Monday, December 30, 2013

Heya Família! How y'all doin’ there?? Was it good to see Elder Cetraro?! Ha, next Skype call will be in my last transfer! WOW!! It really is going by quick, I am looking back on 2013 and it is weird to think that I was in all my areas this year. Maybe I will have one (really unlikely 2) areas in this new year. It is fun to look back, I think that is why I am so diligent at writing in my journal because it really makes you marvel and wonder about your own life. A year ago I was with my 2nd companion, Elder Hodson! WOW! I was still learning the ropes in how to be a missionary. And now I am the most experienced missionary in the Zone... weird?! But it is good. 

Today, I did mark with a young man in the ward that plays piano incredibly to try to see if I can learn how to make my own arrangements. I think next week I will try to do a follow up on the goals I made for 2013. Really, I saw how much God wanted to help us with our goals this last year. I made a BUNCH of goals if you remember right, well I wasn’t even following up on a lot of them but the cool thing is that the majority I was able to do or improve on! I will have to try to do the same for this year. I want to make goals for the rest of my mission, the transition from mission to real life, and what I want to happen by the end of the year.

Well, you wanna hear about Christmas!! My Christmas you can say was a pretty memorable Christmas. We took Mom’s challenge and we did Caroling until Christmas this last week. We have been searching and searching for couples to teach and last week we didn’t really find any. But it was great because I made my Christmas wish to Papai nos Céus and Christmas Eve we found 2 amazing couples, one of them was from Juazeiro and I fell instantly in love. As for Christmas day, it was sweeeet because we had our District meeting that day so I got to start Christmas off with our beloved missionaries from our Zone. We made eggs and pancakes and we had a White Elephant game at the end of the day which was a hoot! We came home and we realized we should make plans to help the Zone, So we spent the afternoon making plans to help everyone, and WOW it helped a lot and will help us to continue helping them for a while. Then at night a member called us over for a surprise and he is a landlord and he took us to go caroling to 5 couples that live in his apartments! 5 couples! Merry Christmas!! So that was great, it surely was a Merry Christmas.

So yeeaah, it was great to see you all. I thought the best was to see the little Ryker! Ha I haven’t really thought much about the photos I have already seen, but to actually see the bubblin’ baby was awesome! Luckily though I didn’t get as trunky as I thought I would get for Christmas, I am still here and I am still working hard. I am happy and excited. I couldn’t of asked for a better 2013 and a mission. And hey Mom!

.... I’ll be home for Chrrriiiiisstttmaasss!! You can count on me.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Hey there!
Alrighty, so I guess I will report the week for y'all. So this week we had our Christmas Conference. That was fun. Elder Villalba and I came up with a song on the spot that we sang to President Souza "Graças damos à Deus por Presidente" It was funny, but last year’s was much much better.  But the most spiritual part for me was when the Elders that are leaving bore their last testimony. Wow. I am getting close, I can feel it. My whole life I have been preparing myself for this thing we call "The Mission", and now my time is running to home plate. Anyways, it was good.

The work this week was slowed down a bit. We had to do a lot of interviews (that’s good!) and figuring out things for a wedding of an old couple that were baptized this last week. This last transfer has probably been the best transfer of my mission. In 5 weeks (A short transfer) we baptized 12 people, and that was 3 families as well. Ohh the blessings... it really is incredible. But all good things come to an end, and guess what? I was transferred!

I left Genibaú. I am now in Ala Bom Jardim. Ha, funny thing is, following the pattern of my mission..... I am opening up another area! (Which means that me and my companion get there at the same time and basically have to start from scratch) And that is suuuuper rare with Zone Leaders as well. The Zone Batizadora divided and now we are Zone Leaders of the Zone, Bom Jardim. Even funnier is who is my companion, Elder Christiansen. Ha! Maybe I haven’t talked much about him but he was our District Leader in Genibaú and he has lived with me for the last 3 months, and now he is my companion. That’s super rare that you become companions with somebody that you know! So yeah, we will see how it goes! But yeah, I will be passing the Holidays in Bom Jardim.

I love you guys and I can’t wait to skype ya next week! I have been growing out my hair just for you guys!!

-Elder Zac Cetraro

December 9, 2013

I asked for Christmas Spirit stories, and I got wonderful testimonies. I have heard many many many tender testimonies on my mission, but I don’t think there are any testimonies that touch my heart more than those of my family. It’s true. It just strengthens my faith to know that this faith that I have is shared in my family and that we have the great hope of Eternal Families, it’s good when your family looks to the eternities.

So thanks for the Christmas spirit. This week was pretty good. Wednesday, we had a District Meeting and we made the goal of baptizing 33 people (one for every year of Christ’s life) this month. We did 6 in October, and 15 in November, so it will be quite the jump but it’ll be good. I shared my thoughts with the Zone about Christmas.

