Monday, February 24, 2014

Still Pre-Carnaval

Oi! Tudo Bom! Thank you for all the emails this week! I love reading them all!! I like to hear about even the little things that you all probably think aren´t important. Sorry if I don´t respond to each individual one, but know that I LOVE to read and learn about how everything is going.

I´m doing well. Yesterday was transfers, but nothing happened to me or anyone in our district. Im still in Goiana, and I´m still Loving it. I would like to stay here for at least one or two more transfers, and I probably will. Our focus right now is to find more people who the lord has prepared to be taught. This Sunday, Kelly is scheduled( I´ve already learned not to count my eggs before theýve hatched, its never certain) to be baptized. She loved Church yesterday and is ready. Shes also given us about 3 or 4 good references of other people that may be interested, which is a lot for an investigator. So we are basically focusing on teaching her and Azimom for this week.

Sorry I forgot my camera.... I had like 12 awesome pictures this week of some food here, the countryside, and even some more news about Jake... but I guess youll have to wait until next week. Everyone seems to love Jake and Tina hahaha. But I´ve only seen Jake about 3 times in the past 6 weeks, he only comes out at about 9pm, and I see tina everyday.

So I labeled the last email ``Pre Carnaval`` but forgot to write about it, oops haha. but basically, Carnaval will start officially on the 28th, and end on the 6th of March. We´ve been instructed to return home at 5pm during this time period. I think people start partying at 6pm, but I like to use the metaphor of halloween. Your not supposed to start trick or treating until like 6 o clock, but there´s always a few kids who start a 5pm. Well here in Brazil, theres also those few people who are already drunk at 5pm.... or 11am, but whats the difference?

The reason I call it pre carnaval is because everyone already has their decorations up, and some cool little games already started. I´ll try my best to explain, for example:
3 teenagers will be walking down a street, 2 of them play a steady beat on snare drums, and the other one will be dressed up in a funny costume, ( one time it was a bear, kinda like a mascot for a football game) he just follows them. When little kids hear the drums they all run outside and stand about 15 feet away from the drummers. When a good crowd of kids is outside the drummers play faster, and faster, and faster, until its just a drum roll. Then they suddenly stop in unison and the 3rd person chases after all the kids and tries to catch them!

Even though Carnaval doesn´t start until this friday, Everyone was partying last night. There´s a highway near our house that was just covered with people in crowds dancing to music and drinking. Just imagine Julian Rd. in Salisbury covered with people on either side partying, from the church to the intersection at Jake Alexander. We returned home an hour early last night since we didnt feel to safe, or that a lot of work could get done. But I did tuck a `` Palavra De Sabedoria `` (Word Of wisedom)  pamphlet under a a guy that was passed out on the street hahahaha. maybe it will help him.

Some quick experiences/ awkward moments during my mission so far:
I´ve had some interaction with a drunk person at least once a week during my stay in Brazil so far. Even on my first night in Brazil, before I even knew who my trainer would be, a drunk man was angry and followed us yelling at us for about 5 min. He later told us he loved us and tried to give us hugs haha. Another time,  A drunk guy shook my hand, then tried to kiss it, but I was too smooth and pulled my hand out in time so he only kissed his own hand. He looked at me in shock, like I just performed an amazing magictrick.

-Once, There was an old man sitting near us on a bus playing the song ``Girls just want to have fun`` on his phone super loud and dancing in his seat.
-My first week in brazil I lost my name tag on a bus. I had to use the magnetic kind for 3 weeks, which is annoying on a short sleeve shirt. I have hope that one day it will come back to me, especially since it has my name on it, and the churches name on it. one day....
-there have been Countless awkward moments when people talk to me and I can´t understand them, but my companion is busy with someone else so he can´t help. I just act like I understand and nod my head. I hope it was never anything too important haha
- Every week, at least one kid will say ``Fale Ingles!!!`` (Speak english!!). Now I just respond by saying ``Ingles``( English.) 
-Another time we were walking home with a member from the house of an investigator. He kept looking at me, pointing at the ground and saying ``Diht``. Eventually I realized what he was saying and said `` oh! DiRt`` He replied `` yeah, my house is dirt``  He´s hilarious. I still laugh about that today.
-Temos um rato que mora em a parede perto de minha cama. ele é legal.

I´ll share some more stuff about my experiences in brasil next week too.

