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
Olá! 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! Tchau! -Elder Zachary Adam Cetraro
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!
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!
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!