Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Olá Minha Mãe!
How’s it goin’ up there? We had some changes down here, but not too much. So today was transfers, right? So this week we were really antsy to see what would go down, because we knew that our area would split into two areas. Ha, so this whole week we were warning everyone, and on top of wondering if we will leave or not, there also was the thought which ward will we stay in? So this week we were switching off just about every day on what we thought would happen. Also we discussed which ward would we like to stay in and what would we do. It’s hard to pick favorites, right?

Anyways, last night we got the news that I would leave and Elder McLaws would stay. So we had two last suppers, one with that family with did Easter with, the other with the owner of the house. Ha, well..... after this morning waking up super early to pack my bags, we got to transfers to see that actually I was leaving my old area to work in the new area, which is one of the wards of our old area... Did you catch all that? So basically I am staying. Ha, it just was pretty funny at transfers though because I had everything packed and ready to leave.

So Elder McLaws will finish off his mission here in Ala Castelão (The area with Luyan, the cozinhas, where Jurandi used to live, where Luzia, the Mom of Laiz, and all that) And I will work in Ala Jardim Castelão. (Where Easter family lives, and where we like to fly kites) So yeah.  A little complicated but it will be cool living with 4 elders and it will be interesting doing splits in the other ward.

But now I am with Elder Barbosa! He seems like quite the stud muffin. To me he seems like basically a studly Brazilian Texan-like cowboy who rocks at the guitar. He has 1 year and 3 months and is from São Paulo. I’ll get to know him well here. It will be good to practice the language with him. It looks like he wants to learn English, he speaks pretty good.

But yeah, that’s just about it for news here. The week was a little slow. Hopefully things will revitalize now that we split, and we can focus better.

I can’t believe that stupid package made it back. I thought it would be coming back here but guess not!

That’s my little spiel for the week, Love ya’ll!
-Elder Cetraro

Editor’s Note: I sent Zac a 13 pound Christmas package on October 31, 2012. It has been to Brazil and back twice and I thought I would never see it again. It showed up on our doorstep April 23, 2013, just 6 months shy of travelling the world. It had been cut open and taped shut, probably for customs inspection. Everything was there and pretty much intact. The jar of Nutella had exploded but surprisingly the contents survived well.

Monday, April 15, 2013

HA!! Thanks for the countdown. 300 days... Wow. I remember when you told me about my first 100 days. Ha, which means I am only 65 days away from 1 year... HOLY SMOKES!!

WOOT! WOOT! for G-ma and G-pa! That makes me very happy that they are serving! I am sure they will learn and grow tons in the service of the Lord. I hope they will receive as much spiritual blessing as I have.

Alrighty, well for this week and to answer some of your questions. First of all, laundry is 10 times more chill here. The water isn’t super sketchy like in Juazeiro. So every morning on P-day usually I throw my whites in, make breakfast, write some letters, and throw in my colors after. It’s very nice. Doing laundry isn’t that bad after all. Ha, as for my hair, I still have the same philosophy as before the mission. Cut it long, so I can really let it grow. I have a schedule for cutting my hair, as you know, I am always the last person to say... hmmm my hair is getting long. So what I do is always cut it a week or so before Zone Conference so like every 3 months. Ha, actually my last 2 haircuts have been from Elders who have a hair trimmer. Ha! So it comes out a little ugly. Short hair on me in general is pretty ugly so what the heck, ha.

As for baptisms, the kid Pedro got baptized yesterday. I think I sent you a photo last week of him and his friend Wellington that were both baptized the last two weeks because their little friend, Evelin made the invite! It was awesome though because we basically did nothing. He came ready, we taught the first lesson, and he was only here on the weekends so he was reading and praying, and his friend checking in on him basically did everything. Yesterday was Fast and Testimony Meeting and I was so happy to see Evelin bear her testimony of missionary work and how she planted a seed a year ago and now Pedro is getting baptized. Then following her, Pedro bore his testimony that he KNOWS this church is true. WOW. I don’t think I have ever had a baptism bear their testimony before. It was perfect. Pedro was so grateful to me (I don’t know why) and I know that he will be going places in the Church.

