Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010

Hey fam,
This week has been a huge change. I ended up getting transferred! I was way sad when I got the call. I really didn't want to leave that area. It's such an incredible area. We were just about to mark a ton of people for baptism. We ended up getting "white-washed," which means that both me and Elder Da Costa left the area, and there are 2 new Elders in the area that don't know anything about it when they get there. We had to leave them a big long to-do list, because we had so many people that we were going to mark. They actually called me this week and told me that they marked 2 of them. Tânia, who was the one I told you about last week, was marked for baptism, as well as another guy we were teaching named Fernando. It was cool to hear, but I am pretty sad for not being able to be there. The Elder who replaced me there is the same Elder that replaced me in my first area, Sacavém, Elder Rush. He told me that when he was there, he baptized 2 people that I had found and was teaching before he got there. That was really cool to hear too. He is stealing all of my baptisms!!!
So my new area is called São Domingos. I'm back on the continent. It is pretty far away from Lisbon about an hour's drive northeast-ish. It is actually a way awesome area. When I got here, I wasn't liking it at all, just because I really didn't want to leave Praia da Vitória. But this week we have had a lot of success. My new companion is Elder Stanley, another Utahn. He is from St. George. It is pretty weird being with an American companion again, especially after having spoken almost only Portuguese everyday for the past 3 months. He is way cool though. We teach really well togther. We have found tons and tons of way cool people to teach. I don't really know if it's the area, us, or just the mission itself. We mostly just knock doors, but it's actually effective here. I don't know what it is, because there have been missionaries in this area for a long time. This last week has been basically just finding people, but I think this week we will be teaching a lot more.
We have a few people that we are teaching, one that we already marked for baptism. Her name is Elizabete. She is a pretty sad lady. She has a way hard life. Her husband left her and her 1-year-old daughter. She doesn't really have much money. We have been teaching her, and once gave her a blessing of comfort. The Spirit was really strong. Also, we always sing hymns when we teach her. It's cool. Elder Stanley is way good at singing, so it's a pretty big blessing for us to be able to sing to people. She really likes it, and it invites the Spirit well. She is marked to be baptized on May 1.
We have a goal to also mark and baptize 2 people this weekend. Jaqueline, and Ismar. They are both from Brazil. Jaqueline's husband, Cléber, was just baptized a few weeks ago. She has already been taught everything, she just needs to receive an answer that this is the only true church. She belongs to (as do most Brazilians) an evangelical church. She really likes our church, but also really likes her other. We feel like we can baptize her this weekend though. Ismar is friend's with Cléber. He is a way sincere, humble guy, but it also part of that same church. He has been a member of that church for 15 years. He has a really hard time believing that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. He will be harder to convince, but we prayed and feel good about him.
We have a lot of other potential here as well. Tons of people that we have found that we just need to start teaching.
Anyways, I really love being in this mission. It seems like the mission is really growing. The people here are being prepared to accept the gospel. I have seen that so much this week. It is incredible being here in this mission at this time. I can't remember if I already wrote this once, but Portugal has a prophecy about it. I think it was a member of the seventy that said it, but he basically said that there are 3 countries of promise outside of the United States, which are, Brazil, Chile, and Portugal. He said that we will see Portugal become the lighthouse of Europe, in terms of example and growth. We are really seeing it happening! I think our mission reached the highest baptizing mission in Europe. Our Mission President is incredible, and way inspired. The whole mission has changed. Everyone is seeing a lot of success.
Anyways, good to hear from y'all. I love you guys.
Elder Walker

