Monday, October 9, 2017

A Better Disciple

With Elder K.Oliveira and Elder Cifuentes
  This week was a good week. Hope everyone else has had a great week too! We have been working with 4 people really closely. Gabriel and Ana, Elaine, and Maria. These people have all had dates for baptism but we had to put them off to the future because of them needing to do a few more things to be a little more ready for baptism. Like I said before Gabriel stopped smoking the 22nd of Sept and hasn't smoked since! He and Ana have already been to church 8 times and they are already doing Family Search/family history, have visited the temple, go to family home evening consistently, they read the Book of Mormon everyday and are about 100 pages into it, they are saying their prayers everyday and they are even going to the church activities. It has been super cool to see them progress. They are really ready to be baptized and want to be, they just need to get married. That is a constant challenge here in Brazil, not a lot of people get married.

Mission Conference
Elder Costa

With Sister Januario
Elder Oliviera, McAllister, Carvalho, Araujo and Sister Mendoca
 We had our mission conference this past week and it was great. I always come out of those meetings feeling pumped and ready to improve any way I can. There is always something we can do to be better missionaries and disciples of Jesus Christ. Really that is a pattern for life that we should all be doing. Trying to be better disciples every day right? Not just us as full time missionaries but all of us should be focusing on being a little better each day at representing Christ and being his disciple.

Elder Viera

Elder Kleinkauff

Elder Hugo

Sister Pinhero
For a spiritual thought this week I want to share a little from a talk that I loved in General Conference. It was Elder Russell M. Nelson's talk about the Book of Mormon. He said to ask ourselves these three questions.
1. What would our lives be without the Book of Mormon?
2. What would we not know without the Book of Mormon?
3. What would we not have without the Book of Mormon?
He said to ask ourselves these questions and to reflect upon our lives to see if we are giving importance to it and treasuring and cherishing the Book of Mormon as we should. Sometimes we take it for granted and forget to give it importance in our lives that it should have. We go searching for peace, love, answers and acceptance in some other place when in reality all we need to do is to turn to the word of God in the Book of Mormon. It has everything we need. We can find peace in the scriptures, we can feel the acceptance and love of our Savior in the scriptures and we can find answers to our prayers & guidance there. We just need to search and we will find. We all need to take the challenge of our prophet Pres. Monson and read it every day and cherish it as if it was our most prized possession.
A surprise visitor on my desk
Thank you for the birthday messages. It was a great surprise to open my email and see so many emails in my inbox. I did not have time to respond to everyone but please know that I appreciate the support and love. Hope you all have a great week.
Elder Davis

Monday, October 2, 2017

Be Humble & Remember Him

With Elder Cifuentes 
Hey Everyone-

This week was a great week. Hope everybody got to listen to General Conference and received the guidance and answers they were needing. It was awesome!

We worked a lot with Maria Lourdes, the lady that came to church the last week. I think I told you that she lost her mom recently and is staying with a member here for a little while. We visited her this week and had the opportunity to teach her the plan of salvation. She had a lot of comments and questions to add to the conversation which is good. I love it when an investigator is involved in the conversation and message because if not, you don't really know if the person is fully understanding. She asked a few things about the spirit world and how it would be after and how she could be with her family. We talked about baptism with her too and she said she was already baptized and then comes that moment right? To explain how it needs to be done with property authority in the manner that Christ was baptized. After we explained, she accepted to be baptized. She will be baptized this week or the next week! It will be great. She came and watched General Conference with us! It was awesome.

We are also working with Gabriel and Ana still, the parents of Maria Eduarda (our recent convert). A miracle happened! Gabriel had been trying to stop smoking since we started to teach him a couple months ago but just wasn't able to stop. We talked about how if you start with the small but important things, the small daily things or holy habits, you then will be able to do the big things. So Gabriel started reading the Book of Mormon everyday, from the beginning! Started saying his daily prayers and also asking for the strength to stop. He humbled himself and then Heavenly Father was able to help, like it says in Ether 12:27 " if they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, then I will make weak things become strong unto them". He stopped smoking the 22nd of Sept. He stopped cold turkey, he was smoking about 6-7 every day. He hasn't smoked in 10 days! He is going strong! Elder Cifuentes and I are so proud of him.

The leadership meeting was awesome, loved it! We talked about a lot of things that we needed to talk about, especially working with the local leaders, including the Bishop. I think if we all do this, we will be able to see the work progress much faster, members and missionaries working together.