Friday I did an exchange with a new missionary from Portugal, Elder Carvalho. He reminds me of the black guy from Rush Hour, a very happy excited high-pitch missionary, Fun Stuff. That day I prepared a lesson to teach the Plan of Salvation using the Proclamation to the World,The Family. I got him all excited to baptize families, it’ll be good. This week we baptized 3 youth. Giovanna, who is 14 and is the neighbor/niece of Marcelo, she wants to serve a mission. Eric, who is the Son of Leonardo who was baptized last week, and Pablo who is the son of Fabrisso who was baptized two weeks ago. It was really special this Sunday because both of the fathers were conferred the Aaronic Priesthood, and were allowed to baptize their sons. It was a surprise for the both of them! It was really special to help baptize two fathers and then help them personally baptize their sons. My testimony grew of why God gave man His power and to work in His work. That day I was really able to see the glow of the joy in others when you help them do service in the work of salvation.

Today I had an interesting talk with Elder Villalba. I was sharing how I felt I have kinda lost the "Hang Loose" spirit here on the mission. He made up an interesting phrase. "Keep the Rules, but don’t let the Rules keep you." That really touched me. I have a strong testimony that God prepared the rule book and all the standards that are made here in the mission. All these things were prepared to help me have success. But the most important thing that God prepared for me to have success here on my mission.... is Me. I need to be myself. Of all the things I can be, a Missionary, a Leader, a Companion, the most important thing I can be... is Me. So I will try to help bring Me back out. Don’t worry about me though, Elder Villalba says I am too hard on myself and I probably am, but that really helped today. Elder Villalba will probably be one of my favorite companions. Because that is what he is, a COMPANION. Elder Galves was my Pai, Elder Hodson my Hero, Elder Medrado my Son... but Elder Villalba has been great. Maybe I have to help him in many of his duties, and keeping focused, but he fills in his part as a good companion. He never lets me get down, and always lifts me up. He says I have been good to him as well.... I don’t know what I do, but he says he feels really good with me. So yeah.

If you could, pray for my Zone, and that I can continue to serve them. Love you all!  Merry Christmas and good night!
-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, December 2, 2013

I had to laugh because "Happy December" is exactly how I started off my letter with President Souza. And I thought I would be unique =P.

Happy December right back at ya. Wow, strappin’ in, and getting ready for the season of trunkiness to come in! Ha, but I know that is just because the Christmas spirit reminds me of home, but I will try my best to convert this spirit of Christmas to the spirit of bringing souls unto Christ. 

So I will get started on my week. Something that is funny now that I am a Zone Leader. Before I was known to be a dedicated Elder because I was right on with the whole missionary routine. Ha, but now that I am a Zone Leader I don’t think I have had one normal morning yet! First of all we suffered this last week because our Weekly Planning time was used with figuring things out for Conference and helping out the Sisters and talking about the Zone. I did an exchange with a District Leader Elder Kauffmann who was being trained in our house in Expedicionários when I was training Elder Medrado. He is so young on the mission, and he has the burden that I had when I had a year on my mission. So it really became obvious how much I need to lift up our leaders here in the Zone.

Thanksgiving..... was special indeed!! It was our Zone Conference!! Wow it was great! It was funny because President Souza called my name out as an example 3 times. Once, because I am "well-adapted" to the mission, the other is because I am an "Explosive Leader", and the other because I am "Happy & Elevated". I didn’t know President thought so well about me. Ha, but it was good to relax and socialize a bit. I will miss Elder Lopez who is the best image of a missionary of Power and Authority. He has been our Assistant since Elder Reynolds left and he has been great. He talked a bit about planning. It was great.

So yeah we baptized a family. Friday was sweet because me and Elder Villalba went to do the wedding downtown. We got to study a bit in a little park.
I think I need to credits are gone?
Love you all, until next week!
-Elder Zac Cetraro

p.s. I ate piranha this week, best exotic food!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Alô minha mother!

So this week was pretty special. It’s great to see how God is trusting us with some of the greatest challenges that the mission has to offer. Families and addictions. Right now we are teaching 6 families. Working with families is actually reeeally interesting. Because as you know, everybody is different. And as if getting one person to the baptismal font isn’t hard enough, getting a whole family there is a challenge. It’s tough because everyone has their own difficulties and it is hard to focus on just one person, and then the others get behind.

This week we dedicated a lot of time to a couple of these families. First of all was the couple Fabrisso & Antônia. It has been quite some time that we have been working with this couple. They have from the start wanted to follow but have had difficulties going to church every week and for Antônia, stop smoking. So this last week we really cracked down on her to help her stop once and for all. It was incredible what a challenge and a testimony can do. She was very doubtful with stopping this week but we challenged and testified to her. The spirit testified to me I think even more than her, for when she got doubtful, I did as well. But she pulled through. It was funny because a trip showed up this last weekend for her, and she had to go; but she REALLY wanted to be baptized, and the only time that we had was 6:30 in the morning! Ha, so that’s right, Saturday we woke up extra early and had a baptism real early there with some friends. Her son Pablo, we will try to baptize next month. It was great though and it was great to see them both make this big step as a couple.  There is another family that will be married this weekend, and if they can stop smoking will be baptized as well.

