Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sing With Me My Darling [3/23/15]

As I was working this week in the great city of Vinhedo, I stopped to think about this scripture in the end of The Book of Mormon. Oh if I could just make the hard hearts be softened...
´´...notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor  diligently ; for if we should cease to  labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God´´ (Moroni 9:6). 
So, the solution is just to keep on keeping on.
This past week was a straight up war. Haha after months and months of the church praying and fasting for rain, The Lord blessed us with rain that just didn´t stop. It made me feel tenacious as I showed up in every house this week with rain dripping from every part of my body. On Saturday we got so soaked that I gave in to my companion and ran home for 10 minutes to switch clothes and shoes (bc they have holes in them). The rain had stopped so we felt good about the change... 20 minutes later after we had left the house after the change, the heavens were reopened...  Haha at this point, our bodies just wanted to lay down in the road and cry. It was really hard to remain excited... I noticed my new companion getting discouraged so I started to sing as loud as I could - ´´Called to Serve Him.´´ After a good time, I still noticed the discouragement and yelled (for it was raining so hard) and said, ´´Sing with me my darling!´´ (Phantom of the Opera). Without any protection or umbrella, he started to laugh and began to sing with me. That night after 6:00, we didn't find anyone new to teach but I felt so happy. I really felt like I was apart of something incredible. I felt truly called of God as a missionary.

The transfer will come to an end this week. We´ve gotta finish the week with my favorite family baptized... There´s no other option. Hope to send a picture of them in white, home next week! Pray for them.

Notwithstanding the natural man inside of us that tells us to quit, let us labor  diligently - for we are participating in a marvelous work and wonder. In the words of my Mission President in Georgia, ´´If you don´t wake up excited about this work, you need to think again...´´ 

Elder Welch
Livin´ the Dream.

March MADNESS! [3/9/15]

Woooohoooooooo!! Dustin filled me in on the sports world that the good ´ol Bracketology should be happening next week... As everyone in the states gets pumped for the madness, I challenge you to get more fired up about missionary work. Man, it´s INCREDIBLE!
Unfortunately, we decided to use a different computer today so I won´t send any pictures home - but let it be known that families are being found! It´s an incredible feeling as a missionary to sit in a chair and look at 2 sofas fill of parents and children. It´s been my dream for a long time to be teaching these type of families, and an answer to many, many prayers.

The youth of our Ward returned home from ´´EFY´´ (which is now called FSY??) two weeks ago, which sent all of them to the pulpit to bear their testimonies. It brought back a lot of good memories that I had while I was at EFY and the dream I Always had to be a counselor. Anyway, the entire Ward got super pumped up as they saw and heard so many spiritual experiences... which got me thinking. The mission is 1000 times better than EFY, I´m gonna throw in the thunder to this Ward. And that´s what we did this week.
It was pretty awesome this week. We started to call members and report how their referrals are progressing. To one of the sister´s I said, ´´NOSSA!! Irmã, your referral was amazing! SHE SAID THIS...., AND THEN DID THAT...., THEN CRIED AND DECIDED TO DO THIS ....!!!´´ Haha it was awesome because of the responses on the other end of the phone.
´´Elder Welch!! Send them over to my house. Let´s do a Family night! Can it be this week?! AGHHH!! I´m so happy!´´ Haha I love inspiration.

To end, I went on a division far away to a city called ´´Protection.´´ A tiny branch of 25 members, more or less. I´ve been visiting cities to individually train the branch/Ward mission leaders with the branch presidents and bishops about chapter 13 of PMG.

