Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Let it Burn!

Yeeeeeeehaaaawwwwww! The transfer call came last night and guess who´s getting more ´´Greenie Fire´´ coming his way. Seriously, it´s the best calling as a missionary to train someone fresh out of the MTC. I can´t wait! My legs are shaking as I write this email home. There´s a lot of reasons why I like the calling so much but I especially like the first couple of days. They always think I´m the greatest missionary ever, giving me compliment after compliment, and then apologizing when they think they don´t live up to my expectations. For example, an invitation to be baptized... Haha maybe this doesn't make much sense so I´ll stop the comments here.
The first two transfers with Elder Machado came to a close. I´m not going to lie, he and Elder Amâncio I think were my two favorite companions. He was fighting back the tears last night as he was transferred and I stayed in the area. The past two weeks have been pretty awesome. As I may have mentioned in the past, this area I think is the richest city in the mission - absolutely FULL of gated communities where the bosses of the bosses live (their companies being in São Paulo and Campinas). With a lot of prayer and tiny changes, we have finally entered some of these gated communities to teach some families. The end of February and March are looking pretty white! No joke, some of the houses are so large it´s hard to see the ceiling when you enter the house... Okay, that´s a little bit of an exaggeration but some of these houses are incredible. I feel so tiny and get so scared that I will break something as I enter sometimes. These men are rich out of their minds. But the challenge here is of marriage. If I could have one wish, it would be a marriage wand. Seriously, who doesn't want to get married? The majority of these men and women want to live together their whole lives without getting married. And let me tell ya, it´s difficult to convince rich couples to get married legally.

On to other news, Carnaval started on Saturday. Like I said last year, I was disappointed in my efforts because I felt like it wasn´t possible to baptize that week. Elder Machado and I fasted together on Saturday with faith that some of these investigators take that last step. I hope to send pictures home next week of a family being baptized.

On Tuesday until Thursday of last week, I spent the days on a division with the Elder in SOCORRO! I was needing to see how some things were going in the branch there so we can help them become a ward. While I was there, I asked the elder not to schedule any visits to members because we´re good friends, and I knew he knew how much I love the members there. I felt a little bad because the members thought I didn't want to see them. But being in the small city of Socorro, I was able to see a couple. One of them yelled my name - ´´Elder WIIICCHHHHH!!´´ Hahah I looked at my companion and said, ´´They still don´t know how to pronounce my name...´´ We talked with the Stake Presidentyesterday. We have a meeting on March 1st with all of the ward/branch mission leaders to train them on Chapter 13 of Preach My Gospel. There´s some pretty exciting days and weeks that lie ahead.

I read section 15 of Doctrine and Covenants last week and thought a lot about it. Its short, read it.
I love the mission. I love being a missionary. I love everything about this work. It´s the greatest, happiest, most exciting, hard, challenging, depressing, incredible, stressful, painful, time of my life! I´m livin´the dream with more greenie fire coming tomorrow!

Elder Welch

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Impressed, to Say the Least [2/9/15]

Wow, this pday was awesome... and it just got started! Haha the only thing that was awesome in reality, was Matt´s talkon Sunday. He said two things that made me think. Here they are:

1. I don´t know how I was blessed for not watching the rated R movie, but I know the Lord blessed me.
2. I´m grateful for the standards the Lord has given us. Although they may seem restricting and I don't understand some of them, I know that we have them for a reason.

Seriously, those two lines are dynamite! It made me think a lot about one of my leaders in the beginning of my mission who invited me to change.
I'm not going to lie, when I arrived as a new missionary I was ARROGANT! Straight up, no no´s about it. I told my trainer and those around me that I was going to make history. I showed the caption one day of the picture of Dan Jones (first chapter of Preach My Gospel) in a companionship study. It reads something like, ´´Dan Jones - One of the greatest missionaries in the Latter-Days.´´ I told my trainer to think about that line and then look at me. Confused, without a reply I pointed my thumbs at me... "Elder - I´m going to be THE BEST missionary in these latter-days!"

A couple of months later, a tad bit more humble,  I was studying chapter 10 without rest. All day, everyday, I wanted to be the greatest teacher in the Last-days. Chapter 10 talks all about ´´teaching techniques.´´ I wanted investigators to sit down in the fields of my area and just hear my sermons...  I desired the conversions like Alma after Abinidi had put his life on the line with the king-

"And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts."

I imagined these fields being like a football crowd and everyone screaming (it being a white out of course (in baptismal clothing)) "BAPTIZE ME!!"

