Monday, March 31, 2014

SURPRISE BAPTISM OF "M"!

Hi everyone! I don't know how or if I will be able to write everything that I need to in the time that I have. I spent a bit of time on my letter to the Mission President today, so we'll see what happens!
Elder Selfie!


First off: the questions that you would like me to answer.

1. The camera
I did already buy a camera. It is a good one and I like it a lot. It was R$280, which is about $115. I don't know if I could return it or not. That wifi thing sounds pretty cool. I can ask about it. If given the choice, I think I would like to stick with the one I have.
2. The Suitcase
I bought a suitcase for a smoking deal I found at a local supermarket. R$99! And it was a pretty good one too! I bought it before I left Castanheira.
3. Requests for the package.
I think my favorite things to receive in packages are photos. Photos of you guys, friends, whoever. It's great to have an idea of what's going on with you guys. I liked the PopTarts you sent! I think I've finally reached the point that I have so many ties that I don't need any more :D And whatever other treats or things that you think of I will love. I'll make a list next time it's time for a package of things I would like to receive.
News Flash: It's transfer week!
I will-----stay here in Capanema. Yay! I don't know yet who will be my companion.
Elder Barros will------leave the area. He doesn't know where he will go or who will be his companion.
My pretty mug.
I don't know if President will send another 2 missionaries to Salinas or if it will still be my area. We'll see!
We had a miracle baptism this week. (Another!) We have an investigator named M. He was actually supposed to be baptized 1 week ago, but the night of his baptism he disappeared. We searched for him and called him but to no avail. It was pretty disappointing. I didn't mention it because things were so awesome with A.
Anyway, we tried to find him this whole week. We passed by his house countless times and I think he has 1000 missed calls from us on his phone! By Saturday, we could not find him. On Saturday, we said a special prayer that we would be able to find M and would be able to baptize in the last week of the transfer. Nevertheless, we didn't find him on Saturday and we had no baptism.
On Sunday, we tried by his house (which is very far away) 1 last time before church. There was no one home. We called and no one answered. Finally we gave up and went to church.
There we saw something we could hardly hope for or believe. M´s motorcycle was sitting in the parking lot and he was walking into the church!  We were able to talk to him and teach him in a little room nearby. He recounted that he wasn't baptized the last week because he felt ashamed.  We had given him a Book of Mormon, but he does not know how to read (he's from Manaus in the Amazonás). He thought that there would be some requirement that he wouldn't be able to fulfill because he couldn't read.
Quickly we explained that there was no requirement to read in order to be baptized. There is the Book of Mormon in audio and surely one of the members would happily and willingly teach him how to read. Our conversation went like this.
"M, do you still have the desire to be baptized?"
"Yes".
"Are you still living the commandments? The Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity?"
"Yes".
Would you be willing to be baptized after sacrament meeting today?"
"Yes"!

And M was baptized and confirmed directly after sacrament meeting.

Miraculous baptism of "M"!
Milagres são reais. Miracles are real.
Called to serve,
Elder Gale



Monday, March 24, 2014

MISSAÓ BRASIL BELÉM, MISSÃO de MILAGRES

Belém Brazil Mission, Mission of Miracles

I learned many things this week. One of which was that my mission, Brazil Belém, is a mission of miracles. I had some experiences that I will never forget and will always treasure. I hope that you all can feel, through the words in this email, the same spirit of peace and wonder that I felt as I saw miracles happen.


Elder Barros and I were planning and praying about how we could continue to baptize every week (which is the goal of the mission). We had several people with potential, but none of them seemed very likely for this Saturday.


On Thursday, we had planned with the members in Salinas to have a Family Home Evening with everybody together in order to get an idea of how many people would attend church. We left around 6 am and arrived around 9 am. We went first to Irmão R, a solid member who volunteered to provide lunch and always helps us make visits and get to know the area. This shows mighty faith on his part, because he works every night from 10pm to 6am as a security guard. The other times he helped us, he went without sleep for that day. This last Thursday, he did the same thing.


As we were having lunch, he mentioned that he had shared the gospel briefly with his 23 year old nephew that lived on the other side of Salinas. We planned to visit him right after lunch.


As we left the house, it started to rain. Hard. The nephew of R, named A, lived about 20 minutes walking distance. We took about 30 to get there because we constantly had to take cover from the torrents of rain. I was the only one that had an umbrella. In the end, we were pretty soaked when we got to A's house. We almost turned back several times, but felt that we should continue in the rain.


