Monday, July 29, 2013

Alright. Now for my week. Well it was probably one of my saddest. So first of all, with the district meeting we had Wednesday morning, we had the pleasure to have President Souza there. A bit of stage fright for me because I directed the meeting and gave half of the training but it was alright. It was even harder when I found out that the reason President Souza was there was to talk with Sister Bailey about her family. Apparently, her Mom got cancer when she started her mission and this next week it is kinda planned for her to die. I felt terrible. This Sister just got over Dengue (a virus from mosquitoes) and here comes the second punch, her mom is about to die. I wanted to cry. I wanted to help but I didn’t know how. I decided to fast to clear up this confusion in my head, and for her. 

Then here comes the big news. After a long hard good day of work on Friday night we get home and find out that President is coming over. I thought maybe it was to check out how the situation is with 4 Elders in a very small house, and to do a cleaning check. As we all were climbing the stairs, he grabbed my companion. I didn’t notice and when I saw that Pres. and my Comp weren’t there I went to go down but Sister Souza stopped me and told me that his Dad died......

Wow. Ouch. It was tough news. I started to cry and pray for my companion. It was even tougher to hear him coming into the room bawling. I began to cry as well. I gave him a big "Father’s Hug” him crying in my arms. But that was all that I could do. He went into his room to call his bishop and his mom and to talk with them. I personally have never had to deal with a sudden sad death like this with those so close to me. President told me that this would be one of the great lessons I will learn here on the mission. How to deal with deaths in my life and in the lives of those around me. It was real sad. President left, and Elder Medrado opened up his journal and started writing. I just stayed there by his side all night until 2 o’clock as he wrote out his emotions. He used that temple handkerchief you gave me (that was a whole lot better than the toilet paper he was using)

This death, in my opinion shows a bit of the tender mercies God has in our lives, and I tried to help Elder Medrado with this point of view. You only will pass through the death of your Father once in your life, and God has really made it sweet. For a bit of time, his Dad has had heart problems and he almost died 3 years ago. During this time Elder Medrado didn’t get along with his Dad very well and didn’t go visit his Dad in the hospital after one attack. His cousin called and told him that he had actually died, and this was a bitter moment for him, that he ended his relationship with his Dad like this. But of course his Mom called and told him it was a lie, but in this moment it really opened his eyes. For in the 3 years since, the relationship between him and his Dad got a whole lot better and they left on a good note.

It is incredible though how God prepared him for this moment. There have been various things that have happened to give him a cushion for all this. Being a missionary, you never will be alone, you always have someone at your side. All your friends are "Representatives of Jesus Christ" and he is surrounded by them and their service, and there isn’t a time in our lives that we are so close to our Savior. Another special thing, a couple weeks ago, he woke up on P-day and felt inspired to write his dad personally. That day I didn’t want to go to the post office because it didn’t fit into the schedule, but I felt that we should go anyways. His dad got to see that. Also, Mom. You felt "inspired" to write Elder Medrado instead of me and express your love to him. That was very nice and perfect timing. Sister Bailey is passing the same time and has help. There were many things in our studies together this last week that helped us prepare for this, including my study on Honor. And yesterday Elder Medrado received his Patriarchal Blessing. And also yesterday, he bore his testimony to me that he knows that I was prepared to be "His Father" here on the mission to pass this moment in his life with him.

I really saw the truth of the last words that Brother Eaton told to me before I left for the mission. "That sometimes the people that need our service the most on our missions can be our companions." I know God arranged this to be in his life and in my life. I am super grateful to be here for my wonderful companion and to really learn how to comfort when they really need it. My comp needs your prayers, and so do I so that I can continue to serve him and help him stay strong. I am super surprised to see how strong he has been since then. In the last few days he has been surprisingly strong, and hasn’t had a problem yet. I know he still has that burden but I know what Jesus said. "Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted."

