Monday, June 15, 2015

The Last Week - Leaving the Superman Life

Tyler will be leaving to come home from Brazil next Monday, June 22 and will be back in the states on June 23rd! We are so excited to see him!!

Wow. Can you believe it? The end is near - next week and I´ll already be with you guys! I´m filled with emotions - happy and sad ones - that make me anxious for what lies ahead. It really is strange to think about who I was before the mission and now, who I am today.

Well, I had always looked forward to this moment (the last letter on the mission) with the thought in mind that I would ´´woo´´ you all out with my impressive writing ability. I thought that I would become like the Brother of Jared by the end - powerful in writing. Unfortunately, that didn´t happen. I feel like Moroni, who wrote, ´´When [I] write, [I] observe [my] weakness and stumble because of the placement of [my] words...´´

With that established, with this weakness of mine in writing (with many others), I am happy to address you all one last time in my lovely Brasil. I hope you can feel what I feel as a full-time missionary, for the last time, of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

I can start off saying that I have ´´LIVED THE DREAM!´´ It was my dream, and I lived it the best I could. Everyday these past two years I have lived and worked with this precious name tag that I had always dreamed of as a boy. The very name tag that when put on for the first time made me beat my chest, touch the floor of the MTC, and shout, ´´Now we´re talking!´´ I really started on fire, strived to keep that fire, and am finishing with that same ´´greenie fire.´´

Dustin once told me that he got to a moment on the mission when his life before the mission just seemed like a dream - that he was born in the mission field and had been a missionary his whole life. That feeling as well, has now hit me. I try to think back on what I did before the mission - what I liked to do, where I like to go, who I wanted to be... All I did was play sports! Haha what type of life was that?! I had no idea of how to set goals. And I certainly didn´t know how to use my time wisely in order to achieve those goals. I didn´t know how to study the scriptures, how to teach people according to their needs, how to plan a week out, a party, or even a day! ... Man! Haha I didn´t even know how to take a bus! How to use a budget well, how to cook, how to train others (missionaries, members, and investigators) - how to be obedient, how to recognize the Spirit, how to talk in Portuguese. I didn´t know how to pray, how to approach with and get out of problems, or how to be happy. Haha it doesn´t seem like I knew anything.

So what happened: ´´And if you have a desire to serve God, you are called to the work.´´ I had and still have a desire to serve God, and I ´´let that desire work within me.´´ I hope I can illustrate a little bit of what I want to say without going too far off track.

Yesterday we had an interesting experience with Americans - they just showed up at our family night with the bishop and his family! (Later found out that they were family friends...). Only one of the five spake Portuguese, causing us to have to speak in English. Wow, let´s just start off with how bad and how slow I speak English - they could barely understand me! Many made fun of me, which made me a little happy because I felt more brasilian than ever.
 Anyway, towards the end I was asked by Elder Amâncio, ´´Are they normal Americans or weird ones?´´
 I quickly responded, ´´They´re weird ones...´´

Recognizing that I had judged them I thought back to how weird to me Dustin was when he returned home from the mission. I quickly corrected myself and said, ´´In reality, I think I´m the weird one that you´ve just gotten used to.´´ Haha.

Anyway, we began to talk about ´´being weird´´ and how the culture of a country makes people a little different. For some odd reason, I didn´t feel very comfortable - I didn´t feel comfortable in the American environment; I preferred the Brazilian. I´ve worked my tail off here , laboring all of these days to this loving people. I´ve preached and teached and warned them in just about every imaginable place ~ at the stop signs through their car windows, at their door steps, at their traffic lights, in their newspapers, at their bus stops, in their schools,in the train stations, in their homes, on their roads, on the bus yelling to all within the sound of my voice. I tried to reach more souls going after the highly influential people, inviting the government, many Christian church congregations, pastors, and drug dealers to be baptized in the name of the Christ, Jesus. I invited and baptized those lowly and meekly of heart,the thirsty ones for the truth, those on their pursuit for happiness.
 I´ve ate their food, worn their clothes, lived their culture. I´ve slept on their ground, on their couches, and even on some of their shoulders. I´ve breathed their air, spoke their language, drank their water ~ I desired to become one of them.