Finally, we arrived at A's house. He was practically waiting for us, standing at the door and smiling. He greeted us and let us in quickly to escape the rain. We sat down and explained who we were - missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. At that moment, the Spirit entered the room very strongly. Everybody was solemn and silent as A recounted an experience that he knew was sent from God. The day before, he was in a tough situation with his family. Things were difficult personally and religiously for him that night, and he asked God to show him what he needed to do. He asked that he could receive answers to his questions and divine help. 


That same night he had a very vivid dream. The details of the dream are personal, but I was given permission to share some of the things that he received. In the dream, he spoke with an angel. The angel told him specifically that the things his uncle R. had told him were true, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was the only true church on the earth. In the dream, he sat down and 3 men in suits put their hands on his head. The angel put his hands as well and said to accelerate the work of salvation.


After he recounted this experience, we asked him if he believed this dream to be an answer from God to his prayers. He replied affirmatively.


We asked him if he was willing to follow the example of Jesus Christ, being baptized by someone with authority. He said yes.


In this moment, we felt strongly to invite him for baptism this Saturday, on the 22nd of March. However, he had never gone to Church and would not be able to attend for 2 weeks due to the conditions in Salinas. There were rules, standards for baptism. He had to be living the commandments and Saturday was in 3 days! The font was in Capanema and there was no way to transport him there and back on Saturday. How could we invite him for baptism this Saturday when he had heard the name of the church only once before in his life?


But laying all of this aside, we invited him for baptism that Saturday and he accepted.


That night and the next day, we worked to organize everything. To see if it was even possible to do this. We talked with our Zone Leaders, our Bishop, and with President Scisci. Everything was authorized.
Baptism of A.  I'm the tall guy in white.
On Saturday morning we woke up at 5 o'clock am to get to Salinas. At 8 am A was interviewed by the Bishop and found worthy. At 8:30 we started the service at R's house and at 9 am we traveled to the beaches of Salinas to baptize A. It was one of my greatest pleasures to walk into the ocean and baptize A in the midst of the salty waves.


A miraculous baptism!

And the Spirit testified to us again of these things as I put my hands on his head with my companion and the Bishop and A received the Holy Ghost.
The beaches of Salinas
I know that miracles are real. They happen in our days. I know that Jesus is our savior and he works through His church in these Latter Days.


Called to Serve,

Elder Gale



Monday, March 17, 2014

BAPTISM OF C!

Hello everyone!

We had another baptism this last Sunday. C was baptized right before Church started. It was a wonderful service, and she chose me to baptize her! My camera is not working very well, but Elder Barros was able to take a photo.
Baptism of C!
I'll go ahead and answer the questions you sent real quick, because I'll forget if I don't.

Elder Barros is from São Paulo. (My third companion Paulista!)

The package I received was the one with the contacts in it. But with the craziness of the transfer I still haven't received it! It's at the mission office waiting for me. However, I did receive the package you guys sent in November! It was old, but the candy/granola bars were still good! And I found a total of 15 dollars in the granola bars, which definitely surprised my companion! He walked away muttering something along the lines of "Stupid rich Americans"...I didn't really have anything in my defense. :D

My toe is basically better. I've been using shoes for the past couple weeks and I think I will continue. However, I can't say the same thing for my companion. He has a really nasty ingrown toenail right now and it's going to bother him for a long while. His is worse than mine ever was, because the nail grew 3 centimeters into the toe on the bottom side, which may mean surgery to get it out.

As for less actives...were starting to work more on it. We're trying really hard to divide the Capanema Ward. We need 36 worthy Priesthood-holding Elders, and right now we have 28. There are many men/families that have gone inactive, so we're trying to visit them and re-activate as many as we can. It's pretty amazing...the church has only been in the Capanema area for about 16 years and it's almost dividing!

We are starting to put 1-2 days out of our week to travel to Salinas. I think I will be here when a group is started there. It will grow very fast.

How much was the notebook for Elder Cedraz? He'll pay me this next mission tour in April 21st.

Is there anyway I could buy another camera here in Brazil? Mine isn't working, and I would like to be able to take photos here to record memories and such. 

Sorry this is short. My computer wasn't working well and Elder Barros is ready to go.

Love you guys!

Elder Gale

Monday, March 10, 2014

BAPTISMS & MISSION CALLS!

Dear Friends & Family...

We had a really great experience with the baptism of E. this week. We were planning on C. being baptized this week, but it was postponed to next week because she wants her extended family to be there. 

So we were disappointed because we wouldn't have a baptism this week! We prayed about who could still be baptized, and we both thought of E., who was fully prepared but lacking desire. On Friday we went to his house and challenged him to be baptized the following day. He didn't seem moved at all. He kept saying "maybe, I don't know", and so on. We invited him to pray about it that night.
Baptism of E!
As we closed, E. said the prayer before we left. He prayed that he could receive an answer if he should be baptized the next day. And then he got a bit choked up, and prayed that he could be baptized the next day. The spirit was with us and he knew that he needed to be baptized.

