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Monday, August 29, 2016

Prédios, pessoas, and so on


Wow, what an awesome week!

First I'll tell about my new companion, Elder Millaqueo. He's from Bariloche, Argentina, and has the coolest lil spanish accent when he speaks Portuguese. We already work and plan and study and joke really well together, which makes everything run better. My feet actually hurt a few times this week from so much walking, which is something I'd missed.

The ward here seems quite supportive of missionary work. Lots of good missionaries have passed here, which makes a big difference in how the ward functions. The bishop is stellar and organized and I'm excited to work with him. 

Yesterday at church, there was a young man who came on his own because he has a friend serving a mission... he LOVED it and told us to pass by his house since he's never been taught. I love it when we have miracles like that. 

The church is true. The gospel is wonderful. God loves you all, and so do I!

Elder Merrill

Monday night we went to the Bishop's for Family Home Evening and ate "deconstructed tacos" which is crushed doritos, ground beef, peppers, tomato, lettuce, cheese and special sauce.... mmmmm.... I love them, they're awesome

We have a map complete with pins marking our investigators... it's pretty sweet
Elder Millaqueo! 

It's a lil wierd in Mooca... there are tons of tall buildings.... We ate lunch on the 18th floor of this one.
A sweet São Paulo sunset

​Us emailin'
​Us emailin'

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tchau Penha, Hello Mooca


We started teaching various awesome families this week, and some super prepared individuals. It wasn't hard to find things to do this week, we were busy. 

Here we had Stake Conference, which was one of the best I've attended. President and Sister Silcox spoke, and you could just feel their super strong testimonies. All of the speakers talked a lot about marriage and family relating to the Atonement, and how our convenants really help us to always orient our lives towards Christ.

Unfortunately, both Elder Moraes and I are leaving Penha. Neither of us wanted to, but it is what it is. I love this area, the members are super cool and excited, the leadership is phenomenal, and our teaching group is the best it's been since we've gotten here. However, the Lord has different designs for us. Elder Moraes is returning to his first area of the mission, so he's really excited. Elder Hughes is there too, so they'll live in the same house! I'll be going to Mooca, in the Ipiranga zone, which is a really good area. I'm excited.

Have a wonderful week y'all!

Elder Merrill

[Nat's note: Brian wants everyone to know that Mooca is pronounced like "Mocha"]

For P-day last week we went to the institute and played pool and foosball.... it was awesome 
Irmã Carmen with "the key of riches".... She spent 15 years going to an evangelical church that just preached about money, and she said "I was stupid enough to buy this key from the pastor... he said it would make us rich... I paid 350 reais for this." We joked about it a ton so I had to get a pic.... I realize it doesn't sound very funny for you guys, but trust me, it was hilarious. 
One day I got really excited to order orange chicken, since I miss Panda Express. So I called the place, waited, paid the delivery boy, and saw-- this tiny box. I paid 31,80 reais for this stinking thing. It wasn't even that good. Never again Lig-Lig, never again.
Between the sessions of Stake conference we went to give some stuff to the secretary and caught the stake presidency and some bishops watching the Brazil-Germany game behind the locked door of the secretary's office haha
Jailson, Lúcia, Bruna and Gabrielle 
Felipe and Lohany
This is what it looks like when you have to leave all the info about the area for the 2 new missionaries that will arrive.... lots of writing and organizing. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

This week in Penha

Querida Fam bam-

Yet another good week here in Penha. We found a couple new families that are super cool, I hope they continue to progress. One day, we got a call from a member of another ward telling us "my mother-in-law isn't a member of the church, but wants to be baptized. Can you guys help us out?" We almost tripped over ourselves to get there. Miracles happen.

One night we were eating with a member and I got to try chopped liver..... it was awful. Do not recommend. There's a reason why the phrase "what am I, chopped liver?" exists. Because nobody sane likes it. Fortunately, the Irmã made beef too, so I got out of just liver.

I love being a missionary. It's hard, it's disappointing, it's frustrating, but most of all it's awesome. The Lord is wonderful, and He loves us all so much.

Sorry I'm not better at writing letters! Love you!

Elder Merrill

P.S. I've never wanted to watch the Olympics so badly.... but we aren't allowed. However, we can ask people what's going on, so it's a good conversation starter and so I'm  not too out of the loop. I know the US is winning. Like always. Go USA!

