Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Monday, September 30, 2013

How is it going?  I was thinking about your (mom) crockpot beans too.  I have no idea whether I would be able to eat them or not.  I would definitely have to put some rice on top and mix it around really good haha.  But, I was also thinking, I definitely want a little cesars pizza at the airport here in a year :D   I think that I am capable of eating a whole one in one sitting now haha.  Im not getting any fatter here in Nova Iguaçu, but we spend so much on buses that we dont really have a lot of money for food.  Remember when Christ called his apostles in the Bible, and sent them on missions?  Dont worry about the things you will wear and eat.  Look at the birds in the sky.  They do not sow in the field, and yet they eat.  Are ye not greater than these?  Yup, just when we think we are gonna starve, some irmã comes to us with a bag of crackers, butter, milk powder, and nesquick mix.  (Yesterday Irmã Bernadete) or with a loaf of hommade bread with ham and cheese inside (Irmã Rejane)  The Lord´s promises are real, and the fact I am alive here is proof!!!  Just kidding.  Dont worry about me too much haha

This week was super awesome.  We were able to see the baptism of one of our eternal pesquisadores- Daniel.  He has been going to church for 8 years- até paga dizemo haha.  He is the husband of a returned missionary (who has been rooting for his baptism for 8 years.  Daniel was a strong 7th day adventist, and was going to church just to please his wife.  However, with the reading of the scriptures and Our Search for Happiness, his heart was softened and started to search with real intent.  He gained a stronger testimony of the things we taught and was baptized this Sunday, confirmed, and ordained a priest.  
President Lima caught wind that there was going to be a baptism, and out of the blue showed up to watch.  Having the mission president show up de nada in the middle of a baptism is enough to make most any missionary poop his pants, but we continued as normal, and had a great reunion.  Daniel felt the Holy Spirit of Promise testifying of the veracity of his actions and could not stop crying.  I could see the difference in the way that Rejane (his wife) looks at him now, and their house has so much more unity and harmony.  I am so happy for the decision he took and hope to hear notice of them here in a year of their sealing as a family!

SOOOO, transfers happened!!!  I am going to train again!!!  So, for this we have to leave here in 5 minutes to go to Andaraí for the training of the trainers, and I get my new son tomorrow.  So, until now I have two sons- one Peruano and one Brasilero.  Im rooting for an American!!  We will see what happened.  I will continue here in the area of Nova Iguaçu and Elder Leal will be transferred to Jacarepagua.  

Thanks so much for your prayers and thoughts in respect to Daniel.  I know that it wasnt us that changed his heart, but the effort we all put in made the difference, and now he is one step closer to uma familia eterna!

Abraço forte e beijinhos,

Elder Stinnett

Monday, September 23, 2013

This week, we ran around, worked alot, and at the end of the week we had a turnout so-so.  Sorry, Im forgetting english every day- just deal with it.  :D  Yuri (the rapaz that is dying to be baptized)  needs the permission of his mom and she is a runner.  We´ll have to find a day that we can sit with her bem tranquilo and talk to her about all of this.
Jamine told us the other day that she likes the church, and knows the Book of Mormon is true, but is thinking about going back the Igreja Universal.  We explained to her about the importance of authority and the pure doctrine of Christ and invited her to read and pray again.  The next time we saw her she was doing better, and seems to be ready to progress again.  The highlight of the week was a family that was reactivated Carlos and Marta.  After 4-5 years of being inactive, the ward pulled its efforts together and they went to church this Sunday.  They were super well received and even got a chance to talk to bispo afterwards.
Leticia was also confirmed by her Dad Roberto (as Julia sat on her bench a little upset.  *All the good stuff just happens to Leticia!*   Her mom explained for the 10th time that she has to wait until she turns 8 haha)  Confirmations are some of the most spiritual experiences that I think exist.  The spirit floods the room as the words are said *Receive the Holy Ghost*  I love it.  The portion of the Spirit that is given to the person seems to overflow and the influence can be felt in everyone. 
We decided that this week, we were going to focus on serving the members.  Tuesday we went to the secretaria da ala and mixed some cement for him to fill some stairs that he built. (Stairs and pretty much everything else are built out of concrete here).  So pretty much what happens is you get 10 wheelbarrows full of sand and dump it in a pile in the middle of a street.  Then you grab 5 100lb bags of cement and break them open on top of the sand and mix it all together with a hoe.  Once it is all the same color, you grab 8 wheelbarrows of gravel and throw it on top of the pile, wet it down really good until it looks like chunky gray pudding, and throw it into buckets to dump into the stairs.  Our hands and tennis shoes got destroyed hahaha But it was pretty fun and a really good workout.
The next day, we woke up early to go help Roberto knock down part of his garage that was all moldy.  We took care of that really quick and then climbed up his tree to take down some branches with a facão (machete) and a hatchet.  It is a boyscout´s dream haha. 

