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.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Februrary 15, 2010

Well, I was expecting a big fatty email today, but I guess you guys are just too busy to write to me. Ha ha, just kidding. I know mom is busy with the play and stuff. Então esqueçam.

This week has possibly been one of the best weeks of my entire mission. I can't believe how much I am learning. I can't believe how much more I am enjoying my mission. It is amazing to see how my testimony has really grown, and that I am learning more and more every day how to follow the guidance of the Spirit. I love bearing my testimony to people. And I love being able to see the words that Heavenly Father gives me touching the hearts of others. Although people here forget really quickly what they felt, a lot of the times I know they can't deny that they felt something.

This week, a lot of miracles happened. The best of all was on Friday. Both me and Elder da Costa have been feeling sick this week. Sort of just up and down. On Friday, both of us were feeling really sick, and decided to stay in the house for the day. We had weekly planning anyway, so we stayed and did weekly planning. Then, after, Elder da Costa said, "let's leave, I don't feel good about staying in." I was kind of disappointed, because I really wasn't feeling that great. But we left, and headed to this area called Santa Luzia to go knock some doors. We knocked a couple, without any success, and then Elder da Costa started walking toward a house that was kind of out of the way. We figured it was probably just an old couple's house, who didn't want anything. But we knocked, and a younger lady answered. She said she didn't have time, and that she was about to leave. But then we heard this voice from another room "let them in, I want to talk to them." So she let us in, and left. This younger dude came in. He said his name was Claudio and that he was 20 years old, my age, and told us we could sit down. He had to take a shower, so we waited for about 10 minutes. He came in, and started speaking perfect english to us, without even an accent. He told us he was portuguese, but had lived in the states for a few years. So we taught him the restoration, in english, which was way cool, because I can express how I feel a lot better in english. He sort of explained that his life has been really diffucult, and he has had some rough times. His dad died before he knew him, and his mom left him. He said so much stuff has happened in his life, that he began to hate God. He said he knew that he still existed, but that he hated Him. But our message really touched him.The Spirit was way strong throughout the lesson. He had a lot of awesome questions and I think he really understood the message. We even invited him to be baptized. He said "what do I have to do to be baptized?" And we told him we would like to keep teaching him, and that we wanted him to come to church. He said he couldn't this week, but promised us that he would go next week. At the end, we invited him to say the closing prayer. He wanted to, and kept trying to say "Heavenly Father..." but then stopped after a few attempts and said, "I don't feel like I should pray, because the only thing that I can think of saying, is that I already know without a doubt that all the stuff you guys told me is true, but I don't want to tell Him that without reading the Book of Mormon and finding out for myself." So I said the last prayer. It was probably to coolest thing that has happened on my mission so far. Claudio is a way cool kid, and we are sure that him being baptized is really going to strenghten the branch. We are sure he will serve a mission too. We still haven't met with him again, because he is busy this week. But we are meeting with him on Wednesday. I can't wait. He is so elect. He has been prepared by the Lord. We told him that, and he agreed. We were definitely guided to his door, there's no doubt about that. I can't even imagine what would have happened had we stayed in that day. It was definitely the Spirit that told Elder da Costa that we had to leave the house. Everything worked out that day exactly how it should have.

We also taught some other investigators this week. They are a couple that live together, but are not married, that haven't really showed a whole lot of interest named Bruno and Carla. They let us over because they had been arguing or something. We talked to them about the law of chastity, and about the greatest law, which is to love God, and the second which is to love your neighbors. Carla was crying. We asked them if they felt anything, and Bruno suddenly said "I feel something!" It was funny, but way cool. The Spirit was really strong in that lesson as well. They still didn't come to church this week. But they are a lot more receptive to us now.

Other than that, the week has just been awesome because I am just loving the work. I am loving the gospel and loving my mission. I really have developed a strong love for the people here. It's funny, there are a lot of Americans here. Me and Elder da Costa were knocking an apartment where everyone that lived there was American. I really did not like talking to them. I'll just say that I am glad I am not serving in the states. I was definitely called here for a reason. Ha ha.

Anyways, I love you all. Thanks for everything. Don't forget to write!!!

