Monday, June 26, 2017

His Will


In Mococa
Hey Everyone-
Hope everyone is doing great. This week was not one of the best of the mission but we made it through. We are still working with Jacqueline and she is close to being ready to be baptized. We are excited about that. We went to Mococa B to help the sisters with knocking doors, We also made plans to help Jacqueline get to know more members as we continue teaching her. We are also working with the Ward council and planning a ward missionary activity. As well as transfers were this past week. I am staying in my area with my same companion, Elder Bahia for another transfer (6 weeks). A lot of good missionaries going home this transfer that I will miss.
With Bahia in Mococa

With a member family - Paulo y Paula and their family

With Elders Castro, Kleinkauff and Bahia
Who knew "Preachers of the Asphalt"  World headquarters of Jesus' Bikers was in Sao Joao?
Parade en el centro
I want to share an experience with you that I had this past week. I have been dealing with a difficult challenge and when thinking about it on my own I was struggling with what to do. Honestly I was not feeling very good about it so I prayed about it. After I prayed about it I did not get an instant answer like I wanted, which happens sometimes. So the next morning I prayed again asking the Lord to guide me and let me know what I should do. It was Sunday and as we were taking the sacrament I was praying quietly in my heart to know what to do and I felt and heard the spirit nudging me to move forward and trust in Him. There was no explanation as to why or how but at that moment I knew I needed to submit to whatever the Lord had planned. If it was His will it would be what was best for me. Then the rest of the talks in Sacrament meeting were about prayer, salvation and how it isn't easy and never was. Then the classes in Sunday school were about the Savior and how we cannot consider ourselves greater than Him because He suffered everything for us, as well as sacrificed all. He knows just how we feel. So there was my answer. It came but not as one big lightning bolt or answer but as many small promptings and through many people over time. I think sometimes we miss the answers to our prayers because we are not listening or seeing what is right there in front of us. Or we are not patient enough to keep praying to find the answers. If we ask, we have to listen and we have to be prepared to accept the answer. I am so thankful for my Savior and for His love for me. I am thankful for the answers I receive when pray and then truly listen. Sometimes the answers are not what we want but when we do the Lord's will we have the promise "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and afflictions shall be for a small moment." He loves us. He is there. No need to doubt or worry.

Have a great week!

Elder Davis

Monday, June 19, 2017

"Never Check Your Religion at the Door"

Joselitos family
Happy Belated Father's Day to all the dads! Hope everyone had a great day. A shout out to my dad for the great example he is to me. He is a great example of how to live a Christlike life. He knows how to be the calm in the storm, see humor in everything and serves others and the Lord without hesitation. I am thankful for all the guidance and counsel he gives me and the love & support he always has for me. So thanks Dad! I love you -you are the best!
 
Jacqueline's Family
Posing with "the Poser" in Centro de Sao Joao da Boa Vista
Honestly this week was a little harder than usual. It was a week full of trials but also miracles. Being alive everyday counts as a miracle right? Wednesday we did a split with the Zone leaders. I was with Elder Christensen and I have to be honest - it was awesome! We were able to visit some people who we're teaching, found some new people to teach, as well as we bought Açaí! Woohoo! I think I am an Acai addict. Açaí is literally the best thing ever. It is a little expensive for the missionary budget but way worth it. I attached some pictures. I also got to practice my English all day, which never happens. It was kind of funny because even though we are both American, we were speaking Portuenglish. Everything was all mixed together! Neither one of us is fluent in English anymore. haha
Elder Davis and Christensen on splits

Elder Davis' favorite Acai with toppings
We had district meeting on Thursday morning with Sao Joao and it was awesome. Then we traveled to Mococa Thursday afternoon to do district meeting there! It was super great to work with the sisters and we had a great meeting. Friday we went to Mococa A which is the sisters Azevedo and Lima. We worked with them for Friday and did some interviews of progress. I really like working with all the missionaries in the district. I learn a lot from them. I love feeling the Spirit as he helps me to know how to be a help to them. I truly have a testimony that when you are given a calling or responsibility for others you can feel the spirit so strongly as you strive to serve and do what has been asked of you. It is true that the Lord blesses those he calls, you just have to be willing to work and listen. Saturday we were able to get some great lessons taught and we also visited Jaqueline again. She is progressing and learning and is continuing to pray and ask God. That is the good thing, she is moving forward on the right path. This week there were some issues in the district so we did a lot of traveling within the district and we were not in our area a lot so we were not able to get with Ademir. But we will definitely see him this week.
District Meeting in Mococa

