Monday, April 17, 2017

Baptisms and a New Companion

¡Hola todos!

This has been a very crazy week! Santiago and Ramiro got baptized! I got to baptize Ramiro and Elder Sears got to baptize Santiago. It was a super rainy week and we jokingly said that everyone else got baptized too. We ended up having to pour a lot of rain out of our boots for how hard it rained. It was so happy to participate in their baptisms because we could just see in they´re eyes something different, something clean and happy. I know that God helps us to make these marvelous changes. The others who did not get baptized are preparing for these next few weeks. Please keep praying for Maria and Daiana Da Silva that they can feel ready and for Lidia that she can get married and overcome all of the complications.

Santiago and Ramiro got baptized! We are so excited for them!
We also had a ward mission activity in which we shared the new Easter video "Prince of Peace" and "Finding Faith in Christ." The Da Silva family all came and invited some friends too.

On Sunday, it rained really hard again and we went to look for the Da Silva family in taxi so they could make it for the conformations. Just when we got to their house it stopped raining, but the streets were still full of water. Santiago and Ramiro are going to receive the priesthood this Sunday!

It rained a lot this last week.
A lot of rain.
I am still in Centenario, but I have a new companion Elder Oliva. He´s from Cordoba Argentina. He´s 25, loves to sing, and is a good teacher. He´s been in the mission a little less time than I have. I´m super excited to get to know and serve with him!
My new companion, Elder Oliva
¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

General Conference!

¡Hola todos!

We´ve had a pretty busy week and this next week will be even busier! If everything goes well, five different people could be getting baptized this Saturday. Lidia has been trying to get married and baptized for almost two years now and finally everything is falling into place. She will be getting married this Friday and her baptism is on Saturday. We are so happy for her. The Da Silva family (Maria, the Mom, and her three children Daiana, Santiago and Ramiro) are also preparing for their baptism this Saturday. Last week, their testimonies in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and their desires to be baptized grew as they went to church. They want to be baptized, but they still aren´t sure about it happening so soon. They didn´t make it to the general conference either, so we will see what happens. Please pray for them!

We did divisions in Pirané with the Elders working there.
General conference was fantastic! It is two days where we get to listen to the living prophet and the 12 Apostles. It is really special because, knowing that they are inspired of God, it as if God Himself is speaking to us during their talks (Mosiah 3:13). I learned several things that I want to work on. I know that as we listen to and then follow the counsel of church leaders, we will become the people God wants us to be. We will find greater joy and fulfilment in our lives. I invite you to listen to and then follow the Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson. His words can be found here.

The English room for General Conference
It´s about to start! General Conference in the mission is like Christmas!
Next week, I could be in a different area with a new companion. Transfers are already here! I hope I stay. This is an amazing place and there are so many prepared people to teach and serve. We will see where God wants me to be.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward

French toast for general conference morning! Elder Sears made a sugary syrup too.

In between one of the sessions of conference, we bought a bunch of cool souvenirs in a cool part of the city.

Elder Sears fried the circuit breaker while he was showering. It literally caught on fire and melted!

The Joy of Service


Lately in my time here as a missionary, every week just gets better and better. I feel God´s blessings and I feel Him working through me to serve His children. I was thinking a little bit about what the difference is between now and the time that I was struggling a little more. Part of it is that the blessings are more evident: investigators come to church every week and many people are listening and progressing. I feel though, that God is helping me recognize and overcome my flaws and I am understanding more how He speaks to me and what He wants me to do. My calling as a missionary means more to me as I focus on inviting everyone to come to Christ through baptism. I have bad days sometimes, but those days are swallowed up in the greater and stronger joy I find as a servant of God.

This week was a little interesting because my companion got pretty sick and we had to stay in for a few days. It wasn´t fun, but I got to clean our pension "a little".

The pension before.
The pension after. (It took about three hours just to clean this room!)

We also did divisions and I went with Elder Marcolino, a younger missionary from Brazil. He taught me a lot while we were together. He reminded me that our missions are to help others be happy and that I should smile more often. He is a very happy missionary with lots of energy and a desire to do good.

Elder Marcolino and me.
This Sunday was a very happy day. The Da Silva family (Maria, Daiana, Santiago, and Ramiro) came to church again and this time, they stayed for all three hours. I got to teach the Principles of the Gospel class the second hour of church and we learned about the priesthood (God´s power given to man to direct His work on earth). I split the class into four groups and each group learned about a specific part of the priesthood. It was especially great because several members joined the class and helped the family to learn and feel comfortable. Afterward, I shared my testimony about the reality of the priesthood and how it has blessed my life. I felt the Holy Ghost testify too and I saw in the eyes of the family that they felt it too. What a happy feeling it is to feel God work through me to bless those I love. I hope to always be worthy to hear and obey God´s promptings to me. The Da Silva family is preparing for their baptism on April 8. Please pray for them that they can continue to strengthen their testimonies so they can feel ready that day!

¡Que tenga una semana feliz!
Elder Cloward

Elder Sears ready for P-day!

The Atonment of Jesus Christ is Real

¡Hola todos!

This has been a happy week. We are working with a bunch of people that are so close to their baptisms, the just have to overcome for themselves, their own obstacles. 

The Da Silva family. They are preparing to be baptized and just need to come to church a few more times. They are a happy family. (Ramiro (10) is missing here)

We did divisions with some of the other Elders in the zone (divisions is when companionships get swapped around for a day for learning and teaching purposes). I learned a lot with Elder Ordoñez. He is a great missionary from Ecuador who has been a member of the church for only two years. We learned together about how to invite those we teach to be baptized in the first visit. Our mission president invited us, several months ago, to invite everyone three times to be baptized using the Book of Mormon. Sometimes it is hard, especially when it seems like they will say no. I put it more fully to the test and realized how much easier it is if I don´t fear and trust in the promised blessings of God. In no way am I teaching something man-made, but from God. If they say "no" to God´s invitation, I invite them again, knowing that God will bless them for following him.

All of the Elders in our zone. They are hard workers.
In the mission, I don´t always learn new principles, but those principles become more real to me. We were talking about the Atonement of Jesus Christ in Gospel Principles class during church. We talked about how Jesus is the mediator between mercy and justice and it just made so much more sense than it did two years ago. It was funny though because it felt so out of place without an invitation to be baptized and live the gospel. Jesus saves us from death and from sin on the condition that we pay His price: obedience to the gospel. I love the simplicity of God´s plan. I love Him and His son Jesus Christ. I love this work they have called me to do. I know that God´s plan for us is real and the most important things we can do now are be obedient and help others follow His plan. I invite each of you, especially as Easter draws closer, to remember Jesus and share your love for Him with someone you know. I promise you that as you do, your love for Him will increase, that He will become a greater reality in your life, and that you will find greater joy and peace.

Have a happy week!
Elder Cloward

A view of life here. Our stoves are connected to a gas tank and we have a water filter that slowly drips into a jug. It takes about a day for it to fill up!

There are a lot of fruit and vegetable stores like this little one, just on the side of the road. I bought apples.