 And I saw, and heard, and changed, and become all of this with this one purpose - to bring ALL unto The Christ.

 What an incredible journey it has been. I have enjoyed every bit of it.
 I´m anxious to see you all again. It´s really been a long time if you think about it. But I think what I´ll miss the most was the ´´Superman effect´´ this calling brings. I feel like a hero in the lives of these people.

 As you know, I visited Socorro last week. What a thrill it was to see them all again. They invited me to arrive at the house where the branch meets every week to begin the ´´returning-home visit.´´ (I really feel like I can call this city my home.)
As I arrived, the branch was united together on the top floor. I walked up the stairs when they all surprised me! There were many anxiously waiting for me to talk with them, huge them, pray with them. There were those that asked me to lay my hands on their heads and give priesthood blessings, to eat their best foods (family recipes), to sign my name in their scriptures, to take pictures with them. They asked me to visit them in their homes one last time, to keep little souvenirs in remembrance of them. Man! A few of them even asked me to date their daughter, cousin or sister after the mission! Haha it was incredible. Absolutely incredible.

 Afonso was there as well to greet me. He expressed to me a dream he had indicating the need to become a member of the church. He expre3ssed his appreciation for my letters this past year. He even invited me to a Brazilian BBQ with him next time I visit. I gave it all I had. The Lord gave it all He had. But with all of his answers and conscious, he declined my last invitation for him to come unto Christ and be baptized.
 My heart was torn to pieces. His wife came up to me with tears in her eyes and her hope vanished - I no longer saw the hope that she had when I had arrived. She weeped. She stood in front of me and just weeped because of the hardness of her husband´s heart. I can´t adequately express what happened with tears filling my eyes. It gives me a feeling that I ´´fell short´´ of what was possible. I feel that the Lord can´t be anymore clear to him without sending his soul to an everlasting condemnation. Wow, it was tough to see. I held Ariana´s hand (Afonso´s wife) and assured her that there´s still hope, and that I wouldn´t ever, ever give up.

 I visited many homes the next day where I was asked to do more of the same. To do what the Savior did in His mortal ministry. I saw many that had weakened in the gospel and with all of the love I had, invited them to repent (Moroni 8:16). Their tears fell and left marks on my shoulder and my arms as my hands left wet. What an experience that last trip was.

 I received a letter two weeks ago that Eduardo in Jundiaí is coming this next week to visit me in Campinas. With him, many others will I see this last week that have changed my life. Thinking back on it, and with time, I´ll write a little bit about some of them.
-The Santamore family was converted by the spirit that accompanied the prayer of their youngest child.
-Jessica was converted by The Book of Mormon.
-Vanderlei searched his whole life to follow exactly the example of Jesus Christ, and saw the answer as we explained what happened in the year of 1820.
-Leslie hit rock bottom and finally was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
-Catarin simply was wanting to be baptized before she died.
-Samira was Egyptian and had lost her first and second family due to wars in the Middle-East.
-Cida was just waiting for somebody to tell her that she was wrong and needed to repent.
-Delson and Cris wanted to better their home and family life.
-Carol battled with her whole family addicted to hard drugs - and her mom and sister living with the dealers...
-Osvaldo never was able to overcome his addiction to cigarettes, but finally achieved his desire.
-Kevin grew up living alone and sleeping in the roads of São Paulo. Now he´s preparing to serve a mission.
-Karina and Gustavo... We can just say that they were God´s Elect. Prontissimo para o batismo!
-The family of Gilson was lost in the things of this world, looked for help, and soon found it.

 These precious souls with many, many more I had the privilege to teach and baptize. What an eternal impact they have left on me.

 Mom and Dad - thank you for your example. Thank you for your invitations to do what was right. And thank you for raising me in this gospel.

 As His witness and representative, I want to share one last time in letter my testimony of He who is mighty to save.

