Monday, January 27, 2014

That We May Be One

3 Nephi 19:23

Heavenly Father rocks! Seriously, it´s been so hard here the past month and then yesterday... Waabaammmbbbb! Haha sitting in the congregation yesterday was one of the best feelings I´ve had since being in Brazil. After the meeting I turned to one of our investigators and said, ´´I didn´t understand one thing that they just talked about, but ooooohhhh I feel good.´´ Haha the Spirit was overwhelming. Let me try to explain 
First off, it´s funny to get your letters and read about school cancellations and the snow. It´s super weird because here it´s the exact opposite. You go to bed sweating and you wake up sweating... Haha there´s no air conditioning either so every house has two to three fans. During studies in the morning too, you have sweat dripping down your face. Sister Perrotti (I can finally pronounce her name right! (Mission President´s wife)) last week sent out some guidelines for working and hydration because of the heat warnings. Haha she also gave us this weak sauce, homemade gatorade recipe... Anyway, it´s hot. Reeallllllyyy hot, and we spent most of the time out in the sun trying to find people again this week. Because lunch is like Thanksgiving everyday, when we do teach after lunch, it´s a battle to stay awake. Haha a combination of being tired of walking, being in the sun, and having a full belly... Anyway, hard life right? 
Actually, yes. Haha this week was a climb. Instead of going day by day, I´ll just give you a recap of Friday. WORST DAY EVER!!! Haha
Our lunch that we were really looking forward to (she´s incredible at cooking), fell through last minute. So, because we had planned to go eat hamburgers with an investigator for dinner, we decided to have a light lunch at ´´Herbalife`` (it´s popular in the states too - it´s like a smoothie, healthy business). We decided to have a ´´shakey´´ for lunch because three of the workers there are actually investigators.Whoop! Flavia, a mom who´s currently investigating came over to me when I came in and sat down. My companion didn´t stand up to shake her hand when she walked over to him. Thinking that was odd, I stood up to greet her and shake her hand... AAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! SHE KISSED ME!!!!!! Hahaha oh man... If you want to talk about awkward situations, trust me, you won´t even get CLOSE to how awkward I was after that. Hahaha seriously, it was terrible.  When I grabbed her hand to shake it, she put her other hand on my shoulder and pulled me in. She pressed her cheek against mine and made a kissing noise. Not knowing what to do I made some sort of ´´quaking´´ noise. Hahaha oh man, I don´t even know how to tell this story… She pulled away and looked at me, told me that I did it wrong, and then DID IT AGAIN! AGGGGHHHHHHHH!! I was in the middle of the store and everyone was looking at us. After being kissed twice, I stood there completely lost. COMPLETELY lost. I mentioned a few months ago how awkward I was when a lady hugged me... Try to picture me getting kissed twice. Man! Everyone started laughing because they could sense how different it was for an American, especially a missionary, to do that.  My companion lost it too. It was easily, the most awkward experience of my life. Whoooo, that alone made Friday the worst day in Brazil... 
Not long after that, we met two guys sitting next to each other on a ledge outside. I sat beside one and Elder Lee by the other. I don´t know why but we both fell asleep talking to them. BOTH of us! Haha I would´ve never guessed how draining a mission would be. I'm more tired now than I was during two-a-days. 
After being kissed (twice) by a mom and then falling asleep on a street contact, I was walking toward a lady getting out of her car. My mind was still thinking of how I can avoid getting kissed in the future, and my body was still trying to fully wake-up, that I lost complete sense of where I was at the moment. When, all of a sudden, the curb came out of nowhere...
I still carry a Book of Mormon with me everywhere I go, so when I tripped, I threw the Book of Mormon at her and superman´d through the air. Haha man... Being as tired as I was, not focused, and some solid scuffs on my knees and hands from sliding on the concrete, I just layed there. Haha, I totally forgot what I was doing! Not only did I throw a Book of Mormon at her (luckily it missed her) but I was laying face down, right in front of her. After about five seconds, I realized what I was doing, where I was, and then stood up and just smiled at her. Haha because it´s still a struggle to communicate with the people here, I just started laughing. I smiled, told her that I represented Jesus Christ and that I was here to talk to her about the amazing Restoration. My companion couldn´t hold it was easily the worst contact ever. The lady was nice about it though and told us that she had to go. 
More happened on this day, like pouring rain for 2 hours straight and wasting 18 reias on a crummy meal, but Sunday was awesome. 
Because the number of them doesn't matter, Ill just say we had a real big miracle yesterday with investigators at church. I couldn´t hold back the tears from seeing investigator after investigator come in. It was awesome.  After church, the member in charge of missionary work for the stake came up to me and said that, ´´We got his attention now.´´ Since then, we´ve had ward member after ward member come up to us asking how they can help. Because it´s difficult to communicate, I just smile and look at Elder Lee... Haha anyway, yesterday was a tender mercy