This last week I did an exchange with one of our best District Leaders Elder Balduíno. He is a real hustler and hard worker. When he came to my area the day was a little 'meh', a little different but not as great as I would like it to be. He was a little bit quiet during the lessons as well. When we ended the day he heartfeltedly thanked me. He said that lately he has been thinking about maybe going home. But he said that during the day in every lesson he learned and felt my love that I have about being a missionary. He thought that I knew he needed that and I said all that stuff on purpose.... but I had no clue. As I looked back I was blown away to see all the little lessons that I said during the day that would help him endure to the end of the mission. One of the things that I said in the house of a member, was that if we can help someone come unto Christ this Christmas, that would be an amazing present that we can give to Christ. That really touched him and the next day he studied a bit about that. I then remembered the story of "The Little Drummer Boy". I told him it’s not always about giving something physical, like a baptism. But like the little drummer boy he just played his best for him. If we are using our talents in the Lord’s service, that is what will make Jesus smile. I don’t know if it was the spirit or the trunkiness that almost brought me to tears when I shared that, but it was strong. Elder Balduíno said that after today he decided to finish the mission strong. It is incredible how the spirit used me to make that all happen, for I didn’t even know.

Besides that, It was Stake Conference this last weekend. It was cool because 5 missionaries gave talks, including me. Tiara showed up again. I feel bad for her because after me and Elder Monical left together, she felt a little bit abandoned and the missionaries don’t ever visit her, but she is still firme forte. It was a good week. The Zone needs to baptize more though. but it’ll all work out.
Alrighty. That should be a mighty email for you all. I love you all, and don’t forget!
"Christmas is coming.... the goose is getting fat! ..."

-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, November 11, 2013

Heellllloooooo Family!!
I am super happy and excited today! Ha, transfers always are exciting!  The best thing is this week our Zone baptized 10 people! So we finished off strong. I also gave a talk this last Sunday that was very good. I decided to follow the Prophet’s lead and talk about the impact doing visits have in the lives of people. Of how we can help in the missionary work if we really are reaching out and being a friend to those around us. I compared it to when Jesus visited here in the Americas and the great impact that it made and really outlined how we can do visits like Christ. The best part about it all was when I was preparing my talk, I could just feel the spirit teaching me all that. It was awesome.

Also we had the baptism of Aline this last week. She was super ready to receive the gospel. She is super excited because she is a fiancé with a less active member. She basically reactivated him and now they are super happy and preparing to go to the temple next year. She came prepared. We taught her like 2 real lessons.

Okay now for transfers. WOW!! So yeah basically, Elder Helvey, my dear housemate, is now Secretary, so I will see him in the Office every week. I got a new companion, Elder Villalba. He was my Zone Leader with Elder Galves there in Expedicionários when I was with Elder Monical. He is from Paraguay and just a giant happy friendly kid basically. He is super funny, and he is just what I need right now. Also my Zone EXPLODED!! It had 10 missionaries last transfer and now it has 18! That is a big jump! WOOOOWWW!!! So I can see that the Lord is really trusting in us now with this great growth that is being given to us!

Elder Cetraro

Monday, November 4, 2013

Heeey Ther Fama,

I’ll fill y'all in a bit about my week. This week, I actually got a little reflective on everything. I looked back and thought about the spirit that I have carried my whole mission. It has really been one of  “dedication”. So I know that my dedication has been a way to show my love here on the mission. But definitely I will look for other ways to show my love for others. Elder Soares said that I am all "Accelerated" and I felt a little bad. But then I thought it was funny, what was the theme for the Zone Training this next Month? "Accelerate the Work" Ha! 

So it was very cool this Halloween this year. Because I was there in the leadership counsel where they had a lot of changes. A lot was about how we need to focus on our investigators in our studies. I liked it a lot. I learned we can show our love to the investigators through our concern and studies that we do for them, also that we need to be converted to the lessons that we are teaching. The standards of how many lessons were changed, and the work is being accelerated. Good thing I am an accelerated person, right?

Fernanda got baptized and Sunday was actually pretty special. Fernanda is the  cousin of a return missionary in our ward, Eduardo.  It was Eduardo who took her to church and stuff. Well this last weekend, the missionary who baptized him and his wife and parents came. It was very special to see the chain of testimonies that there was. Through the parent’s testimony, the missionary gained his testimony, through the missionary’s testimony, Eduardo gained his testimony, and through Eduardo’s testimony Fernanda gained a testimony and was being baptized.

