Monday, December 29, 2014

Isn´t It Weird That It Will be 2015?

Dear family,

Yes, Sarah, that subject line was just for you. After the Skype call the other day, I just kept on smiling to myself at random times during the day all of a sudden because I remembered some sort of silly thing from the call. Well, the goofy family jokes just keep coming back to mind. The sugar cone family is full of ziggidy zags and hippity hops and all sorts of things that you don´t know!

Anyway, let me sum up the week. Elder Pereira who lives in our house has been sick this last week. To cut to the thick of it, he has a hemorroid. Unfortunately some crazy astronaut stole all of our hemorroid creme and served it as microwave heated space food, so he´s been suffering quite a bit. hahaha But seriously, I had to do divisions with him and his companion so that we could work in my area and his area and help their investigator be ready for baptism this week. Fortunately, Antonio was baptized. Unfortunately, h missed church yesterday and was nt confirmed. Unfortunately as well, Elder Barbosa had to stay inside most of the time with our invalid. That means that he spent a few days just dwelling on his family and home and his call that he would make, and afterwords the call that he did make, to them. He didn´t get to do much work, work, work which is the answer to all of the ills as a missionary. Yesterday he confided in me that he almost called home to President to ask to be sent home. My heart just about broke. I really do want to be able to help him stay firm in the mission and firm in the Church. If you have any ideas please send them to me. I will also be asking for ideas from Heavenly Father. THank you for all the advice yall gave me the other day as well.

Anyway, this past week we were able to teach relatively well. Christmas Eve was a race as we taught 8 lessons, 1 being on the cmpletely other side of the city. The rest of the week was a little bit more difficult. OUr investigators want to be baptized felizmente. Unfortunately, Claudia is battling an addiction with smoking. Gleice isn´t very happy with us because of scheduling problems. Fernando and Monica are a little lazy at getting to church. The thing is that all of these people have rceived powerul witnesses of the truth and want to be baptized, but have issues that are getting in the way right now. We are going to keep praying and hoping and pleading and working so that we can bring about a marvelous work and a wonder in their lives.

I love you all so much! I hope that you look forward to our next Christmas together, as you know I am. It´s almost already 2015 and my mission has just gotten going. Fiquem firmes e fortes!

Com amor sem fim, Elder Parker Ayer

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It´s Finally Beginning to Feel Like Christmas

 Dear family,

Yes, I know that we will be talking face to face as a man speaketh with his friend in a few days, but there is still so much to tell you. I think that I could never write an email that would be sufficient to tell you about all of the wonderful experiences that I am having here in the mission. By the way, I have programmed with a family in our branch that I will call from their house at 11 am our time here. I would check on the internet the time difference. Usually it~s just an hour difference, but I don~t know because the time got moved around here for the summer. Thank you so much dad for the music! I downloaded it. Currently, however, I discovered the lds radio online and I~m listening to Archy. :D

Anyway, this week was so great! Some highlights. Monday we went to the supermarket to get groceries. While I was buying presunto, a man came up to me and started mumbling some words to me. He seemed a little crazy and I was just frankly eager to get away from him. After a little bit, I realized that he was asking for some rice for him and for his family. Usually in the street when people ask money, I just kind of keep on walking because it~s usually not a good idea to give people money. I usually think, what are they going to do with the money? Anyway, I moved away from this man in the store and we kept on shopping. I started feeling really bad. A scripture came from King Benjamin~s discourse came to my mind, reminding me that I have been a beggar before Heavenly Father, and my petitions have not been in vain, but have been heard and answered. I realized that it didn~t really matter what my perception of this man was, I should be able to help him, especially if it was to buy some food for his family. I was glad for a later opportunity to see him in the store, standing by the rice. I went to talk to him and he asked if I could buy a large bag of rice for him. It was only 6 or 7 reais, or 3 US dollars. I felt humbled, and a little chastised, by this humble petition. It was a good lesson for me to learn. It was also a wonderful opportunity to feel some real live Christmas spirit.

This whole week really was awesome. I could go through every day, but it would basically sound the same. A whole bunch of awesomeness. Every day this week, we were finding so many people to teach, and so many people accepted the opportunity to follow Jesus Christ by being baptized. By the end of the week, we had found 19 new investigators and 14 people with a specific goal to be baptized. It was so awesome! I have been praying so hard that the Spirit can be shed in the hearts of the people here so that we can baptize them unto repentance. See Alma 8:10 I just want to much to be able to bless these people here with the ultimate blessings of the atonement of Christ. I have been so glad to see our prayers being answered. The people seem to be paying mais attention to what we have to say. They want to know if the Book of Mormon is the word of God. We are also being led more in the words that we should say so that we can help God~s children in their specific difficulties. 

An especially good Christmas moment this last week was our branch Christmas activity. Not that many people showed up. It was really just the very faithful members of the branch that showed up, but it was great! It was designed to focus more on the Savior. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was shown from the christmas devotional singing The First Noel. I don~t know what was so different about hearing the music this time. Maybe because it was in English after a week of only hearing Portuguese. Maybe because I was in an attitude to really hear what the spirit was singing. I thought about that little Christ child. I thought about his fragile form with his powerful spirit tabernacled inside. I thought about the miracle of life made even more miraculous by the birth of the God of Israel. I thought of the tender feelings of a mother for her child. Maybe that~s why it was so good. That day we had just finished teaching a family from the northeast of Brasil. They had a little child of four months whose name was Emanuel. That was probably it. I cannot even imagine the love that must have been there in that little stable as these two covenant parents looked on the Savior who had been prepared for them. With wondering awe they must have looked on that child as the still feelings of the spirit gave them the promise of salvation. I love Christmas!!!

Another wonderful Christmas experience happened yesterday. The mission had its Christmas Conference with the entire mission! I know that I cannot be home for Christmas, but that was about as close as I got to being home for Christmas. There were so many beloved missionaries there that I got to see and talk to. My good friends from my MTC district (8 of the 14), my several companions (especially Elder Alexsandro), and Presidente and Sister Cascardi. On top of all that, I was back in Juiz de Fora (nicknamed Manchester)! I will tell you on Quinta a little bit more about the great misison conference. 

For now I have to go. I love you all so much! I am so excited to see all of your familiar faces, hear your sweet voices, and get to know my new sister. You are always in my heart. Underneath a calus of focused hardwork, you are all there motivating me to go forward and declare this message with power. I love you all.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, December 15, 2014

There Were a Great Multitude Gathered Together

Dear family and friends,

We will begin with some announcements. All those who can sustain Elder Ayer as a missionary, please give the customary sign (send letters, pray, don~t forget about him in the middle of the mission...). At this moment, we would like to give a vote of thanks to all those who have been doing so much (Mom, Dad, Will & Steph, Sarah, and Christian in particular). We are very grateful for the service you have rendered. Now, we know that Christmas is approaching and all the members of our family have been preparing. One the day of December 25 (ten days from today), there will be a skype exchange between Elder Ayer and the Ayer family. Please be present for that moment. There will be more announcements next week as to time. As far as next week, the normal day for communication will be postponed until Tuesday due to the Christmas holiday. Thanks to all of you for your understanding. Now we will begin with hymn 210 (or thereabouts), Angels We Have Heard on High.


Well, that was fun. Now on to our normally scheduled programming...

Monday night we had one of the greatest miracles of my mission. It really was a small miracle. It wasn~t a large display of godly powers in moving mountains or turning the sun back, but it was a miracle nonetheless worked by the faith of Christlike people. Last week we made a contact with a man in the street. He couldn~t meet with us in the moment, but we set up a time to come back. He asked if he could invite ather people to the appointment, and we agreed. We showed up on Monday not really remembering much about our exchange with him, but just expecting to teach the Restoration and find some new investigators. The night before, setting goals, my companion had looked at our goal for new investigators and asked if 3 would really be reasonable. Well, according to our plans it was achievable, so we marked it down. When we got to the appointment, we found Marcos and his wife Teresa. We were ready to teach the Restoration just to them, but they asked us to wait for a little bit as others would be arriving. Well, we waited. Others arrived, and others, and others, and others. Pretty soon we had a very large multitude gathered together of the entire extended family. You might say that it was a clan, as might exist in Ireland, or more specifically, Kilarney. Well, no matter, it was a meeting with ´all of the folks at home´. There were 19 people there above the age of 8, and still more children running around. It was one of the most awesome experiences I have had. Imagine more than 20 people all gathered together to hear the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ! I bore my testimony about the moment yesterday in church, and I just started tearing up because of the overwhelming feelings of the spirit. We bore powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon, the First Vision, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Restored Church. I could not have been happier to testify. I thought of this family gathered in the sealing room of the temple to be joined together. There would not be a happier scene in this whole world. Everyone loved the message and agreed to have us come back. It was a little difficult to extend the baptismal commitment to everyone individually, so we are going to go back and teach each family that was there. At the end, one of the family members offered a prayer with many of the others giving their added ´glorias´and aleluias´. I have never been so happy to hear those words, and I felt like offering them myself. Thanks be to God for the gift of His Son. Thanks be to God for the restored knowledge of HIs Son through His Prophet Joseph Smith. I thought of several examples of the scriptures when multitudes were gathered together to hear the word of God, including the experience of Amon and Abish and the Nephite gathering at the temple in Bountiful. I only imagined that if this man, ignorant of the true joy of the message, could gather his entire family to hear our message, what should be required of us who are not ignorant of the true majesty and import of our message?

