Monday, July 14, 2014

"I loved serving my mission in Brazil."

This video clip was totally shot in my old mission.  Maybe they didn't win the Fifa World Cup, but the people there are accepting the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I loved serving my mission in Brazil. I loved the people there, and it makes me so happy to see how much the Lord has blessed these people's lives. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Church that God restored on the earth in these last days and I truly saw that as I helped establish The Church in Brazil's lovely state of Ceara.

For more information on Missionary Work in Brazil, please click here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Elder Cetraro's last email home on his Mission:

oh Minha Nossa!! Chegou!

I thought this day would never come.... ha actually, I knew this day would come, and because of that I always have lost myself in my full time service while I can. I remember reading the story you just sent me of the return missionary my last week of training with my Zone Leader Elder Heath in Juazeiro. I remember I cried that day, I didn’t want that day to come, I dreaded the thought of it... in a good way.

I love serving the Lord, and as many youth are saying now-a-days... you only live once, YOLO, I knew that as well, you only serve once. But hey, that is life. God gives us many opportunities in our lives to live. I can honestly say that I LIVED my mission. I gave myself to the Lord. Because I have lost myself, I have also received the promised blessing that I shall find myself as well. Not only have I met, and come to know many great missionaries, members, leaders, the beautiful Brazilian people, but I have really come to know myself, and who I am. It’s incredible, and I know that this will help myself now come back and start my adult life.

I also, have come to know Someone even more important during my time here as a missionary. As Dad said in his email, I can truly look back at my mission and see the Lord’s hand in every week, everyday, and in every hour. Many people have accompanied me in these last two years. My family, my leaders, my friends that I have made here, and even the 24/7 companions. But only One has walked with me the whole way. I know, for I truly carried His name over my heart. There honestly isn’t anything in this world that I could pay to experience the constant closeness I had with my Savior. The Gospel, God’s plan and His commandments, and especially the Restoration of everything has really become a reality to me, and I am super grateful for this testimony that nobody can take away from me. Nobody could of given it to me either except a perfect Savior that knows me perfectly. And He did.

Words honestly can’t describe the feelings that I have for my mission. It really is sacred to me. Like my favorite picture which my Mom inspiredly put in my bedroom... of Moroni burying the plates, I finish my emails to my family and bear my testimony of the Lord’s Work today. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father that knows us and loves us beyond measure. He made a plan for us. He sent us here to Earth, to live and love. One of His greatest gifts He could give us was the opportunity to serve for Him in these last days. He knew that we were valiant, so He chose us to come and He prepared a way for us to steady our feet, grasp hands, encourage minds, inspire hearts, and save souls. It is what our perfect Father enjoys most, and so He made it possible to feel this great joy. To do that He called His Son, Jesus Christ and through Him all things were made possible. He lived for us, and He died for us, and in these last days, He calls us. I know He came down with His Father that wonderous spring morning in 1820. I know He restored His True Church through His servant Joseph Smith. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet.... you don’t know how long I have waited to be able to say that for myself. I know that he translated the Book of Mormon and that this Divine Word has changed my life in countless ways. I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart. Also, God the Eternal Father and His Son restored the Holy Priesthood here on Earth once again. I know that I hold this Priesthood, and finally I know what an honor this is. I know God called me to serve here in Fortaleza Brazil, He called my President, Francisco de Assis Souza, and He created a perfect Mission for me. I know that families can be eternal, and that endless joy and happiness awaits us and our families as we live and love this Gospel He has given us. I know the Church is True, I love my Mom and Dad, and I close this last email, in the name of Jesus Christ.


Cya in a week! =)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Heeeyy there!!
100!!Wow that’s a mile mark. Now we know that 100 weeks is a looong time.
Wooow, I am getting a bit antsy writing this letter. I only have one more email after this. CRAZYY!! It was great to talk to you all. I thought it was one of our best conversations we have had out of our 4 in my mission. I guess you can say that I am officially excited to go home. (it’s a new feeling for me) Ha, but I am still here the mission is still my priority.

Today was great with Elder Neil L Anderson. Apostles really carry a great spirit with them. Thing is, I know they really are just normal people as well. Just humble servants of the Lord. He said 3 things that really confirmed things I have developed here on the mission. The first thing is getting familiar with Scripture References. I am working on writing my very own Book of Mormon Glossary. For the last year I have worked to memorize the chapters of the Book of Mormon. As he was explaining about the Atonement he put up a scripture and asked who knew what chapter this scripture was found in. My hand shot up and  I answered in an instant. He always asked who is the person teaching in the these doctrine chapters, and not many people knew... but I knew. It has been a blessing to have this God-given gift and it has really helped me listen and follow the spirit in my lessons (D&C84:85)

The second thing was a subject me and my companion have been debating for the last few weeks. About Justice vs. Mercy. My companion is a very extremist and strict in his opinions about what is right and wrong, I told him studying more about mercy will help him fight this dominating justice sense that he has. He then asks me, "if all our blessings come from obedience, why should I look more into mercy which will make me be more careless" I couldn’t really answer. But the focus of Elder Anderson’s talk was on a scripture I believe that is in 2 Nephi 2, or pg. 2 in Preach My Gospel that talks about the Merits, Mercy, and Grace. He told us to really ponder these 3 words over to get a better insight into the Atonement. 

Yeah! Ha, last thing is here on the mission I have developed a great love for General Conference, he invited us to study these things out, and I am excited to do such! (ha, if the Liahona gets here on time) Alright that was pretty sweet today. alrighty well I need to write President, até próxima semana!
Elder Cetraro

Monday, May 5, 2014

Heeellllooo there!
This is one of my  last emails! Next week is Skype.... then the next Monday after will be when I talk with Elder Anderson.... then one more and that’s it! WOOOOOOW!!!! Why am I doing this?!?! 

