Monday, April 28, 2014

Just Get Me to May!

Baseball season is getting rowdy and serious. Haha I remember Coach Schmidt in high school would always tell me that when we were at baseball practice. If I was in a slump or things were going really well, he would always say, ´´Just get me to May!´´ Why? Because the playoffs are in May.
That´s how Socorro is right now. Some hours of the day are killer, while others are heart breakers. However, with the turnoutyesterday, May is looking really promising.
So another transfer will come to an end today. It´s crazy how fast things are moving now. I was so nervous with this transfer cycle because of all the work that we put in and just started implementing. It didn´t help to get a call from the Assistants this past Wednesday to say that one of us would be leaving... It actually was a really surprising phone call. They told us that this coming transfer, we both would be training new missionaries. My companion was pumped for the opportunity, as was I, but to be honest - I DON´T SPEAK PORTUGUESE! Haha seriously, if I get an American companion to train, we´re going to be two mimes on the street holding copies of The Book of Mormon. It will definitely be interesting this coming transfer with a missionary fresh off the airplane. Anyway, they told us to travel to Campinas on Thursday, where we would have a meeting and then attend a session at the Campinas Temple. After the session, I was at ease and felt on fire. It was the first time I got to attend the Campinas Temple, as well as the first time attending in Portuguese. I learned a BOAT load of things, I think in part because of the language. Different things stand out to you in another language. The same is true with the scriptures. It´s been a real blessing learning Portuguese because the Restored Gospel is continuing to expand further and further beyond what I knew as a high schooler... However, everything cooled down this morning before studies when we got the call that I would be the one staying in Soccorro. My companion was cool with it because he was indifferent about the situation. Let me tell you a couple of reasons why I´m pumped for this transfer in MAY, whether or not I have an American or Brasilian companion (I´ll find out tomorrow).
We didn´t baptize anyone this transfer, but I´m comfortable with it this time. Last night I was thinking and I really feel like I did everything the Lord wanted me to accomplish in this area this past transfer. However, in a way, we did baptize a family - a family of SEVEN!
The family of Nelson and Joana is a less active family that we began working with about a month ago. They came to a Branch activity we had one time, but they never made it to Sacrament meeting. Yesterday, was depressing as I sat in the first meeting and taught the second meeting without them (Sacrament is the final meeting here). We made a phone call however before Sacrament started to one of our leaders. As my companion was on the phone, Nelson, Joana, and their 5 kids came walking up the steps dressed up for sacrament meeting. I threw my hands up in the air and just about hugged the mom I was so excited. I hugged the dad and son and told them to pass it to the girls in the family. Haha it was the first time being amissionary where Ive really been working hard with a less active family and they returned back to church. As they took the sacrament together, I felt like money. The members after the meeting were so happy too. They were hugging all of the members and the men and women were just kissing each other... Brasilian culture - still not used to that.
But wait, the good stuff doesn't stop there. Our Branch struggles here with taking care of investigators. What I mean by that is they don't really talk to them and definitely don't sit by them. Its a big challenge as a missionary when you have a handful of investigators at church and you're trying to make sure they all have a spiritual experience. I sometimes feel like a mom trying to take care of her church pew full of kids during Sacrament meeting.
Anyway, we always pull members over to talk with investigators and have figured out some different techniques that seem to be working . But yesterday, after church, one of our members invited a family we´re teaching to a barbeque with PICANHA! The best tasting meat in Brasil. Its seriously like a 100 bucks. Brasilian bbq´s alone are the best, but with Picanha.... I haven't tasted it yet but Ive heard stories about what it tastes like. Haha straight up mouth watering. Anyway, so I was pretty pumped to hear about that.
We also, along with the Branch Mission Plan I´ve slaved over this past transfer making, had our first ´´Preach My Gospel´´ class at night. We had more members come and participate then I thought would show. On Thursday when I went to the temple, we bought ten copies for the Branch to use during these classes. The members had notebooks, highlighters, and pens - taking notes like crazy. We focused our class yesterday on ´´Listening´´ and how its probably more important than teaching. This week I'm planning some visits with some investigators and less active members to visit after the class next Sunday night. Socorro is about to become a ´´Preach My Gospel Branch!´´
To conclude, Ill give a Preach My Gospel thought - another hidden promise that Ive tested and its come true.
Chapter 9, under the section ´´Talk with Everyone´´ gives a short section on prayer. It says to pray for three things inparticular.
1. To have the capacity to find someone that you can SERVE
2. To have the capacity to find someone that you can TEACH a truth, and
3. To have the SENSITIVITY to know who that person is.

