Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Juazeiro Zone

Getting Soaked in a Rainstorm and Loving It

Wearing Member's Robe After Getting Soaked

Going to Lake On P-Day

Zac with First Companion in Fortaleza - Elder McLaws Near Lake

Zac Looking Out Over Lake

Indoor Wildlife - Scorpion in Shower

 Elder Barreto

Birthday Party with Recent Convert Family

Zac with Birthday Cake

Zac with 1st Baptism in Fortaleza - Jurandy

Thumbs Up for Jurandy

Zac in Brazil Futbol Jersey - Getting Ready to Dig In

WOW!!! Thank you all! =) You guys are all great. I really appreciate a Happy Birthday from every one of you. =) Ha, I had a feeling yesterday that I was going to have a good surprise on my email for my Birthday. It (my b-day) definitely was different and was a little adventure but it was all good. I definitely gave the whole big 2-0 a big thinkin’ over. I’m done with my wild and crazy teenage years that really formed me into who I am, and now I am starting the most influential decade of my life. Where I will finish off my service to the Lord, pick a major and finish school, find my eternal companion, and probably start a family.

 AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Scary but thrilling right?! Well I know time is only going faster, but when I hit double digits at age 10 it definitely seems like NOT yesterday (a lifetime ago!). So I will take it as it goes. I am thoroughly convinced though that life ONLY gets better. You just need to find the thrill in each season of life. I love the snow, I love the heat, and I love everything in between. So I am chill with the great adventures in front of me.

Anyways I’ll tell ya about my day. I am writing ya’ll a day late for a reason. So the highlight of my day was definitely the first hour. I woke up and read the letter from David and Laura’s Family that they told me to wait to open until my birthday. I really enjoyed it, tell them thank you. I thought the “Stand a Little Taller” thought was perfect for a missionary birthday =). President and Sister called and wished me a happy birthday, and I made some DELICIOUS açaí and busted out some letters! WOO!

A member family that we have been working with to baptize their 23-year-old nephew, who moved to live with them, invited us over for a lunch FHE. WOW, it was Chinese noodles awesomeness. Probably the only Chinese food I’ll have on the mission. It was good. But during all of this, my Comp was dying. He started to have some intense pain in his kidneys. Sunday and on my birthday it was killing him. So Sister called up a taxi and we spent the rest of the day until 9:30 at night, just to confirm that he really did have a kidney stone.

I think here on the mission one of the greatest lessons we have to learn is that we are here in this life, especially as a priesthood holder, to serve and not to be served. We have Jesus, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Kings of all Kings, who showed us His life of doing exactly that. On a B-day, naturally we assume to be served because it is OUR day. I think Heavenly Father gave me a special birthday that showed me the spirit of the missionary service on my B-day as a gift. Also He gave me an opportunity to exercise charity, one of the biggest goals I am trying to develop here on the mission.

At the beginning, we just sat and waited, I wrote letters and read the BofM. It came to a time where my Comp was put on a bed and injected with medicine to ease the pain. For some reason during the first IV/injection hour, the pain only got worse. We were awfully confused, being two Americans in a Brazilian Hospital, and the whole process and examination wasn’t very well explained to us. My Comp was tossing and turning and I felt like I should put down the letter and help some how. I really felt helpless because I didn’t know what I could do to help. I wasn’t no Mom. What can a man do to help? I really didn’t know what was going on, neither did he. So I felt like I should give him a priesthood blessing and then aid him with getting water, and just standing there, being there for him and communicating with the nurses and doctors and such for him. Shortly after the blessing and me talking with a nurse, a different medicine/IV was put in, and he zonked out. He’s been doing good since then. This morning after reading some thoughts from a year ago I felt inspired to make a good breakfast for him, and clean up a big mess that he has been putting off for some time. Ha, so that was my birthday experience this year.

Besides that the week was pretty good. We are getting better at getting more lessons in and keeping up on the many contacts. This week was a GREAT one. WOW and do I have some great news for all of you! So this week we had Zone Conference and there were some announcements that blew my socks off! So first, the AP, Elder Araújo, who has been the AP since I arrived here, is leaving early for college this week. So my good friend Elder Reynolds (the tall American Zone leader from Juazeiro that I lived with) got called to be the new AP, and he is the first American AP since President Souza has been here in the last 2 years, big news for us. My old comp, Elder Hodson, then got called to be Zone Leader there in Juazeiro, something I KNOW he will be very proud of. All this made me very happy, but now for the BIG NEWS. President Souza was in conference this last week with some other Presidents here in Brazil, and it was decided that my Mission is going to be SPLIT!! HA, that’s right, there is going to be a Mission Fortaleza, and a new Mission Fortaleza Leste. So here in March we will be getting another Mission President for the other half of the mission, and July we will do the official split. HA, which means it will be possible for me to serve in 2 different missions! Ha cool huh? Our groups were made to sustain one mission, and now we will be split to cover two missions, which will be receiving many new missionaries to lead. Ha, I just know here soon things are going to step up for me and I know that I will see a lot of God’s hand in this transition process. It is He who planned this all, and it is just cool that I will have part in helping with this new big change in the new age of missionary work. So you guys will be hearing a lot more about that here in the near future.