Elder Walker

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

February 8, 2010

Hey fam,
Another way awesome week in the Azores. I am really loving the area. It has probably been one of the favorite transfers of my mission so far. I am learning a ton. It is a tough area, but we are teaching a lot and having quite a bit of success. We have a lot of investigators, most of which were already investigators when I got here. It is hard helping them progress. The people here seem to be really lazy. It's hard to help people understand that we are here to help, and that we want them to be happy. Everyone here has problems with drinking or smoking or the law of chastity. But we have found some good, sincere people.

The culture is just so different. I have never seen a more Catholic based society. Even a lot of the members (which are few) still have somewhat "catholic views" on certain things. By the way, I don't think I have told you about the branch here. We have 2 branches, the Air Base 4 branch, which is the american military branch, and the Praia/Lajes branch, which is the Portuguese branch. We don't go the the American branch, but they feed us all the time and stuff. There are a lot of active members, but we don't really work with them at all. The Portuguese branch consists of about 6 or 7 active members, besides the missionaries and the branch president, who is american. There are about 120 inactive members. It is ridiculous trying to work with them. Almost every single inactive member that we have tried to work with says that in some way or another, they were offended at some point, by some other member, and never went back. Even some members that already served missions, and some that have been branch presidents. It's ridiculous. Some of them have even gone back to the Catholic church. It is way sad to see. It's hard enough to get investigators to answer the door, but it's even harder to get inactive members to open the door here. It's stressful, and makes it hard for our investigators to see that it really is the true church, I think. The active members that we have are all way awesome, but there are very few.

I really am learning a lot though. And I am gaining a really strong testimony. It is different now, when I bear my testimony. It is awesome to be able to bear it, and really feel it and know for sure that it is true. It is way cool to be able to be guided by the spirit, and I can honestly say that I have been. It's funny, one of my MTC teachers, Brother Kimball served in this same area on his mission about 5 years ago. I remember him showing us pictures and saying "this is when I became a man." It's funny, but I sort have felt the same way, in this same area. I feel like I am really learning how to work effectively and am gaining a huge testimony.

Well, I am out of time again. This internet place closes for lunch, so we usually have less time to write. I will try to send pictures next week I think. I love you!

Elder Walker

P.S. Dad, you would love being here. There are all kinds of fighter jets and military airplanes flying around all the time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

February 2, 2010

Querida Família,
This week was pretty tough. But at the same time, it was really good. I learned a ton. It started out good. But then, I think on Tuesday, both Elder Dastrup and Elder da Costa got really sick. Elder da Costa is my comp.So, both went to the hospital and Elder Dastrup found out that he has Pneumonia, and Elder da Costa has swine flu. So they have been sick basically all week and were both quarantined. So I had to go out and work with Elder Barbosa, who is still greeny, and I still don't know the area all that well and I don't really know all of our investigators. It was pretty tough. I got pretty stressed. Elder Barbosa is cool, but talks a ton, and has tons of questions, and really likes to sing out loud and really out of tune while we walk. Plus, there is a lot of stuff he doesn't know, because he is still being trained. He is a way good missionary though. It was just stressful teaching all of these investigators that I still didn't really know, and not knowing exactly what they had already been taught, and what there needs were and stuff.

We just got back today from Zone Conference, so that's why the email is getting sent late. We had to fly to another island called São Miguel. I think it's the biggest out of the 9 islands. I think every transfer, they switch off which island they have Zone Conference. So this transfer, it was in São Miguel. It's a lot like Terceira, but more developed. It reminds me of sort of a mix between Lisbon and Terceira, because it has both normal houses and big apartment buildings. Terceira has just normal houses, and Lisbon has almost all just big apartment buildings. But it seems like São Miguel is sort of a mixture. They also have a different accent there. A lot of missionaries say it kind of sounds like a french accent. I didn't hear a whole lot of it, but it kind of sounded like a british accent to me. It was definitely a lot easier to understand than the accent here.

The Azores are way cool. It's mostly just grass, and cows. They have all these sort of fences made from volcanic rock and cows everywhere. I will have to send some pictures.

Zone Conference was awesome! Definitely the best Zone Conference that I have had my whole mission so far. It was just 12 missionaries. President Torgan is way awesome. He is probably the most spiritually inspired man I have ever met. Everything he says just blows me away. I learned a ton of things that I needed to hear. Plus we had our interviews which were good too and he gave me a lot of good advice.