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

March 29, 2010

Dear fam,
Another crazy week. Another up and downer. It started out really good, and at the end it all sort of just crashed. We were teaching a lot of lessons, and we found lots of new people. We have tried new strategies, because everyone in Praia is sick of the Elders. It's such a small place that all of the doors have been knocked a million times. We have tried more contacting on the street, but that isn't very effective either. And the people that we do find, almost none are from Praia. So lately we have been going to this place called São Sebastião. I think it is the furthest city away from us that is still part of our area. We have to take a 30 min bus ride to get there, but we have had good success in finding people to teach there. We probably would have gone there every day this week, but we had a lot of other stuff to do. It's sort of hard to find the time to do everything we want to do, we being part of the branch presidency. President Smith, the branch president, is on vacation right now, so we have a few more responsibilities than usual. And since I'm District Leader, I have to do interviews for the other Elders baptismal candidates. On Friday, there were 8 interviews that I had to do! Luckily, the Zone Leaders came and helped with the interviews, so it went by faster. Then the next day, I had to go to Angra, which takes an hour bus ride, which is the Zone Leaders area, and do another interview. So we lost quite a bit of time right at the end of the week. The baptism went really well on Saturday. There was one family baptized, and 2 kids from a different family, and then 1 other kid was baptized yesterday. It was cool. I got to baptize the mom. The spirit was really strong at the baptism, and now we have a really strong addition to the branch. I'll send some pics of the baptism. Anyways, so that's basically the progress of the area right now.
It's good to hear what's going on with the rest of the fam. It's cool to hear about all the new babies coming, and about all the mission calls as well. If you see Ryan Walker, tell him I say hi, and be sure to send me his address when he gets out on his mission.
That's awesome that Steve is in another play. Tell me how it goes. Does he have a lead part? I bet he does. Is that a musical? I have never seen it.
Yeah, I'm excited about General Conference too. I don't think we will be able to see all of it this time. I'm not sure. I know that they won't be broadcasting the Priesthood Session, which is too bad, cause that's always my favorite. I am excited to see mom too, and point her out to everyone, haha.
Well, sorry this email is short. I don't know what else to write. I love you guys.
Elder Walker

Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 22, 2010

Another crazy week in the 'zores! I realized that today, I have been on the mission for exactly 11 months! It's crazy! Almost a year.
So this this week has been another week of ups and downs. I have never had so many ups and downs in my life. But I am really enjoying this area, and learning a lot.
So, Diana...............she wasn't baptized, again. I was so sure last week that she would finally be baptized. We prayed with her, and definitely felt the spirit. And we went back on Monday, and she still hadn't smoked or drank. But after Tuesday, we became really suspicious, because one of our members saw her with a bottle of beer again. She has sort of been lying to us, so it's way hard to help her. She has a lot of bad influences in her life. If we could just get her away from all of the people that she hangs around, she would easily be baptized. She really wanted to be baptized, and she definitely has felt the spirit, but she doesn't have the gift of the Holy Ghost, so she can't feel it all the time, especially at her house and with the people that she is always with. Anyway, she got really mad at us this week, and doesn't want to be baptized anymore. We passed by yesterday, and was a lot nicer. I feel that one day she will be baptized, I just don't know when, or how.
This week, we have found a lot of good people to teach, we just haven't taught them yet. We have a bunch of references from members, and a bunch of people that we have talked to on the streets and stuff. I think the hardest thing is just getting hold of people. And nobody here likes to actually mark visits. When we plan our day, basically just have to plan people that we want to pass by, or call, and just hope that they are home and want to talk to us.
We are teaching this guy named Fernando. He is actually from São Tomé, which is pretty rare here on Terceira. He knew the Elders in Madeira, and also in São Miguel (another island in the Azores.) He moved, so the Elders from São Miguel sent us his teaching record, and now we are teaching him. He will definitely be baptized, he just doesn't understand everything perfectly. But he is a way cool guy. He lives with all of his co-workers, which are all just a bunch of different guys from all over. He's from São Tomé, one's from Brazil, one's from Angola, one is Portuguese. It's funny. We taught a couple of his co-workers and they seem pretty cool. We talked a lot about baptism and I think we will be able to mark at least Fernando today.
I am enjoying being in the branch presidency. It is way cool to watch the branch grow. When I got here, there were usually about 25 people in Sacrament Meeting on average. Now it's probably about 35-40. The other Elders in the branch will be baptizing 2 families this weekend, which I think will be a really big strength for the branch. I don't really know the families that well, but I think it's gonna be good. Oh yeah, and I am District Leader, so I am going to have to do about 8 interviews this weekend. Ugh!
Other than that, I think it's pretty much the same. Just a lot of people that aren't progressing, or that are sort of progressing really slowly. Also a lot of rain, as usual. And cows, and grass, and barking dogs that poop on the sidewalk, and I ALWAYS step in it. Yep.
Sounds like everything's going well at home. I can definitely say that I am glad I got out of helping with the set. YES!!! I bet your play is gonna be a real hit. Especially since it's High School Musical. It's crazy. It's even really big here in the Azores. That's way sad to hear about Rachel Fischer. If anyone talks to her family, tell them to tell Rachel that I say "hi" and that I will definitely be praying for her.
Welp, it's good to hear from you fam. Sounds like everyone's doing good. I continue to pray for y'all. I hope you all continue to do what you know you should, and continue to grow your testimonies. That's the only way. We can only know if something is true, if we continue to live it. Don't stop taking care of your faith seed!
Love yeh tons!
Elder Walker

