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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Brazil Week #27 Skylers 1st Performed Baptism

Hey everyone! Bom Dia pra todo mundo! This week was Chique demais! It was great! It was kinda funny cause the week started off pretty slow. Last p-day we went to this park thing that has a little man made lake. And bummed there and ate popcorn and drank Tereré. Which is basically a tree that is ground up and dried and that put into a cup and filled with water and drank. Its really bitter but really refreshing especially when it is super hot outside. All the Brazilians are crazy about tereré and not very Americans like it at first but I tried it my second day in Brazil and I liked it alot. Its especially good mixed with limão juice. Which is a mix of lime and lemon. In Brazil they don't have limes or lemons by themselves. Its just one fruit of the both mixed together. That was something I thought was interesting when I got here to Brazil. There was a ton of little fishes in the lake and we would throw popcorn in the lake and watch tons of fish fight for it. It was really cool. I will include a picture of tereré so you can see what it is. That night we ordered pizza to celebrate my 6 months on the mission, I also still need to burn a tie to celebrate 6 months. ¨months you burn a tie, at 1 year you burn a white shirt, and at 1 year and a half you burn a pair of pants. Its just missionary tradition. Tuesday we had lunch in our area which doesn't happen very often, so we got to go to work right after lunch, instead of having to walk an hour from the other Elders area to our area. We tried alot of less actives homes but most had moved or weren't home, we were walking to the other side of our area without really knowing where we were going and we passed a man who was just sitting on a bunch by a park. We said hi to him as we passed and then we felt prompted to turn around and make a contact with him. I learned something very important in that moment. I learned that I need to always been in tune with the spirit and be looking for the elects of God. At that moment I was worrying about the language and how much I still needed to learn, and I almost missed the calm prompting of the spirit to stop and talk to that man. The Spirit did something very rare in that moment, he prompted three people at the same time to do the same thing. Elder Cordeiro said that it was like the Spirit had shouted in his head to make a contact with that man, and as we were in the process of turning to face the man and talk to him the man called to us to stop and come and talk to him. So we sat down next to this guy on the bench and started talking to him. He explained that he always saw us in the street and had wondered who we are and what we do. He explained that he had asked some friends of his who we were and they said that we are people who are only out to cause trouble and corrupt and ruin people. The man whose name is Ricardo said that he wasn't sure if he believed that and so he had wanted to find out for himself. He said that when we walked past him today he said he felt the powerful urge to stop us and talk to us. So we talked, he was an active member of a church here in Brazil called the International Church of the Grace of God. They are a church that don't like Mormons. We started teaching him the first lesson, which talks about families, Prophets, Christs ministry here on the earth, the apostasy, and finally the restoration. We went by  the Spirit, I taught about the Prophets, for whatever reason in this lesson I spent more time explaining the prophets than usual. Its kinda funny how these things work, cause they just roll out of your mouth and you don't even realize what you are saying. I like it when it happens, cause that means its The Spirit that is putting words into your mouth. E. Cordeiro talked a little more about Prophets after this and asked Ricardo if he thinks it it would be necessary to have a Prophet on the earth today. He said yes that it would be great to have a Prophet on the earth and that he wished the earth had one. After this E. Cordeiro said Brother Ricardo I KNOW that there is a living prophet on the earth today! It was sweet when he said that it was like the words slapped us in the face but in a good way. We talked a little bit more but there were a bunch of teenagers dinking off on the street right by us, they kept driving by really fast on their motorcycles which made a ton of noise, and it wasn't a great place to be taught by the Spirit. So we asked him if we could come by another day and give the rest of the lesson to him. At this point Satan tried get his foot in the door, Ricardo thought for a minute and said well I don't know I am happy in my own church right now, I don't remember what happened after this but we talked a little more, and he said we could come back and teach him. We gave him  the restoration pamphlet and committed him to read it before we returned, he said he would. After this we left and visited some other people, the next day we had a district meeting in the city next to ours called Lucas, this is where the Sisters are, it is only and hour from Sorriso. We had problems with getting our passage marked on the bus, and were delayed an hour getting on the bus, we had a good meeting and training there in Lucas and the Sisters were great and made us lunch and dessert even. Our Sisters are really sweet. After this we left to go back to Sorriso but our bus was