Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever. Alma 26:12

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

In the Big City!!!

Oi! So first things first. I'm back in Fortaleza. We arrived here around 7ish this morning. No I haven't been transferred. I'm just here for training and to check in with the Federal Police. I'll be here until Friday.. ish. I'm (temporarily) Elder Carlson's (my MTC comp) companion. And I'm not really in the same situation as him. His companion couldn't speak English and he's being transferred. It's really helpful for me to be able to measure the speed of my learning once in a while. I can speak much better than him and sister Mobley (we met up with her at the police station this morning). We are staying at the mission home. They have like 20 beds there. We'll be staying with all the missionaries that are going home tomorrow. Its crazy how quickly I got close to them. Compared to where I'm living, there is no poverty here.

Fortaleza Cathedral

I heard that it's taking almost 2 months for letters to go from here to the US and about a month the opposite direction. I know that I haven't received any letters, but there's a huge stack of packages in the mission office. I'll be here until Friday though.

You need a new iPhone! An old android wouldn't compare to a new iPhone for the same reasons an old iPhone cant compare to a new android.

The whole house thing isn't going well. We found 2 perfect ones but the first one we missed by a day and the owner of the second one (which had hot showers!!!) decided that she didn't want to rent to us (lots of people here only want to rent to people of their own faith).

That's so exciting that you guys will be able to have Prom dinner there! Is the house completely ready? Let me know how it all goes!

Soo miracles.On Saturday, we felt like we needed to buy more chairs for church. Unfortunately we didn't have enough money (They're R$23 EACH!!) and the secretaries can't release immediate funds to us until we have a house. Sooooo I decided that I needed to use personal funds (Don't worry, the secreatries said that they would expense it. The money will be back there in a week or 2). Wellllll our faith paid off!! We talk to them all almost every day  Every week we invite people to church. This is just the first week that anyone has shown up. We filled every chair!! We had 20 people at church!!!! Thats more than double our usual turnout!! They all came to our house and yes, it was very cramped haha. We only have Aula (Class. I cant remember what its called in English. Teaching gospel principles) and Sacrament until we have a Ramo (Branch). We have to have 7 Melchizedek Priesthood holders and now we have 4 so we are a Group.  I really wanted to send the pic of everyone at church but my adaptor is packed up :(

Just goes to prove one of my favorite scriptures - James 2:14 - 21.

14 What profit is it, my brethren, for a man to say he hath faith, and hath not works? can faith save him?
 15 Yea, a man may say, I will show thee I have faith without works; but I say, Show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
 16 For if a brother or sister be naked and destitute, and one of you say, Depart in peace, be warmed and filled; notwithstanding he give not those things which are needful to the body; what profit is your faith unto such?
 17 Even so faith, if it have not works is dead, being alone.
 18 Therefore wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead and cannot save you?
 19 Thou believest there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble; thou hast made thyself like unto them, not being justified.
 20 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
 21 Seest thou how works wrought with his faith, and by works was faith made perfect?
Hey!! Great article for you to read! Ensign Feb 2014 p.42 "Get informed Get involved".  I read it in the mission office today.  Good luck with Relay and ACS Mom!
Elder Hamstead

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

This house needs much more than a superficial cleaning...

I can't believe my first transfer in Brasil is already coming to an end! This week we received some good news and some not so good news. Good news is that President Fusco approved the house! Bad news is that the area authorities in Sao Paulo didn't.. The house was listed for R$800, which is the cheapest we've been able to find with everything that we're required to have by R$200, but our max allowed is R$700. Our secretary put in an offer for R$700 and the owner turned it down. The Secretary called Sao Paulo to see if they would raise the limit here but, no luck, they said no. So yep. We have to start looking for houses again this week. I never thought that this would have taken anywhere near the amount of time its taken. 

Yesterday, we only had 3 people at church (we have almost 15 members). The Group President and his family (He's the owner of the house) and an awesome member that we just found about a week ago, named Manuel and he lives over 45 minutes away (walking). President Zuza was the President 7 years ago and he just remembered about him. We walk to that area frequently.  It's such a testimony builder to see how strong someone can still be without having the influence of the church in their life for over 7 years (this area was closed 7 years ago). No one knows why it was closed for sure. But from what I've heard, the members basically all hated each other and after the first set of missionaries were here, they started to dislike the missionaries as well. In total, before we were here, Salgueiro was only open for like 2 or 3 transfers. The problem for the members is that our house is at the very edge of our city. Most members live well over 30 minutes away from us and most don't have cars and do have children. One of our members told us that she and her family probably wouldn't be coming to church anymore until we have a new house (which might actually be a blessing because we only have 5 chairs haha). She said that she doesn't think our house is safe for their kids. 

President Zuza just moved back here a couple months ago. He moved to Trinidad a couple of years ago and served as branch president there. The house that we're living in was closed up / abandoned from the time he moved away to the time we entered there on my birthday. We spend over 4 hours every Saturday cleaning and fixing up for church. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the members, this house needs much more than a superficial cleaning. Keep us and our house hunting in your prayers. There are some MASSIVE catholic churches here. We have to have like 70 active members (at least half men) to get a church building. I really feel like this is the week that we'll find a good house.

Not sure about the package. Transfers are next week and I'll recieve any mail thats made it here within a week or 2 after that. It took almost 3 months for Elder Constatinos last companion to recieve a package from Texas. Elder Anderson (Apostle) will be coming to / speaking to our mission at the end of may. Best part? He cant speak Portuguese haha. I can only send 1 pic today :/. I plugged my card into the computer, uploaded a pic, and then the computer started dumping files onto my card.... These computers are full of viruses. 

