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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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


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


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!