Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 28°, 2016

Hello all!

It’s been another interesting week here in the southern hemisphere. Starting with last week’s P-Day. It was the first day since I’ve arrived here in Brazil that I didn’t put on a white shirt and tie at all. We had been around our house and the office (where it was just us) all day, so we hadn’t put on our normal dress clothes. President called us in a little early at the end of P-Day to talk with him about some ideas he had, and we still hadn’t changed our clothes. He ended up keeping two of the four of us with him in the office working on some things while the other two went to our appointments we had marked. By the time we got done it was time to go to bed. It felt really strange!

image

This week I’ve also been getting ready the paperwork for a group of missionaries to renew their visas, which includes me! Tomorrow I’ll have been on my mission 10 months! Seems crazy that it’s already time for me to renew. We’re going to be going Friday of this week to get everything taken care of. So unreal!

The rest of the week we had Zone Conferences. We’ve got a total of 7 zones now because President combined a couple of them. We spent three days in between the office and the churches where we had the conferences. We left around lunch each day and arrived back between 11:30 and 12:30 each night, so we were pretty wiped out all week! We got to get a little bit of much-needed sleep today, for which I’m immensely grateful.

One of the cool things about going to those Zone Conferences is getting to hear the talks and training all three times. The basic message was always the same, but the way it was given changed just a little every time. I learned something new each day.

One of my favorite things that was discussed during the conferences is the scripture John 15:16. It reads, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask f the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” As missionaries, we’ve been called and ordained to go forth and bear fruit. The “fruit” of our work is the lives of the people that we touch as part of our missionary service. That scripture, together with some of the others that they shared, gave me more desire to “bring forth fruit”.

Serving a mission isn’t all the glitz and glamour that it appears to be looking from the outside in. On the outside we look like a bunch of well-dressed young people walking the streets and talking to everyone in sight. But in reality, it’s hard labor that requires all of your focus and dedication. But, that’s what we signed up for. This mission has absolutely been the most fruitful experience so far in my life. I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time that’s it’s hard to believe – things about God, things about Christ and their teachings, as well as things about myself, how to push harder even when I don’t want to, what I want from my life, and so forth. I know that I’m going to need every second of the allotted time to learn and grow into the person that Heavenly Father needs me to be.

I love you all! Until next week!
Elder Chapman Tew

May 20°, 2016

Hey there!

One more week come and gone! It’s amazing how things pass by so quickly. Next week I’ll have been on my mission for 10 months…I can’t believe it!

I had to take a Brazilian to the airport this week. He served in our mission while he was waiting on his visa to be able to serve in the United States. On the way back from the check-in, I passed by the area where I exited the terminal on my way to the MTC. It seems like it was just yesterday, but at the same time that it was a million years ago!

One of the coolest things that happened this week was that I was able to take a little trip to the United States. By that I mean the US Consulate in São Paulo. I did play a mean trick on my mom and tell her that I was going to be going to the United States and coming right back, playing along like I was going to the actual country to get some documents. She believed it for a minute! Anyway, I had to go there with Elder Chandler to get something notarized. I was only a little bit surprised when we found out that one stamp and one seal would together cost 50 US Dollars – not 50 Reais, but 50 DOLLARS. So that was exciting. I was just glad I wasn’t the one that had to pay!

This week was a little bit more chill than the past couple of weeks. Transfers are over with, so it’s back to “normal” work now. I’m preparing to take a group of 10 foreigners to the Federal Police to renew their visas, and I’m one of them! Again, hard to believe that it’s already time for me to be renewing my visa.

Last week we went to visit a less active member that had recently had a daughter that passed away. On that visit, we noticed that there were several non-members also living at the house so we marked an appointment to come back and visit them this week. So we went and saw them a few days ago. The lady has two grandchildren, Tawani and Witalo, that showed some interest in what we said during our message which was about baptism. Tawani said, “I already told my mom that I want to be baptized!” Elder Viana and I looked at each other and just smiled, and then we responded that that was a wonderful thing! So hopefully we’ll be baptizing the two of them this coming week!

We’ve also been teaching this old man. His name is Zé. We saw him on the street a few weeks back and he told us that he had talked to the missionaries before. We asked if he’d like to talk with us again, and he said yes! So, we’ve been going there a couple of times a week to check on him. It’s kind of hard to describe exactly what he’s like. He lives alone in a little house that’s beneath his uncle’s. He’s a heavy smoker. The other day we asked him how he was doing on slowing down on the death sticks and he said, “I’m doing good! I’m only smoking about 20 a day now.” “So, Zé, how many were you smoking before?” “About 40!” Wow! Anyway, this week he’s down to about 15 a day! So we’re making progress.

