We always need to be watchful

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Our baptism did happen. Luis Felipe Cardoso Godoy was baptized by me. He reminds me quite a bit of Dad, and we particuraly hit it off well. He had the biggest smile on his face for the next two days. Other cool story, we had another three that was going to happen in another area, but the mom got cold feet at the last minute. The entire zone did a prayer, and when the sisters went to ask why, she changed her mind again. So, four people on Sunday. Elder and I interviewed them a week ago, so I´ll send their picture.

Well, there is not much to say about this week. Just the usual ups and downs. Unfortunately, we have no one marked for a date, but we have a few potencials, so here´s hoping! I´m currently trying to finish the Old Testament again before the end of the mission. I´ll never read it in personal study, as I made a promise with myself that the language for study is portuguese. I´m also trying to read the three chapters a day personal reading of Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price that we as a mission are having. Got to tell you, some sections were hard work to finish before the end of the day. (76, 84, 88, 104, 107, and today is 124) The goal is to finish before the end of Feburary, but I´ll try and stick with the 3 a day if possible. I´m worried about Joseph Smith – History, though…

I spent my birthday working. What a surprise! But in this work, there is nothing better.
 
I´m at a loss on what to say to you. What could I say to motivate you all to live the gospel that has been preached since the beginning? I´m amazed at your dilligence, but we always need to be watchful, as the adversary strikes when we least need it. The pillars have been outlined for us. We need to develop a character similar to Christ´s, repent of all ours sine, and receive the saving ordaninces. Is there something that you are falting? Is there something that you just haven´t quite done yet because “everything has its own time”? Whatever it is, it´s not as important as your salvation and exaltation is. This blessings are worth ANY price. The happiness and joy that comes from our eternal progression is something that has always kept me close to the church and the path. I exhort you to not delay any longer. There really is no justisfication for those who are able to make these changes. By the way, lack of time is not a good excuse when our lives are meant to be used to help us prepare to meet our God. My greatest wish for you all is to stand in the holy places, stay in the flock, for there is great safety here. There is hope here. There is sacred love here. There is God here.

Eu amo voces,

Stephen

The 21 year-old Elder Jarvis

 

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Brethern, shall we not go on in so great a cause?

So, this week…. We had a division with the assistents on Wednesday, which helped quite a bit. I was paired with Elder Mathews from Heber City. Saturday, we baptized Felipe´s sister, Victoria. (Felipe has the hair)
 
We had another fright that turned into a success. Let me set up the context. So we have a family who visited church last week. The dad is Luiz, and he and his wife are former Jehovah´s Witnesses for about 20 years. They became very dissapointed when they saw some of the Witnesses showing a lot of pride, so they leave that church. Luiz got very depressed and even stopped believing for a while. The wife got scared when he started telling his 5 year-old that God doesn´t exist. After a while, they decided that their son needs to be brought up in a good church. They knew where they didn´t want to go, so they investigated a bit. They remembered their friends, who are card-carrying Latter-Day Saints, and they thought, “Let´s try the Mormon Church!” Luiz, an avid Witness in his days, had read the Book of Mormon twice to try to denounce it. When they came to church, the only word they had was “Fantastic!” Their 5 year-old even wanted to go up to sing with the primary choir. We marked a visit with them for the following Tuesday.
 
We showed up and they welcomed us right off the bat. We gave them a Book of Mormon and invited them to read it together. They said they would. As we were leaving, Luiz said that he wanted to take this slow and that we should have hopes of marking a date with him soon. It wouldn´t have suprised either of us if they said “We didn´t have time to read.” Now, the other side of the story. We had a firm baptism set for the 25th. Friday, we went to talk with her and she suddenly decided that she didn´t want to be baptized yet. She wouldn´t even tell us why. We were hurt, as we had high hopes for her. Worse yet, her mother, whose son is serving a mission, supported her. We left there incredibly sad, however, we knew better than to complain. The Lord always has something incredibly wonderful in store for the ones who endure. We didn´t have to wait long.
 
