Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Elder Parker Ayer made it home safely and is doing well!!

If you would like to contact him from now on, his email address is parker.ayer@gmail.com.

Monday, July 27, 2015

see ya in a bit

Dear family,

I am currently in the mission office.  I will be home in a little bit.  I´m holding back great gouts of tears, but things are going great.  I love you all so much.  Just wait for a little bit longer and we will be home together!  Together forever!  [Play that music from the church movie, ´We can be, together...forever´].  Anyway, we are going to matar saudades in a little bit.  I love you so much!


Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, July 20, 2015

One Week More, Bring Him Home, Tell the World I´m Going Home, Home Home Where I Wanted to Roam...

Dear family,

This is officially my last email home as a full-time missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That is a daunting thought, but the reality is upon us.  Obviously, I am very happy about some things, sad about other things, and completely anxious.  That is, anxious in a good cause.  :D  There were lots of wonderful things this last week that happened that I will try to relate to you in a few words.

On Monday we had a family home evening with Flavia that was just great.  We talked about the temple.  She has already had several dreams about the temple and lots of good feelings.  She just doesn´t understand why she has to wait a year to be able to go and enter into the whole temple.  She is very sweet and sincere.  I am so glad that she is looking towards the temple.  Tuesday we did exchanges with the zone leaders from Manchester.  I obviously went to the Manchester area and got to visit some very beloved ward members from there.  There are so many good experiences that our dear Father blesses us with.  We also taught the Restoration to a woman whose 16-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy kept stroking my knee and hand telling me that I am lindo.  It was very funny.

This last week we have been struggling with Flavia´s daughter-in-law to let Flavia´s son be baptize in the church.  The problem is that she knows it´s all true because she loves to read the Book of Mormon, but she is scared of being rejected by her friends who are practically all Seventh Day Adventists.  We are praying for her heart to be changed and strengthened.  Also, Flavia passed the baptismal interview ja and will be baptized my last Saturday in the mission!  We worked a lot this week to help less actives and investigators go to church.  Many of them went to the Fest Julina on Saturday and then to church on Sunday.  It was so successful that there were 63 people in church on Sunday when the last few months it has been a steady 40!  It was a wonderful day.  All of the members were excited to see so many people in church.  I believe that the Lord has heard our prayers and is softening the hearts of the members.  We are very excited!

Well, I already have to go.  I am sorry that I didn´t get to write more.  It will make you all more anxious to see me on Wednesday!  I know that the Church and Book of Mormon are true.  Joseph Smith was a prophet.  Thomas S Monson is a prophet.  Jesus is the Christ.  I love you!


Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, July 13, 2015

Press Forward Saints

Dear family,

I don´t know how much longer I can take the anticipation.  The email sessions have been getting more and more emotional lately.  I don´t think it´s helping that today I have had a head cold and been feeling crummy.  I´m not that affected by the impending homecoming during the week, but the Monday emails really hit me like a ton of bricks.  This will be my penultimate email since in two weeks I will not have P-day but will be in meetings all day.  That means only one more email after this one.

Let me tell you about some real difficulties that I have been facing recently.  I have found that at the end of all things, everything gets a little bit more difficult.  You would think that at the end of a mission, you would know exactly what to do, what to say, how to act, how to react, and how to be a perfect missionary.  Unfortunately, I have found that it has become much and much harder recently to be patient, charitable, loving, and totally involved with people´s needs.  It isn´t so much with investigators as it is with members.  I have been facing a whole new type of problem that I have never faced before.  When I got here, the members had some anti-missionary feelings.  It´s not that they try to be rude to the missionaries.  It´s just that the missionaries that served here in the past several months didn´t work.  They liked to break a lot of rules and weren´t that much into fulfilling their callings.  That includes to some degree my current companion.  Now I am here and people are holding onto the old image of the past missionaries (including my companion).  I got here, they heard that this was my last transfer, and they immediately assumed that I would be a bust.  I can tell you it has been one of the most frustrating experiences.  I can´t say that I haven´t complained.  I can´t say that I haven´t murmured a little bit.  I have been searching deep inside of me for whatever patience and charity that is there.  My deep desire in these last few weeks has been to turn around this terrible feeling that I have towards the ward and they have towards me.  I feel like even when we do all that we can in bringing people to church and setting baptismal dates and visiting less-actives, our efforts are desprezados.  Yesterday we had a ward council meeting.  When it came to our part, everyone was more anxious to criticize how our work has been going than fix the problems.  It was all I could do not to snap.  I looked down at my planner and the picture I put there of our house in autumn.  On the photo I have written Alma 43:45.  I thought of my ´better causes´.  Luckily it brought the peace and patience I was needing to endure the meeting.  I pray that I may be able to do as 2 Nephi 31:20 (my ´favorite´ scripture) says,

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

I need to press forward with steadfastness in Christ.  I need a perfect brightness of hope.  I need to love God and all men.  I know that I will only be able to do this if I feast upon the word of Christ.  Please pray for me to be able to have more charity these last few weeks.

Sorry so much to have to write about hard things.  Things have been going marvelously here as well.  Our dear Flavia is continuing to progress.  We decided to delay her baptism a little because her son went out of town, and she want shim to be there for the experience.  I will still be able to be there for the baptism, so I am happy.  Flavia is really having a thorough conversion.  She loves hearing about the temple.  Sometimes I think she has the faith of Nephi from 3 Nephi whose faith was so strong that he received angelic visits daily.  It seems that every day Flavia has another story to tell us about some miraculous spiritual witness that she had.  These witnesses are giving her the strength to withstand the buffetings of the evangelicals all around her telling her that she is joining a cult.  She always testifies to us that she has finally found the True Church.  It makes us so happy.

You all make me so happy.  I hope that this email makes you happy.  Don´t worry about my situation.  God loves us so much that He gives us challenges that make us grow.  You should be happy knowing that I will be striving until the end of my mission to be my best self.  I love you all!


Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, July 6, 2015

With Love

Dear family,

There were so many good experiences this last week!  I am sad to hear that President Packer has also passed away, but we know that the Lord has His purposes.  It looks as though He is now preparing those who will fill the roles of Prophet and Apostles in the future.  Anyway, it is reassuring to know that the Church is led by Christ through inspired men who hold the keys of revelation in the latter-days.

All of our special experiences this last week were centered on our beloved investigator Flávia.  I think I called her Fatima in my last email.  It´s confusing because people use both of the names to describe her.  Anyway, it is strange to think that Elder Ribeiro and I have only known her for a little time, but we have become so close to her.  She is a little crazy, but she is very dear.  She loves telling us some of the funniest stories and some of the saddest stories.  She has come to truly love the restored gospel, which is such a blessing to see.  She said that when she went to church the first time, she felt a great big spiritual wave envelop her chest when she saw the church spire.  That was the first thing she saw.  When she walked in, she felt the spirit even stronger.  During the hours, that influence grew even stronger.  She said there was a moment when she saw a foto of the temple and she felt that same swelling motion inside of her.  I was so happy to be able to hear that, and I know why she felt that influence so powerfully.  It is because of all of the people that are counting on her to go to the temple.  I was so grateful that she was able to feel a spiritual witness of the temple already.  I know that it will be essential to her.  She has a very big family.  On Tuesday we went to her house to teach her the Plan of Salvation.  She had mentioned that one of her children had died.  I felt that we should ask about all of her children.  I started writing down the names of her children.  She passed a long list to me of eight children, only two of which are still living.  Five of her children died in childbirth or thereafter.  One died with 15 years.  The other two are still alive.  She told the most heartbreaking story of her first child.  She had her first child with 15 years of age.  She was living with her mother, who didn´t want to have to take care of another child.  Flavia´s mother went door to door looking for someone that would adopt the child.  Finally she found an old crone who was even poorer than the family, but willing to take the child.  One day the old woman passed by to take the child.  The little baby boy, Daniel, was nursing.  Flavia did not want to give the baby away, but asked that he could at least finish nursing.  The old woman did not allow that, but took the baby away from his nursing mother.  Flavia was very sad and ran to find comfort from the local Catholic father.  Flavia told him that she could not live without her son and to see him be maltreated and abused by his adoptive mother.  She said a prayer to ask God to take Daniel from this world so that he wouldn´t have to live under such conditions.  She was allowed to live in the church for three months as she recovered from her sadness as long as she cleaned the church.  After three months she received an urgent message telling her that her son Daniel was suffering unto death and wanted his true mother.  Flavia ran to the house of the old crone and found her little son in great pain on the bed.  His eyes were open.  Flavia kissed him on the forehead, wished him well on his eternal journey, and he closed his eyes and passed on to the other side.  I wish that you could have heard the story firsthand.  It was the most heart wrenching story I have ever heard.  I will have to tell it more completely to you when I get home.  I could feel this mother´s pain and sadness.  It was such a joy to be able to share the message of the Plan of Salvation with her.  It is amazing to know how the gospel and the truth can heal our hearts.  The fulfillment of the Plan of Salvation is found in the temple.  That is why Flavia felt the spirit testify so powerfully to her of the importance of the temple.

