Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hello Dearest Family!!

I hope ya´ll had a very Merry Christmas! Mine went great! The call with Mom, Dad, Emily, and Rachel was wonderful. I got to hear the voices of some of my awesome family, and Rachel´s melodious laugh! I opened Kit, Kev, Ryn, Elle, and ???´s present -- THANK YOU!! That was an awesome little picture booklet, showing all of the Nine and clans, and well laminated to last! Elder Prince and I also had a present from Irmã Fátima - we had eaten at her and her husband´s house Christmas Eve for dinner, along with the Irmãs and their investigator Maria Augusta and her two kids, Daisey (7) and Vítor (6). Anyways, Irmã Fátima had given each of us elders a thing of shower gel / body wash. I think she works at some shampoo place, otherwise I guess she´s sending us a message, haha.

After the Christmas call we went over to the Rocha family home for a huge lunch. (Elder Rocha is an Area Seventy, Third Quorum if I haven´t mentioned that already.) So there was us four missionaries, Elder and Irmã Rocha, their oldest and youngest sons (2 out of 3 - the middle one is on his mission in Mozambique), and Elder Rocha´s sister and mother. They were very generous and the food was great. Then when we were done they brought out all this stuff for dessert, including pastries, breads, cheeses, and chocolates. They had this one kind of cheese that was marinated in a jar of azeite - olive oil - and they were ´daring´ me to try it. They thought it would be too strong our something, I´m not sure. Whenever people try to be sneaky about food I always assume it´s spicy (thanks to Rachel and that one Japanese restaurant - remember?). It wasn´t bad, but I´ve had better cheeses. Little do they know I´ve been in Texas, Brazil, and France! So after the big lunch Elder Prince and I went home to whip up some Betty Crocker mix cookies that his parents had sent him, and we went out to share them with some members and investigators that lived nearby. We only sort of caroled to an old member couple, since caroling isn´t done here much ... at all really. Then we met up with the Irmãs to visit some more people and carol to them - Mafalda who is a recent convert who has been a little sick lately, and an inactive lady named Carla. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!! and it´s GREAT TO BE A MISSIONARY!!

Other things of this week. Saturday December 27 was the double header baptismal service for Simão (9 year old of a member family) and Maria Augusta, the Irmãs´ investigator. Elder Prince and I had come to the chapel early to get the font filled, and for some reason the water wasn´t coming out hot or warm. So after some calls, Feliciano, Simão´s dad, finally was able to come and get the heater to work. The baptismal service went very well. Lots of members came and were very supportive, and I was able to be of service by playing the piano. (I´m sure Mom is happy to hear that! ;) Sunday Elder Prince and I helped with Maria Augusta´s confirmation, and then I gave a talk on the blessings of serving (a mission) at Christmas time. Bishop Durão surprised us by willingly accepting our progress record when we gave a copy to him and then invited us into his office to ask us if we needed any specific help this week and authorized us to give the sacrament to Artur and Elvíra (that old member couple we caroled to). This was a pleasant surprise because previously the bishop had not really been working with us. He´d designate stuff to the ward mission leader and try to not accept our progress record copies and stuff, but he´s really warming up to us now. I think a large part of that probably came from when Maria Augusta had asked him to baptize her. The Lord works in wonderful ways!

Sunday evening we had a great lesson with that Brasilian family, and we had brought Diogo and Carmen, a Brasilian member couple with us. It went great! And Monday was very interesting in that we had two members who aren´t in our area or ward call us up to arrange lessons with us to teach friends of theirs who lived in our area! Tina lives not too far away in Miratejo and wanted us to teach her boyfriend who ``needed to hear the word of God``. Then Telma who lives really far away came all the way over and we met up with her and her friend Elsa to teach them in a member´s house (Fernando). Great stuff! And yesterday we found out that Elder Prince is being transferred over to be a zone leader in Oeiras, and Elder Corry will come over here to be my new senior companion and district leader of Seixal. The Lord is leading His work!

Well I love you all and wish you all a Happy New Year 2009!! This year really has flown by. Thanks again for all of your love and support! I am going to pick up some package that was ``volumoso``, so thank you to whoever it is from! And as to any other presents that might still be in the mail - better late than never, right? Thanks again, and I love ya´ll!

Elder Ellis V

PS - Mom and Dad, I received the two snail mail letters of December 14 and 15 that ya´ll sent to my apartment address on Monday, December 29. The address ya´ll have is correct for the next 7 weeks at least!

PPS - Hey Em, wanna do me a favor?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas one and all, beloved family!