We arrived at Luiz´s that night. He HAD read with his wife, and better yet, He HAD prayed. He felt “a really good feeling.” 😉 We taught a Word of Wisdom lesson, and after we had invited them, I tuned out, as I thought Elder Faustino would testify a bit more, like he usually does. Something caught me attention. Elder said: “We will have a baptismal service on the 25th. (He went straight for the date, never even asked if they accept) Will you accept this date as a goal?” The wife said, “No, I still don´t know yet.” Luiz, smiling, said, “Yes, I will. This is what I want.” (Elder and I are good at acting, so we didn´t show our surprise, just smiled and waved.) Elder and I left there rejoicing and glorifying Him! 
 
How kind and merciful is the Lord! We knew that if we waited without complaining, the Lord would replace our sorrow with joy. And look what happened! How wonderful that was! How great was our happiness when we saw the arm of the Lord. Everytime I see things like this happen, I rejoice in what happens. This is the joy of the Lord. This is what we live for.
 
Brethern, shall we not go on in so great a cause?
 
Eu amo voces,
 
Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)ImageImage
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I know that faith is the power that carries us on.

Saturday and Sunday were tough on us. Doing a fast in 35 degree celsius weather and walking a bit takes its toll. But, Elder and I knew better than to complain. I knew the Lord would come through, and He did. We had nine people come to sacrament meeting, including one that just got back from a trip. We have a wonderful young woman called Mariana who feared opposition from her Catholic boyfriend. But, as perfect love casts out all fear, he has come to church when he can, and has been received warmly by the ward. He has voiced his support of her future baptism; we just need to get her over any personal doubts. We also have an investigator who reminds me a lot of Joe. (long hair, loving disposition, loves to study with the nerds, etc.) He had a lot of doubts when I met him three weeks ago, but he is strongly prepared for the 11th. That´s almost a certainty. The father, who came yesterday and last week, has been doing nothing but leaping for joy. He loved that everyone is just so warm and that the Bishop (one of our returned missionaries) said hi, gave him a hug and repeated the process again at the end of sacrament. I´m very pleased with the way the ward treats our investigators.
 
I pray everyday for the success of the Zone. Some things are happening here that remind me that we are fighting the kingdom of ugly bucket down here and he doesn´t give up without a fight. I participated in my first mission counsel on Thursday and it was a pleasure to be instructed by the other Zone Leaders, the Sister leaders, and especially President and Sister. We came out with a game plan, and Elder Faustino and I prepared a special Zone training tomorrow for everyone that I hope will be effective in fighting the problems of the Zone. I spent New Year´s night (the 31st) in a different bed than my own (divison with Sao Roque); it´s one experience I can now share with the drunks! Oh, and I did my first baptismal interview last Tuesday. It was so good.
 
Yesterday provided us with a challenge. We have some people (recent converts) that stopped going to church. We paid a visit and the wife started hurling the problems. She feels like she´s being watched by the brethern (the fact that we know when they didn´t come to church, why the missionaries always goes together, why members have to go to church when they can study the gospel at home, etc.) She also thought that the Mormons are too superficial; there must be something else larger out there. I shared with her the great scripture for Jacob 4 about not looking beyond the mark. The focus of our journey here is to better ourselves, not to look to understand the things which are beyond our reach. (For now)
 
And as to compelling things, the reason why I stay here on the mission and why I stayed with the church is because of the simple profoundness of the gospel. We must have faith in a perfect being that His commandments are for our good. Along the way, we have the promise that we will know the truth of these things and be qualified to inherit ‘all that the Father hath’. What a magnificent idea! I would be honored to spend my life in search of this. The promises of wealth untold and the joy that the love of God brings to my heart; that is enough to keep me busy for a lifetime.
 
