Monday, November 28, 2016

"Go and Do"

Oi –

So this past week was thanksgiving huh? Man do I miss my mom’s food! haha. I guess everyone that has gone on a mission has felt that one time or another. Thanksgiving-the time to give thanks! I was walking in the rain (which pretty much is everyday these days) and talking with my companion and then I remembered, "hmm, it is thanksgiving today at home!" Just saying that in my mind brought so many good memories flooding in. I have so much to be grateful for. Anyway, I hope everyone had a great time with their families and felt the spirit of the Lord as they celebrated! There is so much to be thankful for.

My week was an awesome week! So this past week was the 2nd to last week in the transfer. Transfers are Dec. 5th. We have been trying to finish teaching some of our investigators and strengthen them so they are ready for baptism. Our teaching pool has become a little small the last few weeks but we have a few pieces of gold left in the rough! Sometimes we are very blessed with people that are seeking truth and are prepared to accept what we teach, repent of their sins in the moment, and start to follow Christ in their lives instantly after we teach them. We are fortunate to be teaching two such people. João is a youth that was a reference we received from a different mission. He is super smart and we started teaching him at the beginning of this past week. So we visited him and the mother is really supportive of us (approval of the mother is hard and usually the mother is the hardest part of teaching an underaged person) so that was super awesome. Like I said he is very smart and he is already starting to apply the gospel in his life. We taught him about repentance and in the prayer he gave after the lesson, he expressed a desire to repent and be forgiven for his sins. Although that is something you usually do in private, we were glad to hear it, it showed he was humble and immediately wanted to begin following Christ. He told us that he wants to be baptized so we have set a date for this next Saturday, December 3rd. We are super stoked about that! He is such a humble, smart and great guy and with the gospel he will be that much greater! Harisson a youth that we started teaching a long time ago but then his parents changed their minds about letting him get baptized, have now changed their minds again and they are taking the lessons too. So they have decided to let Harisson go ahead and get baptized this Saturday. He has asked me to baptize him and I feel honored! Sometimes as adults we make the mistake of thinking we cannot learn much from kids/youth since they may not have as much knowledge or experience. But I can definitely testify that the faith and the spirits of children/youth are the purest of all of us. I have learned so much from Harisson and I am the one supposedly teaching him. He has always had faith that the Lord would help his parents come around once they learned of the gospel. We had to just keep trying and not give up. Teaching him has taught me to be like Nephi of Old and “go and do” and the Lord will provide a way. Like when Nephi and his brothers went to get the plates – it didn’t happen the first time. We might not be able to see how it can work out but it will. We also are teaching Manoel. He is a man of 30 years and has known the missionaries before but never really accepted the gospel. We started to teach him after he stopped us in the road and asked us to visit him. He is definitely one of those people who were prepared for us. It is incredible to watch him as he accepts the gospel and applies it in his life. The best thing is that he is seeing the changes & blessings the gospel is bringing to his life. He told us that before we met him and started teaching him, that he was fighting a lot with his wife but after we started teaching him, that he is getting along with her a lot better and he is starting to love her more! The Lord and the gospel really are life-changing. If we focus on the Lord and do the right things then the Lord will work miracles in our life! We are hoping to baptize him on Saturday but he works a lot on the weekends so he is trying to get that worked out. I know that the Lord will provide a way though. The Lord never gives us challenges or commandments to follow that we cannot pass. He always provides a way to live the commandments and pass our challenges.

I want to share with you a spiritual thought /scripture. It is Alma 34:31-34.
31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.
32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis,that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

I would like to share my testimony of the importance of not procrastinating. I have been studying lately about repentance and how it brings us closer to our Savior. I know as we come before the Savior and humble ourselves before Him; He will help us get over our weaknesses and become strong. As we repent we will feel of His love and will feel the Atonement take hold in our lives and make us better people. He wants us to become like Him one day and we definitely can only do that through Him and His Atonement. I love Jesus Christ. He is my friend and my brother. Through Him, we can be clean of our sins but only through Him. He suffered for our difficulties and our sins, so when we are passing through hard times, we need to remember that He knows what we are feeling and will strive to help us but we have to reach out for help first. A lot of the time we are waiting for the Lord to help us and when He doesn’t, we blame Him for it. But in reality we only have ourselves to blame, we need to reach out and ask for help first. When we do our part, we can receive the help we need but if we do not do our part, He cannot do His. I know the Lord loves each of you and is aware of your challenges. Draw close to Him. Open the door to your heart and let Him in. He is always there for you if you reach out.

