3)

I've learned to:
Never think that your efforts are in vain, no matter how small they may be. And be ready to share what you believe and why you believe it.

Have a wonderful remainder of summer before the humdrum season of school.

Elder Young

(I've noted that the sun here is good for only 2 things so far: 1. Drying clothes quickly, 2. Drying bananas for a nice treat)