I love it here. I love the grind and I love the people. Although the culture is a bit.... different, I love it too. Oh, and most of all, I love representing the Savior! Everyday, all day. 
´´Can´t stop, won´t stop.´´
Elder Welch

Monday, January 20, 2014

Fired Up!

Dad´s email this week got me ´´fired up!´´ I loved hearing the news about the Marion Branch. I unfortunately will miss Elder Perry´s visit (if he comes), but let him know that if he comes to Brazil, I will make him another PB and honey sandwich. (Just let him know that he needs to bring the peanut butter...) Isn´t that TERRIBLE!? Brazil doesn´t have peanut butter! Seriously, c'mon now... My companion saved me though and had three jars that his parents sent him for Christmas. This companionship was inspired... Haha so when I arrived, there was no need to worry. Also, the best part is, he thinks he´s allergic to it. So, guess what. I´m the only one that eats it. Yep. Oh yeah. I already finished one of the containers this past week... Opa!
Anyway, it was exciting news to hear about the success of the Marion branch. That´s what I´m talking about! I love this time - ´´Hastening the Work of Salvation!´´ It´s like being apart of the 1980 USA Miracle hockey team or the ´´Dream Team´´ with Michael Jordan in the late 80´s and 90´s. When I think about from the time of Adam, all the way through Joseph Smith, The Lord´s never hastened the work in the vineyard like he is now. Prophecies are being fulfilled, adding another testimony to the divinity of this work. It´s hard, oooohhhh man it´s hard, but it´s so exciting. The Savior is on His way and I get to play on his team everyday. All I´m asked to do is prepare every person I can to make sure it´s a ´´great day´´ for them, and not a ´´dreadful´´ one. Why? Because I love The Lord and I love my ´´extended´´ (Brazilian) brothers and sisters.

I felt bad this week about my email last week. I´m not sure how you may have read it, but I felt like I made it sound like I was down in the dumps. If I did, it wasn´t the case. Haha. The thing that made me worry the most was the email you sent to the mission office. When I got a call this week about how I´m doing, I was taken a little back. They then told me (after repeating himself 4 times - he was a Brazilian speaking Portuguese over the phone... very difficult) that mom/dad sent an email saying that we had no food. I immediately started worrying about how you may have read the email as well as some other things. Anyway, sure I felt embarrassed because they called me because of a ´´parent email,´´ but you actually saved me. Haha. I had 150 reais (about 75 dollars) that I totally forgot about. The days of fasting are over! We´re going shopping right after we email. Yeah!

