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Letter 98: ‘That Ye May Stand as Witnesses’ – Mosiah 24:14

You never know a good thing till it’s gone.

This week was my last Sunday here in Ala Brasília. Next Sunday I’m going to be in Maceió, attending church in another area, (maybe Beira Mar). I was called to speak in sacrament meeting about the Book of Mormon. I talked about the people of Alma when they were enslaved by Amulon in Mosiah 24. They prayed in their hearts, because they couldn’t pray out loud, and God heard their prayers, and lightened their burdens, and strengthened their backs so that they could be witnesses afterwards of the goodness of God, and that they could testify that he hears prayers.

I learned this principle this week. This week was one of the hardest of my mission. We went to Palmeira dos Índios on Tuesday to do a baptismal interview. It went a little longer than expected and we missed the last bus to come back to Arapiraca. So, we spent the night at the Elders’ house in Palmeira, without anything–literally just the clothes on our back. We didn’t have anything to take a shower or anything. Luckily they have extra mattresses out there. Probably the worst night of sleep in my life. Well, we got home the next day, and there was a little note on our door saying that the water company had cut off our water for lack of payment. We called the secretaries and it only took two days to get it all settled. And we’re still waiting for them to reconnect the water. We think they’ll do it today! 😀

So I applied the scripture. I’m a witness. God visits us in our afflictions. We may feel overwhelmed, but God will always succor us in our afflictions if we call out for him. He strengthens us and shapes our backs to bear our burdens.

After the talk, I sat down in the pew and just started to think, and got really sad. I love this ward. I love these people. I don’t want to have to leave them behind. It’s a strange thing. I think this is the only time I’m ever going to feel this way in my entire life. But it’s okay. Everything’s part of the plan of God.

I didn’t take any pictures this week. I forgot how to use my camera. but I’m hoping I’ll be able to at least send a little note next week before coming home!

Love,

Elder Connor Weeks
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Letter 97: Two Weeks Left

I’m not quite sure how this email’s going to go, but we’ll give it a shot.

I’ve got two weeks left. I’ll admit. It’s hard. Waking up every day and thinking, ‘oh, 16 days from now I’ll be at home. I’ll be able to wake up whenever I want. I’ll be able to listen to music. I’ll be able to wear normal clothes. I’ll be able to do this that and the other thing.’ It’s really hard. Then I pound through the day, and the next day I wake up, look at the clock, take today’s date, subtract it from 18, and say, “15 days from now I’ll be able to do all these things.”

This wears on a person. I’m gonna be honest. I’m tired. But that’s the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’re humans. We’re weak. We think, ‘Oh, I think I should talk to that person about the gospel, ahh nah, they look kinda busy.’ But God strengthens us. He puts us in situations where we will be our best. I’m teaching and making more contacts these last few weeks than any other time on my mission. All thanks to my companion.

President Gomes was inspired when he put me with Elder Melo to train for the third time in a row. God knew that I’d get tired, so I needed someone that’d kick my butt to finish off. He’s helping me a lot. I’m very thankful for him and all of the challenges these last transfers. The mission’s not easy. No way. But it’s worth it. The experiences I’ve gained on the mission far outweigh what I could have gotten at home. I will thank my Heavenly Father every day for these two years, which really truly have been ‘The Best Two Years.’

Talk to you all next week!

Elder Connor Weeks
Me and my iguana friend

Me and my iguana friend

The district

The district

Our chapel's broken (it's being remodeled)

Our chapel’s broken (it’s being remodeled)

Letter 96: July is (almost) over!

We’re rounding out the month of July, and rounding out the mission. This week we did a ton of contacts. Like a ton. So this week we’ve got a ton of people to stop by to help out. I’m putting together the T-shirt of the zone right now, so I don’t have much time.

This week, we marked a man called José Cícero for baptism the week after I go home, because he’s not able to go to church this week, and he has to go 2 weeks before getting baptized. The only problem is that he actually lives in another neighborhood that belongs to another ward, so we’re gonna have to pass him over to the Sisters in the other ward.

But other than that, we’re happy, we’re working, and we’re going to get the work done. We’ve got a fireside planned in our ward to help the members to do missionary work, and then next week, we have an activity planned where we’ll hand out Books of Mormon all around the church, so I’m happy! 🙂

Love,

Elder Connor Weeks

Elder Melo put Abby (our family dog) on his next planner

Elder Melo put Abby (our family dog) on his next planner

Elder Lima and me

Elder Lima and me

A Brazilian calzone

A Brazilian calzone

Elder Lima and me with calzones

Elder Lima and me with calzones

A hill in Palmeira dos Índios

A hill in Palmeira dos Índios

Letter 95: Baptism!

