Monday, January 30, 2017

Seek the Spirit

With Elder Passos - one of the best missionaries I have ever known. He goes home this transfer. A true brother!
Wow, it seems that every week just goes by faster and faster! So this week we didn’t get to work in our area a lot since we had the world wide mission broadcast in Piracicaba and then Elder Vieira was sick for 2 days. But it was still an awesome week. In the meeting we were told about changes made to the missionary schedule and also to the key indicators we report on. If you haven’t heard about it you can read about it here.

The Americans listening to the Broadcast in English - usually we just listen in Portuguese but this time they had a room in English. It was kind of funny because it almost felt like it was our second language.

An attempt at taking an entire mission photo at the Broadcast. 
We had some awesome lessons this week and felt the spirit as we taught. We met a man named Adriano and started to teach him. He is a boyfriend of a member. He is a great guy. He is humble and really seems to have a genuine desire to learn, a perfect combination for teaching the gospel. He has been reading and praying a lot to know the truth for himself. So things are going well with him. Nelson is still traveling a lot so we only caught up with him when he was home one day last week. He is supposed to be back in town tomorrow so we will talk with him then. We are still teaching Ana and Marcos. We didn’t get the opportunity to visit them last week. They live pretty far out and the two times we went to their house they were not there but had gone into work but we are planning on catching up with them this week. One thing I have learned and am continuing to learn here in the mission is how to be “flexible”. People here are very “flexible” when it comes to schedules and appointments – it is not like at home. Not too much is set in stone. haha
With Elders Sander, Ferreria, Costa and Maia. Maia is going home this transfer.

Some of the missionaries from my old zone - Sister Silva, Sister Mendez and my trainer Elder Sander who is now a ZL in Sumaré
Elder Wilson - one of the new Elders in Elder Sander's zone
We had a few cool experiences this week and I am sure glad the Spirit is on our side. Always helping and making sure that we are going in the right direction. Sometimes these things I think we take as a coincidence or do not recognize them for what they are. Some of the experiences were very personal so I won’t share those but I do want to share one. So we were walking in the rain to lunch at a member’s house and usually that means we do not stop for anything! haha But we stopped for a few minutes because I remembered something and felt I needed to stop to write it down in the planner before I forgot. As we were stopped a woman passed by and said to us "Hi, how are you?" and we said “Good, how are you? And then she started to leave. I felt prompted to ask if she lived in Jardim Amanda (our area) and she said yes. We started to talk about our message and asked if she would be interested in us coming and sharing a message about Jesus Christ. We ended up finding out that she had been taught by the missionaries that were in this area before us. We actually had tried to go visit her a couple times when I first got here but there was a for sale sign on her house and every time we went there was no one at the house and it appeared vacant so we thought she had moved. So I think the Lord put us in each other’s path that day so we could reconnect. We are super stoked to go to her house this week to teach her. She was excited as we were that we had ran into each other. I thank the Spirit everyday for the help that He gives us in our work, to guide us to the people that are seeking Him and needing help.
Sander and I with Elder Costa - my ZL
That experience kind of leads into the thought that I wanted to share today. Hopefully my English will be good enough to not jumble it all up together with the wrong words. After baptism we are all blessed with the gift of the Holy Ghost. We know that everyone can feel his influence but to have his constant companionship we need to be baptized and living worthy of his presence and help. In the worldwide broadcast last week Elder Nelson spoke about the spirit and his words touched me. I have been thinking a lot about this all week. He said that the Spirit only goes to and remains with people who truly want it and who SEEK it diligently. We may all say that is simple doctrine or that we all know that. But do we truly know and then use it? Do we SEEK to have the Spirit every day of our lives? What a great blessing the Lord has given us. The Spirit can comfort us, guide us, bring knowledge to our remembrance, help us feel the Love the Savior has for us, strengthen us and empower us with courage and purpose and so many other things. I am very thankful for the blessing of having the opportunity to have the help of the Spirit in my life. He is a Comforter, Revelator and a Teacher to me. As a missionary I have been blessed with his inspiration and guidance. I love this scripture. D&C 84:85;

“Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”

I have a testimony of that scripture and of the truth that He will speak to your mind and heart in your moment of need. He will also let you know that the Savior knows you and your challenges. He will testify of the truth and reality of the Atonement that gives us the help we need to overcome our problems and mistakes. I am grateful for the Atonement. I am grateful for the knowledge that I have that the Lord knows each and every one of us by name and knows our challenges and is there to help us. He has felt everything we could possibly feel and knows how we feel as we pass through hard times. I know that to be true. Knowing that has given me comfort and strength in hard days and times. We can all have that great blessing. Have a wonderful week and SEEK the spirit!