There were other great moments this week. We had interviews with President Cascardi on Wednesday. It took up the whole day, but it was good to be able to talk to him.

Saturday we had a very interesting experience. We were looking for someone and a neighbor gave us some help. After we were unsuccessful finding the person, she invited us to participate in a family prayer that they would be having in a few moments. We accepted the invitation and entered the home. We found out in a few moments that the entire family was gathered together for the birthday of the family~s patriarch, a pastor in a prominent church called ´Christian Congregation in Brasil´ (translated). There are a sect of Christianity that is a little extreme. In prayer all of the women wear veils. In the church services, the men sit on one side and the women on the other. We were allowed to enter into their home. We were told to kneel down and the birthday boy started praying. I will temper the word praying with the word shouting or the word moaning or the word louvor-ing. He prrayed in a very loud and somewhat feverish/angry voice for what must have been 10 minutes. At the same time, all of the other people around us were also involved in shouting, moaning, and making all sorts of other anguished noises in the praise of their god. My mind reflected for a moment on the priests of Baal and Elisha. After the priests prayed, Elisha asked if they had to scream and yell because their god was on a journey or was sleeping. I also thought of Alma 31. I think these people also had a false understanding of prayer and election, and their comments later proved this to be true. After 10 minutes, another voice started gritando a little louder and took over the prayer for another 5 minutes. It was quite the experience. Afterwards, we arose and were offered some birthday cake. Fortunately or unfortunately were were in jejum. Before leaving, we offered to give a prayer as well. The prayer was politely declined because the pastor thought he would be denying Jesus´ power if he had to accept an additional prayer, and that from someone of another faith. Well, I quickly reminded him of the Savior who prayed 3 times in the Garden of Gethsemenae. He told me that he didn~t study the scriptures, but waited for the Spirit to tell him what he needed to say in the exact moment. Then he proceeded to give his testimony of his own faith to be registered by the angels. Then I gave my testimony of the essential doctrines of salvation for the same registry to be presented at the great judgment day. We will see which comes out in testimony against whom.

Sunday there was another awesome experience. A few days ago, a couple in the street asked us to pray for their daughter who was very stressed out about some final exams. When offered, they also accepted our visit in their home to hear a message. Sunday we went there and taught the Restoration to them. The family is golden! They are Jalson and Patricia, and daughter Thaina. The father said that he felt that what we were teaching was the truth. We all felt it. He sincerely thanked us for going to his home to share the truth with them. THey started asking lots of inspired questions about the Prophet Joseph Smith. At the end, the dad offered a sincere prayer to know the truth and finished it off with Psalm 23. I have never heard a more beautiful recitation of Psalm 23. This man didn~t know how to prayer very well without the memorized words, but he had a sincere desire and humility. His lack of understanding was accounted unto him for a blessing. They will be baptized on January 4. We are so excited for them!

I am so excited for Christmas and to see all of you. I close this email with all of my love and my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, December 8, 2014

What? No Subject?

Dear Family,                                                           
Elder Barbosa e eu

Some big things happened this week! First off, let me tell you what~s been happening on the home front that passed through my mind this week. Two of my friends, Amanda Smith and Cami Anderson returned from their missions. Chris Weeks had his 21st birthday. We celebrated Pearl Harbor Day. And yes, there are big things coming up this week, too. Here~s my official shoutout to the Howells. Happy 14th of December! (it only comes once a year, you know) And there~s my lead in to missionary work. :D It is weird to think that every day now I will be experiencing for the last time on my mission. Today is the last 8 of December I will ever experience as a missionary (a fora da possibilidade que eu vou servir como idoso). That just makes the time even that more precious. Thank you, Howells, for showing us that we really should cherish (and work real hard on) those days that only come once a year. Let us review. I did follow-up with the zone leaders yesterday, but I hope that I can also present a week to all of you that is worthy of all acceptation.

Monday, we returned home after emails. The days leading up to P-day, I always want to write letters to people, too, but I really just get really depressed about it all and put it off. Sorry! Instead, I did something constructive by setting up the advent calendar I got last year for Christmas. Unfortunately, I don~t have all the little pieces of paper anymore, but it looks nice and I~ll try to buy some bonbons to fill it up. After, I cut out a bunch of snowflakes and made a paper chain with green, red, and white to decorate our room. It was fun, but I felt like I would have rather taken a nap afterwards.

Tuesday, we had to cut a few investigators who aren~t progressing. Viviane asked us if we could come back in 15 days to talk to her again because of her busy work schedule. We agreed to wait for her appearance at church. It really is for the best because she likes to have 2 hour long lessons with us, and we~re on the Lord~s time! We also had to cut Caio, a young man who seemed to be very interested. The problem is that he is interested in having religious conversations and enlightenment, but isn~t as interested about getting up early on Sunday mornings to go to Church. It is always so hard to let investigators go because our love for them grows so much, but sometimes it has to be done for the good of the work and the good of the investigator. They are tricking themselves if they think they can receive the eternal blessings of heaven through our visits and not through any efforts of their own. As the scriptures say, we must work out our salvation. Not to say that any effort we make will grant us salvation, but our efforts will show to the Lord that we may receive His atoning grace in our lives. We must pray to know eternal truths. We must apply eternal truths in our lives through pray and change, resulting in repentance. We must promise to obey eternal truths through baptism to receive eternal promises, or the Spirit of Promise. We must apply the eternal truths until the end of our lives to retain an eternal remission of our sins.

Wednesday, we had zone meeting. It was a lot of fun! I got to see Sister Hope from my MTC district. It was the first time seeing her in a year and 2 months. The meeting was great. The only down side was that it took a large chunk of work out of our day the size of Alaska. We got home in the mid-afternoon and didn~t have much success the rest of the day. We got to talk to Antônio and Isis finally. It makes a week and a half that we haven~t seen them. Antônio avoided talking to me at the front door and sent his wife to do the dirty work. She said that they didn~t believe in ´our book´. I reminded her of the very powerful spiritual feelings we had all been witness to. She remembered, but still wasn~t interested in leaving her Catholic roots. It made me very sad to leave her front door, but she had the opportunity to choose, and I was glad we had given her the best opportunity she could have gotten.

Thursday, I started realizing what a pit we were in. Half the week had passed, and we had barely gotten any work done! It was actually really frustrating. We were able to find one new investigator who seemed promising. He was our first new investigator in the whole week! I was getting pretty upset about it. That night, we set a goal to find 5 new investigators the next day, and i promised the Lord that I would not return home until we had found all five of those new investigators (1 Nephi 3:15).

Friday, We went out determined to find the 5 new investigators. We found 6. I was glad that we had been so determined to find all of them. We showed the Lord that we were not joking around with our goals, that we really wanted to achieve what He had commanded us to achieve. This is what we must do in our lives if we are to get anything done. That is, set and achieve goals. This topic has been occupying my mind for a long time now. I am more determined than ever before to achieve what the Lord requires of me and what He sees in my potential. We must do this in our lives. We must work and wear out our lives in our service to Him. We must lay the foundation of a great work. We must realizar the great work. We will if we are strong like unto Moses (1 Nephi 4:1) and all the other holy prophets who have come before us and still lead us today. Let us work out our own salvation and the salvation of many others. I love you all and hope that you all have a great week. Remember the 14th!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

ps. I took a great picture this last week next to this British phone booth looking thing that was a box for people to enter to send christmas wishes to ^Heavenly Father CHristmas^. It was pretty great. I love you! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Giving Thanks

Hellooooo minha família!

This week has been a week! A week is a series of seven days, consisting of the English names Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, now standardized in our Gregorian calendar system. If you would like more information on this subject, refer yourselves to the one hit wonder ´It~s Friday´ performed by Rebecca Black or that other song performed by the Black Eyed Peas. Anyway, sorry for that really useless detour from this spiritually enlightening email. Just in case you were wondering, the slightly cooky Parker is still here.

But seriously, this was another week for the memory books! I ended my last email saying that I got the call that Elder Robison would be transferred and I would be training. Well, it happened. When I got the call, I seriously was a little bit more excited about returning to Juiz de Fora to get my greenie than anything else. It~s hitting me now that I actually have a new missionary who I need to train. For more information on this subject, refer yourself to the animated favorite, ´How to Train Your Dragon´, or the children~s favorite animated story, ´Are You My Mother?´ Hahahaha, the cookiness is building. Anyway, Elder Robison went away early Tuesday morning, and I got stuck in wild anticipation for a day in trio with Elder Pereira and Elder Romario (who I live with). I left that afternoon for Juiz de Fora, alone. Luckily, no one tried to attack me or kiss me, so I was safe. I got there that night and got to chat it up with Elder Alexsandro. He~s doing great, and the area is, too. My recent convert, Lia, introduced her friend, Ruth, to the missionaries, and she got baptized! Also, they are going to baptize Marcello who Elder Alexsandro and I found together. That night was particularly special because I got to talk to Irmão Geraldo. He was my ward mission leader in Manchester. He came by that night because the missionaries had been at his house and he was dropping them off. I spent 10 minutes or so talking to him. He said a lot of really nice things about how he thinks very highly of me. He was saying that he and his family still pray for me. In that moment, he got a little emotional, and so did I. I am so grateful for the chance to meet such good people here, to love them and to feel their love in return.