There were many other special experiences this last week with Flavia.  I wish that I could tell them all to you.  We had the chance to give her a blessing of health because of some pains in her heart and joints that she has been feeling.  At the end, she jumped up from her chair and start doing exercises!  She is such a sweet lady and has a very pure faith.  When I am with her, I feel like an angel by the way she speaks to us.  She says that we look like two of her lost children.  She says that when we first met her, she felt that she was letting two angels enter into her house, her two beloved children come back to teach her a special message.  I cannot tell you how much this has been helping me endure these last few weeks as missionary before going home.  I do not know when I will be able to be an angel again.  I do not know when I will be able to be on the Lord´s errand as I have for these last two years.  I wish that I could pass my entire life being an angel for those in dark places.  That is the wish of my heart.  However, we know that those wishes, though they be sincere, may not always be fulfilled. We must fulfill the commands of an all-knowing Father.  Rather than wish for more time, we must desire to fulfill more completely our responsibilities in the limited time that we have.

I hope that we can all use our time more wisely.  I hope that we can analyse our use of time and start to use our time in a way that will fortify our family, erase our sins, remove our weaknesses, improve our knowledge and conversion, and prepare us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.  I love the words to the hymn ´E´er the Sun Goes Down´.  These is much to do e´er the sun goes down.  Lets do that which is of most worth and will make our reunion all the more sweet and desirable above all that is sweet and all that is desirable.  I love you all.  Only a little bit longer.


Much Love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer

Monday, June 29, 2015

One Month

Dear Family,

I love you all so much!  One month from today I will be with you all again.  That is one of the hardest things for me to imagine, which is probably a good thing.  If I can't imagine it, I can focus better on what I need to do.  This last month has to be the month where I give it my all, fight the good fight, and stay the course.  I hope that the Lord will give me daily manna to keep me going.

Anyway, this week has been very good.  It has been one of the coldest weeks as a Brasilian missionary.  Seriously, it has been REALLY cold.  I have been wearing a sweater every day and blowing hot air on my hands to keep them warm.  At night I have been wearing wool socks, sweat pants, and a sweat shirt to keep me warm.  I think I am going soft.  All of this hot Brasilian weather has made me a wimp.  Good thing that I'll be getting back in the middle of summer.

We had some really great miracles this last week.  The trouble is is that so many good things happen every day, but then we often get disappointed the next.  We find so many good people that end up rejecting the message.  Happily, we found one family that is holding on strong and it looks like they will be baptized.  We went to contact a media referral, but it looked like someone sent a fake referral.  Anyway, we kept knocking on doors around the address.  We ended up helping some person move some things from their house into a taxi.  After half an hour of service, we were ready to move on to another area to do proselyting.  The thing was that I felt that the gente (we) should keep on knocking doors in the alley.  We finished knocking and at the end of the alley we met a kid.  We talked to him and he said that we could share a message with him and his grandma.  As we shared the message, they felt very strongly the truth of the message.  The grandma said that she had been praying to know which was the right path to follow.  She said that they had gone to so many churches, but they were looking for the right one.  She became very emotional to have the Book of Mormon.  The next day we went back with a member to teach them.  When we got there the grandmother, Flavia, said that she wasn't going to visit the church with us on Sunday because of what the neighbors might say.  We stayed calm and reminded her of the powerful feelings she had had the day previous.  Luckily, Elder Ribeiro had put the Restoration DVD in his bag, so we watched it.  I was so grateful for the movie to bring back those very powerful spiritual feelings testifying of the truth of the Restoration, the Prophet Joseph, and the Book of Mormon.  Flavia was able to overcome her fears with faith.  She went to church with us and felt the spirit swell up inside of her when she saw the church spire.  That feeling continued on and on during the meetings.  It was amazing to see how much she was blessed by the message and by the visit at church.  She is a woman of faith.  She even payed tithing!

This last week I was reflecting a lot on the natural man.  The natural man is an enemy to God.  He always has been and always will be.  What is the natural man?  It's that fallen nature of our flesh that is contrary to the nature of God.  It is sensual, carnal, and devilish.  It is that part that gives every excuse to live sinfully or even somewhat erroneously.  The natural man gives excuses that in the natural world would be naturally accepted.  For example, a natural man would not fulfill his church duties because he spent the entire week at work and is tired.  It's only natural.  Unfortunately, it's only natural for the fallen man.  God expects more of us.  He made us in His image.  He expects us to be like He is.  In that effort, he will support us from moment to moment by His grace.  If we are to be like Him,we must not accept the excuses that the natural world gives us, and we must seek to be our best selves in spite of our fallen nature.  We must be born again.  We must become new creatures in Christ.  We must become as children, even saints.  Let's not accept the temptations of Satan, but let us valiantly strive for a greater expectation in spite of them.  We are never too tired to pray, we are never too sad to help another, we are never too knowledgeable to read the scriptures.

I love you all!  You are my favorite.


With love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, June 22, 2015

Get Me To The Church on Time

Dear family,

Happy Father´s Day, Dad!  Happy birthday to Grandpa Ayer on Thursday!

Anyway, this last week has been a little strange.  It has been good.  It was strange to leave Ubá after only one transfer.  It was weird to return back to Juiz de Fora to serve.  It is weird to be able to see the boundary of my old area and the bairros where I used to work on the hills of the other side of the city and not be able to go back there.  It has been a little strange, but good too.

Tuesday I took the bus from Ubá to Juiz de Fora.  I really was quite sad to say goodbye to my missionary friends there and some of the members, but what else is new as a missionary.  I think I get most frustrated when people say that missionaries always forget the people they met on their missions.  I think I would die before forget these people, and then I would just hang around talking to their dead ancestors on the other side.  Anyway, I got to the Juiz de Fora bus station about 2 o´clock on Tuesday and talked to all of the other missionaries there, many people I will probably not see ever again in this life because there won´t be another opportunity before I return home.  I was very happy when I got an early birthday present from the mission secretary...A PACKAGE!  I was so happy to get the package from Will and Steph.  It was full of all the most wonderful pictures and letters.  My favorite pictures were the beautiful picture of the happy couple on the big day with Steph´s hair down and the picture of the sonogram.  Little Liam has a lot of growing to do before he can be a jedi knight like his namesake, Liam Neeson (Quigonjin?).  I am sure that Liam Neeson isn´t really his namesake, but no matter who the namesake is, I love the name.  A little later, my new companion , Elder Ribeiro, came to pick me up.  We took a taxi and got to our apartment.  Then we worked a little bit.  It was good.

Wednesday was very strange.  I woke up thinking about how I am 21 years old.  (I have 21 years).  I didn´t tell anyone because I really didn´t want to be THAT missionary getting into an area telling everyone it was his birthday and demanding attention.  I told Heavenly Father that the only thing I wanted for my birthday was to be able to find an elect investigator to baptize.  That day we received several messages on our phone with some media referrals.  What a present!  We are working with the referrals and have set a baptismal date with some members of the families.  How wonderful!  We´ll see how they progress.  Despite not telling anyone about my birthday, I received several special birthday messages.  It seemed like the `Feliz aniversário´ message kept popping up all over the place.  Even during lunch the Sister received some junk letter in the mail that had a gigantic happy birthday message across the front.  It was nice to think that Heavenly Father was mindful of the day even though everyone else was oblivious.  That night President and Sister Cascardi sent a happy birthday text as is their custom.  When my companion found out, he insisted that we buy pizza.  Well, I didn´t refuse.  It was good, but we´ll have to eat Sal´s when I get home.  Sorry, I am talking a lot about going home.  It´s not because I am always thinking about it; it´s just that it´s a very real and impending truth.

The rest of the week went well.  We taught several lessons on Friday that made me happy.  Unfortunately, the lessons weren´t very effective.  I mostly just defended the Book of Mormon against all of the opposers.  Something I am still learning is to use my time wisely testifying against those who are contrary to the Church and its teachings.  We have better things to do than to worry about those who don´t want to believe in our words.  We are not sent to save them.  We are sent to call those who recognize the voice of the Savior and who want to follow Him.  They are His sheep.

Saturday there was a special activity in the Church.  We had invited and confirmed all of our investigators to go with us.  However, no one ended up going because they all went to the March for Jesus that happened downtown.  It was frustrating, but the activity was still good.  It was a special FHE type activity to celebrate the birthday boys and girls of the first half of the year.  Well, it was cool because my birthday was this last week and they sang and had cake and everything!  It was fun.

