June 24, 2013

This week was wonderful; we baptized two young men, John and Jonathan. They live in a little shack with three older brothers and their wives, and their mom. All of their family uses drugs and drinks except for them. Jonathan read half of the Book of Mormon the first day that we gave it to him. They made awesome friends with the young men and are just so happy about the church. Their baptism was really something special and I hope they continue choosing the right. It felt really good to finally see someone dressed in white and making the right decisions. We taught another family that has been so kind to us, they don’t live in the ghetto. Their house is nice; they are super kind and absolutely love us! We had so many people at the baptism and it was just great for them to see. They had been to plenty of other churches already and are very curious and basically know that this church is true, they just are taking it really slow, so we will see what happens with them but I hope we can get them to enter in the water soon. They are going to be great members in the church, a sealer in the temple and patriarch introduced them to us and has been there helping us a lot with teaching them. The Lord has been guiding us in the work here and I have seen his hand working miracles and preparing families for us! I love the mission. It is crazy tough but so great!

 Elder Albuquerque, Elder Paynter, and Laide 

June 17, 2013

       This week was great, I caught a cold like the rest of the world here, and of course missionaries get colds after shaking hands with everyone and anyone in the world! Ha-ha, but it has been terrific and the Lord has blessed us with the energy needed to keep working hard and to be successful.
       We had been focusing on a couple baptisms that we have marked for later on this month, and I decided that we needed to check on these investigators every single day. I have been recognizing more how to work smart and hard instead of just working hard. We have a phrase here on the mission about checking in on investigators. "If you do don't check on your investigators, satan will." And so this week have visited almost every single investigator every single day.
       Elder Batista decided that we would talk with as many people as possible during a short window of a couple hours that we didn't have any appointments marked. So we walked on the super bumpy dirt roads of the ghetto and started talking with every living creature, even the hordes of vagabond dogs! We passed by the school and I saw a kid sleeping on the cement wall they have surrounding the school, he had his school uniform on, and I woke him up and asked him if he was interested about hearing our message, I expected to hear no, but he was super interested! We got his address and went to his little shack house after school was out. He is fifteen years old and cant read, but is very willing and hilarious. We have a really good friendship going.
       We kept going back to his house and when we went back his thirteen-year-old brother was there and wanted to hear the messages also. So we started teaching him, he is very intelligent and has really helped his brother a lot! We talked with him about serving a mission and the priesthood and he is so curious and their baptism is marked for this Sunday!!! We left him a big part of the book of Mormon to read and he read like crazy! This time we marked the book of Alma to read and he said he should have it finished by the time we get back to his house tonight. I am so excited.
       We passed by their house at 8 am to walk with them to church and brought cookies and milk to eat with them for breakfast on the way there. They have a brand of Spongebob cookies here that are pretty good, not Oreo status, but decent.  When they went to church yesterday, the older brother João was really timid and shy; Jonothan the younger brother was really into it and loved it all. Sacrament passed, Sunday school passed, and finished out with young mens. The young men are all super good friends with them now and one of the young men preparing to serve will baptize them this Sunday!
       It has been wonderful to see this wonderful ward and to serve in such a humble neighborhood. I love working in the ghetto shacks and such. The people are so receptive and loving compared to the people in the decent houses. I thought a lot about Alma the elder when he taught the poor people who were kicked out of the synagogues.
       Ha-ha it has been just happiness and miracles this week. I have never been running around so much like I am now on the mission but I am loving every second of it. Then our other ward at night, had three people who walked in to see how the church was, and we are going to teach them all Wednesday night! I am so very excited for all of it! The Lord has been preparing so many people, he has guided our work, I am nothing and we would have accomplished nothing here if it weren’t for the helping hands of the Lord and miracles we have seen this week.
       I am so happy to be a Latter Day Saint and to be a servant of the Lord, to have to opportunity to scream to all these people that the truth is here again, that happiness is here, that the Lord loves everyone and that we have the book of Mormon and a modern day prophet! We are all so blessed! Blessed be the name of our God! I love you all! Sorry didn’t go into details. The email time has been cut a little and I don’t have time to explain all of the wonderful miracles that I have seen! But they are real! Jesus Christ lives! I love him with all my heart! Have a wonderful week!

