Monthly Archives: August 2016

August 20°, 2016

Oi!

Well, this week was a busy one! On Sunday we confirmed Adriano, officially making him a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He seems so excited all the time. I can tell that he’s going to be an awesome member and an example to all those around him!

On Monday night, we decided to try passing by this kid named Kawan’s house. He was given to us as a referral from some other missionaries. We had tried a ton of times to stop by his house previously but we never were able to encounter him at home. Monday we got lucky! He was there with both his parents. We were able to talk to his dad quite a bit and he seems very interested in the Church. We had a lesson with Kawan again last night, and he told us that he’s decided he wants to be baptized! We talked and decided that next Saturday would be the big day!

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This week we had two zone conferences, so the vast majority of our time was taken up in the preparation and execution of said conferences. Tuesday I went with President Broadbent to pick up this huge flag that we ordered with our mission symbol on it. We needed it for the zone conferences so we had to drive out to Egypt to pick it up. It allegedly was going to take us an hour or so to drive there from the office. We ended up missing the exit and it took a little more time than that. When we finally got there we were about 20 minutes past the international airport that sits on the northeastern side of the city way out in the boonies. We were literally driving in between planted fields and cow pastures as we were arriving. On the way back rather than driving through the center of the city at rush hour we took a different route that was twice the distance but took half the time to get back to the office. It took us on the beltway that goes all the way around the massive city. We went from the extreme northeastern side to our mission office on the south end and it was about 83 kilometers. It was a really beautiful drive! Tall trees, large hills, and water reservoirs lined both sides of the highway. It reminded me somewhat of driving through southern Alabama (minus the reservoirs). Quite the experience!

As part of the conferences we had a huge pancake/waffle breakfast for all the missionaries. Elder Chandler and I were in charge of doing most all of the cooking. It was awesome! I don’t know how many pancakes I made but it was at least a few hundred! We borrowed an electric skillet from the São Paulo North Mission President to make the job faster. Sister Broadbent had one, but she had been unable to find another one anywhere else. Last week I went to his house to pick it up, and yesterday we went back to return it. It was interesting meeting a President from another mission. He lives in this super fancy apartment complex in an up-scale neighborhood called Morumbi. That’s also where the Area Presidency lives as well as a couple other people. It took us about 30 minutes to get there by taxi. On the way back, since it was P-Day, we got permission to stop by a really big fancy mall that’s in that same neighborhood. We ate lunch there at Applebee’s (one of three in the city) and got desert at Ben & Jerry’s (also a rare find). We briefly perused the mall while gaping at the outrageously high prices of everything before leaving.

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Because of Brazil’s weak currency and their high tax rate almost everything that would be considered expensive in the United States is about 4-8 times more expensive (comparing Brazilian Reais to the American Dollar) depending on the product. The 16GB iPad Mini, for example, costs around R$4,000 ($1,250 USD). Sometimes we don’t realized how truly blessed we are!

During our conferences this week I thought a lot about discipline. Why is it that it’s so (relatively) easy for us to be disciplined and dedicated in worldly things but not in spiritual things? For example, when we work to make money it’s almost too easy to work really hard to complete our job and receive money as compensation for that effort. But, when we receive a commandment from God, for example “keep the Sabbath Day holy”, it’s so difficult to do that? After all, the compensation for obedience to all the commandments is eternal salvation which is far more “valuable” than a pile of money.

After thinking about this for awhile I have come to a conclusion: we as human beings demand immediate reward for our efforts. If we work 40 hours every week for a month we want our salary deposited in our bank account on the 1st day of the upcoming month. With that money we might make a mortgage or rent payment, pay utility bills, and then spend it on other necessities like food. We might save some of that money every month to buy something new and exciting (a new car, for example) at the end of the year as compensation for having worked hard all year, thus receiving our almost immediate gratification. Unfortunately we aren’t always willing to do the same with the things the Lord requires of us. We’d rather give up our eternal salvation so that we can break a commandment in an effort to gratify our human desires.

