Monday, February 23, 2015

5K Races and Rescuing Activity

Hey Guyzzzz,

We had a spectacular week of lots of work and many gratifying results. I had my ecclesiastical endorsement interview with Pres. Cabral today in the afternoon, so that should be all settled now. Let Marlon know that I´m super excited to be able to skype Marlon after the mission! He´ll probably help me out as well with my english since it´s becoming rubbish. I mean, right now, I just used an english word from the UK to describe how bad it is. Pathetic.

Valerie sent some awesome tips to help my English class this week. Most of our students are relatively advanced since most schools in Brazil teach English starting out young. On Saturday, we had a class about how to ask a question to someone and how to organize our questions. We then did an activity where everyone was given a partner and they had to interview them (in English) to get to know them, then, everyone presented their partner to the rest of the class (again, in English). Everyone seemed to like it, we had one new student participate, and three of the students even accepted an invite to come to church yesterday! They seemed to really enjoy their visit, too! Unfortunately, they live in the other stake´s boundaries, but at least we´ll be able to send the referral to the other elders. It´s even an area that I´ve already served in (Abolição). I´m thinking about maybe getting a few english copies of book of mormons for them to study in between classes. We´ll see.

Sunday morning, as Elder Neuman and I were picking up investigators to bring to church, we were walking through the city center of Madureira on our way to the chapel, and as we werepassing through there, a 5k race was going on in the streets. I unfortunately didn´t have my camera to take some pictures, but boy did it make me miss being able to participate. I may not be up for that marathon race my first weekend at home, but if there´s a 5k somewhere closeby, I´d be so happy if I could sign up. Dang I miss running.

Saturday, we had an amazing rescue activity in Bento Ribeiro, where 6 missionary companionships from the stake (including us) came to our ward to visit as many less actives as possible. Our objective was to 1st, confirm that all of the listed members still live where our members roster says, 2nd, Help the less actives return in church activity, and, 3rd, talk with their neighbors to invite them to receive the missionaries and attend church meetings. We had wonderful results with many less active members coming back to church, and our sunday attendance was 84 as opposed to 52 that we had the week before. Not too, shabby, and now Elder Neuman and I have tons of people to follow up on and help to stay active.

We´re also still having great progress with our investigators Rose and Rayane, who were both able to be at church yesterday. We´re expecting to have Rose´s baptism this saturday, and Rayane just has problems with working on sunday before she can be baptized, since she only has one sunday of every month. We had a powerful lesson about sanctifying the sabbath day, and she said she would act in faith, asking to have all sundays off from her boss, and if they don´t let her, she´d try to find another job. Faith brings blessings, people. Faith brings MIRACLES!

So we´re happy, thirsty and hungry to work, and expecting many great miracles in Bento Ribeiro these next couple of weeks. I love you all, I love the Lord whom I serve, and seek to serve him with all my heart, might, mind,and strength every day!

Elder Braun

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's Carnaval!

Well hi there, beautiful people,

Well, I forgot to mention last week, but Carnival started last Friday here in Rio. And what does that mean? People are given a free pass to do tons of crazy stuff they´d totally never do. Also, like everything is closed and no one is working, so lots of people are traveling and not home. What does that mean for us? It means that we´re depending on lots of prayer to stay safe and successful. Since we´re a lot closer to Rio than other areas I´ve served in, where there´s some of the biggest Samba Schools (The clubs that provide the, um.... entertainment for carnival), we´ve been advised to return home by 6. I know some areas where the elders/sisters can only leave to have lunch, then they have to go straight back home, and they follow this routine until Carnival is over. Lame.

But we won´t let SATAN get into our way to have some success in Bento Ribeiro! This week, we´ve been teaching Rose and Raiane some more. They´ve been progressing really well! We just have to try and help them have the faith to be willing to follow Christ, being baptized and willing to endure to the end.

We also found a wonderful family this week named Moises and Jane who we found in our area book. We asked the member who had been fellowshipping them what their situation was. He said the missionarys in the past were transferred and the new ones who replaced them never continued teaching this family. So, we visited them and they were more than willing to continue learning more. As we bore our testimony yesterday to them about how our families can be eternal, they became emotional and even accepted to prepare for baptism on the 7th of March. Interesting how their son, a recent convert, has his birthday on the same day :)

Because of Carnival and many members traveling, we had three wards combine to have the same sacrament meeting in the same chapel. Funny how all three pianists from the three wards are traveling, so they had me play in sacrament meeting. I can´t believe how many times Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to use the talent I gained throughout my youth during my mission. I´m so grateful that I was able to learn to play the piano, for it has truly been a blessing for many wards (I think this is the 3rd on my mission) that I´ve served in.

Since we had transfers last week, and the American Elder who was leading our free English course was transferred, I´ve taken responsibility as the main tutor now. It´s kind of frieghtening since we don´t have an actual organized curriculum, but I´m loving the opportunity to serve some more in many different ways. If anyone back at home has ideas to teach english as a second language in a fun way, let me know! Thanks!

I love you all so much! I feel like the time is flying by so much, it´s not even giving me a chance to breathe. I´m working hard and trying my best to not waste time, for I know that now is the time for me to shine as I seek to finish strong. 