Well yeah, this is the last week of the transfer and we shall see how all these changes in the mission will go. I am excited! Thanks for everything you guys and have a great week. Love you all!
-Elder Zachary Cetraro 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

 Alrighty Mamãe, Boa Tarde! 

Ha, Ooooh Halloween! I definitely love Halloween. As you know I love dressing up, because I am a goof like that.  I don’t know if you remember  last Halloween me and Elder Galves dressed up as each other. I used all his clothes and he used all of mine. It was funny.  I don’t know if I will do anything for Halloween, I sure would like to. They don’t celebrate Halloween really here. It’s kinda like Cinco De Mayo there where we know it is a holiday for another country but you don’t really celebrate it, only a few do. I would like to hear and maybe see what everyone did for Halloween this year.

This last week I learned a lot actually. Me and my companion are still pushing things through so we can have a better companionship and I have learned a lot in personal reflection. One thing, is that I am a "Know-it-all" and I talk a lot. I think since Dad opened up the karate studio, I was always placed in teaching situations. I taught karate, I taught  swimming lessons, I taught snowboarding, I tutored math and  many other subjects.  I honestly have a passion for teaching or you can even say training. I thought about it...why? I think one of the reasons is because I love learning! I love being taught! I am always in  search for knowledge. I am a nerd. But I think maybe sometimes this isn’t the best though. If I like to teach, then that means I treat others like students. Some people don’t like that. Especially when we are the same thing. We are all missionaries here. So now I need to learn how to be a leader without just being a teacher.

I learned a lot this week about Unity. My whole mission I have pushed so that I do my best. But this week I learned that is not enough. That’s why there exists Exaltation over Salvation. Exaltation involves others. So if I am being super obedient, that isn’t enough if I am not helping others do the same. That is why it is so important to understand our purpose. Because to be united, we must be one in purpose as like God, Christ, and the Spirit are one in purpose. Just some thoughts from this week.

So yesterday was the Primary Program, and I helped just a bit. They figured that if they practiced this whole year without the piano they might as well perform without the piano. I am still playing all the music in Sacrament though. This Sunday we had 16 investigators in Sacrament Meeting.  I think that is one of the best I have had in my mission.

We had some miracles this week. There was a girl that a member had already brought to church a couple of times, her name is Fernanda. She is 16 years-old.  When we went to teach her for the first time I asked her how she is feeling as she has been getting to know the church and she just went off on how she just feels so good, how she feels a lot of unity and peace that she has never felt in any other church, of how this just gives her the desire to change and that she has already decided to be baptized. The next day she broke up with her boyfriend (without us saying anything) and she said she did it because she knew that he wouldn’t help her follow Christ and she just wants to be surrounded by people who will help her with that. WOW. 

The second Elect was a friend of that recent convert family that I told you about. She is dating a member who just got reactivated and they visited accidentally the wrong ward this last week. She said that during the week she had many dreams about being in a meeting with everyone wearing white, so you know what that means... Baptism!  So I feel very blessed to have been chosen to help these two elects with their baptism.

So yeah.  Things are going better, now we just need to help the Zone better as well.  I love you all and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

-Elder Zachary Cetraro

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Well, for the first time ever I am teaching a lot of couples. We have 3 couples that are actually kinda locked in to do the baptism. There is Fabricio & Antônia. They want to be baptized and believe in everything but are kinda lazy to repent.  We are being very patient with them, and they are slowly improving.

There are the parents of a recent convert, Joana & Gabriel. Basically they are super old and not married. One is disabled, a bit mentally and he doesn’t walk. But they like going to church.

The best is Leonardo and Cristiana, this one is a family.  They have a young 22 year old daughter with a baby that lives next door, a young man, Eric, who is 14 years old, and Yasmin, who is 10. They already know about the church a little. The first time we taught them they asked us to help them get married, and then on the second visit they asked us to be baptized as well! WOW! That’s rare! Ha, we’ve got to be patient with them as well  because usually it takes a month to do a marriage but I feel really honored when it comes to teaching a family, it just feels right you know?

Ha,and about prayer. I actually had this thought this last week. One thing I have learned a lot about prayer is like what you said, It’s not just words but meditating, and connecting spiritually. Something we always say when we teach prayer, when we say ”In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen”, it is "Nada vai ao Pai sem pelo Filho" Or nothing goes to the Father without going through the Son. We say that a lot but I never really stopped to think what it is saying. We know that through the atonement of Jesus Christ that spiritual death was overcome. Spiritual death is being separated from the presence of God. In prayer we have the privilege to speak with God, to break that separation, and to connect with him. But if it wasn’t for the atonement of Christ, this connection would not be possible, and we would be completely separated from God.

This thought really made me grateful for Christ’s atonement, but I know that one of my biggest spiritual pleasures that I have is the blessing of being able to talk with my Heavenly Father at any moment, in any place, at anytime. I am so grateful that I don’t have this gap between me and my Heavenly Father and I truly feel Him as a big part of my life. So I thank my Savior Jesus Christ now in my prayers that I can go to the Father through the Son.

