Monday, January 26, 2015

This Transfer Could Not Get Stranger...Let´s Hope

Dear family,

I can hardly believe that least week I was emailing you all to tell you about my companion going home. That seriously feels like an eternity ago. So many things have happened since then. It´s almost been 2 weeks! But anyway, lots of things have happened.

So, I found out that I would be staying in trio for the rest of the transfer. The assistants told me to show the other elders my elder ´just in case´ I got transferred and they had to stay here and take care of both of the areas. Well, you know when assitants say something like that, it´s because I will be transferred. Anway, we have spent the last two weeks working one day in my area and the other day in their area. it´s been pretty difficult because we work on opposite sides of the city. It makes it difficult to be able to follow up with people or to just pass by in someone´s house so that we can set up a time to teach them. The upside is that we were able to really focus this week, teach a lot of people, and baptize someone! The week turned out really great with a surprising twist at the end.

On Saturday, we planned to do an exchnage with a young priest in the branch so that would could get ready for the baptism and still teach. Anyway, I called President so that I could get authorization for the exchange with the rapaz. When I called President, he told me that it was a good thing that I had called him because I would probably be transferred that very weekend. Well, that didn´t give me too much information, but President advised me to make sure that my companions knew the area well just in case I got transferred. That was a little pebble just rolling around in my shoe all day. I tried not to let it bother me too much, but how can you not think about wing moved to a new area in the near future? Anyway, I didn´t tell anyone because misisonaries tend to slack off when they learn that they are getting moved around. I didn´t hear anything else until last night President called me and told me that I am being transferred today to the city of Três Corações in the state of Minas Gerais and that I am being called as zone leader. Apparently, there has been a lot of problems with obedience in the zone (starting with the leaders) and now I am being sent there to fix it all up. Well, that´s a lot to put on a pair of little shoulders. It was very encouraging to hear President Cascardi say that he trusted in me to do what was necessary. I thought that he had lost all hope in me after last week with my Full House routine, but apparently that wasn´t the case.

That´s the big news from this week. I am very sad to be leaving Barra do Piraí, especially since we are teaching some families very good that are getting ready to be baptized. It will be hard to say goodbye, but I will be glad if there was something that I could have don to help them come unto Christ and enter into the covenant waters of Israel. Sorry, but that´s about all that I can think about from this past week. I am already packed, and now it is time to say goodbye to the people here.

I love you all. Know that I know that Jesus CHrist is our Savior. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. On Sunday I had the chance to teach the young men and young women about the Book of Mormon. There was an investigator of ours there as well. It was such a great opportunity to help show them all the importance of the Book of Mormon. I was a little sad when the Church-raised youngsters couldn´t answer some basic questions about the origins of the sacred text. When I asked aobut their favorite Book of Mormon scripture, only one young woman could think of her favorite Book of Mormon scripture; it was Moroni 10:5 and she wasn´t able to remember the reference. I know that it can be hard sometimes to set aside time and study, but do it. You will be blessed. The Book of Mormon will help us come closer to Christ than any other book. We can be perfected through the Book of Mormon. Knowing scriptural references and historical origins of the record are a part of that perfection process. Search, ponder, and pray are the things that we all must do to have scripture power to keep us safe from sin. I love you all! Be safe!

With much love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, January 19, 2015

Empty Chairs at Empty Tables

Dear family,

Well, this week has been one of the hardest weeks of my mission, and it´s all becaue my prayers were answered. That´s right, I was praying that the difficult situation with Elder Barbosa would be resolved, and now it´s resolved. His is now back at home on the beaches of Fortaleza. Let me explain a little bit more.