Interviews with Sister Lima and Azevedo
Spiritual thought that I want to share with you guys for this week is from a district meeting that has to do with our ethics, values and moral compass. (FYI - I have a lot of sisters in my district - ten out of the fourteen missionaries are sisters so in trying to relate to the majority in district meeting I have to broaden my examples. So no judging. haha) Lets think about our standards, our discipleship, our obedience, our lives and the relationship between us and Heavenly Father and the Savior. Those are all things that are determined by our values or ethics. Ethics and our belief system, are usually a big part of who we are and things that we firmly and wholeheartedly believe in. They come from deep inside us. They determine who we are and what we do. It is the moral code we live by, our moral compass. Now compare that with cosmetics. They on the other hand have the sole purpose to help you look better on the outside without really changing who you are permanently. You use them to look a certain way or improve your outward appearance but they are not something that become a part of you just from using them. They have a superficial effect. You put them on or use them when you go in public, then when you get home, you take it off and remove it. They do not become a part of you. We have to be careful not to use our ethics, standards, discipleship or obedience like we do cosmetics. Applying them to be seen on the outside but having no permanent effect on us. We cannot be disciples 12 hours of the day while we are in public and then when we are by ourselves take off or remove those morals and standards. We cannot be obedient to some things and then not others, we cannot be upholding our standards in some moments and then in other moments with some friends not living by them. As the scriptures say "We cannot serve two masters". We need to choose whom we are going to serve - not just in public but fully in our lives. As Elder Jeffrey Holland said "Never check your religion at the door". Through our actions we are either serving the Lord or the adversary. Its simple. Sometimes we complicate it. Elder Holland also reminded us that the scriptures tell us to "stand as witnesses of God at all times, in all things and in all places", not as some times, a few places and when we want. As we do that, we will come to feel His Love and His Hand in our lives more often. Jesus Christ is my Savior and He lives. He lives to love and guide us. His atonement is how we can return and live with God and Him again. Let us take advantage of that and repent and learn every day, growing closer and closer through our standards and actions as well as thoughts and words.

Love

Elder Davis

Monday, June 12, 2017

"All These Things...Shall be for Thy Good"

District Meeting and Interviews with Sisters in Mococa
Hey Everyone-
It has been a super crazy week. The Lord is marvelous and I cannot explain the feeling of thankfulness I have in my heart for the many miracles and blessings that have happened this week, ranging from teaching here in Brazil to miracles at home. I am thankful for my family and for the blessings of safety and protection that we have been blessed with this week. I am also thankful to the Lord for His guiding hand in helping me do His work here in Brazil.

