Email received January 26, 2015

What a week it was this week! I have had a throat cold all week which is odd because there is almost nothing "cold" here in brasil! But we continued to work hard and give it our best.

     Monday we had a lovely Crab dinner in the house of some investigators! (Pictures should be posted of that) We then visited a couple people and had a fairly uneventful P-Day.

     Tuesday is a bit of a blur. I had left my planner in the house of an investigator, so I don´t have much reference of what we did that day. Still had good visits though. We started doing a daily visit for the investigators closest to baptism. On that note! We are going to be baptized a young man and his brother this saturday!!! BATISMO MEU AMIGO!! We are very excited as are they! They are both super excited to be baptized and start their new life in the church!

     Wednesday started off with a surprise. The ZL and his temporary comp showed up at our house at  in the morning in P-Day clothes.... Odd.. They said that they were there to help us clean up our house. It was very very dirty.... So we spent the morning cleaning up the house. Also!! We went a couple days without water in the house. I don´t remember which days. But a couple solid days. So we had to shower in the house of a member those days. But the water returned! So all was back in order!

     Thursday was the 22nd of January. I completed the first 3 months of the mission that day!!! Seems like only a short time that I left home! Thursday was a busy and long day. We had lunch in one of the longer parts of the area and the sister forgot until like 10 minutes before we got there. So it was a very simple meal, but it was very good!! After that we stayed there for a bit before coming back close to the house. We visited a couple people, made a couple contacts. Then we had FHE in the house of a member. It went well! We had 4 investigators there! They all loved it! After that it was just time to wrap up the day.

     Friday was a good day as always! We visited an investigator in the morning and read part of the Book of Mormon with him. Then lunch and after lunch we visited the kids that will be baptized this coming saturday (31st). We helped him and his mom with their daily stock of corn that the mom sells in a plaza close to the house. Her corn is delicious!!! We visited one of our new investigators that day and man was it... interesting. At the start of everything she talked a little and then she said she would let us talk about our message now! Great!! Almost a solid hour and a half later, we finally got a word in to say that we had to go. AN HOUR AND A HALF STRAIGHT!!!! She just kept talking!!!!!!!!!! Not sure how we will ever have a chance to teach her!

     Saturday we dropped in to visit some investigators before lunch and talked with them for a while. They gave us ice cream :) Which is oddly 100000 times better when it´s boiling hot outside! funny how that works! Then we went off to lunch and man was it good!!! I had to muster all my strength just to stand up to leave after that lunch! Always very good there! Just visited more people and invited everyone to church the next day! Had a very good visit with one of the less active members! I have faith he´ll be reactivated soon!

     Sunday went well! We had 8 investigators in sacrament and they all liked it a lot!! Then we had another delicious lunch! After lunch we visited some people and had a very good and long talk with one of our investigators. He is so close to baptism! Just needs a little push!! I have confidence he´ll be baptized soon!

All in all it was a good week! Lots of good moments and also moments of weakness (due to his cold). But we worked hard and saw miracles and success! The Lord is truly blessing us!
I hope everyone is doing well and has a good week! Stay strong and work hard in all you do and the Lord will do the rest!

Elder Gunnoe

Dinner last p-day.  Crab with rice and beans!

The family that fed us that day

Was very good crab!

Panorama from the house

Breakfast every day :)  Bread and yogurt!

This young man and his brother will be baptized this Saturday!!!  BATISMO!!

This was outside our house blasting music all morning the other day

The mom of the kid and his brother sells corn on the cob in the plaza close to the house and it's DELICIOUS!!!!

Lunch yesterday

Elder Felipe and lunch

Guitar he purchased for 230 reais (a bit less than $90)

Email received January 19, 2015

Oi gente!
This week was a good one! Full of ups and downs, surprises, and just flat interesting things!

     Monday was a normal p-day. Nothing really exciting happened. We had to stay in or close to the house because of transfers. So we couldn´t really do anything.

     Tuesday is the same story for the first half of the day. We just stayed close to the house and chilled. We had lunch not too far from the house with an investigator family. It was a good lunch! After lunch was over one of their daughters took Elder Medina into the backyard to show him something. Elder Medina then came back inside and said that we should go look at what it was because it was a problem... When we saw what it was, I was very surprised! Never seen that many in one place! Hundreds and hundreds of ticks!!!! Hundreds of them! So we started burning them! Sounded like popcorn! It took forever to burn them! We kept finding more and more! During the process, One of the Zone Leaders showed up at the house with another elder from our zone. First thought was that I was being transferred. But they told us that no one was being transferred!! They were just there to drop off the new elder. I was so happy and relieved to hear that I was staying! So we went to get him and let him in the house. He´s a super cool kid! From São Paulo, was serving in Teresina and has 9 months on the mission. Super good kid! After that, we could finally get to work! We spent the last half of the day visiting people just close to the house. Had some good lessons and visits!