I love you,  By the way today I am 16 months on the mission. That is TWO-THIRDS of the mission!!!
Wow... I am definitely over the hump now.
Cool huh?
Até mais!
-Elder Zachary Adam Cetraro

Monday, October 14, 2013

So this was a good week. Ha, it is kinda funny, no one in this house before knew how to cook, so my house doesn’t have gas for the stove.  So I have been eating pretty poor this last week. Just papaya with oatmeal, and butter on toast.  I am definitely going to buy some gas this week.

So let’s see, this last week we gave the Zone Training, and who shows up to watch but President Souza.  So that was good, I then did another exchange with Elder Pedrosa and basically I passed all the investigators that I passed last week that went to Conference. It’s sad because there is one lady who knows that everything is true, but doesn’t want to change. But there was one family that absolutely loved it! One of the women, a sister of a kid they baptized yesterday loved the value that the apostles give to women. I know that women are sometimes devalued, but here it is ten times worse. This young 22 year old mom heard these words of great hope for the first time in her life. It was amazing how immediately she started dressing more modest after. We are so blessed to be born knowing our worth.

It was good this last Sunday because I finally got to know the ward a bit. It looks like they want me to play piano in Sacrament. Ha! Eita... I played the first hymn a bit sketchy.  I was so nervous but we made it through, but luckily the last hymn was “I know my Redeemer Lives” one of my favorite hymns, so I played that one really well.  I was then Invited to play a couple hymns in the primary program Yaay!

Well yeah, that was my week pretty much. I love you all and have another great week!

-Elder Zachary Cetraro

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ha heyya Mamãe!

Ha, you know it! Of course I enjoyed singing that song (There is Sunshine in my Soul). I was with 4 other Americans in a small little room, but I belted out that song! Ha, I sure am a loud singer... have I always been? But yes, it’s good to be able to sing my theme-hymn in English after so much time. I even commented to the Elders, I bet my Mom is crying right now, maybe you didn’t, you have gotten a little tougher haven’t ya? A little more ready for when we send Riley off!

I loved Conference... of course!! I have always said that Conference is the closest thing to a Holiday Break that we get here on the mish, for a weekend we just have to take people to church and let the Apostles and Prophets do all the work. I felt a little bit bad though because last conference I used the opportunity to answer the questions of my investigators, but this week I basically didn’t even know anyone or our investigators, so I just had to encourage the Elders in the Zone to do so.

It was cool because Friday, I did my first split in the last 3 months, Wow, I forgot  how much I freakin love splits. The Assistants (One being Elder Galves now) came here to help Elder Wadsworth find a new house, so we could put some Sisters here in the zone. (The mission is going crazy because we will have 58 new missionaries in the next two transfers and we don’t even have houses to put them in) And I stayed with Elder Pedrosa, and we passed a bunch of his investigators to invite to Conference. But something interesting happened. As we were passing everyone, I felt inspired to also invite everyone to baptism and mark a baptismal date. So I did and I marked baptisms for 4 different people. I have never really been so bold like that, I believe that it comes with being a leader. Sometimes God empowers you to be the example He needs to give to others. It was great to see how because of this good work, Elder Wadsworth & Elder Pedrosa took more investigators to Conference then the whole Zone put together! It is great because they were getting a bit discouraged but I hope this lifts up their faith.

As for me, I feel like we could of done more. I will have to really pump some good work in this week. I felt like this last week we were doing more visiting or you could say "Home Teaching" (Arrive, chat, chat, chat, short message, tchau) than actually preaching. But it’ll work out. I also went to a counsel of the leadership of the mission, and it was super sweet. (I felt like I was part of a 'Jedi Counsel')  As for Conference itself, I had a lot of answers as well. I found a good theme of  Priesthood Power and My Load is Light. Two things I was looking for. It was cool because Tiara showed up there as well, she even tried to watch a bit in English. She’s awesome. 

I guess I could tell you a bit about my Companion, Elder John Taylor Soares. He is a short, little, but very cool sly guy. He has a very dry humor and he likes to chat on the phone at night. He has 1 year and 8 months on the mission and we are getting along really well. He is a good companion. I like him.

By the way I would like to follow-up on my challenge to all of you that I made a little while back about you all having personal missionary moments. Did you not listen to Conference! You guys need to get in there as well! Elder Ballard’s talk was very good. Don’t be scared to pray for missionary moments knowing that you will receive them.