Its a great dream that I´m living. I hope it never ends!
Elder Welch

An Elevated Vision [3/4/15]

First things first - shout out to Ashley and her birthday tomorrow!! Whoohooooo! I hope you win a Reese´s ice cream cake with Reese´s on top. Hope you have a great birthday with the family!
It´s been pretty tough lately, but it sure doesn't get me unanimated. Instead of 0 in church on Sunday we had a whopping ONE! Haha but I´m actually pretty pumped because I´m confident she´ll be baptized. It´s been a drastic change recently because in December and January we were finding families and bringing them to church every Sunday. One of our investigators one time brought all of her kids, and all of her three sister´s kids... That week doubled the primary. However, I´m still PUMPED UP! It´s one of the toughest times in the mission for me, but it motivates me in the morning. I'm not going to lie, a couple of times this past month I looked in the mirror, gritted my teeth, and pointed at myself in the mirror saying, ´´I FEAR NO MAN!´´

So the people in Vinhedo (for now) aren´t hearing my cry for repentance. In fact as of recently it seems like everyone has studied anti-literature on the internet and is prepared to respond to any testimony that I offer of Joseph Smith or The Book of Mormon. I feel a little bit like Nephi in 3 Nephi, getting slapped in the face on the right side and then the left- no one believes anything I have to say. The only thing that seems to be missing is an expulsion from the city...
I figured out this week that a couple of years ago, the city of Vinhedo was the #1 richest city in the entire country of Brazil... How about that to put my area in perspective. More than 3/4 of the people live in gigantic condominiums that are gated off by a bunch of security and enormous walls that are barbed wire TWICE! haha I know, doesn't make any sense to me. Anyway, I was reflecting this past week about Samuel the Lamanite in the book of Helaman and how he was thrown out of the city. The Lord commanded him to return, which he did without hesitation. Upon his return, they didn´t let him in - so he climbed up the city walls and preached on the city walls as they shot arrows at him. What boldness! I woke up this past Saturday with this same dream, climbing up these massive walls that enclose the richest of the rich, and crying all unto repentance. Haha man, I´ve got so much energy in my body and excitement to share the gospel it just kills me to see rejection. Lucky for Samuel the Lamanite, I don´t think barbed wire existed in his day... It´s not going to work for me here, in my area. Haha

But to end this week´s letter, I´ve been working tirelessly with the Stake President here, Presidente Kawai. For years the church here has been baptizing but sadly not retaining these members. I felt an incredible desire to train all of the Branch and Ward Mission Leaders on our duties together as a missionary team.
The meeting happened last Sunday as we traveled to the Stake building pretty far away and entered the room. The Stake Presidency, Bishops, Branch Presidents, and the Mission Leaders... ´´What have I gotten myself into??´´ I thought. The Stake President called me by name to sit by his side as we begin the meeting.
To make a long story short, President Kawai emotionally gave me a hug and said, ´´We should've done this meeting years ago!...´´  Many leaders came up afterwards to clear up doubts and questions. 
My vision as a missionary has been elevated. I never knew how much of a difference a missionary could have not just in the life of an investigator, but an entire stake that has put in plans to divide! It´s an exciting time to be a missionary. It truly is a marvelous work and wonder.

Livin the Dream!
Elder Welch

I Live for 9:15 Every Sunday [2/23/15]

Well, I don´t have any baptismal pictures to send home this week. February has been brutal here - seriously a fight with the enemy. A mountain of highs and a couple of deep, deep valleys of lows. The mission has had both the happiest of times and saddest. Allow me to explain. 
I´ll send now together a picture of my new companion - Elder Bartolomeu. 
He´s from Recife as well, and grew up basically alone in the church. With his departure as a missionary, his mom and sister decided to return to activity. Some of the stories of my companions are pretty crazy. He´s amazing and practically has the bible memorized! Haha its funny because the missionaries always give me a hard time because I use 95% Book of Mormon in the lessons I teach - they think I'm against the bible or something. So he´s a good companion for me.

Quickly, sorry for the short letter, yesterday tore my heart to pieces. 0 investigators. ZERO. Let me say one more time. ZERO investigators were in church yesterday. Of all of the success of finding and teaching families by the Spirit the past couple of weeks no one was present. Thanks to the Sacrament meeting, I was inspired to sing a hymn at the beginning of each lesson this next week. My life is starting to revolve around this time. 9:15, when the sacrament is being passed, has been some of the greatest moments for me to turn a bad week into an incredible. Here comes a dynamite week!

Love you all! I´ve got fire in the bones!!
Elder Welch