Email received March 30, 2015 - Week 5 in Timon Maranhão

Another week come and gone just as quickly as ever. This week brought up's and down's and all around. Just like every other week since I got here, we didn't accomplish much of anything. We taught very little, found few new investigators, and was just another slow week. It's kind of hard to work hard when your companion doesn't really show that he wants to be here and doesn't work like he should. I am doing my best to help him and to help the area and ward, but it's not really working out that well. And because of this, I have little to write. All I have to say about this week is that things need to change in the next transfer. This transfer is ending this week and there will be transfers next Monday and Tuesday. So we'll see what happens.
This coming weekend is going to be a very special weekend. This weekend we will have the blessing of hearing God's living prophet speak to us along with His apostles and other General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This weekend will be truly special! I look forward to the opportunity of hearing President Monson speak to us and give us the guidance and direction we need as a world, as families, and as individuals. Through the words of the men and women who will speak to us, we will be able to be touched by the Holy Spirit and He will show us the answers to our questions. As we enter the coming weekend, I would encourage everyone to watch and listen to the speakers carefully and have in mind 3 questions that we may have in our lives. As we think of these questions, the Spirit will be able to testify to us and we will find answers in the words of those who will be speaking. And once we have received these answers, we need to apply them in our lives. We need to use those answers to be better men and women, disciples of Christ, and members of our communities.
As an ordained representative of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I testify that Thomas S. Monson is the living Prophet of Christ's church on the Earth today. I testify that President Monson receives divine revelation from God to guide His people on the Earth today so that one day we might be able to return to live with Him one day. I know that as we follow the words of the prophets of old and modern times, we will never stray from the straight and narrow path. This Easter weekend, I hope that we can all take some time to think about the nature of the Resurrection of Christ and what comes as a result of that victory. I hope that we may always think of Him, but especially this weekend.
I hope everyone has a good week and stays safe!
Brian and Tracie, Give Shane a hug for me!!!!
Until next week!

Elder Cole Gunnoe

Email received March 23, 2015 - Mais uma semana em Timon!

Bom dia, boa tarde, o boa noite! Qualquer horário que você está lendo este email, Oi!
How is everyone doing? Fantastic I am sure since we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father!
This week went by pretty quickly and quietly. Another week with more difficulties to catch people at home. Why are people never home when they say they will be? Because of this, this week passed with little success. We didn´t have a baptism this week unfortunately. But we found a family and an individual that are basically ready to be baptized. The family is amazing! Very curious and receptive. They had heard a lot of things from a lot of people about the church but wanted to find out for sure. And we were able to visit them this past week and answer a good chunk of their questions! They truly liked what we had talked about and did their fair share of talking. The man of the house talked so so so so much!!!!! We´d ask a question and he would respond with a narrative. But still a truly amazing family! We just need to get them married and in the chapel on Sunday and they will be even happier! The father of this family reminds me a lot of Andy Mastro for those that have met him. Just his Brasilian cousin! haha
The individual we ran across trying to contact one of our contacts. She lives in the house that our contact used to live in. But he has since moved out. So we took the chance to teach her a lesson! She was very receptive and great! She believed what we taught her is true and wants to learn more. We marked a baptismal date for the 4th of April! If all goes well, we will baptize the weekend of General Conference! Hopefully it all works out!
Other than that, it was an uneventful week. My comp is being a slacker. He doesn´t wake up until 9 or 10 at times and doesn´t do his personal study often and we never do comp study. I always wake him up when I get up at 6:30, but he just goes back to sleep. Trying to help him, but it´s being difficult. But I will keep at it until it works out!
I hope everyone had a good week there! As we approach the celebration of our Savior´s resurrection, I would encourage everyone who reads this to take a few minutes each day to say a quite prayer and thank our Father in Heaven for giving His Son to suffer, bleed, and die for us. And also to ponder about what Christ did for us. Because when we stop to think about it, we begin to understand a little better what it means for each of us to have a personal Savior and Redeemer. Always remember Him and what He did for us, and then go and live worthy of His atoning blood that He spilt for each of us.
Have a wonderful week my friends! Work hard and share the gospel whenever and wherever possible! Because you are all missionaries too!