March 15, 2010

Oi família!
This week was another rollercoaster. It was sort of up, and down, up, and down. But it ended on an up, which was awesome. We have sort have lost some of our investigators this week. Some seem to be losing interest. Others don't answer the door or phone. But we also found a lot of awesome people this week that we feel good about. So we lost some, but gained some as well.
The hardest and saddest part of the week was when we caught Diana smoking again, and she had her piercing back in. She tried to hide the cigarette, but couldn't hide the piercing. We talked with her later, and she denied that she had smoked. Then, the next day, we saw her smoking again, and drinking. And this time, she couldn't deny it. We talked to her and she seemed pretty discouraged, but kind of annoyed with us too. She was absolutely sure that she couldn't quit smoking and wouldn't be baptized. We told her that we knew that she would, we just didn't know when. That was earlier this week. But last night, we passed by, and she was in her same mood. Kinda just frowny and really down. But we started talking to her and asking her if she knows that this is God's true church. She told us that she knew it was. We asked her how, and she said "I know it's true because I feel it." And then she started slowy getting happier, and smiling. Then she said, "I'm not smoking or drinking anymore." Then we asked her when she thought she could be baptized, and she said "this saturday." So we all knelt down to ask Heavenly Father if she should be baptized this saturday, and we all felt the Spirit as she prayed. After the prayer she said, "I WILL be baptized." And then she started laughing. It was so cool. One of the coolest experiences on the mission. We are really going to help her this week to quit smoking. This is it. I think this is the week that she will finally be baptized.
Also, this weekend we had Zone Conference. This time, President Torgan and the other missionaries from São Miguel came to Terceira. The Conference was way awesome and a lot of questions that I had were answered. I love Zone Conference because I always come out feeling way motivated. I also had my interview with him, which is even better because he gives me personal counsel.
Also, later, President Torgan had a special devotional for all of our investigators, for the members, and less active members. He spoke about life after death. He talked a lot about some surveys that doctors (non religious) have had with people who have died, and been brought back to life. All of them spoke about dark tunnels, and light, and warmth and stuff like that. So his whole thing was that even science proves that there is life after death. We had a good turnout and I think our investigators really liked his talk. When President Torgan speaks, it's always way powerful.
Then yesterday, President Torgan came to our branch. I was actually the one who was conducting the meeting. I was a little nervous, but everything went well. I actually gave a talk as well. Then, at the last hour of church, President Torgan taught a combined meeting. He had all of the members kneel down as he prayed, and then afterwards write down some names of people who could potentially accept the gospel. So now we have a ton of references.
So this week turned out to be way awesome, and I learned a ton, and am ready to continue to work a lot harder than I have.
Sounds like mom had a good time in AZ. The weather here is pretty good too, sometimes. It rains a ton! Probably almost everyday. Some days more than others. Sometimes it poors and we get soaked and stay wet the whole day. I am also sick of the winter. I miss proselyting in just a white shirt and tie.
Tell Amy and Gretchen happy birthday for me.
I can't believe mom got another new car! That's way cool. I bet it's awesome.
Yeah, Kaenan is gonna be huge when I get back! He will be in first grade, right? He'll almost be done with first grade. What's the latest and greatest thing with him? Star Wars still? Legos? Pokemon? Dinosaurs?
Olive is a good name. haha
So I think somebody said that there was another earthquake in Hungary. Is that true? I only heard somebody say it, I didn't hear any details.
Welp, keep me updated with everything. Love you guys!
Elder Walker