I love you guys and keep me updated with everything! 
Tchau Minha Família Eterna!
-Élder Zachary Cetraro

September 30, 2013

Ha! What a killer letter you sent. Aaah, Gratitude has always been a tender subject for me. So there is nothing like receiving a Gratitude  letter! You know, it’s amazing to recognize the tender mercies in our lives and we get that great feeling of gratitude in the heart that comes from the spirit. And then you share that with me, and just you sharing your personal gratitude hits me hard. Muito Obrigado for sharing Mom! You know, as missionaries we always know that God will bless our families while we are out. But being isolated from the family as a missionary, sometimes it is hard to really see Him pouring out the blessings. I can’t wait to go on some morning walks with you, It’s definitely going to happen since I already have the habit of waking up early, and then putting on the 3 hours of time change. Well I am so glad, you made my day, and that is saying something.

Well I guess I will share what happened today with transfers. I WAS TRANSFERRED! The crazy thing as well, so was my compnion, Elder Monical. There were some surprises in the transfers for sure. First of all, today is Elder Galves’ birthday, and what a better gift then being called to be Assistant of the President for your last transfer! Ha, wowzers! Good for him. It will help him finish off his mission working hard and not getting trunky! My very first companion is an Assistant! I guess that is cool! As for my companion, Elder Monical, here is a good surprise, he got put on Staff! He will be our Referral Secretary. So he will be doing a bit of what Gma & Gpa Smith do on their mission and he gets to spend some good time in downtown Aldeota. I think it will be very good for him. It was cool because I got to eat lunch with him today there, and I also have a lot of contact with him. Sister Bailey got put as the First Sister Trainer Leader thingy. Ha, funny thing is now she is the most experienced Sister in the Mission, and I think she will be returning home with me!

Oh yeah, and as for me! You might want to know that,right? Well I got transferred to a place called Conjunt de Ceará. It is very condensed here. I will be with Élder Soares. Also, I am a Zone Leader now! Ha, I must be getting old!  Bishop called that one. I am the first of my group. But wow, Zone Leader. Zone Leaders have always been my heroes in my mission. I have had a few that have made a big difference to me and now I am so happy to have this same privilege to serve and help raise these Elders up as great servants of the Lord. So Yeah! Crazy Stuff! I am excited, It will be interesting though, I will be sure to fill you in on the adventures we will have in our Zone.

Pheeeww... And I have still have a ton to tell you about Expedicionários and the last week I had in it. I had to work very hard this last transfer to keep our quality of work up. Tuesday we had weekly planning and for one of the first times in my mission I was kinda dreading to do it. (Usually weekly planning and Tuesdays are my "WOOT WOOT! Let’s get pumped for the next week" time) I wanted to finish off strong. Ha, in fact this last transfer was probably the most stress I have ever had in my life.... and if you know me, I am not a very stressed out person. I may be high-wired and hyper-active, but stressed... nooo.. Anyways, that left me pondering a bit about stress. That day I learned a lot. I liked a scripture that I found in Alma 7:24 which states "And see that ye have afaith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works." Usually we get stressed when we have so much to do.  We get stressed when we don’t have faith, hope or charity. Also I thought a lot about how we must have a perfect balance of Patience and Diligence in our working lives. 

Anyways, after Tuesday, things started to look up. We started to find new people to teach, and then I also had a gratitude moment. I really realized how much the Lord has made me into a very capable Elder. Wow, it’s really incredible I would make the little Greenie Elder Cetraro so proud. When I have a great attitude of abundance, full of faith, hope, and charity, I really can move things along. It made me happy. The Lord prepares the way when you have the faith. 

Also everybody kinda already knew that I would be leaving. So this last week was definitely used to say my good-byes. Evellyn got confirmed, and we did good work this last week intergrading her, and her Mom with some members. So I hope the work will continue on there, especially after all the work we invested there this whole transfer. Ivanilda and Patric are doing well. Patric passed the sacrament to me Sunday. Wow, first time someone I baptized used their priesthood to give me the sacrament. He also is starting to bring his kids again to church. The Ward will do a service project there in Eliza’s house, that will be a great miracle! As for Tiara, Wow, she never ceases to amaze me. She gave me a little pocket Bible that I can use in proselyting, and then she gave a talk this last Sunday in Sacrament Meeting. She is a star. Of course, as well, my best friend Bishop Feitosa gave me plenty of thanks in every meeting we had there. He testified that I really left a mark there in the Ward, and that I will never be forgotten. I love Bishop, So yeah, that is how it went down.

As for my time I spent there in Expedicionários, wow, it really was a place of growth for me. It was there that I really learned and grew in leadership and I believe the turning point of my mission where I began to really be an instrument in the Lord´s hands, blessing many. I know that the Lord is always there to invest in us, and what He asks in return is to do service, joyfully with great happiness in our hearts. I know that the Learning Journey Never Ends. I am very happy. There isn’t a bigger blessing than being able to participate in the Lord’s work, and I sure do know that I have a loving family that is backing it all up. I love you all and I hope God’s mercies continue to pour upon us both as we press forward in our new chapters of our lives. Até Próxima Semana!
-Elder Zachary Cetraro

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Opa mamãe!
Como vai??  So this last week President came and visited us during our District Meeting. At the end of the District Meeting he gave us a couple heads up. One, by the end of the year our Mission will have 200 missionaries AGAIN! We were at 200 when the mission divided in July, in 6 months we will be full of a bunch of newbies! Ha, so I am thinking that I will be having a couple of "Grandsons" here soon because they are training way early, so who knows what is going to happen to us old Farts like me.