The next day we went to the stake center to get some training on how to be good trainers. Elder Kenning was also there. Then we met the greenies. One of the greenies was an Elder Wolfgramm who also went to Salem Hills HIgh School. We found out who we will be training. I am now training Elder Barbosa from Fortaleza, Brasil. He is a small, skinny elder who is 22-years-old. He is willing to work and walk at my pace. His legs are hurting now, but I~m sure that they will get better. We have been working hard in order to help God~s children. I forgot how hard training can be. I am trying to improve myself personally so that I can assure a very good experience for Elder Barbosa in these first few months in the mission field.

I read in 3 Nephi 18 this morning. It was great! One verse that really stuck out to me was verse 25. Realmente, we can come unto Christ. HE invites us to come and feel and see. This invitation pertains especially to the Book of MOrmon. Come unto Christ, feeling and seeing your way through the words of the prophets and the influence of the HOly Ghost. I love you all. Stay strong. Stay faithful.

Love, Elder Ayer

PS I didn~t do much for Thanksgiving in the way of food. In fact, it was my first THanksgiving fast. We were fasting for a brother in the ward who was supposedly undergoing surgery. When I asked how it went on Sunday, he told me that he didn~t even have an exam, hahaha. Oh well, I was glad to be able to show my gratitude to God through my willingness to sacrifice for his children. :D

Monday, November 24, 2014

[The Lord] Will Deliver Them Into Our Hands

Dear family,

This week was a great one! Let me tell what happened this last week.

Monday: We were walking in the city and some man called out to us in English to go over and talk to him. In his thick Brasilian accent, he asked, ´Are you Mormons´? Yes, we were. He then said that he was a history teacher and he would like us to tell him about the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was great! We talked to him briefly. I think he was blown away with what he heard. Relly, our church isn~t some sort of philosophical movement or ethnic revolt. It~s not a story about how a person had a great idea or underwent a great study of the BIble. It~s about the power of God working in present times as it was worked in times past. We offered the Book of Mormon to him and he asked how much it costs. I offhandedly said that it was free, our present. He then kind of half-rebuked us, saying that we shouldn~t be giving the Book of Mormon away for free because the people relly won~t value it. I thought about that for a little bit. That~s true, the book is free, but what kind of price must we pay to value it? Moroni said himself that the plates were of no worth, but the record was of great worth. That is, the record is of great worth. Maybe we all should be paying a little bit more time to read and apply the principles from the Book of Mormon. In that way, we will reap the spiritual harvest that is waiting for us.

Tuesday: We did an exchange with the zone leaders. I really have a problem with exchanges. In the past, most of my exchange experiences have been really awkward or unenjoyable or I had to do something really difficult like talk to a missionary about his obedience or work ethic. This time, the exchange was great! I~m going to throw away that old idea I had of exchanges and move forward. I went on exchange with Elder Ferrari from Beunos Aires (Big Apple). The day went great! After district meeting and lunch, we went out to contact some people who set up appointments with us. The first was the house of Viviane and Fabio. We taught a great Restoration lesson (correct that, we taught them a great Restoration lesson). At the end, the wife was completely enchanted with the message and with us. She committed (and her husband, too) to be baptized upon knowing the truth of our message. Afterwards she took a picture of us (probably to show all her girlfriends the two handsome foreigners she had in her house). :D Next, we walked down the street to another home. The mother, Cida with whom we had made the contact, wasn~t home. We started talking to her son, Cáio, and asked if we could come in and share a message. When we first talked to him, he seemed to have some personal persuasions that seemed outside of the gospel lifestyle. He also told us that he didn~t have much belief in Christ but believed in God, or a god. Still, we had a great opportunity to talk to him a little bit about his position as a son of God and how Heavenly Father wants to direct and bless him in his life. It was going really great! HIs mom showed up and we ended up teaching them the Restoration. At the end, the mom was willing to investigate a little bit more, and Cáio was very interested in reading the Book of Mormon and praying. It was a great experience. After this, we started talking to some people in the street. (Every companionship has to make at least 20 contacts every day to people on the street to fulfill the promise of Elder Ballard from a couple conferences ago). We were talking to one person when I saw another man very close by looking at us through his gate. Well, after making the contact, we went to go talk to him (he was really staring at us for a long time in a kind of strange way). In the first few moments of talking to us, he interrupted us, pointed straight at the Book of Mormon, and said, ´What is that book you have?´ Thus, President~s promise about walking with the Book of Mormon was fulfilled. We were glad to explain, and invited ourselves in to explain a little bit better. He went inside to get the key to the gate and his wife came out of their large, beautiful house to see us. She looked very skeptical and a little snotty when she said, ´We~re already Catholic and don~t want to change´. Well, I just explained to her that we wanted to increase the faith she had in Jesus Christ through the Book of Mormon. She conceded, especially when we said we would only be there ten minutes or so. Well, we got in there and explained the Book of Mormon to them (Antônio Jorge and Isis). It was amazing how forcefully the Spirit came into that room in the space of ten minutes. It was miraculous. The countenance of Sister Isis changed completely. When we asked to set up another appointment, they agreed. What a miracle! Elder Ferrari and I were very surprised as we talked a little bit more after the lesson. Really, God had led us to those people to hear the message.

Wednesday: This day ended with a big crash bang boom. We were walking home at night making contacts with people. I felt like we should talk to this one young man in the street. We introduced ourselves, and he said, ´I~m a Jay-Dub` (TJ em português). Well, he made it pretty clear to us his religious affiliation and that he knew our slang for his church (Jehovah~s Witnesses). Well, we kept on strong to share our message with him. It was going more or less until it went down very quickly. I really can~t remember who slang the first Bible verse, but it wasn~t good. He asked us sarcastically if we even read the Bible and I asked him sarcastically if he even owned the Bible (their translation wasn~t approved by the international Bible committee and has to have another name, ´As Escrituras Sagradas´). Anyway, it was a big mess-up. What made it worse was that the next day in studies, the Book of Mormon gave me a thorough rebuke. Just read 3 Nephi 3:21. ´If we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands´. I decided to not do that again.

Friday: We went to teach Tadeu. He was preparing to be baptized on Sunday. Everything was going great until this day. We got to the door and he said that he didn~t want to be baptized anymore because he was already baptized in the Catholic Church. I smelled something fishy. We went in and talked to him a little bit more. We followed up with his reading and praying. Check and check. We then went through a reveiw of things that he believes and has received spiritual witnesses of. Yes, God is our Father. Yes, Jesus is the Savior. Yes, Joseph was a prophet. Yes, this is the Restored Church. Yes, Thomas Monson is the current prophet. Yes, the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Once that we got that established, I asked about the people in his life that have a great influence on him. The first name he said was his dad. Well, his dad also just happens to be the assistant to the padre of the local paroquia. I told him about how we really didn~t want him to be in a tug-of-war between us and his dad. We told about how he had to respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd, and not another voice, in deciding the path that he needed to follow. We set up his interview for the next day and left him to pray about the subject. We began to pray, too. We then went off to Antônio and Isis´house. When we got there, Isis said that she had run home so that she could be there in time to receive us. We also got to meet one of their sons who works in Rio in a military hospital. We shared that message of the Restoration, and it went awesome. In the moment of the First Vision account, we just held them spell-bound (correct that, spirit-bound). We invited them to read the Book of Mormon to know for themselves the truth of our message. Isis told us that she had already read 3 Nephi 11 (which we marked) and the had started reading the testimonies of the witnesses at the beginning. We invited them to be baptized, and they were a little reluctant. They talked about their Catholic upbringing and social life. Thankfully, they said they would follow the Savior and His Latter-day work if they knew by the Spirit the truthfulness of the message. That was pretty great! We looking forward to helping them feel the Spirit enough to overcome the wicked traditions of their fathers.

Saturday: Tadeu showed us that he is a big fan of Harrison Ford. That is, he became a fugitive. He is now on the run from us. It is really sad, but I~m trying to keep my spirits up with the hope that he will continue to pray and will receive an answer from Heavenly Father.