I know that faith is the power that carries us on. The Atonement provides the source of this faith in Christ, but it is faith that brings in the miracle. By faith, we have found dying souls, so to speak, to bring into the kingdom of God. By faith, I have found the strength to keep going. By faith, I have felt a power that does not come through any other thing on this earth. Faith is the great stone of stumbling that we must turn into our foundation. I love this gospel for this; I feel better about the things that I can control, and I have a better idea how to control the things I can.Image
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Let us rejoice in the Day of Salvation

We had a chance last night to watch the Christmas Devotional with the Prophet with the Ward. We brought several investigators, including two brothers of our recent-convert, a friend of hers, and an elderly woman that we almost left. She had a hard time in the recent years, and it affected her in such a way that she has hardened her heart. Though she is aware that God is love, the idea that prevails in her mind in the mean old judge who is always looking for vengeance. We went to her on a whim last night and invited her to come. She could only stay for a half-hour, but that was enough time to hear the Prophet. We also had a elderly gentleman, Elias, that came to church yesterday. We met him on Friday and he is just trying to live on his hobbies to keep his mind away from the fact that he cheated on his wife. He expressed sincere sorrow for this and we were delighted to be able to tell him about a loving Father in Heaven. We really didn´t think that he´d come, but he did and loved it.
 
The sad part of the week was a lesson that we gave on Saturday to a man who was very ignorant with us and presumptious. These are what I call my “Abinadi moments” when I can bear my heartfelt testimony against someone who rejects it. But, like Abinadi, someone heard: the 13 year-old from next door and she wanted to hear what we had to say, so we told her about Joseph Smith and the Restoration. However, the part that prepared me for that moment was some torn papers I saw on the ground before entering the house. It was the paintings at the front of the Book of Mormon. I didn´t see the Book that we had left with them before, but my anger heated up at that sight. My companion did mention that it was a very emotional lesson for him and that I ‘trapped’ the investigator in his defense. Here´s a recipe to get me mad: Start talking about: The Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, or the gospel, and be prepared to sink deep in the corner of your bedroom.
 
On a brighter note, as Christmas comes closer and closer, I´m pulling out my hymnbook and reading the words. I particuraly love the lines of two hymns that I´d like to share with you.
 
Lord, with the angels, we too would rejoice; Help us to sing with the heart and the voice. Hasten the time when from every clime, Men shall unite in the strains sublime: Glory to God, Glory to God, Glory to God in the Highest, Peace on earth good will to men.
 
Hail the Heaven born Prince of peace, Hail the Son of Righteousness, Light and Life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings. Mild He lays His glory by, Born that man no more may die, Born to raise the sons of Earth, Born to give them Second birth. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Glory to the Newborn king.
 
This Christmas season is not really about the story of the Savior´s birth, rather, it is yet another time when we can raise and shout the glorious message of the Ressurection and Eternal Life that was made possible by this tiny babe´s life. As His birth was humble and beautiful and peaceful, so was His life and character. (Thanks, Elder Wirthlin) Let us rejoice in the Day of Salvation, those two days when all the prophecies were reassured and that the Father was glorifed: The Birth of the Son of Man, and the Resurrection of the Redeemer!
 
Eu amo voces,
 
Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)
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Want in?

We also had an interesting experience as we went to lunch on Wednesday. We almost got to the house when a man commented that we brought umbrellas on a hot day. With 20 minutes before lunch, we went over and talked with him. Wilson is an older gentleman who usually sits and admires the view (which is grogeous. Two big hills with trees and the suburb below). When we said we had a special message about Christ. he asked, “Well, what´s the message?” (Golden missionary line) We then taught him the Restoration and he was touched to see a confirmation that Christ visited his other sheep, like He promised. He then asked us if the end of of the world would mean the destruction of this (meaning nature). We responded no, and took a minute with him to admire the view. It´s one of the few moments where I have stopped to look at Brazil on my mission.
 
