Monday, December 26, 2016

December 26, 2016 Merry Christmas!

Dear Family,

Christmas was good! It was fun to talk to you guys and all. I feel like i couldn't talk really well haha and it was kinda embarrassing haha but other than that it was good to see how everyone was doing. 

So i guess the news is that my comp and i will stay in Barra de São Miguel but we are receiving another companion who is American too. We turned in all our progress and i guess our zone had the most baptisms in the entire mission and Elder Hillstead and I had the most baptisms in the entire zone. 
As for the recipes i think easy desserts would be good, just like cookies or brownies or something and then main dishes that use basic ingredients, i can find basic ingredients here just nothing too complex. Like we made chicken stroganoff a couple weeks ago so they have the basics here. 

I will send some of the pictures of the baptism, love everyone.

Have a good Christmas and new year break!

Love Elder Toma

December 19 The Field is White. . .

Dear Family, 

This week has been really good. I really liked your story dad about how we don't know where the people are but God does. I have a story pretty similar, so last two weeks ago my companion and I were just finished with emails and we were trying to find the Chapel to meet up with some other missionaries. We kept asking for directions but the peoples directions were always wrong. We asked this man and he pointed to us the completely wrong direction but it led us to a woman outside her house. We asked this woman for direction and told us who we were and what we do as missionaries and just that, we then asked her for her address and told her we will contact the missionaries of this area to contact you because this is not our area. She then pointed us to the correct direction. Two weeks later our district leader told us that he found her and was been teaching her.  This lady was fully prepared for the gospel and was baptized this Sunday. It is so true that God leads us to people in need even in a different area. ´´The field is white ready to and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you´´(DC 4). 

This week we also confirmed that young woman that we baptized last week a member of the Church. It was really cool and i have never felt the Spirit so strong while we were confirming. It was also testemunho meeting so it was cool to hear how strong her testimony is of this Church. 

Over all good week I'm excited for Natal (Christmas) and eating lots of food haha. Honestly i don't know the details yet [of when I can Skype] but I'm sure it will all work out. Miss ya guys. have a good week

Até Natal!

Elder Toma

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December 11, 2016 Our First Baptism!

Dear Famìlia,

 This week has been great, My companion is from Springville Utah and he plays football and basketball. He is the only member of his family that has ever served a mission besides his dad. He has 10 months here and he is a great missionary he knows how to help people and how to teach really really well.

Yeah we don’t even really have a ward, I think we are constructing a chapel right now but we meet in this small building haha. This last week we went to the stake center in Macieo and Elder Holland spoke from São Paulo, haha he tried to speak Portuguese at the beginning it was pretty funny.

As for food, we eat two eggs and some chicken for breakfast, for lunch members always feed us noodles, beans, rice, beef, chicken, or fish. The juice here is unbelievable and a lot of the fruits here don’t even exist in the states. For dinner we eat two eggs and drink water haha.

Endelly's baptism

This week we had a baptism, her name is Endelly and she is 23. Her story is unbelievable. We found her trying to contact her cousin actually and we shared the word of wisdom and let her borrow a Book of Mormon. We invited her to read the introduction and then we would check with her the next day. The next day she told us she read the intro and then started reading a little bit of First Nephi and started weeping and she didn’t know why, in that moment she gave up drinking, coffee, and everything in one day. She has a daughter and was living with this guy since she was 16 so 7 years together. This was the only thing holding her back from baptism but finally she decided to leave him because he wasn’t agreeing with the church and she wanted to be baptized, so we finally baptized her this Sunday, I’ve never met anybody so dedicated, that was kind of the highlight of my week.

Overall good week we were busy Tuesday making our Christmas video lol. I think we might have some baptisms this week but it’s hard because people always work here on Sundays. 
Miss you guys, tell everyone I said hi.

It’s really hot here every day haha. But being next to the beach gives us a little bit of a breeze. Sounds like the stake changed a lot (our family’s home stake split this past week). Haha i miss my ward and good singing! the people here are soooo BAD lol and I just miss everything about church at home, but I’m adjusting the church here is really good just different haha. Cant wait for Chrismas!

Até mais

Elder Toma

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 5, 2016 We have members and investigators on almost every street!

Dear Family, 

this week was great, we worked super hard and got 8 new baptismal dates and 17 new investigators. This week i also just learned alot about the atonement of Jesus Christ and the importance of it. It is the center of the restoration, the center of the plan of salvation, and in the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

We have lessons with a lot of people and are always teaching new people but on every street we have member and investiagtors almost haha. We have a good amount of members but no where near Gainesville lol. We meet in a small building not even a chapel and we dont have any leaders or even a bishop. Me and my comp do the Sacrament prayers every week and we have a couple other Priesthood holders. 