This week we had a baptism of a really good kid, Jurandy. A friend brought him to church last week and we prepared him to be baptized this week. He did everything we asked and so in the space of one week everything happened for him to be baptized. Read, pray, receive an answer, learn and obey the commandments. Sad thing is though we received news yesterday that he will be moving this week. I thought it was a little funny since my first baptism in Juazeiro moved and I never saw him get confirmed (he did though), and now my first baptism here is moving too (he WILL be confirmed).

Besides that I also did a division with Elder Flores, a Gaucho Elder who only has been 1 month in the mission. He LOVED it and said he learned a lot. I gave him a tie and introduced him to Guacamole (they eat Avocado sweet down here). I felt pretty well with being the Senior and basically training, but at the same time I felt pretty humbled because I will need divine help for sure.

So yeah. There is a nice big Birthday email for you all. Parabéns Riley on the Eagle. That is awesome, Mom must be really proud. And yeah, I love you all and I am doing great down hereLove you all, and good luck with everything! =)
-Elder Cetraro

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Booa Tardeee!! How is it goin’ Fam Fam? I kinda get the feeling like you guys are getting winds of change there aren’t ya? I guess you can say I am feeling it too. Haha, don’t you worry Mom, I will never go slacker out here. I am going to hit one third of the mission this week (There will actually be a Zone Conference this week, first one in Fortaleza. It is a whole lot bigger here, we will see like half the mission n nice food n stuff, nice way to celebrate, eh?) And I’ve got even more fire in my bones than ever before! (The next big land mark will be ONE YEAR. Oh my gosh, it is flying by quick isn’t it?)

The members are great, I got to meet a lot of them this week. It is kinda crazy working with two Wards; they are both small and lacking on callings. You can really tell that here is a project that will need some nice hard work! There is an apostle promise that whoever does 10 contacts every day will have a baptism every week. I have been focusing a lot on that, and wow!! I’m not afraid anymore. So it is really great, I am feeling like a confident missionary, but it really will take divine help to give the success that this Ward needs.

So one thing kinda cool this week is the rain. And OMGOSH it was fun. Usually it just rains hard during the mornings while we are studying. But one morning we went out to work and it POURED! WOW! My little umbrella helped keep my backpack dry but I got SOAKED. Ha I liked it. I didn’t like it when I found out a little bit of my scriptures got wet though. (don´t worry I am using that waterproof sac). It was a treat; I took a shower under some drains just for fun, ha!

Yaay! You got the letter and the package! =) Just imagine I sent that for your birthday Mom! I will try to do another one maybe around Christmas, but I hope you are enjoying it. If you have any requests let me know because it was REALLY hard to shop for you guys, I really didn’t know what to get.

That is awesome about the new bishopric. Lol, I think the Young Men’s is a training grounds for bishoprics in our ward. That is cool; give Jeremy and Eric a Parabéns for me.

Maybe this week I will get some packages. Ha, I don't have anything planned for my P-day B-day yet, but I’m sure someone or myself will throw something sweet together! Well I’m going to email Dad a bit. Love you and Happy birthday!
-Elder Cetraro

Friday, February 15, 2013

Alrighty -
Dang it, I am in a rush today and I had a ton to tell you. Oh well, Advice is better than gossip. Anyways, minha nossa! It was an awesome week! We are trail blazin' here in Fortaleza. Ha one thing is for sure, it isn’t as hot here. I noticed that today doing laundry, and lack of sweat marks! It is super windy here but it is a glorious warm wind. Awesome.

Our focus this week was to gain the trust of the members and doing 10 contacts every day (we had an apostolic promise if we do 10 contacts everyday we will baptize every week) and it looks like we might have a baptism this next week! (Ironic, not from the contacts, but hey, that is how God sometimes fulfills his promises.)

I gave my first talk this last Sunday in Sacrament meeting. First talk in Portuguese! Ha, and it went long enough I had to receive a note that time was up. I gave a talk on putting our trust in the Book of Mormon. I started reading last Conference and I am trying to finish before this next one, I am at 3 Nephi 7 now, it is getting intense. Funny thing was that there were only 30 people in Sacrament meeting. Ha, it is Carnival right now and it isn’t crazy at all right here. Just kids throwing flour and eggs at each other and everyone is travelling. So yeah. I am taking care of the Castelão and Jardim Castelão wards.