     Wednesday we visited good people and came across a couple new investigators! We had a birthday party shceduled in one of the member´s house, but we had to skip out because it didn´t even start until after 8 and we had an appointment at 8. So we missed that, but had a great lesson instead!

     Thursday Was a long day! We left at 730 that morning to go get money and get back at a decent hour. When we got back we visited some people close to the house and had a tough time finding anyone at home. It´s really hard to work in the morning and right after lunch. Everyone is either sleeping, preparing lunch, or not home. So from 10-4 is hard to work without appointments. After lunch we went off to our area of work for the day. We talked with an awesome investigator that we don´t get to see much! She is really funny and very excited and interested to learn more! She is truly one of the elect! After that we talked with a few more people before coming back to the house at 930.

     Friday didn´t really start until lunch time. We had one lesson before lunch, but that´s it. At lunch something really funny happened! We were finishing up the meal with Manga Rosa (Pink mango). The one that I grabbed wasn´t ripe, so it looked like a potato inside and was really hard and bitter. I had only cut 2 pieces out for Elder Felipe to try. He and I agreed it was no good. But we didn´t want to just leave it there. We were sitting next to a window, and outside this window was a wall dividing the properties. So Elder Felipe grabs the mango while the sister isn´t looking and chucks it over the wall!!! I about died from laughing so hard!!! Just chucked the thing over the wall! Definitely a funny sight! After lunch, we talked with more good people and made some contacts on the way.

     Saturday morning we talked with some kids who had a lot of questions. And we were able to answer them and he said we took away his doubts, so that was great! They both really liked what we talked about and were very interested! One of them said he´d like to become a Mormon! It was funny and awesome haha. After lunch, we went to one of the far away areas again to talk to the people there and invite them to church and all that jazz. We talked with the same investigator that we had talked to on thursday, and it was great! Always really good to talk to her! When we were coming back close to the house for a birthday party, we ran across one of the young men who was all wound up and anxious. He said that his step father and brother had a major fight and that the brother had a knife and was getting ready to go at the stepdad with it. He said if he hadn´t held his brother back, the stepdad would have been killed. After this his mom left the house and ran to another area because the stepdad was very very drunk and angry. The stepdad then got on his motorcycle and went after her. His brother then went and got her and took her to another house far away. We were helping him to stay calm and help look for her before the brother took her to the house. It was a pretty stressful situation for everyone involved. But to make it worse, the kid had taken the knife from his brother and was "keeping it safe" in the backpack that was on his back... REAL SMART! Carrying around a knife (big sucker too) in your backpack with a drunk father chasing down the son that was about to kill him. REAL SMART! We finally convinced him to get rid of the thing. He slept in a different house that night and I don´t know what happened after that. So Saturday was a day of major opposites!

     Sunday was a lot more relaxed than saturday! We had 4 investigators in sacrament and they all loved it! Very interested and excited to learn more! That afternoon we visited people and talked with them and had a good day overall!

All in all, it was a good week! Crazy stuff happened, but it was good! We had 45 lessons, but I know we can still do better! Will continue to work harder and better!

I hope everyone is doing well at home and is enjoying life! It truly is a blessing to be here on this earth learning and growing every day! Always work hard and remember to always have a balance in life! Have a good week!

Elder Gunnoe

One of our investigators - he sells ice cream!

Baby donkey - he was super fluffy

Baby tarantula

Wasp nest

Picking some Caju (fruit of the Cashew tree)

Email received January 12, 2015

Opa gente!

I hope everyone is doing well and for those in the mountains, staying warm! If not, I got that part covered for everyone!
This week was a hot one! Most of the time when we were walking to various places, it was like I had just gotten out of the shower... Dripping sweat constantly and just burning up!
     Monday was just a normal p-day. Nothing eventful happened really.

     Tuesday did quite a lot of running around. We had lunch pretty close to the house, but after lunch, we started working and went far from the house. We went to an area that´s probably 20 minutes walking, but at mid-day. So it was an eternity! After working around there for a while, we encountered one of the more interesting people thus far. We saw some kids playing futebol and decided to go talk to them. We started talking with one of the older kids about the church. I pegged him at 15 or 16 years old, but he´s 18. We asked him where he lives and he said in the house we were in front of. We then asked him who he was living with (assuming parents and siblings). He pointed to another kid and said with him and that kid´s mom. So we thought, huh. That´s odd. The kid he´s living with is 12. He then told us that he´s "junto" with that kid´s mom... That means that they are in a relationship................. An 18 year old KID is in a relationship with a 12 year old kid´s MOM!!!!! That´s just not okay! And definitely the most strange story of being in a relationship thus far. And the kid doesn't even work! I just don´t understand anything about that.. After talking with him, we went to an area even farther to talk with the father of a member (same as before). It went well. But while we were going there, a drunk guy riding a bike stopped us to talk. He was saying that he wants Jesus in his life and blah blah. And we had 2 youth with us. A priest and one of the young women (it was her dad that we were going to visit). And this drunk guy kept looking towards the girl that was with us, so I stepped in front of her and Elder Medina and I got really serious with him. Not mad, but firm. He couldn't tell us where he lived and kept asking us for something for him to listen to the bible on audio. But we obviously don´t have anything of the sort with us. So he just kept stuttering on and on. But he wasn't serious about any of it. He was too drunk to be serious about anything.    So that was an an interesting day!

