Monday, September 30, 2013

Minhas queridas crianças...

Hello my dearest family,

So, this week was pretty solid. We had an exchange with the Zone Leaders. I stayed here in Goiana and worked with Elder Pereira, he is from Rio de Janeiro. The second day, I was on exchange with Elder McFadden, from Goiana 2. He is from Mississippi. It was a 2-day exchange because our area is far away, so the Zone Leaders exchange with Goiana 1 and 2 while they’re here.

Yesterday was sweet because we were at the Church while the ward was doing choir practice, and I was talking to this member all by myself. I have done it a lot of times, but this was like a full on conversation and I understood it all. I was super happy. So, things are still improving in that direction. It is weird because it is so hard to see my progression because it is a little here and a little there, so it doesn’t feel like I am progressing a ton, but I definitely am.

Also this week, I studied about Nephi, and his vision when he was taken up in the Spirit. It was really because he wanted to know what his father saw, and he diligently sought it. The same is with us, we can receive so much just so long as we want it and seek it.

Also this week, our investigator Edna, is incredible. Saturday night she was like, I am happy, and we said why? And she said, because I am going to Church tomorrow! I was happy too! I can really see a change in her since we first began teaching. She loves for us to come over. Every time we leave she is like, you guys are coming back tomorrow? It is a wonderful opportunity to be teaching her. And last night we had a really good lesson with her. I could really feel the Spirit there with us because after the lesson we asked if there was anything we could do to help with anything, and she said no, and then right before we left she asked if there was anything that she could do to help us! She was so sincere though. She was asking if we wash our own clothes and everything. So, we are working towards baptism. She is just working on quitting smoking. She is always praying for help, and she is so humble. She is great.

I am super excited for General Conference. It has been a long wait for me. I will be able to watch it in English too.
Oh Mom, I wanted to tell you I love those quotes, especially the first one...a man doesn’t desire Christ until he knows why he needs Him. That is why it is so important to know the Plan of Salvation and the Fall of man. Sounds like Seminary is going swell! I miss being in there with you!

The time here is going by so quickly! It seems like just yesterday I arrived in Brazil. I am trying to make it last. I love you all and am really thankful for the emails. I look forward to them every week. I love you all so much. Thank you for your examples of living the Gospel. Have a Spirit filled week!

Elder Hoyt

Monday, September 23, 2013

Clark Kent

Hello there, my Family!

I am doing well here! We had Zone Conference in Recife this last week. So, we traveled two hours on the bus to get there. It was a great Conference, about true conversion, our own conversion as missionaries. I love the subject of conversion. I realized yesterday that is the most important thing to have on your mission, your testimony. Being in Brazil and speaking Portuguese, just talking in lessons was kind of just a thing like, “Whew! Okay, I said something!” or like, "Okay, I should probably bear testimony now." But I realized that testimony is much more important than I ever realized. It is because that is really when the Spirit can testify. And the Spirit will testify if you bear sincere testimony, in whatever language. A sincere testimony does not have to be masked with fancy words or an intelligent vocabulary, it just needs to be things you know in your heart, and not in your head. All this I learned from the Conference, and then I experienced it yesterday.

We were teaching a less active who was a returned missionary from only a couple years ago. It was actually two of the ward missionaries and me, and my companion was somewhere else. But the ward missionary was asking, what can we do to help you get to Church? And he kept saying, I don’t know, I just need the desire. So, I was able to bear my testimony about how the Spirit can give you the desire, like He gave me last week. It wasn’t anything fancy, but I felt the Spirit there. I was trying to figure out what was different, and why I felt so much better, and why I felt I made a difference, and it was because I bore testimony of something I had experienced, and I knew it was true, and it was something I really wanted him to know. But really something I realized that brought me a lot of comfort, is you can be a smooth-talker and have a super flowing lesson with beautiful words, and be super smart with all the gospel knowledge in the world, but it won’t matter if you don’t have a testimony, and have the Spirit confirm it. So, I don’t have to learn fancy Portuguese to be a missionary. So, that was something that made me pretty happy! Everyday here gets better and better. My understanding gets more and more...I learned something today that I didn’t know yesterday. 

Something that is making me happy is that our converts are super active. Joyce, Mariana, and Edla, and one other girl are the Young Women of our ward. Yesterday they sang, Stand in Holy Places, for our Missionary Fireside combined with both Branches, Goiana 1 and Goiana 2. And they are always going to Seminary. Also, our family that we are working with is progressing still. We are working on getting them married, but it will take some time with the paperwork. Also, the oldest son is working towards being baptized as well. So, eventually they will all be sealed in the Temple. That is the vision here! We are also teaching the parents of a Sister Missionary who just got back pretty recently. So, things are going well. I love my mission more and more each day. 