My heart was heavy yesterday as we left a house of some investigators. One of the people, about age 25, wanted to fight with us. While I invited her to leave the room, she stayed and wanted us to ‘prove’ that we lived with God before this life. Knowing that she wouldn´t shut up until we aquested, I pulled out the Bible and showed her Jeremiah 1:5. She stopped, and then asked (thinking that she had us), “Can you justify this?” Meaning, can you show me another Bible verse. My mind went blank. I couldn´t think of a thing. The only thing I could think of was Romans 8:16-17, which doesn´t talk about our pre-mortal life, but rather our eternal destiny. I opened it and read it. I turned to her and asked: “If we live this life, like Christ did, and if we can obtain the same glory, and God makes no exception of people, why should our beginning be any different then that of Christ or Jeremiah.” She looked at me, and we shared a profound silence for a minute, and she never spoke again for the next 20 minutes.
 
I hate having to (as my companion said) ‘destroy’ people like that. Later, in the same lesson, the mom doubted that we would live again. Once again, Paul was my best friend as I read a part of 1 Corinthians 15. The silence was less profound, but we did leave there having proved that we know what we are talking about. I saw a literal fulliment of the Lord´s promises in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Express the thoughts that I put into your heart and you shall not be confounded before men.” This experience could not have happened had I not studied every morning at 8:00.
 
God lives, and so does His Son. God is a loving Father in Heaven. He has created a great plan of Happiness for us all, that includes us excersing faith in Jesus Christ, fixing our errors, being baptized with water and the Spirit, and keeping the commandments until the end.

 

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The temple is the place to learn

So, transfers did happen. I went from Capao Bonito to the captial. It´s called Cachoeirinha (I still can´t say it either), and it means little waterfall. I opened an area with Elder D. Silva from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil (not El Salvador – that is a country). He is a little too crazy for me, but he never lets the Lord down in his service. He only has 5 months. The big news is that I have moved into a house with 5 other elders. One is Elder Allan, a friend of Elder Henline from Draper, another friend named Elder Dos Anjos that really wants to learn English, Elder Oliveria who was trained by Elder Hadley, and Elder Monrroy from Chile. He´s pretty awesome as well. The ward here is fairly big, and this is the first chapel I´ve seen in Brazil that is sharing with another ward. Parada Pinto, which has my friends Elder Wolfe (same group as me) and Elder Bow, a great friend of mine from the MTC that went to Interlagos, but we picked him up when the missions split. My district also includes the assistants and Elder Long, my companion from the MTC.
 
The work has been fairly busy, but I want to tell you about today.
 
You may note that I´m doing this letter on Tuesday. That´s because we went to the temple today. I didn´t know that I would be going, or I would have said something. So many cool things. The scheduled session had so many people that some of us, including me, got pushed back to the 11:30 session. So, we went to watch baptisms being performed. The font is beautiful. They have colored tiles of Alma baptizing on one wall, and the famous Preach My Gospel image on the other. As we waited, they informed us that they didn´t have someone to be baptized. I volunteered, which was a great preparation for the session. 
 
I can´t stress it enough. The temple is the place to learn. As I sat in the session, I was blown by the changes, but I was able to sit and think for a minute. The Lord really is hastening the work, and President is all up in festas about this historic moment in missionary work. “One day, you will be telling your grandchildren about this historic period that you served your missions,” he told us recently. I can´t help but notice the parallels between my mission and Dad´s mission, which he served when full priesthood access had been granted to every one on the earth. (President Martins also served his mission in the late 70´s, too.) As I read more from the Book of Mormon and continue to be accepted and rejected on a daily basis, I feel excited at the prospect of what´s on the horizon. Though my heart saddens when I realize that I have a limited time left in the field (April is just around the corner). Then again, my heart rejoices to know that it will be Cora, not I, that will be part of the greatest and most prepared missionary force we have ever had since the beginning of the world. 
 
