Monday, May 26, 2014

Humility is the key to Inspiration!


I love you! I love you a lot! Thanks for the pictures. There is a reason that I can only receive emails from you once a week. If I were to receive emails from you every day, I definitely would not be able to concentrate on anything other than fun visits with friends, brotherly wedding plans, and home. Im grateful for this one day to see all of the fun and then get back to work. I love you!

Well, interesting experiences this week. You would think that after 9 months in the field and 4 trip-ships, I would know how to interact better with people. Well, change takes time. It will probably take much longer than 2 years to learn everything that I need to know. Anyway, at the beginning of this week, all I could think about was speaking Portguese and the gift of tongues. Why, you might ask? Well, it just so happens that I am in a foreign country where my sole purpose is to TALK to people and invite them to Christ. You can probably see how quickly my patience has deteriorated. Anyway, it was particularly bad at the beginning of this week. I became so consumed with my lack of ability that I did not really think about the misisonary work at all. Yeah, I became very focused on myself and on me not knowing enough, me not being able to participate, me, me, me... Anyway, it was bad. What I discovered was that the gifts of the Spirit come when we forget about self and start focusing on others. During the week, I became particularly impatient with one of my companions, and I snapped a bit. Well, that set a bad tone for the rest of the day. At the end of the day, I had to apologize to him in order to make things right. That was an important moment for me. I realized that I was only hurting myself and others by being stressed and impatient. What I really needed to do was focus on serving others and be as patient with the weaknesses of others as I would want them to be with me. Would it make sense for someone to snap at me because I used incorrect grammer in trying to speak POrtuguese to someone? No, that would be ridiculous. The same goes for the weaknesses of others. The Lord says that he cannot look on sin with any allowance, but he always looks upon weakness with mercy. We can strive to do the same. Anyway, now I am having fun with learning Portuguese. It can still be hard, but I am trying to laugh off funny experiences when I cannot say what I need to say. I hope the Lord will make up for the misunderstandings I cause!

So, funny things this week. We are teaching a 25-year-old woman. The first time we met with her, I knew that she was talking about me, but I had no idea what she was saying. It was really confusing, and I did not know what to do except laugh it off. Well, it came off wrong because the woman was saying how she feels like she has a special connection with Americans and how they are really good looking. So funny! My companions give me a hard time for that. Also, I am learning that simple things I would say to be friendly in the US come off as flirting here, and that is dangerous, especially as a white American missionary. For example, we stopped by a candy store, and I asked the woman behind the counter what her favorite candy was. Well, I thought that it was completely normal. I was trying to start up a conversation and then invite her to learn more! Nothing happened, but my companions warned me not to do it again. We went to the house of the Bishop for a meal, and they played the Book of Mormon Movie while we were there. We only saw the beginning, but it was so funny! (mostly because it was underbudgeted)

I had an interesting answer to prayer come this past week. I was praying for strength (in my companionship, in the language, etc...) and a song from the 90s came to my mind during the week. SOmething like: Hey, dont run yourself around, its only in your head you feel left out and looked down on, just try your best, do everything you can, something something something, it just takes some time little bit something something everything everythin will be alright everything everything will be alright alright. Anyway, I cannot remember all of the words, but you get the gist. For some reason, it really helped. How weird! Im pretty sure that its a song from a teenage boy to some sad little teenage girl, but it realy cheered me up this week for some reason!

I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that he loves us. I know that humility and selflessness bring more joy than pride and selfishness. I know that the Book of Mormon contains answers to the questions of our soul. Read it. Ponder it. Learn from it. Know it is true. I love you all. Be strong. Be good. Dont let Satan tell you that you are less than you are, or that you are somehow outside of the grasp of the merciful arms of the Savior. Let your mind and heart be filled with the knowledge that you are infinitely bond to his love and that you can return to the presence of the Father through him. If we let ourselves be purified, He will work wonders among us.


-Elder Parker Ayer

p.s. here the recorder can be played in sacrament meeting. and it was! hahaha

Monday, May 19, 2014

Stranger in a strange land

Hello family!