Monday was awful. I woke up. I was done with being the only one to clean the house while everyone else sleeps. (We have a rule here that we have to clean on P-days between 630 and 930 and then we have personal study and comp study.) So what happened? I got a little bravo. I mad a racket and ´encouraged´ everyone to get out of bed and clean something. Elder Barbosa was no exception. He stayed in bed even after all the racket, so I made more racket. Finally he got up and everyone ´got to work´ doing something. Mostly they just sat in living room, but at least they were awake. I was a little annoyed. During comp study, Elder Barbosa went to the bathroom with diarrhea, so we made plans to get him checked out at the hospital. Then we went to write and receive emails. I was happy because of the emails I got and all of your encouragement and love, but I was still a little icy. After lunch, we went to the hospital. He got registered and they started him on the soro (taking liquids). I sat next to him while we waited for them to take his blood and run the tests. He gets really anxious and enjoado in situations like that, so I started talking to him. I asked him what he had read in his emails. He told me that he had talked with his family and decided that it would be best for him to return home because of his bad health and the bad health of his father. I was calm. I asked a few questions more. I started discussing with him what would be the benefits of going home and what would be the benefits of staying in the mission. He was determined to make his decision. I started telling him stories from my own life when I had made a singular decision that had changed my life for the better. I also told stories of singular decisions that I could nly make once that I still regretted. I was trying to be calm and not freak out so that I could help him. I wanted to be supportive and try to understand what was going on in his decision making. I shared scriptures about small moments of difficulty that are for our good, but he would not be moved. I started to get anxious along with him. I went to the bathroom to be able to have a moment to pray alone. As I was praying, a thought came to my head. The thought was of a scene from a family television program like Full House or some other typical family show. In my mind I saw a kid from the family with his bags packed, ready to run away, then the dad coming down the stairs with his bags packed also, telling the son that they would go together because dads have to take care of their sons. I remember that in the show everything worked out right because the kid realized how silly it would be to run away from home when everyone at home needed his dad. Well, that was the thought that came to mind, and I felt like it was some sort of revelation that I needed to use to keep Elder Barbosa stay in the mission field. Well, the results came back at about 630 pm. He didn´t have anything wrong with his blood, and with that tidbit of knowledge, the foolish Brazilian hospital sent the 3-days-ill invalid away with plenty of liquids inside of him. Anyway, we got home and Elder Barbosa prepared to lay down a little bit. He hadn´t said anything for a little while, and I thought that maybe he had changed his mind until he asked to have the phone to call President Cascardi. I didn´t give it to him. I told him that I would talk to President first. I dialed President´s number with shaking hands. He answered the phone, cheerfully calling me by name. I couldn´t believe that I was doing it, but I would follow through with my personal revelation of Bob Saggett and the Olsen twins. I told President that I wanted to go home. The words killed me; there was no going back now. He asked me what had happened. I told him that a son shouldn´t die before his father, and my son wanted to return home. President was a little confused and asked if my dad had died. I was a really emotional, so I didn´t laugh, but I told him that Elder Barbosa wanted to go home. I thought that Presidnet would chuckled and tell me to stop joking around and get back to work, but he was very patient and kind with me. He told me about the good work that I was doing, that he needed me here, and that I shouldn´t worry about my companion. Then he asked to talk to Elder Barbosa. When I gave the phone to him, he didn´t look at me. I don´t know if the Full HOuse play was exactly what he was needing. I left the room and starting praying and pleading. When he was finished, I didn´t ask what had happened, but I gave a blessing of health to him. I let him rest a little. When he was done resting, we talked a little bit more. He said that he really was going home. I talked his ear off telling him how he would regret this choice and what effect it would have in his life and the life of his family forever. Well, it didn´t change anything. President called later to confirm the travl plans for Juiz de Fora for the exit interview. He told me that I shouldn´t worry about my companion, that the issue didn´t have anything to do with me. Afterward, Elder Barbosa vollunteered some more information. It turns out that he was going home because of a burning fever (Alma 15:3) and despair (Moroni 10:22). I was extremely heartbroken. It probably was the hardest point in my mission. He was my 16th companion. Of all of them, none have gone home early. If he doesn´t return to the mission field in a few months, I will have been his only companion. After thinking much about everything that happened, I have been happy to know that I fulfilled my responsibility to help him resolve any prsonal problem that he might have so that he can have some inner piece.