This is how we found Eduardo. Result - Baptism
This is how we found an 80 year old women being abused by her own daughter... Result (I got transferred the next day)
This is how we found Vanderle and Claudete. A couple that was a few days away from divorce, and now are happy together and reading the Book of Mormon. Vanderle made it to church yesterday (Claudete no because the car broke down...)
Believe it! Pray for it, remember that you prayed for it, and then work for it. Faith without works is dead. The same is true for prayer.
The Church is so TRUE! I love being a missionary and representing the Savior every day!
Elder Welch

Btw, Mom - Your talk was seriously DYNAMITE! Your testimony has caught fire since Ive been serving a mission. Holy cow, I'm so excited to talk to you and hear about more of your successes with this ´´great and marvelous latter-day work!´´ on Mothers day! WHooooo!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tender Mercies

Man. What a week. What blessings. This work is incredible. Sorry for the bullet pointed letter but gotta go!

-Mom gave a talk on Easter? Haha she always gives talks on Holidays. I look forward to reading it after I print it off.
-Matt is an animal. (thought I would throw that in there)
-So Dad, you were on the money with the leadership in this Branch. Its super challenging to get things done, especially with the history. The leaders not only don't know how to lead, but their simple knowledge of the gospel is very limited. For example, our branch president didn't know there was 5 sessions of general conference, let alone priesthood session. Because of this, I have studied chapter 13 of Preach My Gospel over and over and over again, and ohhhhh yeah the Lord is leading the way.
-We spent a lot of time praying and thinking and studying about a Branch Mission Plan. After about 4 weeks, we presented to the leadership and they absolutely loved it. The Relief Society President started crying! It was pretty awesome because they´ve never seen organization before. Unfortunately, the past missionaries didn't leave a good impression, and with that and the leadership, everything in this branch got put on slow motion.
-Because of the lack of organization, a couple of things usually happen. For example:

  • The Relief Society President scheduled a lunch for us about 2 in a half hours away walking... We talked to her a couple days before where she told us she would cancel it. Haha, well she forgot. As we had a booked schedule with appointments, we couldn't afford to walk there and back. The Sister in the branch called us to and told us that everything was ready... We said a prayer, received a prompting to hitchhike (I know... But it was a prompting), AND RECEIVED A RIDE ALL THE WAY THERE! Boom, tender mercy.
  • We had to visit some other people that live about 2 hours away by foot, but because of the lack of knowledge of our area, we planned to eat lunch when we got dropped off by the bus. Well, no restaurants exist there, the only one that does was closed. We submitted ourselves, thought about what the Savior would do and just kept working without complaint. 30 minutes later, this man pulled up to us and gave us a whole bunch of free fruit. Haha we taught him the Restoration too... Boom, tender mercy.
  • Yesterday, before Sacrament Mtg, the 1st counselor touched me on the shoulder and jokingly said that I was going to give a 10-15 minute talk. I laughed with him.... Until the branch president called my name. Haha but instead of complaining in my head, I said a prayer and submitted myself to it. I gave a talk on how we can hear the voice of the Lord. I related it to the first vision when Heavenly Father said ´´This is my beloved son, Hear Him!´´ as well as the Resurrection because yesterday was Easter. The Lord tied it all together and put a cherry on top. It was one of the coolest experiences I've had. I could feel the Spirit of The Lord at every part of my body. At lunch yesterday, one of the sisters said she and a few others are calling our mission president this week to make sure we don't get transferred. I don't know if they can do that, but oh well. Nonetheless, BOOM! Tender Mercy

There's so much more, like a couple of less active families we are working with to reactivate. Some have kids that aren'tmembers of the church yet.
I'm excited for this work. I'm just a humble servant trying to please my Father every day. As I seek to align my will with His every morning in prayer, the days get better and better. The only thing that stinks is that they seem to go by faster. I seriously am having so much fun!