     Wednesday we worked close to the house again. We had some good lessons with people that day, but had trouble finding anyone that would listen to us. Making contacts was really hard the whole week. No one wanted to listen or talk to us. So that was kind of discouraging. But we still had some good lessons on Wednesday.

     Thursday we were working only in one of the farther areas we have. We had lunch there and let me tell you that was a tough lunch. We had rice, sardines, and a tiny bit of chicken. And the sister wasn't shy about giving me more than enough of the sardines. And boy was that a hard lunch to get down. I took forever eating too because she gave me a ton of it! Was not an easy one. But I managed to get it down. After lunch we went and visited our investigators in that area. A lot of people were either not home or sleeping. Everything shuts down here from 12-2 or 3. After lunch, everyone sleeps for a while since it´s the hottest part of the day. But not the Missionaries! They are out walking in the sun! That night we had another Noite Familiar. This one was with the members and investigators and everyone together. It was a really good one! Lot of people there!

     Friday we talked a lot with a lot of people. We had an AWESOME lesson with the mom of one of the young men! It was so awesome! We helped her start to understand a little of the Plan of Salvation. She had heard some things that were SO WRONG about the Plan. The church she went to at that time was teaching that any child born to parents of that church was sent by the will of God. And that any child born to parents outside that church was born of the will of man. Basically saying that only kids born in that church are children of God. SO WRONG! So we helped her understand correctly how it is. After the lesson, she started in on her son. Burning him and telling stories about him. We didn't have a chance to get out of there until an hour after... So we were there FOREVER! But it was good still! After that, we talked with a lady that went inactive for the dumbest reason. She said that she was with some members just in front of the church building one day when one of them cussed and made some obscene gestures towards another person. She then proceeded to stop going to church because of this. ???????????? She said that she became very worried and just worried so much about what happened. Well lady, it happens all the time! Just because someone else did that doesn't give you any reason to stop going to church!!!!! It showed me that she wasn't very strong at all in her decision to be baptized or strong in the church. For me, if one of the apostles started swearing and drinking one day, it wouldn't change anything for me. Yeah it would be sad most definitely, but the Church is still true! Just because someone is doing something wrong doesn't change a thing about the truthfulness of the church. So that was a bit frustrating for me to hear her excuse. And the Branch President said she always has a different one when a member visits. So it´s a difficult situation.

     Saturday we had a cleaning project in the morning. Since it was the end of the transfer, we needed to clean the house. So Elder Medina and I cleaned our room and all that good stuff. But we could only clean our room. One of the other elder´s went home yesterday. So he decided to pack his bags in the middle of the house. So all of his things were in the middle of the floor and stayed there all day and the next day too. So we had to work around his stuff to do anything. After the little bit of cleaning we could actually get done, we went to work. We visited only a couple investigators and in-actives this day. But we left a blessing for the sick with the Branch Mission Leader and his wife. So that was pretty cool!

     Sunday was a good day! We visited investigators, had a good lunch, church was good, it was still hot, and we had a little party for the Elder who was leaving. Not much to report on about Sunday. But that night something interesting did happen! We were sitting outside of our house and across the street at a little market talking with a couple of the youth. This kid no more than 9 or 10 pops out of the market and starts in on us. First he asked if we were Jehovah's Witness. We explained briefly that we were Mormon. He then asked us if we were "the light". We told him that we carry the message of the gospel with us. He then asked if we were Jesus...???? We told him of course not. He then told us that our church was false and that his had the truth and that we need to become members of his church. He then proceeded to leave. Was quite the interesting way to end the day!

I don´t remember what day, but some guy stabbed 2 people in one of the conjuntos we were in the night before. The day we were there, Elder Medina and I both felt something strange about that area and decided to only go back there on rare occasions and only during the day. Good thing we decided that! and apparently in that tract of houses, there´s 4 or 5 crack houses. So now we decided not to go back there.

All in all it was a good week! Had some very interesting things happen and sweated a lot! Still loving this work and being here in Brasil! It truly is a grand blessing! I hope everyone is doing well and that everyone has a good week!