Love you guys! Hope all is well with all of you! Stay strong and know that the Lord loves you!
Um abraço,

Elder Davis

Monday, November 21, 2016

Giving Thanks

Elder Davis @ Porto Ferriera Church

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

So this past week, we spent a lot of time receiving and contacting references. We also traveled to Pira 2 area to help them out with doing 4 interviews of progress. We ended up marking 4 dates with them! Woo! We have 3 baptisms for December 3rd and 2 more after that! We also have been working very hard with less active families and have reactivated 5-6 families in our ward which is awesome. We have been studying and working on teaching well. President Bangerter has been working with us and has given us some plans and lessons of faith. Those have really helped us in working with families who have struggled to get back to church. I am hoping I can stay here in Porto Ferreira for one more transfer. I really love the members and would love to pass Christmas here with the ward and Elder Sander but more importantly I want to be here to see the baptisms of the rest of our investigators that we found together and are teaching! But that might not happen because I will have been here for 4 months by the time transfers come. But I hope to stay.

We are celebrating Thanksgiving today and are making churrasco with our zone leaders in Pirassununga! WOOO! It will be like a thanksgiving feast for us. I have the mashed potatoes and gravy mix from my package. Thanks for that! They are all Brazilian and are stoked to try garlic mashed potatoes. haha I am stoked for the churrasco! 
Turkeys @ a member's house chilling - no worries for them at Thanksgiving! 

I gave another talk in church this past Sunday. That makes 3 in a little less than 4 months so I average about once a month! When people don’t show up we know it is definitely going to be us speaking! That’s okay; it’s good for my Portuguese. Hopefully it is good for the members! haha Yesterday I spoke about the parable of the rich young man who asked what he should do to obtain eternal life. He was told to obey the commandments and replied that he had done that throughout his life and wanted to know what else he lacked. Then he was told to sell all he had and give it to the poor and follow Christ. He walked away sad because he could not do it. He loved his material possessions more than the Lord. I was thinking about this and sometimes it may not be just material possessions but sometimes we love our worldly distractions and even maybe our problems more than we love Christ. We let those take over our thoughts and what we work for instead of focusing on the Savior. Instead of having faith that all those other things will work out if we first seek the Lord. So when we have problems and think we cannot do the things the Lord has asked us because we are too busy with our problems and distractions… we need to think again. No matter what the problems are that we are having, we need to just put it to the side and follow Him. He knows our problems and difficulties. He suffered for our sins, our problems and sufferings. If you follow Him and do those things that are right, He will lighten those burdens for you or make you stronger so you can carry them. He will always do His part but that means we have to do our part too. We have to follow Him and show faith. If we don’t do our part, I can promise you that nothing will happen; you will not receive what you are looking for. We have to do our part. A lot of times we are waiting for things to happen and then are upset or sad when they don’t. But really it is our own fault since we are waiting and watching. We have to have faith and move ahead doing our part. The Lord wants to help us follow Him and do those things that are right but he cannot change our hearts. He can only do so much because we have that great gift of agency. So we have to want it, then work for it ourselves and be willing to give up what needs to be given up.

I am so thankful for many things; my relationship with the Lord, the gospel that guides me, my family, friends, life, my health, and now the great opportunity to be a missionary. As a missionary I have come to know Christ more in this short time than I feel I did in my whole lifetime before my mission. Each day as I study to learn of Him and then strive to serve Him, I see Him guide me to change people lives and help them have joy and happiness. Because of that I have grown in my love for Him and have developed a deeper personal relationship with Him. It is through serving Him with all our hearts that we come to know Him. I am thankful for His love and spirit. I know He lives and loves each one of us. I am thankful I can be a witness of Him. Love you all.

