Christmas package finally arrived. Missionary action figures trying to teach Iron Man....

Steven's New Companion, Elder Lee from Sandy, UT

Starting from left to right: Elder De Souza, Guilherme, Stela, Évelen, Celina, José, Steven

Cambe January 31, 2011

Thank you so much for your letter! It was so great to hear how you are and also a little about my friends. I´m glad that they are all doing so super well. This letter will be short because the computer froze up really bad and now I´m running out of time to type a lot!

First, all your packages got here this week. Thank you so much they are SUPER! I hope mine gets to you guys eventually.

So to answer your questions: Elder Lee is an American from Sandy, UT. He was Elder De Souza´s old comp and now he took Elder De Souza’s place and LZ here. He thinks he is just following him! Elder De Souza is a Zone leader now. He has 6 in his family and he is really nice and we get along super good. It’s good to be able to understand each other again! Our Zone is pretty big. It covers what is Stake Tiradentes. Maybe you look that up on the church website. It takes in a lot of Londrina. Yes we have 4 sisters in our zone. There are actually like 120 missionaries in our entire mission. Everybody here definitely loves futeball and they play it all the time and everywhere.

So this week has been interesting. We have been working a lot with the ward and they have called a new Mission Leader which is cool. I really like the guy. Last Monday night we taught a girl (18 years old) named Stela and she accepted to be baptized and received an answer about the Book of Mormon and is way cool, only that her parents are kind of anti and she doesn’t want to betray their trust. We will teach her parents this week. Please pray for us and them so that they can let her be baptized. Cícero is having some problems too. He stopped smoking completely which is awesome, but he told us that he thinks he was healed by a TV pastor and wants to get baptized in that church instead. We are working with him and I have confidence he will be baptized, but it might be a little while. Lots of our other people are just not progressing and we need to move on and find new people.

Elder Lee and I set lots of new goals this week to find people. Our president also has asked us to receive 70 references per week which is very difficult, but we are going to do it. We are also going to try to teach 35 lessons this week and use the members a lot. This is going to be a super hard goal, but with faith, prayers and help from the Lord it is possible. Mostly I just want to baptize! It’s been a while now since we baptized anybody. I am determined to redouble my efforts and hope that is enough. I know that this church is so true. I know God lives and Jesus is the Christ. I hope that I am out here making a difference and helping people know this truth as well. We have a living prophet and the true priesthood and all the blessings God can give us as long as we are obedient. I am learning that the work of the Lord takes all that you can give. I want to be a great missionary and serve the Lord with all of my heart. Mom, I love you so much. We have been blessed with so much and the least we can do is give. I will be praying for you every night. Please give Sharon a hug for me. I miss her and you. Please pray for us that this week we can reach our goals and people here can be baptized. I love you so much!
-Elder Markham

More FHE. (Whose that tall White Guy?)

A couple of pictures at Family Home Evening.

Close Up of the Mural

Murals on the wall depict an earlier time and culture.

My guess is that this is Elder Cavalheiro, the Elder that is leaving to go home.

The whole group (Steven didn't say but it looks like their whole zone.)

The Elders (Elder Markham in the back)

The Sisters

Vento Sul Churrascaria (a Brazilian restaurant like Tuscanos)


Starting from left to right: Sis. Sorenson Sis. Felipe Sis. Pontual, Sis. Horne, Elder Cavalheiro, Elder Yuma, Me, Elder Pinheiro, Elder Oliveira, Elder De Souza

I don't get it. Did the invitations forget to say wear P-day clothes?

More P-day with the President pictures courtesy of Elder Cavalheiro

Cambe January 24, 2011

Bom dia! Thank you again for your great letter! It’s always nice to hear what is going on back at home! Sounds like you´ve been keeping busy and keeping a good attitude despite everything that happens. That’s cool that the weather is warming up a little bit. I´ll be glad when things here cools down a little bit! Book club sounds really fun. I miss reading. Of course we read a lot of scriptures and stuff, but I miss just reading for fun! Tell Sharon that I am SUPER proud of her for singing at the basketball game. We Markham´s are basically just the best. That is so great that Abby and Dallin are doing well with little Mitchell. He is a cute little baby for sure! I am thinking and praying for the entire family often!

So, to answer your questions real quick, my eyes are doing just fine. I´ve not had a single problem since I arrived. My feet on the other hand are really really annoying. I won’t bother you with details just that my orthotics are not working. Hmm. Oh well. Onward Christian soldiers.