Well there goes my time but I am doing fine. Don’t worry about me. Elder Medrado really liked the quote I shared with him Sunday, that "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.” Maybe it may be a surprise, and maybe it may not be the flavor you wanted. But it’s chocolate, so you gotta appreciate it. Really this came to truth here, and is true for the mission. I know God is painting a masterpiece in those that serve me. I trust Him. He trusts me.
-Elder Zachary Cetraro

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hello Family and Friends!
WOW this week was a wonder. So just to let you all know. I know that mission numbers don’t mean much to you but to a missionary, they mean a lot. So I have actually been working really well with numbers this last transfer. In my zone, we are up there you know. But this last week our Bishop challenged us to do 30 lessons in a week. For us, usually we get an average of 4 lessons a day and around 20 a week. We always talk to a LOT of people but keeping commitments is not a strong point here. So we accepted the challenge, and we made it a goal. Last week in President’s email he put "Faith+Goals+Action=Success" So we put this into effect and WOW did miracles happen. That first day we had 9 lessons. It seemed like everything was working perfectly and people were just appearing to be taught. When Friday came around, that is when it hit me. We were going to break the excellence standard! President always reminds us, 10 lessons with members, 15 other lessons, and 25 new investigators each week... and sure enough we did more! So I was shocked that the moment came. I reached excellence. And I try to say that with all humility. I know those numbers happened because Heavenly Father found us worthy to earn them. I was honored. So really, things are going good. I am so happy that I have reached this point. I really hope now I can make a difference in this Ward, in our Zone, in our Mission, and most importantly the lives of all the many people we teach. I know we are here to save souls, and that we really do have a big influence on the salvation of others when we really dedicate ourselves to it. I don’t think there is a greater honor. 
So that was our week. Also we are teaching a whole lot more families and couples. We might even do some marriages this transfer. So it is going well here. But yeah. Hope y'all continue on having a great summer! Thank you for everything!
-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, July 15, 2013

Oi Mônica!
Como vai? O que aconteceria se eu escrevesse tudo em Português?! Seria chato né? So anyways, Hello family. Looks like it has been delightful up there. There is nothing better than hearing that my family is having a spiritual summer!! Isso aí! That makes a missionary happy! That’s crazy, I was telling my comp this week about summer vacation, and how in MY FAMILY it’s awesome because we never stop at home. Next summer, right? 

So guess what! I got the Christmas package! Ha, I liked it a lot! Everyone in the Zone thinks I have to be the most spoiled missionary. Ha, I liked the photo album that you sent. I joked about it, how my Mom just sent me a bunch of trunky photos of my last few days in Logan and me saying goodbye to everyone. (I was hoping for some pics of like Lacrosse, karate, etc... things that show my life as before, ya know) Ha, when my comp saw the picture of me saying bye to Mom he said. Wow, that’s got to be the trunkiest picture I have ever seen! Ha, but he liked to see the pics. He confessed, Wow, you have a good life, you actually left behind a lot. Me.... YUP! Ha, he sees me as a super anti-trunky Elder so he probably thinks I didn’t like home or was running away. But we all know that is not true. Thank you family. You all are the best!

Sooo for the week. Well it was the first week of the transfer. One thing I started to do is let my Comp have more responsibility in the work. It was funny because he told me he wants more and I told him, “Alright... today you are senior”. Ha, and he freaked out. But it appears that God wanted it to happen as well because 4 days out of the week I didn’t have my planner because it got locked inside the bishop’s office. So that was good. Also I am responsible for 2 duos of Sisters now, I want to be a good leader so I have been setting District goals with them and following-up every night. The downside is the little free time that I have every night is very little now.

The members this week have been helping us a lot. The baptism we had, Ivanilda, had a lot of help from the members. One night we marked to do an FHE at the house of a member who lived in an area where usually we didn’t work. That night a member flagged us down in the streets and took us to the house of Ivanilda. Earlier that week Ivanilda was talking to this member and asked her which Church she goes to and the member testified about the Church. She wanted to go, but the member said she’d need to talk to the missionaries first. So, we just happened to be there that week and we marked a night to pass by. We passed by her house and turns out that day her sister passed away. Ivanilda already had many problems with depression and especially now she was in a mess. We explained the Plan of Salvation... I don’t think she understood well, but as we left she told us how the whole time that we were there she felt peace in her heart. We took her to church and she LOVED it! She loved the Relief Society and to get to know a group of women for support. Also, one member marked an FHE in her house that week and... Well it just got better and better. So yeah, it was a miracle to be able to help Ivanilda in this desperate moment and now she is inviting everyone (all her depressed lady friends) to get to know the Church. Awesome huh?