That is the truth. I have a similar work to that of Elias, to prepare the way. The ones that come after me will do a great and marvelous work, such as we have never seen. I´m speaking particularly to a few selected people, but this message applies to all who are sitting on the bench or are soon to leave or are approving that age. The prophets have been talking that this was coming for the last few years (President Monson – November 2010, Jeffery Holland – November 2011, etc.), so please, come with your desires. Come serve as a missionary. It doesn´t matter where or in what capacity you serve. It´s not too late, the work is satisfying, and you will be counted among the great and noble ones. The very Savior has said, “If he has desires, he is called to the work.” The prophet has declared “Whom the Lord calls, he qualifies.” So, if you have a desire to serve, you are qualified. Please come, and know what I have come to know in the last year and a half. The work is divine. God lives, Jesus is His Son, and they have a great plan of happiness lined out for us that will permit us to return and live with them and our families with a fullness of joy. It just doesn´t get bigger and better than that.

 

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The Book of Mormon was written to convince people that Jesus is the Christ

We´ve walked a lot this week. We haven´t been too successful at finding new people, so we´ve been trying through the less-actives and going to the last zone that we haven´t touched yet. The problem is that almost all the less-actives have moved or gone over to other churches. Sometimes we get lucky to know where they moved to, but the ones who have fallen away make us sad. We asked one what happened and she told us: “Oh, I was a child when I joined your church. About 16 or 18 and I felt forced. I went for a month, then I stopped.” We then asked if she read the Book of Mormon. She replied, “No”. “Then, maam, how can you possibly know that this church is true or false if you´ve never checked it.” It´s a common problem here. Many are persuaded by Paul´s statement that we are the church of Christ and thus, they leave to whatever church suits their ideas, thus ironically fulfilling the prophecy that ‘they shall lean to itching ears.’
 
Well, just one reason I´m glad I checked with God before I did any big decision, like going to Church or the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
 
Yesterday was a good day. Though no one went to church (the hour change killed them.) Elder Sepulveda and I had a one-on-one lesson in Elder´s quorum with the teacher on Chapter 20 in Lorenzo Snow´s book. I got a wonderful feeling of confirmation that I need to stop worrying in excess that the work is slow here. They are the pioneers here, and it takes a while for things to happen here. I should be more worried about planting the seed and doing a good work here, preparing the way for others. I gave my talk yesterday based on this idea to the members. Perhaps what they should work on doing is being a good example and sharing the gospel ideas as a way to improve the community. It was a nice way to spend the Sabbath.
 
We also continue to teach Bruno, who is progressing slowly, but surely. We watched “Finding Faith in Christ” with him and his mom yesterday, and he shared with us that it´s becoming easier to believe and that he feels calmer these days and less-stressed.  For the third time in my mission, a parent thanked us for our work with their children. Bruno was one of the ‘mockers’ of the preachers. However, he has been sincerely seeking and hasn´t said a negative word about ‘the mormons.’ It waImages a nice reminder to me about the power of truth when it enters into our lives. 
 
Oh, by the way, I think John chapters 14-16 is the second most powerful discourse the Savior has ever delivered.
 
I´d like to remind people of a fact that I´ve been reminded of so many times. I have said before (at least, I think I have) that one of the things President emphazies with us is that the Book of Mormon was written to convince people that Jesus is the Christ. No other book that we have at the present time was written by prophets for this reason. I´ve pondered about this serveral times and then wondered why people reject it even after reading it. Perhaps this has been part of a greater question that I battled with for a while here: Are we teaching with the Holy Ghost or not? We bear testimony, we read scripture, we pray before and after the lesson, so why aren´t more people responding? I´ve heard a grown woman tell us, “Our family believes it because you guys believe it. We don´t have that surety.” That, in conjunction with 2 Nephi 33, gave me the answer. The Spirit is present when we teach of truth, however, men harden their hearts and receive not the spirit of truth. Basically, I want to remind you that it´s not your fault that people don´t listen or are influenced by your amazingly bright light; they just wear sunglasses. 
 