delayed again and we didn't get back to the house until after 7 that night so weren't able to visit the people we wanted. Thursday we went on splits with the other Elders in Sorriso our zone leaders. I went with Elder Chaves to his area. We walked a ton that day their area is huge, we visited some recent converts and less actives and some investigators. It was walking from 1 in the afternoon until 9:30 that night. It was a long but rewarding day. Elder Chaves only has a few months left on the mission and he is always saying Boa Sorte Elder Kennington Boa Sorte. Good luck with the mission. He is pretty trunky and excited to go home but he still works hard and gets stuff done. I'm glad I still have a year and 6 months left on the mission, the mission is sweet and is going by too fast I think. Elder Cordeiro and Lima visited Ricardo that day and said that he had read all the pamphlet and was super excited about what he had learned. They said he had even memorized part of the first vision and had repeated it when Elder Lima talked about it. He accepted to be baptized and they had also found out that he already been to our church before in another town, but he hadn't taken much note and there were no missionaries there. The next day  We got back from lunch and I wasn't feeling to great so I laid down on my bed for a little bit then got back up and my stomach and head were hurting really bad. E Cordeiro asked if I was ok, I said ya but I needed to lay down for a minute until I felt better. So I laid down and woke up more than three hours later when the sun had already gone down. I was feeling better but my stomach was still hurting and I still had a minor headache but I asked E Cordeiro if we had some people we could see, he smiled and said yes but we have to leave right now to make it worth our while. So I dressed and we went to our area. I was still feeling pretty sick but I just tried not to think about it. We went and visited an investigator who was pretty stressed out cause his brother was having problems with his appendix and had a surgery that morning. We talked to him for a while and he seemed alot happier and in better spirits when we left. E Cordeiro said that sometimes as missionaries our purpose is to give comfort and help people through challenges. I'm glad I got out of the house that night and worked a little bit. The next day we brought our branch president with us to meet Ricardo and some other investigators. We taught Ricardo the rest of the lessons and all the commandments. He accepted to continue living them all since he was already living them all, accept that he drank a little coffee every once and a while but he accepted to stop without questions. Our Branch President who was a convert shared some helpful stories and was really impressed by us and Ricardo. He gave us high fives after the lesson and congratulated us. Elder Cordeiro spent alot of times on his knees asking for guidance and inspiration on behalf of Ricardo and came to the conclusion that he was ready and needed to be baptized this Sunday, because we felt that Satan would work hard this next week. The next day on Sunday Ricardo was to church early to receive his baptismal interview. He passed with flying colors and I sat and talked with him throughout church. He was super excited about there being a Prophet on the earth again today. He was super excited for his baptism and kept asking about it. We held his baptism right after church and there were many members who stayed and attended. I was really nervous cause it was my first baptism where I would perform the baptism. Wow I was nervous I could barely enjoy church. I had already memorized the baptismal prayer in Portuguese, I don't really know what I was worried about. But as I was changing into my white clothes I pleaded with Heavenly Father that he would allow everything to go fine. We had a super cool Baptismal service. A member played I am a child of God on the piano and Elder Cordeiro played along on his violin that he has. The Spirit was so strong and a feeling of peace washed over me and everyone. As we went to the baptismal font which is located outside I felt nothing but peace. I remember as I raised my hand to the square my mind was just at peace, and all the words flowed  without effort. The baptism was perfect. Ricardos full name is José Ricardo Hermes de Freitas. I was having a hard time remembering his name before but in the baptismal font everything was clear in my mind. I performed the ordinance and as Ricardo came out of the water he had tears in his eyes. The Spirit was powerful and the look on his face was a look of wonder and refreshment. As he was descending the stairs from the font he just marveled and said the Spirit is sure strong with us right now. He will be confirmed next week in sacrament meeting. I'm glad the Lord allows for miracles to happen in our lives. And that in the times we need him the most he is there to lift us and guide us. I hope the Lord will bless us with more Ricardos on the mission. He was truly one of them who is only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. But now he has found it. My time is about up but this week was great. I'm going to Cuiabá on Wednesday for a zone conference with them. I look forward to seeing president Reber again. But I love you guys and I hope you are well. btw I hope you spell check this letter mom. I am having a really hard time spelling things right and I'm typing really fast cause I had alot to write and not much time.