So, news from this week! Cícero hasn´t smoked for more than a week now! This is super exciting. We are working with him for a baptismal date, but he doesn’t feel prepared quite yet. I know with prayers and the spirit he will baptize soon. Unfortunately, Jacqueline’s mom won´t let her be baptized right now, but we are trying to visit her mom and work things out. Clauder is doing well, but it is hard to find him em casa. We are also working with a new girl who was a member reference and she already has a testimony of the Book of Mormon. This is super good!

This last week we had zone conference and learned about courage and how to work with members to bring people to church. I´ve realized that missionary work is really difficult. It is not easy for people to change their lives, especially really fast. Jefferey R Holland said that perhaps the reason that conversion is so hard is because it is not a cheap experience. If it was not easy for Christ why should it be easy for us? The promise was not that things would be easy, but that they would be worth it.

We had a pretty interesting experience this week: walking home from a lesson about 9:00 we were suddenly stopped by a drunken guy who apparently used to be a member of the church. It was just a normal thing, but he thought that he was Melchizedek which was interesting. Then all of a sudden he got super mad at Elder De Souza for now reason and started yelling stuff at us and following us. The funny part is that he kept on saying that I was innocent because I don’t speak Portuguese and Americans don’t know anything. (I just agreed with him!) Anyhow, we ended up distracting him and running away. I thought it was pretty funny. Sometimes it is an advantage to be able to pretend you don’t speak the language!

Anyhow, things are going well. We are working still to find a bunch of new investigators and as of right now I don’t really have too much news. This week is transfers and so we will see if I stay or if I go! Either way I will be excited to continue the work of the lord! OpA! I am sitting next to the zone leaders and they just told me I will be staying in Cambé with my new companion Elder Lee! Wahoo! So, now I know! I´ll let you know how things work out in my next letter! Sorry I´m not sending pictures, this computer is not letting me attach things. Next week I will send some! It’s been raining a ton here this week which is nice.

Mom, thank you for all of your love and support. I know that this gospel is true! I know that the priesthood is real and has the authority to act in the name of God. I know that this church is true as well as the Book of Mormon. I love you all so much and please keep me informed about your lives! (Oh send a picture of the TV too. I´m curious.... :) )

Love you
-Elder Markham

Cambe January 17, 2011

Olá minha amada mai!

It actually sounds like you´ve had some great news this week! That is sooo cool that they are selling Guaraná again! I think I might die if I had to return without it... And congratulations to Sharon on her super score on the test. Outback steakhouse is awesome too. Today we are going to a churrascaria which is basically like Tucanos to celebrate a missionary who is leaving in a week. That should be sweet. Good luck with the taxes too! I´m glad I don’t have to worry about that right now! haha!

Anyhow, to answer a few more questions: Yes, we heard all about the huge mudslides in Rio. It’s been raining a ton and it’s no wonder they are having huge problems. It is really a sad situation and we are praying for the people there. No one here that I´ve talked to lately has directly lost family or friends there, but our Bishop is a firefighter and he says it’s possible that he will be assigned to help out there. Guilherme, Karine, Antonio and Rhuan are doing great! Guilherme is helping us teach some of his friends which are great. Antonio received the priesthood yesterday and his family is being blessed with work again! Karine is happy as ever and Rhuan too. His story is really a miracle because his family was drowning in money problems and his Mom had a slipped disc in the back and couldn´t find a doctor to help her, but within a week on the baptism of Rhuan, she had a surgery and is doing super and they were able to move into the house of his dad´s brother and really save a lot of money and no they are much happier. Don’t let anybody tell you the Lord´s blessing aren´t real!

Jacqueline looks like she probably can be baptized within 2 weeks which is super. Cícero is having a really hard time quitting smoking, but he has been to church two weeks in a row now and he reads Gospel Principles every day. With a little more motivation and miracles he will baptize too! The family who is a friend of a member has names. They are Clauder and Dania. Clauder is really cool. He loves rock music like me and he keeps inviting us back to explain things to him. He says he feels like his mind is being cleared and refreshed every time he prays. He hasn´t been to church yet because of work, but he really wants to go and he has a break this week! Yeah! We found a new family this week with a son named Luiz Carlos who is way smart and is probably the first investigator who actually understands what apostasy means. In our first lesson with him he started asking: “but where are the prophets and apostles today? If God called them in the bible he has to call them now right?” It was super cool. His Mom is really nice too. She isn´t so interested but she gives us guaraná every time we go over and tried to give us her umbrella even before she knew who we were!