Sunday, March 14, 2010

March 1, 2010

Hello fam!
Got some transfer news for ya. We got our transfer calls this morning (I think the missionaries in the Azores always get called first.) So I already know what's happening, so you don't have to wait until next week. President Torgan called this morning. Elder Dastrup is leaving and heading to the continent to be Zone Leader in Santarém. Another Elder, Elder Wittwer, who I actually already know pretty well, is taking his place with Elder Barbosa. Both me and Elder Da Costa are staying, but now I'm District Leader here. It's way crazy. I can't believe it! I am way glad that Elder Da Costa is staying. We are going to get a lot of work done this transfer. If he would have left, it would have been way hard, because I still don't know a ton about the area. But we have a lot of investigators that we feel are ready to be marked for baptism. We are planning on marking all of them this week, to be baptized throughout the month. The work here is amazing. The branch is growing. It's way awesome to see. I just have this really good feeling that the branch will be really strong one day. It's crazy, because I remember both my trainer, and my greeny-breaker telling me how aweful the branch was. But that's in the past. The whole branch is basically all recent converts now. Elder Da Costa and Elder Dastrup really did awesome work, and the branch is growing. We are hoping for at least 6 baptisms this transfer. I'm way excited to work hard and baptize!!!
So this last Saturday, Diana was supposed to be baptized. But last Sunday, during church, she took some prescribed pills, which made her drowsy, so all of the members thought that she was on drugs. So this week, we had a lot of trouble from a couple members who know Diana, and her past, and didn't want her to be baptized. We know that she is ready, but didn't want her to be baptized without support from the members. So we prayed about it a lot, and decided to re-mark her for this upcoming Saturday. It was awesome what happened. After the members found out that she was re-marked, they got excited too. Diana came to church this Sunday, and I think the members have seen the change in her. She really was ready. She is a different person now. She smiles and laughs a lot more, and we can tell that she is happier. She is really excited for the baptism, and we know she will continue to grow.
Other investigators are progressing well, and like I said, are ready to be marked for baptism. It's just hard to get ahold of a lot of them to be able to teach them. So we hopefully we will be able to mark specific days and times to pass by and teach.
It's sad to see all of the disasters and stuff that are going on in the world. It's especially weird to sort of be outside of it, and not really know much about what's going on. I didn't know about Chile until I read this email. I didn't know about Madeira until mom's email last week. Plus what happened in Haiti. They really are signs of the times. It's sad to see, but kind of cool to know that we really are living in the last days, and that we are waiting for the second coming of Christ. It has been interesting the week, teaching some investigators. A lot of them have had questions about "the end of the world" and stuff. It's cool to know that we know what will happen, and that we have the truth, and we know what we need to do to be prepared for the second coming. It's awesome to help other people to know as well.
So, it's way awesome to hear what's going on at home! I can't believe Megan is having a girl! I bet it's just what she was hoping for! And 6 years since the last girl in the family! Again! There must have been some kind of prophesy down the Hill lineage or something. That's awesome! It's good to hear that everyone else is doing well too. I miss you guys! But I know I'm here doing the Lord's work. I really am enjoying it. This week is going to be hard I think. Especially with all the new responsibility. Now I'm District Leader, and also 1st Counselor in the Branch Presidency. It will be a challenge, but I know that I'm going to grow from it. It's awesome to know that when we have transfers, that it is by revelation that we are transferred.
Thanks again for the email! Keep 'em comin'!!! Tchauzinhos!
Elder Walker

March 8, 2010

Howdy fam.
This week was pretty crazy. But it ended up being really good. I remember last week writing about our investigator Diana, who was marked for baptism. She really was ready. But just about an hour after I wrote the email last week, as we were carrying our groceries back to the house, we saw Diana walking with her husband Luís, and she was smoking! And she had her piercings back in! It was way disappointing. She wouldn't tell us why either. We passed by her house the next day and she told us what happened. Her husband Luís is in a lot of trouble with the police for a lot of stuff and is probably going to jail. So she kind of just got stressed out and rebelled. We remarked the baptism for next Saturday, but we sort of lost our faith that she could really make the date. We passed by her house every day this week, but she still didn't seem to be progressing much. She finally ended up taking her piercings out again, and told us that she had quit smoking again. But we still weren't sure if she would be able to make the date. But yesterday, we had testimony meeting at church, and she got up and bore her testimony! It was way cool. She bore her testimony about how she knew that it was God that helped her quit her addictions. I really felt the Spirit as she testified. After that, some of the members that before didn't really want her to be baptized, went up to her after Sacrament Meeting and thanked her for her testimony. Now we are sure she will be baptized. She really does have a testimony, she just doesn't show it sometimes. We know that she will continue to progress, especially because she has the support from the members. I am way excited for her baptism, which will be this Saturday.
This week was actually pretty hard. We didn't have as many lessons as we have been having. We are sort of running out of investigators. I looked in my planner, and realized that we have been passing by the same people every day. It's hard to find new investigators too, because it's such a small area, and every single house has been knocked a million times, and everyone knows who we are. The investigators that we have, some of the seem to be losing interest. We had planned to mark 6 people for baptism this week, but weren't able to. I think that we can still mark a few of them, others I'm not so sure. We need to find a new strategy for finding investigators, and I think it's through the members.
Anyway, so that's the progress here. It's always good hearing from home. That's cool y'all went fishing. And skiing. I really miss skiing. That's probably one of the things I miss the most. Anyways, it's good to here from yeh. I will try to send some pics today. Boas!
Elder Walker

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 22, 2010

Howdy fam. Another way awesome week in the Praia da Vitória. I still can't believe how much more awesome this area is than my last. I can't believe how much I have been learning and how much my testimony has been growing. I really am loving my mission.