Sunday: We went to look for Tadeu in the morning so that we could bring him to Church. His grandma came to the door and told us that he was sleeping. I really wanted to go in and wake him up with a glass of water, but it seemed like that would leave a bad taste in his and his grandmother~s mouths. We got to church a little late. We hung our heads in shame. We really were seeking investigators to go to church! Probably all of the elder~s quorum thinks that we just slept in a little late and bought some donuts on the way over to church since we didn~t have any investigators at church. I was feeling pretty cruddy about it all. No investigators is a major bummer, or boomer. Since we didn~t have anyone there for gospel principles, Elder Robison and I went out into the rain to invite some people for sacrament meeting. We talked to a lot of people...going to the Baptist church down the road. They have an amphitheatre full of people singing praises and munching on snacks. We have the truth in a humble home filled with 20 faithful saints. In any case, we weren~t able to bring anyone to sacrament meeting. My sadness was only dissuaged by an opportunity to bless the sacrament. It has been probably 8 months since I was able to do that. It was awesome. I was tearing up as I had the chance to break apart the symbolic bread. I thought about all of the covenants that these good people were renewing, baptismal and temple. I thought about how sacred this sacrament was. Really, we only receive temple covenants once and the sacrament is the only opportunity to re-receive the covenants for ourselves ´again´. I thought about what part I would be playing as the sacrament breaker and blesser. It made me feel very close to Heavenly Father through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for the sacrament. In sacrament meeting, I was grateful when someone gave a talk on gratitude and I thought about Thanksgiving this week. Thanks Pilgrims! #1Nephi13 Anyway, thank you family for all of the support that you~re giving me half a world away!

Sunday night ended with a bang and brought everything full circle. We were walking along the street and decided to stop and talk to a lady (Elisete) at a bus stop. We started talking to her about our message. She said that the members of her church did a similar work. ´Sou Testemunha de Jeová,´ ela disse. Oh boy, not again, I thought. This was exactly what I didn~t want to get into. We stayed calm and continued to present a brief overview of our message. When she heard the part about a prophet, she asked us to tell her more. Well, I would give her exactly what she wanted. I taught the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph Smith. When I mentioned the Book of Mormon (it was raining, so we weren~t carring him), she exclaimed, ´Oh, you~re Mormons!´ Then she started her attack. She asked if we preached in the name of Jo Smith. I said that we preached in the name of Christ. We conversed a little bit more. Then she asked why we preached in the name of Jo Smith. I once again said that we were not preaching in the name of Smith. Then she asked why were presenting our message by talking so much about Smith. I reminded her that she was the one who had asked us to tell her more about the Prophet. Well, she continued on in her attack, telling us to read John 17:3, that life eternal is to know God and Jesus Christ, not the prophets. Well, we talked a little bit about the prophets. I must admit, I was getting very frustrated and it showed a little bit. She started talking about the Bible and how we should only need to approach Christ to know Him and His Father. That~s when a revelation hit me. I asked her, ´What is the Bible to you?´ She started trying to go on in the point she was trying to prove, but I interrupted her a little brusquely. ´The Bible is the writing of the prophets. You do not know Christ except for the things that you read in the Bible. You only know Christ through the prophets.´ That struck her back for a little bit, but she jumped back in to her bibilical fury. I was done. I told her very firmly that we were only supposed to talk to people with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and we weren~t finding it there. I grabbed my umbrella and started to walk off. She called for us to come back. She said she hadn~t wanted to be rude and that she really wanted to understand us better. She asked us to explain for her who God and Jesus Christ are. In a very calm voice, and with complete silence from her, I explained for a good 10 minutes exactly who God is, the Father of her spirit, and who Christ is, the Redeemer of her spirit, and what that means. She was humbled. She had felt the spirit. She apologized and thanked us. We started walking away. A few minutes later, she ran up to us with a pamphlet, asking for one in return. It felt good. It ended right. It helped that I felt like God had won. The second part of that 3 Nephi scripture says: ´We will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.´ The situation was delivered into our hands, and the Spirit prevailed. We must always do that in our lives, let the Spirit prevail.

MOnday: Elder RObison is getting transferred. I~m getting a new companion (my 16th!!!). I will be training. FUN!

I love you all! Have a great Thanksgiving! Remember me when you eat the mashed potatoes and gravy and the pumpkin pie and ice cream. Love you all!!!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, November 17, 2014

Donuts...and other fun things

Dear family,

Whelp, this week became very different very fast. Last Monday Elder Kenning and I returned home from sending emails and started relaxing. We slept a little, played some coin soccer, ate some food, and then the phone rang. THE ASSISTANTS. I let Elder Kenning get it since he~s pretty good friends with one of the assistants. Well, it turned out that they were calling to let Elder Kenning know that he was getting emergency transferred to the other side of the mission. It~s because a group of American missionaries who received their visas finally got to the mission, and President Cascardi had to switch some missionaries around so that there would be a place for the new missionaries. Anyway, Elder Kenning was pretty happy to be transferred and finally be called as a senior companion. He~s finishing the training of another American. That should be fun for him. Well, I got a surprise, too! I got one of the Americans that was arriving! And guess who it was? It was none other than Elder Robison from my MTC district in Provo. He~s been serving in the Colorado, Colorado Springs mission for the last 14 months, and finally got here! It~s been pretty fun. We have a lot of mission story swapping to do, and he~s very excited to be down here and have so much work to do. It~s been a little strange, too, because now he~s the one learning Portuguese, and I~m the ´expert´ on speaking and understanding the language. Yikes! Anyway, we~re doing great, and he doesn~t get stressed out that he~s not understanding or speaking that much. It~s been pretty fun to do contacts now. We walk up to someone, introduce ourselves, and Elder RObison starts talking a little bit about our message. When the people give a weird look like they didn~t understand that well, we laugh, and I start summing up everything that Elder Robison just said. It~s been great!

On the investigator front, things are going well. We had a little bit of difficulty working this week because of the emergency transfer, but we are definietly going to work better this coming week. Unfortunately, Matheus was not baptized this last week. He works for a distributor to supermarkets, and they are gettign ready to open a new supermarket this week. Anyway, he didn~t have any time this last week to meet with us. HOwever, it proved to be a miracle in finding other people to teach. We got there one day, and he wasn~t home when he said he might be home. His aunt let us in so that Elder Robison could use the bathroom. She was getting ready to leave for São Paulo. I asked her who she was going to visit. She said that she was going to visit her dead husband~s brother. I didn~t hear it exactly, so I thought she said she was going to São Paulo for the funeral of her husband~s brother. I said something like ít~s hard´. She responded about how after 4 years it still is hard (I realized what she had really said before). She then began to talk about how she lost both of her parents and her husband within a few months of each other and how it was the hardest part of her life. I decided it was the perfect time to start a gopsel conversation. I pulled out Mosiah 16:7-9 and shared it with her. It was amazing how the spirit entered the room. The moment was perfectly created. We began to talk about the hope of resurrection and of eternal families. We also talked about the temple and marriage sealing. We bore testimony about the truth of the restored church and restored gospel. The spirit was so setly penetrating in the space. There was something very sublime about the moment. We asked to set up a return appointment to share a message with her, and she accepted readily. It was a great thing. Because of Matheus being gone, we also got the chance to talk to his brother, Tadeu. It was so cool. Tadeu is 20 years old, but a lot less confident than his brother. At the end of the Restoration lesson, we invited him to pray about the Prophet Joseph Smith. It was so cool because he said the exact same thing that Matheus said, that he already believed Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was. We invited Tadeu to be baptized this next Sunday with his brother Matheus. It will be great!

Well, I have been thinking a lot about progress this last week. I have thought about how much more I want and need to progress on my mission and in this life. I also thought about how I don~t know exactly to help this district progress and achieve higher goals and successes. If anyone has any ideas for me, that would be great! I love you all!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. I found out today that my trainers, Elder Colligan and Elder Stechnij, are now serving together again as Assistants to the President in WV. How great!

PPS THis last week a local padaria came out with a new line of confections...DONUTS!!! Let~s just say we bought them while we could. YUM!!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Great Week!

Dear Family,                                                                                                 

This week was great! We had the baptism of Diogo! He~s the 31-year-old who~s almost a full-grown man! Anyway, we had some difficulties this last week with his parents, but in the end he told them that what he wanted to do was to be baptized. It was really cool to see how excited he became about baptism. He was interviewed on Friday and the zone leader said that he was completely elect. We were having a little difficulty getting the baptism planned for Saturday because practically all of the members (all 25 of them) live pretty far away. For example, the branch president lives two and a half hours away by car! Anyway, we were so grateful when one family from the ward showed up. They had to travel an hour on the dad~s only day when he doesn~t have to drive and arrived with cake and soda in hand! It was so wonderful to have that small but significant support from the members of the branch. I was asked to perform the ordinance, and we baptized Diogo in a small tiled tub behind the branch building. It was pretty awesome baptizing in the open area, especially since it was startingt o get a little rainy!

Anyway, lots of things are going great in this area. We are preparing Matheus to be baptized on Saturday. He went to church last week for the first time. He found out that one of his online friends from Manila is a member of the church and she has been giving him parts from the Book of Mormon to read. It has been pretty cool to see how he has become so completely converted to the restored doctrine and gospel of Christ. He is very excited for his baptism. On Sunday morning, one of the pipes in his house burst and starting leaking water into his house. He fixed the leak as quick as he could, and then did everything so that he could get to church. It really is amazing to see how he has been changed to have such a desire to receive the blessings of the gospel. Any normal person would use the burst pipe as an excuse to not go to church, but he was seeking something at church! I hope that I can use him as an example to to not sit back and relax and wait for God to bless me. We can not be casual about our salvation. We need to be proactive and seek that which is good.