The other notice he gave us was..... NO MORE BACKPACKS?!?! Whhhaaattt?? I thought young white shirt ‘n tie boys with big backpacks on top was part of the missionary legacy... guess they are trying to wean that down a bit, so I will have to leave the good ol’ camel back at home here soon.

Well as for my week. So you asked about Gerson. So this week we had a lot of people preparing for baptism. As for us we had 3. Gerson, his Mom Ana, and a little nephew boy of a bishop, Jordan. So we spent a lot of time preparing these people. Ana got prepared well, and Gerson this last friday, we had a lot of time to clear up doubt with him but still was a little hesitant with the baptism. Saturday morning I read Elder Holland’s talk from last General Conference and OMG it was perfect for Gerson, I got all excited to share it with him, but they gave me a call and said they would be traveling this weekend, hmmph.... QUE ISSO?!?! Patience, right? Well yeah, also Jordan will wait for this next Saturday to be baptized so his Mom can be there. So it was a little tough focusing on these people all this week, and then none of them being baptized... but it will all work out.

This week there was a woman that we taught, she was really cool, but she was really interested about if we have days off, if we can have friends, how the heck do we just work straight like we do for 2 years.
Ha, I learned two things here. One, how grateful I am for the rules. Really, if it wasn’t for the rules, it would be ten times harder to be dedicated to the work. It would be real easy to get distracted and hang out, especially with taking out some of the little rules. Second, of how happy and joyful it is to serve others. I really thought about, hmmm how is it that we are so dedicated and so happy at the same time. It is true, we don’t socialize a lot here. Just teach the gospel. But later on in the week while we were teaching Tiara about service, it dawned on me that there is a great joy that comes through service. Maybe it may not be the usual chit chat that we love, but with the little interaction we have, while doing good works, and having the spirit testifying in our hearts of what we are doing is the right thing. Well, it is a lot easier to understand how we do it.

Anyways, besides that the week was chill. It sure had it’s ups and downs, but God never leaves me comfortless when I search for His comfort. I am getting a little bit more tidy by the way. I am getting some good habits. It is amazing what a little bit of study and prayer can do to changing simple things like cleaning.

But yeah... that’s about all I got for you for now. I am happy, and who knows what will happen next week when it is transfers! Eiita! Bishop thinks I will leave, and Elder Monical is begging for me to stay. I don’t know what I want, but I am thinking maybe it is my time. Who knows!
But I love you,  Tchau!!
-Elder Zachary Cetraro 

September 16, 2013

Heyya there!

 As for my week. Well, let’s say Me and Elder Monical get a long really well. We are good buds. This week in Zone Training, I had a funny experience... So we were practicing teaching the Law of Chastity, and I asked Elder Galves to show us how to mock a proposal in a lesson. So I volunteered to be an investigator and then they called Sister Miess to be my "Girl Friend" Ha, so you can already see where this is going right... well during the practice, they asked Sister Miess why she would like to be married, and she said she would like to have kids. Eita... Then they asked me if I would keep this commandment or not.  I said yes, so they told me I needed to propose to her. WOOWW.... Awwwkwwward.... So I did my first proposal in Portuguese that day. It was terrible. Ha, but the Zone got a good kick out of it.

Then for another awkward moment with girls. Friday I went to the Sister’s area to help pass by a list of referrals for them. While we were doing it, I came into a little Vila and we needed to go to casa seis, and I thought casa tres, so I knocked there, then realized that it was the wrong house but then a young girl about my age peeked around the corner and was like "Omg, I can’t come to the door right now but I reeeeallly want to talk to you guys, can you pass by tomorrow?!?!" I made a note for the Sisters and when they passed by they said she was really interested but also said,  "Aww I feel so bad I couldn’t of talked with the Elders, they were sooo gorgeous!!" Haaa, so it was an inspired contact for sure! So God uses our gifts in funny ways, right? Luckily I won’t be teaching her!

Elder Monical gave a talk this last Sunday, and he spent 2 weeks preparing it but I think it went good. Ha, and when I arrived, I was told that I’d be giving a talk as well, so I had 20 minutes to prepare, but I just winged it. I ended up just going up and cried and bore my testimony of how I know that God enables us to speak for him, as he has done to Elder Monical, as he has done for me, as he has done for Moses, and He will do it as well for us as we are sharing the gospel. 

