Thursday, November 21, 2013

Week Twenty Seven - Getting Ready for Winter!

Lakewood Spanish Elders with the ward mission leader, Brother Todd on transfer day!

Elder Crockett and Elder Williams saying goodbye....

David gets a generous gift from Jess to get him ready for winter!

David and his third companion in Texas, Elder Haskell!

Buenos dias mis amigos! 

  Another week down here in Dallas, and let me tell you, it was a quick one!  Sounds like a pretty eventful week for y'all back home!  I'm diggin the ride, pops!  Dad looks younger than ever standing next to the beautiful machine!  What color you gonna paint it?  You should paint a Texas flag on the hood... not!  That would be a horrible idea.  After 6 months in Texas, I still have a hard time seeing where the "Texas Pride" comes from.  What is there to be proud of here?  I mean, it's not a bad place, but it certainly makes me miss Utah!  All you Texans out there, please don't be offended.  Ha!  Just my personal opinion.  I'm a Utard and proud of it! 
I will pray for your safety in your trip to Brazil.  Take lots of pictures!  In a few weeks I want an envelope in the mail full of pictures!  I cannot imagine how anxious you two are!  You've raised a fine young man in that there Tommy Boy.  You should be proud.  Em, I'm glad I'm not the member of the family that will be missing out on the most epic family vacation ever!  We will make the padres make it up to us here in a couple of years ; )
   Elder Haskell and I had an alright week here in LakeWood.  It went by fast, but not too much success.  Lately, we have just felt like chickens running around with our heads cut off.  We have been doing far too much knocking that doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere.  We have very few investigators that are dependable, keeping commitments, and have desires to learn about the gospel.  In a sense, I still feel like I don't know how to be a missionary.  However, Ismael, the new member I told you about last week, is willing and motivated to help us out, so we are going to try to execute a few of his ideas coming up here soon.  But if any of y'all have any ideas or past experiences with activities that brought success, hit me up!   Luis has now come to church twice, but he just got a job last week so it has been hard to set something up with him.  He had to cancel on us three times this last week!  It is very frustrating, but hopefully he just needs to get settled in to the job and his schedule will be more regular from here on it.  The good thing is that at least he lets us know and tries to reschedule with us.  He is a different cat in a good way.  Very considerate, responsible, and dependable.  We are meeting with him tonight and I'm sure it will go well. 
   I went on an exchange this week with Elder Welker, and he has been out for 3 weeks.  My first time being companions with someone younger than me!  It was a good experience.  He was still in that deer-in-the-headlights stage, so it was all on me!  We taught a few lessons, and he told me I teach well and I taught him more in 24 hours than his trainer had taught him in 3 weeks.  BooYa baby!  I may be getting a hang of this mission thing after all!  But after a day with Elder Welker, it definitely made me thankful for the companion I have right now!  Elder Haskell is a lot of fun.  He is definitely the best friend I have made on the mission so far.  He tries to pick fights with me all the time, but I always win.  Real humble dude though.  Ha! 
   So the highlight of this week was a man by the name of Jess Johnson.  He delivers Bibles to the place where we do service.  Elder Crockett and I met him months ago, and he gave us his card and told us to call him to go get a burger with him sometime.  We never did.  Two weeks ago, we met him again at service, and he extended the offer once more.  I couldn't turn down free food twice, so we went to a super nice restaurant on Tuesday and he made sure we left full!  He is a very interesting guy.  He served in Vietnam.  He is incredibly smart, successful, and wealthy.  He is one of those "all you need is a belief in Jesus Christ" guys.  And he does have an extremely firm faith in our Savior.  I think he is too smart, if you know what I mean, to ever accept the Church and be baptized.  But he likes us, a lot.  He said he sees potential in us and knows how to make us millionaires...?  And he has given us what seems to me to be really good advice.  But something just seemed fishy to me.  During lunch he brought up many of those most "touchy" doctrinal subjects in our church, so it was obvious he has done research.  He reeeally wants to help us out.   He wants to help us so much that it's just strange.  He wants to eat with us weekly.  He wants to teach us how to smoke brisket?  He knows a lot of people and he said he is going to work out deals with people to get us free weekly meals at restaurants.?  He donates winter clothes to vets every year, and offered to take us to his storage unit on Saturday and help us get ready for winter..?  and then, he asked us to call him Uncle Jess?!  Super strange.  And now that I think about it, that probably sounds very creepy since you guys don't know him.  Haha!  So Elder Haskell and I both just had this eery feeling about him, but he called us Saturday, and we went to get some winter clothes!  Then he took us to Marshall's, and insisted that he buy us a new white shirt and some gloves.  I didn't know what to do, so I just let him serve me!  He told us not to thank him, but thank Christ.  So he is a super interesting guy.  At first, I was worried that he was going to expect something out of us, and I wanted to call Dad to get his opinion and advice on this guy!  But now I'm just starting to think that he is just a kind-hearted dude that likes to serve and give back.  He doesn't seem like a bad guy to know for the future.  He knows people all over the world, and he is constantly traveling, and he seems to have life figured out.  He even has a radio show!  He's gonna be in Hawaii for the next three weeks, and he told us he would bring us back a t shirt.  I don't know what to think about this guy.  Let me know if you think I am in danger haha I really don't feel like I am, but y'all are much more experienced and knowledgeable than I am.  But chances are that I will be moved by the time he gets back from Hawaii, and I'll never see him again anyway! 