I know that Heavenly Father loves us. I know that my Redeemer lives and that only through Christ we can return to the Father~s presence. I know that the Book of Mormon is a blessed tool to help us know Christ. I know that Joseph Smith knew Christ as His revelator, prophet, and seer. I know that Thomas S Monson still guides us closer to Christ, and thus, to the Father. I love you all! Stay well!

Love, Elder Ayer

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book of Mormon Battles

Dear family,

I was thinking about Sarah~s emails and how she would call us ñaño/a, and I was thinking what sort of cultural equivalent I would use to call all yall. I don~t know if there is really an equivalent here. When I talk to people in the street here, I usually call them amigo or irmão. Here it really isn~t weird for the people to call each other brother or sister. There is a kind of strange practice that people have here of calling other people ´meu filho´ (my child) or ´meu querido´ (my dear/beloved). It~s a little strange, but its all good. Usually Elder Kenning and I have to hold off all of the old ladies here who call us filho/querido/menino and want to pinch our little white cheeks. It~s pretty fun walking around with another American and getting a lot of attention. The first thing people ask us is where we are from. When we tell them we~re American, they start calling all of their family members over to see us. It~s good for getting into people~s houses to teach them, but bad for weeding out the elect from the un-elect.

This last week we had a little bit of a hard time with our investigator Ellasandra. She~s the one who ran away from us and then said that she still wanted to be baptized. We tried to see her again this week, but she wasn~t at home again when she set the appointment with us. We waited around 45 minutes, and she didn~t show up. We really wanted to teach her, but right now she isn~t making this a priority. I have decided that I really don~t like flakes. However, what~s even worse than a flake is a Frosted Flake. Frosted Flakes are the people who fain (feign/fein/fane ?) real interest and have real spiritual experiences, but are just flaky. Along with them in the unsavory cereal family are Grape Nuts, Brasen Rands, Marshmallow Mates, and others just to name a few. Hahaha, this isnt really any important commentary, just some funny thoughts I was having this last week. Alright, back to the real deal.

THis last week we had an awesome zone conference in the city of Petropolis. Petropolis is a pretty cool city; it~s very touristy, and the chapel there has to be the only one of its kind in the whole world. It~s three stories high with the parking under the building on the ground level. Anyway, the meeting was really awesome. I started thinking about all of the things that I need to start doing directly to be the best missionary I can be. I always have really big ideas for my missionary service, and I need to take the risk of a little extra, hard work to accomplish all that I want to do. Another great thing from the meeting was some training we got on the importance of the Book of Mormon. President Cascardi gave us the idea of walking around with the Book of Mormon in hand. I love the Book of Mormon, but I usually just keep it in my bag for when I need to use it in a lesson. HOwever, Elder Kenning and I started walking around with the Book of Mormon in hand, and it~s starting to work great miracles!

The BOok of Mormon really is the word of God. I don~t have any hesitation saying that it really is the clearest, purest, best, most important, and most powerful book that has ever been brought to light. It is amazing. It is a power-packed book, filled with great spiritual light and learning from 1000+ years of experience. It was written and translated by prophets, declared and protected by angels, and testified of by the very Son of God himself. Now it has been read by millions, changing their hearts forever and guiding them to the work of the Lord in these last days. 

Anyway, we had a lot of miracles this last week. One night we were desperately looking for our frosted flake. We were standing in the middle of the road (deserted road) and some man came up to us and asked us if we were from ´that church in São Paulo`. We were a little frustrated, and I didn~t really feel like talking to the man. We had been fasting that day and been through a lot of challenges. I quickly explained to him the church we represented and I felt prompted to show him the Book of Mormon in my hand. He said that he already had the book, read, loved it, and had already passed it on to several other people in the city. I was flabbergasted and started tearing up. This was the miracle that we almost missed. The Lord had already been laying the foundation of a great work to be done here. Unfortunately, he didn~t remember the names our addresses of the people he gave the book to, but we are going to preach and teach the Book of Mormon until we hunt out every last Vincenzo di Francesca and bring him to the gateway of which the Book of Mormon is the keystone.

Another great experience this last week. We were teaching a very Evangelical lady. She started talking about how we have to pray to God to ask what is right; we have to study it out. It was a perfect set up for the second half of our Restoration lesson. We told her about the Prophet Joseph and the Book of Mormon. She did not brush off the story, and she did not accept it right away. She told us that she would pray about it. Her sincerity about it shocked me. She really wanted to know. With us, she got on her knees and prayed to Heavenly Father sincerely for orientação to find and follow the truth. She said that she will read the entire Book of Mormon and will pray. Unfortunately, the only thing in her way is that she takes care of a deathbed-bound old lady every Saturday and Sunday. We are praying for a way to be made for her to visit the church.

Another cool thing this week. We didn~t have time to teach one of our contacts, Matheus, on Saturday, so we passed by his house as we were going home to invite him to church. Before we could even finish reminding him of the name of the church, he said that he would go to church with us. We gave him the Restoration pamphlet, the Book of Mormon, and we met him at the church the next day. It was prbably a bit of a shock for him the next day starting out in priesthood meeting learning about all the ordinances of the gospel, but he took notes. He listened intently in gospel principles as I taught about the Restoration. He said amen as he listened to testimony meeting. At the end I invited him to pray to God about the reality of the prophet Jospeh SMith. He said he would pray for a confirmation, but that he already believed that he was a prophet. It was amazing! We are going back this week to teach him.

Diogo had us going this week. During the middle of the week, he decided that he wasn~t ready for baptism. We resisted, but said that we could prepare him for a later date. I never like doing that because I know what a procrastination circle is like. Anyway, the other day we visited him briefly and left Alma 7 with him to read. I underlined the part in verse 15 where Alma invites the reader to enter the waters of baptism TODAY. Well, we meant to pick up Diogo for church, but he wasn~t there. We were very shocked during priesthood meeting when he showed up at church with a white shirt, white pants, white socks, and white shoes! It was super funny. I was dying of laughter! He decided he wanted to be baptized after all. Unfortunately, we still need to help him with a couple things and he should be baptized next Sunday! 

Being a missionary is great. It~s a dream being fulfilled. I would like to be a missionary forever, oh wait, I can! You can, too! Is~nt this gospel great? Let~s do all within our power to spread the good news we have. We~re not spreading around old news, but new news. We have it! Come and get it! God lives! Christ lives again! We have a living Prophet! We have the true and living Church! Come unto the living waters and be satisfied. I love you all so much!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

PS HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTIAN!!! I made a voice recording for you, but the computer isn~t taking it. grrr, but I love you and good luck in the show this Friday! Muah!

Our Halloween party with sparkling passion fruit juice and some lame candy.  YEASH!

Monday, October 27, 2014

All the Monkeys Arent in the Zoo...

Dear Family,

Today will be hard to write because the keys on this keyboard are super sticky, and my fingers are already dead. anyway, on with the good stuff! (please excuse the typos today!)

Wednesday we had zone meeting in Barra Mansa (about an hour away). Afterwards, I had to stay behind as I was responsible for pickng up the materials for my district. I watched as two other elders fought over all of the pamphlets and stuff. After a while someone said that I hadn~t picked up anything yet, and they decided to give some materials to me. As they were packing those away, I quietly snuck all the Book of Mormons that we needed. Then one of the sister leader trainers came in and starting demanding Book of Mormons from everyone, and wasn~t willing to share with anyone else. I was getting a little frustrated with everything an said something rude-ish to her. Then I stepped back, took a deep breath, realized how ridiculous we all looked as missionaries fighting over the Book of Mormon, and tried to laugh it off. But seriously, if the world knew what we know about the Book of Mormon, they would be fighting over it too!

This last week we saw some litle monkeys outside of our window. We fed them bananas. i have the movie on my camera for after the mission. We tried to lure the monkey in t our house. we succeeded fter a little bit, but he ran away. There were about 3 grown mnkeys and 2 babies on their backs. it was pretty sweet!

We were preparing Ellasandra to be baptized this last week. We had a cool leson when she told us that she was feeling a prompting from God that she needed to be baptized. It was super funny hwen we taught her the word of wisdom. we explained the law, and she made a face like she wasnt too sure about what we said. Then she surprised us by saying, -I dont even drink coffee! It was a relief for us and we started laughing. It was a great moment. We marked the baptismal interview for Saturday, but couldn~t find her anywhere that day. We spent the whole day trying to track her down, lookng in the store, hospital, and even the church she used to go to! (universal church) We were dead tired by the end of the day, and ew had just about gone crazy. every corner we turned we expected to see her face there. I am just glad that we showed our diligence in lookng for Gods lost sheep. We went back last night to her house and found out that she wasnt feeling too well saturday. She still wants to be baptized, we~re excited, and were going to help her be more prepared thaan she was before to be baptized.

We found a 30 year old man that might be identified with Fred Randall. His name is Diogo, but he also lives with his parents and isnt quite the full grown man his age says he is. Fortunately, his is listening to the spirit. Yesterday he told us that he prayed for the first time in his life and felt like his is prepared to be baptized. It was a very cool moment. He will be baptized next sunday. I like ginog to his house because his mom is really nice and reminds me of Aunt (ant) Dee.