Um abraco,
Elder Davis

P.S. It is becoming harder and harder to think in English, a lot of times I can’t think of the word that I am trying to say so excuse the "awkwardness'"of my letters now. That is a good thing I guess.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Marvelous Work

Franciana, Jean, Renato, a Ward Member, Nicolle, Elders Davis & Sander

Hey Everyone-
It’s been a great week. We had a few baptisms on Saturday which was awesome! We baptized 3 investigators, Franciana, Jean, and Renato and then one member’s daughter, Nicolle. She asked me to baptize her also. I love her family so I felt honored. Franciana, I have been teaching since we first got here in August so that was great to see her finally take that step. Jean’s wife is also a member so that completes a family which is a wonderful thing. We are hoping that in a year Elder Sander and I can see them go to the temple to be sealed as a family. Renato’s family are also members and he has not joined for 30 years and one day he just came up to us and said he wanted to be taught so he could be baptized. There is no greater feeling than to watch someone grow and change as they come closer to the Lord. It is especially good to see a whole family united in the gospel and know that this will impact their family forever. I love all of these people and am thankful I was able to be a part of the positive changes in their lives. I love going into their homes and seeing the blessings from the gospel happen.
Elder Sander, Nicolle and her family, & Elder Davis
We have been hearing a lot about the elections here. People will holler at me on the bus. I want to say I didn’t even vote! haha I never realized how much the world watches all that we do in America. Anyway I hope we as a nation can move forward together and work to find common ground and do good things. We are so blessed as a country and need to move on and work together.
The Zone with President & Sister Bangerter

Pizza Night!
I have been thinking a lot about the importance of free agency and responsibility. At times it seems when the people we are teaching are close to making commitments or big changes then Satan steps in and confuses them with other distractions or challenges. Then they get scared to make the change and you feel you need to say “stay the course”. What you felt and thought was true yesterday, is true today! But we cannot make people change, we cannot make people do the right things and we cannot make them accept the gospel. But what we can do is our part, our part in helping them along the way. We need to say everything we know to be true and then we invite but they have to know and accept. The plan of salvation is perfect that way. It only works when you do your part. No one can decide or act for you. Only you have that power and responsibility. As missionaries we will keep trying and helping but we cannot do everything for them. The Lord requires their heart and commitment. It is the same for us as members. We have to do the things that we can do with the best heart we can and you will be able to work miracles through the Lord! The Lord will force no one. It is all about choices.

I love you all and hope everyone is doing well. Thank you for the letters and for the support. It means a lot.

Uma abraco,

Elder Davis

Monday, November 7, 2016

Be in Tune

The entire mission at the riverfront in Piracicaba
This is going to be somewhat short today. This week we have been preoccupied with moving. We are moving out of our current house and into another for many reasons, one of which is so we can have another companionship live in our house with us in the future. I can’t wait until we are done – moving is definitely not my favorite.

Thursday we had interviews with President Bangerter! He is awesome and really gave some great counsel on how we can work more with less actives in our ward and area. We have been progressing with our investigators. Unfortunately we had to cancel the baptism of Harresson and Miguel but we hope sometime in the future they will be able to be baptized. So we are just keeping at it - working hard. Franciana, Renatu and Jean are scheduled to be baptized this Saturday! We are working hard and working through the Spirit. That is the most important part of all of our lives is learning to recognize and follow the Spirit.

I am reading a book by Pres. Henry B. Eyring. In it he talks about a time when he saw a man take out a notebook and a pen to take notes when he was listening to a 10 yr old give a talk in primary at church. This impressed him and has stuck with him. We can learn from anyone at any age. Sometimes we don’t think that we can learn anything from someone due to their age, circumstance or something. But whether we learn something or not is not dependent on them, it is dependent on our desire to learn and willingness to be in tune to the spirit. We can learn from anyone. We just need to be in tune with the spirit and listen with our hearts.

Another thing I have been studying is Lehi’s dream in 1 Nephi 8! I encourage you to read it again and evaluate where you are and where you want to be. It is always important to reflect and see if you are going in the right direction. And if you have strayed a little remember that no matter how far you are from the Lord, you can always return to His presence. That is what the atonement is all about. So each week as we recognize our mistakes and weaknesses we can repent. Taking the Sacrament worthily is a great opportunity we have each week. We receive His spirit and renew our convents through this sacred ordinance. So remember to keep the Sabbath day and make every effort you can to take the sacrament with purpose and thinking about your covenants!
Another picture of the entire mission. Elder Davis is about 5 rows up on the far right.

I attached a few pictures of the whole mission that we took a month or two ago - just got them. I love you all and hope you are doing great! Thanks as always for the letters and support! I appreciate it.

Com Amor,

Elder Davis​​​​​​​​​​