Mom, I really liked your comparison to the Tree of Life, how we partake of the fruit each day. Last transfer, I had the Tree of Life picture as the cover of my planner, I really like it. But you’re right, we can partake of the fruit daily, and we need to! And bring others to partake of it with us! President Holmes in Michigan taught us really well about the Tree of life. 

Something funny that I have to share is that I wore my glasses to Church yesterday and even the people in Brazil think I look like Clark Kent!!!!! HAHAHAHA. I came all the way here, and it is still consistent! It’s great! I had a good laugh to myself about that. 

Well, it was great to hear from you all this week. It is always the best! I think about you guys all the time. I love you all so much. Have a swell week!

Com carinho,
Elder Nathan Hoyt

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dirt Roads

Cara Família!

So, this week was great. Remember how you said you fasted that I would feel the Spirit in greater abundance? Well I did, in every aspect. My Portuguese this week just took a giant step in progression. I can all of a sudden understand way more than ever...having conversations by myself, answering phone calls, all of it! Another aspect was that I just felt great. I was able to recognize that I literally felt the Spirit guiding me to make right decisions. I had this feeling that I just wanted to do everything I could to be a better person and a better missionary, a refreshed perspective on everything. So, thank you so much for fasting for me!

The Temple was sweet experience. I understood a lot. I love sitting in the Celestial room and just thinking. Everything is so tranquil.
So, I had a crazy experience last week! We visited another English class, and I told them about the United States again. This class was really shy until the end, and then they talked to me a bunch. But the funny story is on the way back. 

So, we were waiting for a combe---these are crazy in themselves, it’s a VW bus used as a bus. They pack them full of people. Last time this guy was standing up as we were going. We had about 12 or 13 people in there. One time the money collector guy just hung outside the sliding door the whole time hahaha---anyways, waiting for a combe, and a "taxi" pulls up (just a random Brazilian with a car) and yells, "Goiana?" I look at my companion like what do we do? This guys looks sketchy, but then the member of our ward (the teacher of the class) was like, “Oh, just take these two guys.” So, we get in...this is where it gets crazy! So, we are going on this road, just kind of a single road in the middle of a lot of fields, and then we make a u-turn. I didn’t understand, but I guess he was saying the oncoming cars were flashing their brights, signifying that there were police up ahead collecting 20 dollars from everyone. So, we take this alternate route, a muddy dirt road with huge puddles everywhere. We weren’t in your typical off-road vehicle either. Then, after a while, the guy stops the car, and gets out to see if we passed the police yet. My companion and I are just wondering if this guy is trying to steal us, or something hahaha. But we got going again, and finally made it back home. I wasn’t scared at all though because Elder S looked completely fine, so I figured I misunderstood or something. But that was something kind of funny that happened.

I am able to talk to my companion now, so we climbed that mountain. We are able to joke around a little bit. I realized though how important prayer is, and communication in general, but especially with Heavenly Father. How can you have love for someone with all you heart or trust someone, if you never talk to them? I realized that it is so similar with Heavenly Father as it is with other people. The more you pour out your heart to your friend, the closer you become. When someone shares with you their struggles, you have a desire to help them. But imagine you talk to someone for 30 seconds, and say, “Hey, I’m going to need some help later today, alright thanks,” and then leave. I need to have greater respect for our Father in Heaven. I need to treat Him better. I was reading Alma 5, and it made me think---would I be able to look Christ in the eyes? It is the ultimate test of a pure heart, because He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows our thoughts and our intentions. Alma 5 is a pretty great chapter, so this is something I have been thinking about.

I am so happy to be here on a mission. It is the greatest opportunity I have had in my whole life. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I love the scriptures. I really do. Before I didn’t, now I do. I love Heavenly Father, and I am so grateful for what He has made of me. I love you all!

Have a great week!!

Com muito amor e carinho,
Elder Hoyt

Monday, September 9, 2013

This Is All Going By So Fast!

Meus queridos! This is all going by so fast. I have just completed one transfer in Brazil! Our District stayed the same for this next transfer, so that's sweet. We are going to the Temple in Recife on Wednesday! It is pretty far away, so we will be taking buses for a couple hours, and it will be an all-day trip. We will be sleeping at another missionary apartment near there because the buses stop going after 5pm. So, today is a normal day, except we are writing emails.

Well, this last week was sweet. I have a very funny story that happened yesterday! So, we were eating lunch with the members, and I accidentally spilled some rice on the floor, and I was like---Oh no! I was wondering if I should clean it up, or leave it because no one saw. So, I decided to wait till after dinner to do something, but then towards the end of dinner, a little chick or pintinho (peen-cheen-yo) came into the house, and ate most of the rice hahahaha. I loved it! The door was open and there were a lot of chickens outside the house, so he just came in. No one had a problem with it hahaha. So that was great!

We also painted a house this last week. Our Bishop got in a motorcycle accident, he is a moto taxi driver. He is all right, but he is cut up, so the Elders quorum and the missionaries painted his house. The paint is really different here, it was sweet though.