-No crazy storms here, but it has been crazy weather lately!  Half the week it was super cold, really crisp air, and we had coats and gloves and earmuffs on and we were still cold!  But the last two days, it's been so hot we're sweating!  Peeps say it does that all winter long here. 
-No letters or packages that I can remember.  I look forward to hearing from Emmy! 
-Elder Haskell has T25, which is a video exercise program, so most mornings the English elders pick us up, we go to the church, and workout to these videos for 25 minutes.  Elder Haskell found some old preworkout that another missionary left in another apartment, and we took it for the first time this morning.  These T25 videos are just high intensity nonstop moving for 25 minutes straight, and normally we are so tired that we are only able to workout for about 10 of that haha!  The rest of the time we just wine and complain about how hard it is, how tired we are, and how out of shape we are.  But with this preworkout, Elder Haskell and I were pumped!  We worked out for the full 25 minutes and even jogged home to our apartment!  And now I feel fantastic!  Today I gained a testimony of the power of true exercise in the mornings as a missionary. 
-I'm still set on snack food.  I think I will survive til Christmas without a package.  I can't think of anything I really need right now.  Thanks though!

Holy Tolito this is a long one.  Sorry!  I'm just loving life right now, lots going on!   Thanks for letting me know about Savannah, and yes, please, keep me filled in if you can.  Pray for those missionaries and philipinos!  Safe travels to Brazil.  Give brother Tom my greetings, love, and felizidades!  I still love ya, still miss ya, still pray for y'all.  Until next time!  Not sure when exactly that will be, but it won't be long! 

con amor, Elder Williams

Week One Hundred One - Last Email Home!!

Tom in front of a beautiful waterfall!
Baptism of Dafne and Paula.

Barefoot Tom!

Good morning!

             Hey, rapidão, I know it´s Tuesday. Yesterday the Internet was down the whole day in the entire city so we weren´t able to send e-mail. But they gave us a little time to do it now. Just wanted to say that....  I´m extremely grateful for being able to serve a full time mission here in Brazil. When I left, my desire to serve was not strong. And to actually have the desire to serve did not come quickly here in the mish. But it came, and I´m so glad that it did. I´m grateful to know Brazilians because they are so outgoing and fun, it´s exactly what i needed. I´m grateful for all the love and worrying that everyone at home showed me and here in the mish too. The mish was the best thing that ever happened to me and I think I´m telling the truth when I say that it was the best 2 years. I know the gospel is true and changes the lives of everyone who tries to live it, and I´m grateful for the changes that I saw in everyone who accepted my companion and I in their house to be able to share this gospel, and also for the changes that occurred in me.
       About my week, it was good. We had 2 more baptisms, 2 girls, Paula and Dafne, which are related to Neto, the boy who was baptized last week. We´ve been teaching a lot, and have some peeps that went to church and liked it a lot. I´m hoping to have one more baptism this week on Friday, maybe a little before getting the boat to Santarém. And yesterday we, with some members, went to a waterfall, which was super cool! I´ll show some pics!
What time does your flight get in on Sunday?  Do you think we could come to the airport to meet you? I think it gets there around 5 or 5:30, and yeah I think you can come get me.