Ha, actually for the first time in my mission I think I had a bit of a problem sleeping because my mind kept thinking about home... I never have time to think about it any other time. Ha, especially now that I know that I will have a nice CAR when I get home, yaaaayy!!

Okay, as for my week. This was the first week of the transfer! We still are working a bunch with the family of Junior. We have been training them to do FHE every Monday night, and now their young daughter will be married and baptized this week. We also have been preparing their cousins who live close by to be baptized as well. 

This week there were two cool experiences that I liked. One was with the Leadership Council... my last. But I couldn’t have asked for a better one. As I have been approaching our last months here, I have done a bit of self reflection of what do I really have to show as one of the older missionaries. One of these I would say is how I can manage to listen to my investigators and adapt my teaching to apply it best to their life, so that every lesson I teach is different. “Teach People, Not Lessons”, as we say. Well, the Assistants chose this as the subject for this last training as well as work with the members, which is another point I like. Honestly, I know it has been an answer to my prayers. The next day I did an exchange with Elder Cardozo, one of our District Leaders, and during the day he said how he was amazed how I teach people and not lessons (without him even knowing what will be the training) It also has been amazing since I have almost memorized the whole Book of Mormon, in just about every visit I can use a different scripture story to apply to their lives. I hope I will be able to use these skills when I come home in some way.
Alrighty, well I got to go... 

SEE you next week!

-Elder Cetraro

Monday, April 28, 2014

Heeey Faaam!
WoW! I just noticed that I almost am at week 100!! That’s a good chunk of time! I think I will only have 101 weeks in my mission.. Cool! Anyways.... speaking of Trunky. Today I lived the literal meaning of trunky. So as for transfers, I stayed! I will finish my mission here in Bom Jardim. (Which means that I spent 2012 in Juazeiro, all of 2014 in Bom Jardim, and in 2013 I passed in ALL of my areas, funny huh??) Ha, so the next time I will have to arrange my bags... it will be the last time I will have to arrange my bags! (Hallelujah!)  Today I didn’t have to go to Aldeota (the mission office) so we had some spare time in the house. Everyone just wanted to lay down and chat (and we never have time to do that or probably will this transfer) and you know me being full of proactivity, I decided that I would sit... and chat... and organize my miscellaneous bag (Where I throw whatever). Hahaha now that’s trunky, but I know that it’s gonna need real organization and I am not going to leave that for my last week! So yeah... It’s starting to sink in.

Okay, well for my week. You asked me how many baptisms we had this month. The month ended up having 23 baptisms. Which is the best we have had while I have been here, but I know that it can be better. This month we will have Elder Anderson (the Apostle) come visit here!!!!  And Ulysses Soares (Seventy President, maybe someday the first Brazilian apostle) will come directly to Bom Jardim! So maybe that will help us all get excited. In our area we have 3 couples that are planning to be married this month so that’ll be great. Also as for retention, there is a countless number of inactive members here, but President Souza is famous for how he has helped Fortaleza retain more baptisms. As for my recent converts in the last 2 areas, I know that 90% are still active. So I feel good, but it really is a battle to retain here. I have a great love and gratitude for the recent-converts, that was actually what I told the Zone members this month. Anyways, it’s all good here.

This week I left my area in a companionship exchange for the first time in 2 months. I visited my good friend Elder Wall, and also my other good friend Elder Wadsworth It was pretty great. Some cool things that happened with Elder Wadsworth. First, I met their Ward Mission Leader who just barely got back from Rio, and turns out he was  a companion with my companion from the MTC. Ha, and do you remember when we went to do something with my driver’s license and that lady started to talk about how cool Brazilians are and how if you meet them one day they will invite you to their kid’s birthday party the next day? Well that just happened. Ha, Elder Wadsworth literally met a family the day before and our last appointment we swung by and just us and the family that lives there celebrated this kid’s 10th Birthday. Ha! I thought that was pretty funny, but it really is that way here.

This last Sunday, every dupla in our District had a baptism to do, but the plumbing went wrong.... so Sunday morning, the Elders from the afternoon ward came and filled up the font with BUCKETS!! Hahaha it was super sweet, and it was great. We baptized Cosmo, who is a 16 year old that is part of the family we baptized. We didn’t baptize him before because we thought he would return to live with his Gramma again, but it turns out that he liked the church so much that he ended up staying!

Ha, good stuff... well I would like to invite you and the Fam to pray for me as much as you can. I want to finish off my mission the best that I can. I know that my return is just around the corner, but every time you think about me, do a personal prayer that I finish off the mission strong, with plenty of baptisms and the finishing touches the Lord needs to do for this return missionary okay?! Let’s go! até próxima semana!

-Élder Cetraro

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hey there!
Here soon we will have our last Skype and then I’ll be home!  Sadly, my last transfer only has 5 weeks, so we shall see what will happen next week. I’m chill with whatever. If I leave... I will probably be Assistant. If I stay... alright! I will continue here where we are having progress and some more couples to baptize. It’s great to see how the Ward and the Zone has grown since I have gotten here. When I arrived... the Zone wasn’t super ready to have an explosion of missionaries. So we baptized I think around 13 in January, 19 in February, 13 in March, and we already have 18 in April with a prospective of 30 by the end... YES!  Also our Ward is improving a lot as well. Constantly members are saying how the ward is improving. We had 6 baptisms this last week in our ward of 2 families. Awesome!

This week was great to help prepare Júnior and his family for this big week. Erbênia managed to stop smoking, they then had interviews Wednesday, wedding Thursday, baptism Friday, and the confirmation Sunday- all during Easter. Friday was cool because we turned the baptism into an Easter activity where we watched "The Lamb of God" (a movie about the last week of Christ’s life) I gave a message about the symbolisms between Resurrection and Baptism and after the baptism we had fondue! Ha there were about 80 people so it was great for the ward!