*Side note from mom--we all sent Carson an email this week telling him that Austin got his mission call--then we each told him a different mission!  Austin told him he had to guess which one was the correct one!

It was so exciting to hear about Austin's mission call!   I read the email from Maggie first and thought...wow, that was blunt. Lima Peru it is! 
Then I read Dad's and thought...somebody swapped the mission call. Is it Lima, or Concepcion? The hispanic countries aren't all the same, you know. 
Then I read Mom's and caught on to the game. I started thinking that he hadn't really received anything and everybody was messing with me. 
Finally I read Austin's and I watched the video. The audio on this computer is really low, and he choked with emotion in the moment he said the name. I only heard "You have been called .....................South Mission."  Dad emailed me the real mission,  AND I HAD GUESSED RIGHT! I promise I didn't watch first!

2 missionaries in South America--yaaa buddy! We'll baptize everyone in South America.   Austin will have amazing experiences in Chile. I personally know 3 Chilean missionaries and they are all exceptional. I'll ask them what he should expect!

I would have loved to be there for when Austin opened his call, but it's even better to be serving and to know that he will soon join the ranks.
The letter this week will be short, because I used most of my time trying to watch the video and read the letters. And we're pretty rushed today because I'm in Castanhal, waiting to go to Belem for the mission conference. I think we will return tomorrow.
Once more, congratulations to Austin and thanks to everyone that encouraged him to serve. I know that my family will be blessed as we continue the tradition of missionary service. 
Called to Serve, 
Elder Gale

Monday, March 3, 2014

SALVATION WAS NEVER EASY

Dearest family, friends, and everybody else,
A bug/monster thing landed on my shoulder and I got skerred!


This was a great week in Capanema. We have several investigators 
that are preparing for baptism. I'll give the rundown:






E:
A young man of 16 years. His girlfriend's a member and he's been investigating for a long time. His family is very Catholic, which makes things hard. His Mom is a bit resistant to give permission for baptism, but we'll see. He went to the youth camp during CarnIval, and I'm hoping that will help him with his desire to follow Christ.
P and M:
Two young men that have a bunch of questions and have also been investigating for a while. They are reading, praying, and doing everything right, but still don't feel prepared to be baptized. We're trying to find a time to meet with the whole family.
Is it warpaint or fruit?
C and S:
We're very excited about an area that I think I mentioned in a previous letter: Salinas. There are about 14 members that live there and it's about 1 hour by omnibus from Capanema. We asked permission to be able to visit the area and see how receptive the people are and if it has a possibility of starting a group. We took the omnibus on Wednesday and were given a tour by one of the members. Salinas is beach area, so it was cool to be able to see it (even if it was only from a far distance). If the work gets going there, we will be able to baptize in the beach, which would be awesome!
We taught the restoration to some of the family of a member that lives there. They had already been to church 1 time, and I think they will be baptized this Saturday! Actually, only C.  S needs to marry first.
So I'm not very sure what will happen with Salinas right now. Probably we will continue teaching people there and visiting the area every week. The people are very receptive and it has a population adequate to start a group (Salinas has about 35,000 people).
2 Studs--Elder Gale and Elder Barros














New Family!      But not...

 We found a family super-receptive and had them on date on Tuesday, but then lost them on Friday. They are Catholic and don't want to change anything...or pray about it.
As we were walking home on Friday, we had just dropped the family and I was feeling pretty down. I started complaining about how we weren't finding enough people, baptizing enough people, and so on and so on. I asked Elder Barros why it was that other missionaries were baptizing and we weren't. Why weren't we seeing more miracles?
Elder Barros responded in English, which surprised me, because he doesn't speak any English.
He said "Because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation is not easy. Salvation was never easy. Why should it be easy for us, when it was never easy for Him?"
Elder Barros had memorized these words from Elder Holland's famous talk to the mission presidents. I didn't quote Elder Barros exactly right, and I don't think he quoted Elder Holland exactly right, but the idea and feeling was the same.
My companion is actually a living miracle, being here on the mission. As a convert of 3 years, his parents weren't receptive to him going on a mission. He didn't have the funds to go on a mission. When he got here, he almost died from Gastritis and still suffers pain almost every day. What do I have to complain about?
But anyway, I'm enjoying this transfer. I hope everybody's in good health and all is well in Missouri.
As always,
Called to Serve,
Elder Gale