Love you all so much!

-Elder Kennington

Monday, June 17, 2013

Brazil Week #26

Minha Família! Good Day to everyone. Thank you all for your letters from Mom and Dad and Grandma. I'm not quite sure why sometimes it has problems sending emails with pictures. I know I cant send more than 2 pictures at a time or it has problems and wont send. Not a whole ton happened this week. This last week was the actual week of transfers. I wont lie I think that transfer weeks is one of my least favorite things in the mission. Its a pain the in neck for everybody. I am just glad that they didn't randomly tell me that I was being transferred again. Unpacking and packing everything is a joke! But me and Elder Cordeiro are happy to be here in Sorriso. We have been working like crazy with the less actives here. But we have been kinda disappointed because almost everyone has moved. All we have is a list of names with addresses and our gps. (The map) I think so far 3/4 of the members homes we have gone to the members have already moved out to somewhere else. But along the way we make alot of contacts with people and teach a good chunk of lessons. We met 2 more people yesterday who are prepared for baptism and excepted to be baptized but unfortunately the mom works every Sunday from 9 until noon. The exact hours of church! Satan is sneaky. But if they are really willing to change and follow the principles and teachings of the Gospel the Lord will prepare a way for them and everything will work out. Last p-day we just came to the lan house here by our house which is in a big mall. I bought some authentic Brazilian flip flops that I have been wanting to get for a while. We just hung out and rested at the house for a while after this. Tuesday we were in a triplet cause one of the Elders was transferred and his replacement wouldn't arrive until later that night. So we went and had lunch at a members house and then they showed us this huge project thing that they were wanting to do here in Brazil. Basically they want to make a Church owned school here in Brazil. Pretty much a BYU Brazil. He gave us this big presentation that he already had on the computer. He had basically created the entire university and surrounding city. He says he has alot of support and that he hopes it becomes a reality. It actually seemed pretty good. We will see what happens but He asked me if we would translate some stuff for him to English so he could send it to some people in the states and he didn't want to use google translate because it has alot of errors. So I have been translating this bio and stuff for him over the week. Its not very hard but its time consuming and missionaries don't have very much free time. I just hope no one every asks me to translate a paper for them again. I was kinda complaining to myself why do I have to know English. But whatever though I am almost done translating this members stuff. But that Tuesday night we had family home evening at a members home and we got a call that the new Elder was at the bus station waiting for us already, so the other elder went with the brach president and got him. His name is Elder Lima and he is a super cool missionary from the east of Brazil as well. The next day we went around finding less actives and teaching several lessons to people. During the day this guy called us out from the street so we went and talked to him for a bit. The guy was in his 50s and had dark glasses on so we couldn't see his eyes. He had a really weird feel about him. The first thing he said was your the Mormon,s ya I've read all of your bible already, we asked him if he has already made a visit to our church but he said no. Then he went off on why nobody knows where the golden plates are and just a bunch of apostasy stuff. The Brazilians here call basically anything that is against the church or things that could bring us away from the gospel apostasy. For example if we see a billboard advertising beer we would say Que apostasia! (What apostasy!)  But anyway this guy was just talking apostasy. He was just saying little things that would make people doubt themselves or their testimonies. Elder Cordeiro stopped him and said sir have you read the introduction to the Book of Mormon. The guy then contradicted himself and said he hadn't read all of the book yet. E. Cordeiro said that if he would read the introduction he would know where the golden plates were at right now. Then the guy went off on some other things about God and the bible, he was talking alot of foolishness. We asked him if he thinks that God changes, and the guy said oh yeah God changes all the time. Sometimes he loves people and sometimes he hates people, that's why there are so many wars. Elder Cordeiro said something after this that was very powerful, but was said in meekness and humility. He simply said, sir you need to find out who God really is then. After this we bore our testimonies that we knew that Christ lived and the Book of Mormon was the word of God and the God is the same yesterday today and forever. It was interesting cause it was like the guys tongue was bound after this. He couldn't say