But that’s about it. The weather here has been rainy. So some days it’s cool... and other days it’s humid and hot. Well alright. I’ll talk to ya’ll here next week.

-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, April 14, 2014

Hellloooo My Family!

This week was actually a bit tough for us. Monday night we had to fight to help out the two young couples. At first we noticed they weren’t having the best communication so we suggested it would be a better idea to live separately and learn to really date before living together. But later they decided that they’ll just get married, so we have their wedding planned for May. With Geraldo and Jorgilane we did another lesson helping them to forgive each other, we asked Geraldo to promise that he’ll stop drinking.... but he didn’t, so we all kinda gave up. I felt really bad that night. Not just for them, but also for all the other children that I see who are growing up in that environment where someday they will also have the dangers of addictions and other worldly things. It made my companion reflect as well. 

This week we gave a Training about working with the members. It was sad because we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to prepare the training. (Since for much of the time I had been thinking about this subject, but had not organized my thoughts) It went well, and that day we had an exchange, with Elder Ordinola. It then dawned on me that our area is quite the example. That day we taught 5 couples, and every single one had something involved with a Member. My whole entire mission I have been taught to teach Men and Families and Couples... I have worked hard for that but it wasn’t always a reality.... now it is!! So I am very blessed for that, and it was great to show that to a new missionary so they can lift up their sights and work to have many families as well.

This weekend, with our Ward Mission Leader, Erivan, we decided to continue to work better with the members and to have a better relationship with them and really work to conquer their trust. This weekend we had Presidente Souza come and talk to the Palmares Ward (our neighbors, same chapel). We invited our members too... some of them went. But it’s getting better. Many members have told us how we are making a mark in the ward. That makes me feel good about our work.

So yeah, it’s going good! I am still loving the mission... it’s just weird having my end right around the corner... but I know I have served well, and that the Lord is happy with my 2 years... so I can go home if it is really His will. (But I’m sure deep down inside I’m really excited, I am just very good at keeping it under control, ha!)
Thanks for your emails and your prayers! 
until next week!

-Élder Cetraro

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 7, 2014

Hey there Fam!
So this was quite the week!! I’m not sure if I will ever have a week like it again. First of all... it was the week leading up to General Conference. I don’t know if you still remember, but Conference is one of my favorite things here on the mission. Everyday we testify of a living Prophet that God has called, and it is very rare that we can actually SHOW them as well. So this entire week I was reading many Conference addresses from last Conference, and in every moment we were preparing people to hear the Prophet’s voice. My companion was impressed and often testified about my excitement for Conference. It was great because we actually found 3 less-active members/couples who were excited to come back and hear. So that was very fun, and it was also incredible how we can learn much more when we study the Conference talks in the Ensign in personal study. These talks are really meant to help us for the next 6 months and not just the beginning of April. I challenge you all to read at least one Conference talk each week.

The second special thing was with the interviews we had with President Souza. For everyone it was the last interview that he would have with them before he leaves (Except for me... hee hee I have a Final Interview to do with him) Something that is funny, usually my interviews with him have been very short because I don’t like to be selfish because I don’t have any problems and I know that there are other Elders that need it. But this time, I got a little greedy and I didn’t let it slide. Recently I have been studying about Virtue, and I have seen how President Souza is one of the great examples of virtue to me. In things such as Excellence, Order, Respect, Trustworthiness, Punctuality, Concentration, and Cleanliness. So I asked him what virtue means to him and how it has served him. Interestingly... he really didn’t talk about any of these things. He told me how we as humans are the Spiritual Nature of a God, but have the weaknesses of mortality. And how there are many things attractive to our eyes, but we must look out with the eyes of faith, so to avoid the dangers. The best was when he told me how he raised his family in virtue, and it really inspired me to do the same. It’s great to have him as my President, I couldn’t ask for better.

Then we had the leadership council. I really liked the training that was given because it was focused on working with the members. Something I have been wanting to help here in the mission... well for about my whole mission. Our Assistant Elder Dustin Young I met in the MTC, we were in Juazeiro together, we became Zone Leaders together and he has been my leader since November. He is the perfect example of kindness, and he is coming home at the end of the month. 

And of course the actual Conference was good. I always say that General Conference is the closest thing we have to a holiday..... Ha sadly though, this wasn’t the case this Conference. My companion wanted to organize to watch the Conference in our own chapel instead of the Stake Center. It was a bright idea to really help our investigators come and watch Conference but from the beginning I didn’t feel really good about it. I said that it would be a lot of work and I don’t want to worry about it especially during a time to receive revelation like in Conference. I told him we shouldn’t do it unless there was a member behind it and organizing it for us. Sadly my warnings came to pass. We invited A LOT of people as well as the other 3 duplas to this chapel. It was all going smooth but at the last minute everything fell through. Basically there was a problem in someone presiding. Anyways, Saturday and Sunday was mostly spent cleaning up that mess. But thanks to my companion’s sacrifice and taking the heat of it all, I got to watch Conference still. Just a little bit more stressed, but Conference calmed me down, and I have been able to continue forward positively.
Alrighty, So it was a good week. Pray for the couples I am teaching. Two of them are having serious marriage problems and they aren’t even married yet. The Lord will help us though.
Thanks for not counting down the days as well!!

-Elder Zac Cetraro

March 31, 2014

Wooooo!!! College! Ó looouco!
I think maybe my anti-trunky defenses are slowly coming down. Actually, they are still surprisingly well, just constantly under attack. This transfer will be the first time in my whole mission being the oldest in the house and also in the Zone. Ha, so whenever there is a trunky thought in the Zone it is always directed at me because I am the only one that will leave this year (almost, actually my companion and Elder Wadsworth are leaving in November). I’m still really focused on the mission but when it comes to thinking about what attributes I want to develop I don’t really think of what missionary attributes I want, but more what kind of normal person I want to be when I get home. It’s weird, but it’s going. 

