Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Families, IT´S ABOUT TIME!

Dear family and friends,

Well, this week has been wonderful.  Hard at the beginning and wonderfully blessed at the end.  Sorry that I am writing on Tuesday again.  It´s because Elder Fraga and I are going to the conselho da missão tomorrow and the Assistants moved around our P-day.  Oh well, here we go!

Last Tuesday and Wednesday were ridiculously hard and sad.  Let me explain.  I already told you about our two elect investigators, right?  They were Luciano and Nataly.  They are two children of a less-active woman we found when we were inspired to knock on a door out of nowhere.  Anyway, they were super excited to be baptized.  They were feeling the Spirit powerfully, reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and asking inspired questions.  Really, I thought that they were some of the most elect people I had ever taught on my mission.  Well,  Sunday their grandpa from Curitiba passed by unexpectedly and they didn´t go to Church.  Monday and Tuesday their truck driver dad got home and spent time with them during Carnaval.  His is very Catholic, but Teresa (the mom) said that she had already talked to the dad and he was A-OK about their involvement with the Mormons.  Well, I am not so sure about that now.  We talked to them at the beginning of last week and found out that all of a sudden they were completely uninterested in our message now and that they are most decidedly interested in being very involved in the Catholic Church.  We talked to the Dad and he said that he didn´t mind if they went to another church, but everything was very fishy.  It doesn´t help that there is a very dark aura in the house sometimes because of Teresa´s current practice of espiritismo.  Well, Luciano and Nataly have decided to go their own ways.  It was very hard because I really don´t think that I have ever loved an investigator as much as Luciano.  He just seemed like a little brother.  Anyway, we must move on and give them the space and distance to feel the weight of their decision.

Ever since the break with our elect investigators, I have been praying hard, but very hard, for us to be able to find teach and baptize a family with a dad, mom, and children.  I have been praying every dad for this, and the Lord has been hearing my prayers.  We have found three very special families.  The Spirit has been especially strong with us as we have testified to them of the truth of the Restoration message.  One family in particular is very special.  The daughter went to church on Sunday with her aunt and we met her there.  She is the daughter of a less-active member who left the church when he was 18 years old.  Yesterday we had the chance to teach the family which consists of the father and two daughters.  The mother passed away 6 months ago.  The Spirit was very strong as we taught them the restored truth of eternal families.  Now the two daughters want to be baptized, and the dad wants to be active again so that he can baptize them (he´s a priest in the Aaronic priesthood).  We are so happy for them and know that they will receive great blessings as they prepare to be baptized and sealed.  What an awesome blessing of our dear Heavenly Father!

Sunday´s sacrament meeting was especially special.  We missionaries were responsible for the meeting.  The topic was the Restoration.  I got to pick my topic, Joseph´s First Vision and opposition.  I had been praying and preparing the whole week to have the Spirit with me and make our little sacrament meeting equal to a Kirtland Temple dedication service.  Right before my talk, we sang a special musical number with the youth of Joseph´s First Vision.  On the third verse, a member recited the words of the account at the microphone with the piano music.  It was very powerful and many people cried.  I was so glad to have a strong spirit when I started.  The Lord really did sustain me and the Spirit, like a burning fire, was felt very strongly.  What was best was that that day our attendance in sacrament meeting soared from the usual 85 to 120 people!  It was a perfect sacrament service.  I really couldn´t be happier.  I know that this work is the work of Almighty God.  I know that Joseph Smith was a chosen servant to testify powerfully of the reality of the Savior´s divine sacrifice, death, and resurrection.  I know that through the Prophet, sacred truths concerning the eternal nature of the family have been revealed.  Families can be eternal.  We can be eternal if we will keep the commandments.  Please keep the commandments.  I love you all, a bushel and a peck and a hug around your neck!  With all my love, my dear family, adieu.

-Elder Parker Ayer

Quick pics:  (1) me and Sister Cascardi  (2) us with pele stutue

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Repent! Repent! He Comes Quickly!