Love you all-

Elder Davis

Monday, January 23, 2017

Be of Good Cheer

Bom Dia a todos-

Oh man, where do I start? This past week blew by in a jiffy. It was a challenging week but I am sure glad that this week happened because I had some experiences that I learned a lot from! The mission is definitely a blessing and I see how it is not just for these two years but for my entire life. The challenges really make me stretch and grow but I truly love it.

This past week, our baptism ended up being delayed until next week. Please keep Nelson in your prayers. He ended up having to travel this past weekend for work. It seems Satan always steps in to try to discourage or distract people so they lose focus. But we have an appointment this Wednesday when he gets back. We actually had quite a few challenges this week. But everything will turn out alright.

So my week was a lot of things but to sum it up in a few words – “there is opposition in all things”. Satan is definitely working super hard to try to stop the work of the Lord but like it says in the scriptures, the Lord will overcome. So my spiritual thought this week is the scripture John 16:33

“In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”

As we go through hardships we need to remember that and remember that those trials are the things that will bring us greater strength. They are opportunities and blessings not punishments, even though sometimes they do not feel that way. We have to trust in the Lord and keep showing up for the battle! I cannot express completely my love for the Savior and the sacrifice He has made for me. I love Him. I feel like Pres. Gordon B Hinckley when he said,” He is my friend, and my brother”. He is my Savior and Redeemer. I know that to be true and I cannot deny that, now or ever. He will always be the greatest blessing in my life other than my parents. I cannot wait until the day when I will see Him and be able to hug Him and thank him for all He has done for me. I am so grateful for the grace, the mercy, the forgiveness, the light and hope that He has given me in my life. I am grateful for the opportunities that help me become more like Him and hopefully become worthy to live in His presence. This is possible for all of us. We need to keep our eye on that goal, to return to Him and our Heavenly Father with our families. Nothing here on earth can beat that eternal blessing. No greater joy!

I hope all of you are doing well. I want to thank you all for the prayers, emails and endless support. I love you all and am thankful I have you in my life! Have a great week! Trust in the Lord and be of good cheer!

Elder Davis

P.S. Sorry no pictures this week!

Monday, January 16, 2017

All is Possible!

With Pres. Bangerter, a man of great stature physically and spiritually!
Man has this week been a lot of work! There have been a lot of thoughts/concerns flying around in my head and me wondering if we would get it all done. But we actually got everything done. When we got home at night we were drained. We hit our beds and we were asleep! haha.  But that is a good thing. There were 7 baptisms in our zone this week with 5 being in my district.  So a lot happened this week so here is the rundown.

Ana and Marcos is a family that we started teaching a couple weeks ago. Marcos is the son of a recent convert. We started teaching his family after we found their names in the area book and it has been going well. We taught the first two lessons and tomorrow we will visit them again and see how they feel after reading and praying these last few days. The two girls of the family have been going to church and they really like it. The whole family plans on going to church this Sunday. I am excited for the changes I see happening in their family.

EVERY afternoon during rainy season!
So Nelson is doing awesome! He is an older and a super spiritual guy that really does understand quickly what we are teaching. He loves the spirit he feels as he reads the scriptures. We taught him the first, second and third lesson and we invited him to be baptized. He accepted and we set the date of this Saturday the 21st. He has attended church the last couple weeks. He is definitely awesome. He really wants to know for himself. I am happy for him! Woo!

We also have two other investigators that are progressing well. I told you last week about the guy with the nickname of Cowboy and we also have Helen. I don’t think I told you about Helen before. She is also a great person who has been through a lot and is seeking to know the purpose of life. She is a single mother that lost her husband to an accident and she has two daughters that are pretty young. We have been teaching her and I can see the change in her and the strength the gospel gives her. She set a date for baptism too. We have definitely been blessed and love teaching these people that the Lord has prepared for us! One of the greatest blessings of the mission is to see people who have been struggling in life to find the answers they need and then they find them in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And then to see them change to become stronger, better people as they come to know the Lord. It is the best. I am loving the mission!! Cowboy is doing alright too. He travels a lot but we manage to get in one or two lessons every week. He is truly prepared. We have taught him quite a few lessons and he has been reading the scriptures. The only thing that he needs to do is pray about being baptized. He is a really busy guy but I have faith he will make time this week to pray.

So today is actually transfers, both my companion and I are staying. That will be awesome because this past transfer we have been working so hard to find those we are teaching and so this next 6 weeks will be the reaping the fruits and the teaching part which is awesome. We definitely are ready and super excited to work together for another transfer. Reminds me of sports. It is like when you have this really good friend and you practice the same sport together. When you play together you have this really good chemistry going. You know what you gotta do and when. Missionary work is kind of like that– team work with your companion – you start to think alike and sometimes know without speaking what the other is thinking or going to say. We are loving it and are working really well together so it will be great to be together another 6 weeks!

Sister Reis from our district who just finished her mission.