We met a lot of great people this week, and I am stoked to teach them.  We will make it a great end of the transfer!!!

Love you all and hope that all is well.

Elder Stinnett

Monday, September 16, 2013

This week was pretty crazy.  Lots of stuff happened.  We had the zone conference of Rio de Janeiro and Nova Iguaçu so we had to go sleep in the house of Belford Roxo to get to the Caxias chapel as a district.  Belford Roxo looks a little bit shifty.  Ill just pray I stay in Nova Iguaçu haha  At the conference, I was able to see Elder Hansen from my old area Vila São Luis and ask him about everyone.  Seems like our recent converts are firmes and fortes there.  At lunch, I asked him how is Emanuel, and he took a deep breathe and looked at his food.  After a little bit he looked up and he and told me that his baby son Miguel had passed away.  I didnt really know what to say.  Through all that Elder Asto and I passed with Emanuel, we had become family- and to hear that Miguel had died hit me really hard.  As I sat there without words, Elder Hansen continued to talk.  He said that at the burial, Emanuel made a promise to his son- that he would do anything and everything to live righteously and be able to see his son again.  I thought about all that had happened and I have come to the firm conclusion that the mission of Miguel was completed.  It was because of his son that Emanuel´s heart was softened enough to hear the gospel and apply it in his life- and now it is because of his son that he will strive to live faithful until the end.  Kind of like our own Savior- who came to the world to give us his gospel, and because of His sacrifice gives us an eternal hope for the future of living with our families again.

This Sunday was the miracle of the baptism of Leticia.  The baptism was wonderful- prayers, a message given by her mom, and even a special musical number by the Elderes lindos.  :D  Roberto called Leticia into the font and baptized her on his knees (he has problems with his feet)  It was one of the coolest experiences I have participated in.  The light in the eyes of Leticia was bright, but even brighter still was the light in the eyes of Roberto.  I guess it´s gotta be something special to baptise your daughter-especially after being inactive for so many years.  Welp, here in a few years maybe it will be me in the font with my own kid. 
A few days before the baptism, Leticia let us know some secrets she had been keeping.  She had seen an angel.  She was up one night after reading her scriptures with her parents, and she saw him.  She said he had a white robe and had a scroll that he opened.  He said nothing, and then a few minutes later left.  The next night, she dreamed with Christ.  He talked and conversed with her, and then told her that she would yet see another angel.  I tried to think of what this all could mean.  Perhaps the scroll is the Book of Life where the angels are always *silent notes taking* -especially when she was about to take the important step of baptism.  I dont know for sure, but I have certainty that coisas grandiosas have happened in that family and will yet happen. 

After the baptism, Julia, the other daughter was begging to jump in the font too, and our other two pesquisadores got really excited.  One of them is a young man Iuri, and the other a woman Jamine (single mom).  Jamine was even asking *If I am baptized, who would baptise me??*  We are seeing a lot of miracles happen in this ward.  Rodrigo, a guy 24 yrs old finally came back to church after 5 years and is now preparing to serve a mission.  We´ve just got to keep the work going because Heavenly Father is definitely doing his part!!