Thanks again to everyone for all the news! Thank you very much Matt and Nat for your lovely little package of Reeses, mint Hershey kisses, Sam´s drawing (and the interpretation thereof), and pictures! The pictures are great and I´m rationing out the candy. Kit and Kevin – thank you for the present ya´ll sent! It happily awaits Christmas morning under our humble little Christmas Tree. I´m sure there are other things in the mail that I haven´t received yet, some of which I will probably get at the next zone conference. And thank you very much Mom and Dad for those letters, and the Scrooge quotes, etc. That made my day!

What a blessing to be serving as a missionary at Christmas time! The important thing is to be grateful for all of the many many gifts that God has given us, especially the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, and His Atoning Sacrifice for us. I am so grateful for a wonderful, huge, and supportive family! In a letter Mom shared something that Bispo Leite in São Paulo said – at Christmas time we can give gifts to Christ of our faith, service, and gratitude. And I remember those wonderful Christmas stories we would read as part of the countdown for Christmas, and how they show that we can give of oursevles and serve others, even ´the least of these our brethren´, to serve God! Matthew 25:40 and Mosiah 2:17. I love you all and wish you a Merry Christmas!
Last Thursday was our Christmas zone conference, which was really great. One awesome thing was that we watched a Christmas movie that President and Irmã Terry really like called The Forgotten Carols, which I highly recommend for everyone to watch at some point. I also got three letters from Mom and Dad for the Christmas conference, and it was wonderful to hear from them. I finally got my other letters which were all sent to the office, so that was nice too!

Of course, this week before/of Christmas has been great. There is a Brasilian family from São Paulo that we taught the second lesson / the Plan of Salvation to, and it was great. They were all participating, asking questions, and were really interested. (They´re not brand new investigators, per se, but it was really cool to teach them.) And something that is great to look forward to, this Saturday is a double baptism! Simão, who is 9 years old (and as golden as it gets I have heard) – he wasn´t baptized because his parents were going through a divorce – and then Maria Augusta, a single mom of about 30 who has two kids 7 and 6 years old, who is really great too. We´ve been teaching Simão and the Irmãs have been teaching Maria Augusta. But it is wonderfully exciting! Well, I love you all and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

--Elder Ellis V
Ps – the FDP is also from Mom´s Christmas letter, standing for Faith Diligence and Patience

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hello Dearest Family!!

So I tried sending you an email earlier and the computer/internet died on me. Quite sad. So I am going to try and hurry with this one before time’s out. But I am very happy to hear that Nolan is on the right track, and I will continue to pray for him. Kit, it is pretty sad that ya´ll won´t be able to make that visit, but we will still get to see each other in little less than two years. The time is already flying by! Have fun with that tea party thing for Ryn! Mick, that is awesome that you are going to Monterrey West! I wish the best for you and the people you will serve!

Well everything has gone well this week. I had my first division with the zone leaders, the Christmas Devotional was great, and tomorrow I get to look forward to the Christmas zone conference! Thanks again everyone for your love and support! By the way, that Rua de Mansabá address is my current apartment address. I don´t have a preference except that I want all the letters and stuff ya´ll send, and the office address is the ´safe´ one. One neat thought I had yesterday about trying to help our investigators get fired up and do the stuff they need to, like reading, going to church, tithing, etc, was the example of the widow of Zeraphath. She put God first, even with what little she had, and everything turned out right. 1 Kings 17:10-16 I think. Anyways, gotta go, love ya´ll!!

--Elder Ellis V

PS – Mom and Dad, that plan for the conference call sounds great to me. The number you can call me at is 351 (for Portugal) then ---101 264. Love ya!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Hello beloved família!

Ah, Darrell, thank you for that fun question! Personally I think all versions are correct. I choose Book of Mormons because that is the title or appelation of this book of scripture. If we pluralize the Bible, we´d say we handed out BibleS. Book of MormonS. Anyways, that´s just my take on it, and it is certainly fun to discuss. But I will follow Dad´s take and follow the examples of the leaders of the Church - copies of the Book of Mormon!

That´s cool Rachel that you know both of those Elders. I pass along yet another message from my trainer, that hopefully you may pass on to his friends, that Elder Prince requests that they write him back asap, and Elder Winegar should not get trunky.

I was shocked to hear the news about Nolan, but I am glad he is on the right track with the antibiotics. I will pray for him!