Elder Cole Gunnoe

Elder Cole Gunnoe is in the second row back from the front and the fourth one in from the left

Baptism of Pedro

Scripture case Elder Gunnoe had made

Little friend that was living outside the kitchen

Email received March 16, 2015 - Week 3 come and gone

I start off this week's email with some words to those who send me emails on a weekly basis. I am sorry, but the majority of the time I will not be able to respond personally to everyone. My mission has a rule of 40 minutes on email every week. And I have not been following that rule. Because of that, I have been distancing myself from the Spirit and the power of speech that I need to truly convert these people. It is a great regret that I have been staying on email much longer that I should have, but I am starting today to follow that rule. I still love every one of you greatly! But we will have a whole lifetime and more to talk when my service is done. I need to help these people better so they can have the same opportunity.

This week was a slow one. Very slow. We lacked coordination and planning, so everything we tried to do fell through. On the up side, we had another baptism! A young man who has been waiting for a few months for permission from his parents finally got approval to be baptized! He was very happy and so were we! He was baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday. I had the privilege of baptizing him! What a great end to a downer week.

On Friday we had a mission conference where all the missionaries in the mission came to Teresina for a special conference with Elder Campos of the Area Presidency. The conference was great! He is a very smart man! I really enjoyed hearing him speak and also my mission president. It was the first time in quite a while that the entire mission got together at once! It was great to see all the missionaries I have met and gotten to know and also to meet new missionaries! I really learned a lot from that conference. Mostly that I need to be a whole lot better than I have been with respect to some of the rules. I haven't been a bad missionary by any means! Just got a little lazy there for a couple weeks. But now I am turning things around to be better and truly the best I can be!

I hope every one is well back there in the USA and enjoying everything you have! Because there are more people that you can imagine with much less. Always remember the small blessings. "Count your many blessings, name them one by one; And it will surprise you what the Lord has done."
I love you all! Always remember that! I am here to become better, and that brings a lot of sacrifices. But I still love you all!

Elder Cole Gunnoe

Email received March 9, 2015

Was a decent week! We had a bit of trouble working though. My comp passed the better part of the week sick. So we were working very slow if at all. Don´t like not working...

     Tuesday we had a Zone conference all day. Not much of anything exciting there. Just new rules again and some training. Got to see some friends from the CTM and my old Zone! So that was good! We got back to the area pretty late and didn´t have time to do any work, so that was a bummer. But a decent day!

     Wednesday was a good day. We taught good lessons with investigators and less active members! We had a baptism set for Saturday and we almost had to bump it back a week. The sister was still drinking a tiny bit of coffee. But my DL set a goal with her that if she didn´t drink anymore until Saturday, she could still be baptized that week. Almost fell through in the moment. But she had a firm determination to stop!

     Thursday was a tough day. Everything was falling through. All our appointments fell through and we didn´t get to do much.

     Friday My comp got really sick. So after lunch we taught a less active member and then headed back to the house. He just relaxed and I figured I would study a bit. I was reading in the Book of Mormon about the Spirit being with us and helping us. I haven´t been feeling the Spirit as much as I would like to be, so I prayed and asked how I could have the Spirit more in my life. I then opened the Book of Mormon to a random page and started reading. One of the first verses I read was 3 Nephi 10:6. It talks about turning our heart to the Lord with firm determination (may not be exactly the same as I am translating what it says). I looked at a footnote about turning our heart and it referred me to 1 Samuel 7:3. Again translating, it talks about becoming converted to the Lord and truly turning our heart to him and he will deliver us from our enemies. And the enemies can be people, addictions, guilt, sin, or anything that keeps us from progressing. This truly touched my heart. I urge anyone who reads this to read that verse and to study Conversion. Preach My Gospel, the Scriptural Index, Topical Guide, Prophets of ancient and modern times. Really research and study what it means to be converted. It will really change your perspective! The Lord had answered my prayer and showed me what I had to do. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had.

     Saturday was fairly slow. But we had a baptism!!! We baptized the grandmother of a couple of the young women. She really was one of the Elect of God. She understood everything we taught and agreed with everything!! She had stopped drinking coffee and was able to be baptized! So great to see another person enter in the waters of baptism to make that sacred covenant with our Father in Heaven. Truly happy to have been able to help her take that step and begin a new life! The other companionship was also able to baptize a young woman! So we had 2 baptisms!