Love you guys! I pray for you by name almost every night
Elder Welch

1 Nephi 1:20Preach My Gospel - chapter 3 lesson 5. "After the covenant of Baptism is made, missionary work is a commandment that is given!" Whoooooo!!
Fill me in on your studies this week please!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Grandpa Golf

I'll explain the title here in a little bit, but first, ''some items of ward business":
-Next package, please send me a Rubik's cube. My companion told me that when he was investigating the church, the missionary that taught him used a Rubik's cube to explain the great apostasy and restoration. He said he's never forgotten it. I think that would be really cool to use here. Ive started doing some magic tricks for kids in a family, like changing Brasilian coins into American change... Haha they love it. But I think that could help with some teaching situations.
-Also, I need a new oil vile (it broke!)
-and a new memory card for the camera. I want to send home my memory card now but I wont have anything for a while to take pictures. So Ill send it home when I receive another. Thank you always for the love in the care package mom!

I don't know why, but the words of Matt and Dustin and example of Grandpa McFerson made a big impact on me this week.  Usually, because it's a Welch gene (and Joe has inherited it), at some point during a round of golf you will start to over correct your drive from the tee box. Usually, depending on how your playing, you will play about a 50-75 yard slice. Haha, and then, if you're Dustin, you will hook one really bad to the left and there goes a two-stroke penalty... ANNNNNDDDD a temper, haha. Because Matt and Dustin usually get really frustrated teeing off, they coined the term, ''Good 'ol Grandpa Golf.'' The term was named after Grandpa McFerson because of how frustrating it is to play with him. He just swings the club really calmly and smoothly.... And then the ball goes about 150 yards straight down the middle of the fairway. Ohhhh man it's sometimes so frustrating - probably because he's had cancer and his right arm practically doesn't even function. From the example of Gpa, Dustin and Matt would usually at the end of every round play ''Grandpa Golf'' and finish the round out well.
Anyway, one thing granpa taught me that I havent forgotten is his reflection on the round after. He always remembers the holes he played so well. He told me one time that every night, before he goes to bed after playing a round that day, he goes through each hole and thinks about each shot. His thoughts before the shot, the lie of the ball, where he wants to place the ball, his practice swings, the club he used, everything... I think it stuck with me because of the intense thought that takes not only during the round, but after in order to remember it.

I read a talk this week from Elder Holland about personal worthiness. At the end of the talk, he mentions how we can feel the Spirit more. He said something like this:
When we're all alone with just our memories, our conscience will reflect a peaceful feeling and we will know the Lord approved our labor for that day.

I butchered that quote but I think it still carries the same power. I began to put that in to practice this week.
Every night before I go to bed, I first reflect in my mission journal where I saw the Hand of the Lord. I then put it away and kneel down and begin the record some of the things I pray for. After the prayer, when it's just me and my memories, I have really felt the Spirit and the Lord ''approving'' my labor and efforts as a missionary. Every night, I play a round of ''Good 'ol Grandpa Golf'' before going to bed.
I just looked at the timer and realized I cant even finish this letter.... Haha sorry. This week was awesome and we received a TON of blessings from the Lord. As I continue to recognize His hand, I seem to have more spiritual experiences. One frustrating thing however is as I come closer to HIm, I began to recognize more of my weaknesses. Its TERRIBLY frustrating but I think its that way for a reason. As we learn more of Him, He will help us become more like Him.

I love the Lord and serving Him everyday. I'll record some thoughts next week of Preach My Gospel. It didn't seem like anyone accepted my invitation. Ill decide just to talk about it regardless.

