Elder Matthew Nielsen

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

The Importance of Member Missionary Work

Hello Family and Friends!

This week was a great week in many ways! We heard from President Fusco that the new focus of the mission will be working with the members in strengthening the teaching process. The old focus of the mission involved teaching lessons to nonmembers without the involvement of active members.  The mission president now wants the members involved in these lessons and in fellowshipping. So this week we spent considerable time with Bishop Lima, Marcus (Secretary of the ward), and Isabel (ward missionary). We also held a meeting with some of the ward missionaries and the bishop in order to plan upcoming missionary activities in the ward. We came up with this: 1. “Missionary for the day” involves ward members dividing into companionships and dedicating Saturday mornings to tracting and trying to get new people for the missionaries to teach. 2. “Open House” where we will open the chapel to the community so that they can get to know the Mormons a little better through presentations of church videos, a question and answer session, and meeting the missionaries if they want to know more about the church. 3. “The Dinner of Religious Freedom” which consists of inviting the local leaders of every church in our community to have dinner with us in the LDS church, supporting the importance of religious freedom. (Yes President Flake…I got this idea from you!) And I will involve President Fusco and the local Stake President in this. 4. “A game of points” where we create a list of activities, revolving around missionary work, that if the members participate they will win points. For example, if you do splits with the missionaries you will earn 25 points, or if you bring a non member to church you get 60 points. The top three point earners will win prizes. The Bishop decided to award the first place winner with a free pass to the temple in Recife, which costs around 190 Realis. This activity should motivate the members to participate in this work a little more! 5. “Music night” where we invite the community into the chapel and the mormons in the area to a night of music, where we will have a concert by an orchestra and a choir. It will be just a night of fellowshipping and listening to good music.

Well that is basically what we have planned for the next couple of months. I’m really excited!

Impressions of Brazil:

  1. Eating sunflower seeds is really a weird thing to do in Brazil. It is not like the US where you have a variety of different flavors of sunflower seeds. Generally they are only given to the birds. One time I saw a member put sunflower seeds on his lunch table and I thought I could eat them because he set them out and when I grabbed a handful and started eating them, he walked out into the room and thought I was so weird haha.
  2. Never swim, eat fish, or drink water from the local lake in Ceará if you want to live. The vast majority of the lakes are used to dump sewage. There is a lake right next to the church and the members tell the missionaries that if they enter the water with 10 toes, they will leave with 8, or if they enter with clothes, they will leave with none, or they will grow 2 heads swimming in that water. Well you get the picture.
  3. Teenagers hate wearing tennis shoes to school in Ceará and only wear sandals.

1 Peter 3:8: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.” We as members of the Lord’s church need to lift the weight of the burdens that others carry, including their afflictions, heart aches, and daily problems. Just as we look to others for comfort in our moments of hardship and struggle, we need to do all we can to lessen the pain, and sometimes unspeakable suffering, that others are having to endure. We cannot turn a blind eye to the pain around us. We cannot be so busy that we don’t stop and help someone in need. As we help God by helping others, God then pours out his blessings on us. That is a promise made to us. If you want help from God, the way to receive it is through selfless service. I have a big testimony of that. It is a lesson that I am learning to understand and to implement more in my life.

Have a wonderful week and relish the opportunities you have to help those around you who need your love and support!  It is a blessing to you.

Elder Nielsen

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