     Sunday was a good day! Second sunday in a ward was great. Good lessons and good talks! Had a good day overall.

Foi um pouco curto esta semana, mas realmente foi uma ótima semana! Eu gosto muito de Timon e a ala e as pessoas aqui! Esta obra realmente é a obra do Senhor. E eu sou imensamente abençoado por fazer parte da Restauração do Evangelho. Eu espero que tudo mundo nas montanhas sobreviveu com todo o neve! Não sei quanto recebeu, mas foi mais que eu recebi aqui! Boa semana por todos! Até a próxima semana!
Amo todos vocês!

Com amor,
Elder Cole Gunnoe

Elder Cole Gunnoe asked me to add this to his blog post - "Please post on the blog that if I don't respond to some people's emails, it is only because time is limited.  But make sure everyone knows I still love them!"

Email received March 2, 2015 titled "Wasn't expecting that..."

Well. I knew that my Mission President has done some surprising things, but nothing that comes close to this......
To start things off, This last monday was the day for transfers. Great! Another 6 good solid weeks done and another 6 weeks in front of me! Elder Medina knew he was being transfered. He had lost his Peruvian ID, which he needs to travel. He received a call from the secretaries saying that on monday he needed to print a scan of his Visa in order for him to be able to get on the bus to travel. So we all knew he would be transfered! I was thinking about how difficult it is to take out both missionaries from an area and put 2 new ones in. So I had a solid confidence that I was staying! Didn't pack up my suitcases completely and wasn't stressed out about it. Now a little back story. The Elder that had been there with Elder Medina and I these past transfers had been transferred 3 weeks in. And the elder that took his place was my comp from the CTM in São Paulo. So just 3 weeks later, he was transferred. Huge surprise! His comp took him to the bus station to get his bus for his new area. He would be coming back with one of the Zone Leader's to close the transfer with us. More back story, with all the new rules, no one knows they are being transferred until basically the minute they have to leave. So everyone packs suitcases, cleans the house, and has to wait until who knows when. So the Zone Leader was coming to our house for what we thought would be the transfer of Elder Medina. When he and the other missionary in my area got to the house, he told us that we were all being transferred. All 4 of the missionaries in that area were leaving... NEVER expected that to happen! Never! So I found out the Elder Medina was headed to Balsas Maranhão, Elder Felipe to São Luiz Maranhão. Both pretty far away. São Luiz not so far as Balsas. And I was coming to Timon Maranhão! Just across the river and border from Teresina. While at the bus station waiting for the bus to Teresina, 3 other missionaries showed up. One of them told me the the city of Parnaíba was closing. Meaning all of the missionaries were leaving, and new ones won't be coming to take our place. Parnaíba will not have any missionaries for a while... HUGE shock! HUGE! I never ever expected or even dreamed that that could or even would happen! Not in a million years! I was part of the closing of an entire city and Zone... I am really worried about what will happen there. The other companionship had a baptism set for the last Saturday, more very close to being set and Elder Medina and I were very close to more baptisms too... Families were coming out of the woodwork finally, everything was getting better! But now I am in a new area with a new comp and still doing the same work.
Timon (pronounced with a "ch" where the "Ti" is) is a great city! From what I have heard so far, pretty dangerous. The missionaries were assaulted and their cell phone was stolen, many members were assaulted this week. Gonna have to watch my back! But it´s a good city! Big too! Only 4 missionaries to cover the whole city, which means the areas are big. Bigger than in Parnaíba. Makes things interesting. My new companion is Elder Klegues! He is from Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul and has been out a year and a half. Great guy and a good missionary!
We had a good first week! Good lessons, met good people and sweated A LOT! There is no wind here like in Parnaíba, so it feels much hotter. But it´s great! I really like the area! Won't go into the details of the week this week. But know that it was a good one! Being in a ward is way different that a branch! Much bigger, we actually have a chapel, the members are much more excited to help the missionaries, and it's great! Excited to help the ward grow and become stronger!
Other than that crazy surprise and change, nothing else to report this week. Still doing good and enjoying the work! I hope everyone back in the states is doing good and staying safe!
Have a good week and always remember to put the Lord FIRST in your lives!

Elder Cole Gunnoe