I also got a hold of a bunch of piano music in PDF which is sweet! I even have some Jon Schmidt. I´m pretty excited.

Funny story: This week our rain gutter clogged up really bad, so we went to the park and got a huge stick of bamboo to try and clear it up. As we walked back we stopped to get a milkshake (porque é mais quente do que inferno aqui!) and this punk teenager started playing with our stick of bamboo. Naturally, this simply couldn´t fly! I had to chase him down and get our stick back and he had the most confused/scared face to be chased by an American giant trying to get a huge bamboo stick. I doesn´t sound that funny in writing, but in the moment it was absolutely hilarious. Elder De Souza was dying laughing.

Anyhow, as coisas estão otimas aqui. Estamos trabalhando bem para concluir a transferência e estamos sendo muito abençoado pelo Senhor. I know that this is the work of the Lord. We definitely live in hard and trying times here in the last days, but Jesus taught his disciples that the signs of His coming would be given to alert the righteous and bring hope and joy, not fear and sadness. I know the work of God will press forward until the perfect day and I feel really blessed to be considered worthy to help. I know that God lives and Jesus is the Christ. I know that this Church is true and that the gospel has the power to save us all. I love this work and I am so thankful for such a great family to help me out! Sorry I didn’t send any photos, but I don’t have any new ones! Love you Mom and Sharon!
até mais!
-Elder Markham

Painball Course

Is that really Elder Markham? Yes, and had a great time. Now I am ready to missionary work.

Paintball

Our Zone

Elder DeSouza

Comps forever

What's a few hits in the head. Tudo bem! Tudo bem!

Cambe January 10, 2011

Hi Momma! Here, have some sunshine! I wish that I could send some your way and maybe pick up some snow in return. It is wicked hot, especially during the afternoon. Oh well, on with the work! Thank you for your letter and love! I´m sorry that January is so dark and gloomy. I remember how the weather gets. I think you are exactly right though, we have winter so that we can appreciate the spring. We have sorrow so that we can appreciate happiness. We have rice and beans every day for lunch so we can appreciate ice cream. I am so proud that you are such a great Mom and that you are always so strong even when the sun isn´t shining and things are really hard; Thank you so much for all your advice and wisdom that you send me. Every week I am so happy to hear from you.

This week was pretty much great! We spent a lot of time searching out inactive families on the ward list and it has given some really great things. We are teaching a new family who went inactive after some family problems but now they want to return and they have a 12 year old son who is not baptized yet.

We are also teaching a family who the dad is a member, but he just got out of prison and wants to help his new family live right. The wife isn´t baptized yet, but they really love receiving the lessons.

Cícero, who we´ve been working with lately came to church with us this week and said he liked it and wanted to come back. He is also trying really hard to stop smoking and he could definitely be baptized soon! He is such a great and humble man.

We are still working with the family who is a friend of a member. They love the lessons, but it is difficult to find them because they work a lot. Also, the member who comes with us talks A TON. It’s great that he has good friendship, but our lesson the Book of Mormon which we said would last only 10 min was well, longer. We talked for 10 minutes and then the member talked for 1 hr 10 min. There was just no stopping him! I was a bit annoyed at the time, but now I just think it’s funny. Everything turned out alright.

Jacqueline is doing great and loving the church, but we found out that her mother who does not live with her is very against the church. Her Dad loves it though and we are trying to find out who has custody to see if we can baptize her. Pray for her for sure! Our prospects are great right now and the Lord is truly blessing us.

To answer your questions real quick: I play in church sometimes but usually not because we have several youth who play and really like to play in church. We walk to church; it’s only like 10 min away, so no problem. The activity with Jeff is cool, but wouldn´t work here. Maybe we can think of something similar. So, the awesomeness of today is that since our zone baptized the most out of the whole mission last month we got to have P-day com Presidente! It was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool. As you will see from the pictures I took, yeah, we totally played paintball. HA! It was awesome demais. Us 20 missionaries went to this course and really had a great time. The game was capture the flag and we played 5 on 5. Due to previous experience, I pretty much dominated :) The other really good person who did great Sister Felipe! She is from Rio de Janeiro, so we all figure she has lots of practice too. (Teasing of course!) President played too and we shot him up pretty good. All in all a really awesome day. The only problem is took 3 shots to the back of my head and I´ve got some sweet goose eggs, but hey! like the Portuguese version of come come ye saints says: Tudo bem! Tudo bem! We also had barbeque and played soccer which was cool.