Thanks for signing me up for the classes, I approve them all.  I am actually starting to remember mais ou menos the people who use to be a part of my life..  It’ll be interesting when I come home... 

Anyways, my week was good. Tuesday I handed off my recent converts to the other dupla in the area. I went to their area but it was me who was showing them around to the work we had done there (almost ALL of our work that we have done was given to them). What we gained was an area that wasn’t worked that has a lot of potential that is closer to the chapel and with many more members. So once again, we are almost opening an area. But we still have the 3 couples we were teaching.

Something that was super special, last week when we passed our investigators, Geraldo and Jorgilane. This last week we saw that they were applying what we taught them and that they were being cured. They even made an effort to thank us, Thursday night they invited us to eat a "feast" with them. We entered into their house for the first time (we teach them on the porch) and it really is just one room with a bed, oven, dresser, fridge and television, and that’s it. They showed us around to explain a bit about their life and then we sat down to eat. It was a normal dinner, but to them it was a "feast", so to me it was one of the most delicious moments in the mission. Not only for eating an unexpected dinner, but to feel the gratitude of a humble and needy home. Pray for them.

Besides that it’s going good. I feel that the Lord is helping me work to my potential. I like my companion a lot, he is a reeeal help in the leadership efforts, he is real observant and knows how to evaluate the work of the Zone. The ward is continually thanking us for our efforts.
So yeah, good stuff. Until 65 more days.... heh.... right....

-Elder Zac Cetraro

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


It actually was quite the full week. First, I decided that my comp reminds me a lot of my old boss from the Pita Pit, that helps me like him a lot! He has been a good companion, but it’s funny because we have been so focused on the work that it seems like I don’t know him very well. We did an exchange this week with Elder Whitt.  He talked with me once on a bus ride, and told me that he always wanted to be in my Zone, so I had a good time with him, good laughs as well. We got along instantly. He is in probably one of the best areas in the Zone, but their work needs to match it. Also, we redivided the areas inside of our Ward. When we got here the last 2 transfers that area was divided horribly, the area of the other Elders had all the members, everything close to the chapel, all the lunches and our house. Last transfer I wanted to do it, but no one felt like it. But now we did it!! So it will be interesting, I lost all my recent converts in the divide, but hey it isn’t about me.

I don’t know if I told you but for this month I decided to study Virtue. Something that stood out to me as I was studying is how President Souza is my perfect example of Virtue. He is super Honest, Focused, Pure, and has helped the mission change to a place of integrity with his time here. He always encourages us to excellence. I know that this is something my Heavenly Father wants to be a strong point in my life and wants me to follow in his footsteps and be an example in this as well. My whole mission I can see how President Souza has taught us about virtue and once again I have received a spiritual confirmation that he was prepared by God to be my Mission President. I love him, and what he has made of my mission. This weekend was Stake Conference and it was very good. President spoke in the two sessions that we went to. It’s funny how in the first he was super excited, and in the second super spiritual.

Sunday morning was a treat. We had 17 investigators at church!  We first passed by Emanuel’s and saw that his sister would be going. We then passed by another one of the families that doesn’t seem to have an end to family members and walked with them to grab a bus. It was 8 people and 2 men. Then we swung by Junior’s house and to our surprise, Elieudo, the father-in-law of their daughter was giving them all a ride.  Elieudo also brought his other daughter in law. These are people that we taught in the beginning of February but never made it to church, so that was another 7 people and a very good surprise! Oh it was great!Also it was very special to baptize Emanuel and then afterwards eat lunch with the lady who gave us the referral to teach him. Cool stuffs!

Alrighty, today I saw some Elders I knew from the other mission. I heard that some of the men that I baptized are receiving the Melchizedek priesthood now... YES!!! awesomeness...
Alrighty... gotta go love ya all!

-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, March 17, 2014

Muuuuuiiittooo Bom!!!
You know, my whole mission I have always had the belief that having a girlfriend while on the mission is not the best. But I remember one pro that I always noticed about the Elders with girlfriends. When they get good news from the girls, they get happy, and then they work good. Ha, but now I believe, who needs a girlfriend?!  I always get good news from the family, and I get happy!! Ha, I am sooo happy that my family has been so blessed during my mission. I know missionaries whose families are going through many tribulations while their kids are serving. It has been good for the Smith family since I have been gone. Awesome! Thanks for all the good news.

Anyways, for this week. This week was the last week of Elder Christiansen, and I’m not going to lie, it got a bit trunky. He tried to treat it as if it were just another week, but I don’t like that. When it is your last, you need to give your best!! We’ll see how it goes when I get there. Ha, but it was a very good week though.  Today in the Center I bought another Hammock (great.. I have 2 now!) and some cultural food... mmmm. 

I think Tuesday was one of my best days in my mission. First of all, we prepared training. I loved this training, and I think it was one of my best since I have been a Zone Leader. My companionship with Elder Christiansen has probably been the one with the most unity, especially in our teaching. But sometimes he would get lost, and especially in the trainings, but this time we prepared the training together and more importantly I helped him memorize it. So it went very well on Wednesday. But anyways, Tuesday was awesome because of the training preparation, but more because that day we marked 2 people for baptism this week (sadly it didn’t work out). Then after we had the Quorum President with us and we had 3 couples agree to get married and be baptized. This last Sunday we had 4 couples at church.... oh man! That was awesome! We had a lot of members and leaders very impressed and thank us for the work we have been doing, it was great. 