Sunday was puxado.  We got ready quickly so that we could go bring all of our investigators to church.  Well, we got to their houses and yelled and yelled, but no one responded.  Everyone pretended to be asleep.  It was really frustrating.  We did so much to bring them to Church, but they weren´t willing to do what was necessary to go.  Well, we fortunately started inviting everyone in the street and finally the neighbor of a member said that he would go to church with us.  He got a ride with the member, but we had to walk back to the church.  It was a long walk.  As we were racing to ge there, we got a call from the other missionaries that President Cascardi was there.  Usually it would be alright to get to the Church a little late here because Priesthood meeting is usually first.  However, this ward has Sacrament Meeting first.  I was really worried because I thought that we might miss the sacrament.  Also, there was the factor that Presidente Cascardi would chew our heads off.  Well, we got there at the very end of the sacrament hymn and were seated for the sacramental prayers.  I never want to think that I could miss the sacrament again.  Anyway, after the sacrament, I was witness to a very special tender mercy.  I found out that that very day the bishop had been released and a new bishop called in his stead.  They gave their testimonies, and the whole time I thought of Dad and his calling.  After church, we got to watch the setting apart of the new bishop.  When they said his name and the name of the ward and stake, I inserted: John Brewster Ayer, Laconia Ward, Concord New Hampshire Stake.  It was an emotional moment, but a very satisfying one.  I was so happy to see here what was going on in my very own ward many miles away.  Dad, I know that the Lord will support you in your new calling.  You are the same John Brewster Ayer, but now with rights, privileges, and keys as a common judge in Israel.  I think I will start counting time now according to the years of John Ayer on the ´judgment seat´.  But seriously, I love you and know that the Lord does too.  We often receive responsibilities from the Lord that seem to overwhelm us.  This very life seems overwhelming.  We look at our bodies and think, How will I overcome this carnal flesh?  How will I be able to change and be a saint?  What we seem to forget is that worlds before this, we were learning directly from our Heavenly Father as His exalted spirit children.  Now we just need to let our ´living soul´ become what Heavenly Father knows it can be.

I love you all so much and pray for you constantly.  Know that I love you.

With so much love it is hard to contain a hundredth part,


Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Last Transfer

Dear family,

The subject line says it all.  This is the last transfer.  The last six weeks.  We found out today about the transfer.  Elder Goes, my good friend, will be staying here in Ubá.  We go home at the same time, so one of us had to be transferred out of the area this transfer so that next transfer the area didn´t get without missionaries.  That sentence really didn´t make sense in English, but I hope you can figure it out.  Anyway, I am being transferred to an area called Grajaú.  It´s a ward in Juiz de Fora.  Elder Kenning was serving there when I was in Manchester.  Apparently it´s a challenging area and I don´t know anything about my companion.  I am sad to be leaving Ubá after one transfer, but I am happy to be going back to Juiz de Fora.  I also think that this last situation will give me enough of a spiritual, mental, and physical challenge to keep me focused until the very end.  This is me being positive.  Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatizar!

This last week was a good one.  On Monday we headed over to Cataguases.  Elder Goes served in the city like 9 months ago.  We already had to do an exchange there, so we decided to pass p-day there with Elder Goes´s recent convert.  It was a good time.  On Tuesday we ate huge, delicious brownies at a restaurant owned by his recent convert.  What saudades de brownies!  Anyway, we all did exchanges on Wednesday and Thursday, but this time the other areas came to our area.  I got to exchange with Elder Kenning on Thursday, and it was great.  It was good to work with him again.

I am sorry, but I really can´t think clearly today.  My mind is all caught up by what is going to happen this last transfer.  This last week was good, but I am not remembering anything.

Let me tell you that the most important thing that we can do is seek to have the Spirit with us.  It is not Heavenly Father´s intent to chastise us.  He wants the best for us.  That´s why He gives us directions and instructions.  If we abide by these instructions, we will be blessed.  Let us have a determination to not withdraw ourselves from His presence.  Let´s be determined to not wander purposefully or mindlessly from His dwelling place.  We must be involved with the business that is realized within His home.  If we go about seeking to build up His kingdom, we will never be found outside of His kingdom and the reach of His mercy, love, and enabling power.  Seek to love those who are closest to you.  That means physically.  If you are suffering something, it is the time to look around and wonder what are the hidden difficulties of others.

I love you all.  Sorry for the lack of of letter.  Be strong and do what is right.  Also, I will be very happy to come home and eat cake with you all.


Your wayfarin´ stranger in a strange land,
Elder Parker Ayer

P.S.  Neide´s family moved to the Bahia without saying goodbye to us.  They couldn´t pay their rent, so the government payed for them to return to their home city.

P.P.S.  This last transfer, I will be repeating the conversation between Sam and Frodo.  ´Think of the [New Hamp]Shire.´  It wasn´t trunky for them, just gave them good reasons to fight until the end and get home already.  I love you!

Monday, June 8, 2015

A Sacramental Reunion

Dearest family,

What a week it was!  Let me just tell you that this week was awesome!  It started out a little rough, let me explain.

Well, Monday was good.  We cleaned the house.  It wasn´t a very thorough cleaning, but we felt like it was enough.  We were complete goofs, however, because we found out on Monday that President and Sister Cascardi would be passing by on Tuesday for interviews.  Well, we didn´t think about it too much.  That is, we didn´t think about it too much until Tuesday morning when we got a knock on the door.  That´s right, Sister Cascardi was paying a visit to our humble abode to see if everything was in order.  Well, several hours had passed between our cleaning on Monday morning to our inspection on Tuesday morning.  She already entered with a disgusted look and some curt words.  Let me just tell you that it is the worst experience to let Sister Cascardi down, especially when you felt like you had a good relationship with her.  Well, she didn´t waste time.  She assigned jobs to everyone to fazer uma faixinha and she got in on the action also.  For an hour or so we went around like wild men doing everything that she mandated.  It was an unpleasant feeling, but in the end our house was clean...a Quality Cascardi Clean!  She reminded us that like her, the Savior would also come in an instant like a robber.  The only difference is that when He comes he won´t let the wicked be cleansed with sponges and soap; the earth will be cleansed by fire.  It´s probably the hour to read Alma 5 de novo to see if I´m ready.

Anyway, we had interviews depois.  They went really well.  It was my last interview with President before the exit interview.  It went well.  I will be pushing along with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength until the bittersweet end.

This week was wonderful.  You must remember the family of Neide of whom I spoke last week.  Well, everything went well this last week.  They were perfectly prepared to be baptized.  It was really amazing to see the conversion in their lives, and the continuing conversion in the life of José, the pioneer of the family.  One of the daughters, Ana Vitória, had her 11th birthday on Friday, so the gente did a special family night that was a lot of fun.  On Saturday, they were baptized.  It was amazing to see so much white!  It was the most people I had ever seen baptized all at one time.  It was wonderful.  The water was freezing (granted, we didn´t have to chop through the ice), but the baptism was wonderful.  On Sunday, they were all confirmed as members and received the Holy Ghost.  It was one of the greatest miracles.  I was praying that they could really be able to feel the influence of the Holy Spirit of Promise sealing the ordinances.  I have noticed that the preparation for baptism makes a big difference in the special feeling that come on the day of baptism and confirmation.  When people are really prepared and repentant, the Holy Spirit of Promise has a much greater influence to seal the actuality of the covenant upon the recipients.  When people are baptized and confirmed with that powerful influence, the moment becomes an anchor in the life of the person that will never be forgotten regardless of difficulties.  Well, the prayer was effective.  Last night Neide told the gente that she and one of the girls, Evilly, felt ´stars and lights´ crossing in front of their eyes and on their backs as the confirmation was realized.  It was such a wonderful feeling to hear that.  I also found out that night that José is very excited to receive the priesthood so that he can perform vicarious baptism on behalf of his deceased father.  I was so happy to hear that, too.  They are ordinary people who look like any poor family from the ghetto.  However, they are much more than this.  They are miracles.

This last week we also found someone else very special.  After José moved to another bairro, Elder Goes and I were feeling like we [the gente] had to go back to the alley where he used to live to knock some more doors...just that we didn´t talk to each other about the strong feelings we were having.  Finally this last week we discovered that we were both having the same feeling and we went back.  We went to knock the first door past José´s old house and someone at the end of the alley started calling us.  We thought that maybe he was the dono of the house and was going to ask us what we wanted.  However, it was the man living at the end of the alley.  He said that he had watched a special report about the owner of Azul Airlines in Brasil who said that he is Mormon.  This man, Jerry, said that he really wanted to know more about us.  That was the beginning of a miracle.  The first time he talked so much about Manaus and the US that we [the gente] could only give him the Book of Mormon at the end and explain a little bit.  A couple days later, we went back to teach the Restoration.  He next invited us to dinner at his house on Sunday.  We passed by there yesterday and it was a great spiritual lesson.  He had read until Nephi 5.  We discussed the part in Nephi 3 when Nephi is commanded to kill Laban and the importance of following the susurros of the Spirit.  We then began to talk about the importance of reading and praying to know the truth.  The Spirit was so strong.  He felt it.  We felt it.  At the end, we showed him the Church´s website and some videos of the apostles testifying of Jesus Christ.  He was very impressed by their words and by the Spirit.  There was some sort of great spiritual mutual understanding that all of us left with.  We knew there was divine purpose in our meeting.  It was very interesting to feel and participate in.  We just hope that he will not let other influences extinguish or smother the true influence of the Spirit guiding him in the right path.