This week we baptized! Antonio and Jane were baptized! And recently, Juliana, who Elder França and I baptized is returning to activity! We’re super happy! And super short on time!

Me, Jane, Antonio & Elder Melo

Me, Jane, Antonio & Elder Melo

This week was also the last zone conference of my mission. In the last zone conference of your mission, you bear your testimony about the things you learned on your mission. I became very grateful for everything that I’ve gone through on my mission, and the experience that God had planned for me. I also got kinda sad at the moment, because there’ll never be another zone conference for me. We just have to take advantage of the time that we’ve been given. It’s like that one song, “Live Like We’re Dying” by somebody. It’s been a while. It talks about how we need to take advantage of every moment, because it all ends someday.

But I love you all!

Elder Connor Weeks

The new and improved district!

The new and improved district!

Elder Borget and me

Elder Borget and me

Elder Sorenson & me

Elder Sorenson & me

My mouth is full!

My mouth is full!

Letter 94: Miracles Happen

July 13, 2015

So I’ll tell you a story. You can choose to believe it or not, but here it is.

Last Sunday, we fasted so that we could baptize this month. We have a bunch of people investigating the church that have potential to be baptized this month, so we were expecting to baptize at least one of them this month.

But. Last P-Day (Monday), we were coming back from the Zone Leaders’ house because we ate lunch there, after we sent emails. And we were just walking, messing around, and out of nowhere this man stops us and starts talking to us. This happens a lot, so at the beginning, I wasn’t really too interested.

So this man starts telling a story about how he sells jewelery, and came to Arapiraca with a person promising him that he had a huge deal here in Arapiraca, so he sold everything he owned and moved here. When he got here, there was nothing. The other man had lied. So now he’s here, with nothing to his name. When we found him, he only had R$2.50 (about 80 cents). Not even enough to buy a kilo of rice. Then he starts talking about how he is way behind on payments in an inn, and he was without hope, and about all of his health problems. It was really a sad story.

But last Sunday, he went to church in a different chapel here in Arapiraca. And while he was there, he got really sick. His diabetes and everything struck at the same time and he had a seizure in the classroom. They got him calmed down enough to give him a priesthood blessing. When they gave him the priesthood blessing, he said that he felt 90% perfect, and was able to sit and listen to the rest of the meetings. While he was telling us this, he said that it corresponded to a dream he had had in which he was sick, and two men put their hands on his head and he became cured in that exact moment.

This brings us the huge conclusion of that first story. He said that he knew that our church was true, because of the healing that was done on him. He went on to say that he and his daughter would get baptized in our church. That, my friends, is a miracle.

The church helped him get his supplies to start selling jewelry again, and helped him to get even on the amount owed to the inn, so his financial situation is all better now.

We taught him every day this week, and he accepted every commitment before we even extended them. Elder Melo mentioned in passing that we don’t drink coffee. Antonio, the miracle man, said ‘I drank coffee this morning, but now that I know, I’ll never drink coffee again.’ He talks about how he doesn’t want to just be a member that sits on the bench, but that he wants callings; he wants to act for God here on the earth. His daughter has also expressed interest in being a Sister Missionary. It’s just an awesome case here. He used to be a pastor in the ‘Assembly of God’, a church that they have here. He said that he used to bash the Mormons and tell all sorts of lies about them to the church-goers, and that he even prohibited that his daughter read the Book of Mormon when she was younger. But all that changed.

I can only think of the People of Ammon in the Book of Mormon, how their conversion was so great that they left everything beside. They used to battle against their enemies and delight in bloodshed, but after their conversion, they buried their weapons in the earth and would rather suffer death at the hands of their enemies than take up their arms again, because they knew how it offended God, and they had the faith to keep away from those things. It’s an incredible amount of faith.

He and his daughter, Jane, are going to get baptized this Saturday, so prepare yourselves for a bunch of pictures next week! (Because I forgot to take pictures this week…)

I love you all!