Last night we started walking home when it started raining, no downpouring, no sending forth shafts in the whirlwind. Well, it was rough. There were noah-ish rains tumbling down and noah-ish floodas coming up. Unfortunately, I had m nice suit pants on with my nice silk men~s wearhouse tie. In any case, it was a lot of fun.    

We need to have our foundation in christ for moments like these. When we have days looking for one person in vain, we need to remember why e are looking. It isnt in vain. We are serving the god of heaven and earth. We must give ear to his words. We can serve the king of kings by searching his truths, or we can falsely imagine ourselves to be the god of heaven and earth by determining what we want as truth. We must receive the truth of god to be saved ultimately. OUr own false perception of things will bring damnation. These words are meant to be for a recent convert who i met yesterday, but you get them today. :D I hope that you all seek out the truth that cannot be changed or adapted to our own selfish desires. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet who received all the keys of the kingdom of heaven and passed them on to the other presidents of this great Restored Church. I love you all!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer4

Monday, October 20, 2014


Yum!, Cow Tongue...
Well, I hoped that those recordings work for you. You might have to convert them to a different format to listen to them. Unfortunately, this LAN house is kind of annoying and weird and I can~t convert the sound bytes. Anyway, something I forgot to say in my recordings is that I got to try cow tongue on Sunday. I~ll send a picture for you. It was cut up and put in a tomato-y broth. I actually really liked it. It was a pretty dense meat, but it was really good. I am doing great here, and I love you all so much. In case the recording doesn~t work, I am in the branch of Barra do Piraí. We meet in a small house that the church bought. This last week we had 36 people in church and it felt a bit crowded. One of the speakers read from the True to the Faith manual for his talk and the other used a big laptop for notes. It~s a pretty typical, quirky, loving branch. I love it! Unfortunately (but more like FORTUNATELY!) it shouldn~t stay a branch very long because we are going to baptize all the people in this city. I love you all!

Love Elder Ayer

Monday, October 13, 2014

I Caught on Far*, Just Caught on Far* (*Fire)

Dear Family,

That's right, this week has been a week to riff, rip, and burn it up. I don't know if I already used this classic "Called to Serve" line in a previous e-mail, but it's just so good that I could probably use it over and over again. Anyway, let me describe the wondrous events of this past week, and what is about to come in this coming week/transfer.

Monday was really wonderful. We we had our usual noite familiar in the house of Irmã Penha. We unfortunately didn't have any investigators there, but we did have two recent converts there, Teresinha and Elisabeth, who have been struggling a little bit to become accustomed with the change in churches. Elder Alexsandro and I both felt impressed to talk about the Book of Mormon. It was truly inspired. We got there and started talking about the Book of Mormon. At first, the recent converts didn't feel much like saying anything. As we got started talking about the Book of Mormon, they couldn't stop talking. In particular, Teresinha bore a powerful testimony. Of the two sisters, she always seemed to be the spiritually weaker of the two; Elisabeth had spent much more time reading the Book of Mormon and other Church publications. It was interesting to see how more important than our academic knowledge and study of the church doctrine is the heed we pay to the spirit. Teresinha bore testimony about how she looked in the index one day to learn more about "Mormon", She didn't read anything about the prophet, but studied Mosiah 18 that talks about the waters of Mormon. She was touched greatly by the spirit as she remembered how she had been taught by the missionaries at these waters. She declared to everyone there that she would never desist from the Church. It was a very "proud" moment in my missionary life, and an answer to many prayers.

Tuesday we had a fun gift exchange in our district meeting. It was a secret Santa type thing. I got my best friend Elder Alexsandro. He's the pardo, favela type, so I got a pretty sweet hat for him that he can turn to the back or the side (cue the dad-cringe). Well, another Elder pulled my name. He's the jokester type. He had been pretending the whole past week that he got the name of a sister, and he bought some very expensive soap from a sister in the ward who sells beauty products. Let's just say that now I'm smelling very good and have baby soft skin.

We had some great success this week with setting baptismal dates with investigators. It is wonderful to be able to see how the spirit can touch the hearts of people to the point that they are willing to make a commitment to change their lives. After extending the commitments to know of the truthfullness of our message in a lesson this last week, I asked the investigator (Jose Alexandre) what this would mean to know of the truth of these things. He said that he would know that God had given permission to this church to act in His name. It was an inspired answer. I then asked if he would be baptized in this Church. He said, "Claro". It was a cool moment to see how the spirit was able to reveal the simple truthfulness of this to him.

One of the great fire-y moments this week was a lesson with a 25-ish-year-old man named Marcelo. We made contact with him a few weeks ago when we attempted to contact a referral. She wasn't there, but he passed us by in the stair well of the apartment complex a few times as if he wanted to talk to us. Well, I stopped him and we started to talk to him. We weren't too excited that first time when he seemed to be one of those strangely theoretical minds that liked getting in young missionary's faces to ask them deeply probing questions about ethereal concepts. I thought he was very proud, would be interesting to talk to, and any future lesson would probably end in a Bible bash. Even though he seemed like a weak contact, we kept him in the back of our minds as someone that we could teach. Since that moment, we hadn't had any time to talk to him until this last week when we were walking near his apartment complex with shaky plans for the last hour of the night. We came up with some finding ideas, but we really wanted to teach someone, and Marcelo had told us that he is usually at home at night. With this in mind, we went to his apartment. After buzzing us into the complex, we said a quick prayer to have success and patience and to have all the right scriptures come to our minds. We were effectually preparing for a Bible bash. When we knocked on his door, he let us in. We talked for a couple minutes about his life and his para-gliding hobby. When I was about to ask another question to him about his hobby, he asked us what our message was about for the night. Well, apparently he had been reading the investigator manuel "Learn My Gospel" in the section on How to Begin Learning. (For those less acquainted with modern missionary work, an RM can explain this joke more fully to you.) It was very interesting. The moment we started teaching the lesson, there was a spiritual sort of silence that surrounded the voice of who was speaking. I don't know if I explained that very well. It was as if the spirit was guiding every person in the room to pay strict attention to the words of him who was speaking, and no other noise made any sort of distraction. I only remember experiencing this feeling as powerfully one time before when I testified for my high school US History class of Joseph Smith's first vision. Elder Alexsandro and I explained the first lesson of the Restoration in a way that we have never explained it before. We usually say generally the same words, but this time was completely different. We completely established the nature of God as a loving Father. Elder Alexsandro was clearly impressed to talk very specifically about the doctrine of the Atonement in the earthly ministry of the Savior. During this time, I was looking at him. When I began to speak, I looked back to Marcelo to see that he had tears in his eyes. I talked about the importance of Christ's Church in a way that I have been struggling to understand and was finally made clear to me. The Church is the earthly guardian of eternal, redeeming truth, built upon the authoratative revelation of prophets and apostles. This doctrine of "organized religion" was something that Marcelo belittled in our last encounter, but this time I could see him accept the truth. After we explained Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the origins of the Book of Mormon, Marcelo thanked us for coming at the right time when he had been prepared to be humble enough to recognize the importance of our message. I don't know exactly what happened with him, but it was a miracle. I don't know exactly what happened with us, but it was a miracle. We invited him to be baptized, and he wrote the date down on a piece of paper so that he could remember it. It was the best experience I have ever had teaching the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful to have been able to experience it. I really do know that the things of which we taught and bore witness are true. Thanks be to God for the miracle of revelation, without which none of us could inherit any degree of eternal glory. (see "Revelation" in the Bible Dictionary)

Well, that was the best fire-y experience this last week. There were other, more temporal, ones as well. This week it hit 41 degrees Celsius in our area. That's about 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Put on your sunscreen, wood chuck chuckers. It's still spring, wood chuck chuckers. The six more weeks of winter have long passed, wood chuch chuckers. Anyway, it's hot hot hot (oh baby, it's hot, hot, hot). Another fun experience this week was a spicy lunch. There is a brother in our ward who has some very hot hot sauce. Actually, it's not hot sauce or pepper sauce. It's pepper extract. I told the other elders that the stuff was really good (they had never eaten there before), and they loaded it on. I felt guilty because I lied to them and I'm really the only one who likes the stuff, so I loaded it on, too. WOW! The lunch only got more fun when Elder Alexsandro dared us to drink 10 pure drops of the extract. Well, we did and it was funny. Elder Alexsandro and I both died. It was definitely not the best thing to eat right before starting a fast. Let's just say that we didn't feel too well after that.

Well, more fire-y experiences are coming. It's a new transfer, and I'm being transferred to the south of the mission to the state of Rio de Janeiro, the Barra de Parai area. I'm going to be district leader again. I will be serving with Elder Kenning, a missionary from Maine (who I recognized from EFY) who also served in the West Virginia Charleston Mission. It's going to be great. It gets wicked hot down in that area, and we are going to make it hotter with the baptism of fire. I'm sad to leave my best friend and companion after six weeks, but there are more great things to do!

I love you all so much. i hope you enjoyed the lengthy email. You are all the best. Know this work is true and be faithful to it. Do your part and the Lord will do His. I LOVE YOU!!!
My gift-wrapping with an apostate newspaper from the Universal church.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, October 6, 2014

Something New

Dear Family,

I am sending some audio files to you. Video files are too big to send, but I can send my voice! I am sending a personal message about this past week and also my own personal recordings of Joseph Smith History, which Elder Anderson suggested that we make. I only did it one time, so there are some mistakes, but I hope that you enjoy! I love you!