Well the work is going great in Seixal. Since last Wednesday I´ve had two days when I could definitely see the hand of God in His work. President Terry has given us a kind of goal/outline to have 20/20 vision - meaning talk to 20 people a day and teach 20 lessons a week, so roughly 3 lessons a day. Last Friday we had a 17 year old member from Brasil (Minas Gerais) go with us for a scheduled lesson and to contact and knock. Our investigator wasn´t at home at the time, so we went to the park and ended up helping a Ukrainian lady carry her groceries home. Then we came back to the apartment of the investigator and he still wasn´t home, so we decided to knock in his apartment building. Then right before we were going to leave, our investigator walked in! So we were able to give him the lesson we had prepared on the importance of the Book of Mormon. Also what was really good about that was that the Brasilian kid wasn´t sure he wanted to go on a mission, so hopefully that was a good experience enough to help persuade him to go in two years. Then our second scheduled appointment fell through, so I thought we might not be able to get our goal of 3 lessons in that day. But while we were knocking we ran into a man who we had met the previous day but had forgot to mark his address - so we were able to write down his correct address AND get all three lessons in!

Yesterday was even a greater testimony of the Lord watching over His work. A lot of our investigators have said they were busy, so we only had two scheduled lessons, and both of them fell through. But we needed to talk to a member about helping us out with our play for the ward Christmas Party this Saturday, so we ended up going to his house to explain the gist of the play and ended up giving him a lesson. Then after that we went to this one spot to knock and within one hour we were let in to two homes, taught two lessons, and found 6 new investigators! God is great, and he has blessed us with much success, and He has helped us in doing His work! I love being a missionary!!

So yeah, those were the highlights of the week. Saturday was my first zone conference, and Elder Causé of the First Quorum of the Seventy did some workshops with us on planning and finding with the Spirit. Monday was my first zone meeting, where the zone leaders reemphasized a lot of that. Great stuff!

Well I love all of you! Thanks so much for your news and support. Again, my prayers are really with Nolan. Best of luck to all of you!

--Elder Ellis V~

ps - I didn´t have time last week to explain why Elder Shenefelt wasn´t supposed to be my companion at the MTC in the first place. My originally assigned companion was Elder Reque, who didn´t come until after the first week was already done, and he left for Cabo Verde two weeks after he arrived because he already spoke Portuguese (his parents are both Brasilian). So I formed a triple with Elder Shenefelt and Elder Johnson for less than two days, because Elder Johnson had to leave the MTC because of family problems, unfortunately. So that´s why it was just me and Elder Shenefelt for most of our MTC stay. tchau!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Helloo from Portugal!!

Helloo everyone!

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I want to let each and every one of you know that I am thankful for yaºll beyond expression! And also for this wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord in Portugal!

I first area - post as I like to think of it - is Seixal. (sayshawl). My trainer or first companion is Elder (Matthew) Prince from South Jordan Utah. He is a great missionary also, and has been helpful and encouraging as I work up the nerve to talk to people calmly enough to talk about the gospel message. He´s also very happy that I already have a headstart on Portuguese. We have been a little slowed down from necessary errand running, but things are still going great. We´ve taught a lot of lessons and handed out plenty of Book of Mormons and pass along cards, and yesterday we even were invited inside when we were knocking doors. The young manºs name is Wallace and heºs from Minas Gerais. Elder Prince has said that we seem to have been running into a lot of Brasilians since I arrived, and about all of them have been from Minas Gerais. Interesting.

Mick! Congradz on your call! Spanish isnºt Portuguese but there are many of Godºs children there youºll be able to help! Best of luck and keep me posted on stuff! By the way, one of the people we contacted Sunday or Monday night looked amazingly like you, albeit a foot shorter, also from Minas Gerais.

Thanks again everyone for all of your news and love and support! I love you all!!

Sistser Ellis III -- do you happen to know an Elder Perry or Elder Winegar? if you have met them, please let them know that their friend Elder Prince serving in Portugal says hi.

John -- loved your email bro. triple sixes with canons are always nice indeed. And thanks for helping out with the address. here it is
Rua de Mansabá No. 8 C/v Dto
2845 Amora

If you think something might take longer to be sent, the mission office adress in Lisbon is pretty safe, itºs on my Facebook, and I would get whatever you sent there about every zone conference or so. i think...

As far as a Christmas list, Mom, I would really like the recipes of the stuff we practiced making before I left Sao Paulo. And Rob, if you could send me your favorite recipes and stuff thatºd be great too. Also Rob, do you have names or contact info for people I could stop by if I am ever in the same areas you were in? thanks

Love yaºll!!

Elder Ellis V