Monday, April 30, 2012

Zeneida & Joao Baptized -- I'm going to be a TRAINER

April 30, 2012
Hey Family!!!
Ok, sorry that I didn´t get to e-mail you guys last week, it was kind of crazy. So we had p-day on Wednesday, because we got to visit the Temple!! Wow, my testimony was reinforced once again that the Temple is the Lord´s house. This time around, I paid especially close attention to the specific covenants that we make with the Lord, and now I have the goal to keep all the covenants I made to the best of my abilities.
But anyway, after the Temple, we got back to our area, and went to send our e-mails, and the internet was down! And it wasn´t just down in that one Lan house, but it was down in all of Paraná! (Paraná is a state) So, we didn´t get to send e-mail. Sorry!
So, big news! I still don´t know if I’m going to be transferred or not, but I do know one thing--this next transfer I’m going to be training a new missionary!!! I still don´t know much about it, but I’ll be going to a training conference today that will train me on being a trainer. Also, I do know that my companion will be an American, so I should be getting one of those missionaries that are only at the MTC for a month. It´ll be interesting. I´m suuuuper humbled by this--I only have 7 months on the mission! But I had an interview with President Cordon today, and he said that the Lord called me specifically for this calling, so I just need to trust in Him!
Tell London Congratulations! That’s so amazing to hear, I’m really happy for her. Send her a message saying that I’m happy for her and that the Lord will surely bless her for this decision! It´s just blessings from here on out :)  (London is a friend of Avram’s from HS, who got baptized 4/29)
I hope Bentley is doing better. I can´t believe that when I actually get to meet him, he´ll already be two years old! That’s crazy. I can´t wait to meet the little guy. Oh, and congrats to Amber for the new little baby coming. Wow, I’m going to have lots of nieces and nephews to greet when I get back! haha.
So with Skype, it´s kind of hard to plan, because I have no idea where I’ll be in two weeks’ time, or if I’ll even have access to Skype!? However, you guys could help me out by trying to find out what my Skype account name is!? I forgot!
Please try to find out, and tell me in the next letter, so that I can be prepared come Mother’s Day! If anything, I can probably use the account of my gringo companion (he´ll be my first American Companion!) but I don´t have a certainty.
Ok, so we have had TWO BAPTISMS since I last e-mailed you guys. The first was João, this teenager that we had been teaching for like two months. Wow, he´s amazing! He´s been going to seminary every day, also, so he´s in good hands, and is continuing firm!
And yeah, Zeneida was baptized yesterday! wooohhooo!! It was great! I think this baptism had more people attending than all of the other baptisms that I’ve had until now. She had a lot of family supporting her. It was really cool to see this.
I´ll try to send some photos of the baptisms I’ve had, and also of my house here. However, it´s kind of hard because I need to use home funds for revealing photos.
Well, I’ve got to run, but I loooove you all sooo much. Sorry that I didn´t get to write you last week!
Elder Twitchell

Friday, April 27, 2012

Serve the Lord with HONOR -- Zeneide -- Crazy Weather

We didn't get an e-mail this week but got a GREAT letter.  Written April 16, 2012 recieved April 26, 2012

April 16, 2012


 Well, here I am, a missionary with only 17 months left.  I need to get to work, I don’t have much time left  J haha, it’s really weird, we have a missionary in our Zone who is finishing his mission now.  It’s Elder Marx, and he has 2 weeks left now.  We keep making jokes with him.  Jokes like “Elder Marx, we know you don’t have to write letters to your family anymore – you’ll arrive before the letter!”  It was kind of neat, he bore his testimony to us, and said that he can end his mission now, knowing he served with Honor to God.  That’s what I want, at the end of my mission.  I want to be able to testify to other missionaries and my Mission president as I’m leaving and to the ward when I return, that I served with Honor in the Sight of God.

Of course, I still have a lot of time, but I’m starting to reflect each day if I served with honor that day.  If I followed the Spirit, and served others to the best of my ability.  The Lord is ready to work wonders through us missionaries, if we are exactly obedient and work our hardest.  In the end, it will really be God who is working the miracle, but if we’re doing the right thing, we’ll have the privilege to be part of the miracle.

I learned this through a really special experience I had this past week.  Elder Lopes and I have had a hard time lately finding new investigators.  So, one night, when we were planning our next day, I decided to look through some old teaching records.  When we teach somebody who doesn’t accept, we keep the record, so that other missionaries in the future can see the progress this person had, and continue teaching them.  I found the record of w a woman named Zeneide.  The missionaries taught her about five or six years ago, but she decided to stop investigating.  The missionaries wrote on the record that Zeneide’s husband was interfering, and for this reason didn’t get baptized.  But Elder Lopes and I decided to pass by and see if she would be more receptive this time.