Other than your ipod, Tom's, shorts and tee shirts, can you think of anything else you want me to bring?  David had been using your ipod, but I loaded it up with all of your Rise Against music at least. Nope.

Do you think you'll be able to leave any of your stuff at the mission home while we travel around? I think I can.

Any treats you want me to bring you?..... nope, tudo bem.

Is your hair getting kind of long?  Looked like it in those last pictures you sent - but I like it! yup, I haven´t cut it in about 3months now, and I don´t think I will ever cut it again!

Pics The baptism of Dafne and Paula, and me in front of the waterfall.

But that´s all. I love you all and I´m super anxious and excited to be able to see you just a few days from now. I loved the car dad, I accept it, it´s perfect, muito obrigado. I´ll see ya´ll later! Tchau

Monday, November 11, 2013

Week Twenty Six - Amazing Converts and a New Friend From Murray!

My most dearest friends and family,

  Well, I am happy to hear that all is peachy and wonderful back home.  I miss you all greatly.  I think about you all often.  And it brings a sonrisa to my face hearing about the blessed lives you all live.  We had a zone conference on Thursday.  We talked about how the first point of the first lesson we share is "God is our Loving Heavenly Father".  We talked about WHY that is the very first thing we generally share with people.  We were asked to really think about what it means to us to know that God is our Loving Heavenly Father.  What does it mean to you?  I know that I have a Loving Heavenly Father, and my testimony of this has grown and is constantly growing as I recognize and realize all the things that he has done for me and blessed me with.  Because I know the God is my Loving Heavenly Father, I know that he will help me be my best self.  I know that he will prepare a way for me to accomplish what I came here to do.  I know that he will prepare a way for me to find eternal happiness.  And I know he does and will do the same for all of you!  I am grateful to have a knowledge that God is my Loving Heavenly Father. 
   Elder Haskell and I had a pretty good week.  We are spending a lot of time trying to find new people, because most of the people we meet are flaky, don't keep commitments, and don't have desires to change or even try to find out if our message is true.  I don't get it.  I wish I knew what it was like to have missionaries knock on my door and try to tell me that they have a message about Jesus Christ and His restored church that can significantly bless my life and help me with whatever challenges I am facing in life.  Why wouldn't you want to accept that?  Why wouldn't you want to learn more about this so called "fullness of the Gospel"?  Why wouldn't you want to act on our invitation to just read and go to God himself to receive a personal answer?  WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE?!?  Unfortunately, I will never know what that is like.  We only have one progressing investigator right now.  It seems like no one else will even give us the time of day.  But I do know that God has prepared more people here  than just one, and through exercising faith and hard work, He will put them in our path. 
   Last night we had a new member of the ward come out with us.  His name is Ismael.  He just moved here with his family from Murray!  They lived by the Fashion Place Mall.  Small world!  He is from Mexico, but he is pretty Americanized.  He served a few years back in Arizona.  He is thee cooolest dude!  Last night he bashed very impressively with some JW's, he taught us a bunch of Spanish, as well as some different approaches to missionary work.  He is incredibly humble and genuine, pure and kind hearted.  I am thankful for the examples the Lord puts in my life.  The world is filled with amazing people!  The craziest part is that he is a convert, baptized at 19, and served a mission just one year later.  Sometimes I wish I was a convert to the Church.  It seems like all the best missionaries are either converts, not from Utah, or both.  Converts can relate to investigators so much better and share inspiring conversion stories.  I think it is easy to take the Gospel for granted, especially when you are born and raised in the Church.  Converts amaze me. 
   We finally got Michael Chefchis to come to church for the first time since he was baptized 8 months ago.  It was a pain in the behind though, I felt like I was looking after a 6 year old!  Luis also came to church for the second week in a row.  We went to the singles ward with him and he seemed to really like it!  There are lots of great young folks in that ward that tried to make him feel at home.  I gave a Book of Mormon card to a lady with an Albanian accent thinking it might be a Spanish accent.  Are they close or was that just a way off assumption?  We had a pretty typical week.  No real milagros, nothing too devastating.  Just another week in el campo. 