This week has been super crazy. Probably the most craziest week of my life. Let me explain. On Tuesday, I left the MTC. I only went with one other missionary, a sister missionary who was in my district in the Provo MTC, Sister Merkley. We flew out of the airport in Campinas. It was really strange being alone with a sister missionary, but it was all good. We even taught a lesson to a woman as we waited for our plane! It was an interesting experience teaching a reall lesson in Portuguese for the first time with a sister missionary. I imagined that it was Sarah teaching alongside me. What a great companion she would be! Anyway, we boarded the plane without any hiccups and were on our way. I slept most of the way, but woke up to see some of the most gorgeous coundtryside I have ever seen. The landscape here is so beautiful! There are so many mountains. It's great! Anyway, we landed and a random guy with a sign that said "Missao Brasil Juiz de Fora" picked us up in his car. It was about a 30-45 minute drive into the city of Juiz de Fora. We were dropped off at the stake center to find out that a zone conference was already underway. Let's talk about instant immersion! I sat in a meeting for a few hours while my new mission president, President Cascardi, taught us about how to be better missionaries...completely in Portuguese. Afterwards, I sat and talked with other missionaries completely in Portuguese. That's when I found out about my new companions. I am currently with two zone leaders...again...imagine that. It's like dejavu all over again. :D I'll only be with them for the 2 weeks leading up to transfers, then I will be with another missionary who lives in the same house as us. I am currently serving in Juiz de Fora in a part called Manchester (Mon-shes-teh). My companions' names are Elder Perez and Elder Veloso. Elder Perez is from Chile, but he speaks fluent English because he spent a few months in the US. Elder Veloso is from Northeastern Brasil (a Nordestino) and speaks a little English. When I introduce myself to people, I often tell them that I'm a Nordestino also. Speaking of which, introducing myself to people is really hard. No one knows New Hampshire here (heck, no one knows NH in the US either). I tell them that I live north east of Nova York. Also, no one can say my name. "Ayer" doesn't mean anything. They don't use y's in Portuguese. Instead of making my name sound all cool and latin, I just give people the English pronunciation (air) with a Portuguese accent. However, here they don't say their r's really, so our name usually comes out sounding like a half-hearted breath (eh).

There are lots of funny, different things here. Bus rides are crazy. We get to ride the bus a lot. You enter in the front and then proceed to a turnstile (is that the word?) where you pay 2 reais and 5 centavos to ride the bus. Also, ketchup and mustard here really aren't that enjoyable. We only take one hour for lunch and then 0 hours for dinner. We might eat something when we get home, but I don't really because it's late. Between sweating and eating, I feel like I've already lost ten pounds, and it's only been a week and no worm! Speaking of which, I've already had the water here...unfiltered. I don't have a worm yet, but my companions tell me that Juiz de Fora is known for having pure water. Also, I already have a farmer's tan after a few days. I don't think that you'll be able to recognize me after two years! Here, my white skin really stands out. At one door, an old woman grabbed my hand, kissed it, and told me that all the girls at Church must love me. My companions told me later that she was on drugs, I agreed. I never realized how strange it would be surrounded by people that don't look like me. Once in a while, I can pick out someone who looks like an American. Also, I was not preapred for the langague overload. Sometimes I have this strange expectation that everyone will finally stop playing around and starting speaking ENLGISH. Well, it hasn't happened yet. I don't think that it's ever going to happen. Also, other really funny things. Like Sarah, I have been drinking a lot of Coke. The Coke down here is really different than the coke in the US. It's really good! I'm told that it has a lot of extra chemicals in it that make it that way. Also, the people here have a flour (farinha) that they put on their rice and beans. It's good. Also, I showed a picture of Mom and Dad to the other missionaries in our apartment. One asked if Mom was Elaine S Dalton. Later he asked if Dad was a Seventy. It was really funny! There were lots of other fun things that I wanted to tell you, but I can't think of any more right now. Oh yeah, I've become a professional city walker. I stare straight ahead, walk really fast, and try not to look naive and American. The only thing I lack is that I still say hi to everyone that I go past.