Well, Sunday was probably one of the best days of my mission.  It was filled with so much joy.  It was because of the four moças that we confirmed and also because of the lesson with Jerry.  Also, it was because of a very special surprise that I received at Church.  After priesthood meeting (which always comes first here) I turned around to see Geraldo and his neto, Ítalo, from Juiz de Fora.  My friends!  They led me upstairs to see Irmã Penha who came with them.  Who I was completely not expecting to see was Lia!  Some of my favorite people in the world were there to see me.  They came so long, and I saw them after so long, and I felt so happy.  I really couldn´t hold back the emotion.  I found out that Lia is putting aside her inactivity and is going to church again.  That made me so happy. It was such a good reunion.  I sat next to them in the sacrament meeting.  During the sacrament, I started pondering.  In Portuguese, sacrament meeting is reunião sacramental.  It could be interpreted as a sacramental reunion.  I thought about that.  I thought about the special reunion that I had had that very morning with dear friends.  I thought about the purpose of the sacrament.  Really, the Sunday meetings were meant to be more than meetings.  They were meant to be more than just reunions with those we love.  They were meant to be sacramental reunions.  It really is so wonderful to think that we can be reunited with God.  We are lost and fallen, and He seeks to collect us.  He comes, and oh how He comes.  It is surprising how dearly He takes us back in His arms.  We are surprised, we rejoice, and we become emotional.  We think it is too good to be true, and it is.  Just think!  Through Christ, we can be redeemed.  We can be forgiven.  We can even be filled with the same glory that brings joy to the very Father of us all.  I know that this gospel is true and that it is the only way to make our way back to Heaven and Heavenly Parents.

I long for that joyful reunion.  I long for my reunion with you all.  I love you all with a perfect love.  Be strong and diligent unto prayer and study and service.


With all my love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer



Monday, June 1, 2015

A Mighty Change

Dear family,

I love you all so much!  Let me brighten up your day a little bit more with a very cheery message.  I realized last week wasn´t too cheery, but this week will be cheerier.

There was a great miracle that we had this last week.  Do your remember how I was complaining last week about how José wasn´t confirmed in church?  Well, the miracle was that his whole family showed up for church.  After the meeting, we set up an appointment to meet with them and teach them as well.  We hadn´t ever talked to them before because José lives with his sister and brother-in-law.  His sister, Andrielly, had told us that their mom would probably never be interested in the message because she xinga (curses) a lot and her mom´s boyfriend doesn´t like a lot of people.  Well, we went there anyway.  What we found out is that José comes from a family of very elect people.  We taught the Restoration to them and José´s mom, Neide, said that she already believed that what we said was true because of the peace they felt in the Church and with us.  She said that she always left other churches with more of a headache than when she had arrived, but it was different with our church.  She said that she would always go to our church.  She had gone on Sunday with a lot of pain because of an eye infection that swelled her eye up.  She was having difficulty feeling very good.  Well, I noticed and thought that I would get a glass of water for her.  She said that when she drank the glass of water all of the pain from her eye went away and she was able to enjoy the meeting.  She said that it was blessed water.  Unfortunately, she said that she wouldn´t be able to be baptized because she was living with her boyfriend.  Her boyfriend recently traveled to their home state of Bahia to prepare the way for them to all go back there in two weeks.  Well, that was a let down, but the three daughters all wanted to be baptized before making the move.  That was a blessing.  We were still a little worried because the city they are moving to doesn´t have the Church and they would have to travel to hours every week to sacrament meeting.  That is a lot of money for a poor family.  Well, we knew the Lord would provide.  We left the Book of Mormon with them and 3 Nephi 11 to read.  We were very surprised the next day when we returned and found that all of them had read, pondered, and prayed.  These three daughters who do not have much in the way of schooling or religious instruction comprehended the chapter perfectly, giving spiritual insights that I have never thought of before.  When they prayed, each of them had their own personal experience with the Spirit.  This bolstered my testimony that the Spirit is the universal language that can speak to all of us.  The Book of Mormon is designed to speak to our souls, any soul, and bring us closer to Christ.  It was a great miracle.

Baptism of José
In this moment, the Mom told us what José hadn´t told us: his personal conversion.  José is a timid young man who doesn´t share a lot of his feelings.  We had noticed a change in him, but we hadn´t known the whole story until his mom told it to us.  Apparently, he used to hear voices in his head.  He never liked to visit churches, but he felt different when he visited The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The voices in his head started to go away.  The day he read and prayed about the Book of Mormon, we went out into the street and said that everything looked new to him.  He saw all of the old shops, houses, and streets in a new light.  He didn´t know how to explain it very well, but everything was made new to him.  His eyes were changed, and he knew that he was feeling like God was answering his prayer.  I was awestruck when I heard that conversion story.  He is a normal rapaz who had an extraordinary experience.  We started to talk to him about serving a mission.  He is very shy, but I am excited for him to serve!

Anyway, there were lots of things happening in the life of José´s family.  Apparently, Neide´s boyfriend cheated on her while he was bumming around in the other state and that was the last straw for her.  She dumped him and will now be baptized with her children!  They are very excited and will all be baptized this Saturday!  It is amazing to see the change that is taking place in their lives.  It is a change that is taking place in the whole family.  I couldn´t be happier for them.

Let me tell you that I know that the Book of Mormon is true.  This last week we had an unfortunate encounter with our supposedly elect media referral.  He and his wife were taught a couple weeks ago.  This last week we had the opportunity to talk to him for the first time since the last encounter because he apparently traveled.  I don´t know if that´s true, but what I do know is that he didn´t keep any of the commitments that we left for him the last time.  He definitely didn´t read the Book of Mormon, definitely didn´t pray about its truthfulness, and definitely didn´t visit the Church.  What he did do was he definitely read a mountain of anti-Mormon trash, he definitely prayed to uncover our heresies, and he definitely paid a visit to his church to talk to his pastor.  We got there and he tried to start out all sneaky.  He asked if we thought the Book of Mormon was more important than the Bible.  He made it seem like he was being all sincere.  Then he asked about Joseph Smith.  The questions got progressively more aggressive.  After a while he was showing us video testimonies of ex-Mormons.  These are REAL Mormons, he told us.  I looked at him like the fool he was, and said, ´And we are REAL Mormons and REAL representatives of the Church!´  In one of these attempts to convert us with false videos, I saw on his smartphone that he was recording our conversation.  In all that I had said, I was glad that I said what was right.  I was glad that I had been found defending the Book of Mormon and the Prophet Joseph Smith, and consequently defending the Savior Jesus Christ.  It is one of my greatest joys to be able to defend these keystones of our faith.  The greatest fool in this world is the fool who has the tenacity to look me in the eye with a freely gifted copy of the Book of Mormon produced with the sacred tithing funds of the Church and say that the Book of Mormon does not testify of Christ or seeks to undermine His divinity.  Fools spend hours searching for things that testify against the Book of Mormon, when they hold the very proof of its divine authenticity in their hands.  A simple reading of one chapter of the Book of Mormon takes 10 minutes, and a humble prayer another 5 minutes.  I have seen this simple recipe followed in the lives of many people.  Those who do so are enlightened, illuminated, and feel at peace.  Those fools who take the other course are irritated, enraged, possessed by the spirit of the evil one, and feel nothing but confusion.  Let us turn to the light and find truth in that light.  I know by the light of God´s love that the Book of Mormon is true and will always be true, no matter what anyone says or supposedly discovers contrary to that.

I love you all.  I hope you feel the effect of that light and love.  I will seek to be diligent in my missionary efforts.  Until our reunion in a few weeks.

I tried to do a wheelie and hurt my back, ouch!

Love, Elder Ayer


Monday, May 25, 2015

America, Where There´s Never a Boast or Brag

Dear family,

Well, it´s official.  I will once again we reunited with you all, my dearly beloved.  The family reunion will occur at 6:30 PM on July 29.  I am trying not to get trunky.  It doesn´t help having a companion who will be going home with you on the same day.  Elder Goes is a little bit more trunky than me, I think.  Actually, I think we´re equally trunky, but he just talks about it more.  Anyway, back to the program.