Love you family!
Elder Welch

Monday, April 7, 2014

"I tell you these things because of your prayers"

Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 - 

Amen to conference, ey? Yesterday and the day before will definitely be a conference weekend I will never forget. Why? Because I practically understood nothing. Haha I heard Elder Holland threw down on a solid missionary story, Elder Christofferson hit it on the money with the Resurrection and President Packer seemed to give his ´'final testimony,'' but my notes would tell you something completely, and I mean completely, different.
I'm getting to the point where I'm trusting in the Spirit enough during lessons where I can understand what the person is saying and I can communicate my feelings - but outside of this, I still don't really know what's going on around me. My notes on conference were short, but really the things that I needed to hear. The words that spoke to me, Heavenly Father allowed me to understand. To give you proof of this, the overarching lesson I learned this Saturday and Sunday was to hand write letters to friends and family. Yep. I told my companion this and no one talked about that. But, it was cool to not take notes this conference on what was said, but rather on the lessons I learned through the Spirit.
Ill stay on the conference topic for a little bit longer. The talks I really understood were Elder Corbridge (because he practically gave the missionary lessons - aka my entire vocabulary) and Elder Ballard. Oh yeah to Elder Ballard. I loved everything that he said and I think I understood just about everything. Because of his talk, I'm inviting the family to purchase individual Preach My Gospelś and to write me what you learn during the week. Friends and extended family are welcome to do this as well. Once a week, we can have our own ''Companionship Study'' over email and share with each other what we learned in our own ''Personal Studies'' during the week. I'll start off with the first lesson that I learned since serving in Brazil.
When I arrived in Jundiaí, we had one investigator. Yes, one person in our entire teaching pool. We spent the next two weeks in the Sun, fasting, praying, and working to build up a solid teaching pool. I seriously about died. These were the hardest couple weeks on my mission so far.
I decided that I was going to go crazy on Chapter Nine and do everything that chapter says about finding people. We tried and tried and tried, and continued to fail. It was terribly frustrating. We even decided to wake up earlier as a companionship so we could workout and began our studies sooner. A combination of the sun, no food, and no sleep caused us to randomly collapse during lessons. Our bodies were exhausted.
I then read a ´'hidden promise'' (Preach My Gospel has a couple of these) under the section of chapter nine titled, ''Teach when you Find, Find when you Teach.´'
It talks about three things, that if you do every time, you will have a solid teaching pool. ''Missionaries that put this principle in to practice HAVE MANY PEOPLE TO TEACH.''
The three things are,
1. Sharing short, brief statements of the Restoration
2. Ask ''Who do you know that would be interested?'' two times
3. Do this every time.
Ohhh yeahh, I thought. We're about to qualify for Heaven's blessings now. We sent a goal to bear a simple testimony of the restoration and then ask who do you know that would be interested to 300 people every week.

Results, in 8 weeks, we went from one investigator in our teaching pool to 62. Trust in the Lord and his (hidden) promises. Jundiaí is now Killing it! They just had another baptism last weekend.

Love Preach My Gospel. Its incredible. I study it everyday. My goal on the mission is to earn the title of being called ''A Preach My Gospel Missionary.'' That doesn't make a whole lot of sense but I want that nickname... Desire that nickname too. ''A Preach My Gospel Member-Missionary.'' Study it and pray about what you learn.

Anyway, I want to share one last thing before we go buy some good ol fruit!

While I was serving in Georgia, I was really struggling with making my prayers meaningful. I would be so tired at night, I would almost immediately fall asleep as I began my prayers, later waking up at 2:00 in the morning with the worst cramps. Hah it was awful. I prayed and studied and prayed some more about how I could improve my prayers, receive revelation for my life and the investigators lives, and to be happy.
Karli, I don't know why, randomly sent me a notebook and thoughts from Elder Bednar with an invitation to keep a ''Prayer Journal'' - answer to a prayer.
Since then, I have written down almost every night what happened during the day and then what I prayed for during the day. I had never gone back and read it until recently.
Some of you might think I'm a baby when it comes to the Gospel, and maybe I am, but I couldn't hold back the tears. As I flipped through the Prayer journal, I began to make check mark after check mark of the prayers that were answered - they weren't always on my time table, or how I wanted them to be answered, but they were answered and I grew from them. He has heard everyone of my prayers. He gives me promptings because of my Prayers. He gives me understanding when I ask for it and helps me find happiness.
I think that's kind of how judgment day is going to be. We learn that the books will be opened before us, but what does that mean? For me, I think my Journal will be opened, a record of my prayers will be opened, the things that I fasted for will be opened, and I will look up at Christ and finally understand that He really was always there. I will finally understand His Mercy and bear witness that He is the Christ.
Let us try to ''make'' prayers as they say it in Portuguese. Don just ''say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen'' - but ''Hear them in the Name of Jesus Christ as well.'' Close your prayers with the mind and will of Christ.
I'm grateful for the Lord and a Loving Heavenly Father who hears all of my prayers. I am finally beginning to understand how to pray and it is making me so much happier. It sometimes takes so much thought, and I get even more tired after, but its changing my life and some of our investigators.