We had interviews this week with President too which is always awesome. It is hard to express adequately how much I love and admire Pres Bangerter and all he does to serve us as missionaries and the Lord.
Lunch with Sao Joao District after interviews with Pres. Bangerter
I feel it has been a week of miracles. First miracle. Tuesday as I was looking at some of the unknown phone numbers in our phone contact list I had a thought, "I'm going to call some of these numbers." There were a lot that were in there that did not match up with any numbers in our area book. I thought might as well call a few and see who they are and if we could come by for a visit. I called 3 people. The first person I called answered, asked who it was and I said "the missionaries" and the person hung up. I guess they still were not ready! The second person didn't answer at all but the third person did answer. His name was Ademir. I told him who we were and asked if he remembered missionaries visiting him some time back and he said he did. I asked if we could come by and visit him again. He accepted and I asked for his address again explaining that I was a little new in the area. He gave me the address. I wrote it down and we marked an appointment for Friday at 7pm. Friday approached and we were walking to the neighborhood where he lived and I went to look for his exact address in my planner, and when I reached for it it was not there. I could not find my planner. I couldn't believe it. I was thinking YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. I lost my planner and I lost the address. I didn't want to miss this appt. but I couldn't remember the address off the top of my head. I remembered only the neighborhood/vicinity but not the street or house number. I talked to some people on the street, asking if they knew an Ademir on their street but they didn't. They knew a few members that lived close and that was cool, but they didn't know an Ademir that lived near there. Anyway it was the worst. I had a sick feeling. I needed to find this guy. After awhile of looking and asking everyone - it was 8:30 and we were about a 45 minute walk home so I knew we were going to have to be going soon. I knew the Spirit would guide us if we were supposed to find him that night so we said a prayer asking where we should go. I felt an impression to go in a certain direction - down this one street I looked at the street map and everything and I felt, no its not in that direction - that can't be right. Felt the prompting again. "its literally right there, go down this street, and go right and its right there", But as I looked at the map it made no sense because then it would be in the next neighborhood. But the impression came again to go down that street "Its right there". Shouldn't have doubted right? We went down the street and just as we were going to turn right I saw a house that seemed very familiar to me for some reason. So we went there and knocked on the door. A guy came out and guess who he was? Ademir! I was so grateful for the Lord's hand in helping us find him that night. It was a miracle! But wait, its not over. So we went in and taught him, his son and his sons wife. They had been taught by other missionaries before and then had been to a lot of other churches too. They were really searching to find truth. We had a lesson on the Power of the Restoration. We read a lot in the Book of Mormon, answered questions and then invited them to pray about it. They immediately got up and went in to the bedrooms in the back one by one to pray personally. Each person came back praying for the other to receive an answer. And sure enough, all of them received an answer. They knew what we shared with them was true and they wanted to learn more. We invited them to be baptized and they accepted. All of them! Gods presence was in that house that night and I felt it and I am sure that they all felt it too. We will mark a date for baptism with them this week.

With Wender, LZs Elder Castro, Bahia and Kleinkauff at a member's home
We are also continuing to teach Jacqueline and have marked the 24th of June for her baptism. We are super excited for her! Miracles are happening in Siao Joao! So the work goes on. As we listen and follow the promptings we are given, great things will happen. One thing I have thought about a lot about this week is that Gods plan for us at times is hard for us to totally comprehend. Because we are mortal there are some things we will not be able to totally understand but I do know that He does have a plan for each of us. It is a plan that is made specific to our needs and growth. At times we do not know why certain things happen but later we then understand why they had to happen and see the ways we grew from having it happen. I am certain that things happen how they should when we are living close to our Savior. Like in D&C 122:7 the Lord says "know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.". If something happens to us, it is usually because it is something that will help us in our future and is something that is essential that we pass through. We will not always know why but when we focus on exercising our faith in everything we are able to say "Come what may and love it". We cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we react. Let us love God and His plan, no matter what happens. Always trusting, always doing His will and loving what comes!

Have a great week!

Elder Davis

Monday, June 5, 2017

First Baptism in São João da Boa Vista

Wender's baptism - he is an incredible guy!

Oi todos-
Hope everyone is doing great. We had a pretty great week! The highlight of the week was the baptism of Wender! We spent the week focusing on helping him towards his baptism date which was Sunday and it went well! It was awesome to see him take that step. We have been talking to him about a mission and he is super excited and is thinking about going. He is so in tune with the spirit and well, he just is "the man". He is so ready to do what he needs to do to change and follow Christ. During the week we had talked to him about the law of chastity and about respecting our bodies because they are created in God's image. One night we were at a member's house to have dinner with him and the members and talk. He got up and excused himself to use the restroom and came back without his nose ring in. He had felt the truth of what we were teaching and what he needed to do and did it without us mentioning it. We knew in our hearts that the spirit would touch him and trusted in that. He listened and followed. He is so awesome and as he continues along the right path to learn and grow he will do great things. I am sure of it. He is already such a good example. I am super happy for him.

