Monday, August 26, 2013

(Editor's note: on Tuesday, August 20, I got a call from the mission office saying Elder Cetraro had been mugged and got his debit card taken and it needed to be cancelled. This is the experience he is speaking of in the beginning.)

Hello Fam!
Yeesss, I am totally fine. I’m sorry if that first heads-up wasn’t detailed enough, I was standing there next to the secretary ready to fill you in if you freaked out. But it was chill. I guess I can tell you a bit more about it but I would like to forget about it a bit.

So like I told you in my last week’s email. I was in a different area with different missionaries who were all waiting to pick up their new companions. Like what I also said in the email we will probably go check out the ocean. Well it was the combination of these two that pretty much caused what happened. So Tuesday we were supposed to go to the office at 4 o´clock. After lunch me and another American got a glimpse of the ocean from afar and went all "goo-goo gah-gah... omg omg omg omg" If you can understand, I haven’t seen the ocean the whole time I have been here. Well what happened was the Elder whose area it was said, "Well you guys are in luck, because our next appointment is right by the beach." And then while we were going there he said "Oh! On the way there is a great view, it’s a bit dangerous though."

So yeah, we swung up by this hill that really did have a great view and I of course had my camera for that. But as we were leaving there appeared a bunch of kids. (like 12-16 years or so) and one of them had a broken beer bottle yelling at us to get down on our knees. I wanted to run, it would have been the best idea. But sadly though, the other two missionaries got down on their knees and if I would of booked it or fought back (I’m a black belt so I definitely already had an action kick-butt plan in my head) but if I would of done that, the situation would turned active and I would of put the other two Elders in danger. So they ended up taking my camera (I already hid the memory card in my back pocket) and my Missionary Manual, which had the (debit) card and money for a taxi. Funny thing is usually I don’t carry these things but due to the occasion I had them. I didn’t have a bag I just had these two things in my pocket so I couldn’t hide them. The other American Elder had his camera and wallet well hidden in his bag so he got away lucky.

But yeah, don’t worry, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t of handled, nothing crazy. I do kinda feel bad though because I was the oldest Elder there, so I should of been more responsible, but then again, I didn’t know the area at all to make those judgment calls. But yeah.

Anyways as for the rest of the week. So we stayed in Expedicionários and I am with Elder Monical. He is a tall kinda quiet guy and he kinda reminds me of Uncle Jared with how calm and athletic he is. Anyways, he basically forgot most of his Portuguese because he spent 3 months out of the MTC not using it. So it has been interesting. I will have to really focus to help him participate in the work and really grow in this transfer. I am able to do the work but I can’t do it all and neglect him the growing experience and practice that he needs, so hopefully this next week we will figure it out.

As for the work I felt like it was a little slow this week since I didn’t have the opportunity to do weekly planning or do weekly goals. It is amazing how slothful we become without these two things. I will want to do this weekly planning and goals after the mission for sure! But it was waaay cool though because I didn’t tell you about Tiara from last week.

So last Friday I got a phone call from the office that they had a great referral for me to baptize. So we swung by Saturday afternoon and she actually was just about leaving. But real briefly I asked her how does she already know about the Church. She shared with me how at the moment she is without religion because she has studied the Catholic church’s history as well as the Baptist church’s history and she didn’t like what she has seen. She said that she already has looked into and studied a bit about the Mormon Church and has a return missionary co-worker that took her to some church things and gave her a Book of Mormon. I know an elect when I see one so I just briefly bore my testimony of how God has answered her prayers and sent us and gave her the first 3 lessons to read. So she did, she went to church with us, she loved it.  We passed by her house last Sunday afternoon (while I was still with Elder Medrado) and we ended up teaching her the Restoration and about the Gospel of Christ and she accepted to be baptized. We then tried to pass by during the week to teach the commandments but basically with studying and work she has no time whatsoever. So we ended up just teaching her everything that afternoon. She already was living all the commandments. We really could of baptized her right then and there. Thing is though that night was transfers which means a night of packing bags and not baptisms.... so we put it off for this week. But yeah, she was the driest Mormon I have ever met and wow she is 19 years old and I think she has a desire to serve a mission. I am excited to see her blossom in the church.