The next day (Tuesday) we went to her address and clapped outside her house.  She came out and we started talking to her a bit.  We then asked if her husband was home, because it’s a rule that we can’t enter a house with women when there isn’t a man present.  It was then that she said, “No, my husband died last Friday.”

WOW… I was kind of dumbstruck for a moment. What do you say to a statement like that?  But we told her that we’d like to share a message of comfort with her, and she accepted.  Luckily, her 30 year old son was with her, so we could enter the house!  We taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she liked it a lot.  It was really spiritual.  After the lesson, she said she felt more peaceful when we arrived.  She then asked if her sister had sent us.  We said no, and asked what she meant.  She then told us that here sister is a member!  Even more, her niece attends the Bairro Novo ward!!!!  Whaaat!?

Zeneide is amazing, and she is really progressing.  Her niece took her to church this last Sunday, and she liked it a lot!  Also, we left the Book of Mormon with her, and she read all the parts we marked.  We asked her if she understood everything, and she said that she did.  She then continued saying that the missionaries before had asked her to read (it turns out that several sets of missionaries have already passed by to teach her) but she never had understood any of the Book of Mormon.  But now, it’s as if she was reading the Book for the first time. 

After, we asked if she prayed to know that it was true and she said that she had and knows that it was true!!  Yesss! We then taught a bit about Baptism (using liberally 2 Nephi 31.  Read it) and invited her to be baptized on April 29th.  She started to cry, and she accepted. She then said that at church she feels like she is with Family.  She is…..

This experience has really humbled me.  It’s taught me a lot.  First, God always has people being prepared.  We just need to follow the Spirit, and work hard to feed them.  Second, we missionaries don’t convert people; God does, through the Spirit.  Zeneide was quite literally handed to us  --  we didn’t perform the miracle, God did.  And third, if we do our part, God will bless us.  We just need to have patience.  I’m reminded of the story of the Brother of Jared with this situation.  Ether 3:  1-6.  The Brother of Jared was being obedient, and worked to solve problems.  He molted the stones and then brought the stones to the Lord, and prayed.  Because of his obedience and faith, God preformed the miracle  -- what’s more, he saw the finger of God.  With what happened with Zeneide, I have had the opportunity to clearly see the Lord’s hand here. 

But the work keeps going here, and I still have a lot to improve.  I have to pray every day for the strength to do all that I need to, and to look for ways to better serve.  I’m trying to teach better, and show more love for those I teach.  It’s hard, but the more we forget ourselves and go to work, the more God blesses us, and the happier we’ll be.

Something hard is the language.  I’ve gotten to the point where I could go through the rest of my mission with the language skills I have now, and get by.  But that’s not what I want, or what the Lord wants. Now, I hae to force myself to improve continually.  Continue working on my accent, improving my vocabulary and saying things the way Brazilians say it.  I just need to continue improving. 

I got the Easter package!  Wow, it helped a lot.  I needed another pair of pants. And that sweater will save me when winter comes.  What’s more, I’ve been meaning to change up my look with a rockin sweater vest.  THANKS!!!

I’ve been getting letters lately from my Folsom friends.  I got a letter from Elder Hodson, Elder White and Elder Olpin.  They’re doing great, and having lots of success.  Elder Hodson is already training a new missionary.  They’re being a really great example for me  -- they always have. 

Things are going amazing here, and I want to know how it’s going out there.  How is our neighbor?  How is dad’s job and calling going?  How is school going for Autumn?  She’s already going to be a Senior, it’s crazy.  Where is Amber living now?  How is Bentley?   How’s Aaron and his family?  How’s the scripture study going?  How was conference?  What was your favorite part?  Is Autumn still dating black boys?  Tell me everything. 

Oh, by the way, thanks for the journals.  I’m trying my best to write every day, but sometimes I’m too busy.  But I’m seeing more and more the importance of keeping a journal!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Vera - J- Walking

April 4, 2012 – letter  (received April 19)

Dear Family

Well, we just finished conference yesterday, and all I can think is how blessed we are to have inspired men chosen of God to lead us.

One phrase I really like was when Dallin H. Oaks said, “the symbols of OUR Christian Faith is the lives of our members:”  WOOO, what a responsibility.  We’ve got to be good.  We can’t just go through the motions; we’ve got to really believe the Gospel.