A great day!
We also had a Multizone meeting on Thursday in Rio Claro that was super awesome! President gave us a lot of great counsel and training. There are always changes taking place, improvements being made and efforts to do things more effectively. We learned some new techniques that will help us in our teaching. They have also reduced the zones now to 10 in the mission so I have 4 more sisters that were added to my district. They are in towns farther away so there will be a lot more travel for interviews. This week I will be going to Mococa for a baptism interview, a city even farther north in the mission than my first area of the mission, Porto Ferreira. It is out there - about an hour and a half bus ride I think from here. It is almost in the Brasil Ribeirão Preto Mission. With the changes I will have a total of 14 in my district. It's all good. We work hard to support one another and have fun together.

Pirassunga, Rio Claro, São João da Boa Vista, & São Carlos zones @ Multizone Conference
With Sister Cardoso at her last multi zone as a full time missionary
Sister Cardoso, who was in my last district in Hortlandia and is now in Botucatu in São Manoel was invited to our multizone. It was great surprise. President invited her to come to bear her last testimony to us as a full time missionary. She goes home this transfer. She is a great missionary and I wish her all the best as she goes home. She, along with the many others in my district, were a great help to me when I first became a district leader 7 months ago. I am grateful for those who have helped me along the way.

Group picture at Multizone

Multizone
We are pumped to start using some of our training as we build our teaching pool . As you know, when we got to the area it was pretty much a blank slate so we are still trying to build that teaching pool. Since we baptized Wender we currently only have a few people. This week we are just gonna be on fire! I have faith great things are going to happen. The Lord will bless us, I am sure of it! We also have interviews with President this Wednesday which I always get super pumped for. He is a great man and I am very grateful for his example! So there are a lot of great things going to happen this week.
With Wender  eating Acai -love that stuff!
I wanted to share with you something I have been thinking about a lot this week. As a missionary we often speak to people who feel they are stuck in the past with the mistakes they have made. They concentrate on what they have done wrong and wish they could have been a better son/daughter, brother/sister or mom/dad or friend - whatever it may be. We all have made mistakes and if we concentrate on them it will can make us pretty sad. I have done that before myself. Sometimes we think if I would have done this I would have been so much farther ahead, or would be in this place in my life, or this would not have happened. But sometimes those things have to happen for us to learn and gain strength. We have to realize that we are not perfect and that is why we needed a Savior and Redeemer to save us from not only physical death but spiritual death. We needed Him to make repentance possible. We are going to make mistakes but we have to open our hearts and sincerely repent of them and let Christ take that weight from our shoulders. We don't want to totally forget our mistakes because we need to learn from them but when we have repented we need to forgive ourselves and look forward and be better. Remembering or constantly living with regret hanging over us is not the Lord's way. His way is one of love, forgiveness and progression. He is always there for us and understands what we are going through. He truly is our older Brother, our Comforter, our Redeemer and Savior. Every day in prayer we have the chance to come to our Heavenly Father and ask for forgiveness and be healed from whatever is bringing us down. I know Christ lives and He is the literal Son of our Heavenly Father. They both love us and know us individually and through them we find true happiness in this life and exaltation in the life to come. We need to open our hearts to them and be made whole.

I love you all. Have a great week.


Elder Davis




Monday, May 29, 2017

Let Him In

FHE with José and Aline's family
Oi família e amigos-
Hope everyone has had a great week. My week was good. Opening the area and basically starting from ground zero has been tough but we are working hard and getting there. At night when we get home we are beat but it is a good kind of tired! We are working hard to build up our teaching pool still and also trying to get to know the members so we can work with them more effectively. We had a great FHE with the family of José and Aline this past week. They invited the other elders too so they were able to come also. I love the Brasilian people and love serving them. They have such generous hearts. Our district and zone are great. This is supposedly one of the toughest areas of the mission but I have faith and hope that great things will come as we work hard.

