Elder Matthew Nielsen

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

Open and Friendly Brazilians!

Hello Family and Friends!

I thought I would begin by answering a few questions that have been asked recently: 1) It is winter here in Brazil, but it feels like summer because it is still really hot. The only difference is the added rain. 2) I think the difference between a mission in the States and a mission here in Brazil is that there is a higher chance of meeting people and sharing the gospel here in Brazil! It is because the majority of the people are not inside their homes, but sitting outside talking to one another, playing games in the street, or eating. 3) I love my mission president. He is an extremely spiritual man and I always learn something new from him every time we have interviews (every 3 months) and every time we have a mission conference (every 4 months). I could see him becoming a general authority one day. He is that awesome! Some interesting facts about him are: he speaks 3 languages fluently (Português, Spanish, and English), he was raised in extremely poor conditions but became a super successful business man (he has a black credit card which literally can buy anything and if we as missionaries do something good, sometimes he offers to buy all of us a fine meal at McDonald’s), and he married into one of the wealthiest families in Brazil, who also were some of the first people who accepted the gospel here in Brazil. 4) Our district leader lives in Aracati, which is about an hour and a half away from Russas. In order to participate in the weekly district meetings (includes 6 missionaries), we wake up at 5 am every Tuesday morning in order to catch the bus going to Aracati. 5) Brazilians are super open and friendly! If you sit down with one of them, they are literally willing to share their entire life story with you (even all of the personal stuff that makes you uncomfortable). 6) My day starts at 6:30 am and ends at 10:30 pm (we have to be inside the house no later than 9:30 pm). 7) I love the members of Russas. I have grown really close to them recently because of President Fusco’s new focus in member missionary involvement (as missionaries, we have the following weekly goals of baptizing 4 people and confirming them, inviting 14 new people to be baptized, bringing 7 people to church on Sunday, teaching 18 lessons during the week with a member of the church, teaching 12 lessons without a member, getting to know 22 new people to teach, re-teaching the lessons to 12 people who were recently baptized, and helping 9 less active members return back to activity). President Fusco wants us to teach more using the members and literally every day one member of the ward spends most of the day doing visits with us. 8) Yes, almost every day I experience some kind of disappointment, but I have learned to take my feelings out of the equation, forget about what I want, and be more focused on what God wants me to do to help his children accept the gospel and receive the blessings of being baptized.

Impressions of Brazil:

  1. In the U.S. depending where you live, your time may be hours ahead of other states. Well all of Brazil uses the same time zone. Brazil uses the time of the state of Brasilia, which is the capital of Brazil.
  2. Almost no one has internet here in Russas, because it is really expensive. So basically everyone uses the Wifi of the church. I literally met a guy who came over to the house of a woman that we were teaching and he asked us if we were Mormons and I said yes and I asked him how did he know that we were Mormons and he responded basically I always use your Wifi haha. Interesting right?
  3. The most popular app by far here in Brazil is the Whatsup app. It’s basically an app to talk/text your friends without using minutes on your cell phone.

Matthew 16:24 says, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” Many people think that the cure to many of life’s problems is in becoming more selfless through service. Of course service is very important, but I think that many people overlook an important step in preparing to serve others. We are asked to lay our own cares aside so that we can become one with God. I’m sure you have seen many people who complain about their own lives while they are in the process of rendering service to someone. It’s tough, but we are asked to become fully invested in those that we serve.  100% present with them. Discipleship means that we “take up the cross” (which includes bearing the burdens of others). As we do this, we are promised that the Savior will also lighten our load. In a literal sense, the weight of a cross must be extremely heavy. It must be incredibly hard to carry. But I know that Christ is aware of our burdens and he desires to strengthen us in them. As we bless the lives of others, our own burdens become light. I love the next verse in that chapter, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

Love you all!

Elder Nielsen


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