A selfie for mom!

A selfie for mom!

Monday, February 17, 2014

News from Brazil

It´s getting colder! It´s been below 80 for 4 days, which feels really cold! And with the intense rain for FOUR DAYS, it feels like it´s in the 60s. So this is spring in Brazil. This summer will be really cold!
Before I keep going, I want you all to know that English is really hard. 
The baptism of Jaiara went really well. Her parents (extremely inactive) not only went to her baptism (and cried) but also to church the next day to see her recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost. Now we just need to baptize her boyfriend (he´s marked for 8 of Março) and completely reactivate her family, help her mom quit smoking and coffee, and get them all to the temple to be sealed together with her four brothers, who are all dead. It´ll be awesome!
My new companion is awesome! I´ve realized that: 1) I´ve never actually had a terrible companion, 2) I´ll never, ever have a terrible companion, and 3) Presidente Pinho will only send the best missionaries to be my companions and mission leaders. Knowing this, I won´t have any problem!
His name is Elder Paiva, from Recife, Brazil. He´s 21 and will turn 22 in August. He´s already got 1 year and 5 months in the mission, so he´ll hit "Dump Day" (6 months left before he goes home) during our time together. He´s really awesome! He´s a Corinthiano, whereas Elder Almeida was São Paulino, but I´m a bandwagoner, so all is well (Brazilian futebol teams). I´m helping him learn English, but he already knows quite a bit because he´s the biggest fan of Jeffery R. Holland I´ve ever seen. He has talks MEMORIZED. In ENGLISH. It´s insane! He is a convert, and was baptized four years ago. It´s really cool to see the photo of his baptism! He still has his first Book of Mormon, given to him by the missionaries. It´s the most powerful and sacred copy I´ve ever seen. I´ll send pictures. Elder Paiva also knows how to cook, so we´ll not go hungry, although we never do much cooking, living in the LAND BOUNTIFUL! Best stake and ward in the mission!
We got your valentine´s day package two days early (the day of the transfer). It was really awkward because in Brazil, valentine´s day is called "Dia dos Namorados" or "Day of the Boyfriend/Girlfriend". So... yeah. Don´t say "happy valentine´s day" to your companion. Or the sister missionaries...
I´m SUPER happy to see slimfast! Can I have that in every package? It´s ACTUALLY working!
Everyday is better and better, here. This transfer will be a transfer of miracles!
Here is our zone, as of the last transfer:
(ZL) Elder Crosland, from Utah, EUA
(ZL) Elder Fernandes, from Brazilia, Brazil
(DL) Elder Paiva, from Recife, Brazil
Elder Richins, from Missouri, EUA
Sister Küster, from Londrinas, Brazil (and London, England)
Sister Wolfgramm, from Georgia, EUA
(DL) Elder Reiman, from Washington, EUA
Elder Melo, from Santa Catarina, EUA
Elder S. Silva, from Fortaleza, Brazil
Elder Jensen, from Nevada, EUA
(DL) Elder Olivera, from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Elder Chapman, from Illinois, EUA (almost Missouri, and he´s a Sooner fan!)
Elder Ross, from (I can´t remember), EUA
Elder Severiche, from Santa Cruz, Bolivia

In our District Meeting, something really special happened and I want to share it with you. Elders Crosland and Fernandes, our Zone Leaders, prepared treats for us. On a table were two different types of cake and they made little cups of Skittles with Ferrero-Roche truffles. So the entire zone was super suspicious, wanting the treats, but not sure what they had to do to get them. 
And then, they asked Elder Jensen to come to the front of the room. I suppose they had chosen him, and he had agreed, before the meeting began. 
Elder Crosland turned to him and asked: "Elder Jensen, would you do 10 push-ups so that Elder Paiva could have some candy? He really wants it."
We were all really confused now, questioning why it had to be Elder Jensen, and not Elder Paiva. But Elder Jensen replied:
"I will"
And he did 10 push-ups.
Elder Crosland gave Elder Paiva his treat, then turned again to Elder Jensen: "Elder Jensen, would you do 15 push-ups so that Elder Richins could have a treat, too?"
Elder Jensen replied:
"I will"
And he did 15 push-ups.
I got my treat, but did not eat it, too occupied with watching the demonstration.
"Elder Jensen, would you do 20 push-ups to give Elder Reimann a treat?"
"I will."
And it continued like this for more than half an hour, until almost everybody had their treat. Elder Jensen was obviously in pain, but he continued to shoulder the ever-growing burden of paying our debt. Sweat dripped from his face, and occasionally, one of us would ask: 
"Can he have some water?" 
"Can we give him a towel?" 
"Can we encourage him?" 
"Can he just have a rest?" 
Elder Crosland replied to each of our pleas with the same response:
"He needs to do it alone."
Finally, everyone had a treat, except for one. Elder Crosland, on his knees, with a comforting hand on Elder Jensen asked one more time: 
"Would you do 15 push-ups... for me?"
And Elder Jensen replied:
"I will."
And it was finished.
The whole zone was in tears as we talked about how we were feeling. many of us said that "it wasn´t worth the candy to see him go through that", or "I wanted to take His place, but I couldn´t. Only He could shoulder our burden."
The meaning of the exercise was clear. 
It is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that we can be happy. He was rejected, spat on, cast out, bound, scourged, betrayed, forgotten, and denied. He bled from every pore. He was humiliated and persecuted, nailed to a cross, left alone by all. 
And why?
Because He loves us.
I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
confused at the love that so fully He proffers me,
I tremble to know that for me He was crucifed,
that for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died
O, it is wonderful that he would care for me,
enough to die for me.

I know that Jesus Christ, a God, Himself, descended to Earth to live a perfect, spotless life, so that He could be the "last great sacrifice" to pay for all of our sins, mistakes, pains, and sorrows. His suffering could only be complete after the Father withdrew His presence, leaving Jesus feeling completely, and utterly, alone. And after this, He had to experience death, of the physical kind, in the most despicable and painful way possible, so that He could know how the rest of us would feel. And then, it was finished.
But He did not rest. Jesus Christ next went to the Spirit World, working there, too, until it was time for Him to do the seemingly impossible: overcome physical death. 
Christ lives. And because of Him, we can live too. We need not suffer pains, afflictions, sin, or even death, because Someone a lot greater already did. 

This is the great message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That through 
Recieving the Gift of the Holy Ghost,
and Enduring to the End,
we can receive our reward, which is to benefit from the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and receive freedom from sin and death.
This is only possible through strict obedience and fierce loyalty to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, firm and unwavering. We must constantly try to be like Christ, for that is the only way that we can be eternal families, that is, never to be separated, even after death, and be exalted and to, one day, live with our Father in Heaven, being perfect, exalted, Godly beings.
In the sacred name of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

Elder Thomas Richins
Ala Jardim Mirna 
Estaca Grajaú
Missão Brasil São Paulo Interlagos

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