Ha, but thanks for the updates. My companion actually already told me about the temple video he was there last week..... Jealousy....... and I am excited to see it as well but I am sure that just being in the temple will be good enough for me.
Gotta go! Love you all, have a great week!
-Elder Zachary Cetraro

Monday, August 19, 2013

I am here at a LANhouse in Aldeota and I’m a couple blocks away from the ocean, which I plan on passing by today since I haven’t seen it the whole time I have been here. So did I get transferred to the beach??? Ha actually.... No.

Alrighty, so how was my last week of the transfer?!  Well it was pretty interesting to tell you the truth. Like I said in my last email, the Ward Rodolfo Teófilo loved us and welcomed us really well when we were there. When it came to weekly planning Tuesday, we kinda hit a wall. Plan for which ward?!?! I really felt like I was in the middle of a Ward Tug-a-war, between our beloved Ward Expedicionários and our new exciting Ward Rodolfo Teófilo. I called the assistant to see what the plans were for the next transfer, and he basically gave us the choice. You know me, I don’t choose. I analyze and state the pros and cons, but anyways it came down to prayer. After this I really felt like I was ordained to work here in Expedicionários and even though I could see that I would have more fruits in the other ward, God chose that place for the Sisters, and it is my job now to really trust in them to do the great work instead of going there and doing it for them. Interesting thing is that the Sisters that I take care of, had 3 months of training and a senior companion and after that, they become the experienced ones, and trained the newbies that are constantly coming in. I know I am the Elder that I am because of the great seniors that I have already had, so I will really try this next week to help them with this aspect.

This week was also Zone Conference and we had the whole mission there in the chapel where we do our district meeting. It was super good. Talked a lot about desire and objectives, and how we really need to get the abilities. I have really realized that this is something I really need to work on. Abilities. As you guys know, I pick up things quickly.... or I don’t. I never have been one to really self dedicate to practicing something. I like to learn, but apply and practice is different. I know mastering this now, will really help me here in the future. Besides that, we returned back to work in our old area basically from scratch.

This week Elder Medrado was sick like I said. Last week he thought it was dengue, then a fever, then a sore throat, but it turns out it was just a canker sore. My Sisters had Dengue the worst thing they could get and this Elder was whining more about a canker. It was hard for us both. I ended up preaching everything for a couple of days. But he got better and we finished off chill. I am ready to have a normal week again.

So as for transfers, soooooo...... I stayed. But Elder Medrado was transferred.... It was a great opportunity to train Elder Medrado. I can honestly say it was a little experience of raising a real child. You really want to give them the best start that they can get so that they can achieve great things in their missions. I truly loved Elder Medrado like a son. And I truly feel blessed to be chosen and entrusted by God to have had this very important role in his mission.

And as for me, well turns out that I was designated to be a "Language Trainer" for a missionary that is arriving right now from the USA. He has already had 2 transfers there (in the US) but I will have to help him adjust to his real mission... so yeah. I don’t really have more details on that one. But for today I am hanging out with Elder Wadsworth from Grace Idaho, and it is his dream to live in Logan. Good stuff...
But that’s all for today, love ya'll and have a great first week of school!
-Elder Zachary Cetraro

Monday, August 12, 2013

Well hey there!
Wow, summer is still going. Sounds like the kids could be having the best summer of their lives. Ha I’m even getting a bit jealous. And that’s strange, because I thought nothing beats missionary work! It’s weird to think about school. It seems so far a way. I don’t feel so much like a kid anymore... I actually want to go to school!

Anyways, as for your questions. It turns out that he (the child that drowned) was found shortly after the photo, everyone was searching for him. They had some lifeguards there and it sounds like they did 30 minutes of CPR and when it was time to do the shocky dealio it was advised not to do it.

But as for the area, I stuck with the thought of Gordon B. Hinckley that I love, "Put your trust in God" and things weren’t as bad as they seemed they were. But the thing is we didn’t work much in Expedicionários this week. Both of the Sister’s companionships had their greenie being a sickie, so they all passed the whole week in the hospital. But it was a miracle how everything worked out. Since I was able to work in one of the wards I was able to continue the work and help a lady prepare for baptism for this week and some brothers for next week. It was good and kinda cool to work in the new area, but it was just a little weird because I felt like I was kinda working not full-heartedly because of our unsure future. I didn’t have that full zing of proclaiming the gospel that I usually did, but it was a very good week still.

The Sisters are better now, and they should be working this next week. My companion is getting a little sick. I hope it goes away. Sister Bailey’s Mom passed away. She told me and Elder Medrado privately, but usually she has been calling my comp for support, which makes sense since they are in the same boat.