The most important thing that we can learn in this life is that we need to give up, completely, our will to that of our Father in Heaven. He, ultimately, has to be more important than we are. We have to put Him in first place. We must understand that what we want doesn’t really matter. What He wants does. That doesn’t mean that we can’t have plans in our lives or that we will never be able to do anything that will make us happy. It really means that we can and should. We just need to understand that if those plans aren’t in accordance with God’s plans that we’re going to have to make the tough decision to leave them aside and do that which the Lord would have us do. I myself would really like to be a successful businessman some day in the near future. But if the Lord decides that I need to do something else that would be more useful to Him then that’s exactly what I have to do, no matter how difficult it would be.

One thing that I am more sure of now than ever before is that none of us will ever be perfect. Sometimes we still are going to allow our own desires to trump the Lord’s. We’re going to mess up and do stupid things. When that happens we must call on Christ to help us. I read a talk this week during my personal study that was about the Atonement. The author, Stephen E. Robinson, was a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University who gave a devotional address in May of 1990. He said, “Brothers and sisters, to have faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to believe the he is who he says he is, to believe in Christ. Sometimes, to have faith in Christ is also to believe Christ… To have faith in his identity is only half the process. To have faith in his ability, in his power to cleanse and to save, that is the other half.”

I bear you my testimony that we are all capable of becoming clean and pure through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There does not exist a limit from which we cannot return. If we first believe in Christ and then believe His teachings we will be led back to His presence. One of my favorite things to do as a missionary is call people to repentance. I think that we as members of the church often look upon the repentance process as a negative thing. We look upon others who we know are repenting of something difficult as lesser beings. “Oh jeez, John is having problems again. He hasn’t taken the sacrament in three weeks.” That is not OUR job. We have to get our own act together before we could ever hope to help someone else to do the same. Our place is not to judge but to love and help. God will take care of the judgement. If we judge others too harshly then the Lord will judge us. “With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged.” (Mat. 7:2)

I bear witness that the Atonement can change lives. It has changed mine, and through me it has changed the lives of many others. The only way by which we can hope to live again with God is through righteousness and obedience to His commandments. If we fall and fell like we cannot get up we must look to him for help and forgiveness. I have felt the healing and cleansing power of Jesus Christ in my own life. I have felt His love as I have left and do continue to leave behind things that held me back from spiritually progressing, and I have set my compass towards that straight and narrow path. Sometimes I still pass by earthly magnets that distort my compass and lead me away back into old habits, but through prayer and study of the scriptures I’m always able to find my way back.

I, as a Representative of Jesus Christ, invite you all to do the same in your own lives. Put the will of the Lord in first place and leave yours in second. Seek that which is good and uplifting and will draw you closer to God. I promise that if you repent of your sins that you will be blessed. Live your life in accordance with the teachings of the prophets and you will one day be welcomed back into God’s presence. Don’t waste your time because it is very short. Judgement could come at any time so don’t take the risk. Change NOW and don’t leave it for tomorrow.

I love you all, and I thank you for your love and support!

Elder Chapman Tew

Changing a tire for a lady at church.

Changing a tire for a lady at church.

 

August 13°, 2016

Hello, World!

So, the Olympics started here in Brazil last Friday, our P-Day. President Broadbent authorized us to watch 15 minutes of the opening ceremonies which was awesome! We skipped through a few different parts so we could see the entrance of the United States and Brazil. Since the Olympics are in Rio de Janeiro we haven’t seen much effect from that here. The only difference has been in the airports as I’ve been sending and receiving missionaries. They’re all super packed out! It was nice to be able to experience just a little bit of the excitement through the TV.

Watching the 2016 Olympics

Watching the 2016 Olympics

Last Sunday we baptized a guy named Adriano. The previous Sunday we went by his house to pick up his younger brother Juan (baptized a few weeks ago) to take him to church. The whole time we had been teaching Juan, Adriano had been having to work a lot and wasn’t at home much so we weren’t able to teach him. That Sunday morning Adriano just happened to be at home! He immediately accepted our invitation to go to church with us. On the way there, we explained a little bit about how it functions and responded to a couple of his questions. Upon entering the church he recognized a friend of his from school and started talking to him. That friend then introduced him to the rest of the youth from the ward. We sent him with them to Sunday School and left to go pick up a couple of other people.