It's really good being out here in this area. The people are tough, everyone smokes........literally, and everyone already knows the elders, but I think I am enjoying it the most out of any area so far. It's especially good being here after my last transfer. I was sort of in a rut for awhile. I have a lot more motivation now. Like I said, I think Elder Dastrup is the hardest working missionary in the mission. I am learning a ton about working a lot harder than I have.

OK, to answer some of your questions. Yes, I am liking my new companions. It was the refrigerator that was broken, which has been a pain, but we just got some money from Sister Torgan at Zone Conference, so we bought one today, and they are delivering it tomorrow. You don't need to worry about the gas thing, I don't think. None of the houses in the mission are heated. We all just use portable electric plug-in heaters. The water heaters are also manual. And every house has a gas detector. So we should be fine. If you are going to send packages, it will probably be safest just to keep sending to the mission office. They bring the mail at Zone Conferences. If you want to send letters, my new address is:

Elder Greg Walker
Rua do Hospital Nº 17
9760 Praia da Vitória
Terceira, Açores

So, everything is going awesome. I am really improving I think. It is cool speaking Portuguese all the time. It is helpful not only speaking "the gopel vocabulary," but also learning new words that are useful like "ladrar" which is to bark, or "ressonar" which means to snore, instead of "pregar" which means to preach, or "orar" which means to pray.

Elder da Costa is way awesome. It's funny, when I first got on the mission, I was told that Portuguese people don't get sarcasm. But Elder da Costa is the most sarcastic person that I know.

Anways, its good to hear from y'all. I'm outta time. I love you! Boas!

Elder Walker

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26, 2010

Well, are y'all excited to find out where I got transferred to? It's basically like I got a new mission call........I got sent to the Azores!!!!! I'm on the island Terceira in and area called Praia da Vitória! It is way awesome! Last Monday, we got our transfer calls. As I said in my last letter, I was pretty sure that both me and Elder Ronson would be staying. But nope, we got the calls, and they told me that I would be going to the Azores. I had to pack my bags in about 3 hours, and leave my area that same day to go spend the night at the mission office. Then the next day, they sent me on a 2 hour flight with another Elder going to the same island. I got here, and met my new companion. His name is Elder da Costa. He is from Portugal, but is actually from the boundaries of the Porto Mission. He is way cool. Definitely the coolest portuguese person that I have met so far. He actually just seems like he is American, but he speaks portuguese perfectly. This is his 3rd transfer on the mission, so I am actually older than him and am now the senior comp. We live in this way huge house! 3 stories! Supposedly it's the best house in the entire mission. It has a dishwasher, and a dryer! And three toilets! We are actually without a fridge right now, because Elder da Costa broke it before I got here. We use the fridge at the chapel. We live there with 2 other Elders. Elder Dastrup, from Lindon, Utah (he says he doesn't know any of the Hills.) And Elder Barbosa, from Cape Verde. Elder Dastrup is one transfer behind me. He was in the MTC with me for 3 weeks before I left, so I knew him before getting here. He is probably the hardest working missionary in the entire mission. He is awesome and is always way excited about the work. He actually trained Elder da Costa 2 tranfers ago. That's how hard of a worker he is, he trained a native in his 3rd transfer. He is now training Elder Barbosa, who just arrived into the mission this week. He is cool too. We all live in the same house, but the other 2 Elders work in another area called Lajes. Terceira is a lot different than Portugal. I am basically re-learning how to understand portuguese. The accent here is ridiculous, and way hard for me to understand. It is probably the equivalent of a really strong southern accent in the states. But I am already sort of getting used to it. Luckily, Elder da Costa speaks portuguese perfectly, so no worries. It's really cool having a companion that doesn't have any language difficulties. He is a very effective teacher because of it. He is awesome. Although I am the senior comp, it sort of feels like am getting re-trained. It's good though. Elder da Costa is a really hard worker as well. I am learning a lot. We had 28 lessons this week! That is the most I have had on my entire mission so far. The people here are really, really, really Catholic. It's supposed to be one of the harder areas, but we are doing better, at least lesson wise than most of the areas in the mission. It's definitely because Elder da Costa and Dastrup tore it up the last couple of transfers and found tons of investigators. But me and Elder da Costa found some this week as well. We actually just had a baptism on Saturday. It was a guy named Chris. On Terceira, I think you guys already know, but there is a US Air Force Base, supposedly one of the biggest in the world. So there are a lot of Americans here. Chris is an American from North Carolina. He is in the Air Force. They found him only about 2 weeks ago. He is kinda nerdy, but one of the coolest guys I have met on my mission so far. He is way funny. He quit drinking and smoking and was baptized, all in about 2 weeks. The baptism was awesome. We have other investigators that we have found, and others that they already had. Almost all have problems with the word of wisdom and the law of chastity, mostly just because they live together without being married. It is hard to get them to progress. It is really crazy being here in this area. My trainer, Elder Markarian told me all about this area. He served here for about 4 tranfers about a year ago. (By the way, he went home this transfer.) Also, my greeny-breaker, Elder Dean served here right before me and him became companions. So I have heard all kinds of awesome stuff about the area. We have 2 branches here. There is the Portuguese branch or Praia-Lajes branch, and the American branch, or the Air Base 4 branch. There aren't very many active portuguese members. There were probably only about 20 portuguese people at church this week. Elder da Costa is the counselor of the branch presidency. There are a lot more active american members. It is cool being around american people. I'll admit it makes me a little bit trunky, haha. We ate at an American member's house yesterday. It was so good! Basically my first american food in 7 months! They also have rootbeer here! Anyway, I am almost out of time, so I will have to tell you more next week. It was good to hear from you. I love you all! Tchauzinhos!

