Monday, July 14, 2014

"I loved serving my mission in Brazil."

This video clip was totally shot in my old mission.  Maybe they didn't win the Fifa World Cup, but the people there are accepting the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I loved serving my mission in Brazil. I loved the people there, and it makes me so happy to see how much the Lord has blessed these people's lives. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Church that God restored on the earth in these last days and I truly saw that as I helped establish The Church in Brazil's lovely state of Ceara.

For more information on Missionary Work in Brazil, please click here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Elder Cetraro's last email home on his Mission:

oh Minha Nossa!! Chegou!

I thought this day would never come.... ha actually, I knew this day would come, and because of that I always have lost myself in my full time service while I can. I remember reading the story you just sent me of the return missionary my last week of training with my Zone Leader Elder Heath in Juazeiro. I remember I cried that day, I didn’t want that day to come, I dreaded the thought of it... in a good way.

I love serving the Lord, and as many youth are saying now-a-days... you only live once, YOLO, I knew that as well, you only serve once. But hey, that is life. God gives us many opportunities in our lives to live. I can honestly say that I LIVED my mission. I gave myself to the Lord. Because I have lost myself, I have also received the promised blessing that I shall find myself as well. Not only have I met, and come to know many great missionaries, members, leaders, the beautiful Brazilian people, but I have really come to know myself, and who I am. It’s incredible, and I know that this will help myself now come back and start my adult life.

I also, have come to know Someone even more important during my time here as a missionary. As Dad said in his email, I can truly look back at my mission and see the Lord’s hand in every week, everyday, and in every hour. Many people have accompanied me in these last two years. My family, my leaders, my friends that I have made here, and even the 24/7 companions. But only One has walked with me the whole way. I know, for I truly carried His name over my heart. There honestly isn’t anything in this world that I could pay to experience the constant closeness I had with my Savior. The Gospel, God’s plan and His commandments, and especially the Restoration of everything has really become a reality to me, and I am super grateful for this testimony that nobody can take away from me. Nobody could of given it to me either except a perfect Savior that knows me perfectly. And He did.

Words honestly can’t describe the feelings that I have for my mission. It really is sacred to me. Like my favorite picture which my Mom inspiredly put in my bedroom... of Moroni burying the plates, I finish my emails to my family and bear my testimony of the Lord’s Work today. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father that knows us and loves us beyond measure. He made a plan for us. He sent us here to Earth, to live and love. One of His greatest gifts He could give us was the opportunity to serve for Him in these last days. He knew that we were valiant, so He chose us to come and He prepared a way for us to steady our feet, grasp hands, encourage minds, inspire hearts, and save souls. It is what our perfect Father enjoys most, and so He made it possible to feel this great joy. To do that He called His Son, Jesus Christ and through Him all things were made possible. He lived for us, and He died for us, and in these last days, He calls us. I know He came down with His Father that wonderous spring morning in 1820. I know He restored His True Church through His servant Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet.... you don’t know how long I have waited to be able to say that for myself. I know that he translated the Book of Mormon and that this Divine Word has changed my life in countless ways. I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart. Also, God the Eternal Father and His Son restored the Holy Priesthood here on Earth once again. I know that I hold this Priesthood, and finally I know what an honor this is. I know God called me to serve here in Fortaleza Brazil, He called my President, Francisco de Assis Souza, and He created a perfect Mission for me. I know that families can be eternal, and that endless joy and happiness awaits us and our families as we live and love this Gospel He has given us. I know the Church is True, I love my Mom and Dad, and I close this last email, in the name of Jesus Christ.


Cya in a week! =)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Heeeyy there!!
100!!Wow that’s a mile mark. Now we know that 100 weeks is a looong time.
Wooow, I am getting a bit antsy writing this letter. I only have one more email after this. CRAZYY!! It was great to talk to you all. I thought it was one of our best conversations we have had out of our 4 in my mission. I guess you can say that I am officially excited to go home. (it’s a new feeling for me) Ha, but I am still here the mission is still my priority.

