Elder Matthew Nielsen

"You are assigned to labor in the Brazil Fortaleza East mission"

Leaving at 6 am Tomorrow!

Hello Family and Friends!

This week has been a very spiritual week for me. As you know, it is very difficult to get Visas to Brazil, so our entire Zone (50-70 missionaries) fasted for our Visas. And as a result 12 of us are leaving this Tuesday to the Sao Paulo Brazil MTC and many other missionaries received their visas and are finishing their stay in the Provo MTC and then heading off to their respective missions. This was a total miracle. This experience has really shown me the power behind fasting for a worthy cause. I received my Visa on Halloween, along with 3 other people in my District (8 missionaries in my district) and we will be leaving tomorrow morning at 6 am. It is about a 14 ½ hour plane flight and we won’t be arriving to Sao Paulo until around 9 am in the morning. I’m extremely excited and nervous of course, but I know I’m supposed to be there. I have faith everything will turn out well. This will be the last email I will write in the states. Isn’t that crazy!!! I’m going to miss my companion and my District a lot. They are all incredible, obedient, spiritual people and I have been more than blessed to have gotten to know them. I know they will do incredible things on their missions and bless many lives with their selfless service and their incredible example.

Funny MTC Experiences:

1) So Halloween was last week and you may have wondered what missionaries do for Halloween. Well basically we got all of our packages and splurged on candy haha. Also my companion’s girlfriend sent him a package full of Halloween supplies, so of course we decorated one of our rooms and celebrated for 15 minutes until it was quiet time (10:15pm).

2) Well my life is complete. I finally met an Elder whose last name is Elder. So you guessed it, his name reads Elder Elder on his name tag! He is also leaving to the Sao Paulo MTC on Tuesday. I get such a kick out of his funny personality.

3) My District played a joke on me before I got my Visa. So whenever someone gets a Visa, they use the intercoms in your classroom and call you up to the church travel office in the MTC. So 2 people got called up in my district on Halloween and they went up to the office and they saw mine (one of the last ones) on one of the desks. So they came back and told me to go up to the office because the people said I needed to redo all my Visa documents because the Church messed up on my papers. So I went up and of course I was mad about that, but then the lady handed me my Visa and I went from being annoyed to being completely ecstatic! I literally hugged everyone around me haha!

4) I don’t know why but a kid in the zone got a package full of leaves from his grandparents. I literally laughed for 5 minutes about that. I guess they just wanted him to have a reminder of home!

In Joshua 1: 9 it reads, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord they God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” This week I have been really focusing on the topic of faith. A story that illustrates the importance of faith is the story about Peter walking on water with Jesus. He asked Jesus, “Lord if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” Peter was asked to join the Savior on the water but, “When he saw the wind boisterous he was afraid; and began to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”

So why did he sink? Didn’t he exercise his faith by walking on the water? Didn’t he show his trust in our Savior at that moment? What did he do wrong? The Lord answers Peter’s fears by, “Stretching forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” I have often thought about this story from the standpoint of Peter, but this time I’m thinking about this story from the standpoint of the Savior. The Savior knows Peter and his level of faith and his struggles and wants for him to grow. So he bids him to act and step out on the stormy sea. He understands that he cannot help his faith grow if Peter doesn’t take the first step, that first step into the unknown. And once Peter takes that first step he walked on water! But because of his doubts and fears he began to sink. And just as everything seemed hopeless for Peter, the Savior, that loving and understanding man, reached forth his hand and pulled him out of the treacherous waters. Faith requires that first step into the unknown, just as Peter did, but it’s not about just taking that first step, it is about placing your trust in something unseen, and as a result that trust will increase your faith and because of that faith, anything is possible. Without that first step, without that trust, and ultimately without faith, how can we know of the unseen things? How can we know of God and the Savior? How can we notice or even appreciate the many miracles that happen in EACH of our lives. It is just impossible without taking that first step. I promise that as you act (pray, read the scriptures, fast, etc.), as you place your trust in god, and as you exercise faith, God will manifest himself to you. I testify of this with all my heart and soul.

This week I pray that if you are struggling with your faith in God, that you will take that first step and pray with a believing heart. Have faith and trust that you will receive an answer in God’s own time. Because I know you will receive that answer that you so desperately crave.

Hope to hear from all of you soon. And I pray that each of you will have a great week!

Elder Nielsen

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