So another thing I learned from Elder Bednar is that every scripture, every word in the book of mormon has significance. When Mormon was compiling all the plates and records of his people, he didnt just think `` oh!, I guess this would be cool to include too, or maybe this is important`` He was a prophet. He was inspired in his work. A great example is 1 nephi 2: 15 ``And my Father dwelt in a tent.`` Why is this important? who cares if Lehi dwelt in a tent? Elder Bednar explained that this has a lot of significance. Lehi had land, and a lot of riches that he left behind to follow the counsel of the lord. What an amazing example of obedience. I think his sons, Laman and Lemuel reminded him very often about how they had left all of their luxury and worldy things and were now dwelling in tents in a desert.

Elder Bednar also explained the scriptures where the brother of Jared saw the finger of God in so much detail, he explained the significance of why a period ``.`` was placed where it was. I´ve been trying to analyze and break down the scriptures in my studies more as well. I´ve had amazing results.

For example, I´ve read Alma 32 tons of times, but the last time I actually studied it and learned a lot. A portion of what I learned is that there are generally 4 things a person needs to accept the gospel. 
1. Humility. The zoramites that were thrown out of the very synagogues they built were the only ones who accepted the gospel. Their afflictions were really a blessing because it compelled them to be humble. Which allowed them to learn wisdom, repent, and persever until the end to gain salvation.
2. Faith, or at least a desire to have faith. We cannot accept the gospel unless we apply a particle of faith, or have a desire to belief that it is true.
3.Diligence in nurturing the ´´seed´´ or the gospel within us. with time the seed will grow and we will know it is good. we will eventually be able to partake of the fruit of our tree, which is eternal life.
4. All of these steps require a great deal of patience. I feel it is safe to assume that the very first day the poor zoramites were tossed out of their synagogues, Alma and his sons didnt show up and began to teach them. It may have been years that they were afflicted and enduring this trial before Alma began to teach them.

Right now im studying the laws of  justice and mercy as it applies to us. As well as grace. The talks Im studying are in the September 2013 ensign, but I dont remember what they´re called, maybe you can look them up too, i´ve learned a lot from them.

Jackie I have two favors, Could you try and find a talk called ``the Fourth missionary`` by Lawrence E Corbridge 6/22/02, and send it to me? its really good, and i suppose everyone could read it, Its most applicable to missonaries, but in a sense i think this life is also like a mission.

The other, One of our investigators has a daughter who is a member of the church. her name is Edla, and she´s 15 years old. She said she maybe wants to serve a mission. I told her that you served a mission in Curitiba, and that maybe you could write her a little about it in portuguese. Maybe you could write why you served, some cool experiences, or what you learned, how it helped you. If you have time for all this, i know she would love to read it. Thank you for everything you do!!!

Thank you everyone for all the support, Im doing pretty good. I love serving the Lord, and I testify that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the ture church upon the Earth. I Testify that it is the same organization and Gospel that Christ him self established when he walked on the earth.

I love You all!!!!!!!!!!!!
Eu Amo Vocês!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Elder Hodgson

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hey everyone! I hope you´re all doing well. I hope all the school, work and other parts of life are going smooth! Let me know if anything interesting happens or if anything worth mentioning is going on. thank you for the emails. I like to hear about whats going on.

This week was pretty good. We have been focusing on teaching about 5 specific people that have demonstrated the most desire and potential to grow. 

The first is Azimom. He has 3 sons, the oldest is 10, and his wife is an inactive member. It´s been amazing to see Azimom grow. Elder Jara told me that before I was here, he was never interested in the church and didn´t want anything to do with it. It´s been amazing to see the fire that has grown within him, the immense desire he has to know more and help his family. Its amazing that he has been coming to church and keeping commitments, even though his wife doesn´t support it. We intend to work with her more too and find out why she stopped going to church, why she lost the fire that Azimom now has.

We also have Ana, who is about 25yrs old. She was progressing immensly and has always kept every commitment. She is ready to be baptized, but uncertainty and a feeling of unreadiness is stopping her. We work with her almost every day.

Then we have Sandra, She is a single mother with 6 kids. All live with her except for the oldest who lives in João Pessoa, just north of here. Sandra only has problems with money, because feeding 5 kids is difficult. She also accepts everything and is growing a lot. Her main difficulty has been coming to church, because she sometimes has to work on sundays for extra money.

We also have kelly, who is a single mom. She´s 19 yrs old and loves to learn and study scriptures. She loved learning about the plan of salvation, especially when we explained it only using scriptures from the bible. We explained that these truths were lost, and doctrines were changed during the apostacy, and are more clearly explained in the book of mormon. This is also why prophets are so important. Without someone who has Authority from God, we cannot know which way is certain.