As for the rest of the work...it’s going! Laiz’s Mom told us that she made the decision to return back to church. She said she recognizes the great influence she has on her family and she knows that her family is suffering since they are outside of the church. I heard the lesson was very good and spiritual, but sadly I wasn’t there because I was on a division.

Also.... You probably don’t want to hear this, but I had WORMS this last week! Ha, last Saturday I had a stomachache and other problems and Tuesday we looked in our water and found that there were worms swimming around. I then checked in my camelback and sure enough there were a couple in there too! Yikes! Ha, luckily I have an awesome Mission Mom, Sister Souza, and she knew exactly what to give me. I am all cured right now but it was just reaaally weird though because this whole last week I didn’t have an appetite. It was like the first time in my life I really didn’t feel like eating food like that!

Anyways, transfers are next week, and there are definitely going to be some changes since our area is getting split and we are getting two new Elders. So it will be an interesting week wrapping up things here.

Love you all! Tchau!
-Elder Cetraro

Monday, April 8, 2013

…As for the work, this week was actually a very, very different week for us. It was kind of refreshing, ya know? I felt inspired in our weekly planning on Tuesday just to focus EVERYTHING on General Conference this week. So we made a HUGE list of everyone we knew. From our investigators now, to our old investigators, to less active members and also very active members. We wanted to give everyone the chance and the invite to hear the Prophet’s voice. We invited many members to do as we were doing and try to bring someone to Conference. I felt a renewed force inside me while we did this and I know that God was happy that I was reaching out to ALL His children. I also was very surprised that I haven’t included the General Conference talks into my study. I did like 2 weeks straight of studying the talks after the last Conference but then I burned out. I will definitely plan my study to be better these next 6 months and try to use as much as I can out of the new talks we received this last week. WOW it was good, and I felt prayers answered in every talk. It’s awesome when you have your mind on helping others because you really do see and LEARN a whole lot more. My challenge to my family is to do at least 1 FHE every month and to go over a Conference talk and really try to apply it in your lives. I know we need these things in our lives, but it requires a little more than just listening to it a couple of times; but discussing and setting goals, and many other things to study it out.

As for those two other ladies, Mom thank you so much for your prayers and I credit all the good things that happened to them this week to you. Lucia, the Mom of our Sunday school teacher actually went to 2 sessions. (Which is tough for even active members here) We only planned Sunday night, but she went to Saturday night and the first two talks were very clear for her. Lindalva went as well Sunday, but I know this week we are going to work hard to help the two recognize their answers. Besides that though, we had a couple surprises that I sent in these photos. One was a family that we stopped teaching a while ago. They ended up going! Also we had these two men come who I hope we will baptize next week. Ha, they came more dressed up than we did! The older man Francisco is going to be the next Bishop, omgosh, he is so good. And this member girl invited two elects to church and we taught them the BEST 2 Restoration lessons I think we have ever taught. Wellington, the tall model looking guy got baptized and he went to every session! Pedro is planning on being baptized next week. But it is amazing what a little invite can do right?
But yeah, good stuff.
I love you Mom, I love my Family, I love my Life, and I love the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
-Elder Cetraro

April 1, 2013

Happy Spring Break!!

Ha, we celebrate holidays down here but as a missionary breaks don’t exist. For us General Conference will be our break. It’s fun to hear about y’all playin’ around up there. I definitely was thinking yesterday, Hmmm… I wonder what my family is doing right now.  I sent you pictures of how we celebrated down here.

Our crazy mission Mom, Marli (the lady who taught us how to cook) made a bunny cake. It was funny because we were supposed to eat lunch at somebody else’s house, and so she just invited them over so we could eat lunch at her house! The tradition here is to eat fish and grape juice on Easter. And instead of our fun traditions, people just buy a GIANT (hollow and expensive) chocolate egg for everyone.