This week was great!  There was a little bit of a problem.  It wasn´t a problem, just a frustration.  In our house, there are two Brasilians and two Americans.  Unfortunately, the other dupla was having some difficulties between themselves.  Many times it seems as though any problem that you have with a companion of a different nationality immediately turns into a battle between countries.  Then it starts involving other people of that nationality as well.  Well, that´s what happened.  It´s so easy to start accusing one country of things while defending your country, and meanwhile falling into the generalizations that people make of your country.  Let´s face it.  We Americans are usually accused of being prideful airheads who want to take over the world and don´t share anything with anyone else.  The Brasilians are accused of other things.  Unfortunately, it is very easy to see character weaknesses in others when we are looking to tear down another and build ourselves up.  We learn from President Benson that pride is competitive.  It isn´t concerned with what is right, but who is right.  That kind of pride leads to all sorts of conflict that casts out the spirit.  I must say that when someone is verbally attacking your country, home, and land it is very hard to bite your tongue.  I´m not able to say that I have always bit my tongue.  However, I have noticed that it is always better when we do bite our tongues.  That is good advice for any assunto.  A good way to improve our relationships is to never resort to using the character weaknesses of others to justify our own character weakness.  We can be humble and have the influence of the Spirit.  That will strengthen any relationship.

This last weekend we baptized our investigator, José.  He is a rapaz with 17 years.  He is very timid and quiet.  For a long time we wondered if he was really understanding the message of the Restoration and was really interested.  That all changed this last week when he started to open up with members that started to help us.  It was amazing to see how he had changed over these last few weeks in preparation for his baptism.  He was baptized Saturday morning.  After that things went kind of wrong.  His family decided to move that very day.  We found out that night.  Well, they had planned to move their things right up to the last second on Sunday morning before the sacrament meeting.  Long story short, we had to go look for them Sunday morning, help them move the last few things, and bring them to the Church.  We arrived right in the middle of the first verse of the sacramental hymn.  I talked with the Branch President and he said that José couldn´t be confirmed that day, even though his whole family was there.  Long story even shorter, José will have to be confirmed next week.  It was a bit of a disappointment.  But, things are going great!  We are going to keep going on with the work here.  No unhallowed hand can stop this work from going forth!

Last night we found two elect Assembleianos.  That means they are from the Assembly of God, and generally don´t like the Church.   However, the Spirit was very strong as he testified to them last night.  They man felt very impressed by the explanation of the church of Christ, the Apostasy, and the Restoration.  It is a miracle to see how the Spirit can change the ground in beliefs and philosophies of man.  I know that God has the power to change us all, not in our thoughts and our behaviors, but also our very nature.

My thoughts, behaviors, and nature all say that I love you all!  You are my favorite people on this planet!  Be strong and I love you!


Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, May 18, 2015

Raise the Voice of Warning

Dear family,

Let us review the past week.

Monday:
It went great!  We had to travel to Juiz de Fora to attend the mission counsel meeting on Tuesday.  When we arrived in the bus station, who was there to greet us but Irmão Geraldo, one of my most beloved members from Juiz de Fora.  Apparently Elder Alexsandro had gotten into contact with him and combined with Irmão Geraldo to meet up with him when his bus arrived.  Well, we also arrived at the same time, so Irmão Geraldo lifted Elder Alexsandro and his companion together with my companion and me to his house to eat hamburgers!  It was so great!  It was a nice welcome to the city.

Tuesday:
We had the conselho da missão.  It went great!  Like I have said before, I love being able to learn from President Cascardi.  We talked about how our ultimate purpose as missionaries is to bring people to baptism.  There is no way to avoid it.  We must continue to invite, and determinedly so, all to come unto Christ through baptism.  We had the opportunity as well to do some study activities together from the end of chapter one of Preach My Gospel.  In particular, look at the activity that talks about ´erguer a voz de advertência´.  I think that would read ´raise the voice of warning´ in English.  Anyway, that was a great activity.  Really, we must lift the voice of warning.  We must go forth as with angels to raise the great cry to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.  If we don´t, the blood will be upon us.  Especially look at chapter 33 of Ezekiel.  What a chapter!  From that point forward, Elder Goes and I decided to have every day be a day of warning.  How would we warn someone about some natural disaster?  How would you warn someone about a fire in a building?  You would do so directly by quickly inviting all to leave the building.  We must do the same.  We know the consequences of sin, and the day of reckoning is coming.  We must then invite all to quickly do that which will protect them against the danger, that is enter into the true baptism for the remission of sins.  I know that that is the only way to be saved from the pressing weight of sin.  Repent and be baptized and have your sins remitted, then get the spirit´s zeal.

Wednesday:
We had our zone meeting this day, that went great!  Everyone felt the spirit.  As part of the meeting, all of the missionaries had to go out into the street to raise the voice of warning by inviting everyone they saw to receive baptism in the true Church of Jesus Christ.  It was a great experience!

Thursday:
We had the opportunity to contact a media referral.  It was great!  It was a young couple with two months of marriage.  One of their member friends offered them the chance to receive the Book of Mormon by sending a referral on the interweb.  We were able to contact them.  They had so many good questions!  They also knew the scriptures well.  That is quite uncommon here to find someone in the world who studies the scriptures and still is humble enough to listen to the spirit.  I couldn´t even finish the First Vision account before the husband was repeating the end with me as he recognized the words that the Father had used to introduce His Son at baptism.  At the end they started asking a bunch of questions about the Plan of Salvation and we started marking a bunch of chapters from the Book of Mormon for them to read.  It was wonderful!  We are going to return there tomorrow because they had to travel this weekend.  Let´s pray that everything goes well!  Their names are Arquimedes and Helenice.

Friday:
Today Elder Goes woke up super sick.  He was looking like a 40-year-old man because of his sunken face.  Anyway, we taught one lesson and then he informed me that he wouldn´t be able to go on.  I agreed.  Anyway, we passed by a member´s house so that we could go on splits so that Elder Goes could rest up a little.  We went to contact some people, but nothing was working out.  We stopped for a bit, and I felt like we should knock the door by where the gente was standing.  We knocked and started talking to a very nice woman.  She informed us that she had family members who were members of the Church in Juiz de Fora.  Come to find out, her cousin is the daughter-in-law of the Irmão Geraldo the gente had visited on Monday.  What a tender mercy and small world!  It was great!  We taught a great lesson, and vamos voltar.

Saturday:
Elder Goes was still sick.  We taught a lesson to an ex-Jehovah´s Witness.  He liked the message.  It was great, but Elder Goes was so sick that he let me teach the whole lesson and only spoke at the end to testify.  It was very sad.  We then walked around town looking for a hospital that accepts the mission´s medical card.  Later that night, I went with another elder to teach our pesquisador who has a baptismal date.  We got there right at the moment that he was having a verbal battle with his mom about us.  That was interesting.  We were able to calm him down and have a good lesson, using the Book of Mormon.  I know that that book really is the word of God.  It has taught me so many lessons in my life!

Sunday:
We partook of the sacrament.

Sorry, this whole day by day thing took longer than I thought it would.  Just know that I love you all!  There are so many daily blessings!  Let´s each search to have daily converting experiences that bring us closer to the Savior!  I know that this message is worth raising and lifting to all of the world.  Keep on keeping on.  Or in other words, keep a goin´.

With so much love that my arms can´t even reach that far,


Elder Parker Alan Ayer

Monday, May 11, 2015

UBÁÁÁ


Dear Family,

I don´t have much time.  Luckily, I got to talk to you yesterday, so that is a good thing.  Probably, no definitely, my favorite thing was finding out that I will have a nephew and that mom and dad will soon be grammy and grampy.  I loved it!  I am so excited to meet the little guy!

This last week was wonderful.  It´s always very bittersweet to have to leave an area with people that you love, but I am very excited to go where the Lord wants me to go.

One funny experience from this last week.  A Catholic woman invited us into her house to show us her altar.  She started talking about all of the statues and images on her altar and telling the story about all of them.  Here they talk about ´Nossa Senhora de ...(Fátima, Aparecida...)´ or in other words ´Our Lady of ...´.  Each idol has a different story about how the virgin Mary appeared.  After this woman told some stories, I asked her if she had heard about `Nosso Senhor de Palmyra´ (Our Lord of Palmyra).  I then had the chance to tell the story of the First Vision.  It was great.  The woman was very impressed.

I love you all.  I know Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in vision.


Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S.  These aren´t from Ubá.  There is one of me with a castle in Três Corações and the other of a family that I loved there (who I gave my ring to).  Love you!



Monday, May 4, 2015

Tucano

Dear family,

Well, the reason that I put this subject line is because I usually spend WAY too much time thinking up some creative subject line.  The excitement about this subject line is that I actually saw my first wild tucan yesterday.  He was flying a north-northeast direction to the big city to deliver a jungle message to Ursula.  Anyway, that´s a little too goofy to start off a missionary message of great spiritual stature.  Anyway, it was great.  This last week was also great.