Also, we saw some incredible things this week. I don´t know if my email triggered 1000´s of prayers or what, but there were definitely angels with us this week. Haha it was awesome. Keep on praying for the area of Jundiai! I definitely felt them this week. 
-Having to learn a language that you studied for such a short time, and then stopped studying for six months (kind of), has been very humbling to me. Although I do plan and prepare things I will say during lessons/contacts, I spend a lot of the time just observing. It´s helped in more ways than a few. For instance, when I was in Georgia, I loved teaching... Maybe a little too much. I would always talk more than my companions. Now, I want to teach so bad but I have to sit back and observe. It´s a combination of Heavenly Father´s sense of humor and a lesson for me to learn. However, with this topic of ´´observing,´´ I´m beginning to pick up on small things people do here. I constantly think of Mormon in the Book of Mormon and how Amaron mentions how Mormon is ´´quick to observe.´´ I´m beginning to learn this Christlike attribute.
-We met a couple FAMILIES this week! Whoo! I love me some families! We met a kid named Louis, walking on the street last week. The spirit hit me to ask him if he knew anyone that may be interested in our message. Quem voce conhece... He responded, ´´Ahhhh. Minha Mae.´´
We followed him there to meet his mom and turns out, he has SEVEN brothers and sisters! Haha holy smokes, I know. We weren´t able to meet his mom then, and still haven't been able to, but we have taught the baptismal aged ones. Louis is 12 and is the second oldest. He´s got an incredible sister who´s ten years old and goes to church by herself on Wednesdays and an older brother who's 15 who has kind of taken over as the father of the home. It turns out his dad left for a  ´´business trip´´ three years ago, and never came home. I asked him what he wants in life and he (Wagner) said for his dad to come home. It´s really hard on the family because the mom has to work all of the time, causing her to never be home. So, Wagner is starting work to help pay for the family expenses while Louis and his 10 year old sister raise the kids. It´s sad to see but also incredible. I´m always taken back when I see them walk out of their house carrying their 2 year old sister or talking with their 4 year old brother. We figured out that their neighbor is trying to have someone take them away from their mom because they´re by themselves all of the time. When that actually may seem like the best option, its sad because the kids think their neighbor is trying to tear their family apart.
-We met a couple families this week who think I´m in the One Direction band. One of the dads took a picture with us and another one was making fun of me. He made fun of me the entire lesson to because my Portuguese is bad, but I gave him a hug at the end and told him I loved him. Haha. Its easy to get discouraged but not worth it. I hope the people see that I'm here because I love them.
-To wrap things up, we had an investigator at church with us yesterday who showed up with a hat on. We didn't say anything until the closing prayer, when Elder Lee asked him to take it off to show respect. During the prayer he hit my leg and said something to me that I didn't understand. Haha so I put my finger to my mouth and said that it was the prayer right now. We closed our eyes again... At the end of the prayer, he was gone! Haha he got up and left church! Someone in the hallway said he almost was running. Haha oh man we had no idea how to react. We called him later and explained that we didn't mean to offend him. He accepted our apology.

Anyway, I love it here! I love being on the Lord´s Dream/Miracle team. Wearing the uniform everyday and putting on the badge gets me ´´fired up!´´ What a marvelous work this is! 
I love you all,
Elder Welch

Monday, January 13, 2014

Challenging 2nd Week in Brazil

Wow. This past week was the hardest week on my mission. Don´t get worried! but man it was hard. 
Well I told you last week that we had one investigator. Egghhhh... Haha I don´t know if I would call her an investigator. Everything here is just kind of madness - I don´t know how to explain it. VERY different than serving in Atlanta. Definitely a challenge that I´m up for though.  Just some highlights of this week:

We spent about nine hours each day this past week in the sun. Whooooooo, talk about getting a bronze. I would be rocking an awesome ´´missionary´s tan´´ if I went swimming. We ran out of water too, which is a whole different story. Haha everything here in Brazil is so expensive! When I was serving in Georgia, I never had a problem with money. If we didn´t have a dinner scheduled, no problem. Buying groceries on P-Day, no problem. I´m starting to understand what Joe must have felt like eating a block of cheese for meals. Haha we have no food in the house, and this past week, no water either. So, for breakfast I would eat leftover chocolate from Christmas (don´t ask what type- I won´t be able to pronounce it...) and then either go to the church and fill up some water bottles or ´´clap´´ outside of somebody´s house and ask for a copa de agua. The best day this week was when we finally did get water (the mission supplies it). However, I ate the last piece of chocolate this morning, so I don´t know what we´re going to be doing for breakfast anymore. (oh, that´s something different here too. Brazilians have the lightest breakfast on earth and then skip dinner. They have a MONSTER lunch and then pretty much fast to the next day´s lunch. It´s definitely been different trying to get used to that. I eat about three/four plates of food at lunches.... MINDLESS EATAAAAAHHHH!! Haha) 
A lot of other things made this week something to be grateful for. I´m hesitant to say it was the hardest week of my LIFE because that´s a little dramatic, but it definitely was up there. A combination of the heat, walking all day, only chocolate to eat, no water, and no ´´immediate´´ success was very humbling.  But, I love it. It´s very easy to get discouraged when things aren´t going well. I was praying one night this week and just started to say everything on my mind. I was saying how hard this was... and then how hard that was... How embarrassing that contact was... and then an incredible sense of peace came over me. I wasn´t discouraged, rather just talking with Heavenly Father about some of the experiences that I didn´t anticipate having on my mission. Just small things like hang drying my pants after washing them and then a storm coming in that night (yep, I wore wet pants that day... haha), to never seeing carpet (you can´t ever go barefoot here... man I miss that).
For some reason I started thinking about walking down the airplane terminal after my mission (100 pounds lighter) and seeing Mom and Dad´s faces. (Hopefully this will happen...) but you were so proud of seeing the type of person that I had grown to become while on my mission. Mom was crying (I know, weird huh. But hopefully this illustrates a principle I had never really thought of) because she was so happy that I was her son. After my homecoming talk, she sat on the couch back home asking me about all of the stories.
Now, that almost sounds kind of arrogant to say "how proud mom and dad were because I became awesome while on my mission," but I continued to pray. I told Heavenly Father how happy it made me when I did something that made my earthly parents proud.
I then had the thought of returning back to our Heavenly Parents. Walking down the airplane terminal, passing different people, and seeing the family with signs saying "Welcome Home." I tried picturing what it would feel like to know how proud my Heavenly Father and Mother were of the type of person that I had become while serving my "mission" while on earth.
It was a powerful prayer where I felt incredible at peace. It really changed my perspective on doing missionary work here, as well as helping me understand my identity as a child of Heavenly Parents.