I love this gospel, which really does have all the answers for our personal problems. Read the Book of Mormon, and “be not faithless, but believing”.
 
Eu amo voces,
 
Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)
 
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There is safety with the Brethren

As you usually start: Thanks for being in the same meeting with me. I´m not going to lie; I looked down at my nametag and thought: “Next general conference will be my last with this.” I almost cried. I´ve loved being in the Lord´s service, even if I get a headache because of the unbelief of some people. (Yes, even Brazil has unbelievers). It´s the small group of sincere people that make each day worth it.

 
Conference was great. It was the first conference that I had to watch entirely in Portuguese. In order to save 52 reais, we talked with the Zone Leaders and the Branch President and they were gracious enough to let us use the computer in the President´s office for the Saturday sessions and watch with the Branch on Sunday. Disappointing turnout of only 10 people, including us and the Branch President´s entire family. However, it was so cool to sing ‘Called to Serve’ in Portuguese and ‘Put your shoulder to the wheel’ in English. Mom, did you like the shot of the foot pedals of the organ. My companion looked at it and went: “Wow, I didn´t know.” I told him that organ is a tough thing. I know from experience. 😉
 
Anywho, the work has been slowed here because of an interesting, but sad problem: people needing to get married. Cohabitation is the norm here. I´ve only ever met 3 couples here that were legally married before they were baptized. We had an astounding 8 couples, several of which could be baptized. I got a little heartbroken at the lack of obedience to this very sacred and important law. Hence why I appreciated the brethern´s counsel. If only our investigators were there to see it. Sigh… I had an interesting thing happen Monday night. So, we went to visit a couple who are progressing. As we finished the visit, I asked if we could help in anything. She wanted a blessing for the two of them, and they sat together. I was about to explain that we usually do blessings one for another, but the thought passed through my head of ‘Leave it.’ Confused, but not wanting to delay, I placed one hand on each head (Elder was so confused, but followed suit) and I gave a blessing directed for the two of them. I didn´t feel too weird about it, but my brain ran back to other points when something like this happened. I thought: Hey, if Jacob could blessed Ephraim and Mannassah this way, it´s good enough for me.
 
We also had a young kid who didn´t seem terribly interested in our message. We marked a chapter in the Book of Mormon and John 3. (The only time I´ve ever marked reading material from the Bible, as I did it because he requested it.) When we came back two days later, he told us: “I didn´t get to John. (I thought, ‘Dang’) I was too busy reading the Book of Mormon.” This kid read, in two days, 1 Nephi to 2 Nephi 4 in two days and could tell us all the major stories. He was just so thrilled about it, so before we taught, we had our first geekout session about how awesome the Book of Mormon is. (He didn´t go to church, though) Another great thing was last night after conference. We went and visited a kid named Bruno. He is now the ex-boyfriend of a less-active and was in tears when we met him. He is the same person with whom I shared Alma 32 last week, so I´ve been very interested in his progress. We talked about conference, so he pulled up the internet and we watched two talks. The second was the Prophet´s Sunday Morning talk. He seemed to be moved by it (why was I the only one who laughed at President Monson´s reaction to ‘he´ll know what to do’?) and said that we helped him a bit. I sincerely hope this kid doesn´t push this to the side because his ex-girlfriend is a member.
 