Love you guys,
Elder Stinnett

Monday, September 9, 2013

Roberto and Ana Paula went to church again this week with their two girls, and are doing as great as ever.  Roberto says that his testimony is stronger now than it ever was on his mission and every time Ana Paula says *Eu sei que nossa family pode ser eterna..*  Roberto responds *Não Ana Paula, Nossa famila vai ser eterna*  They are prepping to grab the caravan to the temple dia 15 de Novembro to be sealed for time and eternity as a family.  We showed their daughter Leticia the baptismal font and she got super excited. (Her baptism will be next sunday)  Julia (their daughter 7yrs old)  Patted my leg and motioned for me to kneel down.  She whispered in my ear *I think I will be baptized next Sunday too. Dont tell my Mom, but I told my primary teacher I am already eight!* haha
We were walking down the street and we hear *Elder!  Elder!*  We look over and this elderly Lady and her daughter (24 yrs old)  were motioning for us to come over.  The lady introduced herself as Helena, a member who hasnt gone to church in 20 years.  her daughter Jamine had been vaguely remembering of the chapel as a child, and was curious to talk with the missionaries.  And so, as we walked down a street that we had never taken before, she saw us and called us over.  Jamine has had a difficult life as a single mom and unceasingly talks of self repentance.  How she regrets a lot of decisions she has taken and just wants to start over.  We left Alma 7 with her and came back a different day.  When we got there, she had read and prayed and believes the Book of Mormon is in fact the word of God along with the Bible.  However, she did not understand why this whole thing of *repentance and baptism* applies to her.  We asked her who Christ is for her.  She responded that she didnt know.  We paused for a second to search the Spirit of what to say.  Without knowing what I was saying, I opened my mouth and I started to tell a story.--When we were at the family reunion and the little boy fell in the pond.  I told her how I ran over to the dock, and looked down to see the little boy with wide eyes and a panic - frantically trying to reach the surface, but was not making progress.  I laid on my chest, put my arm in, pulled him closer by his long wavy hair (didnt tell her that part haha) and then grabbed him by the arm and he grabbed onto mine and lifted him out of the water.  We explained to her that this is how we are.  We are kindof trapped because of our mistakes.  We can try to escape them, but really our efforts are not effective.  However, we do have the hand of our Savior reaching for us.  The eternal sacrifice He made that makes repentance possible.  However, we have to choose to grab on, and take the steps necessary to receive this relief.  She looked at us, and looked at her young boy, and then paused.  *I understand now.*  The Spirit was strong as it testified of our necessity of a Savior, and my understanding of the Atonement was deepened.  I really think that the missionaries learn more in each lesson than the converts...

This Sunday was great.  Jamine went to church and loved it (we will mark her goal of baptism for 23 de Sept),  we have a teacher aged boy that has been to church 5 times that has been reading his scriptures who came up to us and asked *When can I be baptized?*  I looked at him and responded *I had no idea you werent a member!*  We just have to teach his nonmember parents and get their permission.  Also, we had another family reactivated this week of Paulo and Giselle and their three kids João, Mariana, and Jonas.  Heavenly Father truly blessed the effort we made and made miracles happen.  While I was sitting in Priesthood, bishop tapped my shoulder and told me one of the people who was going to give a talk fell through.  Sooooo, super missionary to the rescue!!!!  He gave me free access to whatever topic I wanted, and so I chose the prodigal son.  It has become one of my favorite stories in the bible as I strive each day to live the standards and become more Christlike.  I think that I am ready to be a member of the high council, because I got up there and the time passed by super quickly!  (But my talks wont put people to sleep :)  just kidding haha

Anywhoot, I am doing really great.  I really would like to put more, but time is kindof an issue.  Eu amo vocês!!!