Today was great with Elder Neil L Anderson. Apostles really carry a great spirit with them. Thing is, I know they really are just normal people as well. Just humble servants of the Lord. He said 3 things that really confirmed things I have developed here on the mission. The first thing is getting familiar with Scripture References. I am working on writing my very own Book of Mormon Glossary. For the last year I have worked to memorize the chapters of the Book of Mormon. As he was explaining about the Atonement he put up a scripture and asked who knew what chapter this scripture was found in. My hand shot up and  I answered in an instant. He always asked who is the person teaching in the these doctrine chapters, and not many people knew... but I knew. It has been a blessing to have this God-given gift and it has really helped me listen and follow the spirit in my lessons (D&C84:85)

The second thing was a subject me and my companion have been debating for the last few weeks. About Justice vs. Mercy. My companion is a very extremist and strict in his opinions about what is right and wrong, I told him studying more about mercy will help him fight this dominating justice sense that he has. He then asks me, "if all our blessings come from obedience, why should I look more into mercy which will make me be more careless" I couldn’t really answer. But the focus of Elder Anderson’s talk was on a scripture I believe that is in 2 Nephi 2, or pg. 2 in Preach My Gospel that talks about the Merits, Mercy, and Grace. He told us to really ponder these 3 words over to get a better insight into the Atonement. 

Yeah! Ha, last thing is here on the mission I have developed a great love for General Conference, he invited us to study these things out, and I am excited to do such! (ha, if the Liahona gets here on time) Alright that was pretty sweet today. alrighty well I need to write President, até próxima semana!
Elder Cetraro

Monday, May 5, 2014

Heeellllooo there!
This is one of my  last emails! Next week is Skype.... then the next Monday after will be when I talk with Elder Anderson.... then one more and that’s it! WOOOOOOW!!!! Why am I doing this?!?! 

Ha, actually for the first time in my mission I think I had a bit of a problem sleeping because my mind kept thinking about home... I never have time to think about it any other time. Ha, especially now that I know that I will have a nice CAR when I get home, yaaaayy!!

Okay, as for my week. This was the first week of the transfer! We still are working a bunch with the family of Junior. We have been training them to do FHE every Monday night, and now their young daughter will be married and baptized this week. We also have been preparing their cousins who live close by to be baptized as well. 

This week there were two cool experiences that I liked. One was with the Leadership Council... my last. But I couldn’t have asked for a better one. As I have been approaching our last months here, I have done a bit of self reflection of what do I really have to show as one of the older missionaries. One of these I would say is how I can manage to listen to my investigators and adapt my teaching to apply it best to their life, so that every lesson I teach is different. “Teach People, Not Lessons”, as we say. Well, the Assistants chose this as the subject for this last training as well as work with the members, which is another point I like. Honestly, I know it has been an answer to my prayers. The next day I did an exchange with Elder Cardozo, one of our District Leaders, and during the day he said how he was amazed how I teach people and not lessons (without him even knowing what will be the training) It also has been amazing since I have almost memorized the whole Book of Mormon, in just about every visit I can use a different scripture story to apply to their lives. I hope I will be able to use these skills when I come home in some way.
Alrighty, well I got to go... 

SEE you next week!

-Elder Cetraro

Monday, April 28, 2014

Heeey Faaam!
WoW! I just noticed that I almost am at week 100!! That’s a good chunk of time! I think I will only have 101 weeks in my mission.. Cool! Anyways.... speaking of Trunky. Today I lived the literal meaning of trunky. So as for transfers, I stayed! I will finish my mission here in Bom Jardim. (Which means that I spent 2012 in Juazeiro, all of 2014 in Bom Jardim, and in 2013 I passed in ALL of my areas, funny huh??) Ha, so the next time I will have to arrange my bags... it will be the last time I will have to arrange my bags! (Hallelujah!)  Today I didn’t have to go to Aldeota (the mission office) so we had some spare time in the house. Everyone just wanted to lay down and chat (and we never have time to do that or probably will this transfer) and you know me being full of proactivity, I decided that I would sit... and chat... and organize my miscellaneous bag (Where I throw whatever). Hahaha now that’s trunky, but I know that it’s gonna need real organization and I am not going to leave that for my last week! So yeah... It’s starting to sink in.

Okay, well for my week. You asked me how many baptisms we had this month. The month ended up having 23 baptisms. Which is the best we have had while I have been here, but I know that it can be better. This month we will have Elder Anderson (the Apostle) come visit here!!!!  And Ulysses Soares (Seventy President, maybe someday the first Brazilian apostle) will come directly to Bom Jardim! So maybe that will help us all get excited. In our area we have 3 couples that are planning to be married this month so that’ll be great. Also as for retention, there is a countless number of inactive members here, but President Souza is famous for how he has helped Fortaleza retain more baptisms. As for my recent converts in the last 2 areas, I know that 90% are still active. So I feel good, but it really is a battle to retain here. I have a great love and gratitude for the recent-converts, that was actually what I told the Zone members this month. Anyways, it’s all good here.