Let's join together as a family and help the Lord hasten this Great and Marvelous work. Lets contribute and use our ''Four Minutes'' (yep, the pictures helped me understand that talk... ) the way they were intended to be used. Lets consecrate our lives so we can live together forever.
Love you Fam! Thank you for your prayers. I'm strengthened by them day by day.

*I hope you take the invitation to study Preach My Gospel at least once every week. I promise that it will bless your life and you will be so much happier. You will find success with your own Missionary efforts, and in return 1. you'll be more happy, and 2. your sins will be more readily forgiven you. Let us not forget the most important book however, The Book of Mormon. That invitation is an automatic. Read it everyday. Love it everyday. Bear testimony to someone about it everyday. It was written for our day. If you want a challenge, try to love that book of scripture more than I love it. I don't know how we will measure that, but try.

With love for the Lord and a recognition for His hand in all that we do,
Elder Welch

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Plano de Jogo [3/31/14]

Guess who received a package this week?? YEAAHHHHH!!!! A couple quick comments about that:
-I didn't have a 300 dollar tax this time. Free of charge! Thank you, thank you thank you
-Sister Mccrary and Ashley's letter in the box were dynamite. They actually made me tear up a little bit. Thank you to the relief society for the letters.
-Brother Dean's letter was the best. Ive got to admit it. Please tell him how much I appreciated his letter. I loved the quotes he sent too.
-Jd and Davids letters. Keep those coming! I'm so proud of them. Also, I'm curious about Hunter. If its not to hard, I would love to hear how hes doing
-Post it notes and the ''tall'' garments. Thank you. I really like those. You don't need to send anymore for now, but in the future, I think I will ask for a resupply.
-Sister Nelson and the seminary kids are awesome! Especially the YW. Their testimonies were FORTE! I loved hearing their insight on what they learned so far about the Book of Mormon. That book has seriously changed my life. I carry it in my hand always so people can ask about it. Please let her know that I still think about her seminary lessons. This week I was thinking about the ''little blue dot.'' It was a conference talk she spoke about and how little we really are in comparison to Gods creations but of infinite worth we are. It helped me answer a question about the atonement I had.
-And peanut butter.... Ohhhhh I miss peanut butter so much. Thank you for that and trail mix

So I was pretty down. I ALWAYS leave an area the weekend of a family baptism. In Georgia and now in Jundiai. The package came at perfect timing as we had a three hour bus ride to our new area. Haha its in no mans land. Its a small, tiny city in the mountains! We have a small branch that meets in a club house. The baptismal font is a swimming pool - if that's not motivating to baptize, nothing will... Haha I want to get in that pool! To put it in perspective, Jundiai's list of members had about 18 pages. Here in Sucorro, theres not even two in a half... Its so tiny! Anyway, so it was a mixture of feelings of the hard work put in in Jundiai and then leaving, coming to small tiny (bunch of old people) branch where theres more horses and cows then people. Haha we walk easily 25 minutes in between houses sometimes.
Anyway, I had a thought about Christ. What was Christ like when He was my age? The 19 year old Christ??
It really shifted my view and motivated me to act and be like him. After some fervent prayer and fasting, the Lord blessed us with 19 new investigators this past week. 5 came to church. The leadership didn't have any trust in the missionaries and were so tired and dried out. We called and met with them multiple times this week and won a little bit of their trust. They asked us to give a talk yesterday as a result of our conversations. I decided to do it on Elder Nielsen's conference talk about making a game plan.
I invited the branch of about 29 members to try to be more excited than me and my companion with missionary work. I also made a ''game plan'' with the list of investigators for them to pray for this week.... OOhhhhh baby. I wish I could explain more but they got SOO excited! The Lord heard our prayers.
I love the work. Hes really hastening it here. There's so much potential!
Ill write more next week!
Com amor,

Elder Welch