Service Project at Irmã Valéria's
This roof was covered in plants

​Irmã Valeria!
We destroyed these brick pillars... it was super cool.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Nossa semana


Our week was just swell.

I don't really have a ton to report on... we contacted a bunch of adresses from our activity, and got some new investigators... one of them came to church yesterday!

We had interviews with Pres on Wednesday and he is so awesome. He and Sister Silcox are like our Dad and Mom. De verdade.

We also had leadership counsel and it was fun to see my past companions. Elder Vasconcelos told me that Jorge and Rayne (investigators from Jardim Odete) finally got married and she was baptized yesterday! It makes me happy to get good news about people I helped teach:)

In priesthood executive comitee yesterday, bishop shared a really cool experience. He was at the store buying bread for the Sacrament and grabbed the cheapest loaf he could find. But as he passed by all the other loaves in the aisle, he had an impression and felt a voice say "So it's this that you're going to offer to the Lord?" He immediately put the first kind back and got different, better bread. The important thing isn't the price, he wasn't saying anyone who buys bread on sale for the sacrament is wicked, but that it's in the intent. I then thought to myself "how many times do I grab the 'cheapest' thing and offer it to the Lord? How many times have I 'technically obeyed' but not done it with a willing heart? How many times have I sqeezed in reading the scriptures right before bed and not learned a thing? What cheap offerings in my life do I try to pass off every day?" It made me really think. So people, always remember that the Lord wants our hearts, and everything else is an extension and manifestation of our love for Him.

I love you all!

One night we got home and there was a cat running laps in our house.... turns out he crawled in a little hole near the roof and then fell through the ceiling. If you look closely you can see the claw marks hahaha

Put new soles on my shoes! Airplane tire rubber

Look who I found! There was a big institute fireside, and Larissa came and I got to meet her boyfriend. It made me so happy to see her so happy!:)

The Pokemon Go craze has officially hit the young men in our ward..."Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark 16:15

...but even Pokemon chase off the missionaries sometimes...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Feliz Agosto!

Querida familia-

This week was pretty swell. We weren't sick anymore, so that helped haha. 

On Wednesday I did a special division in Sapopemba (special because it wasn't the new way of doing divisions where the 2 companionships stay in the same area) with Elder Nadolny, who's been in the field 3 weeks. He's waiting for his visa to serve in the New York North mission, and learned Spanish in the MTC... so he's teaching in Portuguese, but has to keep up his English and simultaneously learn Spanish.... poor guy, it must be a headache, but he doesn't stress it. It was super fun, I love being with new missionaries because they have an energy and light about them that gets me all excited and motivated. I'm pretty sure I benefitted more from the division than he did.

We had a cool activity planned on Saturday and invited the zone to invite everyone on the street to take a tour of the our church building.Sounds great in theory, but only one person accepted the invitation... oh well, at least we planted a bunch of seeds and got a bunch of addresses to visit in our area!

This week we had the marvellous experience of seeing Daniel enter the waters of baptism. When we arrived in the area, the ward secretary passed his name to us, explaining that he'd been investigating the church for about 10 years because he married a member, but never was baptized due to unresolved doubts. He was taught by soooooooo many missionaries in this time, and he regularly watches General Conference... After our first visit, I thought "oh boy, this won't be easy....." but we continued visiting, bringing answers to his questions but always telling him that what we say meant nothing if he didn't pray about it, and if he didn't read the Book of Mormon to gain his testimony. Over the last 2 months, we saw an amazing change come over him as he really, truly meditated over the chapters we left him. One day about 2 weeks ago, we taught about baptism and remission of sins, and we challenged him to baptism. He paused, and then told us that it was finally time. We about tipped over with joy! This last Friday he was baptized and his wife bore her testimony in tears saying that God had finally answered her many many prayers. He is so exited to be sealed in the temple in 1 year from now, and really wants to have his family together for all eternity. I am always amazed at the mercy the Lord shows us. We, two boys with ties and nametags didn't do anything special; it was the power in the Book of Mormon that brought peace to his doubts; it was God who softened his years-hardened heart, who after all these years made the difference. He is amazing, and I know He loves all of us.

I love you all!

Elder Merrill

Daniel's baptism!

Augusto, our LMA was stoked to baptize since they've been friends for years

Look, so many people came to our open-house activity that the receptionists fell asleep... oh well

Sometimes I get tired of making phone calls.....