On Saturday, we baptized Joyce and Mariana, they are 12 and 13. I baptized Mariana, and Elder S baptized Joyce. He confirmed them in Sacrament meeting yesterday also. 

I really liked what you said about confidence in the Lord. I have been thinking about that lately, too. For me, it has been a struggle because I had no confidence in myself with my ability to speak Portuguese, and I realized that's not what I needed. Something Lizz helped me realize was the Lord could have me say whatever or do whatever He wanted, if it was needed. So, I needed to trust in Him that He would help me. I was relying too much on myself, and it was weak. And really, it is all pointing to pride. We need to recognize the hand of the Lord in all things. 

I love the story of Nephi going back and getting the plates. Nephi is so amazing because he always remained faithful, no matter what. His trust in the Lord was firm, through everything...the plates, the broken bowbuilding the shipbeing tied up by his brothers. Each time he trusts in the Lord and never murmurs. I have been studying about the conversions of the Prophets, and how they relate. Something I noted is that the person always has a desire for the welfare of their brethren. Enos immediately had the desire for the welfare of his brethren, same with Alma the Older, and Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah. They in turn brought the truth to thousands of others. I love the Book of Mormon and receiving personal revelation. 

I love the scriptures. I love the lesson Alma taught to his son Helaman. He said the words of Christ are like the Liahona was for Lehi and his family. It worked according to their faith and attention they gave to it. It led them to the Promised Land. The words of Christ can lead us from a valley of sorrows into eternal joy and happiness. It was the same with the Children of Israel, where all they had to do was look and live. All we have to do is read, and the words of Christ will tell us all things that we should do...ALL things, is powerful. So that was very enlightening.

I am so grateful for all the support from my family and for all the prayers, and for fasting for me. My stomach has been fine this week as a result. I am so glad to be here on my mission. It is going by so fast already. I have learned so much, and I can say that the mission is the best experience of my life. I have never grown so much spiritually. I love you all, I will talk to you next week!

Elder Hoyt

Monday, September 2, 2013

Still Trekking!

So, this week was sweet! We baptized Rodolfo (16 years old) on Saturday, and confirmed him Sunday, we also confirmed Stenio, who we baptized last week. Things are going sweet! I gave the message at the baptism about the people of Alma being baptized in the Waters of Mormon, and how they would receive the Spirit more abundantly upon them. It went well! 

This week my personal study was awesome. I have been trying hard to be able to have good studies, like where I am engaged and learning by the Spirit, and think about what I have studied all day, and treasure up the word. It’s always a struggle because I don’t know what to study, or like how to study, but I have really been working on it, so I was blessed with awesome studies this week. I was comparing each conversion of all the different prophets in the Book of Mormon (Enos, Alma, People of King Benjamin) and asking questions to myself, and it was just awesome! I really got so much out of it. Oh, and it was all in Portuguese by the way. So that was a blessing as well, I am understanding more and more, here a little and there a little.

I am growing in my love for the Book of Mormon. I have actually just realized the way I look at the Book of Mormon is a lot different than it used to be. The more time carefully spent studying and pondering, the greater my love grows. It is what was taught to me by President Holmes back in Michigan. If we treat the sacred truths we are given, and follow them as closely as we can, record them, and treat them like the sacred truths they are, we will be given more. We also need to keep an open mind. It is all so sweet! Spiritual knowledge and light is real, it is actual particles of light, and you can feel it. I have felt it. After that sweet personal study, I just wanted to do everything right and submit everything to the Lord. I felt like Superman! So, I have been trying to do that ever since, and it is going incredibly well.

This week we visited a school with one of the members. She teaches English at this school, and the kids were all like 14, 15, and 16-years-old. It was pretty funny, I was trying to tell them about California in English and Portuguese both, there wasn’t much to say though, I forgot it all! I really can’t remember. They asked what we eat there, I could only think of us eating just whatever we wanted. Here, they just eat rice and beans, so it didn’t make sense to them. It was fun though, and then I taught them the Restoration in English, I am not sure how much they understood, but we got like seven addresses of kids we are going to visit. 

I wanted to address your concerns about health issues. So, we buy a big 5-gallon jug of water every week and drink that, all the people do that too. And I never go barefoot. We are supposed to wear flip-flops around the house at night, so I do that, and shower with them too. We don’t drink soda much. I prefer water or juice. The meat is refrigerated too.

The humidity is crazy here! Always feel wet. It is funny though because you get used to it really quick because there is no air-conditioning, and the house is really open. So, walking outside is the same as inside.

I can understand everything basic my companion says. Every once in a while he says a new word that I write down. I want to master the language, so I have been studying extra hard, and trying my best to understand.

Well, it is so good to hear from you! I look forward to it every week! Thank you for your prayers! I love each one of you! I am so happy!

Com amor,
Elder Hoyt