Elder Walker

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

January 18

Dear Fam,
Everything is still going well this week. We didn't have quite as much success this week. We had some other meetings and other stuff we had to do, so we didn't have as much time for actual proselyting. I am still working to try harder. Sometimes I feel a little bit lazy and tired. It's a little hard to ALWAYS work hard. But I am trying and still learning.

This week I learned that we need to follow up with investigators a lot more. Meaning when we leave commitments such as reading in the Book of Mormon and stuff, we need to make sure that they are doing it. Basically none of our investigators are progressing right now. We can't seem to get any of them to progress. A lot of them are hard to even meet with. And it's hard to follow up and mark appointments with them when at the same time you don't want to annoy them. It's annoying though. I guess it might just be a part of culture. I have no idea. But it is really hard to meet with people enough.

Our investigator Margarita is sort of progressing, little by little. She has read in the Book of Mormon. She only wants us coming by twice a week and when we leave her invites, she says "if I want to, I will." It is good that she is honest. She doesn't "beat around the bush." If she didn't read or pray, she tells us. She REALLY does not like to be told what to do. I am surprised she even lets us come by at all. Not even she really knows. I am sure it is the Spirit. She was basically forced to pray and do stuff in the Catholic church when she was growing up, back when Portugal had a communist government. She hasn't prayed yet, but we are trying to teach her the importance of it. Anyway, she is probably our best bet for a baptism. Everyone else is really flaky.

We actually got a couple new investigators yesterday. The sister missionaries in a different area gave us some referalls. They were teaching their landlord and her husband, who actually live in our area, and they invited them to go to church in their area. They just showed up at our church yesterday. They are cool people. They are probably about your age, mom and dad. They are Portuguese, and of course Catholic. Their names are Conceição and Luís. They are really interested in our beliefs and want to learn more. They said they won't move churches, like everyone else. But I have a good feeling about them. So we will be working with them this week.

So it is good to hear that Uncle Richard is doing better. I wasn't too worried. I was pretty sure he would make it. That is really good that he is doing ok.

That is cool that you are doing High School Musical. I'm sure all those kids will love it. They are probably the right age that High School Musical came out when they were kids. I'm sure it will be good. I am just glad I don't have to help build the set! YES!!!

So I finally got a letter from David and found out where he is going! Chile! That is so rad! I am way excited for him. He actually took Spanish from about 7th grade all the way through 12th. It think when he was a senior, he was in Spanish 4 or something, haha. That will be a huge advantage for him. He can already speak it quite well. Do you know if there is an MTC there or not? I don't know if he is going to the Provo MTC or not. I want to write him a letter while he is there. Do you think you could send me the Provo MTC address?

So I actually don't know exactly what happened in Haiti. There was an earthquake and a tsunami, right? I didn't get all the details, seeing as we don't ever get the news. I did think about Sonny right away when I heard though. I did hear that our church was one of the first help aids there, of course.