Besides that I just got really sick this week. Looks like my golden digestive track broke down.
Anyways, I think I am going to wrap it up there, Love you!

(P.S. pesto and hot sauce would be awesome to send and ranch doesn´t exist here as well)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Zac with Zone Leader Around Christmas Time

Urandy and Ivana - A Couple That Takes Good Care of the Missionaries
Spent Christmas and New Year's at Their House

Juazeiro do Norte

Baptizing Frank

Zac at a Seed Cabaca Museum

Zac and Missionaries at the Bus Stop

Dressed in the Armor of Righteousness

Baptizing Princess Camilla

Zac Kissing a Frog He Found in His House

Zac, Socorro, Karol and Elder Hodson

Elders with Donizete - Zac's Baptism and a Favorite Person

Nicest Sidewalk in Juazeiro Do Norte

Monkey in the Trees

Zac and Elders with Agnaldo and Son Being Baptized

Interesting Name for Juice

Saying Goodbye to Juazeiro Families - Many, but not all, of Zac's Converts

Surprise Goodbye Party for Zac

Urandy and Ivana's Surprise Party for Zac

Heeeyyy there! 
Email will be fun today, because for sure I have a boatload to tell! Well... I got transferred!! It’s official, I am here in Fortaleza. I will be serving in the ward Castelão. Google Castelão, supposedly it is where some of the World Cup games are going to be played! It is kinda crazy, it is right down the street and it is MASSIVE. So just about every day now I will be passing by that. It is seriously like 3 blocks away from my new house.

So the new Comp is actually a fun story. His name is Elder McLaws. He actually arrived in my zone Juazeiro last transfer right before Christmas. He was a district leader so the zone leaders did divisions with him, and he lived with some Elders in our district so we did divisions there. So I actually knew him pretty well. He actually has a little bit of roots there in Cache Valley. His said he was raised there until age 8 and then moved to Oregon. He then came back for college; Go Aggies Go Aggies HEY HEY HEY! (I also worked with his sister a little bit at the Pita Pit, small world) So on the brutal bus ride here last night we ended up sitting/sleeping next to each other, little did we know we’d be companions the next day! Lol. It doesn’t seem like we are real companions and that we are just on a division right now. But he is pretty chill, same group as Elder Hodson. A very calm guy.

Anyways, we are opening an area, which means we are starting from nothing. Ha, kinda like last area. It looks like we are taking care of two wards. So Mom, and Family. I WILL NEED YOUR PRAYERS. Pray so that we can get the work rolling here. That we can get our feet steadied. Pray that I can fill the missionary pants and that I can replace all fear with faith and that I can do all the things that a missionary does. This will be my transfer where I shift from junior to senior. So there is that. I'll let you know how it goes this next week. It will be interesting.

Dude, who won the Super Bowl? 49er’s? Ha, I’m sure I’ll find out by next week. But how was my last week? It was good! Elder Hodson had surgery on his toe. So we swung by the hospital a lot this week to clean that up. So the work got a little bit slow, but it was a little weird to be making new investigators that I will never see again. Elder Hodson taught me this week that to be a good leader and a good missionary, the secret is to just be happy with the people and to make sure the missionaries are happy. It’s simple but it is true.

The miracle of the week is this picture that I sent here. My last Sunday, ALL my recent converts were there at church. (Except Agnaldo, who had work but I will never worry about him becoming inactive) That is rare. It really touched my heart. I was lucky enough to bear my last testimony in fast meeting, and I gave my last lesson which was on the creation. I had everyone say one thing that they were grateful for on this EARTH. Ha, but it turned into everyone just saying how grateful they are for the gospel in their lives, and how grateful they are for the missionaries... ha, and me! It was perfect. Donizete is going to get a calling; Cícero and Frank got the Aaronic Priesthood. WOW. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help the Lord with all this work.

ALSO! My last night I had the biggest surprise of my life! Ha, I have never had a surprise party before and I had no clue that this one was coming. So yeah, the same family that celebrated Christmas and New Years with us, offered to give me a ride with my bags to the bus stop. So their son picked me up a little early with everyone, and he said he had to grab something real quick in the house, so I went in just to say goodbye to Ivana and Urandy and SURPRISE!! Cake and everything inside waiting for me. Wow, I was so loved there. I love my mission. I want to be able to leave all my areas and my mission itself like this. I couldn’t of asked for better. 

Well, it is great to hear from you all. I will send a little bit more about Juazeiro and it’s impact next week, mmkay?
Muito obrigado, e eu am vocês!

-Elder Cetraro