And then we also had a family night with a very dear member family. Just about every Sunday night they invite us over to have a "sucinho" (little juice) and she always has a dinner and some desert and a ton of juice. It’s fun because the other Elders in our district come too. So we decided to pay them back with sharing our lil’ Easter tradition of painting eggs. It was funny because at first they kinda questioned why this tradition was so cool, but it was funny because after the first egg they went wild and LOVED it!! Ha, they were very hesitant to eat the eggs or even share them with us. It was a hit and it was very fun.

Also for this week... we had interviews with President. HA!! It was very funny because he wanted to see our study journals. It was hilarious though because I brought like my 3-4 different study journal thingy’s that I have that were all full and what not, but what he adored was my brand new Study Journal that you sent me. He barely even looked at my others but he couldn’t put my new journal down. He LOVED it!  So maybe once I receive my other journals I can give him one. Besides that he told me that he notices how me and my comp have two different speeds; and that my next comp will probably be a Brazilian and that I need to wait patiently to be a Leader even though he thinks I’m ready. I think it is because the mission is so huge at the moment everyone needs to take their turn.

Also something really cool, I went to a freaking PLAY this week! HA, it was sooooo weeeirrrd. It was taking place inside a Mall, which are freaking huge and gigantic here. It was weird to have... entertainment. I felt almost like my old fun loving self but I had to calm down. President allowed us to go watch the Jesus the Christ play. It was very interesting. Had some good music. But I don’t think I have ever seen media of our Savior LIVE you know? I liked it. There were two things that really touched me. One, was this play was a musical. And just about most of the people that sung were the people that were cured from Christ. This really made me think about how we should be when we are cured from the gospel, and how it is really the sick, lost, and humble that rejoice the most from the
miracles of Christ. The other was we watched Christ die on the cross, but then I saw a part that we usually forget about. The 3 days when he was actually dead. It was really sad to see someone take Christ’s dead body off the cross and carrying it away. It makes me think of the reality that death is the end that a lot of people believe. For us we love to talk about the death of Christ because we know what happens! The Resurrection!

The work was actually really slow this week.  I’m getting really thirsty for a baptism. It was cool though because we started working with Liaz’s inactive family, that awesome RM chick, which led us also to our Bishop’s Mom. It’s really cool because we got Laiz’s Mom and the Bishop’s Mom to enter into the church this Sunday. For YEARS they have been trying to get those two in there but everything lined up perfectly and they went. I felt really good because it was blessing two of our most diligent members in our ward, and I’m sure it has been in their prayers for years to get them progressing towards this. Basically we are basing everything on General Conference this weekend to reactivate Laiz’s Mom and to baptize Bishop’s Mom. So please Mom, pray for these Mom’s! It’s Lucia and Lindalva. Pray that they can receive answers to their prayers this week in Conference.

Speaking of which, the other morning I started singing an old Primary song that really touched my heart (almost to tears every time).
“I see my mother kneeling, with our family each day, I hear the words she whispers as she bows her head to pray. Her plea to the Father, quiets all my fears, and I am thankful, Love is spoken here.”
Just know Mom that your son sings this with a heart greatly filled with gratitude. I am so thankful that I was raised in a home where I can say "Love is spoken here" I know I have a wonderful Mother that loves me dearly, that she loves the Gospel and our Heavenly Father, and that everyday I have a Mother that prays for me. This honestly quiets all my fears, and gives me great courage to be a missionary for you.

And for you, Dad, “Mine is a home, where every hour, is blessed by the strength of priesthood power, with Father and Mother leading the way, teaching me how to trust and obey, and the things they teach are crystal clear, for Love is spoken here.” I’d just like to thank you for making this song a reality in my life. I would like to thank you for be a very loving Father to me and for being a shining example of a worthy priesthood holder in our home. Having the priesthood is an honor because it means that God trusts us in our actions. Even more I would like to thank you for preparing ME to be a Priesthood holder. Lately I have had the opportunity to give many blessings to people. Giving blessings to people who DON’T have the priesthood in their household. It is also a sweet blessing to watch the power of God manifest itself with these blessings. I’m so thankful for you leading me in my life in the gospel and that because of your love and teaching, life and this world is much more clearer to me.
Love you so much Mom and Dad!
-Elder Cetraro