Haha thanks to the inspiration of this work, my leader humbled my prideful desires and made me think about how The Savior taught people. He made me think about what made Him so effective. He later arrived at his point being the way Christ was. Chapter 6 - attributes of Christ.
In all, I think what made Matt´s talk so great, at least in my opinion, was the humility with what he approached his talk. ´´I don´t know how He blessed me, but I know He did´´ or ´´Athough they seem restricting and I don´t understand some of them, I know that we have them for a reason.´´ I noticed in the last General Conference, Elder Holland talked similarly. He expressed how he doesn't know what it´s like to pass through depression, but he knows who does know how it feels.

Congrats on the talk Matt. You made me proud.

The work is going on. I´m grateful for a Loving Savior who makes up for so many of my weaknesses. For example, Reginaldo (one of our investigators who has been going to church for over two months now) still thought he wasn't ready for church. In attempt to force a baptism (which I recognize was very wrong of me), we told him that he was going to watch the meetings with the baptismal clothing. I think it freaked him out, and he turned out not going to church yesterday... We passed by after church and he said that his dad needed some help with something out of town, but the Spirit chastised me for the attempt... Oh the sacredness of our agency. What a frustrating lesson it sometimes can be as a missionary. However, I couldn't be anymore grateful for it.

As the mission seems to be running before my eyes, I can see the way the Lord is changing my heart. I really believe that I arrived on the mission with a Lamanite heart. Everything was about me, even the glory. I wanted to be the best - and I wanted everyone to know it.

"And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first." -Abraham 3:27

The changes the Lord has done with me, even the hard lessons, makes me think a lot about why Jesus and Lucifer were both called. And of course, why Jesus became the Christ, the chosen one.
How grateful I am for a patient and loving Heavenly Father, who respects and treasures our free agency. I know we are all called to this work (D&C 4:2), but we need to turn ourselves qualified for it (D&C 4:5-6).

Elder Welch

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [2/4/15]

Wow. It´s February!? Elder Amâncio, one of my favorite companions (served with him in Socorro), asked me on Monday if I was ´´trunky.´´ I didn´t realize that I have 3 transfers left! Last week I laid down to go to sleep and thought to myself, ´´Wow, it´s going to be so weird living away from home at college...´´ I woke up the next morning thinking how ridiculous that thought was. ´´Agh.. It´s been a while since I haven´t lived in my parent´s house.´´ Hahah I still feel like I´m in High School, just on a summer break preaching the Gospel. His question really took me off guard.
This week has been full of ups and a couple of downs. Seriously, the words of King Benjamin are what I want to paste all over the newspapers and tv´s - 

" 41 And moreover, would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God."   

If I could just help 10% of this city understand this principal. If I could just help 10% of my investigators understand this principal! Maybe it makes me so sad because I love these people so much. If I could only convince these people of the happiness that's in store for those that love and obey God.

A good amount of our progressing pool of investigators reached a point last week where the necessary changes that baptism requires was too much to ask for.

I was on a split with a new Elder this week who´s passing through a couple of difficulties. I tried to prepare myself well for the day we would have. The Lord really blessed us. To sum up the division, we were on our way to a Family Night with two families that are less-active. 20 minutes from the house, I saw a lady with her car door open. I stopped and offered to help her in any way I could.
The conversation passed 20 minutes as I had to sit down on the curb (I was exhausted). I felt impressed to ask the most basic question I have ever asked on the mission - ´´Irmã, do you believe in God?´´
Her negative response caught me off guard. But everyone in Brazil believes in God! I thought to myself. I opened up Alma 18 with her and invited her to read. HOLY COW THE POWER OF THE BOOK OF MORMON! She began to cry as she read the king´s answers to Ammon´s questions. They were the same answers she gave to me, just moments before.
I felt prompted to invite her to the family night. ´´Irmã, do you accept our invitation to participate in a family night tonight? I will start here in... 2 minutes ago´´ She smiled and accepted.
The Less-Actives and this lady all participated in a well-executed family night. We watched the Church´s video of Christ for Easter in 2014. We then bore our testimonies of the atonement. As we finished, I recognized the tears in everyone´s eyes. One of the members less-active stood up and said, ´´I want to do something that Ive never done in my life. Bear my testimony of Jesus Christ.´´ His wife about passed out as she couldn´t believe her eyes... Haha

At the end of the family night, I wrote down her address in order to send it to the missionaries in the neighboring city. I asked her before she left, the same simple question.
´´Irmã, do you believe in God?´´
She replied, ´´I don´t know who He is, but I feel in my heart that He lives.´´

I too, ´´feel in my heart,´´ that He lives! I know it. This is His work. It´s marvelous and a wonder... and it´s coming forth!!
Elder Welch