-I got the package with my pants and ring and bag and chocolates.  Gracias!  Other than that, I don't remember receiving anything else.
-You can hold off on pizza until maybe next week.  We have lots of member dinners this week.  Thanks though!  
-We haven't seen David for three weeks.  He thought he would only be in prison for a week, but he is still in there and he doesn't know when he will be free.  He tried calling me the other night, the it said it would cost 10 bucks for 10 minutes, so I panicked and hung up.  I didn't know what to do!  Hopefully he will be out soon and call us once he is free. 
-We are actually going to the Temple as a zone on the 21 of this month because we had the best numbers for the month of October.  I think the temple rule in the mission is once every six months, only when you are serving in an area within an hour of the temple.  I'm stoked to go! 

When do you leave for Brazil and when do you come back?  I'm jealous I am going to miss out on such an epic family trip, so just take lots of pictures!  The image of Dad and Toby in the orange truck driving up the canyon on a crisp fall Utah day is a beautiful image.  Haha!  but That's my week.  This is my life.  Thanks for the quote!  I'm happy to be where I am today.  I know this is where God wants me.  I love my Loving Heavenly Father.  I love the precious message I share everyday with Texans.  I love putting on a name tag everyday and standing out from the rest of the world!  I'm looking forward to another week of striving to build the Kingdom.  Les extrano y les amo bastante!  Hasta luego! 

Elder Williams

Week One Hundred - Second to Last Email Home!!!

Tom going to the river!

Tom and his district!

The boys having some pizza! 

Baptisms of Julia and Neto!

Bom Dia minha família!

       I hope all is well, and that no one is too anxious for me to return. It´s just tom.... a pessoa mais sem graça do mundo.... But... about my week, it was quite good. Our district leader from Obidos, E. Guedes came over with his companion E. Nores. I worked one day with E. Guedes and the other day with E. Nores, which was nice because.... my companion bugs me a little bit. But we worked hard. E. Guedes is really cool. He´s from Orem, but he´s a Brazilian, because both parents are Brazilians, he´s got about a year out in the mish, he works really well and invites everyone he talks to to be baptized. E. Nores, I think I´ve already talked about him. He´s from Peru, he has learned Portuguese well until now, and he speaks even more than my Brazilian companion with 9 months in the field. So the 2 days with them were great. Saturday we had 2 baptisms. 2 youngsters, Julia who is 10 and is the daughter of a less active member that´s returning to the church, and Neto who is 11 and his 2 best friends are members, so we took the opportunity to benefit from that. And his little sister, cousin and a little neighbor girl also said they want to be baptized so next week.... more baptisms! (for the primary! wooooh!). Sunday was a good day. We took a youngster to church with us, Jonai, he´s 16, and he´s preparing to be baptized on the 23rd. And a woman visited the church too, Luciene. I called her about 10 times in the morning to see if she was going to go, but nada. And as we were entering the church, I called again, she attended and said she was already getting ready. 15 minutes later, she arrived wooohoo! It´s always nice to have peeps at church. They both liked the church and said they´d go again next week, so I´m happy bout that. Unfortunately, their baptisms (if they arrive until that point) will be complicated, because on the 24th, Sunday, I get my plane, but I have to leave on the 22nd because Saturday doesn´t have boats to Santarém at night. Jonai could be baptized Saturday afternoon maybe, or a little before getting my boat to Santarém, but Luciene works every day except Sunday from morning until night, que sorte. I really want to baptize in my last week of the mish, seria ótimo!
     But the week was good, I learned a bunch with my district leader, it was fun, we ate pizza and had some ice cream, 2 BAPTISMS! .... o que mais posso dizer?...... EGUA! only one more Sunday here in Brazil, tu é doido! And one more p-day! NOSSA! O fim chegou, mas não é o fim de verdade, só o fim do começo! (the mish secretery sent this message to all of us who are ending the mish this month - The end came, but the end is not really, just the end of the beginning!).
Have you been e-mailing your brother?  Has he been e-mailing you? I e-mailed him last week, but he hasn´t said anything back yet.