Dear family,

Sorry, I have to explain why you all are getting this on Tuesday and not on the normal Monday.  Well, Carnaval was this past weekend.  Actually, yesterday was the last day of Carnaval and today everyone is driving home in a drunken haze.  The transfer was originally planned for today, just that it wouldn´t be too smart to transfer all of the missionaries today along with the Carnaval crew.  So, President moved the transfer to yesterday and our P-day to today.  Anyway, I hope that you all weren't worried sick about me, at least that's what I prayed you wouldn't be doing.

I wanted to speed up this emailing and communicating process to include everything that I wanted to include, so I have made another voice recording.  I hope that it relieves your anxiety.  I am also emailing today from a member´s house (because of the holiday and lack of open internet cafes) so I will be able to email some pictures.  YEAH!

I would like to be able to use this time to talk about some spiritual things that I have been studying.  In zone conference, President Cascardi talked to us about the need to declare the gospel of repentance.  Hence, the Pageant-y quote subject line.  Really, we need to declare the joy of repentance to all those who are lost in a world that doesn´t offer an escape from the weight of sin.  This is when people will realize the importance of being baptized as the first fruits of repentance.  Thus, I have been studying a lot about the effects of sin and the relief of repentance.  The scriptures say again and again that the reward of sin, or the wages of sin, is death.  This is a complete death.  When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, they disobeyed a commandment of God and the result was death.  They were cut off from God´s immediate presence and His spiritual presence, and they inherited physical death.  The spirit body they had was the only thing that couldn´t die.  They learned that God and His principles ARE life eternal.  God is life.  Christ is life and light.  They learned that sin made them children of a devil, prone to death and decay and misery.  When they sinned, they were cast off.  They were lost forever, the scriptures say.  The could not merit anything of themselves, but they had made a fatal, and eternally fatal, decision.  It is the same with us.  We are born in purity, alive in Christ.  After some time, sin conceives in our hearts.  We have a personal fall.  We become lost forever.  That is when we learn of a Savior that has been provided for us.  This Savior is not a weak being.  He is infinitely strong and mighty to save.  His is not selective in His service like man.  His arms of mercy are outstretched to all peoples with an invitation to come unto Him.  However, we learn that this gift is conditional.  We must repent.  We must have a change of heart.  If we do not fulfill our part, it will be as if there were no redemption made.  Seeing that we have transgressed the law, we receive the law of repentance.  We humble ourselves; we become submissive and meek.  We choose to follow Him.  We exercise faith in His bounds and ways.  We receive blessing according to our faith.  The attitudes we develop in repentance match those attitudes that are required to follow the law in the first instant, and our offering is accounted unto us for righteousness.  Well, there is a lot more that I would like to write, but there is not enough time or space.  Just know that I know that repentance is vital and a joyful experience.  It´s as joyful as baptizing someone you found after walking miles on blistered feet.

I love you all!  Happy Valentine´s Day to one and all.  You´ll be in my heart, yes, YOU´ll be in heart.  You ARE in my heart, always.

Yours forever, Elder Parker Ayer

Monday, February 9, 2015

More or Less Active

Dear family,

Many things have happened this past week. I will also try to say some things about last week that I didn´t get time to include in my last email.

Last week, I was walking along the side of the road. I must have been daydreaming about something because I wasn´t looking ahead of me. Well, there I was walk-walk-walking along when all of a sudden I hit my face on something. I took a couple stumbling steps back and looked around to see what happened. Here there are these metal rebar type baskets that stick out of the side of the outer wall of houses. They´re there so that people can put there trash outside to be collected without having dogs come along and rip all of the trash to shreds. Anyway, I had walked right into one of those trash/rubbish baskets/bins. My face was completely numb but I lifted my hand up to my mouth and it came away with a lot of blood. Basically, I got a big gash on my upper lip. I treated it with some ointment, but it looks like I will still have a little scar to carry until the Resurrection. Sorry I don´t have any pictures, I haven´t really been in a picturey mood recently. Also last week we almost had a baptism but he didn´t show up, even after being interviewed only a few hours earlier. He has been avoiding us and now will move to another city, so it´s ta ta!