-Elder Ayer

Well I sure hoped that worked!  I was praying that it would!  I love you all so much and I hope that you enjoy what I sent you!  Love, Love, Love, Love, Elder Ayer

Monday, September 29, 2014

Faith-Trying Experiences

Dear Family,

Things are going very well. There are continually faith-trying experiences that lead to wonderful experiences if our faith is tried true. This week was no exception.

ON MOnday we had our usual family home evening with members, recent converts, and investigators. I don't think I told you, but we have been working exclusively for the past few months in a specific bairro in our area. The bairo is Sao Pedro. We have been building the area up through family home evening. Every Monday we have a family home evening in the house of a different person. Monday we had the noite familiar in the house of Antonio who was baptized at the beginning of the month. It was somewhat of a miracle because his wife is somewhat frumpy and doesn't like the idea of "another church" too much in her house. Finally, she conceded the noite familiar. It went super well! She participated in the lesson and activity. She also made a delicious cangiquinha for us. I don't know exactly how to explain this food, but it's a soup type thing that has sausage and that corn stuff that isn't normal corn. Anyway, it went super well and everyone had a good time. Tonight we are going to have the noite familiar in Lia's house (remember my first baptism here on July 19th?). It should be great!

Well, this week we were working exclusively with our investigators with baptismal dates. We had a bunch at the beginning of the week that were planned to happen Sunday. They had all gone to church a few times already and the activity with the pancakes. Unfortunately, many of them didn't actually want to be baptized, or didn't want to do what was necessary to know the truth and promise to be faithful until the end. There are always problems with this. It's really annoying when people want to talk to us because of the "blond American". Anyway, their faith and real intent was tried this week along with my faith and real patience. A few baptismal dates fell very fast. The dates that seemed most segure were for Carlos, Fabiana, and Luis. We were teaching Carlos and hoping that we could start teaching the whole family. We had already taught his mom, Roberta. She said how much she loved our message. She loved that God would speak to us again through another book, the Book of Mormon. She said how she would support her son cem percento in the church. Well, Mormon was certainly hitting the nail when he wrote these choice verses in Helaman chapter 12.

"And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him. Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths! Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide."

In the middle of the week we talked to Roberta again about her son's baptism. She flipped out. There was no way that he was prepared. There was no way that he would ever be able to do what was right. I felt sorry for him because of the lack of faith that this mother had in her own son to change and become better. Then entered Carlos' dad. Roberta and Carlos Sr. went to town in a screaming match that obviously involved some problems that exist outside of our influence. It didn't end to well. The next day, Carlos said that he would choose hhis own church even though he had received a witness from God of the truth. He said that he wanted to choose for himself. It made me very sad also when he finally told us that the main reason he didn't want to join the church was that he didn't want his parents to separate because of the decision. That's a hard burden for a twelve-year-old to bear. Anyway, a few days later we found out that Roberta had been talking to our other investigator, Luis, about the church, saying that it was of the devil and other ludicrous things. The children of men really are so unsteady and do not want God's wisdom to lead them.

Luis and Fabiana are siblings. Fabiana works in the supermarket with our recent convert, Vania. We have been struggling a lot to help Fabiana and Luis. They weren't praying at all, with us or alone. The weird thing is is that they still wanted to be baptized. I was sensing some other motives for being baptized, and that scared me. There is no way that anyone can be baptized without first praying, I said to them. Wouldn't it be ridiculous to think that someone could enter into a covenant with Heavenly Father without first talking to Him? We prayed a lot for them to be able to pray, and they finally did. It was interesting to see how fast their progression went after that. They had been going along very slowly until they prayed. When they prayed, they received a witness of the truth, they realized the importance of their decision, they became participators in this important moment in their lives. We were very excited for them. After that, there were others difficulties to conquer. Fabiana is 19 and has a boyfriend. That is one major problem. We have been trying to help her understand the importance of the law of chastity. I think initially she started to receive the discussions because she met two handsome (if I do say so myself), foreign young men who were friends of her colleague. Thus, we have already heard the snickers of her friends as they have talked to us. Anyway, she finally caught the importance of the message when she started praying. However, one night we were there talking to her about the importance of chastity and her mom said something about how Fabiana will come home with me to the US. I said, "Um, no, sorry". It was weird, but it gave me a little leverage to teach the message. I said that I would NEVER date a young woman outside of the church who breaks the law of chastity. She became a little more serious after that. She still having problems, but she is improving. She wasn't baptized on Sunday, but we will work with her more to help her reach her goal.

Luis had some problems with Anti-Mormon talk before baptism (Roberta being one of the sources). Luckily, we were able to work with him and he overcame the doubts. He was baptized on SUnday, and it went great!

There were still more things that happened during the week, but so little time to tell. I love you forever and for always!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. My ward is named Manchester because Manchester is the nickname for the city of Juiz de Fora. I think it's a great tender mercy that I get to be serving in the Manchester Mission!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Answer to the Riddle is Cakes on the Griddle

Dear Family,

This week was another wonderful week in missionary land! Missionary Land because missionary life is like an amusement park. SOme of the rides really don't require that much courage, and really don't give that much enjoyment. Other rides require a lot of courage and leave you feeling a little pukey at the end, but still glad that you did it. This last week I felt some of those physical manifestations of missionary challenges. :D

Anyway, the week has been going great. We have several investigators who are working to be ready for baptism this week. Their names are: Fabiana, Luis, Ana Paola, Bruna, Norma, and Carlos. We will be praying a lot this week for all of them to be prepared to be baptized. We have taught them about almost everything. Some of them are having trouble understanding the importance of the comandments. It's caused a little bit of a disturbance in their preparation to be baptized. The problem is that they aren't praying fervently enough to know if our message is true. They want to follow the Savior, and they feel good at church and with us. The thing is that now they have to do exercise a little faith. If they would pray to the Father to know if our message is true, I know that they would then have enough faith to trust more in the Father's servants and keep the commandments. That goes for all of us. If we would just daily renew the firm assurance we have in things of righteousness, through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost, we would have the daily faith necessary to keep commandments and fulfill covenants. Remember, "if the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do?" Well, if we can feel His presence next to us and openly recognize it, we would give pause to give in to temptation.

Anyway, that is our ongoing battle with our beloved investigators. Just pray!

Like I said, I had some physical manifestations of some missionary stress this last week. This is the gross part that you don't want to read at the dinner table (if you are reading at the dinner table). It started at the beginning of the week. My shoes have been wearing down. Also, my feet walk in a funky way so that it affects my soes to conform to the funk, so that my shoes make my feet walk even more extremely to one side. Well, I have been trying to self correct it by walking entirely on the other side of the shoe. This has been a bit of a painful process as all of a sudden my left foot has been forming some of the grossest blisters and a wart/furuncle/whatever. Don't worry too much as I have been able to care for everything using first aid stuff. Also, I have had a pretty carefree attitude here so far about food. If it's there, I'll eat it. Well, this caught up to me pretty quick this last week when I ate something that started do "around the world"s with my weak American belly. That's right, the big D. It was Friday and I woke up to a horrible pain in my stomach. I rushed to the bathroom to find that I had diarrhea. Afterwards, I rushed to the bathroom several more times that morning to discover the same thing. Well, I laid down in my bed that morning watching 17 Miracles as my companion figured out some things. I have no idea why I watched 17 Miracles since crying my eyes out surely didn't relieve anything. Anyway, I got better enough to go help with a service project at the Bishop's house of sanding the walls in preparation for painting, but ended up sleeping on his couch. Then that night we had our big pancake activity at the church, the theme of which I was completely in charge of producing. Luckily my USS Constitution became ironsided enough to not need the bathroom anymore, but I was still feeling a little shaky. After running around like a crazy man, everything turned out well. Grandpa's pancakes were adored by everyone there. We also had toppings of chocolate cream, strawberries, whipped cream, and syrup. It was awesome. There were 70 people there! Only 20 less than normally come to church on Sundays, and 15 of them were our investigators! It was really awesome! I didn't eat a single pancake, but was glad everyone liked them. The next day I couldn't smell anyfood with feeling like throwing up. Happily, I am all better now, and I am feeling like your probably don't want to read anymore about my internal physical problems.

Anyway, things are going marvelously! I love my companion, I love my calling and my assignment, I am feeling very capable language-ly, I love our ward members, and I love learning more about the gospel of Jesus Christ. To add to all of that love, I love you! What a great thing! Be grateful, smart, clean, true, humble, and prayerful!

Love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer

"You dream of me, and I'll dream of you"

Monday, September 15, 2014

Run and Not Be Weary, Walk and Not Faint

Dear family,

This week may have been the most work-filled week of my mission. It was awesome! It just feels so good to get to a P-day and have your mind filled with all of the miracles, challenges, and fun things of the week. I know I have been fulfilling my call to serve the Lord!

I don't really know exactly how to go about writing this email, so I'll write in a rambling fashion as things present themselves to me.