anything. We shook hands with him and left. After this Elder Cordeiro said that that guy was either really crazy or he allows himself to be influenced by the powers of Satan. He said he has already ran into alot of people like him, who will do little things to pick at the truth and try and make people doubt the truth. But he said all you have to do is state and bear testimony of the truth and their tongues will bind and they will have no power to do anything. That was an interesting day. The next day we had zone conference here in Sorriso, I forgot to mention that we live with the zone leaders. But we have only 12 people in our zone here, 8 Elders and 4 Sisters. There is 8 Brazilians, one Chilean, one New sister from Peru who only has a week in the field, and 2 Americans. Me and a Sister Grimes from California. She has 8 months on the mission. We have an awesome zone and I got to talk with all of them a little. They are sweet. We are blessed to have such a good zone. The rest of the week was just working with less actives and trying to find the elects of God. I wont lie our area is a little difficult to weed through all the iniquity. There are bars everywhere tons of people drinking and blasting music. We are protected well by our Heavenly Father but still we don't spend a whole lot of time in our area after it gets dark. We only stay in the well lit areas as well. The Lord promises to protect us but we need to use our own common sense as well. We were hoping that we would have some good pay off on Sunday with less actives coming back to church and some investigators as well. But there ended up being 35 people at church on Sunday. Pretty sad considering that 2 years ago there was over 120 active members coming to church. But many moved and alot were driven away by other members and the branch leadership. But luckily less than a month ago they rearranged the ward leadership and we have an excellent Branch President. My Companion gave a talk yesterday and he kinda burned the ward a little bit, telling them to forget themselves and help the Lord bring back his lost sheep. Hopefully this week we are able to see the fruits of our labors a little bit more. But I'm glad the Lord tests us and shows us both sides of the picture. We need to see the harsh side of things to really be able to appreciate the good. Well I think that's about it I don't have much more time. But all is well here with me. I am healthy and happy and learning more and growing more spiritually everyday. The Power of prayer is real, The Savior lives, and this is His true church. Eu amo vocês com tudo meu coração!  Oh btw I last Wednesday was my 6 month mark on the mission! Whew! it flew by for me. I hope time is passing quick for you guys as well! Take care everyone!
-Elder Skyler Kennington

Monday, June 10, 2013

Brazil Wk #25

Hey Family! Where do I start? Lots of stuff happening this week. Emergency Transfers went smooth for the most part. I met Elder Cordeiro at the Cuiabá bus station. He was actually the trainer of one of Elder Spencer one of the Elders that went to New York with us after the mtc. We waited at the station for a while and we finally got on the bus and left at about 4:30 in the evening. We had a full bus. Me and Elder Cordeiro talked for a while on the bus. We connected pretty quick. He is 25 and is from Natal, Brazil. Natal means Christmas. So he is from Christmas. I think thats cool. Basically from what I have heard and seen he is probably one of the best missionaries in the mission. So I feel deeply blessed to be able to stay with him for at least one transfer. We got actual transfer calls last night and we will be staying together this transfer which we were both relieved to hear.  We live in a house with two other missionaries as well, their names are Elder Chaves and Elder Menezes. Both Brazilians from the North east of the country. So as of now I´m the only American in the house and even more city of Sorriso! These guys are a bunch of clowns! I love living with Brazilians! Its only been one week but my portuguese has gotten way better. Its pretty hard living in a house of Americans and trying to learn and speak alot of portuguese. But now its easy to just speak portuguese. Elder Menezes has been her 4 and a half months and is being transfered down south to Campo Grande. Elder Chaves will stay here cause he only has 3 months in Sorriso and will receive a companion named Elder Lima who has about a year and a half on the mission as well. He wont get here until tomorrow. Ha I want to relate an experience that happened on the bus from Cuiabá to Sorriso. So we kinda had a rowdy bus. There was this really stinky couple in front of us and there was a half crazy dude up near the front and a couple of dudes behind us that thought they were pretty funny. So we were getting close to Sorriso maybe 2 hours away or so and me and Elder Cordeiro were half sleeping cause the bus was kinda uncomfortable, it wasn't made for taller people. But we kinda woke up out of our half sleep cause there was some dudes behind us yelling pretty vulgar stuff. Alot of it was words that I hadn't