Elder Matthew Nielsen

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

Brazilians Love Americans!

Hello Family and Friends!

It’s been confirmed that Elder D. Todd Christopherson is coming to the mission on April 28th! I’m really looking forward to hearing him speak in Fortaleza, even if it’s a 28 hour roundtrip bus ride. Yikes! But it’s so worth it!

This last week was my 6-month anniversary in the mission. Can you believe it? We were on divisions at the time with the district leader’s companionship.  I was with a Brazilian named Elder Bellon. He is from São Paulo and has been on his mission for about 11 months. He has been in the area for 5 months. Elder Da Silva, who is the distrct leader here, has been here for 6 months and will finish off his mission in just 4 more months. He joined the church just 2 years before he left to serve a mission. Elder Farias, my companion, a convert at age 11, grew up in Paraná, Brazil. He is of German descent, whose grandparents fled from Germany during WW2. He loves music and we can hear him singing in broken English all the time because he learned a little playing music and on his mission. Elder Azevdo, the zone leader, arrived with me here and was a part of my last zone. He is also musically talented and can play anything on the piano with just hearing a song once! He lives on a farm in Franco, and Franco is famous for its rodeo. Elder Jacome, who is the other zone leader, just recently returned from Manos because his father had passed away. He will leave in just 4 more months as well. We also have 2 missionaries from Tsonga, Elders Niu and Belbin. So there is a total of 8 hardworking missionaries here!

Our 2-story house is very narrow and is literally built on the side of a mountain. It almost broke my back hauling my luggage up the massive hill to get to my house for the first time just 3 weeks ago. The upside is that the owner of the house had installed an air conditioning unit in my bedroom the day before I arrived. Yay! The only problem here is that when it rains, the water company shuts off the water to certain streets in order to conserve water for the city and the last time this happened we went without water for almost 1 week. But everything is back to normal again now. Thank goodness! I was getting worried that I’d gross out the investigators during the lessons! haha.

We have 2 investigators we are teaching at the moment who will be baptized on the 26 of this month. Erica, 13 years old, who was in the high school when we introduced the church and talked about Christ during Easter. She was really interested in the church after and wanted a Book of Mormon. This last week we talked to her again and started teaching her and we found out she hasn’t stopped reading the book and wanted to be baptized. The other is Anderson, 21 years old, who we met doing contacts in the streets. He has progressed quickly and has read the pamphlets and started reading the Book of Mormon and showed a great interest in being baptized. If everything goes well, these people will be the last people to be baptized during my companion’s mission, as he will be leaving the area the April 26 to start his last week of visiting his old converts who he baptized over the course of his mission.

Impressions of Brazil:

  1. The popular job around here is working in the factory. Araripina is really big on producing gypsum. They crush this mineral and use it in a variety of ways, like in the construction of buildings and even to form casts for broken arms. Almost all of the men work in this factory.
  2. Americans are super well liked in Brazil. Just walking down the streets you will have kids running up to you because they want to hear you speak English. And there are many who think you are attractive because you are American! So generally, for American missionaries, it is very easy to find people to teach. It is the running joke around here with the Brazilian missionaries!

I have been thinking about a talk given at General Conference by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called “Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet”.  In the talk he discussed the Parable of the Sower. As a missionary, this parable has become so real to me. In the parable, there are 3 types of people. The first hears the word of God and accepts it, but the word does not sink deeply into his heart. As a result, his testimony never develops roots, so when challenges come, this person easily falls away. The second person hears the word of God, but does not understand it and does not allow the word to enter into his heart, and chooses to be yoked to the world. He chooses to live in an unholy environment which stops his spiritual growth, turning him toward worldly pursuits. The third person hears the word and accepts and understands it and grows and produces “fruit” (life pursuits that have real meaning). I’ve come to know that it isn’t enough to just hear the word.  Or even to hear it and gain an understanding.  We have to apply the word.  Live it.  This process takes time and a lot of effort. But it gives meaning and real purpose to this life. Please take the time to study this parable!

I love you all,

Elder Nielsen

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