I did get to travel plenty this week and we used the buses a lot. We always have a Book of Mormon in hand so it’s good to read and to do contacts. I have a goal to memorize the chapters (what happens in each chapter) of the Book of Mormon. I’ve got up to the book of Mosiah down.

Besides that, Sunday was really good. It’s crazy because the ward is super happy and super excited to have us in the ward, but I think it’s a bit sad because it is probably just for a week or so. The baptism was funny because the woman I baptized, Mara, is pregnant, and she is big in general. The font wasn’t full, so we ended up doing the baptism sitting down. It was great and she thought it was pretty special. Besides that, P-day was chill today and we have zone conference and transfers this next week. So yeah! I would say that’s my update for the week.
Love ya Fam!
-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, August 5, 2013

Heyy Theereee....!!
First of all, Elder Medrado IS Elder Alves. I thought I updated you on that one, but if not, my bad. Alves is a name very common here so Elder Medrado is also carrying his mother’s maiden name as he serves. Elder Medrado is actually doing very well. It is crazy that summer is coming to an end already. I think it is kinda cool, the whole time you have spent on summer break I have spent training Elder Medrado. Our training ends the 19th of August, so yeah.

Alrighty, as for my week, it was amazing to see how Elder Medrado continued on really well. I think just talking all the time about the gospel with each other and with others has helped him a lot. I think it is funny I told him this week how I have always been some what of a gospel nerd (I get it from my Dad) and how I have never had the opportunity to really just blab about the gospel all day. Ha and how it will be sad when I go home and won’t be able to do that anymore.

This week we prepared for the first man we have baptized here. I don’t know if you remember Ivanilda, she is our super convert. Well all this time her son has been attending church and talking with us. Well last Sunday, he didn’t want to do it (get baptized), so it was cool how Monday night we passed by, and I extended to him the simple invitation to “Ask Help from God”, and the next day we passed by and BAM everything changed and he was super excited for his baptism. Besides that it was cool to see how every night we had some FHE’s or activities or dinners marked. No one knew about what happened with my comp but the invitations appeared.

Also, very interesting is that just about every day this week we were talking about the Plan of Salvation with someone, and like I said there were 5 deaths this week. One was the sister of our convert Eliza. The other one, the brother in law of another investigator. It was crazy how all of a sudden God placed all these situations in front of us. It has even made me stop to think, I will study the Plan of Salvation a little bit more. It’s funny because it was this lesson that I understood the best before the mission but now it is the hardest lesson for me to teach.

Also this week, just about all of the Sisters that I take care of; Sister McQuivey, Sister Figueredo and Sister Nascimento, have gotten Dengue. A deadly disease that exists here that you get from mosquitos. So I have been following up on all that and the other day we went to give them a blessing. She asked for one in English and it was super weird because I struggled to do it in English. But yeah, today I think I will go shopping for them while they all go to the hospital.

But now for more sad news for this last weekend. So Saturday we had a ward party that went to the Club of the Federal Police and had a swimming pool party. The activity was excellent, but as Bishop closed the pool and the lifeguards left, and everyone went to take a picture, there was a little 12 year-old who decided to take his last dip... and well he drowned. The thing is, this kid is a neighbor to the church, and I guess his Mom didn’t react very well and now she is blaming the church. So Sunday we had our meetings in the Stake Center due to the danger of going to our own chapel. It is super sad though because the whole ward is in shock due to the death and also the reaction. Especially Bishop. Wow, I have never seen someone so emotionally strong like him appear so worn down and in the dumps than on Sunday. He is dealing with all these problems and it’s super sad because due to the danger the missionaries are being removed from the area and so now he feels a bit abandoned. So it looks like we will still live in our house but we will work in the Sister’s areas while we are waiting for things to calm down. It is sad though to end it like this. Especially because I want to help out my Bishop, we owe him a lot but we can’t really do anything so yeah.

But Sunday due to 4 wards in one chapel at the same time and me taking care of my ward and the ward of the Sisters it was pretty crazy. But luckily everything was handled, I got the baptism organized for Patrick and also the baptism of the Sister missionaries organized. I never have had a more rushed Sunday in my life. But it ended with tranquil waters.

So yeah, for now I don’t know the details for the next week. But it will be interesting what will happen. But yeah, everything is chill here, I am happy and learning, but now I just need serve A LOT. But that’s what we are here for right? Love you all.
(Pray for my Bishop!)
-Elder Zachary Cetraro