Tuesday we had a great zone conference in Varginha with President and Sister Cascardi.  I was asked to play the piano for the mission hymn.  Actually, I was the only person in the conference with an inkling for piano playing, so I was volunteered by default.  Anyway, I was very shaky.  I said a prayer beforehand, and it helped.  I didn´t play perfectly.  There were a few dead moments when I had to take my fingers from the keys to calm down and start again.  Luckily, thanks to divine help, I didn´t play any wrong note and I played while maintaining the same tempo, so it came out being alright.  I think that maybe everyone thought that the keyboard had some electrical malfunction that made it cut out every now and then.  Anyway, there were lots of good things from the conference.  It was a good time for self-reflection.  I realized that everything we do in the church, all of our activities and meetings and such, are directed to us repenting or helping others repent.  We read the scriptures, pray, and have family home evening to help us feel a desire to improve and repent.  We have meetings (that sometime seem unnecessary) so that we can have frequent opportunities to recognize our faults safely and correct them.  That is what I feel every time that I hear President Cascardi speak.  I just want to be better.  I want to fulfill the Lord´s trust.  I realized that recently I have become somewhat satisfied with my level of obedience.  In reality, I still have a lot to improve.  I have to look at myself and think, Am I really as pure as I thought?  Am I really as dedicated to scripture study as I thought?  Am I converted, or do I live certain patterns because of familial or missionary structures?  They are hard questions that take humility to answer honestly.  President Cascardi made it very clear to us that our level of obedience is more important than our number of baptisms.  He also said that we will never be able to fulfill the level of obedience that the Lord requires of us.  We can´t.  Not that we are not permitted to, but we cannot physically do it.  He then spoke of a talk by Elder Bednar that talks of the dual powers of the Atonement to purify us and then enable us.  We must first lay aside the carnal man and then perfect the saint.  (Mosiah 3:19)  That means that all of us are in need of the power of the Atonement.  This week I have felt a strong desire to be more dedicated to perfecting myself, or in other words letting the Savior perfect me.

This week has been a good week of work.  It hasn´t been as good as we would have liked it to have been, but it´s been good.  We have been teaching a man named André.  His is a very elect young man who met the church when he read a book by a famous Mormon Brazilian and area seventy, Carlos Wizard.  Anyway, he started coming to church on his own but was having trouble fulfilling the commandments because his fiancê is pregnant with their child.  Anyway, we showed up there on Saturday morning and started to talk to him.  Elder Nogueira only mentioned the word baptism, and it seemed like André´s complexion changed.  He asked how he could set up a day for his baptism.  We were thrilled.  We talked to him a little bit more about the standard for baptism, and he said that he was going to live by the commandments.  We were thrilled.  It reminded me of that part in chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel that says that one way or another, every investigator will be backed up to the wall of faith and must resolve his own doubts.  André has been reading the Book of Mormon daily and praying.  He wakes up early before studying odontologia in the college so that he can learn from the scriptures.  As we know, and as Alma knew, the word has more powerful effect on man than the sword.  Prayer and scripture study have brought André to personally decide to lay aside every sin which easily besets him and enter in the waters of baptism as a testimony before God.  It was a wonderful experience.

My most tender mercy this week was in the house of our beloved family, Fernanda, Michel, Joel (who we baptized), and Debora.  Fernanda, if you don´t remember, was baptized 20 years ago in Belo Horizonte, but lost contact with the Church until recently.  Anyway, this last week we were having a great discussion from the Book of Mormon.  Fernanda began to tell a story about how dark her life had been when she had lost contact with the Church.  As she was talking, she mentioned something about how she knew that God had not forgotten her.  She said that God had made a covenant with her, and He would not forget that covenant just like He would not forget the covenant of peace that He made with Noah.  When she said that, something went off inside my head.  I knew those words.  The words were a little different in Portuguese than in English, but I knew those words and their meaning.  I flipped to 3 Nephi 22 and saw the Savior´s citation of Isaiah 54.  Those were the same words that carried me into the mission field as cited in the musical arrangement of `My Kindness Shall Not Depart from Thee`.  I found out that Fernanda had read those words in one of the darkest parts of her life, and it had given her comfort to continue and hold on to the promises of the Lord for her and her family.  She told me that she felt as those promises were being fulfilled now with her family being taught by the missionaries, going to the True Church, and being baptized.  I felt a quiet and powerful spirit testify to me that this experience with this family was divinely appointed, for a mutually tender mercy.  I know that the scriptures have a powerful effect on us.  This family I have taught has brought some of the greatest joy to me as a missionary.

I want you all to know that the Book of Mormon is true.  He has a power to heal our hearts.  He has a power to open our eyes.  He teaches of the path that leads us back to the Holy One of Israel.  I am grateful for the Savior and His teachings.  I am grateful for the Atonement.  I am grateful for a Father in Heaven who has planned our redemption and exaltation from the beginning.  He has even planned a way for those who He knew would never accept the Savior´s sacrifice.  He never will forget us.  If we don´t forget Him, we can return to His presence.  Let´s return together as a family!  Let´s repent and improve and have our hearts knit together in ties that no unhallowed hand can break.  I love you all.  That love is stronger than the bands of death.


-Elder Parker Ayer

P.S.  I am being transferred to Ubá.  It was one of my dreams to serve there.  I will probably end my mission there.  I do not know what plans the missionaries have made there to skype with family.  It will be after 2 o´clock probably (Brazil time).  That´s after church and lunch.  I will make sure to call after church your time.  Stay ready to receive the call!  I love all y'all!

Monday, April 27, 2015

São Thomé das Letras

Dearest family,

I am currently in a ´city´ called São Thomé das Letras.  We are passing here for our p-day festivities.  It´s a fun tourist city that sits on top of a mountain.  If I were you, I would look up some photos of the place because it really is a good-looking place.  Unfortunately, the sad thing about today is that as we were taking pictures, someone went to delete a bad photo on my camera and they wiped it clean.  That´s a very sad prospect and it is weighing very heavily in my mind since I don´t have any back-up for those photos, but I am trying to have an eternal perspective.  I will probably ask some missionaries to share their photos of the last 4 months with me.  If anyone knows some technical trick for recovering accidentally deleted photos, the advice is much appreciated.

Anyway, last Monday was a wild one.  After emails, we went to a churrasco with the youth at the Young Men and Young Women Presidents´ house.  That´s right, it´s this great couple in the branch that take care of all the youth here.  They´re great!  Anyway, that was a lot of fun.  Then someone started playing music.  That was a bad idea.  Well, one thing led to another, and before you know it, I was showing people how to do the Cotton Eye Joe.  They were blown away by the gringo-ness of it all.  That night we traveled to another area in the zone (Lavras) to go on exchanges with the Elders there.  The next day was alright.  There wasn´t anything too exciting.  There was an investigator of theirs that we visited who fell in love completely with me and my American accent.  She just had to add me on Facebook.  Luckily I was only passing through the city.

The rest of the week went by in a world wind.  A large part of the week I was dwelling on the principle of conversion.  It was a very depressing moments when were reviewing the the Area Book and saw all of the recent converts´ records from the past 20 years.  I can honestly say that there wasn´t one of their names that I recognized.  There wasn´t one of them who I had seen at church.  There wasn´t one who had stayed strong in the church to tell me the story of their conversion.  This is probably the hardest part of being a missionary.  I know, as in I am familiar with, the kind of effort, faith, and prayer that it takes to find, teach, and baptize one person.  It is a great effort.  Still, it does not hold a candle to the great struggle wrought by the Savior as he bowed down in humble submission to pay the price of mortality.  I imagined all of the missionaries who had pled to Heavenly Father to be led to the ´one´, to have the power and inspiration to teach the ´one´, and have the purity of heart to baptize the ´one´ with water and spirit.  How is it that such a heavy price could be so quickly swept under the rug of social pressures and lingering addictions and laziness?  I hate to think that all of my efforts could be simply put to the side.  I was feeling very weighed down one day when I felt like I should read a few things.  Preach My Gospel tells us that no effort is wasted.  He says that all of our efforts to bring others to Christ will have an eternal impact on others and may be the key to an eventual conversion to the truth.  What we have to do is declare the message of the Restoration to all people and all nations.  The more people we teach, the greater our success will be.  We must focus on helping the greatest number of people possible.  We will feel sad when people don´t want to accept our invitations, especially when they have received spiritual witnesses of the truth, but we must never become discouraged.  We must have faith and believe in things that are not seen but true.  It is true that we are servants of the Master and we are proclaiming the greatest message known.  Just because we do not see results immediately does not mean that the work is not true or that the work is somehow not as powerful as we were told or have experienced.  We must be converted first.  Every time we reject temptation, we will become more enabled by the Atonement of Christ and will become more converted to a divine lifestyle instead of the carnal nature.

In these last days,  we will need the power of God to combat the forces of evil.  Nephi saw this power descend upon God´s covenant people.  He said:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. (1 Nephi 14:14)

We must live by covenants.  As we do so, we will be changed.  We will be armed with righteousness to combat the forces around us, ´for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.´ (Ephesians 6:12)

I love you all.  I am so grateful for the example that my parents have shown to me of conversion and personal integrity.  Mom and Dad, you have shown to me that who we are is what we do when we think no one is looking.  You have shown to me that if we are to be changed, we must sacrifice our personal wills and desires.  I pray daily that I can continue to change and become completely converted.  I pray that these people I am teaching may do the same.  If they don´t, they will not have the power to stay firm when the rain, winds, and the mighty hail beat upon them in days to come.  I know what it is like to be beaten by physical rain, winds, and hail.  Let us run to the House of the Lord so that we can find personal refuge from these furious forces.