Well, it sounds like the fam is doing really well at home. Everything is going great here. Oh! By the way, we get our transfer calls today. I have no idea if I am staying or not. Supposedly there are a lot of changes going on this transfer. Elder Ronson and I both think that we are staying. But we don't really know. So, I will know by the end of the day, and y'all won't know until the end of the week.

I don't know what else to write. Thanks for the email, and the prayers. The shirts are good mom. The collars are still a little stiff, especially since we hang dry our clothes. But they are good. Well, I love you all. I will try to send some pictures. I am still not sure if this computer will let me. Tchau!

Elder Walker

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January 3, 2010

Hello fam. This week was pretty tough. A lot went wrong. We didn't have a whole lot of success, at least with our numbers. We only taught 6 lessons all together. I have never seen so little success my entire mission so far. We counted all of the lessons that fell through this week, and we had 16 lessons fall through! Meaning we call people and set lessons up with them, and then either pass by there house when they tell us that we can but they are not home, or we call them to confirm and they tell us to come by some other day. People do that a lot here. It's really frustrating. I don't get it. We seriously call people the day before, or even the day of, and we still show up and they are not home. It's like they tell us they will be home, but they know they won't. Or else they forget right when they hang up the phone. Obviously there are a lot that don't want to talk to us. But they won't straight up tell us no.

I think this week was especially bad, because of New Years. Their parties here for New Years are a lot bigger than in the states. They party all night on New Year's Eve, and then have another party the next day, and maybe more, we don't know.

So we did a TON of door knocking this week. We had 22 hours of finding time this week. We got 27 phone numbers or addresses. Hopefully some of these people start turning into actual investigators. We actually did get 4 new investigators this week.

We taught a guy named Edgar. He seems pretty cool. We still have only taught him once, so we don't really know. But he said he will read the Book of Mormon and pray. I think he is really curious about the book, but I am not sure if he will pray. That seems to be hard for a lot of people.

Anyway, so this week was alright. I think I learned a lot. I am getting better at knowing what to say when we contact people and stuff. Especially knocking, since we do it so much.

It sounds like the family is doing really good. Especially this time of the year. The cabin is always my favorite part of the entire year. I really missed out, huh?

Supposedly, we were allowed to stay up until midnight on New Year's Eve, but nobody told us, so we went to bed, and woke up and it was 2010. It's pretty crazy that it has already been more than a year since I got my mission call. About 4 more months and I will have been on the mission for a year. It's crazy, you don't really understand when everyone says that time flies on the mission, until you are actually out serving a mission. It really is going by fast.

It has almost been a year since Uncle Matt died, huh? That's pretty crazy. I still miss him. But it is really awesome being out on the mission, and every day realizing a learning more and more and knowing that we will definitely see him again. My testimony is growing all the time.

That's too bad to hear about Uncle Richard, but I think he is going to get better. He is in my prayers, as are all of you.

I don't really know what else to write. Today is really warm. It was pouring rain this morning. The weather changed like always. It really does remind me of Utah weather. We had to walk to this place to do internet after it rained, because the other place that we usually do it at was closed. We had to walk on this dirt path that was completely muddy because of the rain. So now my shoes and pants are covered in mud. It's ok though, I need to get these pants dry cleaned anyways.

The language is still coming really well. Its crazy, sometimes we will be talking to people, and I will forget that I am not speaking english. We have this member that likes to tell us a lot of stories, and I am surprised to find myself being able to imagine the scene of the story in my head, instead of trying really, really hard to understand. There are still a lot of people that I have trouble understanding. But the people that speak well and clearly, sometimes I almost understand everything they say. I have been really blessed with being able to speak.

So, everything is still going well. I am thinking this week is going to be a lot better, since everyone is back to normal after the holidays. Plus, we have talked to a ton of people. I am pretty sure at least some will turn into investigators.

Well, I love you all. Stay happy, and do what's right. If you are doing what's right, you have that promise. Thanks for your prayers and emails and packages. Abraços, beijinhos, tchau, tchau, sim, sim, fica bem, yah, tchau, abraços, até amanhã, yah, ok, tchau, tchau. (That is really how they say goodbye on the phone. They say the same stuff over and over for like 20 seconds. Usually we just hang up.) I love you!