After sacrament meeting (which comes last in our ward) we met up with Adriano again. He had sat with some of the youth so we didn’t have much opportunity to talk to him before or during the meeting. He said that he wanted to stick around to participate in the choir practice that was about to start. He sat up with the choir and practiced for 30 minutes while we watched. It was so amazing. We had just finally been able to catch the dude at home and he was already singing with the church choir!

Long story short, we taught him throughout the week and baptized him on Sunday. This week he’s already started going to seminary without anyone having to try and convince him to go. He loves the ward, the youth, and is really excited to continue going every week! This experience really strengthened my testimony that there really are people that the Lord has prepared for His missionaries to teach. It’s not very often that we find the people that were truly “heaven sent”, but when we do it turns into a huge faith-building opportunity.

Adriano before his baptism

Adriano before his baptism

I had the opportunity this Thursday to meet our new American missionaries that will be arriving in September! I specifically planned my trip to the Federal Police on the day that they would be there too. There are six of them, all coming from different parts of the United States. It appears that they’re going to be a pretty awesome group! I did this last transfer as well. The questions that they all ask are always the same: “where are you from, how long have you been on the mission, and how long did it take you to learn portuguese?” I think that maybe next time I’ll just wear a sign on my chest! Just kidding. But it was fun getting to know them a little.

That same day on the way back I went by the São Paulo North Mission President’s house to pick up a pancake griddle that we’re going to use for our zone conferences next week. We only have one and need the other to speed up the process and they don’t sell them anywhere in Brazil! President Farnes lives in this really fancy apartment complex in Morumbi, which is one of the nicest neighborhoods in São Paulo. As far as I know the Brazil Area President of the Church, his counselors, and the head of the church law department in Brazil also live there. Sister Farnes (the President’s wife) was sick, so she just left the griddle in a bag in the entry way outside the front door of their apartment which is on the top floor of the last building in the complex. I’m looking forward to returning the griddle so that I can meet them and see the view from their house!

Picking up the pancake griddle

Picking up the pancake griddle

On the way back from there, Elder Chandler and I made a little pit stop on the way to the metrô station. The first ever Wendy’s just opened up here in Brazil in another really fancy part of town called Vila Olimpia which is where the metrô station that’s closest to President Farnes’ house is. We had the taxi driver drop us off at Wendy’s so we could see how it sizes up in comparison to the real thing at home. It was alright. The Frosty isn’t nearly as good as it is at home. They have two flavors, vanilla and doce de leite. I don’t know how chocolate got excluded from the menu! The place is set up more like a traditional restaurant than a fast food place. You wait in line to place your order and then take a buzzer to your table. A waiter brings your food when it’s ready. It’s all served on glass plates with stainless steel utensils to use as well. The place is three stories tall and was FULL of employees from the surrounding office buildings.

Trying out the first Wendy's in Sao Paulo

Trying out the first Wendy’s in Brazil

Wendy's, Brazil style

Wendy’s, Brazil style

Today as I was studying I was marking the scripture masteries in the New Testament in a new Bible that I bought a couple of months ago. Before I started studying I prayed and asked the Lord to show me things that I would be able to use with the people that we would be teaching that day. The very last scripture that I marked is in Revelation 20:12. It reads, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” As I read that I could remember memorizing it in seminary class what seems like ages ago. I began to think about its meaning and significance. In this whole book, John is being given revelation (hence the title of the book) pertaining to the last days. In this particular instance, he is seeing the final day of judgement when God will judge all of His children according to their deeds here on the earth. Reading that kind of made me think a little bit. What is it that I want to be written in my Book of Life? What is it that I want God to see there one day as I stand before Him? Will I be proud of what I have done and the changes I have made, or will I be filled with regret for not having done enough? All of us make mistakes. It’s a part of God’s plan for us. It is through our mistakes that we’re able to grow and become better.