I love you all.  I lied last week.  I will be able to Skype with you here in a couple more weeks.  Não vejo a hora.  Stay strong, stick the course, keep a goin´, weary not, sayonara, and all those other goodbyes.


With much love, Elder Parker Ayer




Monday, April 20, 2015

When You Only Got a Hundred Days to Live

Dear family,

As you can see by the title, I only have 100 more days as a missionary today.  These are according to some very sophisticated calculations made by the brainy and highly reputed Christian Ayer.  I want to let you know that I am not counting the days, but yes, making the days count.  Who am I kidding, I´m doing both of them.  However, I have realized the need to stay very focused these last few days of my ministry, and I am making some goals to make these last moments all the more sweet.  I hope that you will all join me in these goals.  First, I will have meaningful Book of Mormon study every day.  I will completely read the entire Book of Mormon in Portuguese.  For the port. edition, that means 6 pages more or less every day.  Second, I will make my prayers more meaningful.  This goal is a little bit harder to measure, but I will make sure that I pray for those within my stewardship and that I stay awake for the beginning, middle, and end of my prayers.  Third, I will write every day in my journal.  Just a warning, I pretty much haven´t written in my journal since West Virginia.  I am telling you now so that the ear cuffing you give me later won´t be as vicious.  Let´s  give thanks in each of our entries so that we can keep a record of our ´journeyings without murmurings´ (1 Nephi 17:2).  I invite all of you to join me in this 100 day growth so that when we see each other we will see each other as we really are, more purified by the powers of scripture, prayer, and gratitude.  Please follow up with me in the coming weeks to make sure that I am doing all that I said I would do.

Anyway, this week was great!  There were some wonderful experiences.  Tuesday in district meeting we talked about the importance of promise blessings with our commitments.  That day, we taught the law of chastity 3 times!  That was a lot of requiring commitments in one day.  It was interesting to see how the people reacted to the commitments.  I realized that we often think in terms of costs and benefits (thank you, Mr. Porusta, for the economics lesson).  We want to make sure that the cost of changing our lives and missing out on a pleasurable experience will bring a benefit that will outweigh the cost.  This is natural man thinking.  Sometimes we have to work with this thinking in others to help increase their faith and bring them to taste of the joyous fruit of righteous living.  In reality, we can see that the cost of not living the commandments is rather high.  We should review D&C 19 if we forgot what the cost of heathen living is.  That empty feeling we feel as the Spirit withdraws himself is just a taste of the bitter pain and suffering we will feel in hell if we continue on without repenting.  Our ultimate motive for obeying the commandments should stem from our desire to show our love for God and to be loved by Him (John 14:15,21).

This last week we very involved with some great families we are teaching.  We found two families that are related who are very excited about the restored gospel and baptism.  We lifted some members to their houses to teach, and oh what great spirit was felt as the members testified of the truth of the gospel and the blessings he brings.  On Sunday, the members successfully lifted our investigators to church.  We had twelve people in Church on Sunday!  It was one of the greatest miracles I have seen on my mission.  The families are preparing to be baptized on May 2nd.

This last week we helped our prime family of Fernanda, Michel, Debora, and Joel move from once house to another.  It was great to help because the step-dad, Michel, is Catholic and not very interested in the message.  I think that his heart opened up when he saw that we were willing to sacrifice our time to help his family in a critical moment.  Friday was the 16th birthday of Debora.  We were invited and attended with the pretense that we had to bring our district leader to interview Joel for baptism.  Anyway, everything went great.  Joel was baptized on Saturday.  Debora is a little crazy and not sure if she wants to be baptized.  She is feeling the spirit.  On Saturday at the baptism she said that she would be baptized if she didn´t have to use the ´white capoeira jumpsuit´ (capoeira is a Brazilian type of martial art dance, look it up on the internet because it is super cool).  Anyway, they are all being very well integrated into the branch.  We are so excited for them all to be a strong family in the church.  Even Michel showed up for priesthood meeting on Sunday (that´s the first meeting here).  They are very dear to us.

Well, I got to go.  I will leave you all with one last thought.  1 Nephi 8:34  The wording in Portuguese is a little bit more direct and exact.  It says that all who gave attention to the mockers were lost.  Do not give attention to those who mock the Church, the Book of Mormon, the gospel, Christ, church leaders, or you will be lost.  I love you all.  Be strong and faithful.  I know that this work is truly the work of God here on the earth.


With all of my love until we meet again, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. 100 days until we meet, but only 2 more weeks until Skype!



Monday, April 13, 2015

13 JÁJÁJÁ!

Dear family,

This week was a wonderful experience!  It´s another week in wonderland.  I really can´t adequately express the love I feel for my missionary experience, or my love for you for that matter.  I pray that I can live worthily of the Savior´s name and of our family name.

Anyway, This week started out great with a trip to Juiz de Fora, as I mentioned in my email last week.  After visiting one of the families Elder Nogueira taught in the city, we went to the bairro of São Pedro to see my beloved friends there.  We went to the home of Irmã Penha, but no one was home.  We went to Lia´s home, but no one was home there either.  Then we went to the house of an older couple I didn´t know too well.  It was a good visit and they appreciated the visit.  I was still very anxious to see my favorite family of Irmã Penha.  We went back there and there was happily a light on in the home.  When I called the family´s names, people came running out to open the gate.  It was one of the happiest reunions I have ever had.  Irmão Geraldo fried up some terresmo and mandioca for us to snack on.  I really couldn´t have asked for a happier night in my favorite place in Juiz de Fora.  Unfortunately, I find out that all of the people I baptized there are now less active.  Luckily the members and missionaries are still working with them to help bring them back.  The principle of prayer will have to be applied.

I slept in the home of the Manchester missionaries with all of the others that would be there for the mission counsel.  It was wonderful to be able to be with the other missionaries.  The next day was wonderful also as we met in counsel to talk about the needs of the mission and how we can continue reaching our goals.  The month of March the mission was able to reach 111 baptisms and confirmations, so Presidente Cascardi took us all out to eat churrasco.  Unfortunately, our zone was the weak zone and I was feeling pretty lame about that.  We were determined to contribute more this month.  Our zone since being split off from another zone hasn´t been able to reach more than 5 baptisms in a month.  That´s mostly because the missionaries think that the zone is the armpit of the mission, which is a great big lie.  We´re right next to a zone that´s always baptizing 20 or more.  Anyways, we are raising the faith of our zone with a goal of 13 baptisms in the month of April.  Our theme is 13 já!  (which means 13 already!)  During the zone meeting, everyone became very excited and determined to be able to reach our goal.  It was wonderful during those two days of inspiring meeting to be able to feel the spirit of excitement, determination, and repentance that came into my heart.  There was nothing I wanted more than to be able to declare the gospel to every creature and bring them unto Christ through the waters of baptism.  Now what we have to do is to live in a way that will sustain that kind of continuous excitement and repentance.

Well, this past week we were preparing Karoliny and Loren to be baptized.  Unfortunately, Karoliny had to undergo surgery on her breast to remove a nodule.  Fortunately, the surgery went well and she will probably be able to recover and be baptized by the end of this month.  Her sister Loren had a wonderful baptism on Sunday.  It was great to hear from her baptismal interviewer that she bore a very sincere and powerful testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Until then, she hadn´t expressed her feelings much on the subject, but the Spirit has taken hold upon her heart.

I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.  I know the Book of Mormon is Christ´s word.  I know that the commandments lead us to joy that doesn´t end.  I know that if we exercise a particle of faith in obeying a commandment, God will immediately bless us and we will see the truth.  Let the Spirit have full sway in your heart and you will begin to feel a changing sensation inside of you.  This is one of the most precious feelings that I know.  We can change.  We can be perfected in Christ.  I love you all.  Be diligent in prayer and scripture study and we will one day be brought together in white to worship God in righteousness.  I can´t wait for that day.  It is my most long-awaited day.


With Such Great Love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer

Monday, April 6, 2015

I Care About Easter, and General Conference Is Not a Bore

Dear Family,

I love you all so much!

This last week was so wonderful.  It was wild and wonderful.  That´s on more of a `He is Risen` scale and not just a West Virginia scale.

