Elder Matthew Nielsen

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

Transferring to Araripina!

Hello Family and Friends!

I am transferring to a new area today! I will be heading to a city called Araripina in the state of Pernambuco. It is the farthest area in my mission. It will be a 14 hour bus ride to get there. The city of Araripina is relatively new to missionary work. It was recently made into a branch. It does not have a church building like we have here. It has what we call a Casa-pela. Which is basically a house converted into a church. I have heard great things about this new area, so I’m really looking forward to working there and spreading the gospel to the people of Araripina. I was really, really surprised to be transferred, to be quite honest. I thought I would stay in this area to finish out my companion’s mission. Interestingly, my new companion is Elder Farias (who is in the same group with Elder Coiti) who will also be ending his mission in 6 weeks. For those of you who are returned missionaries, you know how tough it can be to stay motivated during the last 6 weeks of your mission. This can sometimes be hard on the companion as well. I am sad to leave my first area, but I am so grateful for all of the wonderful people I have met, taught, and baptised. I am also looking forward to what the future will bring and what God has in store for me!

My companion was transferred to an area that is really close to this one and will finish out his mission training another new missionary. The other American missionary will remain in the area of Novo Oriente and will receive a new companion who has a little over a year on his mission. Elder Gomes, who was his companion, was transferred to an area pretty close to the mission office and will serve there as a Zone Leader.

Impressions of Brazil:

  1. In my area you have tap water (which is used by people to cook, clean, and drink because many of them were raised on it and have developed a type of resistance to the substances in the tap water here). But there is a step up, which is a type of water a little more filtered but not much (this water is widely bought by the people because it is really cheap). And the water that is pure and is completely safe for any foreigner to drink is called Indaiá. It is also conveniently double if not triple the price of the more or less filtered water. President Fusco just made a new rule that the money of the mission will not be used to buy the more or less filtered water but only used to buy the pure water from the company called Indaiá.
  2. I’ve told you about the pet birds here. Well talking parrots are an extremely popular pet to have. One day we were walking along a street and we heard a “wolf whistle”, you know that certain whistle that men make when a pretty girl walks by. After the whistle, we heard some laughing. Well long story short, we turned around and we came to find out that the sounds were coming from the parrot sitting on top of a wall along the street we were walking on. The parrot was doing that to everyone that was walking by!

I have been taking an inventory of myself this week, about where I am spiritually, physically, and mentally. It has been challenging for me to find joy in difficult situations. How does a person find happiness when there is so much disappointment? So I decided to remind myself of two things: what I have gained from serving a mission and how this mission has strengthened my testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I wrote this in my journal: “What I have learned from my mission is how to keep moving forward and never give up. I have gained a greater understanding of the Atonement. I have learned to love people no matter what they have done or who they are. I have learned to completely rely on the Holy Ghost for direction in what to say or do. I have learned the true meaning of service. I have learned that miracles do happen every day. I have learned that faith in God is truly the cure to the bad things in the world. I have learned that the Church is true and that Jesus Christ is at the helm of it. I have learned that prayers are answered and that God is really listening. I have learned that without hardships, we cannot grow. I have learned the absolute importance of a family and especially a family centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have learned that revelation and inspiration are real and are given to people honestly seeking after it. I have learned that a good influence/example can really effect a life for the better. I have learned that I truly am loved by God, family, and friends. Missions change people and I’m so grateful for these changes in my life.” These words really helped to strengthen me last week when I had sad moments. I think we often need to remind ourselves of our progress in life and why we chose to undertake challenges. I’m so glad I took this inventory because it brought me more peace and strength to handle hardships.

Have an incredible week! Love you.

Elder Nielsen

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