My district with the LZs
This is going to be short today. But I do want to share my testimony with you. It is simple but I cherish it and am so thankful for it. I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He lives. He is our Savior, our Redeemer, and our brother. He is also my best friend and I hope He is yours too. He will always be there in any situation we find ourselves in to support, love, cherish, safeguard, protect and strengthen us but ONLY if we let Him in to our lives to do that. He will not force anyone to come unto Him. The choice is ours. His grace is sufficient for all people. He suffered for our difficulties, problems, trials and sins. He knows how we feel because He has felt that same pain. We can open up to our Heavenly Father in sacred prayer in any moment, even if it is just in thought, and from the moment you say "Heavenly Father" He is listening. It is quite incredible and maybe for some it is hard to understand but I know it is true. He always hears our prayers and will answer when we pray sincerely and with "all energy of heart". He is there to guide, love and comfort us. I know that through the Plan of Salvation and Gospel of Jesus Christ we are able to have true happiness and live with our families for eternities in the presence of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I look forward to that day.

Hope you all have a great week!
Elder Davis

Monday, May 22, 2017

First Week In São João da Boa Vista

The District in São João da Boa Vista

Bom Dia-
First week in São João da Boa Vista and man was the week good! Was a bit slow because of opening the area but we got to know some members and I am starting to get the hang of the area. We plan on making this zone SIAO (Zion)! This pást week we worked super hard on finding new people to teach. We have been working with members and going through the area book. One person we found in the area book was a guy named Wendel. He had been contacted by some missionaries quite a while ago but we thought we would follow up with him. After talking with him we set up a date to go visit him and we had a couple awesome lessons with him this past week. He is a great guy and is very spiritual. He is really sensitive to the spirit and is not afraid to show or express it as he feels it. He is a solid guy! He came to church on Sunday and loved it. He set the date of June 3rd to be baptized and we are working hard to get him prepared for that.

On the bus with Elder Ricarte, Sister Costa and Sister Silva leaving Hortlandia
 At the bus station in Piracicaba with those getting transferred from my zone
Some other great news Samara and Noé from JD Amanda (my last area) got baptized this past week! I am so very happy for them! I wish I could have been there, missed it by 4 days, but I am grateful I was able to teach them and watch them progress to this point. There is nothing like seeing people come unto Christ and make covenants with God that will change their lives for eternity.

We went to Poços de Caldas this past week! We did a division and I was with Elder Kleinkauff (he is Brazilian even though his name is German). He is one of the other Elders that lives in the house where I live now - there are two companionships in our house. We went to Poços to do a baptism interview for the ZLs and man did I think I was going to die! haha Poços is a city in the middle of mountains. I felt like I was mountain climbing all day long! Joking around they asked me if I brought rock climbing equipment. It is a super cool city though. The church was beautiful, it was set high up on the hill.

Poços de Caldas

The view of  the city of Poços de Caldas from near the church building.

The church in Poços de Caldas 
Dinner at a member's home in Poços da Caldas with Elder Ricarte (LZ), Xavier (traveling AP) Christensen (LZ) and  Elder Kleinkauff

I held my first district meeting and I have a great district. We are going to do our best to make this district the best district in the mission. Everyone was smiling and excited - that is always a great way to get off to a good start. I attached a picture of the district for you. I will take more pictures this next week of my area for you guys!

Just quickly I wanted to share some good counsel from King Benjamin in Mosiah 4:30.
".... watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives...remember, and perish not."
So important to constantly remember it is not only what we do that matters but what we think and say is just as important. That is what forms who we are and ultimately says who we are. We cannot claim to be something on the outside that we aren't on the inside. Let's be examples and witnesses of Him in thought, word and deed.
Love you all and hope that you have a great week!