Ha, so Elder Christiansen left. I don’t know if you noticed but I have lived with him since October, so about 6 months. It was great to have him as a companion. He was a very loyal companion, and I could really feel of his love for me. He had his difficulties, but really it didn’t matter, he was a great companion. The mission is great.

Anyways, for transfers, about half the zone left. I am excited though, it’ll be good to be here and help direct these Elders to have success in their new areas and to help them make these changes. I’d like to ask you all as well to pray to help the Elders in my zone to baptize.  Por favor. My companion is Elder Packard, from Florida. I’ll tell you more next week, but he likes StarWars, so I’m psyched!
Alright, Love you all, and have a Great St. Patricks day! =D

-Elder Zac Cetraro

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 10, 2014

Oi Mãe!
Bom Dia!! It is my companion’s last P-day, so while we are in the Center, I think maybe we will do some tourist shopping. Ha, any suggestions for souvenirs? 

I’m glad you liked my last email. I try to spill out the good stuff. There are so many little and simple, but great things that happen everyday so sometimes its hard to share stuff with you all.

Speaking of changes, this week the Zone Leaders received the training for this month from the Assistants. This month we will be studying what I think (and I’m sure many others agree) to be the 2nd best chapter in Preach My Gospel (1st best is the 1st chapter that talks and motivates us about our purpose as missionaries.) Ch.6, How can I develop Christ-like attributes? Man it’s good! The Assistants really focused on the technical things in their training like baptismal invites. But as I have been studying and preparing this training I have seen how inspiring this chapter is for us personally as missionaries, but also for our investigators. I decided to give the theme as "Follow Christ’s Example" and we will really focus on the importance of us following Christ’s example (especially through studies in the companionship) And as Dad always taught, the best way to teach... By Example! So what we really need to do is always focus on Christ in our teachings for He is the example that God gave us. We often get caught up in all the technical part of the restoration, like Prophets, Priesthood, Apostasy, Joseph Smith. All these things are so foreign for the people we are teaching. We need to ring a familiar tone, and always focus our teaching in Christ and how we can follow His example.

This week Carnaval ended, and yeah it was a normal week.You asked about Riandra and Randerson’s Mom. So yeah, this week was funny because Luiz Alan, Alanice, and Riandra all had birthdays this week. So we passed by each day and gave each one of them a box of chocolates. I felt kinda bad because I’m not sure if anybody really celebrated it with them, there was no cake. I’m not sure if there were presents or anything out of the ordinary... the Mom really didn’t progress much this week, she still is going to church though. 

Oh my, Sunday was awesome! So I don’t remember if I told you about the random contact that Elder Galvão did a couple weeks ago. Well, after that it was a little tough to follow up on this family, and when we passed by them this last week, almost everyone wasn’t very interested... except one Jorgilane. She promised that she would go last week but her husband drank so she ended up not going. But when we passed by Monday night, we talked to her husband, Geraldo, and turns out that after our lesson with him many weeks ago, he actually prayed and after had a dream about Joseph Smith. So he had already decided to visit the church the next time we passed by. We left a Book of Mormon with them, and Jorgilane said she prayed and also felt that the BoM is very valuable. It was great to hear that they were praying together as well during the week. Anyways, they went to church and they loved it!

During Sacrament Meeting there was a girl who is leaving to serve a mission this week who was giving a talk. During the talk, she (Jorgilane) asked me what they need to do to be missionaries as well. Ha! I told her that she has a different mission, she needs to raise her baby boy. I could see that she was a little sad at first but she soon responded saying, "Well that’s alright, I will raise him to be a missionary then!" I then bore my testimony about the power that Moms have in raising missionaries and how mine really helped me. It was a very special moment and it left us both almost in tears. They are very excited to come back next week.

As for Junior, this week we were trying hard to talk with his Wife, Erbênia. This weekend we finally talked to her and now that her Husband is going she said she will go as well. They went with their family and they loved it. They gave us dinner last night and she said how it really has been a very special day and how she has been already feeling the unity in her family from going to church. We will start the paperwork for their wedding this week! Two awesome families! It’s going good.

Alrighty, there is a little bit about my week. Elder Christiansen is starting his last week. He is doing very well, it’ll be a good last week. I will probably stay for this next transfer and maybe I will even finish my mission here. But yeah it’s going good.
Alrighty, until next week my good family!

-Elder Zac Cetraro

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hey there!!

WOOT YAYY!! What a great birthday present to me?!?!  I am very happy, but it looks like you are faaarrr more! Ha, just about all my friends from the mission are studying at BYU. Ha, it’s a party house for return missionaries. Well, I don’t know what to say, it really just seems like the right option to me for now, I am sure I will like it when I get back. (Zac just got the news he has been accepted to BYU)

Alright. My Birthday. HA!! Well I sure didn’t spend the whole day in a hospital again like last year, but the way we ate I am surprised I didn’t. I woke up.... and I was extra pumped to do some good work outs YES! That was good, then my comp made crepes and I felt like I was drowning in sugar... Nutella, Creme, Peanut Butter, Syrup..... and Chocolate milk to wash it all down. I felt like I was eating the 5 basic food groups in the movie, Elf! But I was very happy because I knew they were all doing it out of love. Then we planned for the week... and as you know I love weekly planning. Then lunch was AMAZING. I don’t know how that Irmã knew but she made my favorite... Brazilian Pancakes! Yuum! I ate sooo much and then out of nowhere she whipped out a giant cake as well... Oh my! Oh it was lovely. It had chocolate hair on it like me. Ha, I liked it. I thanked them in the Lunch Message. I began to talk about my love for the great people here and I really couldn’t... I had to fight back tears and finished. But I left there so grateful.

I feel SO LOVED. If there is an abundance of anything here on the mission it is Love for the missionaries. Sure maybe everybody isn’t perfect and they don’t do everything that we ask but I know they have love for us and it’s their imperfections that hold them back not their love.