Lately, I have been realizing how many people we have been teaching. There are tons of people. It is so much easier to stay in contact with everyone here because it is such a small area. I don't know how it's going to be for me when I go back to the continent. Here we are able to pass by all of our investigators everyday. We just walk to there house and knock on the door. We don't have to deal with big apartment buildings or anything, just normal houses. It's way awesome. There are a ton of people. It's just hard to get them progressing.

I can't remember if I have written about Diana. Diana is one of our investigators. She is 19. She has lived with her boyfriend, Luís for about 7 years I think. Elder Dastrup and Elder Da Costa found her. They haven't really been progressing a whole lot. Luís isn't at all. He is sort of a "big kid." But Diana the last few weeks has shown a lot of interest. And we marked her for baptism, not really sure if she would really make it. She is marked for the 27th, this Saturday.She has made a lot of changes in her life already. She used to be on drugs, but stopped before they started teaching her. She is still quitting smoking. If she doesn't smoke at all this week, she can be baptized. She also had piercings. One on her eyebrow, 4 on each ear, and one on her naval. We taught her last week about removing them, and she sort of flipped and got mad and told us she didn't want to be baptized anymore. But we talked to her more and more, and now she has agreed to remove them. Pretty cool. Also, a couple days ago, we went there to teach her about tithing, and we were a little worried that she wouldn't be too happy about paying tithing either. She is really poor. But when we taught her, she didn't have any doubts or objections, she just said " 'ta bom, eu pago," or "alright, I'll pay." It was way cool. So we are pretty confident in her. She even got married on Friday. She is also going to take a class so she can get a job doing manicures. So she is changing her life. She still doesn't "get" everything, but we are confident in her, and are excited for the baptism this Saturday.

Claudio has been sick and busy. We were sort of worried for awhile that he didn't want to talk to us anymore, or something like that. We passed by his house a couple times, and tried to call, but we couldn't get ahold of him. We actually passed once, and his aunt answered the door, and told us he was sick. She also told us that he was trying to quit smoking! We haven't even taught him the Word of Wisdom yet! I think the Lord is still preparing him. We finally got ahold of him yesterday, and we will be teaching him tomorrow. I am way excited.

There is another dude we are teaching. His name is Rui. He is 23, I think. He is the son of one of our "excommunicated members." She was excommunicated, but still comes to church. Rui came up to us after a baptism once and told us that he wants to be baptized. So we have taught him once. He doesn't know how to read. He sort of doesn't understand everything. But we will probably be baptizing him in the next couple weeks. Hopefully he progresses.

Other cool stuff happened this week. We gave a few people blessings. One to this girl named Camila. She is a less active member, but wants to come back to church. Her mom isn't a member, and is sort of against the church. But we went there, and gave Camila a blessing. The Spirit was way strong and she cried, and we are sure her mom felt it too. We are going to try to keep on teaching her.

Everything is going way awesome with the investigators. It has actually been hard for me to keep track of them all, because we have so many.

We get our transfer calls next week. Already. It feels like this transfer went by way fast. It's because I'm enjoying it so much. Elder Da Costa and Elder Dastrup are most likely leaving. They have both been here for 3 transfers now. So it's likely that me and Elder Barbosa will be getting new companions. I am a little nervous for Elder Da Costa to leave, because that will make me in charge of the area, which I never like. There is a ton about this area that I still don't know. But whatever happens is meant to be. It will definitely be a learning experience.

So this week, our Branch President got back from the States. He has been there since before I arrived. His name is President Smith. He is cool. His Portuguese is kinda weird, because he spoke Spanish on his mission, so Spanish words slip here and there. Anyways, he got back and re-organized the Branch Presidency. So Elder Da Costa was released as 2nd Counselor, and called as 1st. I was called as 2nd Counselor, and Elder Barbosa was called as Secretary. I directed Sacrament Meeting yesterday. That was a new experience. I can't say I have every been a member of a branch presidency before, or directed a sacrament meeting. We actually had a real good turnout. 38 people in Sacrament Meeting. Supposedly that's a record, for awhile anyway. The Branch is growing. There are a few less active members that are returning, and more people that we are baptizing. It's way cool to see.

This truly is the work of the Lord. I have no doubt about that. I feel really blessed to be a part of it, and to have recieved a witness from the Holy Ghost that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. It is an awesome thing to be able to say that I KNOW that these things are true, and I love sharing my testimony with others.

I love you guys, yoo da best!! Fiquem bem!

Elder Walker

P.S. No, the volcano on this island is not active. I know there is only one active volcano in the Azores, but I forgot which one. And, no we didn't get flooded. But it poored this week. The rain here is ridiculous.