The beaches here are amazing, like ten times better then the pictures on the internet, the sand is like super white and the beach is super blue. 

 I dont have anybody's email so if Conner or Hunter or McKinzie want to talk they have to email me first lol. 

Portuguese is coming well, they people in Macieo are impossible to understand some times haah even for other Brazilians. 

Over all good week, miss you guys. Tell everyone i said hi. 


Elder Toma

Thursday, December 1, 2016

November 28, 2016

Dear Family,
This week went by fast and was good. My comps name is Elder Hillstead and we have such a cool area. It is called

Barra de São Miguel

Barra de São Miguel, it is right on the beach and we have a big lake too. It is always super hot and humid. It gets dark at like 5 at night and is light at 5 in the morning.

Barra de São Miguel
This week we had some pretty cool experiences with investigators. We taught this lesson to this woman for the first time and she told us about this dream where she saw a huge sky full of stars and flying down from the sky was two white horses and they passed her really fast and then ran back up into the stars. She said when they pasted her she felt so much peace. Then she said during our lesson she felt that same piece and was wondering why we wore white shirts and she believes in the church but she wants to know more and learn more.
Thanksgiving for us was pretty good. We ate ramen noodles with hot dogs in it and then ate this huge chocolate cake.

We have 22 new investigators this week and like 9 baptisms lined up this week. We will probably baptize in a church in Macieo but usually we Baptize in this river, we have the only area here that baptizes in rivers ha-ha so that’s pretty cool.

I’ve been reading Jesus the Christ and it is such an amazing book and I don’t even like reading ha-ha. I like how it explains everything about Jesus.

Overall a good week, we worked hard and taught many many people. Tell everyone I said hi.

Love you guys.

Elder Toma

Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 21, 2016 First week in the mission field

Querido Família,

This week has been very different. First day I got off the plane and the land was so different and instantly 10 time hotter. I got my new companion which was the only American out of 9 other missionaries, he is super cool and has very good Portuguese and only speaks Portuguese with me so I never speak English haha. 
Brazilian MTC

Our first day went good we invited 4 fams to baptism and all 4 excepted. The language is a little harder because here in Macieo they speak a million times faster and have super thick accents then Sao Paulo. Many horses a million dogs and a few monkeys I will see on the street sometimes. ITs very poor here like houses are either homemade or the size of our living room. ITs so crazy here to because like girls will be 13 and pregnant and that’s like not even rare. Also, the hardest part of this mission is chastity because nobody marries, word of wisdom because of cafe, and the worst of all is Sabbath because here they work so hard to provide so they all work every day including Sunday. 

My area is sick, I’m next to a super pretty lake and I’m also like a 2-minute walk from the beach, so the ocean breeze feels good in my area and its super the tropical, all the fruit here is to die for. Ha-ha two nights ago was crazy because a million bees found ways through holes and cracks into our room. Literally like hundreds of bees were in there. so, my comp and I spent the whole night killing all of them with our shoes, a broom, and this fly swatter. And then we taped up all the cracks and holes but I think I will be fine. Sometimes I will find a huge lizard in my room too ha-ha. 

Sunday I had to give a talk, I think it went well especially for being right off the spot. Over all a good week, we worked super hard and got 18 new investigators and 11 accepted baptismal invites. And yes, I got the package and I’ll wait until Christmas Have a great Thanksgiving,

Eu Amo Vocês!

Elder Toma

Shower and laundry drying line

Luxurious accommodations!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Arrival in the mission field! Welcome to Maceio'

Made it safe.  I'm in Macieo and its so crazy. Sao Paulo was first world and it's very different here. I'll have more detials on Monday my new Pday.


Elder Toma

Maceió, 18 November 2016

Dear Parents and Family Members of Elder Toma,

            Greetings from the Brazil Maceió Mission.  Your son has arrived recently and we are sending to you a picture of his first day in the mission.  We thank you for allowing your son to serve with us for these next two years.  The first few weeks in the mission are at times difficult, but he is very excited to confront these challenges. We are thankful for your participation in his preparation. Without doubt, he will do a great and marvelous work among the beloved people of Alagoas and Sergipe.

            Please, if possible, always write to your son. All letters and packages sent to your missionary should be sent to the mission office. The missionaries should write to their parents once a week. This is a mission rule. Each missionary will be allowed to call home two times per year; Christmas and Mother´s Day. Our mission office address is the following:



AV. Dom Antonio Brandão, 333 Sala 402
Ed. Work Center – Farol
Maceió, AL
Telefone: (82) 3336-5558

            Thank you very much for supporting your son in this sacred work. Many of Heavenly Father´s children will become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints through your son´s sacrifice and diligent work. We know that he as well as you will be blessed for his service. We will do our best to help your son reach his dreams and establish God´s kingdom in this part of the Lord´s vineyard.