The rest of the day was great, we spent the whole afternoon on a bus with our two investigator Love Birds, who we helped sign papers for their wedding. Then at night... we worked! The best lesson would have to be with a man named Junior who for the last 3 weeks it was hard to talk with him because he was drinking and there was a death in the family. It’s incredible how God prepared this man. Before he was a normal wishwashy man who accepted to do everything but didn’t do it. This time we talked a bit about the Plan of Salvation to comfort him, then we talked how we need to prepare ourselves to meet God and how drinking drags us off that path. He accepted to stop. We then invited him to a FHE on Friday.  As we were returning home Thursday night I wanted to hurry and swing by everyone to remind them about FHE. My comp didn’t really want to, but we went. Friday, when we took Junior to FHE (the theme of the FHE was recognizing how the Spirit works in our lives) he bore his testimony about how when we passed by the night before he said to us that for sure he would go and he felt good about this decision. After work before coming home he had many friends inviting him to drink and party it up on the first night of Carnaval with them but he turned them down and now he was there in the FHE. He felt very good with this decision and he said after the FHE he felt a great peace and relief in his heart. Sunday was testimony meeting, and his stepdaughter who is a member took him to church and he went up to bear his testimony in testimony meeting. He said how it’s his first time seeking to be in a church and how this is his first time visiting, and he knows that God is very happy with him spending Carnaval at church. All this he said choking up on tears. Wow, he is proof to me of how the Spirit can change anyone, and how good the Spirit is to us as we repent and make good choices. Junior is very happy with how the Spirit has helped him.

Anyways... rest of the week... a lot of things. Well, we baptized two more kids in Espírito Santo´s family. Riandra and Randerson. It is super funny because their Mom since the beginning has been a bit irreverent and it doesn’t help to have her around in the discussions. But recently we have started teaching her and it is crazy how slowly she is improving as well. Before she discouraged her family members from being baptized... then gave permission for her daughter to be, then she visited, during the visit she talked bad but she came back this week.  Before she said she would never be baptized but now she said she will in a couple years maybe. Ha so that’s progress... the Spirit it working very well with her. It’s great!

Oh and probably I should say something about Carnaval right? So I don’t know what you guys know but basically it is just Marti gras out of control. Fortunately here where I work it is just like a normal holiday with everyone in the streets blasting music and drinking beer. But now everyone painted their hair bright colors and are throwing flour and throwing eggs at one another. Ha, I think about the Festival of Colors I went to, so they aren’t as crazy. I did fun stuff like that too. 

Cool, and to finish off I will put what President said in my email this week. In the Conference he said he has seen the growth of many Elders here during the mission. I asked him what he has seen in me. He said "Sobre sua curiosidade acerca de seu crescimento na missão, digo-lhe que você já chegou amadurecido, porque você aprendeu muito bem disciplina antes da missão. Na verdade, eu não tenho qualquer registro de problemas relacionados a você durante todo nosso tempo. Seu crescimento foi mais no sentido espiritual e de liderança, por conta dos conhecimentos e habilidades adquiridos. Parabéns!" or 

"About your curiosity about your growth during the mission. I would say that you already arrived very mature here in the mission because you already learned discipline very well before the mission. Actually, I don’t have any records of having any problems with you during our time together. Your growth has been more in the spiritual and leadership sense due to acquired knowledge and abilities.. Congratulations!"

So parents!! Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back for President said that I came well prepared to the mission. Know that you raised a well disciplined son that didn’t cause any problems here on the mission!! (after many many times being kicked out of sunday school.) Ha awesome! I was suuuuuuuper happy to read that.

I am a dedicated missionary and one of the first things I said to President Souza in our first interview was that I am not here to be a slacker and I definitely don’t want to disappoint  him or the Lord in my service. After all this time I know I have been fulfilling my purpose and boy it feels good!
Love you all! Good week!

Elder Cetraro

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

......Oh yeah, my birthday huh? Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes. I really don’t have much planned for tomorrow. My favorite day of the week my whole mission has been Tuesday because that is weekly planning day where we always make new plans and get psyched for the new week. I know lunch will be good! I also will being going downtown to be a witness in the wedding of some investigators, that’s awesome! Then I will probably just work! Which I love to death so I will be happy, and maaaybe, there is some sort of cake involved in all that. Hmm awesome!

Well well well, as for the week! uuuuh.... Ha well COM CERTEZA the highlight would have to be the Zone Conference we had. There is this new chapel here in Fortaleza where they just basically threw a bunch of everything inside. Parking lot, Chapel, Classrooms, Institute, Get-a-job place, headquarters for some other things, anyways... it’s a monster and has 6 floors! Ha, so that was cool.

During the Conference something very cool happened. In the last few months I have always tried hard to receive personal revelation to help the Zone. Whenever we give training, we share what the Assistants say, then I will try to put my own thoughts in there as well. My Companion sometimes questions me, thinking we should share it straight, and that is the obedient way to do things. When we did this last training with the Book of Mormon, we shared everything right, but I put in two little touches in the practices. One, was that we need to show people how much we love the scriptures as we use them. As we do, we will show by example the importance of reading the scriptures in their own lives. We need to teach the commandment of the importance of reading the scriptures. The second thing is, as we help people with their doubts and objections by asking them to Read, Ponder, and Pray about the Book of Mormon, we need to make it very clear that we are here to help them with their faith, and how the testimony of the Book of Mormon fits into the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So those were my two touches: Love for the Scriptures and Faith in the Gospel. Well in the Conference the Assistants followed up a bit on the Training they shared and had two different practices. Guess what the practices were about. Showing the importance of reading the scriptures, and teaching the first two principles of the gospel. WOW. So I don’t say this in a way that, they are copycats or stealing my thunder, or it’s my idea. But what I learned is that really, the leaders here in the mission are in tune with the spirit. These two touches I learned as I sought to prepare the training through the Spirit. That same Spirit talks with the other leaders in the mission. The Zone probably just thinks that those two touches I put in the training the other week came from the Assistants but it didn’t, it came from the Spirit. And the Spirit confirmed it one more time as the Assistants touched on it in the Conference. So I really did gain a testimony, that as a leader, I am inspired, and I am an instrument in God´s hands to help these missionaries here, and even more, learning myself!