heard before cause they were pretty crude, but was I got from is is they were complaining cause it smelled like poop on the bus. Except they were using alot stronger words. At first we were like what the heck are they talking about? Then all of the sudden we got with a wall of stink. Everyone on the bus was covering up their noses and complaining. It was bad I wont lie, but I thought it was just coming from the bathroom. We stopped at the bus station in Lucas which is one city away from Sorriso. And everyone got off the bus. As we were getting off the bus we walked by the seat where this half crazy dude was sitting. We knew he was crazy cause he had said some pretty stupid stuff already to the workers on the bus. But so listen to this we walked by where he had been sitting and I about threw up in my mouth. It smelled like throw up and poop and dead rotting cow. And everyone else had the same reaction too as they walked by. So we got off the bus and everyone was pointing and laughing at this crazy dude that had been sitting in the seat, a few people had their cameras out. But this guy was getting his luggage out from under the bus and the worker helping him was gagging and trying to get the guys stuff quick so he could get away from him. We were like twenty feet away and we could smell this guy, it was something else. So when the guy had gotten on the bus he was wearing a white shirt. And when he turned around after he got off the bus the entire bottom of the back of his shirt was stained brown. It looked like someone had thrown it in a fresh manure pile and then stomped on it. I'm not even exaggerating. He just grabbed his stuff and then ran into this shower thing the the bus stop had and that was about the last we saw of him. I kinda felt bad, the dude had messed his pants on the bus! That's pretty much anyones worst nightmare. The bus had a decent bathroom and stuff already so I don't know why he didn't use it. But long story shirt they had to bring in a whole new bus cause the original bus stunk to bad for anyone to get back on. So they moved everyones luggage to the new bus. The other guy never got back on, either he was too embarrassed or that really was his stop that he needed to get off at. But as we left we saw him out the window just chilling out on a bench. He was wearing different clothes now. The rest of the way to Sorriso people on the bus just kept talking trash about the guy. I felt bad but I couldn't lie it was kinda funny and some of their comments I couldn't help but laughing. Ill tell you one that was a little less crude than alot of the other things they were saying. The guy behind me yelled "That jerk can fart in heck, but he won't ever fart in my face!" Just junk like that. The rest of the trip was whatever we got to our home a little after midnight. The trip had taking 3 hours longer than what it should have. The other missionaries weren't their because they had a training meeting in Cuabá but they left the keys outside the house for us, We already had the address to the house so we just took a cab to the house. Its super close to the Church here. Sorriso doesnt have a chapel yet. It usually only has about 40 or 50 people to church on Sunday. They already have land purchased to build a chapel but they need to double to frequency to get one built. Right now they just have a really big rented house. I will take a picture of it for you guys. But all of tuesday we cleaned the house cause it was pretty dirty. Its a pretty small house but it works fine for us. It only has one bathroom and shower which is pretty tough with four missionaries. So the next day we had lunch and then after that the other missionaries were like well see ya. And Elder Cordeiro and I went to our area armed with our map and a couple of names of less actives to visit. So that's what we have been doing this last week. We are going to try and help reactivate as many people and families as we can, cause there are over 400 members on record here. Already we found 2 elects that are ready to be baptized. We were looking for a members home so we knocked at a house and this young couple came out and said that the other people had moved, but they started asking us questions about our church and stuff, we said we had a message that would explain it and so we went in and taught one of the coolest lessons that I have been apart of so far. We taught the restoration and The Book of Mormon.. They accepted to be baptized. And the best part is they are actually legally married. They don't have any kids yet, but we came back the next day and they had read Alma 32 which we had left with them and the husband had gone on to read 33 and 34 the same day. And he read each more than once! He said the book is awesome and he was able to explain what was in the chapters better than what I know is in them! That's sweet! They were going to go to church yesterday but it turns out they couldn't find the church, cause it is kinda tough to find especially when you only have a bike. But they are excited! So that's what we did this week taught less actives and found several potentials through them. Just