Leadership Meeting with all ZLs and Sister Leaders

With E. Cifuentes @ President's House for Leadership
General conference was super great! Loved it all. Especially Quentin L. Cook's talk about being humble. We all need to be humble. I loved what he said about humility. What I took from what he said is if we are proud/prideful, we cannot accept the will of God, which includes answers to our prayers, callings from the Lord and eventually we will slowly go against His will. We need to stay humble. We often times forget about God in our lives. We may remember Him daily but sometimes we forget to INCLUDE Him in our plans and to search Him out when in need of advice and comfort. If we can but be humble, we will come to know Him and His will, as well as feel the great love that He has for each one of us individually. He wants to bless us, and He WILL bless us, it just depends on us if we will receive it with a humble heart.

Have a great week.
Elder Davis

Monday, September 25, 2017

"Ask, and It Shall Be Given You"

With Elder Cifuentes, Soares and Jackson
Hope everyone had a great week. We had a pretty great week and this Sunday we had a new investigator at church so that was a good start to the next week. Her name is Maria and we are excited to start teaching her. Unfortunately her mom recently passed away. The Lord is amazing in how he times things to bless his children when they are in need. We seem to meet people right at the time they are ready and needing the gospel. I honestly don't know how the Lord does it but he puts us and them in each other's paths at just the right time. Like seriously, it's so amazing, He is perfect. He knows all. Truly does. As I said this was the first time Maria had come to church and it just so happened that the gospel principles class was about eternal families and how that is possible through the Lord's plan. And the talks in Sacrament meeting were about how we can accept Gods will in our lives and much more. It all touched Maria's heart and gave her comfort as well as hope. She loved it and happily accepted us to continue visiting her. We also restarted teaching one of our previous investigators, Elaine who we had stopped seeing because when we were teaching her before she was interested but would not take the step further to do the things she needed to do to find out for herself the truthfulness of the gospel. She would not read or pray and really was not ready to make a commitment to change so we stopped teaching her. But last week she came to find us. She had had a dream where Oliviera (my old comp) and I were standing at her door telling her that we were leaving and did not think we would be able to come back again. She started crying in the dream and said she felt the spirit of Jesus Christ leaving her house as we left. She couldn't sleep the rest of the night after the dream so the next day she came to find us. We are working hard to help her gain her own testimony of the gospel and prepare for baptism.We are also teaching a guy named Donizete who compares himself to Tomé (Thomas). He really feels he has to see something before he can believe it. He feels that there are so many bad things happening in the world and even in churches that it makes him doubt. We definitely have some hills to climb with him but he has accepted to pray with faith about what we are teaching and if he should go to church. So that is a start. We have found some other new people to teach too and are excited about getting started with them.
After zone meeting
Overall, everything is great, Elder Cifuentes, my new comp. is awesome. This is his first transfer as a ZL and he is stellar already. He is a little quiet/reserved which is super weird for me because usually I am the quiet one! But I am now noticing that I am the one talking too much! hahahaha. But he is really great. I am learning a lot with him and we are working hard. He is trying to teach me Spanish as well so that will be cool.

A short spiritual thought. As I have witnessed the Lord working in my own life, as well as the people we are teaching this past week, it has really confirmed to me that our Heavenly Father is mindful of us all. He hears our prayers and knows our needs. Praying is such a simple thing but it is so so so important. Our relationship with Heavenly Father changes everything in our lives. It changes how we see life, how we accept His will, how we act and what blessings we receive. This week we all need to prepare for General Conference, we need to pray to have your questions answered through His prophet and the apostles. He has always answered my questions. Always. I know He knows and loves each of us and will guide and direct us in our lives if we but ask and listen.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." Matt. 7:7-8

Hope you all have a great week!
Elder Davis

I didn't take any pictures this past week but I have one that Elder Cifuentes took and another one after zone meeting from one of the other missionaries. I will take some this week.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Choose the Harder Right over the Easier Wrong

With Maria Eduarda and her parents Ana & Gabriel before Maria's baptism
Hope everyone is doing great. Transfers are today. I am sad that Elder Oliveira is leaving. I have learned a lot from him. But I am excited to have Elder Cifuentes as a new companion. He is from Argentina. Looking forward to working with him.