 He lives! He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the creator of this earth and all things that live in it. He is the author and the finisher of my faith, the rock of my salvation, and my hope for a better and brighter future. I know that He indeed appeared and called Joseph Smith to this sacred work to bring to pass the fullness of this gospel. I know Presidente Monson is His mouthpiece today. As his dedicated and loyal servant, I know that I was called by Him because I feel it!

 God be thanked for these incredible two years!

As the Georgians would say it - ´´See y´all next week!´´

For the last time,


Monday, June 8, 2015

Immersed in the Work [6/8/15]

Well, I´m with strange feelings right now. Haha I don´t know what to think or write or do with this email to tell the truth. Just know that I´m happy!
Last night we were walking home through a ´´favela´´ (which would be a ghetto neighborhood) and I wanted to just sit down and cry. Haha it was weird, but I just wanted to cry. I was overcome with emotions. We had just finished teaching two families that I love to death and I didn't have a desire to return home and plan. I just wanted to teach and invite more and more and more families to come unto Christ.

It´s strange. I feel like I still have an eternity to be a full-time missionary, but at the same time I feel like I´ll be home tomorrow. It´s like time doesn't exist anymore - it´s so close yet so far from the end. Definitely the strangest feelings I´ve ever had in my life.

Anyway, on to the week. My companion had misplaced the keys to the church in the parking lot this past week. We were without the keys for more than 3 days. Saturday came and we had marked a lesson earlier in the week to be taught in the church. We got there 25 minutes early in order to look for the keys for the 50th time, haha. After 5 minutes had passed I had the thought just to pray. I looked at my companion and perceived that he was hating life - haha he was so frustrated with his error. I went over to him, put my arm around him, and said, ´´Let´s say a prayer. I know God will show us where these keys are.´´ Not kidding, 45 seconds later IN FRONT OF THE DOOR next to a plant, lied the beloved keys. Haha I was so happy. Before opening the church door, we said a prayer of gratitude. I know that He hears our prayers.

Yesterday we got to church and saw that one of fathers of a recent convert (our investigator) wasn´t at church. We waited the first hour (here, sacrament meeting is the 3rd hour) for him to show up. Nope. ´´Let´s get him Elder!´´ I told my companion. We left church to hunt him down. We finally got to the house when he opened the door. He then started with all of the excuses that I´ve heard a million times on the mission:
´´Ohh but I need to make lunch for my daughter... And I went to bed late last night... And I´m not feeling too great today... Let´s mark it for next Sunday... And.... etc´´
I cut him off on the fifth excuse and said, ´´Oziel, here´s your ride. Let´s go!´´
I put my head down and made my way to the car without his response... I heard the door shut. ´´Oh no,´´ I thought. ´´That wasn´t the best idea I´ve ever had...´´
I looked behind me and he was buttoning up his shirt! Haha he came! And not only did he go to church, but he cried furiously in the Sacrament Meeting. I looked at him towards the end of the meeting and thought, ´´Yes! The Spirit got him.´´

Haha I feel like I´ve developed various techniques on the mission of ´´How to Avoid the Hated Excuses Missionaries Always Get.´´

Well, sorry for the letter. I don´t know what to write. I´m completely immersed in this work. I´m giving everything I got to Him that I love. I´m exhausted, unlike any time every before, but happy, unlike any moment in my life before.

Elder Welch

-Thank you for your prayers and faith. I´ll report back on next Monday about Afonso. The baptism should happen Saturdaymorning. IT WILL BE MY LAST LETTER HOME AS A MISSIONARY...

Fighting the Good Fight [6/2/15]