As for the Language, I´ve been trying to figure out what speaking fluently really means. Right now I understand most people if they dont talk super fast, and most people understand me aswell. But there are still plenty of words and conjugations I don´t know. like staircase. I dont know how to say staircase.....just the first example that came to mind haha.  The more portuguese I learn the more I understand that English is actually really difficult. There are so many exceptions to rules and words that are pronounced wierd. We have a silent ´´w´´ on the word ´´who´´. what a weird word.

So today, we ran out of running water. I showered using a bucket and a pot that I used to cook pasta yesterday. I was pretty happy about it too, because now I can say that     I´ve showered using a bucket. I don´t know why I feel so special about something so insignficant, but I showered using a bucket! Maybe I can put that on my resume´´february 17, 2014. showered using a bucket´´ hahaha. It made me think of jackson serving in the marshall islands. He probably showers with a bucket every day, or even better in the ocean itself. Its funny that you wrote about him today too mom. Im glad he´s having a lot of interesting experiences. It would be cool to serve in the marshall islands for two years haha. And mikey in Nicaragua. He probably showered with a bucket at least a few times. The food is good too. I havent eaten anything strange yet, like scorpions. Rice and Beans still taste good to me. I love it.  Sometimes I miss the snow, and I cant see those pictures mom. Its always super hot here. I´ve never drank so much water, sweat so much, and peed so little. its crazy.

So this is what I learned from studying purity/charity: there are plenty of scriptures included to explain in better detail.

Why do we need to be pure in heart?
Moroni 7:48 says that charity is the PURE love of christ, and unless we have charity we are nothing. All things will fail except charity.

How can we develop charity, or purify our hearts?
Phillipians 4:8 by dwelling on good things in our thoughts. 
Acts 15:8-9, and 3rd Nephi 19:28-29 says that God can purify people according to their faith.
Mosiah 4:2 we can also repent and apply the atonement in our lives to purify our hearts.

James 4:8 We can ´´draw nigh unto god´´, but how? 
Helamen 3:35 through fasting, praying, humility, faith, and (what i think is most important) yeilding our hearts to god. Our agency is the only thing that truly belongs to us. Everything else we have is really God´s. I think one of the greatest gifts we can give to god is our agency; through obedience to his commandments and yeilding our hearts to him

Some examples of the consequences of lacking charity/not being pure in heart:
D&C 84:19-26. The children of Isreal did not receive the higher preisthood/ higher law because they were not prepared for it, were not pure in heart/ sanctified in heart.
1 Kings 11:9-11 the  Lord was angry with Solomon for turning his heart from the lord.

The blessings of being pure in heart:
Matthew 5:8,D&C 88:68, 97:15-16 the pure in heart shall see god. I really dont understand how literal this is or exactly what it means, and want to study more.
D&C 76: 113-118. The mysteries of God are revealed to those who love God and purify themselves before him.
1 John 3:2-3, D&C 35:21, D&C 101:18 the pure in heart shall be purified like God during the 2nd coming.

1 Peter 1:22. 1 Timothy 1:5, 4:12, Isaiah 52:11 its a commandment to be pure in heart as well.

During Elder Bednar´s talk in the MTC, someone asked: why do we still feel shame for sins, even after having repented? Elder Bednar explained its to help you not make the same mistake again, and also that we do not have the power to choose the consequences of our actions. The consequences serve as reminders to help us improve, and may remain even after repentence. He also explained that our mind is like a jar full of sand, with a small hole big enough for 1 grain to enter or leave at a time. All our sins, bad actions in the past, are represented by black grains of sand. We can slowly replace each black grain of sand with a white one  when we sincerely pray daily, go to church, read our scriptures, and serve others. Through these things over time, we will erase the feelings of shame that may remain after repentence.

Im doing well right now, and dont really need anything. Thank you for all the support Eu amo Vocês!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Elder Hodgson

**Picture will be added soon**

Our District: Elder Jorgenson, Elder Jara (my trainer, from Chile), Elder Pacheco ( the district leader, From Peru) and me. I met Elder Jorgenson in the airport in TX, he served in California for 5 months waiting on a visa. He was trained in english, then was moved to spanish speaking, and now he´s here. He still sometimes mixes up spanish and portuguese words. Its funny because he´s an american speaking portuguese with a mexican accent! haha He´s an awesome missionary!!!!

Photo: Hi Mikey, Matthew asked to share a recent picture of him with your tie and to email him.
A picture of me. Proof Im alive. Im wearing Mikey´s favorite tie today!! tell him to write me!!!