Do you remember a girl in Santarem named Carla?  She is on facebook and I am friends with her.  She told me that when we come to Santarem, she wants to take us to the Brazilian Caribbean, which is Altar Do Chao. Yup, how could I forget?

Do you have to go to any more zone meetings in the next couple of weeks before you are done? I will only have one more district meeting with the Elderes from Obidos, in obidos, but that´s it.

How are your new boots working out? When my companion arrived he said he had some shoes that he didn´t like much and said I could use them, so the boots já era!

Pics! Julia´s and Neto´s baptisms. Pizza with the district! Our first district meeting together in Obidos and... me going to the river to show E. Nores (the peruano) that it is better than Obidos.

But that´s all. Have a great week. I love you all. Get excited! you´ll only receive one more e-mail and then you can see me in person wooooooohhh! I love you all... again.!   Tchau!

Elder R. Williams

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Week Twenty Five - Grateful for Change and Halloween Blessing!

Buenos dias mi querido familia y amigos! 

   Boy oh boy does it feel good to have a new companion!  Change is gooood.  Elder Haskell is great.  He is the first companion that I've had that actually seems my age, which is funny because he is the oldest in the mission out of the companions that I have so far had.  Elder Crockett and Sheffer seemed very mature and just older than me.  Elder Haskell is a real goofball, he is positive, laid back, and tons of fun!  I don't see how anyone could ever not get along with this kid!  I have a great feeling about this transfer.  We are also in a district again.  They reopened an old area, so our district leader is Elder Jones, and he is training a new missionary named Elder Welker.  Elder Jones is great.  He has been out 18 months.  He is a convert to the church, and was only a member for a year before going on a mission.  It amazes me because he has such an incredible, firm testimony in the gospel.  I guess 18 months of being a missionary will do that to most.  He is the only member in his family, and his parents don't know much about the LDS faith.  He says his mom always sends him useless stuff, like underwear!  hahaha!  He's a great guy, I think I'll learn a lot from him, and it feels good to be in a district again! 
   Halloween was on a weekly planning day, and we were asked to stay inside all day unless we had scheduled appointments.  But Elder Haskell wanted to go to WalGreen's to print off some pictures.  So we did!  And as we walked out the door, a man stopped us and asked us to give him a blessing for a tooth ache.  We were right next to the church, so that's where we went to give the blessing.  We got to talk to him for a bit and figure out his situation.  He is not a member, but his wife is a strong member.  He has held callings in the church like Scout Master, he obviously believes in the Priesthood power, and he reads the Book of Mormon regularly.  The only reason why he hasn't been baptized yet is because he has a "hard time" with a modern day prophet.  ?  I just don't get some people.  If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and he called prophets in biblical times, why on earth wouldn't he call a prophet today?!  We have the priesthood authority and the Book of Mormon because of a modern day prophet!  The Gospel and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints just make too much sense for me to doubt.  Every bit of it!  Some people are so frustrating.  Probably more than just some people actually.  But we told him to read a general conference, gave him a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon, and the rest is up to him.  I felt like we handled it the best we could!  Halloween night we went to TacoBell for dinner with our district, and then went to a church building for a zone party where we mostly just played basketball.  Hijole I am out of shape!  We did insanity this morning and I about died!  Being out of shape is no divertido.
   Luis came to church yesterday!  I wish all of our investigators could speak English.  That would make things so much easier in an English ward!  Because Luis seemed to really enjoy.  He said he felt at peace even with all the crying and screaming babies and kids!  The Gospel is a gift from God.  The Church is true.  The Spirit is real.  The Priesthood is powerful.  Having an investigator at church is a good feeling.  I'm going to work hard to have an investigator at church every Sunday! 