I love the Lord who I serve with all my heart.
Elder Braun

Monday, February 9, 2015

Transfers...and a Day in the Hospital

Hey there, YALL (my Texan companion taught me that word),

WELL, I´m happy to hear that Elder Squi... I mean Dallin is back at home doing great. Is he planning on heading to BYU anytime soon or will he stay at home for now? As far as the scholorship info goes, I got the letters this week with the applications. I think what I´ll do for the Foresters scholorship is write an essay, try and write down the information necessary and send an email next week with that stuff. If you could remind me in your next letter, that would be great. The Byu Management schlorship said that it´s only applicable for missionaries who return between 3/15/2014 and 3/15/2015, so I may be wrong, but it looks like I´ll have to wait until next year to be able to receive, am I right?

So yeah. I´m happy to hear that the family´s doing great. Happy Birthday, Bryan! 28 spankings for him. The day before his birthday (last friday), my comp and I woke up with really bad stomach aches. We tried muscleing through weekly planning despite the uneasiness, andddddd, we ended up blowing chunks (like a minute between eachother). Unfortunately, we didn´t feel better, and Sister Cabral reccommended that we go to the hospital to make sure it wasn´t an intestinal infection. What a great bus ride that was...  LUCKILY, it wasn´t a serious infection, it was just a case of food poisoning. The night before, we ate some crepe-like-things with ground beef and salad. I guess it was "fishy".
Elder Neuman had a bit more serious case, but the day after, Saturday, we were able to work kind of normally, despite still being weary and tired and weak. Yesterday, we were back up to 100% and we´re good to go strong this transfer becauseeeeeee.... We´re staying together through transfers! Elder Neuman and I will stay together in Bento Ribeiro this transfer!

That makes me pretty happy because we´ve been having some good success, especially with less-actives. One lady, Isabela, recently came back to church and is preparing to go to the temple. As we´ve been helping her, we were also able to bring two of her neices back to church (Maria Eduarda and Victória), and with all of them coming back to church, we´ve received some good referalls of people to teach. Isabela has already taught a coworker named Rosineide practically all of the Preach my Gospel messages, and tonight we´ll have a family home evening. Hopefully we can get Rosineide to commit to come to church this week and prepare to live the commandments of God! Yeah! #thegospelrules

We´ve also been teaching a member´s neighbor who missionaries had taught a year ago, but stopped visiting her all of the sudden. Her name is Rose, and after her visit at church last week, she became a ton interested in learning, and even commited to prepare for baptism. One thing that worries us is that she left her old church because she felt she wasn´t ready when her pastor baptized her. We´re hoping that now that she´ll be taught the full and true gospel, that she´ll be able to recognize the importance of baptism by God´s authority and enduring to the end regardless of the difficultie we pass through. Pray for me that everything works out!

I love you all, I´m ready to shine these last 4 months, and I thank my Father in Heaven every day for blessing me with this time to serve him and preach our Saviors gospel.

Elder Braun

Monday, February 2, 2015

New York in Bento Rebeiro

Hey Family!

So yeah, another great, but tough week, for us in Bento Ribeiro. We had some awesome miracles that I´m excited to share with everyone. Here we go!

First off, sorry about the Foresters scholarship  info. I completely forgot about that, so I´ll try to get that done asap and send that home soon. Be sure to let Dallin know that he´s awesome. Give him a big handshake for me.

We had a really cool experience last sunday (before yesterday) where a less active lady invited us to a family home evening and invited some friends. We met a really cool family who accepted our message very well, and even offered to buy us new shoes! So when we had lunch at this same members house on saturday, this same family bought us new shoes! Their names area Edgar and Cristina. We had lunch with them, taught them a bout the plan of salvation and we also invited them to read the Book of Mormon. Our Mission President and the assistants have been telling us that we shouldn't be afraid to invite those we teach for baptism, and that we should never wait until after the second lesson. So, remembering that counsel, we invited them, and unfortunately, they didn´t seem to take the invitation very well. They asked why they´d have to be baptized again in our church, and we explained authority of God, but long story short, they said they will probably stay in their church and that they don´t have time to visit ours... It was a really tough experience because I was really learning how to love this family, so much that I wanted them to receive the same joy that this restored gospel has brought to me in my life. Unfortunately, it may have not been the right time for them, and I´m hoping they at least follow our invite and read the Book of Mormon, following James´counsel and asking God and not Man of it´s true.

As I was doing a division with our zone leader, another american missionary, we saw a house with a big ól M'erica flag in front. So naturally, we knocked that door and an elderly man with a big ball cap that said U$A answered the door. His name was Souza, and he used to live in the states for 3 years, fell in love with the red white and blue, and took us into his house to show us an exhibit he made of NEW YORK CITY. With the twin towers and everything. Man I wish I could send photos from this computer, because it was super cool. We shared with Souza a quick message about the restoration, and he said he´d attend our english class and church yesterday. He didn´t go, so we´ll have to follow up and find out why...

We also had a cool integration night, or a ward family home evening, and we were able to bring one of our investigators, Mateus, a 19 year old who stopped us on the street, saying he wanted to get to know our church. He seemed to like the activity.

We´ve been working a lot, there´s tons of planning on our part to make sure all of our progressing investigators continue investigating, and with the big area we have, it´s a lot of stress for us. I love you all at home, and if you could include me in your prayers, I´d be that happiest Elder in the World!

Elder Braun