Sunday, March 18, 2018

March 11, 2018 Power of the Book of Mormon

Dear Family, 

This week went well, the zone conference was amazing!  It was really focused on The Book of Mormon and it was just what I think the mission has been needing. Elder Nielson had a broadcast about the power of the Book of Mormon. It really is our most powerful tool that we have. We have been trying to apply the Book of Mormon more in our zone and in our companionship. My testimony only gets strengthened the more that I use it and I’m sure that is what will happen to the investigators. 

We decided to teach our neighbor the other day and he just wanted to bible bash with us, towards the end he told me "what would you do if you found out that you were wrong all along" I really pondered about that afterwards during the day. Honestly to me it doesn’t seem possible, of course we responded to the man with our testimonies but afterwards thinking about it, it just doesn’t seem possible. To me logically it only makes sense, everything that I have been taught makes perfect sense and I came to a conclusion that the spirit also opens our minds and helps us understand when we let him but then you had the confirmation of the spirit and it turns that "it makes sense" to a certainty. To me if everything I taught wasn’t true then nothing is... the world doesn’t exist and neither do we... He also attacked us on the Book of Mormon and said that the Bible is all we need. 

The first thing that came to my mind was "If Christ came to your house and visited you and told you many important things and then asked you to record them, would you?" "of course" he responded and then we explained how Christ came to the Americas and visited God´s children. but we can only know that through prayer and study of the Book of Mormon in which the Spirit can testify to us. I think it’s interesting that most of everyone here believes in Christ, in God, and in the Bible. But why? 

Its so natural to believe that God exists, but why? It’s because they feel it and in that same way they can know that the Book of Mormon is true. 

Another great experience that I had this week was meeting with one of the stake president, as a zone leader that is one of the responsibility that we should do. We met with him and our mission president and the focus is helping the members with missionary work and helping them be more involved. We planned a bunch of stuff and then he gave a huge training on Sunday to all the priesthood of the stake. I think that it will help this stake a ton. It’s the only stake that doesn’t have its own zone. We are the zone leaders of two stakes because this stake doesn’t have a zone yet because the members aren’t supportive.

The members loved the training and are more excited to help with the missionary work, so that was good. 

To answer one of dad´s questions, it’s interesting that you asked that question, about the things I learn as a zone leader and how they will affect future leadership. That experience that I had is an answer. I learned so much about the responsibilities of the Stake President and meeting with him, we get to see what he focuses on and how he handles things. As a zone leader if I try to take in all of the responsibility, nothing will happen...but if I give responsibility to the district leaders and to the other missionaries, that’s when things happen. It’s the same as a stake president he said, he does everything that he can but he gives responsibility to his secretaries and counselors. 
I’m glad to hear that everyone is doing well. 

I hope that everyone has a good week. 

Elder Toma

Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 5, 2018 Exercising our faith daily!

Dear family

These week was great!

We worked with the members this week and they helped a lot. 

We also met a super good family. We taught the restoration and after words the mom told us that she was struggling that week and they only thing that was missing was visiting the church of the Mormons ha-ha, the next day we showed up and she noticed that he must have been an answer from God. after the lesson the husband also commented that he felt the Spirit and that the message was true. 

I started reading the Book of Mormon again and there are so many things that I have noticed. I think that it’s interesting that we notice these things when we NEED them. 

Last week was a hard week because we gave it our all to bring all of our investigators to church and it didn’t go as we planned. 

I was studying in 1 Nephi and the Lord commanded Nephi and his brothers to go get the brass plates from Laban. Laman gets the short end of the stick and he goes and talks to Laban. As we know it didn’t go well. The second time Nephi and his brothers bring all of their precious items to Laban and Laban steals from them and even tries to kill them.

At this point I think that most of us would call it quits, returning would be a death wish! But Nephi remembers how Great God is and he returns and TRIES AGAIN, this time he succeeds. This week we tried again, and we were able to see the blessing of the Lord. Sometimes when things don’t go well and it seems like we have already tried everything, it’s just the time to try again just like Nephi did. That’s what builds our faith. Exercising our faith is just like physical exercise, if we don’t do it daily then we can become unhealthy. 

