Elder Matthew Nielsen

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

Christmas Mission Conference

Hello Family and Friends!

Merry Christmas! I hope all of you are enjoying this wonderful holiday season. I have always had a great love for Christmas. It truly is the best time of the year!

Last week the whole mission gathered together for a Christmas Mission Conference. We had an amazing breakfast: pancakes, eggs, bacon, ham, and chocolate milk (what more can you ask for?). Then we listened to a talk given by one of the two daughters of President and Sister Fusco. Vilma, the older daughter of President Fusco, spoke about obedience (one of President Fusco’s favorite subjects). This is the story she shared: “A mother and daughter decided to go to the beach one day to enjoy the warm water and the sun. It just so happened that the beach also had an air show that same day where cool airplanes were doing some crazy stuff in the sky. The daughter was playing in the water while her mom was sun tanning. Well, the daughter got hungry and started to leave the water when she heard her mother tell her to drop on the sand. She didn’t listen, thinking that her mother was crazy, and all of a sudden an airplane dropped low and took her head clean off.” She said to us that as humans we always want to ask God “Why?” But she told us that if God commands us to do something that we need to just obey because he would never ask us to do something that wasn’t for our eternal good. After this, we watched the Christmas Devotional of the church. I really enjoyed that. Then we watched a movie! Every Christmas Mission Conference, it is a tradition for President Fusco to put on a movie for us to watch. It can’t just be any movie. He chooses a movie that has a great message that he wants all of the missionaries to hear. This year we watched Kung Fu Panda! He wanted us to watch this movie because he wants us to believe that anything is possible if we just believe in ourselves. He wants us to internalize that we are truly sons and daughters of God and that there is a great power that lies in each one of us. He then read Helaman 5:12 in the Book of Mormon. He said that he learned a trick to always accomplish his goals and dreams. He said that if we build our goals and dreams upon the foundation of Christ that they will never be destroyed. (The first time I saw President Fusco I really liked him and I considered myself blessed to be in his mission. He is an amazing man. He is loving, caring, hardworking, very spiritual, and an excellent servant of God. I always feel the spirit strongly as he speaks. I know he was called to be our president by revelation from God and that he is an inspired man.) After all of this we had a great lunch, received little presents, and then left to our areas in the mission.

The work is pressing forward in Quixadá. I have a great group of people to teach. I would like to share a short story with you about someone I’m teaching now. One day we were knocking on doors and found a family of deaf people. The daughter of the family isn’t deaf and knows how to speak sign language. As we taught this family I felt so much love for them. I felt the spirit strongly as the daughter of this couple translated our message to them in sign language. The father went to church yesterday. I used his cell phone to write everything that was happening so that he could follow along with the meeting.

Impressions of Brazil:

  1. Every Christmas time the stores sell sweet bread called panettone. It can be made with little fruits, chocolate, etc. These last two Christmases that I’ve been here, President Fusco has bought the missionaries chocottone (a chocolate version of panettone). It is very good!
  2. Here in Brazil, as well as in other parts of the world, people traditionally eat turkey at Christmas time. But Brazilians have their big meal on the 24th, not on Christmas Day.
  3. So far, I have not seen a Christmas tree in Ceará.

I know that Christ lives. I know that he loves every one of us. I have a great respect and love for this man. I look forward to the day when I will be able to hug him and fall at his feet and thank him for the wonderful things that he has done for me and my family. I’m grateful for these 2 years that I have to speak of him. To be quite honest, it is not enough time. I know that I’m not perfect, but through him my weaknesses are made into strengths. He is my best friend, my older brother, my judge, my Savior, and my creator. I love him with all my soul.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone and remember that Christ made all of it possible!

Elder Nielsen

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