Elder Matthew Nielsen

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

14 Hour Bus Ride to Fortaleza!

Hello Family and Friends!

I am writing to you from an internet cafe in Fortaleza, which means I survived the 14 hour bus ride again! The 8 of us left Araripina yesterday around 4 pm and arrived here early this morning at the bus station. My companion and I will be staying with the Zone Leaders in Fortaleza until I get my new companion (Elder Farias is finishing his mission and will be going home to Paraná which is in southern Brazil). I will be with Elder Farias while he visits all of his old areas in his last week of his mission (which means I will listen to a lot of reminiscing and enjoying a lot of new places, which is for sure a joy on my end!). He really wanted me to buy him Burger King while we were here as his going away present, so I just had to do it (it was a charitable act of love) and it was really good! I heard that I might get my new companion on Wednesday after Elder D. Todd Christopherson speaks because President Fusco will have a little more time to think and pray about the decision. Until then, I will be staying with Elder Farias. Speaking of an Apostle of the Lord coming to visit us, all the missionaries need to arrive at the Stake Center at 7 tomorrow morning. This conference will involve 2 missions, both ours and the Fortaleza mission.  There will be over 400 missionaries in the building! Then sometime in the evening, we will head back to our areas.

Back in Araripina, we have finally found another place to have our church services beginning this Sunday. We will hold the meeting in a space that the city of Ararpina normally rents out for cultural events. We have been given one month just for now to see how it goes. I think this will be a nice location for our Sunday services. The English classes that I will teach will be held there as well. So I need to start preparing for everything when I return from Fortaleza on Wednesday.

Impressions of Brazil:

  1. It is common to see salesmen on the buses trying to sell their products. Imagine this, a salesman enters the bus that is so packed full of people that you can barely move your arms to wipe the sweat off your face. The sales guy has a captive audience!  He will make sure that everyone gets the thing that he is selling, like gum or candy, and he will ask for 1 Real (money), and if the people don’t want it, then they have to hand it back to the salesman. Quite an impressive tactic on selling something right? Also, the salesmen plan out where the bus will stop along the routes and be prepared to sell cold water to the passengers through the bus windows (also only 1 Real).

Part 2 of my journal entry leading up to Easter:

Jesus was taken from Gethsemane, bound and led to the palace of Caiaphas, the chief priest and was held on a capital charge. The Sanhedrin (the Jewish high counsel) held an illegal trial (during the night, during the Passover, and where Jesus was provided no defense) in order to find reasons to put Christ to death. They produced false witnesses, all of which failed in their objective. They were looking for anyway they could to convict Jesus so that they could bring him before the Romans in the morning and claim that he was worthy of death. Finally Caiaphas asked Jesus, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.”  Caiaphas was hoping that he would be caught in blasphemy.  Jesus responded by saying, “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you: Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” That was all it took to convict Christ of the greatest crime in Jewish law, blasphemy. He claimed that he was the son of God and the Messiah. The Jews then brought him before Pilate (at that time the Jews were under Roman rule and did not have the legal power to place death sentences on prisioners without the approval of the Roman officials). Pilate interviewed Christ and found him without guilt and sent him to the soldiers to be cruelly beaten, whipped, and humiliated. Pilate reasoned that if Christ was humiliated in front of the blood thirsty Jewish officials and others that they would be satisfied. But they were not. They wanted his death. Pilot feared the Jewish leaders and eventually allowed Jesus to be put to death.  He “washed his hands” of the matter. It was the custom to release a prisoner at the Passover. They had two options: Jesus the Christ or Barabbas (a murderer). They chose to release Barabbas and crucify Christ (crucifixion is a Roman form of torture reserved for those who commit the most horrible crimes). The Jewish leaders were pleased. Jesus and his teachings would finally have an end.  Or so they thought.

Elder Nielsen

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