Sounds like everyone is doing well. 

I hit 1 year and 5 months but I’m so far away from being trunky ha-ha. 

Love you guys and hope that you all have a great week
Elder Toma

Sunday, March 4, 2018

February 25, 2018 A great week -- seeing growth!

Dear Family,

I had a great week this week.
Mission Leader Training Conference

I went on splits and I visited my first area, Barra de São Miguel to do some baptismal interviews. 

When I got to the Barra, the first thing that we did was eat lunch at a member’s house. This member was one of my contacts that didn’t get baptized because she wasn’t married yet and her sister was also there which was one of my first contacts with my trainer and she is also now a member because when I taught her she wasn’t married either. The funny thing is that these two sisters are now the presidente of the relief society and the primary presidente and the Barra isn’t just a group but now a branch. It was fun to see how much it grew. me and my trainer were actually the first elders to open that area. Before it was part of another area and the elders would only go there on Saturdays to eat lunch. So when I arrived it was like a little group of 10 people which has grown into a branch with more than 50 people! 
President and Sister Taylor at Mission Leader Conference

Lunch with these two sisters and their Family was great, it was fun to see how all their kids and Family members were also baptized just by one little contact, including one of the husbands.

When I left the Barra, my second companion continued to go there and this man told his wife "if you let this elders into our home, I’m leaving" but what happened, the elders continued going and he didn’t do anything, he had a change of heart and said "they can teach you but if you become a member, it’s over" as a time passed she became a member and he was ok with it. but he said "you can go but I’m never going to go, don’t even invite me to go to church because I wont" and long story short he is an active member of the church.

But it was a good time, now that I’m close by, I’ll be going there every time that there is a baptism so I’m pretty excited about that.

So last week we helped an old lady cross the road and she was very grateful, this week out of nowhere she appeared again and I didn’t even see her but she grabbed me and gave me a big old wet kiss on the neck and then tried to kiss my companion but he is like 6´5 and he was prepared because she got me first! it was unfair! if she is gonna attack me, she has to attack my companion too! ha-ha he made fun of me for the rest of the day.

But I’m ok now, that night I took an extra-long shower and I was all good.

Sounds like everyone is doing well. my package hasn’t arrived but I’ll call the secretaries today.

I miss you all

have a great week.
Elder Toma

Sunday, February 25, 2018

February 18, 2018 A new Area! Boa Vista!

Dear Family,

This week was a good week. It rained a ton but we still worked a ton in the rain ha-ha. To me it’s better than the heat.

My area is called Boa Vista. It’s a good area and a good ward. Our house is SOOO small, it is for sure the smallest house that I have lived in. 

You walk in and it’s the room where we study and were we cook at the same time and then it’s one super small room where we sleep and a small bathroom ha-ha. The house is probably the size of just our kitchen, but one the bright side it’s easy to clean and its close to everything including the bus station, bakery, and supermarket. 

My companion is really really cool. His name is Elder Duarte and he is from São Paulo Brazil. He is a recent convert but man he works hard. Every day we come home just exhausted ha-ha.

My new assignment so far has been good, I’m really enjoying it. tomorrow it seems like all the zone leaders and sister trainer leaders will be going to the president’s house for a training.

We are really trying to focus on working with members. IT really makes the difference when the members help. Because the missionaries don’t stay in the ward forever, we pass by fast and it’s the members that stay so it really makes a difference when the investigators have friends and the chance of them falling away is less. 

I also discovered that one of the guys from my ward was porter´s companion, it’s funny because it’s the second time that I have ran into somebody that served with Porter. It’s a pretty small world. 
I hope dad gets better, I will be praying for him.

My package didn’t arrive yet but it should be coming soon, ill check tomorrow. 
I hope everyone has a great week.