I hope this letter doesn´t sound like I´m depressed, or even trunky for that matter - there´s just not much to comment on. Haha I saw the hand of the Lord everyday here and I´m grateful for that. Hopefully Heavenly Father is a little easier on us this week, but hey.. "Come what may and love it." I love it here. I love the people. I love The Lord. I love four plates of rice and beans everyday and people correcting my pronunciation. I love showering, using the restroom and brushing my teeth all in the same four foot square bathroom.
I have no choice but to love it. When I think about how good home is, it doesn´t make this journey as much fun. I´m loving the grind and learning a lot.

I´ll forever be grateful for Heavenly Father. I know He is in the minute details of my life. I know that He loves me and looks forward to my prayers as much as my earthly parents do my weekly letters.
I know Christ Lives! That this is His church and that I hold His authority. I know the things I´m experiencing are helping me to become like Him.
There´s so many things to be grateful for. Since I´ve left, I´ve really become grateful for my earthly mom and dad. Thank you for raising me in this restored gospel. I couldn´t be any more happy. I love it. Just LOVE IT! 
As always, I´m livin´the dream.
Elder Welch

Monday, January 6, 2014


Woah. Where to start? This week has been madness. Ill just say everything that comes to mind so I apologize in advance if I'm all over the place. (plus, it~s a little distracting emailing here because every word I write gets a little red squig-ga-ly line underneath it. haha spell check...)

Monday was crazy. We had an awesome P-Day and were in the process of setting some big-time goals for the coming transfer. We had an awesome family night with the Santamore family and talked all about their conversion story. We then came home for nightly planning when we got a call from the assistants. I always ignore calls from 9-9:30 because that time is so crucial, but since it was one of our leaders, we had to answer it.
`Elder Welch… We've got some news for you.´
We all looked at each other knowing what the news was. ´Nooooooooooo!!!!!´
Man, hearing that news was pretty heart-breaking. When I first got to Georgia it was a constant mind game of wanting to be in Brazil, but last transfer I really grew close with a lot of people. Especially with the ward and area ´heating-up,´it was an exciting time. The members there are awesome. I loved working with the Bishop and other aux leaders. I learned so much from them. Only having one day to pack up and go was probably a good thing though. I wanted to say goodbye to everyone but it wasn't possible without ´calling a timeout on the Work of Salvation.´ Elder Goddard and Elder Dobbins have got it good there in Smyrna. Ill always be grateful for those 5 months in Georgia. I hope to be able to stay in contact with the members and ´soon-to-be´members.

The plane ride was a nice long one. I didn't mind it though because I had a lot of time to catch up on some studies that I've been wanting to read more in to. The lady I sat next to on the plane was from Germany too, so I couldn't really talk with anyone. Haha, I thought I would test out some of my rusty Portuguese with her, so when the plane first started taking off, I struck up a conversation... Talk about being discouraged. Haha I repeated myself like three times with some of the most basic questions, and she didn't understand me. I thought, ´Man! Has my Portuguese really gotten that bad?!´I even tried saying words slower and asking for help with pronunciation. It wasn't until a little bit later that I was able to understand her broken English. `I only speak German.`
Phew! Haha
Being arrogant, I re-told myself that I could speak Portuguese. Ohhhh mannnn.... Getting off the plane in Saõ Paulo was a whole ´nother story.