Our purpose here on the earth is to learn and change. We must learn the difference between right and wrong, and then choose for ourselves what it is that we want to do. Free agency works in our favor if we use it to make the right choices. When we make wrong choices and sin, we have a way out. We can repent and become better. Christ said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” In all reality the easiest way that we can make it through this life is through following Christ’s teachings. The only way that we can make it back to God’s presence is through Christ who atoned for all our sins. He just asks is to “take (His) yoke upon (us) and learn of (Him)”. Is that too much to ask?

I testify that the repentance process is real and that it is powerful. The feeling that one receives after they have done all that they can do to be deserving of forgiveness is astonishingly powerful. The burden that accompanies our past sins can be lifted and be obliterated. Permanently. Christ’s Atonement has the power to make lasting changes in our lives if only we will allow it to do so. I ask that you look at your life and see what it is that you need to change and change it. Stop focusing on the things that others do wrong and start to focus on what is is that YOU are doing wrong, and what is affecting YOUR eternal salvation. Apply Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s “two word sermon” and simply “STOP IT!” Those worthy of forgiveness are those that take action. The armchair quarterback doesn’t win the game, but the guy who gets out there and busts his tail does. I promise, in the name of Jesus Christ, that if you will take steps toward a better life that the Lord will bless you. Your burdens will be made light and your sins made white as snow. You will be able to stand before your Maker one day and declare “Father, I have done my best.” So do just that–your very BEST.

I leave this with you together with my testimony that I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that Christ lives. He loves us. He wants us to succeed and has done everything He can to ensure that we do so. The Book of Mormon and the Bible together contain the everlasting truths of the Gospel. If we search, ponder, and pray we will find the answers to all our problems. I testify that God has once again restored the fullness of His Gospel here upon the earth, which can be found throughout the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There does not exist any more perfect organization on the face of the earth. It’s full of sinners that need changes wrought in their lives. I know because I’m one of them. We shouldn’t allow those people to distract us from the truth. Doing so would be doing exactly what Satan would have us do. I know that Thomas S. Monson was called as a prophet of God. He was called to help is find our way through the labyrinth of a world in which we live, full of spiritually deathly obstacles that stand in our way at every turn. Don’t allow Satan to get a hold of you. Follow the sure path which has been set out before you. Of these things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Elder Chapman R. Tew

Missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Brazil São Paulo South Mission

August 5°, 2016

Hi All!

Once again the week flew past super fast. The first week of the transfers is always lots of work for us. Never a dull moment! This transfer Elder Viana was reassigned to a new area and left the Mission Office. I now have a new companion, Elder F. Cândido! He’s from Rondônia, a small state on the border of Brazil and Bolivia. He’s an awesome missionary and has only been out for just over three months! We’re getting along great so far!

We had the opportunity last Sunday to take one of our new investigators to church with us. We stopped by Juan’s house on the way to church to pick him up and his older brother Adriano was there. We had taught Adriano one time before but he works a lot and we hadn’t had the opportunity to teach him again. Sunday he just so happened to be home and off work so we invited him to go to church with us and he did! When we got there he almost immediately recognized a friend of his from school and started talking to him. He was really well received by the other young men in the ward and we’re hoping that he’ll continue progressing! He likes to sing so we invited him to stay after church for choir practice. I stayed and sang with him and he really liked it! It’s amazing how the Lord works. We’ve been going by his house all week trying to catch him at home and he hasn’t been there. The other set of Elders in our ward just called me because they had passed him on the street. They passed the phone over to him and I was able to set up to go and see him tonight. Woohoo!

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We’ve got a young man from our ward that is going to the United States to finish up his last year of high school. He’s leaving tonight for Utah where he’ll be staying. I’m only slightly jealous of his opportunity! Just kidding. But I know that he’ll love it. I’ve told him about a couple of places that he’s got to visit while he’s there and about a couple of different restaurants he needs to try out!