In the Conference, Presidente Souza left his two Motto’s very clear. "He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother" and "Encantar e Surpreender". The Spirit really confirmed that these two mottos are perfect for my mission and that Presidente Souza also is a man prepared and inspired to be my one and only Mission President.  Also, My comp and Elder Villalba bore their final testimony before everyone. It was great. Yikes... I am next.

Also in the Conference guess who I saw?! My "Son" Elder Monical, and his "son", my "grandson" Elder Franco! Wooow! It has been a while since I have seen him, and it’s the first time I met my "Grandson".  Ha, and if you think that is great, my "Grandson" Elder Vasquez is now training, so that means that I met my "Great Grandson" Elder Thiemes! Ha! That’s right, here in the mission I am a "Great Grandfather" already, now that’s old!

Ha alrighty.... the rest of the week was pretty chill. I did another exchange with Elder Gregersen. We made a ton of a delicious shake that they just have here called Pó of Guaraná! Mmm.. also we invented the "Ants on a Log" shake which is Banana, Peanuts, and Chocolate.... Oh boy it is good!

Our investigators are good. This Sunday, Espírito Santo continued her streak of bringing a new person to church from her family and it was awesome because they were late, and this week 9 people all entered in and sat in the front. Good stuff.

Anyways that is my week for ya!
Good week for you all and thanks for the birthday wishes.
Love you all!
até mais!

-Elder Zachary Cetraro
February 17, 2014

Hey there!!
First of all I would like to thank everyone for all the cards that are coming in (including Christmas because I don’t know if I thanked everyone or not). But Cards/Letters are awesome and it makes me remember the awesome life that I left behind me (not in a trunky way but in a grateful way). It means a lot because I know sending a letter is asking a lot in the modern click-send world we live in.

Woo! So I will give a little update on the week. So Monday I was down with a strong cold, but it seems like when I get sick, it just hits me hard and I hurry and get over it. I was perfectly healthy again by Wednesday to give the training. The other Elders aren’t as lucky, they grabbed the same cold and it is draggin’ out.

So yeah, some of the highlights of the week would be. First, the exchanges. I love doing exchanges and spending time and getting to know the Elders in the Zone. I did an exchange Wednesday with Elder Galvão who we really don’t know too well because the District Leader Elder Borges does such a good job taking care of them. He taught me to always listen to the spirit even if it means knocking on a door. He found a giant family of 8 adults this week when he randomly stopped to clap hands at a random door. There was nobody inside but he continued on... and sure enough somebody showed up. The next morning I taught him a bit of how we can teach lessons using the needs of the person. For example, he was teaching someone who drinks, for 2 weeks without teaching about the Word of Wisdom. I taught how we can mix the lessons and teach the doctrines of the Word of Wisdom while teaching the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation, and the gospel. I think on my mission this has really been a strong point of mine; when I can really focus on the needs of the people I am teaching and really see how the gospel can apply especially for that person. 

My companion came back from that exchange knowing how to make crepes and mmm... they are soooo good with Nutella. The best part of the week would have to be when we made the effort to baptize Luiz Alan and Alanice. They already went to church a couple times but we never really focused on them before. But this week we decided to, and to our surprise... it all went super smooth. The best part was when I made a work sheet for Espírito Santo to do with them together. They had a Study Guide of the pamphlets to help them prepare for the baptismal interview. Ha, to our surprise they studied very diligently and were very ready for the interview. I am super happy that slowly but surely the family of our recent convert are being converted as well!

Anyways... I got to go, I spent a good part of the day in downtown, doing stuffs. It was fun!
But thank you for everything and have a great week!

-Élder Zac Cetraro

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2013

How ya doin? Ha eu estou doente e muuuito preguiçoso. Que bom é P-day! Eita, I forgot to switch languages! So yeah, I am a bit sick and super lazy, it’s a good thing it’s P-day. 

 Anyways, you asked me how it is going, right?  So it’s going good. My companion is super not trunky so it won’t ever be a problem. Thing is though instead of looking forward to going home and getting sad, he looks back and gets sad. He doesn’t feel like he ever was a great missionary. So I’m working with him on that. It was cool how in the beginning of the week we got all psyched and every time he gets down, we stop and get him psyched again. I am happy I am having this opportunity to learn how to use loving words to lift him up.

As for baptisms... we are getting there. We had a really good week this last week. We started working in a different place in our area and found some good families. We had 5 people go to a ward FHE and 6 people go to church. New records in almost everything for this area. Talking about the ward, like I might have said in other emails, I am trying to improve our work with the members. I am learning a lot and am seeing that this is where I really can leave a mark in the Ward.

Besides that we cleaned our house real good today, that always gets me happy and we are gonna work to keep it clean. What else...? It’s going good! Hit me up with more questions and that’ll help me out!
=P Love you all

-Elder Zac Cetraro

February 3, 2014

Heeey Derr!
Ha, so I will be honest. I still am not trunky. I really don’t think about my family to much to be honest. Clearly I think about my real life and I think of you all, and you guys are in 1 or 2 of my daily prayers, but I don’t let my mind wander to often.