Abraço e beijos molhados,

Elder Stinnett

Monday, September 2, 2013

So here we are- getting ready for the world cup.  Everyone here is going insane.  There are a few different teams of futebol here in Rio.----Flamengo (the wonderful and glorious that I claim as my own), Vasco, Bota Fogo, and Flumenese.  Flamengo is the worldwide most rooted for even though all the other teams say that only the favelado (ghetto) people root for them.  You can make a contact with someone in the street and say *Hey, my name is Elder Stinnett, and I am Flamengista and a missionary.* and they would be 5 times more likely to stop and listen to you haha.  

Here, the culture is a bit different.  You walk in the street, and you try to talk to people and all of a sudden a car with a speaker the size of a double doored refrigerator passes by playing music so loud that you can feel your teeth chatter.  It is pretty hilarious and reminds me a bit of our Hispanic neighbors at two in the morning with their music by the pool haha.

I love the people here, you can stop and talk to almost anyone at any hour of the day and they will hear a bit of what you have to say.  You know how it isnt common to see people go to church in the US?  Here the house to church ratio is about 10 :1.  There are soooo many churches!  A lot of crazy stuff like the pastor beating the head of the person to expulse demons and stuff, but hey, youve got to start having faith in something right? haha

This week was super cool.  We were able to help out a family menos ativo that has been away from the church for 8 years.  Roberto is a returned missionary, Ana Paula, and their two little girls Leticia (9) and Julia (7).  We went there to do a service project because Roberto has a problem with his feet, and we left a message full of the spirit.  We invited him to go get his Book of Mormon, and after 20 minutes of digging, he came back with the BOM he used on his mission.  As he opened it up, he looked at all the marks and was like a child on Christmas day with his eyes lit up and a big smile on his face.  We gave them another copy of the Book of Mormon and the invite to read each night a little and pray as a family.  The next time we got there, Roberto told me that Julia had stolen the Book of Mormon and sleeps with it under her pillow and the two girls refuse to sleep without reading and praying first.  With this, the parents started to gain a testimony again.  One night, Ana Paula told Julia that she needs to choose.  *You can go to Mommys church (Batista) or you can choose the church of the Book of Mormon, but you need to pray tonight and ask God which you should go to.*  Julia said her prayer and went to bed.  The next day, Julia walked up to her mom with the Book of Mormon and told her.  *Pai Celestial told me I should go to the church of the Book of Mormon.*  When I heard this story, I looked at Julia, so innocent and smiling at us, and I remembered a bit of how the same thing happened with Joseph Smith.  He needed a question, 14 years old, and he received it.  Various other miracles happened to help the testimonies grow of the parents, especially Roberto, and they returned to church. Ana Paula told us, *It was like I was sleeping for so long.  After 8 years, I finally woke up again!*  The little girls asked their dad if they were allowed to live in the church and never leave haha.  In a later lesson, the spirit testified that all was true, and with tears in their eyes, they promised to do all that is necessary to be sealed as a family.  How great is the miracle of the Atonement!

We continue to work with Daniel and Regaine (a family to complete).  Daniel wants a stronger witness and prays each day for it.  Remember him in your prayers please.  They are so special!

Eu amo vocês.  Eu sei que essa obra é verdadeira e ao nós esforçamos a viver o evangelho e colocar em pratica o que acreditamos e sabemos, Deus vai colocar as pessoas que precisam de nosso testemunho em nosso caminho.  Nunca tenha medo a falar sobre o evangelho pra as pessoas.  É uma benção por todas, e o maior forma de expressar nosso amor por nossos amigos é através a coragem que usamos para testificar da verdade e mostrar o caminho pra verdadeira felicidade.  Eu sei que vocês vão ter uma alegria maior de que já senti.
(translationI love you. I know this work is true and we strive to live the gospel and put into practice what we believe and we know God will put people who need our witness in our way. Never be afraid to talk about the gospel to people. It is a blessing for all, and the greatest way to express our love for our friends is through the courage we use to testify to the truth and show the way to true happiness. I know you will have a greater joy than I've ever felt.)

Abraço forte, 

Elder Stinnett