President  Henrique Gomes Júnior                                     Sister Maria Aparecida Gomes

Saturday, November 5, 2016

November 2, 2016 Only two weeks left in the MTC!!

Dear Family,

This week has been pretty good. We are now the oldest group here and im dying to get out! Im glad everyone is doing good! My week so far has just been the same old. Im teaching two investigators a day and then i do splits and teach two other investigators. I also have trc where i teach a member or instructor and those are pretty tough because its random so you never get time to prepare. 

I love this mission because its like everyday i realize the gospel is more and more important. This is your life, its more then just going to church its giving it your all, so many people here are so worried about their  home life and call their old life "real life" but i think this is the closest to real life anyone would ever be. The mission is living close to God and to me that is what living is about. 

I miss you guys but this is already the best decision of my life without even being out in the field. I know it will get harder but that will only make me stronger.

I love you guys, Tell everyone i said hi.


Elder Toma

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Brazil MTC Week Three October 26, 2016

Dear Family, 
The streets of Brasil are crazy!!!! São Paulo is the biggest city in the world and is like 10 times bigger then New York City. There are lots of homeless people. My companion and I handed out 3 book of Mormons so that was cool. 

The first guy was begging for money to buy food so i said I dont have any money but i have a present for you in Portuguese and then i gave him the Book of Mormon haha. Our next hand out was to this guy who said his friend is a member and he happily took it. Finally our last one was to this old lady sitting on some cardboard and she asked us for some food to eat, we talked to her about the gospel and how God blesses lives and we read her Moroni 10:4-5 and then gave it to her, she seemed grateful. 

The streets were pretty crazy because we saw homeless people jumping onto the back of huge buses and holding onto the back window. We also saw lots of gay people here and this one funny homeless guy without a shirt was fight dancing and then he saw us laughing and he put his thumbs up and ran haha. 

I did here about Kincade, today Elder Mcgary came and surpised me!! it was so awesome to see him, he is doing so well and he inspires me so much. We did an endowment together and we hung out at the temple for sometime and he was giving me a lot of really really good tips. All the Brasileiros were super surprised  that he looks so white but speaks such good Portuguese. 

Overall i have had a good week, i got a little sick with this bug going around but I'm already feeling better. This week i learned a lot through personal experiences with the power of prayer. I hope everyone is doing well. 

The ctm is good but I'm dying to get out of here. We are now the old group in the ctm which is weird because it feels like i just got here. 

Love you all. 

Elder Toma

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 18, 2016 Week two in Brazil CTM (MTC)

Dear Family,

  This week has been great,I'm now teaching 2 investigators everyday along with trc were we have to teach a member. I'm excited for this Saturday because i get the opportunity to teach out in the streets of São Paulo. Today i went to the São Paulo temple so now i have been to two temples in Brazil. The endowment was hard because parts of the temple are hard to do in Portuguese. My daily routine is i wake up at 6:30, shave and brush my teeth, then i go to personal study where i study the scriptures, then i have breakfast which is ham paninis every morning lol, next i study the language with my companion and then we do a district scripture study in Portuguese and language fast. Physical activity is right after which is fun because we play volley ball with the Brasilairos. After that we basically have class and teach our investigator and then lunch and then class and teach more, but its really good. 

My favorite part of the day is the morning when i actually have energy because its very hard so im just exhausted later on in the day haha. I love my teachers they are great and they have helped me learn this language so fast! I'm glad to hear that everything is good! It is also hot here and Rio was like 114 degrees a couple days ago and everyone is saying that Maceio is just twice has hot! 

I have so many favorite memories honestly I'm not sure if i can even think of all of them! But i have definitely laughed many many times. An Elder in my district is sooo funny he is just not afraid so when he teaches his investigators he will just straight up try and speak which is good but sometimes it is just soo funny. I cried when we lost an Elder who went home in our district, i have so much respect for him for doing whats right. It was sad because i felt for him so much and he said he is going to make things right and come back out but that's what is so amazing about the Atonement of Jesus Christ is that through him we can be forgiven and come unto him. My favorite scripture today was definitely Moroni 10:4-5. haha I'm not sure what i want for Christmas yet. Surprise me! haha. 

ITs crazy Halloween is coming up! The first week in the CTM felt like a year but now it is flying!!  

Well miss you guys. Tell everyone i said hi!Tell everyone i miss them. If anyone wants me to email them they have to email me because i don't know anybodies email haha.

Love you!

Elder Toma

Friday, October 14, 2016

October 12, 2016 First letter from the Brazil MTC

Dear Fambam,

I'm doing great!! The CTM is amazing! The spirit is just so strong here and I don't think I've ever been so happy. My companion´s name is Elder Crowley and he is THE BEST. We get along so well and he is just a lot of fun. The food here is good I love the juices and flavors here. We have paninis every breakfast and it is always ham and cheese paninis and dinner and lunch we always get rice and black beans so its kind of getting old but its OK. 