Ha speaking of letting my mind wander that is actually one of my goals for this next transfer. So today was transfers and there weren’t to many changes. We got a new Elder in the house, Elder Colvin.... we just discovered he has Pass the Pigs... Aaaaah!  And one other Elder in the Zone left. Also I am now a Great Grandfather in the mission... My "Son’s” (Elder Medrado) son (Elder Vasquez) is now training! Woo Genealogy! Anyways... about mind wandering.... ha, this last transfer wasn’t the greatest to be honest. I would have to say it was one of my most relaxed transfers. I think it is because I have always been a good go-getter, let’s work missionary, and with Elder Villalba I tried to be a little more chill to let the Spirit work more. So since I have got here I tried to stay not so stressed. So this last transfer I have been with Elder Christiansen. This last week he got sick, it’s been a looong time since I have had a sick day like that.

But though the work has been slow I am still learning and growing and loving everyday. I can feel like this next transfer is going to be a great one. It is my Comp’s last transfer and I have made it my biggest goal to help him go out with a blast, so he can always look back confidently on his mission and know that he returned back valiantly! It will be good. I am excited.

I am sure you guys have prayed a lot for me, and I feel the power of your prayers, so I would like to ask you to pray to help me finish off my mission BAPTIZING please. I could use all the help I can get, and that is what I know God has sent me here to do. BAPTIZE. =) So thank you all!
Have a great cold week! 
Eu Te Amo
até próximo!
-Elder Cetraro 

January 27, 2014

Hey theree!!
Pois é, last week I started typing up the email for the fam but the energy went out and P-day was almost over.  Last week was good. Training, interviews, and we baptized Espírito Santo HA!! So good stuff.

Our Zone needs to baptize more but it’ll all work out. Anyways, This week I decided that one of the things I want to improve here with the mission is how we work with members. So I started with myself this week. It was great because Espírito Santo is suuuuper shy, but this week we brought 2 members that are her age to be her friends and there also was a FHE that she liked a lot. Last week I was afraid if she would continue on firme forte, but after this week I know she is in good hands.

We also worked with 2 other women this week who visited some people. You feel really good when you help others serve, I feel better for helping them serve than the actual service they are doing for us. One was a less-active member who whined and didn’t want to show us her friends, but once we got her on the street and after the first lesson, she got super  excited and wanted to show us even more and more of her friends.

Anyways, those are some things that are happening. Unfortunately a lot of the people we planned to be baptized all fell through, but I can say that we are at least getting better and yes I am feeling a little bit more settled in. Ha, in the talk I gave last week in church I told how my nickname before the mission was Sunshine and now half the members are calling me by that, ha! It’s contagious, huh?

Today I got the other Zone leaders to grab the materials for us this P-day, so I will have like the first real P-day that I have had in a loooong time, I will learn how to make my own music on the piano with a freakin’ talented ward boy here.
Cool huh? Alrighty, love ya folks and good week for you all!
-Elder Sunshine Cetraro

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Alright Mamãe!

So this week was a little rough in the area. We had many people who are very flaky, who need more courage, who aren’t searching, who aren’t willing to get off their seats, who are drunk, etc... anyways the list never stops. So progress was slow this week, but I am thinking we are going to have to develop the habit of "searching for pearls". If someone isn’t ready, we will have to leave them to develop. I have never been a fan, but it’s probably what we are going to need to do.

Something cool this week, I felt like I was able to help one of our districts. We have an Elder who has 5 weeks here in Brazil and he is already training because of the giant wave of Newbies that are coming. In their ward they are struggling with baptisms with some good investigators that are already going to church. This week in District Meeting we did some practices with them and they told us about Brenon and how he knows everything but just needs help committing to baptism. So this week they were having trouble finding him, but Saturday night, I found him playing soccer at the church. I called him to a room and started talking to him and it then turned into the Baptismal Interview and he accepted baptism and passed. Ha, so when these two new Elders arrived home Saturday, they surprisingly discovered that they had a baptism the next day! Ha awesome!
Good stuff, but that’s a bit about the week.
I love you guys!

-Elder Zac Cetraro

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

So 2014!!! Wooooo! This year I come home right?! It was super weird this week when we pulled out a new calendar and started to look at dates for baptisms.... and then.... there it was..... the end!!! AAAHHH!!! We saw the rest of the year and wow, it’s scary.  But yeah, New Year’s Eve we just worked really, passed by a member’s house who had her birthday that night. The funny/cool thing was how we started off 2014. We did 3 companion exchanges in a row.. WoOow! Crazy. The first day I was with my old friend, Elder Smith. It was a good day and it was cool because we started talking with some guys drinking in the road and we just chatted a bit about 2013 and 2014 and they confessed that they know they are sinning and it opened up really well to talk about the gospel and repentance. I ended up giving one of them a Book of Mormon and he is loving it and is reading a ton and he feels it too! Cool huh? Then Thursday I was with Elder Tamanho, who is the other trainer in our house. He was trained by my old friend, Elder Queiroz. I think he felt much more confident with me this day because we invited everyone to be baptized that day in our 6 lessons and before he wasn’t doing it. Then... OooOoo.. I did an exchange with one of the Assistants of the President, Elder Bohmen. WOW! It was good. Ha, it is the first time I had one of my leaders do an exchange with me since Hump Day! Wow. So it was cool to talk with and share ideas of how we can help the mission. I liked it a lot, it was quite mixed up this last week but the mission is like this now. Ha, now you can see a bit why it is hard to find time to write, huh? So yeah, also I want to work better with members and church leaders. I don’t know if you guys have heard anything cool about members working with missionaries... I think our mission is lacking a bit with these ideas. But yeah, it’s going good. We had 2 families go to church this week, but no one will be baptized next week. So keep praying, we need help working with couples and families like we are doing.

So yeah. I am booked but it’s good. I am safe. and I’m very happy!
So there’s the news folks, 
Love ya!
-Élder Zac Cetraro