I thought a lot this week about Christ’s sacrifice for us. As human beings we all have faults and things in our lives that shouldn’t be. Regardless of how hard we try we will never be able to reach perfection. That’s why we have Christ. After we’ve done all that we can do, Christ is the one who steps in to make up the difference. “He paid a debt that he did not owe because we had a debt that we could not pay.”

One thing that I think we all need to realize as we look at other peoples’ faults is that we too have our faults. Like President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “don’t judge me because I sin differently than you do.” We’re all children of God. We are all entitled to the same Celestial Exaltation if we do our part to make it there. We can ALL be forgiven of our sins regardless of what they may be. There doesn’t exist big sins and little sins just like there doesn’t exist “little white lies”. A lie is a lie. A sin is a sin. We all have difficulties with different things because that thing that we have difficulties with is what WE need so that we can become better. Different people need different things. But one thing that we all need and deserve is love and respect from those around us.

I recently was having some difficulty with a select few of the other missionaries around me. Almost every little thing that these Elders did set me on edge. I allowed our little differences get under my skin and rub me raw. I sent an email to my dad about it asking for help because I didn’t know what to do to get over my problem. He said, “one thing that you need to remember is that just like you would give your love to someone you’re teaching you have to give that same love to these Elders even though they’re not your favorite people. They, too, are just as entitled to it as anyone else would be.” That really helped me a lot. I had to realize that I, too, am imperfect. But regardless of my imperfections my Heavenly Father loves me just as much as he does the next guy. If He can look past my faults and love me the very least I could do is the same for others around me.

I love you all! I hope that everyone is happy and healthy! Thank you, again, for all that you do to love and support me. This mission thing is a lot harder than they said it would be. But, I know that in the end it’s all totally worth it.

Até mais,
Elder Chapman Tew

May 14°, 2016

Happy Saturday!

So, this week we switched our P-Day to Saturday instead of Friday because I had to take some missionaries to the Federal Police Department yesterday. Hence, my letter is coming Saturday instead of Friday.

These past two weeks have been full of lots of excitement. We’ve had what seems like tons of meetings, training, and tasks to complete. We got 17 new missionaries as well, so that was awesome! The last three days I’ve lost about 10-12 hours of sleep from having to stay up late and get up early because of the work I’ve had to do, so today I was allowed to sleep in later. #praise

image

Something that I’ve heard our Mission President say a lot lately is that, “something that is in the minds of a lot of missionaries is that when they finish their missions they’ll go home and their lives will be just like they were before. But that’s wrong. Their lives will NEVER be the same afterwards.” That has got me thinking a little bit. These missions are a time where we dedicate all we’ve got to the Work of the Lord, leaving behind our own desires and liberties to do as we please in sacrifice to something that’s much greater in value. It’s an opportunity that we have to change ourselves into the men and women that Heavenly Father need us to be. I can tell that I’ve come a long way since I’ve been here and I know that I have a lot I still need to work on, so I’m grateful that I have plenty of time left to work on the rest.

I’ve also learned that perfectionism is an attitude that is bound to be met by disappointment. I have yet to meet a perfect person, and I know that the first time I do meet one will be when I’m standing in front of Christ. I think that a lot of times in my life I’ve looked at myself as a pessimal being because I focused so hardly on all my faults. But the interesting thing is that Christ didn’t teach us that we have to be perfect. He said that we had to have faith in him, repent completely of our sins, be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and persevere until the end. He knows that we’re going to mess up along the way, so he allows us to sincerely repent as many times as we need to until we’re able to keep it together.

Ultimately what saves us all is Christ. In our premortal existence God made a plan so that we could all become just like him. This involved gaining a physical body of flesh and bones, being tried and tested, and then finally being judged for our works. Because of the Atonement of Christ, we will all be saved. Without a doubt, everyone that has ever lived will live forever in a degree of glory with their immortal bodies. In that sense we will all be “saved”. But if we want to truly reach exaltation we have to do our part. If we really want to live in God’s presence some day with our families we have to be better than the natural man.

image

Doctrine and Covenants 88 says, “Therefore, it must needs be sanctified from all unrighteousness, that it may be prepared for the celestial glory.” We cannot hope to practice wicked and worldly things and then hope to be raised up to God’s presence at the last day. That’s like always driving 80 mph in a 40 mph zone and getting repeatedly caught by the police. The first couple of times he’ll give you a severe reprimanding (and fine) and then you can go off on your way. But if you keep doing it then eventually you’ll lose your license. With God, he’ll always accept our plea if it’s what’s really in our heart. But the further and further we dig our hole the harder it’ll be to get back out of it.