So, as you could imagine, being in Georgia for half of a year and not speaking Portuguese with anyone, made me realllllyyyy bad. And I mean, REALLY bad. It´s definitely been a test of patience the past couple of days here. My new saying to myself is, "Tem Fé Elder Welch... Tem Fé." Haha this might be bad to say but whenever I have a bad street contact, I think to myself, "At least I´m not learning Cantonese..." (Sorry Karli - whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies...)

I got in to the habit of talking with everyone in the streets while serving in Georgia which I guess has been a good thing, but also an interesting thing. Haha after my companion and I got to our new area, we went out to meet a less active. The first person I saw I just went for it...
"Oi! Tudo Bem! Qual é seu nome?"
Yep. That´s what it sounded like to me. Haha I seriously didn´t understand anything. But over the past few days it´s been a huge blessing because I´m starting to pick up more and more. (I said it was a interesting thing because after saying hi to the person, I just turned to my companion.) Haha I don't think he was used to talking with people on the streets so it was a little bit of a change for him. We started laughing about it later because I ask a question and then have no idea what they say. Now, since I know more questions, I ask a question, don´t understand what they say, and then ask another question. Haha. Anyway, It was close to 9:00 one of the first nights and he finally said to me, "Be careful with who you talk with now. There´s a lot of ladroes (thieves) out here at night." (We´re serving right in the middle of a city). Because of not being able to speak well with the people here, I told myself that I would "love everyone´s faces off." I don´t know what it was but I started hugging all the people I met. Haha I think I was a little too excited. My companion, worried for my safety, told me to be careful at nights though - I wouldn´t want to be hugging someone with a knife on them...

Although I still don´t know what a TRUE Brazilian looks like (they seriously are a mix of every ethnicity), I love it here, just like I did in Smyrna. I´m pumped up for what this transfer has in store. The people here are awesome too.

Every time we sit down here to talk with someone, I fall asleep... It´s automatic. Not because I´m tired of walking 50 miles a day, but my mind becomes fried trying to translate everything. Haha my companion always puts his hand on my back while he´s talking to wake me up. The investigator (yes, that´s the tough thing here. We only have ONE investigator. Who thought Brazil baptized every week? Elder Lee told me that only one person has been baptized in the past three transfers here. We definitely have some work to do...) or member, depending on who we are teaching, always starts laughing at me when I wake up. Haha
Funny story about that though - yesterday, being fast and testimony meeting... oh man, this is embarrassing... I fell asleep AGAIN while sitting in the pew. I woke up to a sister in the ward closing her testimony and saw that no one was in line (haha it started out with a line...). I looked over at Elder Lee, cueing him to come up with me. So, I stood up and walked to the pulpit. When I reached the microphone I thought to myself, "What in the world am I doing up here..."
Haha oh man, it was bad. I woke up while sitting in the church pew and 30 seconds later, I found myself standing at the pulpit. With a prayer in my heart, I bore a simple testimony and told everyone how much I love The Lord. I made a few comments that made them laugh and then sat down. Elder Lee (he´s awesome), came up with me and bore his. I think it may of helped "integrate" myself in to the ward though because a lot of members came up to me after and said something (I think it was good but it could´ve been something bad - haha)

Anyway, there´s a lot of work to do here but I´m pumped up and ready to prepare Jundiaí for the Second Coming! I have faith that I´ll pick the language up, I´ve just got to be patient.

Love you all!

Elder Welch

Why's my hair so short? Because my companion cut it... haha my sides are actually longer than the top of my head

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Headed to Brazil!!!

Tyler was notified on Monday night (Dec 30th) that his visa has arrived and he will be leaving Wednesday (Jan 1) for Brazil!  He was able to call home last night before his plane took off to let our family know that he was on his way.  Hopefully all of the Portuguese practice he did with the wall the past 6 months will have paid off!

You can continue to email Tyler, but do not send any handwritten letters or packages to Atlanta anymore.  We will keep you all updated on his new contact information once we receive it!