This week I left my area in a companionship exchange for the first time in 2 months. I visited my good friend Elder Wall, and also my other good friend Elder Wadsworth It was pretty great. Some cool things that happened with Elder Wadsworth. First, I met their Ward Mission Leader who just barely got back from Rio, and turns out he was  a companion with my companion from the MTC. Ha, and do you remember when we went to do something with my driver’s license and that lady started to talk about how cool Brazilians are and how if you meet them one day they will invite you to their kid’s birthday party the next day? Well that just happened. Ha, Elder Wadsworth literally met a family the day before and our last appointment we swung by and just us and the family that lives there celebrated this kid’s 10th Birthday. Ha! I thought that was pretty funny, but it really is that way here.

This last Sunday, every dupla in our District had a baptism to do, but the plumbing went wrong.... so Sunday morning, the Elders from the afternoon ward came and filled up the font with BUCKETS!! Hahaha it was super sweet, and it was great. We baptized Cosmo, who is a 16 year old that is part of the family we baptized. We didn’t baptize him before because we thought he would return to live with his Gramma again, but it turns out that he liked the church so much that he ended up staying!

Ha, good stuff... well I would like to invite you and the Fam to pray for me as much as you can. I want to finish off my mission the best that I can. I know that my return is just around the corner, but every time you think about me, do a personal prayer that I finish off the mission strong, with plenty of baptisms and the finishing touches the Lord needs to do for this return missionary okay?! Let’s go! até próxima semana!

-Élder Cetraro

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hey there!
Here soon we will have our last Skype and then I’ll be home!  Sadly, my last transfer only has 5 weeks, so we shall see what will happen next week. I’m chill with whatever. If I leave... I will probably be Assistant. If I stay... alright! I will continue here where we are having progress and some more couples to baptize. It’s great to see how the Ward and the Zone has grown since I have gotten here. When I arrived... the Zone wasn’t super ready to have an explosion of missionaries. So we baptized I think around 13 in January, 19 in February, 13 in March, and we already have 18 in April with a prospective of 30 by the end... YES!  Also our Ward is improving a lot as well. Constantly members are saying how the ward is improving. We had 6 baptisms this last week in our ward of 2 families. Awesome!

This week was great to help prepare Júnior and his family for this big week. Erbênia managed to stop smoking, they then had interviews Wednesday, wedding Thursday, baptism Friday, and the confirmation Sunday- all during Easter. Friday was cool because we turned the baptism into an Easter activity where we watched "The Lamb of God" (a movie about the last week of Christ’s life) I gave a message about the symbolisms between Resurrection and Baptism and after the baptism we had fondue! Ha there were about 80 people so it was great for the ward!

But that’s about it. The weather here has been rainy. So some days it’s cool... and other days it’s humid and hot. Well alright. I’ll talk to ya’ll here next week.

-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hellloooo My Family!

This week was actually a bit tough for us. Monday night we had to fight to help out the two young couples. At first we noticed they weren’t having the best communication so we suggested it would be a better idea to live separately and learn to really date before living together. But later they decided that they’ll just get married, so we have their wedding planned for May. With Geraldo and Jorgilane we did another lesson helping them to forgive each other, we asked Geraldo to promise that he’ll stop drinking.... but he didn’t, so we all kinda gave up. I felt really bad that night. Not just for them, but also for all the other children that I see who are growing up in that environment where someday they will also have the dangers of addictions and other worldly things. It made my companion reflect as well. 

This week we gave a Training about working with the members. It was sad because we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to prepare the training. (Since for much of the time I had been thinking about this subject, but had not organized my thoughts) It went well, and that day we had an exchange, with Elder Ordinola. It then dawned on me that our area is quite the example. That day we taught 5 couples, and every single one had something involved with a Member. My whole entire mission I have been taught to teach Men and Families and Couples... I have worked hard for that but it wasn’t always a reality.... now it is!! So I am very blessed for that, and it was great to show that to a new missionary so they can lift up their sights and work to have many families as well.

This weekend, with our Ward Mission Leader, Erivan, we decided to continue to work better with the members and to have a better relationship with them and really work to conquer their trust. This weekend we had Presidente Souza come and talk to the Palmares Ward (our neighbors, same chapel). We invited our members too... some of them went. But it’s getting better. Many members have told us how we are making a mark in the ward. That makes me feel good about our work.

So yeah, it’s going good! I am still loving the mission... it’s just weird having my end right around the corner... but I know I have served well, and that the Lord is happy with my 2 years... so I can go home if it is really His will. (But I’m sure deep down inside I’m really excited, I am just very good at keeping it under control, ha!)
Thanks for your emails and your prayers! 
until next week!

-Élder Cetraro