We have a Sister in our mission that just finished up her 18 months and is about to head home. Her parents had planned to come and pick her up here. I got an email late Tuesday night from her mom saying that their plane had problems and had to turn around. Instead of arriving at 6:00 AM on the day of the transfers they would be arriving at 10:20 PM. What followed was kind of interesting. Since her parents would be getting in so late, I arranged to have that Sister taken to the airport so that she could meet them there. She made a banner and everything to welcome them. It seemed so backwards…rather than having her family waiting there for her when she got off the plane she was there waiting on her parents as they got off the plane! I thought it was cool!

Something that I thought about a lot this week was progress. If we all stop and ask ourselves where we are in our lives what would we think? If at this very moment we were to stand before God and be judged how would we feel? I’m fairly certain that just about anybody would have a few things they might would reconsider in their lives if that were the case. Our job here on earth is to consistently prepare and grow. At no point, EVER, will any one of us have accomplished all that we have set out before us here on the earth. We must constantly be growing or progressing. If we’re not then we’re regressing which is entirely unacceptable. The world is constantly moving around us whether we like it or not. We are inherently required to move with it. All we can do is decide in which direction we would like to move–forwards or backwards.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ shows us what we should do to progress. If we search for the orientation of the Holy Ghost then it will be given to us. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him as in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:5-6). My invitation for all of you is to search for that which is holding you back and make it so that thing is no longer a part of your life. I promise that your life will be immensely blessed in the very same moment that you decide to leave aside those things.

I know that this Gospel is true. I know that Christ suffered for our sins so that we might be free of them. I know that to become free from them requires an act of faith on our part. I know that if we turn over our weaknesses to Him that He will bless us in ways that we can’t imagine.

I’m out of time! I love you all, and I hope that everything is going well at home!

Com todo meu amor e um grande abraço,
Elder Chapman Tew

July 29°, 2016

Oi!

Well, today is the year mark! It’s difficult for me to believe that all this time has really passed by so quickly. Looking back I can see how my life has been completely changed from the way it was at the beginning to how it is now. The Lord has wrought changes in every aspect of my being. My personality, attitude, thought patterns, and the way that I interact with others. I’ve matured significantly. I’ve learned how to be more patient, kind, and loving. I’m much more grateful for all the blessings that I have in my life after having witnessed so many other people that didn’t have near as many opportunities to succeed as I have. I’ve been heavily influenced by the Brazilian culture. I’ve unconsciously adopted several of their character traits, the principal among those being the vivid, fiery passion that accompanies most all strong feelings. I’ve developed the capacity to rationalize my thoughts when I’m agitated because of something that has happened, therein acting more conscientiously. I believe that these changes were made according to the Lord’s will. I’ve come a long way, and I know that I still have a long way to go before I accomplish all that He has in store for me.

Elder Tew and Elder Viana at church

Elder Tew and Elder Viana at church

This past week has been pretty rough. My companion had a little surgical procedure done to take care of a problem he had on Monday, so he’s had to take it easy all week. The best part is that he hasn’t told his mother, and won’t until after he’s all better again. If that were my mother I would be afraid of the surgery I would have to do to reconstruct my backside after she beat it off…just kidding! I also had to send a Sister home early for some health issues she’s been having for the last few weeks. She was a really hard-working and dedicated Sister, too, which made it worse. But the good news is that she should be coming back if and when she gets it all taken care of.

Elder Metcalf, who is serving as a senior missionary here, got really sick on Sunday. Elder Chandler and I went with him and his wife to the hospital. He was almost totally incapacitated from a migraine. He spent a couple hours in the hospital hooked up to pain meds and fluids to hydrate him and they sent him home. All this week he’s been locked up at home sleeping and feeling bad. We sent him this morning to the Albert Einstein Hospital, which is like the prestigious hospital here in São Paulo, to see if he could get his problem taken care of. We’re still awaiting the test results to see what needs to be done. I’m sure he would appreciate it if we could get some prayers going his way.

A picture Chapman took of his trash can - I think he was excited about how American it looked.

A picture Chapman took of his trash can – I think he was excited about how American it looked.

Well, I’ve gotta run! We have lots of work to get done and I don’t have tons of time today. I hope that everyone is doing well at home. I’m forever grateful for all the love and support that I receive.

Until next time!

Elder Chapman Tew