This week has been great! Opposition always brings more joy. :D Last week after emails, Elder Fraga (my companion) and I found out that the father of a sister missionary passed away. We have been working this week to help her endure to the end. It has been hard because her companion goes home in a week and is very unmotivated to work. I remembered a scripture that I think dad shared with me, Moroni 8:2-3. Anyway, it helped a little bit. We are also working very hard to help a struggling area in our district. The problem is that they don´t need encouragement or comfort or something like that. They are very capable missionaries with a lot of time in the field and Tuesday they reported that they had taught nenhuma lesson, made nenhum contact, or done anything of the sort. It is frustrating when people waste their time and then shrug it off like it doesn´t matter that much.

Anyway, that´s enough reporting on the zone. There were a lot of other great things that happened this week. THis week we started working with less active members. I really wasn´t excited for it. I have never really worked with less actives so far in my mission. I have always had some sort of prejudice that lazy missionaries who like to pass a lot of time in friends´ houses eating snacks and chatting just go to less-actives´ houses and don´t find by their own efforts. Of course, there is a balance in these things. Anyway, we made a giant list of less-actives and started visiting them. It was amazing! We entered very easily into peoples´ houses, revived old testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the gospel, and we were able to teach the non-members in their families. Thrusday we were seaking the less-actives and in the midst of it we decided to knock on a door. Two youth came to the door and we asked if we could share a message. They said that they would ask their mom. Well, they returned quickly and told us to come in. The mother, Teresa, came quickly to talk to us. She told us that she was a member of the Church, that she had been baptized a few years ago in Recife, but that she se afastou from the Church when she divorced her husband and moved to 3 <3 ´s (Três Corações). She said that she had joined a different religion (espiritismo), but that she still knew the Church was true and that she loved the Book of Mormon. The asked that we would teach her children about the Church so that they could choose to be Mormons. At the end of our meeting, she told us that she had felt that we would pass by that day and had tidied up the house just to receive us. It was very cool. Now we are going to baptize two of her children next week.

On Friday we spent the day contacting less-actives as well. The last appointment was especially moving. We were talking to a 30 year old man that was baptized 2 years ago. He was very grateful to see us in his home. We talked to him about how God arranges and plans everything for the benefit of His children. As we were talking, a thought came distinctly to my mind. It was a line from my patriarchal blessing. I had never thought about it in such a way. Really, it was a confirmaiton of what we had been doing. God had planned me to visit these less-actives, and I had fighting the feeling to do what he had prepared for me. I hope that all of you will give heed to your blessings. I hope that all of you will listen to the Lord and do what He commands. You will be blessed, and many others as well. I love you all. I pray for you continually. My love is with you and with the Lord.

With much love, Elder Parker Alan Ayer

Monday, February 2, 2015

Transition to Tres Coracoes

Dear family,

I love you all.  Sorry, I don´t have much time right now.  I am having trouble managing my time on the emails.  Thank yuo all for sending me so much love!  Anyway, the transition to Tres Coracoes has been a good one.  Tres Coracoes is where Pele grew up, which is pretty cool.  He is basically a king here.  There are lots of statues of him all over the place.  I am learning how to be a good zone leader.  It´s really strange because whenever I think of zone leaders, I imagine someone a lot bigger than me and a lot more mature than me.  Of course, I know that it isn´t really how things work out.  It was a tender mercy the other day when someone cited the scripture from Samuel that the Lord looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart.  That is an even bigger responsibility to purify my heart and serve for the right reasons.  I want so much to be able to help everyone come closer to Christ and feel the power of the Atonement in their lives.  It has been a bit of a strange transition, but I am seekng to be what the Lord wants me to be.  I know that if I pray earnestly and serve diligently with all of my heart, He will help me.  This week had a baptism of an 8 year old in the ward.  The jovens sang I like to look for rainbows.  It was raining outside.  After the baptism there was a rainbow with thunder storms behind it.  It was very cool.  I thought of the covenant from the book of Moses to Enoch that the rainbow is a simbol that Zion has been taken up unto GOd, but Zion will one day descend down to the earth to be with us again.  I thought a lot of that.  ZIon is descending to be down here among us again through the restored gospel.  It is such a blessing.  The storms of the last days may tremble the ground, but we can be secure on the rock of our Redeemer in the restored gospel.  I love you all.  Jesus is the CHrist.  Joseph is HIs prophet.  The BOok of MOrmon is the word of CHrist.  GOd is our Father.  I know this by the spirit.

I love you!  Elder Parker Ayer