Elder Davis
Actually have a Subway in our area - with Elder Castro, Elder Kleinkauff, Elder Bahia

Graffiti in our area

Monday, May 15, 2017

Off to São João da Boa Vista

The Zone on PDay

Bom Dia-
This week was super busy and it was the last week of the transfer. So I have even less time than usual because of the transfer and visiting everyone to say goodbye. Sorry I know the last couple of weeks I have not had much time to write. But I promise, pinky promise that next week will be a good long one! It will be interesting. I got transferred to São João da Boa Vista Centro so I am finally leaving Jardim Amanda after 6 months! I will be going there and opening the area with a new companion, Elder Bahia. If you do not know, opening the area means that neither of the missionaries that will be there will have served there before. Both of us will be new in the area. Usually there is one that has been serving there before but in this area they are moving both missionaries out and moving two new ones in. I am super happy to make the change and have the Lord calling me to another area to do His work. But I will definitely miss the wonderful people of Jardim Amanda. They have loved and supported us as missionaries and have opened their hearts as well as their doors to take care of us, help us to serve the Lord and to be our family while we are here. They will always be a part of me and in my heart. I have attached a few photos of some of the members but will upload more next week.
Last lunch with Adriano y Samara. Going to miss them a lot!
Last time at this table with Sister Diogo for awhile. She is a living example of "the widow's mite". She will give all to help anyone and serve another. All the missionaries in the mission rightfully call her Mae.
With Geldia and her family
With Rogerio and his family

With Irmão Paixão - love this guy!

With Charles, am awesome member of Jardim Amanda Ward
This past week we worked a lot with Sámara. She is a girl that is 22 years old and lives with 2 members. We got to know her a little time back. She has had a lot of difficulties in her life and her whole family was baptized in another church a couple years ago minus her. She didn't feel that was right for her. She felt like something was missing. When we started to talk with her about the gospel and about baptism, she realized in that moment that what was missing before for her was the spirit, power and authority of Christ, which is the priesthood. It was a pretty special moment as she could feel the spirit testifying to her of the truth. We have been teaching her a lot and she has read the Book of Mormon with an open heart and loved it. She reads over and over and over again the same chapters we leave her because she loves reading it so much. The date for her baptism is next Saturday. We already taught her all the lessons and the ZL did the interview on Sunday with her. She is super excited to be baptized. Sadly I will not be able to be here to do it since I will be transferred tomorrow but I am so happy for her!
At the house of Irmão Braz of Hortlandia Centro Ward who I got to know as I did interviews for the sisters in this area.  He had a churassco for me before I left.

The sisters were invited to the churrasco 

Irmão Braz with the goods!
It was a great day yesterday because it was Mothers day! WOOOO! Got to talk to my family! It wasn't the best video quality but hey, I got to talk to my family right? When you only get to do that twice a year anything is fine. Face to face with audio! That is just a present in itself. It made me so happy. Hope everyone got the opportunity to express their gratitude and love to their moms. The whole time I was talking to my family I could not stop smiling because I was thinking what a blessing it is to have a family so great. What a privilege it is that I get to spend an eternity with them. I love my family. I love my dad, my sister, my brother(Kaleb) and especially my MOTHER! WOOO! HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MOM! You're officially the best mother ever, sorry everyone but just so you know, I have the best mom in the world! That's never gonna change. Love you mom and I hope through these words you feel my spirit and love.
A surprise goodbye gift from sweet Miguel for Tio Davis (Uncle Davis).
With Elder Little - going to miss this guy!


PDay with the zone

As I have thought about families this week it has made me think about the beauty of families. Heavenly Father wanted us in families so we could love and support one another. We are all technically family, all sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. So we are all brothers and sisters. We need to remember that. Not judge one another and focus on weaknesses but rather to look at each other and see the divine potential that is there. We need to develop the ability to see people as Christ does. Love them for who they are and who they can become, not focusing on their earthly weaknesses or strengths but seeing them for their eternal celestial worth. We all need help and should not judge others for a sin that is different than our own sin. We all have things to work on. We need to help and love our brothers and sisters. The church is like a hospital. We are all there for the same reason. To receive the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and heal ourselves. We are all there to receive the "balm of Gilead" to heal our hearts and spirits. We are a family, so let's help each other. Two quotes from general conference come to mind, "The repenting sinner is closer to the Lord than the prideful righteous person judging them" and "The most important calling in the church is the one you have right now". So reach out and do what you can to lift another. Have a great week.

Love you all!

Elder Davis

Some of the Sisters of the District

With  Elder Rasmassen - the other DL
With Bishop Estevam