Much of the Brethern´s counsel was so relievant. (Don´t judge me, spell check only works in Portuguese here, so ninety persent of my words are highlighted red) I found the greatest message for me was something that Mom said to me once. “There is safety with the brethern” Surely, I felt that safety again and again while I´ve been here on the mission. When I have taught directly from the prophets, I have found the Spirit to be the strongest. I also recognize that I am kept away from sorrow and danger if I obey the Prophet´s words. We teach many of these people about a new prophet and they just don´t seem to understand fully what that means. The biggest issue is authority in baptisms (that is a subject for another time), but people don´t seem to have too much of a problem with new prophets. It just seems to make sense to some of them. My favorite experience was with Natalie´s mom. (The Natalie I baptized) Her friend was freaking out because Elder Braga and I were teaching someone close to her. Natalie´s mom defended us with: “The Elders? Muita gente boa (means ‘really great guys’) Don´t worry about them. My daughter attends their church.” She proceeded to explain that our message, especially Joseph Smith, makes logical sense to her. If we had prophets before, why not now? This made my day.
 
Yes, it is a blessing to have living prophets today. But the greatest blessings come from following their words. I have yet to remember one time when I wasn´t blessed for following the prophets (and for that sake, my priesthood leaders). The Lord helps us in so many ways and certainly the prophets are perhaps the greatest modern-day evidence that He still loves us and care about us. Elder Claudio Costa was said that the prophets are more important to us than even scripture. That made me stand up. The scriptures only point the way. The prophets are the Lord´s way of keeping us on the strait and narrow. Feast on their words and watch your life be blessed in abundance.
 
Eu amo voces,
 
Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)

 

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I am ready to face the storms — God hasn’t forgotten me

Transfers! I stayed in Capao with Elder Sepulvida (from Chile, first Hispanic), and it´s interesting. Though he has a command of the Portuguese language, you wouldn´t notice that he still has problems with it. He also is another joker (but, as you know, overkill just kills). He tries pretty hard and has a positive attitude about the work. With Elder de Araujo gone, I now have to plan the days out, which can be hard. I thought it´d come easier, since I did the same thing in all the other areas, but for some reason, it´s difficult to fill the day with ‘sure’ appointments. However, we were able to mark 5 dates, with the potencial for 5 more at the end of this week. Half the zone (which, being small, was only 3 Elders) was transfered and Elder D. Santos, a friend of mine from Alphaville is my new Zone Leader. The other is a friend of mine named Elder Lowe from Florida. He has a lot of friends in that Disney World program that Lela did and I´ve known him since he received Elder Viana aftr I did. I´m excited for Tuesday.

 
The greatest bit of news, however, on transfers was from Elder D. Santos. Alexander, the Assembly of God pastor husband of Maria Jose Makyama, was baptized while I was here. I fell to the ground with joy about that. Not joking; I fell to my knees with excitement. He was starting to talk about it when I left, but it was still an amazing thing to hear.
 
I´ve been very impressed with my reading of the Gospels these weeks. I still do my studies in Portuguese and will continue to do so, but I wanted to read the Gospels out loud at least once. I´m in Mark and I´ve gained a new appreciation for the details that Mark adds that no one else has. Today, I was impressed with Jesus´ reprimand to the disciples after calming the tempest about fear and faith, and also the seed that groweth secretly. I never paid attention to this parable, but after the baptism of Alexander, it stuck out with me a lot.
 
I have many things about my service that I´d love to tell you, but I simply don´t have enough time. Fortunately, my journal contains the better part of my writings (consider these emails as the small plates of Stephen), together with my study journal. Remind me to tell you about my Abinadi study from this morning.
 
As I was listening to some Elder Holland talks, I listened to his May 2012 talk about Forgiveness and Mercy, using one of the Savior´s parable from Matthew. In my farewell talk, I used this story as the foundation of my talk, but, unfortunately, I had yet to take it in and ponder it. There is a difference between remembering the stories and applying the stories. Remembering is something we all can do; it got me by for 17 years; applying is what true disciples do. They may not remember the story per se, but they pause and ask, “What can I learn from this story? How can I apply this principle now?” My heart was touched as Elder Holland talked of divine forgiveness. This is something that fills my heart with gratitude every-time I think of what the Lord has done for me and my life. I have been abundantly blessed since the day I decided to take this gospel seriously. The constant messups are being cleaned up and the guilt forgotten. The process of sanctification has had its effect on me.
 