Elder Connor Weeks

Letter 93: The Final Transfer

July 6, 2015

Today was transfers. The final transfer of my mission. And, Elder Melo and I stayed put. So I’m going to finish my mission here in Ala Brasília. The Sisters in Penedo stayed put, and also the Zone Leaders. But as part of this transfer, an area was closed in Palmeira dos Índios, another city here in the interior, and because of that, the district there was closed, but the other companionship that stayed is part of our district now. So, I’m the District Leader over four companionships. Two here in Arapiraca, one in Penedo near the border with the state to the south, and one in Palmeira, near the border with the state to the north. So. I think we’ll be taking a lot of busses this transfer.

You get here to the end of the mission, and in my experience seeing missionaries go home, one of two things happens. 1. You give up, and say ‘oh, it’s the end of the mission, I’m going home in # days, so I’ll just relax and make the transition easy going home. Or, 2. You gain the spirit of urgency, looking at the task ahead of you and seeing that you only have a limited amount of time to complete that task. Last night, laying in my bed, I think the second scenario happened to me.

I really like our teaching group that we have right now. They’re awesome people and I really want to help them. And in my bed falling asleep, it hit me that I only have six more weeks to help them as much as I can. It’s a weird feeling. You look forward to the end of the mission your entire mission. Thinking, ‘oh wow, how will I be at the end? Will I get trunky? Will I work until the end? What’s gonna happen?’ But it’s all good. You come to know yourself on the mission, and more importantly, you come to know the Savior and what he wants you to do. “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.”

So here’s to finishing strong.

Love,

Elder Connor Weeks
Elder Melo and me

Elder Melo and me

Elder Melo, a brother from another ward, and me

Elder Melo, a brother from another ward, and me

The decorations for the São João party

The decorations for the São João party

Munguzá, Corn pudding that I made

Munguzá, Corn pudding that I made

Our Beans

Our Beans

Letter 92: São João

So. Today was a zone P-Day. We went to one of the chapels and played Uno and kicked around a soccer ball (which I’m getting a little better. Serving in Brazil helps with that). And it was really fun, but now it’s time to get back to the old grind.

The people we’re working with are:

Carlos and Vera. They’re a really cool couple. We’ve been working with them forever, and they’ve always been kind of flaky, but recently, they’ve been progressing a lot. Vera never wanted to pray, she always got all shy when we asked her, but we taught a couple lessons to her, and now she prays frequently. We just need to work with her now to know that this is the path she should follow, because Carlos already prayed and knows that everything that we teach is true. Then, once they know that the church is true, we’ll be able to help them get married (they’ve lived together more than six years without being married), and then they can be baptized! They have a 16 year old daughter who recently had a baby. Actually last Sunday she had the baby, a couple hours after church.

John and Alice. We’ve also been working with these guys forever. When Elder França and I went there, they always were never at home, then re-marked for another day, then weren’t at home, then when we got a lesson in, they were kind of unconnected to the lesson, but this week we were able to teach them again. Our goal was for him to pray to receive an answer that he should be baptized, but we went to do the prayer with him, and he said that he’d already received an answer and knew that it was all true and even asked to be baptized. That was an unexpected surprise, but certainly a welcome one. He’s marked for the 18th of July, but he and his wife also need to get married, so we’ll work with them to get that done ASAP.

This week I’ve eaten more corn than I have in my entire life. This time of year is the time of São João, and all people eat is corn. I’ve eaten corn boiled, corn cooked over charcoal, corn paste called canjica, corn pulp called pamonha, and popcorn. We wanted to be part of this mania, so we bought some corn and cooked it at home. It reminded me of those days shucking corn in the backyard, but different, because I’m in Brazil. Attached are some pictures of our corn fest. The shirt I’m wearing is a jersey of the soccer team Flamengo. It’s the best soccer team in Brazil, so I’m kind of a fan now. 🙂

Cornhuskers (shoutout to my Grandma Bates who is from Nebraska!)

Cornhuskers (shoutout to my Grandma Bates who comes from Nebraska!)

Corn

Corn

But other than that, we’re all good. It’s raining every day, and I accidentally gave my umbrella to a young man from the ward yesterday, so hopefully we can get that back today, but other than that we’re doing just great! Happy Fourth of July this week. My companion and I are going to roast hot dogs and sing the national anthem this Saturday.

Love,

Elder Connor Weeks
More Corn

More Corn

Even More Corn!

Even More Corn!

Elder Melo with Corn

Elder Melo with Corn

Our beans

Our beans

Surprise Selfie

Surprise Selfie