Maria strong in Body and especially in Spirit
With Bishop and Maria before the Baptism
With Maria, the newest member of the Limiera ward and her family
Well the highlight of the week was we baptized Maria Eduarda! Woohoo! I am so excited for her! We have been teaching the entire family for awhile now and I am hoping her parents Ana and Gabriel will soon be married so they can also be baptized. They are wonderful people. Maria is young but she is strong in spirit and did not want to wait until her parents were baptized so we went ahead with her baptism. On Sunday when she came to church you could see the difference in her countenance, she had a bright spirit about her. She had a dress on and was looking her best to come and worship the Savior. She has such a desire to change for the better and be the best she can be for the Lord. It makes me so happy to see people change their lives in even the smallest of ways. They want to be the best they can in the presence of the Lord as well as show Him respect as they enter His church. We are going to continue to do our best to help her parents get ready for baptism. I love that family. I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet wonderful people and have these experiences that we can have almost every day in the mission. The Lord is so loving and merciful in giving us these glorious experiences in our life. It changes us immensely as we try to help others change and come unto Him. I am grateful for the opportunity and privilege to serve in His name and have these experiences.

With Elder Oliviera sporting matching ties. 
Spiritual thought today is simple but important. In life we often will have to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong as Pres. Monson said a couple Conferences ago and when that happens, that is when true growth happens and we become more fully converted. It is through consistently making those "harder rights" that we express our love for our Savior and truly obtain a change of heart by seeking His will not ours.

Have a great week! I appreciate all the love and support.
Elder Davis
Read the Book of Mormon, then reread it again and again and again, it will bless your life!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Go Forward in Faith

The Elders of Zona Rio Claro

Hey Everyone-
Hope all is well there in the Carolinas. My heart goes out to all the victims of the hurricanes in Texas and now in Florida. Sounds like a lot of devastation. What a huge reminder to us to be prepared not just physically but spiritually. Hope everyone is doing okay.

The kind and infamous Regina
A picture from Regina - she likes to see us enjoying her food!
It has been a great week. So much stuff to do this past week and it felt like the week was a day. It literally flew by. We have been working with our ward to build our teaching pool. Some of the great things that happened were this past Tuesday we had a FHE with a different member than usual. We have one member who invites us every week to bring our investigators to her home for FHE which is awesome but this week we also went to a different member's home. Her name is Regina. She invited her whole extended family especially those that aren't members and so that was super cool! We were able to make some good contacts there. We also had lunch at her house during the week. Dad, you had asked whether we ever cook, well the answer is almost never. Which is lucky for us! haha We are fed lunch and dinner most days by members. I have to give a shout out to our members they are the best! I am always amazed and grateful for the love and generosity of the members. The people of Brasil are so awesome. As missionaries we are blessed greatly by the wonderful ward members here not only in taking care of us but with their desire to help us share the gospel. We found another new family through another member named Paulo. Our testimonies of faith and working with the members was strengthened through our experiences with him. When we started the visits, he told us he really didn't have anyone to visit. So we asked him to think of a few people he knew that would allow us just to visit them and who he could introduce us to. He first took us to his neighbors and as we talked with them they started talking about some other people and then the list just kept getting longer and longer as we went to each house. At first he was a little bit timid to share with his friends but by the end he had caught the missionary spirit and was doing almost all the talking and bore his testimony at each home. He shared with everyone how he was baptized and had progressed to the point where he is now. He also shared the great joy he felt when he baptized one of the recent converts in Limeira and how the happiness he felt was so great when he helped someone else come unto Christ. We have marked 2 dates for baptism with 2 of his friends, Rosa and Luiz. How great is that? It was marvelous to see him sharing his testimony and see how the Lord blessed him as he went out in faith not knowing where to go in the beginning. By the end we could hardly get him to stop for that night. Haha. It was great! It can be the same for each one of us. Everyone needs to go out with the missionaries and share your own experiences with your friends. We don't know who will accept and we certainly should not judge and cannot guess who will be ready and seeking the truth. The Lord prepares a way for each one of us individually to take part in inviting others to come unto Him and receive the blessings of the gospel. So go out there in faith. Miracles will happen.

Lunch at Madalena with Paulo

Dinner at the House of Mara and Adilson
This week we will have the baptism of Maria Eduarda! The daughter of Ana and Gabriel. She will be baptized this Saturday! Her parents want to be baptized too but have a few things we need to help them work on, so hopefully soon. We are also working with Ronie and Elaine and doing our best to get them ready for baptism by Sunday but it may need to be the next week. It will all work out! Transfers are next week too, time has passed so fast. I appreciate all the prayers and support! Have a great week!