-I recieved Grandma's package and Dad's letter.  Muchisimos gracias!  Exactamente lo que necesitaba!
-We do have daylight savings time here.  Luckily our district leader reminded us that night, otherwise we would have forgotten!  So we got to enjoy an extra hour of sleep, but now it gets dark here at about 5:30, which makes work a little more difficult.  Pero esta bien! 
-hoodies are perfect.  Gracias!
-you could just send me both the pants and the bag.  I'll still use my backpack for bikeriding, but that other one would be nice for meetings and suches.  Also, if you can find my CTR ring, I would love it if you could send me that tambien.  I believe I left it in one of the side pockets of my black, gym nike bag.  It's either behind the basement couch or in my room.  If the ring isn't in that bag, then I have no idea where it is, so don't worry about it.  No rush.
-for the most part, this week has been really nice.  I wore my coat once, and I'm wearing a sweater today.  It's still looks really green outside from what I can see, so I don't know.  I miss the smell of dead leaves. 

-Elder Haskell showed me a talk this week by Troy Dunn, a football player and EFY speaker.  It's called "Life is a football game" or something like that.  Probably the most entertaining talk I've ever heard in my life.  Y'all should check it out!

Welp.  That's my week.  All is well.  Love y'all and miss y'all as always.  Until next time! 

Elder Williams     

Monday, November 4, 2013

Week Ninety Nine - Getting Down to the Wire!


Tom's apartment!

The kitchen!

The closet!

Good morning family!

             And so it begins! My last month in the mish. I don´t think it has hit me yet that I´m so close to being done. At the end of every transfer, there has always been one more transfer, but we are already half way through the last one ever and just about 22 days from now I will be able to see you. eggggguuuuuuaaaaa...... My week here was pretty good. We´ve been trying to find new peeps to teach. Some received us very well and were very kind, and I have very high hopes for them, others were just kind of meh..... bleh..... see ya later...  We´re teaching the daughter of a less actively family that is returning to the church and this week she will be baptized along with 2 other rapazinhos (I hope). This week we heard a lot about how the church began here in Oriximiná. It´s quite interesting, the church grew extremely quickly here and at a time even had 2 branches with 3 missionary duplas, so it makes sense that a lot of people have already heard of the church here.
       My companion is still pretty quiet, but at least it gives me more opportunities to speak, which I´m liking. I´m thinking now that if I would´ve worked just a little bit harder and put a little more effort into it, I could´ve trained a newbie here in the mish (I think almost any Brazilian newbie would speak more than he does), but he´s learning to converse a little more every day, and I don´t have a right to complain because I used to be just like him. Being that I´m at the end of my mish I´m in need of some hands to push me but he´s doing that a little and also my district leader is helping out. Com certeza, vou terminar a missão trabalhando!
Did you ever hear back from the Mission President of office about when you will go back to Belem?I received an e-mail today with details of my plane ticket (or maybe it´s actually the ticket) and it appears that I will return to Belém on the 24th, which is Sunday. So I´m probably going to get a boat to Santarém on the 22nd, which is Friday, because there are no boats on Saturdays. But I guess I won´t be able to get you guys at the airport. I´m so sorry for your loss.....

Did you do anything on Halloween?  Any parties at church or anything? NOPE! NOTHING! I heard a woman say that some reverend or whatever they´re called of some church said that our church is a cult because we participate in /on Halloween, which is something that I think everyone does regardless of religion in the states, I´m pretty sure, seu burro pastor!

I think I told you that Elder Hoch's parents are coming on the same flights we are.  He is in Santarem, right now, so they are trying to figure out if they need to go to Santarem or Belem.  Have you heard if all of the leaving missionaries go back into Belem to the mission home? All missionaries return to Belém before going home.

Is your companion any more talkative since you have been around him this past week or is he still really quiet? eh, more or less.

You asked for it so you got it! PICS OF THE PLACE! and a pic of óbidos, the city I worked in for 2 days waiting for my new companion.

But that´s all. I lvoe you all and miss you and am so excited to be able to seesyas soon! Have a great week. Tchau Tchau!

Love Elder R. Williams