Sorry, I don´t have any more time to discuss the rest of the week. I found out today that I will spend the rest of the transfer in trio. Now, my district is just the three of us. I have my talent to care for, and I hope that I can take care of him well. Just remember that the choices we make today will have grievous or glorious consequences for us in the future. Be obedient. Seek to be good. DOn´t develop any addiction to sin. Be clean and clear and under control (AKA bridle all of your passions Alma 38). I love you all so much. Know that I am happy and healthy and that you will not be seeing me at home for anyother 7 months. I love you all!

Love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, January 12, 2015

Choice and Accountability

Dear family,

This week has been a rollercoaster of events. The rollercoaster is only as stable as my companion´s physical and emotional health. Therefore, this rollercoaster is the kind that would make Dad queasy. In this instance, like Dad, I would prefer a nice innertube ride on the lazy river. That´s not to say that I would like to be lazy, but that I would like to a little bit more stable. Anyway, this metaphor should be self-explanatory.

Anyway, Monday after emails we went out and I used the money I had to buy some Christmas gifts for all of you. I hope that you all like Brazilian mustard, hahaha. Just kidding! I have some surprises for al of you, and I hope that you like them. If there are some things that you want in particular, please send the pedidos. Also, my debit card died, so it would be great if you could send the new and improved one! I know I said a few emails ago that I wouldn´t need it, but now I need it.

Tuesday was transfers. Eler Pereira foi embora from our house and the rest of us stayed in a trio for the day. At the end of the night, we were returning and had to walk right through the middle of a fulia. Fulia is something that Brazilians start doing around Carnaval time which consists of a bunch of people banging drumbs in African dance costumes with really scary masks. It was a little unnerving. Helaman 13:37 was running through my head. We got out of there rill fast. That night, Elder Coiti arrived. He is a missionary with a lot more time on the mission than me he is known to have some obedience and dilligence issues. I am in for a rough ride this transfer.

This week we were following up a lot with Glayce, Rosangela, and Rosiane who were baptized this last week. They were getting really excited to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It was awesome because Glayce had a dream of her friend´s family (who she hadn´t seen in a year) being baptized. The next day, her friend showed up in her house because she was in town visiting her family. A few minutes later, we arrived! It was really cool because the friend has already talked to missionaries before and has a Book of Mormon. We talked a little bit with her, and will try to get smething worked out so that we can help fulfill the dream Glayce had. The three of them were confirmed on Sunday. The only difficulty we had was getting Rosangela and Rosiane to church. We called them in the morning to make sure they could get to church on their own. They didn´t answer. That worried us. We decided to go to their house. We had to wake them and wait for them. We only made it to Church after the second hour, just in time for sacrament meeting. It was a blessing that everything turned out right.

This last week was really rough for Elder Barbosa. We had a comp study. I was getting on his tail a little bit because I have been talking so much to him about effective study and he is still doing the same thing. When I ask him a question to apply our studies, he gives me a pouty look and says that he doesn´t know the answer because he´s a new missionary. Anyway, at the end of the study, I asked him to say the prayer. He started crying as soon as he said Dear Heavenly Father. We were on our knees for a few minutes as he was crying. After, we talked a little bit and gave him a blessing. It helped. The blessing is that he is getting daily grace from the Lord, but the problem is that he doesn´t seem to be seeking a change that will help him in the long run. Anyway, the problems only increase when his physical problems are added on top of everything. He has been sick the last three days with puking and diarrhea. Sister Cascardi said to wait until today to go to the hospital, so today we´re going to get him checked out. I hope that they can help him so that he doesn´t spiral down in a cycle of bad physical and emotional health. You have to take care of your body and mind!

SOmething I have been thinking a lot about this week is accountability for our actions. OUr investigators don´t understand personal responsibility very well. We are trying to help them. This principle also helps a lot in the missionary work itself. I love especially Doctrine and Covenants 58:26-33. We must responsible. If we don´t understand the reality of this personal resposibility, we will be very sad in the day when all of must stand accountable for what we have done in this life. When I feel like God has put His trust in me to do His work, I go about doing good, and doing the most good that I can. I hope that you will all feel this responsibility and seek to choose that which is necessary for us t do in this life.