Elder Davis
Brothers in the Work

Monday, September 4, 2017

"I Will Go and Do"

With Elders Oliviera, Soares, Jackson and our great Ward Mission Leader Carlos
It has been a great week. Hope everyone else has had a great week too. So we ending up going to Rio Claro and going to Araras for the district meetings. We are seeing a good change in the people and the missionaries and how they are working. Right now we are trying to focus more on the personal growth of the missionaries in our zone than focusing on changing their work. I think if you focus on teaching style or how they work, things will go up and start to improve, but to continually have improvement and stay where we should be we each have to be consistently experiencing personal progression and change. If a missionary is constantly growing spiritually and developing a deeper understanding of Christ themselves they will in turn have a desire to improve their work and their service. They will be blessed with the spirit in improving their work and their teaching if they are constantly seeking that growth and truth themselves. We are trying to make sure everyone knows and remembers their true purpose for being here and for doing the work. It is also important that everyone knows that they are needed and it takes all of us to build Zion. As we all know Zion is not a physical place it is the people and the spirit that dwells in a place. It refers to the people who are "pure in heart". We are working to make our zone Rio Claro Sião. It is going well! Our zone has 12 baptisms already in this transfer! And we are always working to become better. Of course it is not about the numbers but rather the people who those numbers represent. It is about those people that are gaining an understanding and testimony of their Savior and making a covenant with Him.

With Elder Soares

With Elder Jackson
This week I also did divisions with Elder Soares and Elder Oliveira stayed with E. Jackson. It was good! We did a baptism interview for Rio Claro 2 because their LD, Elder Little, had to go to Piracicaba. The interview could only be on that day because of the schedule of Wesley(the investigator) so we went and did it! I love interviews! I love hearing the conversion stories of those we interview. Interviews are one of the things that I miss most about being a district leader. Elder Oliviera and I are working great together but I do miss being a LD. But I am grateful for the opportunity I have to work with him and appreciate all I am able to learn from him. We have lost a few people from our teaching pool and others are having some significant challenges but we are moving forward. We are teaching a mother and a brother of a missionary who is serving in Northern Brasil. We have had some great lessons with them but have had difficulty getting her to church. Then all of the sudden on Sunday morning she called us up and said, "I am going, lets go!" I was like WHAT ???. Alright then. That's awesome! Made my week!

Yep that pan is empty! We can demolish a whole cake pretty easily!
This past week I was thinking about how sometimes when we ask for help or an answer we are really looking to have Heavenly Father do it or take it away. But Heavenly Father wants us to learn for ourselves so instead he gives us challenges and opportunities. Sometimes he asks of us things that we think are pretty big, things we may feel we do not have the knowledge to do or can do. When we turn to Him for help He does not do the task for us or take the task away, He gives us the tools to do the work. There are so many examples of that in the scriptures. Like Moses with helping the Children of Israel through the wilderness, Noah building the Ark and getting all the animals on board, like Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah being sent to teach the gospel to the Lamanites who hated them at that time, and Nephi who was constantly given tasks to stretch him. Nephi was the man! He went clear back to Jerusalem through the wilderness to get the brass plates after just leaving there, made a new bow when his broke so his family had food and kept the faith when his family was complaining, built a boat to take his family to the promised land without having any knowledge of how to do that, so many things were asked of him that he had no idea how he was going to accomplish them. But he went ahead and trusted in the Lord to help him know what he should do. Didn't start complaining about how he did not know how to do it or someone else might be better to do it. He just went and did it with the Lord's help. I love those passages. I am thankful for the scriptures and all that they teach us. I love my Savior and am so thankful for Him and His gospel.
Have a great week.
Elder Davis

Monday, August 28, 2017

Know From Where Your Strength Comes

Dinner with Leticia at Bishop's House
Hey Everyone-
Wow another week has gone by! Hope everyone is doing great. The week was good but challenging. But that is life right? There are constant ups and downs which make us stretch. It is going to be a short email this week. We are meeting up with a member today so we have little time. Teaching has been going good, it is the constant thing in a mission that you are always trying to build your teaching pool. We are teaching some really good people right now. Been traveling a lot in the zone to do divisions and also interviews. I love the opportunities I have in baptismal interviews to hear and see the changes that are taking place as people make the decision to follow Christ. Some of the greatest spiritual experiences I have had have been in those interviews. I feel blessed to have come to know so many great people here in Brazil, people I have taught and people I serve with. I consider those some of the priceless blessings of my mission.
Grabbing Dinner with Elder Jackson and Sisters Ribiero, Azevedo and Janiero after Interviews
Just a quick spiritual thought. As a missionary I love reading the scripture in 3 Nephi 5:13 where Mormon says:

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."

It is a simple but powerful statement in which he testifies of Christ, his own divinity and purpose. I think it is pretty empowering when we know who we are and whose we are and what our mission is. If we can all remember those 3 things on a day to day basis when we encounter decisions or situations we are more calm and at peace and able to handle what comes our way. I hope we all can remember where our strength comes from and the real reason we are here.

Tenha uma boa semana ! (Have a great week.)

Elder Davis

Streets of Limeira