Elder Toma

It’s funny because "Toma leite" means drink milk in this pic that I sent

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February 10, 2018 Call to be a new Zone Leader

Dear Family, 

This week was a pretty good week. Carnival has started so the work has slowed down and everyone is travelling. 

Last week was a tough week but it was like my Zion’s camp. 

Zion’s camp has become one of my favorite events because of what I have learned from it. It was when Joseph smith sent a bunch of men to go win back Zion,  they had to travel days to get there and when they finally got there, he decided that they weren’t going to fight. And what happened is many of the men fell away from the church because of that, they became frustrated. But the men that stayed faithful later became apostles and leaders in the church. I saw a quote that brother Schetselaar has on his email that states "we can´t control the wind, but we can adjust the sail" - Thomas. S Monson.  It’s true that we can’t control everything but it’s how we deal with it that controls our destiny. 

Yesterday afternoon president Taylor called me and told me that I was going to be transferred and be the new zone leader in Boa Vista. I was surprised because I only have one transfer in this area but now I’m being transferred, he congratulated me and told me that the zone leaders will call and give me more details. 

I’m pretty excited to have the opportunity to learn new stuff, I heard that my area is good and that my companion Elder Duarte is good too. I’ll be arriving there tomorrow so next week will send more details. 

This week I was reading the Book of Mormon, I’m now in Moroni chapter 7, but I was reading in ether early and something that really marked me was the faith of the Jaredites. I mean they made entered boats and then trusted in the Lord to guide them. That is some real faith! just imagine, I would be so scared to do something like that. During their travels there were storms too. 

I was really inspired by the faith that they had. In Doctrine and Covenants 4:2 it says "O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all thy heart, might, mind, and strength, 
that ye may stand blameless before God in the last day" I thought about what embark could really mean. To me it doesn’t mean have one foot on the land and the other in the boat but to embark and be fully in the boat. I see that with many missionaries that are trunky ha-ha, they focus on going home rather than focusing on the service of God. To me the Jaredites really embarked and trusted in the Lord. Sometimes we get scared, before the mission I never wanted to talk about our religion or even share it because I was scared. But we need to embark into our boats and trust in the Lord that he will guide us, just like the Jaredites did. I love the scripture in D&C 6 that says "Look unto me in every thought, doubt not; fear not"

They mission is a perfect example of embarking in the service of God but the thing is that the mission ends faster than we know it and sometimes we tell ourselves that it’s over, that we already embarked but that’s wrong, for we have not yet reached the promised land. Missionary work should never have an end point in our lives. The purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. That can be anything. Making friends in the Church, helping reactivate less actives and sharing the gospel with those that don´t have this restored gospel. 
IM grateful for this gospel, for a living church. We have living prophets and apostles, the authority and priesthood keys. ITs a living church, not a dead one. Missionary work is what helps the kingdom grow. Like I said during our skype "we aren’t climbing then we are falling" I think that’s interesting how that works, serving helps us the kingdom climb but it also helps us too. 

I’m glad to hear that everyone is doing well

I’m going to start sending more pictures home because I don’t want to lose my pictures again ha-ha. 

Love you all

Elder Toma

Sunday, February 11, 2018

February 4, 2018 I know the Gardner loves me

Dear Family, this week went well and also kind of so so.

We had a go week working with investigators and all but when Sunday came, nobody went. We called members to pass by we even got up early to pass by and nobody went. Every missionary passes through this and has the same frustration. By the end of the week is somehow formatted my card on my camera so I lost every picture that I have taken since the mission, unfortunately I learned my lesson by never saving my pictures to another source. I’m still pretty upset by it but I think there is someone her that can help me get my pictures back. My companion got better but maybe too much, I had to have a lot of patience with him this week ha-ha, I likes to joke around a lot. 

But I learned from brother Schetselaar something. 

He told a story about how he always planted potatoes and how he buried them. He would wait for a stem to come up and then he would through more dirt on it.