Activity to say goodbye to Sis. Reis
So this past week, we heard a little about a change that is coming out for missionaries. The Church gave us the news that our daily schedule and our p-day (preparation day) schedule will be changed a little. From what I understand there is not going to be specific times for language study, personal study, exercise, etc.. We will have a lot more flexibility in when we do things and how we do them. We still will be doing the things we have in our daily plan now but I think we will be given a block of time and we will determine how to use the time. I will give you guys a little more information after the 25th because that day we will have a mission-wide meeting and watch a worldwide broadcast of the Church explaining how it all will work out and what it really is. Anyway, it will be awesome I am sure!
Taking in the view from our roof on P -Day
As members of the church we have all read/heard 1 Nephi 3:7 many, many times. But it has such a great promise it is worthy of repeating. It says;
“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
So this past week I actually shared this scripture with a lot of people who were facing a big challenge in their lives that they didn't think they could overcome. Some it was a job responsibility, others things at home or with family and some it was a calling at church. Believe me I have had those times too when I was thinking the same thing.” If I have been a missionary only 4-5 months and don’t even know Portuguese completely, how will I train my companion and help a district full of missionaries?” But Heavenly Father knows everything. He knows who you are. As INDIVIDUALS! He knows your skills and talents as well as your struggles. He knows our potential. Sometimes we think “I don’t know how to do this, how is this gonna be possible.” But through faith in the Lord and His plan, we can accomplish anything. If He sends something to us, a challenge, He will provide a way. He will be there to help us and we have our families & friends and church family to help us too. He will never give anything to us that we cannot complete! Just remember that. We just need to ask for guidance & strength, listen for the answers then focus and do! :)
I love you guys and hope everyone is doing well!

Um abraco,
Elder Davis

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hold to the Rod

Hanging with some members on P- Day
Hope everyone is doing well! So like every other week in the mission this was a completely crazy week! It seemed even crazier because we had a lot of interviews to do in other areas. We were using buses all over the place. But in view of having so many baptism interviews in the district and because our investigators are doing so well – it was a pretty super week!

Putting in some miles in the outer part of our area
When I first got here we hardly had anyone to teach and we were spending most of our time looking but this past week we have been teaching all the people that we have found! I can definitely say we have been blessed with some people that are ready to hear the gospel. We are teaching this guy who’s nicknamed Cowboy. It seems weird to call him that in a lesson plus it makes me want to laugh (haha) so I just call him by his real name Reganer. He is super awesome. He is pretty open minded and is humble enough to know that he doesn’t know everything so he will pray to find answers or receive confirmation of what we are teaching. That sometimes can be a big obstacle, to get people to pray to ask for themselves about the
Part of our area .
truthfulness of the things we teach.They rely on their own knowledge or what they have been taught before and then make a decision or judgment based on that instead of asking God . But he has been praying to know himself and has been coming to church so he is making great progress! We also have Nelson that we are teaching. He is an older guy that has a really great knowledge of the gospel. We invited him to be baptized in our last lesson and he said, “I know what you are teaching me is truth and this is the thing that I need to do.” So we set a baptism date for two weeks! I am happy for him. Everything is going well and I have faith that both these guys will be baptized. I am super excited, our schedule this coming week is full so hopefully next week we will have more good news! Our ward mission leader has been working with us too. He is so awesome. He is really a cool guy and is willing to help us however he can which is awesome. It is great to have that support.
Our Ward Mission Leader Eudes and his wife treating us to ice cream. 
Forecast for today - rain. Forecast for everyday- rain.  It definitely is the rainy season.
No caption necessary...
Sad but true…the rat story continues. We thought after we got rid of the one we were done. But we found another rat - in our washer this time. He got out of it and was running all over the balcony but we finally got him. We are hoping he was just another random rat and not a “brother” of the one from last week. haha I do not want to be doing this every week if we have a whole family of them.

So this past week as I was reading the scriptures I was thinking about Christ and how He was scorned and not accepted by His own people. Then one day this week as we were walking in the street we had some people make some unkind comments about us and the church. It wasn’t the first or the last time I am sure. But it made me think about what it must have been like for Christ. Not that we had it to the same extent He did or to the level He did but it made me think on that again. As I thought about it the feelings of love and respect I feel for Him were so overwhelming. I love my Savior and I am so thankful for Him and all that He endured for each one of us so we can repent and return to Him and our Heavenly Father. Then I realized how when there was judgment before from others that I sometimes would let it bother me when I first came out on a mission and even before that. Now I immediately think of the Savior and what He thinks, not what others around me are thinking or saying. I think we all need to ask ourselves at times, “What is more important, what the world is saying about me and the church? Or what the Savior thinks and says?” It is like Lehi’s dream. We can become preoccupied and worried about what others are saying & doing or we can just throw those thoughts aside and move on. Because what they are saying isn’t important. There will always be judgment from others or pointing fingers at those who are trying to live righteously. It has almost always been that way, we see it in the scriptures. We need to focus on what is important, hold tight to the iron rod and remember the Lord’s words. We need to first seek the kingdom of God and everything after will go into place. If we put God first, everything else after will come into place. Everything we can ever ask for. Like Pres. Uchtodorf said, “God sent you here to prepare for a future greater than anything you can imagine.” So stand strong, hold tight to the rod and move forward!