I have really been working on talking to everyone. Portuguese is really hard, and I'm doing pretty well at it compared to the other Americans. I get really frustrated with myself sometimes because I can't say what I want to say in the moment that I want to say it. So frustrating! It's especially frustrating because I've already learned somewhat how to teach people. I know what I want to say, but I'm getting in my way. There were a couple days at the beginning when it was really hard. Then the other day I had a realization. I was reading Ether 12 about faith and trials of faith. I asked myself, "Do I believe in the promise of the Lord?" Ether 12 said that we can live with surety if we believe in the Lord. The Lord has promised great blessings to His missionaries. Do I believe in them? Do I believe that He will fill my mouth with the right words if I open it? From that moment, I made a promise to myself that I would put my faith in the promise of God and talk to everyone I meet. I want Him to be able to trust me with the holy gifts of the Spirit. Since then, it has been a lot of fun. COmpared to West Virignia, there are so many people to talk to here! I have been doing my best to always be stopping people and talking to them and inviting them to learn more. Sometimes the situations are really strange and awkward, which makes it all the more fun. I just have this idea in my head that I'm already a chubby, white, American, Mormon missionary, no one can blame me if I make things a little awkward. Plus, I can't understand what they're saying 3/4 of the time. It's so much fun! I really do love being a missionary and being able to talk to everyone about the gospel without fear, and I have been able to see my Portuguese skills imporve in the last few days. What a blessing!

The trip-ship situation has been going alright. West Virginia got me ready for third-wheeling it, even more so now since everyone else speaks Portuguese. :D Well, things aren't bad at all. THings are wonderful! I love Brasil! I love the people here! There are so many good people that want to hear the good news of Jesus Christ restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. There is so much joy in our message! Like in my other zone leader trip-ship, I walked into two more baptisms. Their names are Eduardo and Luiz. They are brothers. It was a really great experience.

Well, I love you all! Know that for sure! I use what you have taught me to focus on the work at hand and thrust in my sickle with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength! Love you!!!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. Elder Veloso is a professional recorder (flauta) player! :D

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Skype on Mother's Day

To whom it may concern:

I am going to call via skype at 6 pm São Paulo time, or 5 pm Gilford time. The call will last for 15 minutes, no more. I will be using my facebook sign in info and will search for your info. Anyway, it will work out. I love you!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I love Brasil!

Dear concerned kin,

Yes, I did make it safely to Brasil. I made it! Yippeeeeee!

Alright, on to the business. Last Tuesday was great. I drove up with the Zone Leaders from Roanoke, VA to Charleston, WV where I got to participate in the Mission Leadership Council. It was such a great experience. I loved it so much! It was the perfect ending to the perfect stint serving in the US. Anyway, I stayed the night with the zone leaders in Charleston. The next morning we did service, painting pots. It was fun and real cool. Then I flew out from Charleston. So funny. The Charleston airport is tiny, and it probably took me less than 10 minutes to get through security. Anyway, my flight was delayed. At Atlanta, I ran and barely made it in time for my connecting flight to Brasil. Everyone on the plane spoke Portuguese. I was the odd man out. Well, I kinda spoke Portuguese. Anyway, I sat next to this lady who immediately starting talking to me and complaining about her experience in the airport. Then she warned me about how terrible Brasil is. Then she told me that she was a less-active member of the Church. I think I had this idea in my mind that everyone in Brasil was Mormon. Not so. Apparently not even 1 percent of the population is Mormon. Fun fact. Anyway, I asked if she had a Book of Mormon, and she said that she didn't, so I gave her my copy. We got to the airport and everything was crazy. It took about 30 to 40 minutes to get through customs. When I got out, I waited for another half an hour until someone with an LDS Church sign came up to me and told me to go with him (in Portuguese). He told me to also do a money exchange, but stupid me. I only had 11 dollars in cash and that wasn't enough to exchange for reais. Anyway, He drove me in his car to the Provo MTC. Everyone had gotten there the day earlier and I was the odd man out and everyone kept asking me if I was the one who arrived late and why I arrived late. Anyway, it was great. I got straight to work. The Portuguese is coming along great. We proselyted in the street the other day in Sao Paulo. It was awesome! We gave out 8 copies of the BOok of Mormon, and we were able to talk so well with everyone. One lady said that she will remember us forever. Anyway, I have to go. Surpirse, I get to talk to you on Mother's Day for 15 minutes through skype (no video only sound). Surprise. I thought I would have more time, but I got a bazillion emails to read. I love you all! Talk to you for 15 minutes on Sunday!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer