This Family is Going to be Sealed in the Temple Soon

Suuuper Good Lunch and a Great Family

Milagres In Foz

Happy Birthday Grandma Junece!

Foz do Igua

Big Money

Londrina June 27, 2011

Olá Momma Bom dia!

Thank you very much for the letter! I appreciate very much the advice and everything. I am glad you sent me the advice as well about quick baptizing. I helped me think a little bit more about the work. Elder Stinocher was very much the same way and I think we had some good solid baptisms in Bauru. You are right; being assistente has made me a bundle of nerves. For sure it is not any justification, but as an assistant you basically have to have quick baptisms.

We had tons of miracles and baptisms this week in Foz do Iguaçu. I have a hard time with the purpose of these divisions but let me explain what President says. These zones are where the missionaries are having lots and lots of trouble. We had missionaries in the zone Foz that have almost 2 years on the mission and haven´t baptized anybody in more than 4 months. The zone as a whole was baptizing/teaching and finding less than a district in other zones. Like I said in the other letter the AP’s are kind of President’s SWAT team. President sent us there and said “these missionaries need the experience of baptism. Come back when you baptize there.” It seems like craziness and I hope and pray so much that these people don’t go inactive. The people still have to complete the rules for baptisms and fulfill all of the commandments and so we generally search the area book for old investigators who already had all of the lessons or incomplete families that have children that weren´t baptized. That way hopefully they have a support group afterwards. I like way more to work with the members and have activities and work with people, but as an assistant we only stay in an area a matter of days. I hardly know my own area in Londrina! So that’s what happens. I don´t love quick baptisms either, but it can affect and change a zone.

Continuing what happened in Foz. The missionaries there when we arrived were all super discouraged and tired, not having baptized in a long time. At the first of the week we had a Zone Meeting and Elder Ayres and I gave trainings about faith and action and challenged everyone to baptize this week. We took off and found 3 people to baptize the weekend. The others seeing our example got really excited and challenged people to baptize, taught way more lessons, worked harder and the Lord blessed the Zone with more than double the baptisms that had been marked for the week. I saw miracles like bringing 13 people to church after 2 months of zeros, investigators having changes of hearts and deciding to be baptized for themselves. We found a woman walking in the street 10 minutes before church on Sunday and she went with us along with her two kids. She felt the Spirit so strong in the meeting that afterwards she asked US to be baptized next week. I don’t believe these things would be possible without the Spirit and the help of the Lord. So I don’t know how I feel; stressed certainly. I don’t want to become a missionary robot that only cares about numbers, but it is almost my job description right now. What is your advice about this? I pray every night to be an instrument in the Lord´s hands and then try to do what President tells me. I will include here the account that the missionary in Foz sent to President after our division.

"Na sexta-feira tínhamos uma entrevista batismal com a Ana só que ela não passou na entrevista. Então saímos da capela e vimos no nosso planejamento os nomes de algumas pessoas que já tinham ido à igreja, então fomos a uma família menos ativo uma mãe com cinco filhos, chagando na casa dela saiu a filho dela chamado Alexandre de 17 anos e estávamos em quatro missionários Elder Ayres, Elder Thiago, Elder Muniz e Elder Guimarães, quando entramos na casa do Alexandre chamamos toda a família ai Elder Ayres falou “temos o presente de ano que irá mudar a família de vocês!” e eles se perguntaram – que presente? – e Elder Ayres disse: “o Senhor escolheu o Alexandre para ser batizado!” Então perguntamos se ele tinha problemas com a Palavra de Sabedoria e Lei da Castidade e ele não tinha problema com nada, então marcamos o batismo dele para o domingo e a mãe dele ficou muito animada e ele também com o batismo. E em seguida deixamos a mensagem e ele foi batizado no domingo, e naquele mesmo dia ele orou e sentiu que teria que ser batizado. Antes disso estávamos orando para o Senhor nos mostrar alguém que estava preparado para ser batizado guardando todos os mandamentos e o Senhor nos mostrou o Alexandre e com isso a família ficou animada e foram no domingo a igreja.
A divisão com os assistentes me ajudou a confiar mais no Senhor e que milagres vão acontecer se trabalhamos com afinco e diligentemente como o Senhor espera que façamos. Por que depois que acabou a entrevista da Ana eu não fiquei desanimado por que eu sabia que naquela semana nós poderíamos batizar, então trabalhamos, oramos muito e acreditamos que poderiam acontecer milagres e o Senhor nos mostro que quando acreditamos nele vamos ter resultados bons do nosso trabalho. Pude ver também que não bastam somente termos fé, mas também temos que ter obras e isso nos ajudou a conseguir o batismo."
(Rosemary’s translation: "On Friday we had a baptismal interview with Ana but she did not pass the interview. So we left the chapel and we saw in our planner the names of some people who used to go to church, then became less active; one of those names was a family with a mother with five children. She had a son who was in her house she called Alexander, 17 years old. We were four missionaries, Elder Ayres the Elder Thiago and Elder Muniz and Elder Guimarães when we entered the house of Alexander we called the whole family together. Elder Ayres said "we have a present this year that will change your family!" and they asked – “What present?” - Elder Ayres said: "The Lord chosen Alexander to be baptized!" So we asked if he had problems with the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity, and he had no problem with anything, so we scheduled the baptism Sunday. The mother became very animated and Alexander excited also with baptism. And we then taught a lesson and he was baptized on Sunday and that day he prayed and felt he had to be baptized. Before that we were praying for the Lord to show us someone who was prepared to be baptized and kept all the commandments and the Lord showed us that Alexander and his family was excited and went to church on Sunday.

The division with the assistants helped me more trust in the Lord and that miracles will happen if we work hard and diligently as the Lord expects us to do. For just that after the interview with Ana I was not discouraged because I knew that week we could baptize, then worked, prayed a lot and believe that miracles could happen and the Lord shows us that when we believe it'll have good results of our work. I could also see that not enough just to have faith, but we have to work and helped us get the baptism.")

Steven writing:
I got back from Foz today at 5:30 in the morning and so I am a little bit super tired, but fortunately tomorrow we just have meetings with President all day so I can probably fall asleep in a corner :)
I want you to know that I love you very very much! You are the best mother I could hope for and I will continue praying for you every single day and night. I hope you feel better from your cold and have a great week! Please give Sharon a ginormous hug for me and tell the ward I am doing well!
As a birthday present for Grandma Junece I got a picture of this cool owl! Happy Birthday!
I know that God lives and loves us. He has a plan and a purpose for all of us. I am learning a lot about patience and hard work here. Above all, Jesus Christ is our savior and all of our troubles will one day pass. Have a great week and write back soon!
Your tired but very happy son,
Elder Markham

P.S. There are some good pictures this week!

The "A" Team

Elders Ayres e Pearcy

Brazillian Birthday Tradition

Festa Junina

Star Trek Generations: the Last 4 Assistants

On the Lookout for Baptisms

Elder Ayres

Elder Santana

Elder Dewey

Londrina June 20, 2011

Oh coisa boa!
Hello mother! How are you? Thank you so much for the updates. I´m glad that you have had such great opportunities to be with family and go to salt lake and work and everything. It sounds like things really are going well despite the challenges of life! Thanks for the letter from Jeff. Vision is really an important thing. One of my favorite scriptures is in Helaman 5:19 that talks about our vision. We need to plan and see things through our eyes of spirituality first and then advance in faith and do miracles. That’s cool that ya´ll got to go to the Jex reunion as well! My letter time lately has been rather cut or better, non-existent.... As an assistant we kind of don’t really have P-day anymore. It’s great! Today for example I have been wearing the same clothes for 3 days and I just got off a 9 hour bus ride in Foz do Iguaçu which is almost in Paraguay. Adventures demais!
So, backing up a little bit. First off to answer your questions. Elder Dewey and Santana are the Zone Leaders in our ward back in Londrina. They help us to take care of our investigators while we are traveling. It’s great. They live in the same apartment as us and it is sort of close to the mission office, but not really. We don’t have any couple missionaries in the mission and I don’t really know why. It’s actually the zone leaders who are more responsible for getting letters and things. We help a little every once in a while. So, this last week was crazy/awesome/crawesome.
After the baptism of José we worked with all of those member references and we found 3 whole families who accepted baptism! We found in total 27 new investigators in 2 days! Miracles are real! We worked with them and this guy named Jonni who got baptized yesterday! I don’t have any photos because we weren’t there, but he is super cool. He stopped smoking in 1 day after receiving a blessing and then his whole family who is like Baptist or something came over while the ZLs were there and started bible bashing and Jonni just stood up and bore testimony about the church and shut them up. He is awesome! We found this other woman Manoelita who had several dreams about the church and will be baptized next week and threw away like 10 pounds of coffee after her 2nd lesson. Whoohoo! There is another family of 6 who loved hearing about the programs of the church and their 22 year old son Adam started reading the Book of Mormon and it is helping cure his depression. There is another family of 4 who has a daughter named veronica who reminds me of Sharon and they all went to church yesterday without us even being there! Super Eleitos! So, things are going super good in Ala Antares.
This next part you have to get on to Google maps to understand the craziness! On Friday Presidente sent us to Maringá because they were having super hard times bringing people to church. We worked with the Zone leaders there and on Sunday we broke the churches attendance record by 30. The ward is trying to have enough people to build a nice chapel there and so they were super happy and we also had 2 baptisms after church! Sunday night we took home a missionary who was serving a short term mission (he is awesome) so that he could get his real calling. His mom made us hamburgers (mmmmmmmmm :) ) and then we ran to the bus station at midnight to catch a bus to Foz do Iguaçu. We will be staying here for the entire week with the goal of every companionship in the zone baptizing this week. We will be doing lots of divisions and working and praying hard.
The mission is having a super hard time this month. Last month we ended with 104 baptisms, and this month with only one week left we have about 50. We are trying to think a lot about what we can do to help out the mission.
He will probably be transferred in two weeks and I might have to train a new assistant. Mostly I just feel super inadequate and alone. What advices to you have for having more faith and being a better leader? I love you all a whole bunch. I am finally sending some pictures so I hope you enjoy! I testify that this church is true. I know that Jesus is the Christ, Thomas S. Monson is a prophet and that the gospel will lead us to exaltation. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and I wish I understood better its message. I know Dad loves you a lot Mom and he is right here with us to help us out. I am praying a lot for you guys. Have a great week and write back soon!
Um abraço.
-Elder Markham

Bautismo de Jose

Londrina June 13, 2011

Happy Birthday one more time! I am so glad you had a terrific birthday and that the family came over and everything! The pictures look terrific! I´m so happy to have such a great family like you guys!
Thank you a ton for the advice about lifting others too. This really is important. It is sometimes really easy to require lots from people without praising their success. Our mission has a huge need to improve, but that does not mean that good things aren´t happening. I will be more positive this week and try to get to know even better the zone leaders. I loved to see all of the pictures of the family at the cabin and everything! What great memories. The mission is super-duper great and stuff, but there is nothing like sitting down by the creek at the cabin and roasting marshmallows in the wheelbarrow. Maybe if it had tereré. I will bring home some tereré. It is super good. Happy birthday to Sharon too! What did you get? How was girls’ camp? Was Bear Lake super freezing? Details! I need details! :) Other thing. Whaaaaat?! Ya´ll is goin on a cruise? Bom demais! Brazil is good too though. It has finally turned cold and I am thoroughly enjoying not sweating profusely at any given moment. Brazilian hot chocolate is super good too!
Here’s what happened here this week!
Firstly, leadership conference was really good. We had a super good lunch and had a bunch of great trainings to help the missionaries. It is not really focused on teaching how to hold meetings and agendas and things like you sent, but more for the zone leaders to help them animar and motivar a zona. (Animate and motivate the zone) I learned a bunch of great stuff and I hope the Zone leaders learned some stuff too! After that we worked here in our own area for a change and we found a bunch of great families that have been to church and we have mais ou menos 10 (more or less 10) people that have potêncial a batizar this weekend! Yesterday we had a super miracle as well!
There was a man named José who went to church 2 weeks ago. We taught him right after church and he immediately said that he believed everything and received an answer, but he lived really far away and after that he sort of disappeared and nobody could find him. Saturday night we had a huge activity at the church to celebrate the harvest here. It was awesome! There was tons of cake and soda and hot dogs and fried chicken and I ate way too much, but lest you think we were just slacking off, we had a booth at the party and we got more than 30 references from the members and gave away an entire box of Books of Mormons! Waaaay better than knocking doors! Anyways, soon José showed up at the party. It was near the beginning and there weren´t many people there yet, so we took him aside and taught him about the Book of Mormon and Word of Wisdom. He didn´t use anything in the WoW and didn´t even like coffee! He agreed to go to church the next day and be baptized the following week. The next day at church he showed up and loved it! He was feeling the spirit super strong and we pulled him aside again and taught him the rest of the plan of salvation and gospel. Guess what? He agreed to be baptized that night! After church we taught him once more and he passed the interview and marked the baptism for that night 7:30. Everything was super perfect. We called a member to fill up the font and heat the water (it is actually rather cold here right now.) When we got to the church around 6:30 to our horror we discovered that the natural gas to heat the font was empty and the water was still freezing! Elder Ayres was still recovering from a really bad cold and poor José doesn´t have perfect health and so we were super worried about the situation. There was an extra can of gas in the church, but it was locked up and nobody had the key, only the maintenance company who clearly we couldn´t call on Sunday! We were confused and looking at the padlock of the gas can. Elder Ayres says to me, “Remember in the Book of Mormon when Nephi prays and then breaks the cords binding his wrists? Let’s pray for strength to break this padlock.” Sweet! So we pray that we will be able to break the lock and then Elder Ayres grabs it. He yanks as hard as he can and................... nothing. Ah crap, so we don’t have faith AND José is going to die of hypothermia at his own baptism. The only good news would be that he would go straight to the celestial kingdom right? It was about 7:00 now when suddenly one of the members here shows up with a huge wrench. Why I don´t know, but we explain the situation and he goes over and busts open the padlock!! We switch the gas and heat the water and José was baptized! Tudo mundo feliz! (Everybody’s happy) So this is my testimony this week that God answers prayers, even if it isn´t in the way that we were expecting. Miracles are totally real. I know that God lives and loves us and that our families can be forever. I am so thankful for all of your prayers and love and concern. I am praying for you every day and I know God will bless our family.
Never give up. NEVER surrender.
-Elder Markham

Londrina June 6, 2011

Thank you so much for the news and the talk and everything. It looks like you have been having a good old time! I remembered how awesomely good Brick Oven is! Pizza here is good, but it is way different than U.S. Pizza and also super expensive. It’s like $20 for a normal pizza. If somebody invented Little Caesars here they would become rich. It’s good that you are keeping busy and liking your job and everything! You are terrific!

So to answer your questions: Elder Ayres is from Espírito Santo Brasil. He looks like an American though and has a funny accent and so everyone thinks that he is! Very funny. He was actually an ambassador with the Rotary club to the United States and so he speaks English really well too. I have been taking pictures but sadly today we almost missed the bus and I forgot my camera in the house. Once again I will have to beg your pardon and promise to send lots of pictures next week. Our transport is pretty much just normal. We take the bus and walk everywhere. There is a taxi for the mission but it is just for special stuff so we try not to use it all that much. One thing that is super crazy is that being a traveling assistant, we go everywhere! Yesterday we made it back to Londrina by a miracle. We were in President Prudente doing a division with the Zone Leaders and our bus left at 3:30. Lunch got delayed (like usual!) and we got to the bus station running and 3:28 when the attendant said that the bus only had 1 space left. We needed to get back that night because we had a baptism in our area to organize. So, we couldn´t go straight to Londrina, but they had 2 seats to a small little city about halfway there. So we bought the short term tickets and then convinced the bus drive to let us stay on if anybody missed the bus. He agreed and by a miracle 1 person missed the bus! So we got back in time. The division went well in Presidente Prudente. We marked 3 people to be baptized this coming Saturday there and the Branches there got really excited and started giving references and doing activities and everything. Super awesome!

The Leadership training got moved until tomorrow so I´ll let you know how that goes next week. The ward I am in right now is called Antares in the stake Londrina. It’s rough because so far I´ve only been in my own area 2 days and I don´t really know anybody, but we have baptized 2 weeks in a row there now so things are going well! Yesterday lunch was suuuuper good. I love good food. On the mission I managed to gain a little weight up to 158, but then this transfer I am back down to 152. Probably because I never know where I will be at any given moment and so it is a little hard to buy food sometimes. It’s all good though. Life rocks.

The mission is having a bit of difficulties right now. We are not baptizing as a whole as much as it needs to be. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to help out and inspire the Zone leaders and things like that, but it’s a little rough because I´ve never been a Zone leader. Do you have any suggestions about how to inspire better work? I think a lot of it has to do with example and so I´m trying to do my best work. I think that the leaders’ don´t really trust in me yet because I am so new in the mission and I haven´t had a lot of contact with them yet. Tomorrow will be an important day to gain trust so that Elder Ayres and I can work better with the leaders. Elder Ayres is super good and already basically a legend, so that helps out a lot. I will just be myself and do my best work. I hope that’s all anybody can ask. Thank you once again for all the help and support. I love you a whole ton!

I know that trials only make us stronger. I know that God is mindful of everything that happens and that he will not allow us to pass anything that we cannot handle. I know Christ lives and that He is our Savior. I know our family will be together forever. I love you Mom!
-Elder Markham