Now I’m making goals to follow the council of the Prophets and Apostles.  Wow, there are a lot of things to work on!  Lately I’ve been studying the Christ like attributes, and it’s been amazing.  I encourage you guys to do the same, and make specific goals to develop that attribute!  For example, I’ve made the goal to serve Elder Lopes in some way if I have a negative thought about him, even if it’s something stupid, like get some water for him.  It’s fun.

The Lord is blessing us a lot here.  I don’t know if you remember Vera, that lady that we baptized, we’re seeing real miracles with her. She’s the most firm baptism I’ve had yet!  The week before her baptism, the gas valve connected to the water heater broke, so she had to be baptized in cold water!  A 59 year old lady, being dunked in cold water!!??  Yes, that’s what we do as missionaries.  Haha.  But we asked her afterward how it was with the cold water, and she said she didn’t even feel the cold, because she was filled with the Spirit.  That’s conversion.  She’s amazing.

After the baptism, our bishop gave her a special Liahona about the Temple, so that she could prepare to go to the Temple.  We passed by to see how she was later that day, and she already had read the entire Liahona!!  She even shared a story that she really liked in the Liahona with us!  Just like a visiting teacher already.

Now, we’re talking a lot about family home evening.  She lives with just her and her 11 year old granddaughter, Camilla.  Camilla is a really sad situation.  Camilla is the only child of Vera’s daughter with a man I don’t know (for present purposes I have dubbed him Vagabond)  Vera’s daughter is really negative about what happened with Vagabond, so she kind of treats Camilla poorly.  Well, not kind of, for example, Vera’s daughter takes her sons of her present husband to activities, like the waterpark, or to church.  But she never invites Camilla.  Camilla only has Vera.  So now, we’re trying to baptize Camilla.  She’s such a good girl.  Vera and Camilla are already holding Family nights, and reading the Book of Mormon together.  In fact, Vera and Camilla each drew an Easter bunny picture for Elder Lopes and I, and gave them to us.  It’s now on our refrigerator.  Camilla is so great, and Vera is helping her so much.  She’s going to Church this Sunday, and soon after we’re going to baptize her.  She’s going to start attending Primary, and things will start looking up for her, because the Lord will bless her.

We’re praying a lot of them, but I’m sure that it will turn out fine.

For now, I’m still in my first area!  Bairro Novo.  It’s amazing here, I love it.  There are always people who the Lord is preparing.

OK time for the weird thing in Brazil


The strange thing is that here J-walking is not only perfectly legal, but it’s basically the only way to cross the street here. The delinquent juvenile and the humble family alike break this American Law.  But that’s ok, because we look both ways here in Brazil. 

Lot of Love

Elder Twitchell

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lord affects every facet of the work 4-16-12

April 16, 2012
Ok my favorite scripture right now is

Alma 26:22 -- 22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works,
and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.

Yeeeeeeah, this scripture is the beez neez. If this is tooo long, you can also use

2 Nephi 31:20 -- 20 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.

or 3 Nephi 27:20, -- 20 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. which is even shorter.

These scriptures are the scriptures of gold to all missionaries everywhere.

This week has been amazing! tons of amazing things are happening here in Bairro Novo, that I’m
going to write in my letter to you guys. It’s been amazing. We're going to have a baptism this week. I don't remember if I told you guys about John, this teenager that we've been teaching. We tried to baptize him like a month ago, but it didn't happen. However, now he is suuuper firm, and wants to be baptized! He has a hard situation, because no one in his family is supporting him that much with the baptism, but he is making lots of friends in the church, and is still super excited, so we're going to go ahead with the baptism. It will be great, I’ll be sure to tell you more next week.
I'm starting to see really clearly how much the Lord affects every facet of the work here. I'll say
more about it in my letter, but I’ve pretty much learned that I don't do anything. God uses missionaries as an intermediary for the spirit. Without the spirit, nothing happens. I try to force myself every day to be even more obedient and work even harder to have the spirit, so that we can have success.
I can't believe Autumn's going to be a Senior already!!!! bleeeeah what the heck!? haha, it seems like yesterday I was starting my Senior year. I thought I was the most mature person on the planet. Now I know that I was a snot noised kid (still am :P)
I hope that all is going well in the USA. It sounds like you are all super busy, with visits, and the
new baby, and STAR testing, and everything else. I've been pretty busy too. But I’m still writing you guys letters, and I think next week I’ll send you more pictures. Autumn should be expecting a letter from me too, I sent it last week.
Tell me how everyone is doing--Dad, Mom, Autumn, Amber, Alicia, Aaron. How is San Jose? How is President Hoggan? How is Mitt Romney doing? How is the Family prayers and scripture reading going? What more do you guys want to know about Brazil, I’m already running out of ideas to write you.