Love you!!!!

Elder Hamstead

The climb was completely worth it! (April 14)

Zone Conference in Araripina
Holy cow!! I can't believe I've already been in Brasil for a month!! On Tuesday at around 5pm we we got on a bus headed to Araripina for a Zone conference the next day. About 3ish hours later, we arrived. It was pretty cool to stay with a bunch of other missionary's (They have 6 living there). After almost a month of living only with my companion it was pretty nice to talk to other missionary's. Even if I couldn't understand them most of the time haha. Elder Carlson (MTC comp) was there too so that was pretty cool. During the day on Wednesday I was able to go on my first split! At first I was pretty nervous because I didn't know the people and the Elder I was with didn't know any Portuguese... Good news though!! I guess that experience forced me to understand Portuguese and now I'm understanding more and more every day! It's crazy how fast it's coming but, with the amount of people we talk to everyday, it can't come fast enough!

This morning we climbed the mountain again! But this time we brought Everton with us. When we got to his house at around 8am, his mom informed us that he had been sick the night before. He insisted that he was feeling better though. His mom gave him permission and we headed out. Climbing the mountain with Everton was tons of fun and we took a bunch of pics when we got to the top (I'll send a couple). Unfortunately, right when we were about to head back, he started feeling sick again. I felt so bad for the little guy, but he toughed it out and we made it back to his house ok. 

We made it to the top of the mountain!
I love how perfectly mountains compare to trials in our lives. The climb up is never easy but once you get to the top, and you have this amazing view in front of you, you know that the climb was completely worth it. My mission isn't always easy but I know that if I give it my all and I climb this mountain of a mission, the view from the top will be worth it all.

Soooo still no house. Buuuut, good news, somehow our water started working yesterday! It only works at the kitchen sink but for us this is awesome. No more showering in dead bug infested water!! YAY!!! We've submitted a house to the secretary and we're just waiting for him to talk to President. I think we'll be in by the end of the week. 

Possible House/Church

Possible House/Church

Possible House/Church
Send pics of Abbys new hair!!! The house looks awesome! Any news on whats his face (the painter guy)? I wish I could have been there to see Kelsey speak :(. I'm sure it was great though! Annnnnd baptisms are going much slower than either of us had expected. Still only Everton. Oh ya, I put a pic of food here in there for you :)

I love you all so much! Good luck with your week!!!!

Elder Hamstead

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The tight grasp of money, our home search and Conference!

My city - Santo Antonio outside of Salguiero
I can't believe I've been in Brasil for almost a month already! It's crazy how different time feels in and out of the MTC. Our house search is still ongoing and we're really starting to worry about how it's affecting us. We have to spend so much time searching and where we're staying now isn't big enough to hold church in. We're hoping and praying to find a new house and move in before this Sunday. Still haven't found a house. We've probably seen close to 30 since we've been here. Realtors here aren't very professional and don't have many properties (usually 3 or 4 at max...). We probably won't go with another realtor. The people here are great though. Random people that we've never seen before will stop us on the street just to tell us that they know where a great rental for us is. Crazy!

Tomorrow we will be taking a 3 hour bus ride to Ararepena (thats probably spelled wrong haha) for a Zone meeting. Good news? The buses are super nice and have AC. The bad news? It's gonna take and entire day out of our week. Oh! I found out that where I'm serving right now is only a couple hours away from Elder Loveland's mission. 

Street in Salguiero
On the 3rd we celebrated Elder Constantino's 19th birthday. Sandra, the mother of one of the families we're teaching, also has her birthday this month. So Elder Constantino and I decided to celebrate with them! We bought 2 cakes and some soda and headed on over. You should have seen the looks on their faces and their children's faces. Their family is going through a hard time right now (financially) and they aren't able to afford extras like cake. Their family is so awesome and Sandro / Sandra (parents) want to be baptized but they can't because they aren't married. It's a tricky situation for them. Sandra receives money from a pension and she'll continue to receive this money every month up until she is married. They just can't afford to lose that income (right now at least). It's scary to see how tight of a grasp money has on the lives of the people of this world. Back home, we take so much for granted.  We complain when we can't have the latest and greatest while people here are grateful for every little thing they have.

I'm still trying to adjust to both the language and the culture. It's much more difficult than I had expected. I can still barely understand Portuguese but I know that in 7 months, I'll be just like Sister Coffey - 9 months in and with A LOT more knowledge. Both the language of Portuguese and the language of the Spirit. I'm so jealous of you guys reading together. I'm only allowed to read in English for 30 minutes every day. My ability to read is increasing rapidly but I wish I were able to spend more time with a greater understanding.

Conference was a really interesting experience. We didn't have anyone to watch the Saturday session with so we went to the LAN house for both sessions. Which was really great because I got to watch it in English! The Sunday session was a bit different. We went to Romolo's house and watched it with his family and the family of Zuza. Annnnnnd it was in Portuguese. The first session, I could barely understand anything. The translators speak so quickly!! The second session I understood everything!! Because I turned on subtitles in English haha. Portuguese is coming pretty quickly to me. Unfortunately, only the speaking part is coming. I can say basically whatever I want, but it's very hard for me to understand people. I think I'll have it down within a month.

Love you all so much!!!!
Elder Hamstead