First, we had lunch this last week with the family that has helped us the most so far in this ward. I really love them all! This is the family that you have seen in practically all of the baptism pictures so far. They have basically adopted Lia, my first baptism here. THey are all so great! Well, we were at their house a few weeks ago for noite familiar and in passing conversation that night I said that I don't like sardines. I'm not really sure if I ever ate sardines in the US, but maybe it's just that stigma that sardines have. However, the people here love sardines. Well, lo and behold, that night the refreshment was a savory torta with sardines. I laughed off what I had said earlier and got a plateful. I decided for myself that night that I did not like sardines. Well, Irmã Penha is a little sneaky and was just waiting for an opportunity to stump me. So, ate lunch the other day she said that we would be eating fish. She fried some fish and we ate. It didn't seem really weird. It tasted fishy, maybe too fishy. Well, after finishing my first fry, she happily told me that I had eaten sardines as if she had caught my American tastebuds in a trap. Well, it turned out funny in the end, but I think I'll keep on with something a little more tame, like salmon or tilapia.

During the middle of the week, there was a special forum on religious liberty that was being directed by the stake president here. He had arranged for the two zones o missionaries in the stake to sing at the meeting. We found out about this after we had already planned some lessons for that night. Well, we really didn't want to miss out on teaching. We had to be at our house at 6:00 so that we could walk to the building to arrive early for a rehearsal of the hymn to be presented. However, we were teaching really great lessons, and when we finished, we looked down at our watches and saw that it was already 6:10. We were in a neighborhood far from our house, where it usually takes 30-40 minutes of walking to get home. Well, that couldn't happen. Oh, I had also been told that I would be the one conducting the choir. I looked at my thin, fit companion and then looked at me. Well, it was up to me. I turned to him and said that we would be running. Yeah, I definitely wasn't conditioned for that. I picked up my side bag in my arms and we started off. We ran on the trail through the woods behind the favela, we dodged drunken German-festival-goers, and sped past the statues of the virgin mother. As I was running, I thought of my own lack of ability and then kept repeating in my mind that revelatory promise, "you shall run and not be weary". When we arrived at home, it was 6:30 and we were drenched in sweat. We changed quickly and headed out the door 10 minutes later. We arrived at our destination at exactly 7 o'clock. I was still drenched in sweat. I was a little disappointed when we got there and waited 30 more minutes without rehearsing and I found out that my conducting services would not be needed. The extended effort which had seemed so necessary before turned out to be very unnecessary. I still felt good that we had kept our commitment to be there ready on time. I was also grateful that the Lord had been able to show me through the extra exertion that He would strengthen and support us. Well, that continued to prove itself true. I never knew that a few minutes of running would kill me and my companion for the rest of the week. We didn't run any more the rest of the week, but continued to walk. Up a morro (hill) and down a morro. Up the escadão (stairs that lead up a hill) and down the escadão. I then had the opportunity to repeat the rest of that revelatory promise, "you shall walk and not faint". It was interesting to see how the Lord had sustained us in the action of faith, but how we were required to pay for the exercise of that faith. I think I would have preferred to pay for my faith before through some proper training. :D

We had another opportunity this week to meet as missionaries of the stake in a service project. The church here has been working on a huge project to deliver wheelchairs to those who need them in the community. This Saturday was the culmination of the project. We helped organize and distribute 308 wheelchairs to chosen recipients in one of the chapels of the stake. It was amazing to see the happy faces of children receiving desperately needed wheelchairs. It was such a great experience! It was made a litle more fun when some gentile came up to me in the midst of it all and asked if I would do an interview for him. Sure! I was a little scared, but the words came tumbling out just right. I spoke about how the Savior had helped the lame walk. I talked about the joy of missionay service. I also talked about the tradition of missioary service in my own family and how dear they are to me. I don't know exactly for whom he was doing the interview, but maybe you'll find someting if you google "Elder Ayer" and "cadeira de rodas".

This week we had been working a lot to contact all of the people who would receive a wheelchair. The church gave us their information so that we could deliver some important information and share the message of the Restoration with them. The success was amazing! We had many miracles sharing the gospel with these people. We were able to find 17 new investigators, bring 6 people to church, and mark 9 baptismal dates. It is amazing to see how such Christ-like service has led people to hear about the restored gospel!

In Gospel Principles on Sunday, we talked about developing talents. Elder Alexsandro said some nice things about me, including my talent to sing. Then more people started saying nice things about me, too. It felt great! I'm not going on in boasting, but it made me think about how important it is to say nice things to others. It's been about 4 months now that I've been in the ward, and I have felt such joy and love in serving along with these people. Of course, this story has a funy side, too. After gospel principles class, we had sacrament meeting. We were talking to lots of people and trying to work some things out, so we did not arrive early in the chapel to prepare for the meeting. Well, I walked in and someone asked if I play the piano. Before I thought about why they were asking, I said that I played a few hymns. Well, that was enough to have me assigned on the spot to play for sacrament meeting due to the absence of the usual pianist. I hadn't practiced recently and my nerves were enough to send me into shock. The effect was humorous for me. My fingers were so jumbled that nothing came out right. My only consolation was that the congregation wasn't singing the right notes either. :D It was enough to send me back into humility after the great class and consider burrying this "talent" a little deeper. :D 

Well, there is more to tell but not enough time to say it. I love you all to the moon and back. That's not just for those of you who are now living, or have lived, in Moon Apartments, but that's for all of you. You are the best a guy could have. Even more, you're the best a missionary could have. Stand by your covenants. Trust in the promises. Be willing to run when you don't have the strength and you have commitments to fulfill, and the Lord will prove himself herewith in opening the windows of heaven for you. I love you!

Love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer

Monday, September 8, 2014

That Pita Pocket is Not a Tortilla

Dear Family,

Many wonderful things happened this week. It was really exciting. Monday we had a churrasco with our beloved Ward Mission Leader, Geraldo. He has a sweet terrace above his house where he does churrasco and we play pool. Basically a churrasco consists of eating salty, delicious meat until you're ready to burst. It is a wonderful Brasilian tradition. Tuesday I bid adieu to Elder Rodrigues. I have enjoyed my time with him for the most part, but it was time to have a change. I was really worried about the transfer because I will continue as junior companion, and everyone hears all the stories about getting a power-hungry companion who is a tyrant. I don't really understand this because I feel like I'm just a "nice guy" (insert an image of Gilligan from Gilligan's Island). Anyway, I was worried. We got to the bus station so that I could drop off Elder Rodrigues and pick up an Elder Alexsandro. All of the other missionaries being transferred were there. I got to talk to Elder Findley (my companion from the provo MTC who arrived a few weeks ago) and meet Elder Atkinson (a good friend of Elder Lyman [the Elder I trained in WV] who is from Parker, CO). Finally it was time to meet up with my companion. Ever since that moment, missionary work has been going great! Elder Alexsandro is from the same city (Aracaju, SE) as Elder Rodrigues. He is super funny and has helped me turn around some of the bad feelings I've been harboring the last few weeks. The day of the transfer, I took the attribute assessment activity at the end of chapter 6 in Preach MY Gospel. I really had to question myself when I came to the section about hope. Usually my scores in this section are very high because I am very positive, but they had taken a toll over the last few months. I was a little sad when I got to the part that says, "I am confident that I will have a happy and successful mission". I realized that this was not my feeling at all. I expected my mission to be pretty painful, frustrating, and fruitless. That was not the correct view to have. I am grateful that now I have been able to turn my thoughts around and think of my mission in an optimistic way. Hooray! Elder Alexsandro has a sense of humor that is very similar to mine. It kind of caught me off guard that first day when he joked about something and it seemed like I was remembering some sense of humor I had forgotten. Anyway, this isn't supposed to be a love letter about my great new companionship, but it is a testimony of the blessings that can come through other people.

Sunday was a wonderful day. We had a baptism! Antonio, the father of Vania, was baptized. He is a very sincere and good old man. He is decreasing a little bit in his mental capacity, but he is very pure and good. The other day, we had to say probably 20 times that Joseph Smith was a prophet because he could not for the life of him remember who Joseph Smith was. Even after two minutes he needed help to remember that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Well, everything turned out right. He was finally able to remember the prophet. He is such a sweet man. He didn't want to be baptized this week, but after explaining the importance of following the promptings of the spirit promptly, he just asked us what hour the baptism would be. He still doesn't know much about the Book of Mormon, church history, and many things, but he wanted to be baptized because he trusts the messengers of God and feels a sublime peace when we talk to him. Everyone at church loves him because he is so sincere and good. It has been really wonderful to see his faith in action.

I know that if we follow our faith, we will be rewarded. If we follow our faith, we will find knowledge. If we follow our faith, the windows of heaven will be opened unto us. Because of experiences of faith followed by miraculous revelation, I know that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God. I know that Joseph Smith is the Prophet of God and His Christ. I know that Christ is our ever faithful Redeemer. I know that we are children of the Most High God with a divine heritage. I love you all. Be true to that knowledge which you have received and that faith which led to its reception.

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. I made tacos for the other elders the other day only to find that the tortillas we bought are really thin pita pockets. Weird combination!

P.P.S. Also, the tortillas have the brand name of "tenda Arabe" with the emblem of a mexican.  How does that work?  :D