I love you guys a ton!
Have a great week!
Elder Twitchell

Pictures - Botanical Gardens

Elder Avram Tyler Twitchell
At Botanical Gardens - Curitiba Brazil

Elder Twitchell
Elder Twitchell and Elder Brino (1st companion)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter - Amanda Baptism

April 9, 2012
This week has been amazing! The Lord is blessing us with so many miracles, it´s ridiculous. We definitely don´t deserve it.
They do celebrate Easter here. In fact, it´s basically the same thing. They eat chocolate eggs, and have the Easter bunny. It´s such a strange tradition, isn´t? Haha, the members here in Bairro Novo definitely did NOT forget us this Easter. I think we received 16 boxes of chocolate, along with other assorted goodies from the members. lol, it was so much. I took a picture of all the
chocolate we received, you´ll. By the end of church, we had two backpacks full of chocolate, along with two other bags that we carried with us. We knew that we would get sick of the chocolate fast, so we decided to take some of the chocolate to our investigators. We gave three boxes of chocolate to this family of recent converts, to Vera (who in return gave us a little bag of chocolates :P), and also to Amanda and Danilo.
So, Amanda was baptized on Saturday!!! wooohooo! Wow, it was such an amazing experience. I started teaching Amanda the first week that I arrived in Brazil! At that time, Danilo was less active, and Amanda really wasn´t that interested in the gospel. But on Saturday, I saw Danilo--a worthy holder of the priesthood--baptize his wife, Amanda. It was such a great experience.
I also had the opportunity to confirm Vera as a member of the Church yesterday! haha, she loved it, she loves everything about the church.
I did get the Easter package, thanks a ton! Now I’m not going to freeze when Winter comes in June. I´ll be nice and warm ;)
I´m running out of time to write you, but this week was a really special week for me, I’ll write more about it in my letter to you!
Elder Twitchell

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Uncle

April 2, 2012

Dear Family,
Woooooooooooow I´m an uncle one more time! haha, congratulations to baby Bentley and the family! Bentley Adam Sink, powerful name! I can´t wait to meet the little guy.
Ok, so I stayed here in Bairro Novo with Elder Lopes! Woohoo! haha, but I think this will be my last one. I think I might even be here for mother’s day! lol, that´d be strange, I’ll Skype you in the same place I Skype you the last time. I don´t know how the others tell about the transfers, because we only use the computer on P-day.
So, Elder Trevisanut was transferred to my Zone! haha, it was a happy surprise to find out. It was funny, we watched conference together. So now we´ve spent two conferences together. haha. But Elder Trevisanut is doing great, he´s really excited about the area in which he´s serving.
Conference was amaaaazing!!! wowowowow, I wrote like 30 pages of notes. I was reading in the Liahona before about how to prepare for conference, and one of the things it suggested was to come to conference with specific questions in mind. So, I wrote down a few questions for myself, and watched conference with these questions in minds. I want to say to you now--the Lord inspires the Prophet and Apostles, and the messages they share are not to the Church at large--they´re for you, personally. I especially liked the story about the two missionaries who went to the house of that man that received them less than warmly. ´I thought I told you Mormons not to come back here, and wham, slammed the door! As the missionaries were walking away, the more experienced missionary put his arm on the shoulders of the other to comfort him. This demonstration of love touched the heart of the less-than-receptive man, who then opened the door and invited the missionaries to come in. Wow, that one I think was especially for me. I need to show more love for the people, even if they reject me. Sometimes afterwards, when people just turn their back and leave, I feel annoyed or angry because they don´t want to hear me. What, you don´t want to be saved in the Lord´s everlasting Celestial kingdom? Fine. But that´s not the right way. I need to be more concerned with them, and act more with love. I was studying Sunday morning a bit more about charity and love, and I found a scripture really powerful. I only have my Portuguese Book of Mormon with me right now, so I can´t quote it, but it´s
1 Nephi 19:9, And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men
and it talks about how the Lord responded to the people that rejected him. It was really powerful.
So, with the rest of the work here, it´s going good. Amanda is still firm for April 7th to be baptized, and now I get to stay here to see it! I´m suuuper excited, certainly I’m going to cry. I´ll take pictures.
Also, we´re working on the grandchild of Vera, Camilla, who lives with her. Vera wants Camilla to be baptized also. Your wish is our command Vera ;) I´m really happy for Vera, she is such a strong member already.
Ok, I gotta go, send my love for Bentley and his family!
Love Elder Twitchell