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