Well I got to go. Cya and Love ya! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Heyya There Folks!
How is good ol´ ´Merica?  So it looks like you guys were partyin it up there during this great time of the year in that great country. Wow. Nonstop play time.... and meeting up with lots of friends... My favorite thing to do. Ha, as for my 4th of July, I woke up singing all the national songs that I could think of but it was kind of a one-man party. Oh well. Sadly though, our lunch was in a house of a man who is anti-American and he said a lot of things that pooped on my party and sadly I can’t discuss politics it’s against the rules so I just sat and listened to him bashing on my country. BUT... it's all good. Probably will be my last 4th of July outside of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Anyways, I guess I can tell you a bit about my week, right? So this week was very good I'd say. One of the simple miracles, that only a missionary would understand was when we did weekly planning, I told Elder Medrado, let’s make a goal to teach at least 4 lessons everyday. The surprising thing is, exactly that happened. Every day we were hitting the goal, even one day which seemed a little slow for us we ended up hitting it. So what can you take out of this? The power of making a righteous sincere goal. Because I know as soon as we declare, and write it down, God will be there to help us out in the strong and the weak. 

But that was only one small cool part of the week. Besides that we continued teaching the family of Eliza this week. It was a little scary because we invited this neighbor boy to participate and he ends up being a little Baptist full of doubts and calling us devil-worshippers behind our back. So we had a couple days of answering dumb questions and testifying of the truth. I was a little bit worried that he poisoned that family but surprisingly... No. Everyone that was believing us before were still nice and strong in their testimonies. Even the girl in the family, who is struggling to accept, because she is very active in the Catholic Church, testified to me of how she believes that the Book of Mormon is true. I felt like it would be the BoM that would help her, and it was a miracle to see how she opened up after reading it.

It was a little miracle for me to hear from and SEE my heroes. Elder Reynolds and Elder Hodson. Elder Reynolds showed up to do the baptism interview; I got to do his last little division with him. And I got to talk to Elder Hodson, give him a nice big hug, and he gave me a gift "sac" (he didn’t have a basket) before he left today. This was a little tender mercy for me to see them one last time.

But the best part of everything was Sunday at church. WOW. I seriously have never felt God’s love immensely poured upon me than in that Testimony meeting. I honestly felt like if I closed my eyes I would be in God’s presence. There were many great testimonies born, many about the missionary work, and even one of our investigators came up and bore her testimony about us. Then I looked back, and out of nowhere I saw Lucas, my very dear friend from my last area in Jardim Castelão appear. He came up and bore his testimony too, it was glorious. The Stake President couldn’t help but see the joy that was overcoming me and went up and bore testimony about the joy of service that he knew that I was experiencing. He said, "I know that you all cannot see it, but Elder Cetraro is in the front crying. I know that it isn’t because of the long hot days he spends in the sun or because of the many people not following, but simply because God is testifying to him that he is blessing others." It was perfect. The rest of the day was very inspired in there. And I couldn’t help but know that God did all that to me out of gratitude of everything I have done for others here. It was so great to help with the miracle of Eliza AND to have my dear friend show up just for me. It will be a day and a feeling that I never will forget.

Oh, with Transfers, I will be staying here, but now I will be taking care of 2 duos of Sisters. WOW, I hope I can do the job WELL. I really want to learn how to be a leader now and I know God is giving me the opportunity. Oh also... Guess who replaced the Elder Ribeiro who returned back home? Elder Barbosa! Ha, so I will be living with him this transfer. Cool huh?
Well that is a monster email. I know that you all are having a wonderful time and I would love to be there. But I also am having a joyous time here, and God loves having me be here.
Have an amazing week, and see ya later!
-Elder Zachary Cetraro