Elder Walker

January 10, 2010

Wow! It was really great to hear from y'all this week. It sounds like everything is going great. It is crazy to hear about the family all growing up. I can't believe Hannah and Steve are almost graduating. Max, the little kid me and Sonny used to pick on is growing and his voice probably changed already. All of my brothers and sisters are getting married and having kids and I am out on my mission. It is crazy growing up. I still get weirded out sometimes when I stop and think, "wait, I'm on my mission."

Anyways, this week was better. A LOT better. We didn't knock quite so many doors, and actually had a decent amount of lessons. All of that door knocking is finally paying off, and we are seeing the fruits of our labors. We have about 4 progressing investigators right now. We are still working with Claudia. She isn't really progressing a whole lot. But she said she would pray to know if she should be baptized. She already prays every night, but is Catholic, and doesn't feel good about being baptized again. We are teaching another guy Edgar, from Guiné-Bissau. He is this big african dude. He is way cool and says he always likes hearing "the word." He is also Catholic, but says he will read in the Book of Mormon (even though he hasn't yet) and pray (even though he hasn't yet.) He is really busy with driving school, but he said in about 2 weeks he will have more time. We are also teaching this kid that is about our age named Júnior. He is way cool, and wants to know how to have more happiness in his family. He has a lot of good questions. I think he will progress too.

We also found this lady named Margarita. When we found her, it was incredible! We were kinda just walking around knocking some doors, and decided to pass by this young woman's house named Fátima, who said we could come back another day (the usual response.) We knocked on the door, and this older lady answered. She told us that Fátima wasn't home, so we told her who we were. We told her that we are here to help people grow faith in Jesus Christ. She kinda rolled her eyes and said "o que é fé?" or "what is faith?" We started talking, and found out that she is Catholic, but non-practicing, and that she doesn't really believe in God anymore. We talked to her about the importance of faith. We offered to say a prayer, and we promised her that she would feel something different during the prayer, such as peace, or happiness, and that if she felt something like that, that she would know that God exists. I knew we would feel something, and as I said the prayer, we all felt the Spirit really strong. Probably the strongest I ever have. It was incredible. Before the prayer, she seemed sort of annoyed at us, but when I ended the prayer, I looked up, and she was smiling. We all kind of just looked at eachother, and let the feeling soak in. None of us said anything for about 1 minute. And then we finally asked her how she felt. She said she felt really peaceful, and we testified that it was the Holy Ghost. We asked her if she had any questions, and she said "who are you guys?!" It was one of the best experiences that I have had on the mission so far. We couldn't go into her house because there wasn't another man in the house, but we talked to her at her door, and briefly explained the restoration. We gave her a Book of Mormon, and left Alma 32 with her, that talks about the seed of faith. She let us come back a few days later, and we brought another man with us, one of our members. We explained the restoration in more detail, and invited her to keep reading and to pray. She is still having a difficult time accepting God into her life again. The last time we taught her was on Thursday. We invited her to come to church, and she said that if she wanted to go she would go. She wouldn't let us mark another visit until tomorrow. I am hoping she has prayed and read. She didn't want us calling either. It's really funny. She is a tough cookie. But there is no way that any of us can deny what we felt. We still want to take it easy with her, but I am sure she will progress.

Anyways, it was really awesome. We have taught a lot of other people just once. It is usually harder getting a second visit, because after the first, they know who you are. So we are working to get second visits with a lot of people. But we are doing a lot better, and the work is finally picking up.

That is really awesome that you are treating one of your converts now dad. I don't know if I ever knew about him. That is so cool. I bet that is really awesome to see somebody that you brought to a knowledge of the gospel 30 years later. I hope somebody that I baptize names their kid after me! Ha ha. I can't imagine anyone here would. Everytime I tell somebody my first name, they can't pronounce it. They all say "gweg." I have to tell them that my name in portuguese is "gregório."

Well, the mission is full of awesome experiences like that. Miracles happen all the time, especially when we are being obedient, and diligent. I am still working to do better, and have room for a lot of improvement. But I have learned a lot... mostly from mistakes. I am loving the mission and want to continue to grow.

I don't really know what else to say. I just feel really blessed to be out here on my mission and to have the knowledge that I have about the gospel and for the testimony that I have. Thanks for all of your support and for your example. Thanks for the update. I love you guys! Tchau!

Elder Walker