Whoooohooooooo!! We've got big things popping here. It was a roller coaster of emotions this past week - full of ups and downs. Nevertheless, I'm excited to share my week with you all and bear my testimony of this incredible work!
-First, I couldn't believe that Elder L. Tom Perry passed away this past weekend! What?! He was my apostle! My connection with the Quorum of the Twelve! The man that ate my peanut butter and honey sandwich! No but seriously, I felt a pit in my stomach when his passing away was announced over the pulpit on Sunday. I was without words. I will always remember that weekend we passed with him. That single visit marked me a lot while in the mission field.
-One of the families we baptized in Socorro traveled 3 hours Sunday morning to surprise me at church here in Campinas! Man, if I could adequately express how happy I was to see them... It was one of the best moments receiving letters in person from them. Seriously, I felt really loved - appreciated to say it better for the work that was done in Socorro. In reality, I will visit them one last time next Saturday. Please pray this week that AFONSO gets baptized. I've been praying and fasting for more than ONE YEAR to complete this family. I know it's possible, we just need the faith. Let's put our Welch faith to the test these next 11 days so that his wife, Ariana, can have what she has always prayed for. Seriously, I KNOW this is going to happen.
-We had the incredible opportunity to get to know and help guide the family Santos to baptism this past month. The last three members of their family were baptized on Sunday together with a mom of our Ward Mission Leader! It was a good Sunday last week. A lot of joy.
-We performed one of the greatest parties that I have been apart of this past week as a missionary team. WOW! Did it cause a lot of work. Haha seriously, I never knew what I was getting myself in to. I never have received so many phone calls from members calling me to ask permission and to report what was done. I felt like a CEO of a business - sending out orders and receiving reports. Did it cause stress? Lets just say a little bit of a LOT of it. Haha on the day of the party, the president of the relief society even had me ''proof taste''all of the food so that I could give the 'ók.''Haha but the turnout was incredible. The members loved it and more than 20 investigators were present. In all, our ''Mexican Night'' was a success! Mom, I think you would be proud of our creativity!
-This past week I had my last interview with President Perrotti. Wow, does anyone want to get married?? Haha I've never seen myself more than just a missionary... Now with a wife? Strange to think that just in a few weeks, things will change.
-It rained hard on us this past week. And the best part was that one of the cars sprayed us pretty good while we were walking on the side of the road. My companion, because he is new, wanted to get really frustrated - but before he said anything, I looked at him and gave him a ''WHOOOOOOOO!! That's what I[m talking about!'' Haha he started to laugh because of how excited I am about this great work. It's opposition. It means we're on the right track!
-I also got expelled from a house this week just because I'm American. I was rejected hard in MANY ways this week, received few times, but had a happy happy happy week. I love this work.

A strong abraço for you all! Let's work this miracle for Afonso and his family. I don't know if I will be able to send an email to you next week but Ill write at least one more email before seeing you all in person!

Elder Welch

Here we go, baby! [5/25/15]

´´Well, that makes one more that  I don´t know,´´ were the words that came out of my mouth as I opened up my email today. Whhhooooo for Brittany and Adam! It´s so exciting yet so strange, knowing that there´s people of my immediate Family that I don´t know. Congrats to Ashley and Brittany with their two newborn daughters, Blaire and Kenzie!

Well my dreams came tumbling down yesterday after church. The baptismal font was filled, my companion dressed in White to baptize, the members sitting down waiting for Ronaldo to enter the room, when all of the sudden he decided to wait until next week. WHAT?! Next week? But, everything is ready! Lets go and do this thing! Haha but apparently he fought with his wife on Saturday and he didn't feel good being baptized without her present. I understand and even agree with his decision, but meu! What is this? The work of the enemy really is a tripping block in this work.

With Ronaldo, we´ve got 4 lined up for this next week. Should be an exciting one. My companion is a lot like, and I mean almost identical, as my first companion in Georgia, Elder Peery. I´m learning a lot with him, and about myself. This week I asked him if he thought I was funny... ´´Only sometimes,´´ he replied. Hahah, I can´´t please everyone I guess.

But with the baptisms lined up and ready to go, Ive got the members counting on me this Friday. I´m the leader of a ´´Mexican Night´´ that is going to happen this Friday. All of the sisters in the Ward were talking me down yesterday that I wouldn't be able to pull it off (the Ward mission leader throwing the responsibility on me). It´s either time to gain a lot of confidence here or lose it all. Well, in reality I don´t have THAT much confidence because I just got here. But its better that way. I´ve got nothing to lose and everything (referrals) to gain!

Yeah yeah yeah, here we go baby!

Love you all.
Elder Welch