Anyhow, things are going just great! I love you momma so very very very much. The mission is definitely very difficult, but it is worth it. The joy you feel when you bring a soul to Christ or even teach someone to pray for the first time is 100 times better than even unloading paintballs on your Zone Leaders. I said that kind of jokingly, but the joy in this work is really so great. I know this church is true and has Christ at its head. I know God lives and loves us. I know that the spirit is helping our family so much every day, even when it doesn´t seem like it. Mom, keep smiling even through the winter. The sun will come again and one day we will all arrive in the celestial kingdom as a family. Keep up the good work. I love you so much! Merry 10 of January!
-Elder Markham

New Years Eve

Some Large Dogs

I Spy The True Church

Happy New Year Cambe January 3, 2011

Happy New Year! 2011 is officially here and that is really weird. A New Year is an exciting time to start afresh and learn more and set goals, but it struck me the other day that it shouldn’t be the ONLY time that we do that stuff. In testimony meeting everyone talked about goals and plans and things that they want to better for the coming year and I thought to myself: Because of Christ we have the chance to do that every single day of our lives. Because Christ died for us and suffered our sins, we can repent and change and make plans that will really happen every single day that we live. Each Sunday we can go to church and partake of the sacrament and we literally become a new person. The old sinful self is gone and we are reborn in Christ. I´ve been thinking a lot about my mission and how I´ve been lately and I´ve decided that I want to be even better. The mission has been great, but I feel I can do more and I feel like my gift to the Lord this year needs to be to just let go of my old self and give everything I´ve got to this mission. In Mathew Jesus taught that he that loses his life for the gospel will find life eternal. I want to apply this promise and help others to realize they can do the same.

This week we had some great experiences. We are teaching a family who is a friend of a member and they appear really golden. They understood the message really well and truly have a desire to find out if it is true. Today we will go back and find out more about what they think and feel. We also focused a lot this week on fewer actives here in the ward and as a result, we discovered 3 new families which are part-member and will be an excellent place to work and try to complete some families. We a teaching a young girl named Jacqueline and she is so excited about the gospel! She received a new church manual in Sunday school for the start of the year and she was absolutely ecstatic to start reading it! She kept asking us to mark parts for her to read. She´ll be baptized for sure! The biggest thing we need to improve this week is finding new people to teach. We slacked a little bit on contacts, but this week is a great time to renew our excitement!

We passed New Years Eve at the house of a member until the normal hour of 9:00. It was a bit difficult to teach over New Years because everyone was having a party, but we managed! They had tons of fireworks here and since we live in the town square they were let off right next to our house! It was REALLY REALLY loud! So much for sleeping haha! It was a fun time though and it will be good to have this New Year.

Thank you for the pictures and the news! Sorry about the ice and the arthritis and stuff. That sounds rough. I wish I could be there to help you keep the snow clear and put away the decorations, but this is where I´m supposed to be for sure :) I´ll be thinking of you and wishing I could shovel some snow to escape the heat! I´m getting pretty tan now! It’s great that Sharon’s operation for wisdom teeth went well too! It stinks to have them out, but tell her that it gets better pretty quick. New years and Christmas looked fun at the family´s house! Please send more pictures, they are great! Super cool that Ryan is excited as well. It’s such a blessing that I have so many great friends who want to do the will of the Lord. Thank you for Zack´s letter as well. Somehow he managed to sum up quite a bit of what I´ve been feeling lately. There is so much that I feel like I should know already and I get really frustrated with myself sometimes, but I guess I just can´t let that happen. I will work on being humble enough for the Lord to teach me what I need to know. I think that missions are specially adapted for every single person who goes out. Nobody will have an easy mission because everyone has different weaknesses they need to overcome. It definitely has not come easy for me thus far in Brazil, but faith in the Lord can carry us through whatever challenge. Mom, keep up the great work. You are such an example to me. I am praying for you every single night and I know that you have angels with you helping you through the trials. Things may not be easy, but God never said it would be easy, He only said it will be worth it. Never stop believing and never be afraid to ask for help. I know Jesus Christ is your savior and my savior. I know God´s plan is real and we can do miracles in His name. I know this church is true and I love learning about it. I love you so much! Thank you for the prayers and support and say hi to everybody for me!
-Elder Markham