our working area is like 30 minutes from our home its a ways, we have to walk alot here. Sorriso is sweet! Its really beautiful to me here, its actually not that pretty but to me it is cause it looks and smells just like the Basin. This is supposed to be the biggest agriculture city in Brazil, they grow a ton of corn and soja here. Soja is soy and they use it alot here in Brazil. I will include a few photos that I have taken of here. There are semi trucks everywhere and tons of fields and tractors and everything, I keep thinking I'm in pleasant valley or something. We have some really cool members here and I am already feeling at home here even after one week. Elder Cordeiro is the man, we are both really excited to work here. Also good news from Cáceres they had 4 baptisms last week, and two of them were me and Elder Reeds investigators that we had been teaching. I was really sad that I wasn't their to experience it with them, But I will see if they can send me pictures. So things are looking good here I'm super excited to be in a house of Brazilians and be here! Also I finished my first journal today. The one that Corbin had given me. So I started on my new journal. Its cool to see how different my handwriting is now than at the first of my mission. I will include pictures of the difference. So the picture I included are men and elder reed when we were saying our last goodbyes last week it has my bus in the background, and also a picture of me and Elder Cordeiro here at the lanhouse. Sorriso has this cool mall thing and that's where we are at right now. Also I talked to Elder Reed and he is being transferred down south to Campo Grande in the south and also Elder Paredes who I lived with is going south to Ponta Porã which is the most coveted area in the mission, its right on the border of Paraguay. So I guess the Elder that he was with for a week will take over that area in Cáceres I wish them the best of luck. So that's about it for now I want to leave a little time to download pictures to send to you guys. But I love you guys and thanks for the letters, from Kaden and Jordan too that was cool. Vida é muita boa agora. I look forward to emailing you next week and recount all the new things that will have happened. Love you guys a ton! 
-Elder Kennington

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Brazil Letter #24 Transfer to Sorriso

Hey everyone I don't really have anytime at all to email today. I am in the mission office in Cuiabá. I we received a call last night at about 9 pm that said I was being emergency transferred to a new area because one of the Elders here was having heart problems and that I had to be on the bus at 8 am the next morning. So I had to pack for a while last night and now I am in the office. I will be leaving in about 20 minutes to catch our bus to my new area. My new area is called Sorriso which means smile in Portuguese. Its way up in the north of the mission 6 hours from Cuiabá. My companion will be a Brazilian named Elder Cordeiro. He has almost a year and a half on the mission. We will both be going to the area together at the same time. So we will be starting fresh with both of us not having any knowledge of the area. I am sad to have to have left Cáceres and Elder Reed one week early. Regular transfers is a week from yesterday and one of us ws probably going to be transferred anyway so its alright but I didn't get the chance to say goodbye to anyone so I was kinda sad because of that. But we had a good week I don't have my journal with me to recount the highlights of the week but the week went by super fast. It rained a ton yesterday and the days before as well. I gave my first blessing on Tuesday to one of the members in our ward that was having some problems with his back. That was a neat experience. It was kinda weird on the bus ride to Cuiabá today cause I was all alone for 4 hours. It was strange getting off at a pit stop and buying lunch by myself and eating by myself. So I really don't have much to say or recount this week I need to get going super quick. But thanks for all your guys's letters and pictures and stories. I enjoyed them I couldn't believe that Kloee was getting baptized already! Crazy time flies by!  So I forwarded you one of our mission letters that we get every week that has the letter from the president and all that stuff. It also had a picture of Elder Reed cause it was his birthday and also our names to because we met all of the expected numbers this week. That was pretty cool I thought being able to see that. I hope you guys enjoy it. So I am going to run but tell Jordan to get his eagle scout done quick and to not be lazy! Also what were you talking about the new white car? So anyway I love you guys so much and I pray that you are all doing super well. I'm doing great and am excited to start a new chapter of my mission in a new area it should be super cool. I will have alot more to relate to you guys next week. Kinda stinks that I'm missing out on all of my p day today. Ten hours of sitting on a bus is awesome! Not really but you guys take care and I love you all! 
-Elder Kennington