We had some drama with our baptisms though this last week. Gerson, a young man that we have been teaching for weeks, we got him and his little 11 year old sister prepared for baptism and his Mom was going to go and watch and everything. But on the day of the interview, his little brother who helps a lot in another church took him to the house of a Pastor, and they confused him a ton. He went and passed the interview but he wouldn’t go to church, because he was scared to be baptized. It is just really sad because he knows the Book of Mormon is true, and he believes that the church is true, but he is just scared of all the stuff he has heard from the people he has known and trusted for so long. We still baptized Evellyn, his sister, but honestly the baptism felt a little empty. Oh well. Pray for Gerson and his Mom Ana this week okay??
Alrighty that’ll have to be my report for now.
Love you all and have a wonderful week!
-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, September 9, 2013

Wow!! I got a letter from the whole fam today! Sweeeet! Writing back is a little more difficult but that’s alright. I can type fast!! Much faster than write.

So I guess I’ll fill you in on my week. I actually am feeling a lot better. I hope whatever it was is gone completely. I really am lucky though that my sickness didn’t get me down. Umm... This week the work was actually a lot better. We got back into the groove talking with a lot of people, and teaching a lot. I am helping Elder Monical teach more, but I still feel like I have to prompt him to do it still. But he is getting better for sure.

The District of Sisters that I am helping is having a lot of success. It is good to see how the Lord is blessing them, and it is good to see how each Sister is growing, especially since I have known half of them for over 3 months now. Sister Bailey really liked the Sympathy card you sent by the way.

Probably the funniest story of the week would have to be when I found an old drunk man scooting around in the road. I decided to help him a bit because being in the middle of the road is a bit dangerous you know. So we held his hands and helped him walk to a corner for him to lie down. When we got there he started mumbling something that I didn’t understand. He let go of my hand and looked down to see that his shorts were leaking... Eita! I then understood him, he was saying "I want to pee" so he hurried and did his business in the middle of the road but the funny part was to see my companion there, still holding his hand, having no clue what was going on while this old man is taking a leak in the middle of the road. He couldn’t let go because then he would fall, so yeah. He was a trooper. It was hilarious though.

Besides that, Bishop’s Wife is about to pop, she will have her baby this next Friday. Bishop is happy. I’m happy. It’s going good. I have two big goals right now. One is to be more organized in everything, with planning and cleaning and yeah. The other is to work more with the members. Because I know there are plenty of willing members.... you just have to plan everything and call them first. So we will see. But I am good and it is good to hear from everyone in the family.
Love you guys and have a great week!
-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hey there!
Helloo!! So I decided that maybe I am starting to get a little homesick..... in my dreams! Ha as you know, I dream every night here in Brazil and I can’t recall them all right now but I know just about every night it has had a lot to do with home and you guys. It is kinda weird though. My old life really does seem like a dream. Really far off and almost not real. Huh... anyways...

Okay, you had some questions! Yaay! So I will try to answer those while telling you about my week. So last P-day I forgot to tell you, but the day was basically a day of spring cleaning. WOW! And most of it was in my luggage. I really think it was the first time I actually did a good clean out and organization of my luggage. I put all my clothing in the big bag, which if I fold the clothes it doesn’t get too out of control. But the real mess was in the medium bag, which has been my "Little Pharmacy" bag and Book/Media library. Wow, I sorted through that and discovered some nifty things my Mom packed for me! I think maybe I will start to use some of it. Ha and yeah my little bag has all the little things I use often like socks, garments, and yeah..

Anyways... as for the week. So it was a bit tough this week I will be honest.  Like I have said, we haven’t gotten into the groove yet this week. And well my companion doesn’t speak much Portuguese and neither is he super eager to speak in general so this week I kinda felt alone. But this last weekend I started to throw him in to do contacts, to get him speaking. You really have to trust in the other person, even though you know that you could do it better, you have to do it for his growth. So yeah... Luckily we had Gabriel, a boy in the Ward who is awaiting his mission call, who wants to do 3 splits with us a week. So he did 2 with us this last week.... and he teaches really well. Sadly though, I feel like my comp has been a little excluded and I don’t know what to do to help him. I can teach the language really well to him, but it is him that determines how much he speaks. So I will have to help him practice since he doesn’t have that desire to converse or jump in and teach. But he is a great guy. It really isn’t that bad because if you know me, I like to do everything myself anyways so maybe that is the big problem.

You asked if I am needing or missing anything. I will think about that this week. Bishop asked for candy and I was like psshh, candy?? Who needs that junk? But one of our roommates just got a package of American candy and OOOMMMGGG.... it is sooo good... Freak, it is heavenly. Even the Red Vines, which I thought was a lousy candy that only Dad likes to eat, tasted good! Ha, so feel free to send a bit of candy in packages if you want. But yeah.

Well, the weather I am totally used to. I ate Brazilian pancakes yesterday and they are delicious, you will have to try it out some time. And yeah, well I got to go. But have a good week!

-Elder Cetraro