I love you guys and hope that all is going well with everyone! Have a great week!

Elder Davis

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Brazil!

Feliz Ano Novo Para Todos!!!
I hope all was good and all the celebrations were awesome for each one of you! I love you all and wish you a happy new year that will bring you greater happiness, joy and peace!

New Year's Eve Dinner with the Eudes de Mara Familia
For part of New Year’s Eve we stayed in our ward mission leader’s house and had dinner and they made cookies for us because they thought that was my tradition at home in the US. I think they may have mistakenly thought Christmas traditions. Anyway we had a great time! Then we went to Maria Diogo’s house and had some more dessert! It was super awesome. Then at midnight, the fireworks went off and it was super crazy! We were home by then and it was definitely an cool view from our balcony on the third floor!

New Year's Eve at the home of Maria Diogo
It was a great week since it started by talking with my family on Christmas which started the week off great! I am so very grateful for them. They are awesome! Our week was still focused on finding new people to teach. We have 3 options; knock doors, use the area book, and references from people. We did a bit of each. We got some references and one of them turned out very well! We started teaching a guy named Ailton and all is going well. He has some hesitations about the Book of Mormon but he has been reading and has prayed and received a strong confirmation so that was awesome! All is going well with him and we will visit him again tomorrow. We also found 3 families. We found the family of Ana and Marcos which the missionaries were teaching at one time but then stopped so we are picking up from where they left off. The family is great! We will teach them again today, tonight actually! Also we found Antonio and his family. As we were talking with him about repentance he said he agreed and that he sees how we all need to do constant spiritual cleansing. That hit me hard and touched me a lot to see a man that has just started studying the gospel see how the gospel works and can change us all on a daily basis. It is something that was super true and heart touching that we all need to do. He is ready to follow the Spirit and make changes. We only taught him since he was the only one home but we will return to teach him and the rest of his family tomorrow. We have a lot of appointments for tomorrow! haha. The last family that we found is pretty incredible and cool. This family has known the missionaries for a while and one year the missionaries passed in their house for Christmas but for some reason they never went to church or received the lessons. So we taught them the first lesson and they were super receptive! They really love the gospel and especially loved "The Family Proclamation for the World" that we taught and shared with them. They said that they knew that this was true and important because for a long time they had felt that a lot was happening in the world today wasn’t right and was trying to destroy families. They already knew what we were trying to teach them was truth. They were so in tune with the spirit and were understanding everything so well! It was a great lesson. It is a pretty incredible experience to have the Spirit guide you to people who are searching for answers and then you come with those exact things they are searching for. I have faith that everything will go really well with them! The husband said in the prayer to end the lesson, "Thank you Lord for these young men and the things they have been teaching us. Thank you for it and for bringing them to us so they can bless me and my wife as well as my kids." It was one of the most super spiritual and awesome feelings I have felt. I know I say awesome way too much but I can’t explain all these great experiences without saying awesome since those experiences are just so SOOOOO awesome! The feelings that come with them are so great that words can’t do it complete justice. It also seems the better my Portuguese gets the worse my English gets! haha

Going to some interviews for the sisters - with Sis. Gonzalez & Araujo

Out knocking doors and found this beautiful wooden gate/door. I know how much mom loves beautiful wood doors! 

Working the outer parts of our area!

A random side note - I actually got to use my soccer skills the other day. We have been trying to catch this rat we have in our house without too much success. The other day as I was sitting studying he ran right past my foot and just as a reflex action I gave him a good kick. He hit the wall and is no longer with us! haha

A lot of Graffiti in our area - some of it is pretty good. 

This is titled "Friendship"
 I hope everything is going well for everyone! I love you all. Quick spiritual thought, I have been thinking a lot about families this week. Like the father(Jefferson) in our lesson said, the world is trying to destroy families. But we all know that does not have to happen. We can keep our families safe and love and cherish them through living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our families are one of our greatest gifts from our Heavenly Father and such an important part of the Lord’s plan. They are one of the few things that we have in this life that can be eternal if we live worthy of it. Our families can be forever! I challenge you all to read “The Proclamation to the World” again this week and think how you can love and honor your family just a little better this year. We can all do some daily spiritual cleansing and repent and become better people and families. Love you all and appreciate you soo much. Have a great week!

Elder Davis