I love you all. I am glad to hear the Grandpa is improving. Thank you for keeping me in the loop, but not telling me all of details. I know that through prayer and faith the right outcome will be brought to pass. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

With love, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Man from January January

Family, family, family,

Isn´t it about time? That might sound like I am getting mad at you, but I really wanted that to sound like an old Church ad. So in other words, isn´t about time for another email exchange with your beloved son and brother, Elder Ayer? I don´t know exactly what your practice is for reading missionary emails now, but I know that in the old days we always read them as part of Family Home Evening. That reminds me of Dad welcoming everyone to FHE as if Hulk Hogan would be our special guest for the night. Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle. I hope this email fulfills your spiritual and emotional needs.

Anyway, yes, I am here in the state of January River (Rio de Janeiro) in January! What a fun thing to happen. Unfortunately, the January River here really isn´t a Snowy River. That´s because it is hot, hot, hot and I feel like I just caught on fire, just caught on fire. But really, the work here is catching fire. It is great to see. To begin this year and to end the transfer, we had the opportunity to baptize three people, Gleyce, Rosângela, and Rosiane. I was super glad that Elder Barbosa had the opportunity to baptize his first transfer. It was great! Gleyce is a middle-aged woman who is a little grumpy by nature, but it was amazing to see what kind of effect the gospel had and is having in her life. Rosângela and Rosiane are the same age as me and Elder Barbosa, respectively. When they start asking us about our girlfriends back home, we have to steer clear. Fortunately, they really had a great conversion as well. Rosiane wrote down her testimony to be read in testimony meeting yesterday, it was so great! 

It was amazing to see how everything came together this last week to help prepare them all to be baptized. They all had goals to be baptized on Saturday. However, I don´t think that I have ever baptized someone on the date of the first goal set. I was kind of prepared for something to happen this week as well, but I was hoping and working for the best outcome. Gleyce had already had some powerful experiences with prayer and the Book of Mormon before this week. That was an essential preparation. This week we went to talk about her about her goal for baptism. Really, we should have been talking to her more about her baptismal date before this week, but it didn´t happen in our teaching. When we returned this week to teach her, we talked about her baptism. She seemed very apprehensive. She was emphatic. She had to resolve some things in her family before she could be baptized. When we asked some more questions, it was apparent that these problems were excuses. We invited her to pray for herself to ask Heavenly Father if she should be baptized. After leaving the appointment, I called my zone leader to tell him aobut her progress for baptism on the planned date. He told me that the next appointment I should teach her, read Moroni 10:32, and tell her that if she wanted to be perfect in Christ she had to be baptized. It didn´t sit well with me. It seemed a little brusque. I wanted to help her. That night we prayed together and individually to be able to help her. The next day we went and read Mosiah 18 with her. She liked the chapter and said that really she did want to have the influence of Spirit to be manifest more abundantly in her life, like the ancient Mormons. We asked her what would impede her from being baptized. That was the moment when she opened up to us. Really, she was worried that she would have to walk with us in the streets preaching the gospel. We relieved her concerns about this. After that, she became excited to be baptized. It was amazing to see how the Spirit could help her and could releive her worries and encourage her to be perfected in Christ through baptism.

We saw similar conversion in the lives of Rosângela and Rosiane. I really am heartbroken when I enter their house. THey are so poor, but the are so happy. They and their family also give so much for us. They always offer us food. They always insist that they have to buy soda for us, even when we say that water would be great. They also fed us lanches several times this week. I was so sad when they shared their father´s birthday treat with us which was some jell-o. They became very worried one day that Elder Barbosa got sick that he had gotten sick because of some bread he had eaten in their house. They are such good people, and now they have the blessings of the Spirit to be constantly with them. It is such a blessing. There is nothing like starting a new year in white clothes with a white slate!

I love you all so much. I hope that you will all seek to have clean slates and maintain that cleanliness. We came receive and retain a remission of our sins through the greace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Be strong and of a good courage, always abounding in good works. I love you all! By the way, Happy Birthday Aunt Sarah! And Grandpa, we are all praying for you! I still need to speak in portuguese with you!

With lots of love, Elder Ayer