Elder Matthew Nielsen

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

Elder Neil L. Andersen Visits Our Mission!

Hello Family and Friends!

This last week was really exciting and I learned a lot! I say this because Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles visited our mission to organize another Stake! (This is the third apostle that has visited our mission in less than 2 years.) Unfortunately, half of the mission couldn’t travel to see him speak because the costs involved would have been too great on the mission, so President Fusco decided to electronically transmit the conference to Fortaleza where we would be able to watch him speak. I really enjoyed what Elder Andersen had to say. He focused a lot on teaching about repentence. He said the members really need to understand what it means to have a “changed heart”. It was quite funny when President Fusco got up and said that “If all else fails, talk about the first vision of Prophet Joseph Smith”, because when he sat down, Elder Andersen got up and said to the missionaries, “If all else fails, speak about Christ!” President Fusco just smiled.

Elder Andersen previously spent 4 years living in Brazil on a church assignment. He speaks Português quite well and was able to say most of his talk in Português without the assistance of the translator. Also, the grandson of Elder Andersen is serving in our mission, so Elder Andersen spoke in his grandson’s area! Awesome right? Another thing that Elder Andersen focused on was asking us to write out a list of our strengths and weaknesses. He followed this by reading the Parable of the Talents. In that story, all of the servants received at least one talent to develop. I know there are many people who get down on themselves, complaining to God that they have no talents, that everyone else has more ability than they do. That is so far from the truth. We all have a least one talent that we are given, but it is up to us to discover what it is and then develop it. If not, according to the Parable, it will be taken away from us and given to another. We are all special in our own unique ways, and each of us plays an important part in the grand plan of God. We have all been so blessed and can use the gifts and talents that we have been given to bless the lives of others. Elder Andersen is such an inspired man. It is easy to see that he is a special witness of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He ended his talk with these words, “I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that all of you know this too, but I know he lives in a way that is different from you.” I felt the power of his testimony.  I know that what he said is true, because I could see the power of his testimony in his eyes and in his whole being.

This last week was incredible and ended with 2 more baptisms: Helena (Mother of Gabriela and Elen who were also baptized recently) and Isabeli (daughter of a member of the ward). I love them all and I’m grateful for the chance I had to teach them and bring them to the truth and to a life that can bring true joy and happiness.

Impressions of Brazil:

  1. People who live in the Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil have the custom of putting beans on their plate first and then rice on top. (Just thought you needed to know this haha!)
  2. Youth here love putting highlights in their hair and dressing up in goth clothes.

Some of my friends are having difficult times right now. Passing through difficulties is not a fun experience, believe me, I know firsthand. But the lesson to be learned is not how to quickly get through them, but how to discover the great purpose by which we were given them. We cannot return to God without passing through hardships. I know that God allows these hardships for our growth and benefit. I said a prayer this last week because I was passing through some moments of loneliness and I was feeling that God was not helping me in the way that I needed it. In this prayer, I told Him that I feel the weight of the burdens placed upon me, but that I will not ask Him to take these burdens away because it was He who has allowed them, but I asked God to lighten my burdens and make them bearable. I told Him that I would go where He wanted me to go and do what He wanted me to do, so that in the end I may be shaped into the person He wanted me to become. That prayer was hard for me to say because I admit that I have pride and like to accomplish things without the help of others, but I have learned over the course of my mission that being humble is the only path to being truly blessed with the help and strength necessary to be perfected by the merciful hand of Christ. I have been so blessed on my mission and have learned to put my trust in God that everything will work out for me in the end.

I love you all very much!

Elder Nielsen

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