Elder Gunnoe

One of the areas we work in

The Notie Familiar (Family Home Evening)

More FHE

One of our investigators (he's getting super tan already)

New clean shirt at the beginning of the day and this was at the end of one day

Email received January 5, 2015

Oi gente!
Está semana foi bom! As vezes foi um pouco difícil, mas foi bom!
This week was great! At times it was a bit difficult, but was good!
     Monday we had 2 FHE´s that we helped with. The first was with the family of the girl we baptized. It went well! The other one was with a family that is awesome! the father is less active, but we are trying very hard to help him come back around. He is getting better with reading and praying and was even at church yesterday!!! That was so amazing!
      Tuesday we had district meeting in the morning. Then we went and talked to one of the people we had found the week before. He´s really open and receptive, but he is very dedicated to his church. But still! After talking with him, we had lunch in one of the farthest parts of this area... It took a good 30-40 minutes to walk there. At mid-day. In the sun. It was so hot!!! And when we got there, the sister didn´t know we were coming. She thought she signed up for January 30th. Not December 30th... So she made a quick small lunch for us. After lunch one of her kids went out back and got us some Green Coconuts! He climbed up the tree and got some coconuts for us. These coconuts had water in them instead of milk. So we drank the water. It was pretty good! I coulnd´t drink a whole lot, but it was good! And then after we broke it open and ate some of the meat. It was definitely a new thing for me. After lunch we came back and then went to the other side of our area. So it was about 40 minutes to get to the house from lunch, then another 20 to get to where we were going to work that day. And all during the hottest part of the day.... It´s been one of the hottest weeks I´ve had thus far and very little wind. So it was even hotter. But it was a good day.
      Wednesday we had lunch in basically the other corner of this area. So it was very long again. Not quite as long, but still about 30 minutes. This day and the day before we had lunch in the far reaches of the area of the other companionship. So we were in their farthest areas for lunch. After lunch on Wednesday, we went with a  member and a young man to the member´s dad´s house. With my luck, this was in the farthest part of my area that I have yet been to.... I had never even seen that part of our area. And now I know why. It was 40-50 minutes to get there... But anyways, the visit went well! The member´s dad is a less active and is living with a non-member "wife". So we´ve got some work there. But it´s all good! We walked more than 10 miles that day. And a good portion was in sand. So basically walking on the beach... Made it a bit more difficult. And it was new years eve. So everybody was partying and traveling and drinking and not being smart. So we did basically nothing outside of the appointments we had set.
       Thursday we did basically nothing. It was new year´s day and I swear that that is a bigger deal than christmas. Everybody was still partying, still drinking, still not being smart, and half the town was at the beach. And in the afternoon, when they all got home, they just slept. So we did very very little. It was frustrating. I don´t like to do nothing here. And it was even harder because everyone was making such poor decisions. But everyone made it through safe into 2015!
     Friday we did basically no work again. We had Zone meeting from 8-5... So our whole day was spent there. But Elder Medina and I found out that our numbers for the month were some of the best in the zone despite the fact that I felt like we did nothing at times. The Zone as a whole had 950 baptisms in 2014! Only 50 shy of the goal of 1000. So that was still good even though we came up a bit short. And this year will be even better!!
     Saturday was a decent day. We only taught 8 lessons, but we found 3 new investigators! So that´s always good! Now we just have to go back and help them learn more!
     Sunday was great! We had less actives and pesquisadores in sacrament! They all loved it! After church we had lunch again long ways from the house. But it was really good! After lunch we visited with some people in that area and taught some lessons. Then we came back closer to the house to take a couple youth out to teach. We went to teach a friend of one of the young men and it was awesome!  when we got there it was pretty normal. We were talking with the mother and daughter for a while. And after a bit, she stopped us and told us something really amazing. She said that earlier that day, she was napping and had a dream. Her dream was that she saw a group of people coming towards her. Boys, girls, and 2 men that stood out from the rest. And when those people got to where she was, she felt peaceful. Backstory, the young man with us was leading us to her house. But we went too far. So we had to turn around and we walked up toward the front of her house. And when we were a ways away still, the daughter saw us and started yelling because her friend was with us. But the mom told us in that moment that when her daughter started yelling and she saw us, she knew who we were. She knew she had seen us before. And she felt the same peace she felt in her dream. So amazing to hear that!!!! She had a dream that same day that we would be coming to visit with her and then we came that night. Truly amazing and mysterious how God works. But oh how marvelous are His misteries!! It was truly amazing to have such an experience and to be able to help them feel the Spirit of our calling and message. Really truly an awesome experience!
Despite the slow times and downs, it was a really good week! I am really looking forward to another week here to help and find more and more people!
I hope and pray all is well with everyone back at home! I hope everyone had a safe and happy new year and is excited for the year ahead! It truly will bring much experience and many good times!
Até próxima semana!

Elder Gunnoe