Elder Paynter

June 10, 2013

This week has just been great! I got to the bus station and met with the swarm of other missionaries who were transferred and found out that I was made senior comp and stayed in the same mission!!! I was pretty happy to stay in the same mission, but pretty nervous to be senior comp. My comp is Elder Batista, he has four transfers in this area and he is just awesome! Works super hard and is super spiritual.
This week has been the best one of the mission for me! The bishop of the ward came and got us from the bus station and we stopped by our house so I could get settled in a little bit, but it was fast.  I kept talking with Elder Batista about the area and it got me super excited so we got out of the house quick, went and ate lunch with our bishop and got to work. The bishop here is great, he reminds me of Miguel, really easy going, really helpful and hilarious.
We cover the wards here in this area, one of them is Jardim do Lago (lake garden) and the other Jardim das Bandeiras (flag garden). The areas are divided by a highway and one area is a favela (ghetto) with dirt roads and tons of unfinished little brick shacks and the other is quite normal. We only work in the favela. Ha-ha all of the humble and receptive people live there. It was a perfect first day; we ended it off with teaching an investigator and his daughter the first lesson with the bishop.
I found out on day 2 who my district leader was, turns out its my old comp, Elder Albuquerque and the other two missionaries in our district are sisters. One of them is from the same MTC group that Elder Albuquerque and I are from. Our entire district has 7 months or less on the mission. Probably the youngest district in the mission. I am loving it.
So we have a few investigators that have already been taught everything and didn't get baptized yet, their names are Andressa and Deliane and Claudia. All of them have a bit of a different situation and Elder Batista and I decided to fast to know how to teach them and how to help them be baptized. The Lord worked miracles this week with us and prepared families for us. We were able to mark a baptismal date with Andressa and Deliane. It has just been so crazy, I have encountered so many situations this week where I wouldn't have known what to do if it were last week, but the spirit has been with our companionship and I have seen the Lord's hand guiding us in the right direction. I have no doubt in my mind that he has accepted our efforts of last week.
Friday I woke up pretty disappointed with the night before, we had gotten into a bible bash for the first time and it was just ugly. I was pretty mad that we had gotten into one because the spirit had fled from us for the rest of the night. The same feeling carried on in the morning for me, but it didn't seem to for Elder Batista. Before we left the house that day, I asked him for a priesthood blessing. It was incredible, he said exactly what I needed to hear and it gave me the energy I needed that day. It turned out being the best day of the week for us. We went tracting down a tiny little street in the favela and couldn't finish knocking all the doors in three hours because so many people were letting us into their houses!
We taught a 17 year old and marked a baptism with him and he was so excited, we came back the next day and his mom answered the door and said she didn't want us teaching him because she is from some other church, even though he isn't part of it. I was pretty upset because we saw him light up when we taught.
That night we went to the 18th birthday party of one of the ward young men. He had bought about $200 worth of meat for a big bbq and the whole ward was over at the house along with the neighborhood. It is pretty cool the way it works here in Brasil, the whole world stays together and just laughs and eats and jokes around and dances like its nobodies business. There was so much food that they had barely killed off half of it before the night was over.
Church was the following day. It was pretty good, our first session is from 9-12 and then we ate lunch and went back for our second ward from 3-6. It is pretty relaxing, but I was asked to speak in both sacrament meetings for ten minutes each. Welcome to missionary work. It all went well. During priesthood, the young women’s leader asked us to go and teach the young women about the priesthood, and it was a really cool experience. We could really feel the spirit, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to hold the priesthood and to see the power of god work miracles here on earth every day.
We had some incredible experiences giving blessings this week. We gave a blessing to a member who is terminally ill with cancer. He could barely leave his bed, but the following day, his wife called and said that he got up and walked down the stairs for some fresh air on his own. It was incredible. Anyways after the last session of sacrament, we brought Eva, a single mother investigator, to the baptismal font and showed it to her. Eva, Elder Batista and I leaned against the railing and talked about her baptism and the church and sacrament. There we marked her baptismal date. We had felt the spirit pretty strongly and it was so incredible.
The Lord has guided us every step of the way this week. I have learned so much. The greatest thing I have learned is that I can't do anything without the spirit, and thank the heavens the Lord granted all that help to us this week. It has just been perfect. I love this area; it sits in the city of Campinas itself. It has just been great. I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you!
Elder Paynter

June 3, 2013

Dearest darlingest mom!
I am just on cloud nine! She is the most darling thing I have ever seen! Oh I am so happy for our family! I can’t believe it! I am so happy!
Well the music on the flash drive didn't work, just the conference talks and the podcast. The letters, I will probably get tomorrow.
Well, this week was great, started out pretty down and difficult. Last week we had to drop basically all of our investigators because they weren't committing to anything or going to church. So we did lots of contacts and got nowhere last week. Our zone just set the record for the most baptized in a month and Elder Albuquerque and I were the only companionship that didn't baptize. I was pretty upset.
We had a really good zone meeting on Tuesday and it was good to relax and pass time with some buddies. When we left the chapel is was raining like mad, so our district snagged garbage bags, poked holes in the top for our heads and walked around the city like that to get to the bus stop. My head and pants were still soaked, but it was fun. As we were heading to Amparo the bus broke, so we had to wait 2 hours for another bus to come get us, and another hour to get home. I was freezing, hungry, and still a little down. But Albuquerque and I joked around and waited and finally when we got home it was five thirty.
We hurried and ate what little food our money could buy, and then changed and went to teach one of our contacts. I remember on the way to the house of this lady, I said a prayer that a large family would be there and that they would accept us. What do you know, It was a family of 9. They all accepted baptism, they all read the Book of Mormon together and we went back all week this week to teach them about the glorious gospel. They are all reading the book of Mormon like crazy! Even the young ones. We had a tough time teaching the word of wisdom but all of them are working hard to stop their little addictions to coffee, and smoking and drinking. Elder Albuquerque and I made a schedule for them to track their progress and wrote on the top of it, The Plan for Eternal Happiness. Then we gave them a Book of Mormon with different scriptures marked for them to read each day together before they mark their progress. Six of them went to church this week, the others had to work, and four of them are getting baptized this Saturday.
But, Elder Albuquerque and I both got transferred to who knows where. So it has been kind of funny, a little tough take in. Nobody has baptized here for almost a year and now that we are about to get a wonderful family into the church, the area is closing. I really hope I can learn what the Lord wants me to learn from this, but I trust in Him with all of it.
I have seen miracles happen this week and answers to all of my prayers. Blessed be the name of our God! I am so grateful for the opportunities that He gave me here and for the incredible experiences I have been blessed with! I love this work, I love the gospel, I love the Lord with all my heart! I love the opportunities that I have to work with the priesthood power and to walk around telling the world about the goodness of our God, and the great news for all. We have a living prophet on the earth today; we are guided by the hand of God! We are so blessed!

May 11, 2013