The language is amazing! Honestly the gift of tongues is the most real thing that I have ever experienced. My first night here I prayed in Portuguese and it's just only gotten better. I can speak more Portuguese then the 3 years I learned of Spanish. My Brazilaro roommates do help a lot and they have taught me so much. My Brazilian roommates are actually serving in Japan which is really cool. One of them is from Macieo and he is a convert who is the only member of the church in his family but i have never met anyone in my life with so much faith and when he was telling me his testimony about how he knows his family will convert and how much faith he has I was almost in tears. 

The Brazilians are so amazing and they are so friendly! I've made so many friends and native friends here and they are just loving people. 

Something really cool is that Elder Holland's grandson Elder Holland is here in the ctm and he is pretty cool, we got a lot of stories about his grandpa and we also got to listen to a devotional from Elder Holland the apostle that was so powerful. Today I went to the temple and did the endowment in Portuguese!! So scary but awesome at the same time. I have pictures but we can't send them until we get out in the field. Oh yeah and first day was cool because one of the sisters in our district was feeling sick so me and my companion gave her a blessing and i anointed so it was cool to do that right off the bat on my first day. I'm glad everything is good at home! Miss you!


Elder Toma  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Braden's first letter from the MTC September 4, 2016

Dear Family,
 I made it safe to Sao Paulo! The flight was sooo long but totally worth it.

The elders and sister I have met are really cool and friendly and I was able to meet some natives and lots of Latinos! The ride to the MTC was pretty crazy, when you look on one side it is the city and then when you look on the other it is totally junglely. The city is huge but a lot of it is run down and ghetto, while on the bus I saw motorcycles weaving around cars and sharing lanes with cars, it was insane!! My companion is really cool; we are already close. He is also going to be serving in Maceio Brazil and all the elders I travelled with are in my zone. My companion has red hair so all the natives and Latinos where screaming pelo rojo! when they saw him, I thought it was funny. My P days will be on Wednesdays while in the MTC so that’s when I will be emailing you guys. So not tomorrow but the following Wednesday. I was given only 10 mins to write this and the keyboard is a Portuguese keyboard so sorry if I miss spelled anything ha-ha. Anyways I’m here and I’m safe!

Love you, I’ll send pics once I’m out of the MTC and I’ll have a longer time to write next week.


Elder Toma

A message from Elder Toma's MTC Mission President

Dear Parents,

Sister Grahl and I are very happy to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil Missionary Training Center.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they begin their missionary experiences with us! We will surely take good care of your missionary.                                                                                                     

The missionaries now have companions and are settled into their rooms.  They are assigned to a district with capable and caring instructors for language and lesson study.  Their branch presidents and wives will meet them this Sunday.  These wonderful couples are richly blessed as they work with, motivate, and interview the missionaries assigned to their branch.

The MTC has a full-time live-in physician to care for their health needs.  He is assisted by his able wife who is a nurse. We are also happy to report that the MTC food is plentiful, healthy and very good.

Your missionary will be able to e-mail home on Preparation Day after a morning at the Temple.  This will be either Wednesday or Friday, depending on individual assignments.
Your missionary is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of many others. President Lorenzo Snow said: “There is no mortal man that is as interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the Gospel as is the Lord who sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord's children".  We love these missionaries as if they were our own.  We will watch over them carefully to ensure they are ready for a wonderful missionary experience after the rewarding time they will have in the MTC.

We thank you for preparing such a wonderful representative of the Lord.

Pres. Paulo R. Grahl and Sister Zuleika M. Grahl
PlEASE DO not send packages to the Brazil Missionary Training Center. All packages must be sent directly to the mission where your missionary will be serving, not the MTC. If you have already mailed a package to the Brazil MTC, please understand that the package cannot be forwarded to his or her mission and will be returned to you.

WE Strongly eNCOURAGE sENDING HAND WRITTEN LETTERS. Please write your missionary´s first and last name. Your missionary will provide you with his district and box number. Also, please DO NOT SEND ANYTHING BY FEDEX, DHL, UPS, or other private carriers.  The cost to process this type of correspondence is exorbitant.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Braden's mission farewell

Braden spoke in sacrament meeting on September 25, 2016.  His assigned topic was how seminary has helped him prepare for his mission.  In addition, he was asked to play the piano.  He arranged a special musical number of his favorite songs.

Click the link below

Braden's testimony -- piano arrangement of his favorite songs.

Many were touched in the congregation.  I can't tell you how many approached me afterward saying that the musical number touched them deeply.

We also had a small open house for Braden on September 30.

Called to Maceio' Brazil April 2016

Called to serve in Maceio' Brazil October 4, 2016