Anyway, there were so many wonderful experiences this last week.  Most of them came at the end of the week, but the whole week was good.  First off, my companion got shipped off.  Right when we started working well together, he had to get going.  But that´s always how it is, we just have enough time to learn what we need to learn and then we´re off on to our next lesson.  The night before we had gone to a member´s house for a family home evening.  They made feijoada, a delicious bean dish that has every porky part of the pig you can imagine.  Well, it is a very fatty dish and I ate a lot.  It´s something that gringo´s aren´t used to, especially 8 o´clock at night.  Let´s just say the next day I was hurting.  It´s still one of my favorite dishes here and I really want to make it for you all when I get home, I just won´t include things like ears, snout, knees, and all the other things.  Anyway, Elder Fraga left on Tuesday and I got a temp companion for the day, Elder Pereira.  He lived with me in the Bara do Piraí.  I like him a lot more when I don´t have to live with him every day.  Anyway, we taught a great lesson (that´s right, just one, it was a really slow day).  That night my new comp got there, Elder Nogueira.  He is an awesome elder who is likable and just wants to work, so things are going great!  I couldn´t ask for a better companion.

The week went great.  We are teaching some wonderful people.  On Thursday we did a service project.  I went in my shorts with my wicked white legs showing.  Everyone was laughing at my legs.  After the project of moving a bunch of sand from one place to another, I got laughed at even more when everyone noticed that my legs had suddenly turned very red.  It wasn´t just the legs.  The sun was super hot that day and burned everything!  I will show you a classified picture that I took of myself.  It´s hilarious!  Don´t worry, I am taking care of myself to not get skin cancer.

Friday was wonderful.  I decided to fast between Thursday and Friday.  I knew that it was a Catholic practice to hold in reverence Friday as the day of Christ´s crucifixion.  I thought that it would be good to do a Brazilian fast from lunch on Thursday to lunch on Friday seeing as the greatest part of Christ´s sacrifice would have taken part on Thursday night in the garden and concluded Friday midday on the cross.  I will tell you that I was so glad that I fasted.  When I woke up on Friday, I felt such a great peace.  I read about the sacrifice of the Son of God, and I felt so strongly in my heart that really He did what He did and what no other human being could do.  I really do know that Jesus Christ paid this price.  Because of Him, we have the power to choose who we will become, even the sons of God.

Lately I have been studying a lot about WHO we are, what our essence is.  There were some big questions that I took with me to general conference.  They were all answered so wonderfully.  I was shocked as every single talk seemed to talk about our eternal potential, our premortal heritage, and the importance of personal choice in our destiny.  I was profoundly impressed by the talks on Saturday morning.  As I listened I felt so strongly that I had prepared for eternities to be a exemplary father and husband.  That is who I am.  I am not even married, but there is something that tells me that that is my identity.  Satan would tear down the family and everything that it means.  There is nothing that can get in my way of having my own family.  There is no other purpose in life than this.  Family is the basic and only unit of order in the life to come.  It is system of government and happiness.  I am so grateful for my family.  I am grateful for the physical characteristics that I inherit from dad and mom.  I am grateful for the habits, traditions, and joys that we share.  These are things that have carried us to be together in this life and will carry us to be together in the next life.  This is our greatest identity.

I love you all so much!  I pray for you always.  I tried to include a recording, but it didn´t work.  Be true and faithful.


With much love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. I was sad not hear President Monson much in conference or Elder Scott at all.  Where was he?  He is one of my favorites.  :D

​It was early in the morning, and I was a little tired.

​The ´chocolate-flavored´ Easter egg I got from a member.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Because HE Lives

Dear family,

HAPPY 54th BIRTHDAY DADDY DEAREST!!!  Dad, you really are such a great example to me.  Thank you for your wonderful service to our family and the life you have lived in serving Christ and seeking eternal life.  You are beloved.  I was thinking about your great example this last week. I realized that in your mission you had an option of whether to end your mission at a year and a half or to serve for the full two years.  During this last week I was having a lot of thoughts about which choice I would make.  I only have four months left.  I think all the more of you for seeking to serve in the way that Heavenly Father inspired you to serve, serving more than you had to in order to serve honorably.  I will be diligent in these last four months as I seek to consecrate all of my efforts in the service of the Lord.

Well, this last week went great.  Elder Fraga and I are getting along well.  We were actually getting along great!  We had interviews this last week with President Cascardi.  I felt like I needed to tell him of the problems that we had before and how we had resolved them.  I made sure to tell him that everything was going great with us.  That´s why it came as a great shock today to hear about the transfers.  I will be staying here in Três Corações and Elder Fraga will be spending his last five weeks of the mission in Juiz de Fora as the companion of a district leader.  I know that this might sound normal to state missionaries, but here this is quite unusual.  He wasn´t too happy about that, so I am doing an exchange today with the Argentine missionary from Neuquen, Elder Sepulveda.

I really did love the opportunity to spend time with President and Sister Cascardi again on Tuesday.  It is always such a blessing to be able to talk to them, feel their warmth, and feel more and more love for them.  They are great valiant examples of faithful saints.  I got the opportunity in particular to talk to Sister Cascardi and show her pictures of my family.  I found out that she is very good friends with the President and his wife who watch over the Londrina Mission where Brittany is serving.  I am sure that they love Brittany there.

On Tuesday night we went to a lesson with Luma, the 17-year-old daughter of a 20-years-less-active woman.  When we got there, the mom, Cristiane, told us that Luma wanted to ´virar Mórmon´.  We looked to Luma and she happily explained that she felt so good when we went to her house and she felt as though we had been sent at the right time to find her and share the gospel with her.  The gospel is such a blessing.  This miracle is happening in many of the lives of our beloved investigators.

Quick thoughts with little time...

Watch the new video Because HE Lives and then read 1 Ne 19.  When I saw it the phrase `the God of nature suffers´came to my mind.

I love you all!  Read the Book of Mormon.  Treasure it in your hearts!


With great love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer

Monday, March 23, 2015

Last Names and Humility

Dear Ayer family,

Can I just tell you how much I love our name.  It may be a very hard name for Brazilians to pronounce, but I wouldn´t change it for the world.  Here there is a culture for missionaries to sometimes put their first name as their missionary name because there are so many similar surnames here.  However hard Ayer might be, I would never change it.  It´s funny because there are so many pronunciations: Ire, Eow, Ay-yare, and (my favorite) Wire.  I like to sing the Called to Serve hymn and little different: ´Chose an AYER to witness for His name`.  Anyway, why tarry, let us off to the castle...weekly report.

This week was another challenging week.  I will just come out and say it, my companion was driving me CRAZY!!!  On Monday we were cleaning the house and I was getting agitated.  Everything I cleaned had to be touched up again.  Everything I had put in order had to be put in a completely different order.  I got to the point when I cracked.  He told to move my laundry basket to a different place and after arguing for a bit, I said that I would think about it.  Well, the friction and tension were rising.  That night we taught a lesson that was not effective.  I felt the complete lack of the Spirit.  After, we went to give a blessing to the father of our elect family who underwent knee surgery.  As we laid our hands on his head, the words from Doctrine and Covenants 121 came to my head, `Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man´.  Obviously, the Lord was trying to communicate something to me.  On Tuesday morning I studied about humility.  During district meeting, our leader told us that there were some problems the district needed to resolve through obedience, humility, and good companionship.  I felt as though that was directed directly at me.  Wednesday morning I studied again about humility and effective communication, using Elder W Craig Zwick´s talk from conference of May 2013 entitled What Are You Thinking?  It was a good study, but I had to apply it to be of any effect.  Well, in companionship study, I talked calmly about the problems at hand, recognized my faults, asked forgiveness, and offered some ideas for how we could improve.  It was a very controlled and deliberate conversation.  The key was delivering myself completely up in a nice little package containing 100%, naturally produced, well-fermented, ´carnal man´.  My deliverance was regarded with an assumed authority that did not reflect my attempts at humility.  Luckily, I controlled my breathing and accepted the directives I received.  Afterwards, the situation improved drastically.  We are working together a lot better as of now.  We have the spirit in our work.  We also are more balanced in our efforts.  I realized in the end that the one who assumes the authority and dominion does not always control the situation.  I had controlled the situation.  The only challenge now is to continue with the efforts.

We are having great success in our missionary efforts.  Those prayers we made to find families are still being answered.  Yesterday in Church we had two families with father, mother, and child.  It was a great feeling.  They all are preparing to be baptized.  We had still more families who were not able to attend yesterday but are excitedly preparing for baptism as well.  Their names are André and Desirré, Apriggio and Claudinea, Celso and his daughters, Felix and Amanda, and some other individuals who have accepted the baptismal invitation.  I am more excited than ever to baptize these people unto repentance.  We are so happy and so are they to be knowing the true restored gospel.  I love being a missionary.  I can´t wait to continue diligently for these next 4 months and then go strong afterwards in being the best member missionary that ever existed.  Have faith that the Book of Mormon will answer the silent and heart-felt prayers of all of your associates and then go forward to answer those prayers with power.  I love you all!  You are one of the greatest gifts the Savior has conceded to me through His Atonement, and I pray for you always.


Love, Elder Parker Ayer

P.S. Happy 70 years, Grandma and Grandpa Ayer.