I feel much more calm, ready to face the storms with the determination that God hasn´t forgotten about me. Rather, I rejoice in the knowledge that, on my knees, I may receive of that healing balm and take my troubles to the throne of grace. I haven´t obtained ‘that happiness that was prepared for the saints’ yet, but I don´t worry too much about the journey anymore. Whatever comes, I know that I can win, because my Master has ‘overcome the world’. Take your problems to Him and lay them at His feet. You´ll be glad you did.
 
Eu amo voces,
 
Stephen
(Elder Jarvis)
 
Watch ye therefore, for ye know not the hour….
 
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The results of being obedient

IImage´d love to tell you all a lot about this week, but time won´t permit me to do so, So, I just say: 6 BAPTISMS!!!!!!!! It was wonderful. I was on a division and my faithful companion took the District Leader to the family´s house and he did the interviews (which wasn´t planned). Also, Bryan received his permission slip and thus I baptized 3, confirmed three, and Elder Henline baptized 3, confirmed 1. It was wonderful the feeling of a whole row of people dressed in white and then to bring them to the chapel the next day. The whole ward is pretty pleased with the new additions. Now, our trouble will be finding new investigators.

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We had some fun moments this week (which will be shown in the photos when I get back), but it was the spiritual moments which took the highlights. I´m currently reading 3 Nephi, and now that I have a study journal, I had a tough time studying and finishing the 2 chapters under an hour. The Savior has so many things which cannot be caught unless you pick up a piece of paper and a pen and just start recording your thought and impressions. It makes me rejoice in the fact that we have the Book of Mormon. It really is one of the Lord´s most powerful keystones in the latter-days. As Elder Henline made the comment during study today, it is part of what the Lord wants us to know about in preparation for the Second Coming. Think of what that implies: This is so much more directed for our days than the Nephites. They never had the book, we do. We must all hearken unto its precepts, and as I´m learning, there is never ‘too much comprehensive study’ of the Book.
 
This week, we had to leave behind some of our beloved investigators for one reason or another. It is sad to see them reject the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, or rather, the fulness of the way to happiness. During this week, I wanted to improve my prayers, so I read from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel. I remembered that it is supossed to be a conversation and not a monologue. I took that to heart and so I paused more often in my prayers in order to give the Father time to respond. As I did, I felt that I was talking to someone else who cares enough to take time to listen to me. I highly recommend this for all who look to better their personal prayers. I think this week has helped me and has been the answer to many of my prayers and the results of being obeident, for that is where it all starts.
 
As much as I hate to admit it, my time in this service is growing increasingly shorter and shorter. I know that I still have time left to do much good and work, but I´m also aware of the next stage in life (as Elder Henline is fond of mentioning). I´m anxious in the sense that it is a true manifestation that I must leave some things behind and grow into something more. It can be painful to grow, but stagance is the worst state of all. Trying to decide to go forward or backward takes you around only in circles. It´s strange to see how increasingly relevant these divine teachings seem to just apply themselves to me, and as I´m more and more no longer under my parents´ tutelage, I have had to look to a different professor, and I´d like you all to get aquainted with Him. The Lord Jesus Christ, who is Master in all, has called me to a holy calling, and as my feelings tell me, I´ll move from one holy calling to the hoilest of all callings that I am to be blest with. The fact is, I won´t be alone in this endeavor, for I´m seeking to better my unity with the Father and the Savior and the Spirit so that I will never be alone. If this mode of thinking doesn´t excite you about your own state of life, you just can´t get excited.
 
I love this church. I love the Book of Mormon and know that it was divinely sent. I´m grateful for the prophet´s guidance. Most of all, I´m grateful to be working side-by-side in all things with the Master, who is the universal Savior.
 
Eu amo voces,
Stephen
(Elder Jarvis) 
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