And when the stem came up he would do that again. So he would keep doing that until a flower blossomed. and he would do that because that’s how he would strengthen the potato, without doing so, the potato wouldn’t have enough strength to support itself. So I learned that I was like that potato this week but what helps is to know that the Gardener is someone that knows and loves me and it’s just to strengthen me. 

This week I was also reading in my journal and I had some great laughs at how I was at the beginning of the mission. My second day of the mission my companion and I had to teach a lesson in the MTC. They gave us these green books that had everything. All you had to do was read out of it and it was simple as that. But my companion and I wanted to teach the lesson without anything but the Book of Mormon and the Bible in Portuguese. We were excited because we were so confident that the gift of tongues was going to kick in and we would be speaking fluently ha ha. We went to teach our lesson and nothing came out! we said nothing! we couldn’t even find james 1:5 in the Portuguese bible. After that lesson I remember just feeling like an idiot and we were pretty discouraged after that. 
I learned that nothing works like that. We have to do our part. When I got to my first area I had an American companion, he helped me a ton but we spoke only English. 

When he got transferred the President sent another American to be my companion, he only had one more transfer then me. So here we have to new Americans in the middle of Brazil that don’t know barely any Portuguese. I’m not going to lie, I thought that the president was crazy! I had no faith that everything would go well.

This was the transfer where I saw the gift of tongues the most. That transfer we hit the standard of excellence with baptisms.  I believe that I was able to speak Portuguese so well because I needed to. I think that our Father likes to let us do what we can do but when we are in need he helps. Who knows maybe I learned how to speak Portuguese so well just because of that transfer when I needed to. 

I’m glad everyone is doing well,

I miss you all and I would send pictures but I got to get all my pictures back unfortunately. 

I hope everyone has a great week.

Love you all
Elder Toma

Sunday, February 4, 2018

January 28, 2018 Thirty Pieces of Silver

Dear Family, 

So this week was lots of success and lots of baptism which made me pretty happy and helps motivate me to always continue working hard because the Lord really blesses when we work hard. 

Yesterday we had a special activity of the Restoration of the Gospel. The missionaries from our zone put it together so we had narration and we sang and bore lots of testimonies. 

We had some of the recent converts bare testimony also about the restoration, the book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith. It was a very spiritual meeting and I saw many members and recent converts cry. 
It was a good turn out too, the chapel was filled with people so it was a good day to end the week. 
Also this week was pretty interesting with my companion, he woke up on Saturday and told me that he wanted to go home! it was so random because he always is excited to work and we have never had any problems but he just woke up wanting to go home. We talked for a little and he got better after I gave him a blessing. I felt that I had to show love but also give him a little roasting. I told him the story of Judas the apostle that sold Christ for 30 pieces of silver. Sometimes we think it’s so silly, how could he have sold the Savior for 30 pieces of silver!? But really we sometimes do it all the time. We choose to watch or play football on the sabbath day, we go shopping or do other activities that aren´t for the sabbath, maybe we listen to music or watch bad movies. These are little things that can precious to us, but it’s merely 30 pieces of silver too. It’s nothing when compared to following Christ. 

I told him not to sell Christ for 30 pieces of silver. He understood that he would regret it also and decided that what he was thinking was dumb. This also helped me a ton, I always think now. 30 pieces of silver or following Christ. I think that it’s interesting that we sometimes sit there holding the 30 pieces of silver in our hands and it’s so hard to let it go, but I’m learning that this year’s mutual theme is true, and that’s to let go of our 30 pieces of silvers that we have in our life and "Learn of Him, and listen to His words, walk in the meekness of His spirit, and ye shall have peace in Him". I love that, I want to live by that. 

I know that we can not only know of our Christ but we can come to know Him by learning of Him, listening to Him, and walking in the meekness of HIs spirit and the promise is that we will find peace in our lives because of Him. 

I’m glad that everyone is doing well, I miss you guys but I don’t want to go home in 7 months! 

Serving the Lord is what makes me happy. 

I hope that everyone has a great week.

Elder Toma