What Christ requires from us is a change of heart. He wants to be there to help us, but we have to put forth some effort on our part. We have to accept that He knows more than we do, and realize that obedience to His commandments is what will really bring us happiness. Then we have take action to that effect.

The things of this world have a definite end. At the maximum we’re talking 90-100 years. After that, we have the rest of ETERNITY that we could or could not live with God. So, which of these two holds the better bargain? Certainly God doesn’t want us to be absolutely miserable in this life, but at the same time there is some forbidden fruit that we simply shouldn’t partake of because it draws us away from God.

This mission is turning out to be something wonderful. This crap is really hard, not gonna lie. Today I went to a museum and a neighboring park in another part of the city. All around me were families and people enjoying their nice Saturday afternoons relaxing and doing what they pleased. For a minute I longed to be there with them doing whatever I wanted to, free from the oppressive weight of a missionary call on my shoulders. But when I stopped to think I realized how ridiculous that is. I’ve been called as a servant of the Lord for two years. I was called by His living Prophet who received direct inspiration from Him as to exactly where I should be and what I should be doing. I’m sacrificing this short amount of time for a purpose that is much higher than any other. I know that what I’m doing is right, and I’m grateful for the opportunity that I have to do it.

I love you all, and I’m so thankful for the support that you give me.

Peace,
Elder Chapman Tew

Just Teaching Families

Hey there!

It’s been another marvelous week (or two) in Brazil! Last week we were able to go to the Temple on the other side of São Paulo. It was an awesome experience! I got to see a couple of the people from my MTC District from the Interlagos mission that were there as well. I always enjoy our trips there!

Elder Tew with Elder Nascimento outside the São Paulo temple. Elder Nascimento just happens to be Elder Smartt's former companion. If only...

Elder Tew with Elder Nascimento outside the São Paulo temple. Elder Nascimento just happens to be Elder Smartt’s former companion. If only…

Last week passed by in a blur. We had a lot of work to do in and outside the office. We had a lot of lessons with a lot of new investigators, so that was awesome! We’re working with about three different families at the moment so we’re excited to see where that goes. I’ve been wanting to baptize a family for a long time so I’m finally approaching my goal!

Two of the other office Elders completed their year mark on their missions last Friday, so we decided to go to Outback again. It’s one of the few places in the city where you get free refills on drinks. Generally you have to pay per can or bottle for whatever it is you’re drinking. Unfortunately I think that each one of us drank roughly between 1.5 and 2 liters alone… Whoops! Also, I always thought that it was a pretty expensive place to eat in the United States. Here, the prices are about the same as they are if you pay with American dollars (which in this case I did), but because of the conversion to Reais it’s 4 times as expensive in the Brazilian currency. They also look at you like you’re nuts if you leave them a 20% tip here. I guess that’s something way different about the culture!

Elder Viana and Elder Tew taking a break on the street.

Elder Viana and Elder Tew taking a break on the street.

This week was fairly normal. I set up a day for all the missionaries in the mission to come in to a central chapel to get their vaccinations for this flu season (which we’re entering into right now at the start of winter). It was amazing to see how wimpy some of them were! But we got it all over with so that’s some weight off my shoulders.

Sorry this week’s letter is short, but I’m running a little bit slim on time. I honestly love what I’m here doing. It’s such a difficult thing to do but I know that in the end it’ll be worth it. Every time I bear my testimony to someone, I can feel the power of the Spirit flowing through my words. That feeling alone is enough to keep me going.

We have a mission song that says:
“Com chuva ou sol em qualquer dia vamos perseverar, e nada impede nosso esforço e com honra terminar! Pois viveremos pra sempre na eterna celestial mansão, e com as almas que ajudamos em nossa missão!” Or, in Gringo (roughly translated):
“In rain or shine on any day we will persevere, and nothing can impede our efforts to finish with honor. But we will live forever in the Eternal Celestial Mansion with the souls that we helped on our mission.”

One day I know that I’ll stand in front of my Savior and an account will be made of all the things that I’ve done in my life. In that moment it will be determined whether or not I had really done my best, and whether or not I’ll be permitted to live with Heavenly Father and my family for the rest of eternity. My goal is to be able to stand in front of Him and declare that I really did ALL that I could do, and ask for him to apply His Grace to help me with the rest. I’m not perfect and I know that I’ll never be able to reach that status. But I’m trying, slowly, to allow the Lord to change me into who He needs me to be. I’ve got a long ways to go so I better get to work!

I love you all and I can’t describe how thankful I am for all your love and support. I pray that we may all allow the Lord to enter into each of our lives and help us fix what we need to fix so that we can take care of our part of the bargain and return to live with Him.

Until we meet again,
EC2